Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Home is the nicest word there is." - Laura Ingalls Wilder

As I consider what I will write for my final blog on this amazing adventure we have had together in Australia, I really think about home and what that means to me. I will admit, I am rather excited to return to Nova Scotia, to familiar surroundings, being comfortable in my own kitchen, just puttering and muttering to my own tune. On the other hand, it will be sad to leave my Australian family. They are so precious and I know when I get back to Canada I will miss the sticky hands, the high volume arguments, the way the girls giggle (as only girls know how), the cuddles and hugs and story time. The list is long. I know that I will long for those early morning strolls with my guy, throwing on shorts and a t-shirt in the morning and knowing that the temperature will be lovely all day. There is no doubt that Australia is a beautiful country - really, why would anyone want to live in a cold climate? It's then that I realize how I have missed the stunning autumn colours in Nova Scotia and the changing of the seasons - that is what I have grown up with and know. This is home for me - spring, with blossoming flowers and fresh green lawns waking up after a cold winter. Summer, long lazy days, picnics at the beach and memory making vacations. Autumn settles in with postcard perfect landscapes and the colours, oh so beautiful. Winter closes in and sitting by the cozy fire with a good book or the latest knitting project is just lovely. This is my earthly home and I am so thankful for it. This is where I feel grounded with family and friends and know that my neighbours are only a phone call away. It's not easy having family living so far away, but I also know this is not our forever home. We have been blessed and I just pray that I can be a blessing to those I meet and interact with on this journey I am on.
One last trip to the beach and treated to a spectacular sunset on the Indian Ocean.

Oh this sweet Australian family - so far away but so very near and dear to our hearts.

A trip I wouldn't have wanted to do with anyone else. My best friend.

Free spirited Katie, just loving life and leaving her footprints in the sand.

Still watching for the dorsal fins and probably thinking about what awaits behind the desk at home.

Grampie and Grammie with the Aussie granddaughters. They are so much fun!

And I'll leave you with the flower of the day - the beautiful bird of paradise.

To all who have journeyed along with us, thank you for reading. It has really been the trip of a lifetime, but I do so hope we are able to travel here again and explore more of this sun baked land.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." - Charles Dickens

Combining a couple of days now for the blog, we are winding down our visit here in this beautiful country. It is going to be really hard to pack away my shorts when I get home. I brought 3 pairs of pants along with me and haven't worn them once. Although it will be nice to get back into a routine and face the reality of another Canadian winter, I am going to miss Eden and Katie so much. They each have a distinctive personality, but when they smile, well, let's just say it's melts this old grandma's heart. They are early to bed and early to rise and usually peek around our door with cheeky little smiles - it's very hard not to be happy when I see those faces at 6 am. Then the CD player usually starts up, at full volume, a favourite being the Watoto Children's Choir, very spirited African music that gets you up and dancing. Kathryn made a delicious Mary Berry lemon yoghurt cake which we basically devoured in a day and Katie and Grampie fixed fairy princess shoes. It was a quiet Monday with Eden in school. Today the girls had swimming lessons and Andrew and I wanted to check out a larger shopping centre in the area, so we left early and had an unsuccessful trip to the shops. Kathryn wanted to take us to Serpentine National Park - they have trails there to a pretty waterfall and wild kangaroos that don't mind children (and adults) petting them. Unfortunately, the waterfall trail was closed but we managed to feed the roos some grass and I got a pic of a mama with a baby in her pouch. The gate attendant suggested we go to Serpentine Dam for great bird watching (Andrew's favourite pastime) and a tea break at a little cafe overlooking the dam. Well, the cafe was closed just 20 minutes before we arrived, but Andrew saw several new birds that he hadn't viewed before, so he was happy. It really was a beautiful spot. The highlight of the day was Andrew seeing the splendid fairy wren in a tree in the parking lot. He was very quick and we were not able to get a good picture of him, but if you click here you can see how beautiful he really is. On the way home, I spotted a wild emu in the woods on the side of the road - apparently that is quite rare here, so I was kind of proud of myself. We turned around and he/she raced across the road in front of us. Pretty exciting for the girls. A great day with great company. Tim arrived home from his shift up north tonight and has an extended time off as Kathryn is attending a conference in Phoenix, Arizona for 10 days. Unfortunately he has to pack house and move during this time, but they have a church family that is very willing to lend a hand, so hopefully it won't be too stressful.
 The 'Bonds' socks picture ~ Katie is the independent spirit and thought both her feet should be in the picture.

