Monday, 18 October 2010

What we did today....

After some hair-raising torrential rainstorms during the first week of my visit here in Queensland, over the weekend we've gone back to the Sunshine Coast that I know & love.....not that I mind rain at all (how could I when I live in the UK??) but sunshine and warmth sure makes everything easier, and everyone happier!

This morning,as the older children had a day off school (called a 'pupil-free' day over here) and the weather was absolutely gorgeous, we took them to the beautiful, safe, sandy beach at Alexandra Headland...

my niece and older nephew have been swimming since they were 6 months old and now resemble mini merpeople so I wasn't surprised at all when they took their bodyboards and headed down to the blue waves (admittedly these were not very large waves....but it still looked scary to me!) The little one stayed with his toy dumper truck on the sand and enjoyed himself greatly digging holes and pushing the truck about, I just sat, watched and marvelled at the bliss of an October Monday morning spent in the warm sun on a fabulous beach surrounded by those I love. I did go into the water a little later - I just couldn't resist the gentle blueness and crystal sparkle of sun on sea. It was warm. If I lived here, I'd be swimming everyday for sure. I love the outdoor lifestyle here, the children all togged up and in the surf without a thought for being wet or sandy or cold. Everything is designed to make the very most of the weather and beauty of the surroundings.

After an hour or so, we piled back into the car and drove the few miles to the beachside town of Caloundra. Time for 'morning tea', another Aussie tradition. Phil, my brother in law, was anxious for me to try a cake at The Shingle Inn, knowing how obsessed I am with all things bakery. We all chose a dessert - I had an amazing gluten free Sour Cherry & Almond Tart. I don't have a problem with gluten at all, but I often choose a GF confection as I love almonds and the other ingredients often used to replace wheatflour. This was really sticky and almondy and just perfect. The children loved their butterfly cakes and clown biscuit too...

lovely displays and great friendly service.

Home for naps and lunch. Then Esther & I went to the movies this afternoon. We saw a  film, directed by, starring and partly written by Ben Affleck:

Not one I'd heard of, but a stellar cast and a great story. It's not often that I'm willing the 'bad guy' to win, but this was one such occasion! You can read a review of the film soon on Esther's fabulous movie review blog Half Sweet, Half Salty so I'll leave that to her...but I REALLY enjoyed it, even though it had lots of shooting in it which I usually wouldn't like.

And now, I'm sitting in the kitchen, the children are all tucked up and I'm smelling the first fragrance of the  cake that Esther's baking for me wafting from the oven. Tomorrow is my birthday - the first I will have spent with my sister for 8 years, the first ever with my niece and nephews, the first without Paul in 11....

I'll speak to him, my Mum & Dad and my other sister and nephew on the phone tomorrow and celebrate with them all when I get home. But it will be so special to have this time here, with the loved ones that I miss so very much. And a hot one as well - to us Northern Hemisphere people with late Autumn birthdays, that's just bizarre!

An amazing and memorable day awaits. Enjoy your Monday xx

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Eumundi Markets

Yesterday, Esther and I went with the youngest (Aussie) nephew to Eumundi Markets which are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful Australian producers and crafters all selling their wares in the little town of Eumundi each Wednesday and Saturday.

Saturdays are just too busy and crowded for us, especially with a little one - but midweek, although still bustling, was just perfect. I've been a few times before over the years, but this visit was the best ever. I bought some wonderful, eclectic presents for Christmas and had some lovely chats with the stallholders.The lovely Diane Elliott at Queen Bee Secrets gave me some great advice about my hands (in a shocking condition due to all the washing I have to do when baking!) and a gorgeous sample of her organic Royal Jelly Balm, made from the products of her own beloved bees. It really had an effect and I shall be ordering some mail order goodies from her, definitely. I also had a talk with the talented Bec Lindemann, who makes wonderful ceramics....

that were so tempting. I didn't buy yesterday (too much choice! too little time!) but I was so pleased to find that she has an Etsy shop called Spun Mud (gorgeous name) which I shall certainly be visiting. Esther bought some wonderful vintage children's prints at Aleta Jansen ArtWorks too - well priced and unusual, perfect for presents.

We had lunch sitting on a bench under a huge old tree....a mixed salad platter from this stall....

I had a beetroot/sweet potato & glass noodle combination (sounds weird, tasted amazing) and Esther had the noodles too, with a potato, pumpkin & salsa verde salad. Ooh, it was good! We finished our trip with all natural ice creams (toasted coconut, strawberry, creamy banana) and a go on the 'jumping castle' as a treat for my very patient little nephew, Alfie.

Then home to pick up the older children and share the ultra sweet strawberries we'd bought with them. We saw the strawberry fields up on the hill as we left Eumundi - they couldn't have been fresher.

And today is a beautiful, sunny, warm day. The children are at school and the day is mine (Esther worked last night so is sleeping today) I'm going to take a trip into Buderim, the nearby town, to browse the bookshops....then maybe I'll find a cafe and buy a sandwich to eat with a book on the beach. Pure bliss. Enjoy your Thursday! xx

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Australia's "Sunshine?!" Coast!!

Just a short post today....
I arrived on Friday morning after the endless night of the flights...every time we took off it was evening, every meal was dinner followed by breakfast, no days at all! But never mind. I sat next to a lovely lady from the Blue Mountains outside Sydney on the way from Bangkok...we talked for a long time and she wsa so sweet and interesting. That certainly helped to while away the time, as did watching 'Sex & the City 2"....twice (!) "Cemetery Junction" & episodes of my beloved "Frasier"...oh, and I slept a little bit too - not enough, but at least I wasn't too much of a zombie when I stepped off the Jetstar flight at Maroochydore and walked through Arrivals into the arms of beloved Esther and Alfie! It was suddenly all worth it.....

Later, we picked the other two up from school (they knew I was arriving in October, but not when, so the expressions and squeals of delight were priceless!) And since then, the weather, which is mainly torrential rain and high winds, and the jetlag have kept the schedule fairly quiet. Cuddling under a fleecy blanket with the kids watching movies, trying to keep my eyes open long enough to be able to establish a sensible sleep routine and talking, talking, talking.

Tonight I'll be watching 'Eat, Pray, Love' with Esther....we haven't heard great things, but Julia Roberts is always worth a look....and we'll be together.

I can honestly say that I'm more than happy right now. I'll check in again soon. Have a wonderful Sunday xox

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Off to Oz...and the other half of me...

So on Wednesday I embark on the trip to Australia. The thought of my darling sister's face (and that of my 3 year old nephew) at the airport at the end of the 23 hour journey will sustain me through...and then the thought of picking the other two up from school later that day (they know I'm coming in October, but