 Fixing the princess shoes -- so intense!!

 Good crop of lemons, yet to ripen, in the backyard.

 No deer or moose crossing here - just roos and emus.

 Sweet girls with a very laid back roo with a joey in her pouch - can you see the head peeking out?

 Serpentine Dam - the water level was really low.

 A ring necked parrot that had no issue in us getting close for a pic.

The girls learning the fine art of birdwatching from a pro. You have to be still and quiet - quite the challenge for a 3 and 5 year old!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." - Pablo Picasso

Our weekend has been fairly low key. On Saturday, Andrew and I decided to make one last trip to the city of Perth via train. The train is such a pleasant way to travel, no driving stress and you get to people watch for half an hour. Makes for an interesting journey. The weather has changed to more of a spring temperature. Andrew wanted to see King's Park one more time and we entered from another direction which made, directionally challenged moi get a little turned around. Anyway, we climbed the DNA Tower which was super easy compared to our climb last weekend. We also wanted to check out Jamie Oliver's restaurant and we eventually found it. There was a wait time and we looked at the menu and decided that between the prices and the very noisy atmosphere, we would go somewhere else for a quick bite. In the afternoon, we sauntered over to the Art Gallery of WA and took in some impressive art (and some not so impressive). It didn't quite live up to the National Gallery in London, England, but we did enjoy spending some time there. Then it was uphill to Saint Mary's Cathedral to wander through a lovely old church. There had been a wedding there earlier and they were finishing up their photo shoot in the church. It was likely a pretty expensive wedding as there was a hired Bentley as well as an extended limo waiting outside to drive them to their reception site. It was a little higher class than the wedding we had witnessed earlier on the grounds of King's Park. I guess spring must be wedding time in Perth. Church today and an afternoon nap - typical Sunday!!
 The karri-lined avenue leading to King's Park, home of the WA Botanical Garden. This is one of the most impressive botanical gardens we have visited.

 A massive Moreton Bay fig tree at Kings Park.

 The DNA tower featuring a double helix of stairs.

 We happened upon the wedding of Sam and Miguel. Part of her vows was to promise to root for the Sydney Swans, a footy team. No mention of God in the wedding!

 King's Park is a nice mix of open space for picnics, pavilions, art installations and history; not to mention botany.

 Common in the park were red wattlebirds, feeding on the flowers. 

 Back in central Perth we happened upon this lovely old fire station.

 We almost ate at Jamie's Italian.

 But settled for a nice open air coffee shop.

 We visited St. Mary's Cathedral which was quite beautiful inside.

 Near the font was an alcove with this wooden carving of St. Joseph the Worker with mallet and chisel. An Afghan refugee crafted this in 2009.

 In the WA Art Gallery, an art critic feeling rather blue about this painting. He kind of gets lost in the painting, don't you think?

I call this statue in the market district, the pickles. It seems rather out of place, but I guess modern art is like that.

Well that's it for the last couple of days. Hope everyone is well and staying warm at home.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience." - Francis Bacon

Well, now that I am all caught up with our adventures in the Great Southern region of Australia, the countdown is on as we wrap up our last week here with our beautiful Cross family. It's been an amazing time of discovering a new country, spending precious time with grandchildren and definitely enjoying the perfect weather. The past few days Andrew and I have been resting after our busy touring expedition, so not too much has been happening. A few pics should do the trick for this evening.
Atwell is trying to encourage children and adults to walk to school and the shops and this sign is embedded in the sidewalk, indicating distance and direction.

Walking this little girl to school in the morning is great. She is a bundle of joy, always excited to go and meet up with her friends.

 The sign that says it all!!

A beautiful flowering tree/shrub??

 And a coot that was very friendly on our morning walk. Charlotte, Lila, Audrey and Malcolm - you can listen to this funny looking fellow here. I think his feet are quite funny looking.

 Thursday morning we set out for Araleun Botanic Garden. They had beautiful plantings of flowers but the gardens needed some TLC (weeding and pruning).

Andrew posing in front of a full bloomed azalea. These gardens were planted on 150 acres and feature pathways, steps and terraces. 

 This camellia was stunningly perfect.

 Two cute girls by a water feature in the park.

Resting under the tree ferns.

A tulip tree. Andrew says there are a few of these planted in Nova Scotia but it is native to the eastern USA.

After dropping Katie off at school this morning, we ventured down to Fremantle again to the market and Eden was pretty insistent that she wanted to visit the ancient gaol, but settled for the shipwreck museum. I don't think I have ever met a 5 year old who was so interested in history.

 Grampie and Eden intent on learning more about the shipwrecks off the coast of Australia.

 A central hotel in Fremantle which sits on the site of the first building used for housing convicts transported from Great Britain in 1850.

 Eden enjoying her large lunch of sushi - Grampie and Mom helped her out a bit.

Andrew continues to amaze me with his adaptability to driving here. We shouldn't have any problem if and when we travel to the UK again!! Thank-you for travelling along with us.

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." - John Muir

We wanted to arrive before dark at Tinglewood Cabins and wound our way through a little village called Walpole - this area is famous for the giant tingle and karri trees of old growth forest. We also knew our last day on the road was going to be a long one and we needed a lot of rest. As we drove up to our cabin, kangaroos were roaming the property along with some really cute spring lambs. We were not disappointed with our accommodation here. Very quiet and clean and everything a traveller would need was available. We settled in, lit a fire in the wood stove (reminding me of the Canadian winter we have ahead of us), made a light supper and watched the roos from the back deck. It was relaxing and we tucked in early as we knew the next day would be a lot of km logged to get back to Atwell before dark.
 Our little nest for the night - 'Rosella' cabin. So pretty.

 Our neighbours for the evening - so cute. This big joey was in his mama's pouch until he decided he needed a hug.

 We also had the company of quite a few kookaburras. You will recall the old song, 'Kookaburra sits on the old Volvo'.

 Feeling a little wistful about leaving this peaceful place.

 Travelling northwest through karri forests. These trees are very tall and straight and a little too close to the road for my liking. The speed limit was anywhere from 90-110 km/hour on fairly narrow and sometimes twisty roads. The traffic was very light this morning though, so it was a very pleasant drive.

 Through the Margaret River area there were numerous vineyards and wineries. The wine industry is huge here and there are acres and acres devoted to it.

One of our last stops, Cape Naturaliste. This lighthouse was activated in 1904 and still uses the original lens. A quaint spot for a slow stroll along the Geographe Bay.

This is supposed to be a good place for whale sightings as they undertake their summer migration to the Southern Ocean.

 I am scanning for whales.

 We saw several humpbacks but this one was putting on a show; breaching and splashing.

And the perfect end to our 4 day getaway - a lovely sunset on the Indian Ocean.

This Aussie road trip was a great time to see some more of the country and give the Crosses a break from their visitors.  Andrew wanted to master driving on the other side of the road and he did a superb job, although I was frequently heard to say, "Keep to the left!!". Now I will try and catch up to our current day, Friday, October 23. Sorry for the onslaught of posts lately, but internet access was very limited when we were away. This time next week we will be flying over the Pacific Ocean - destination Canada.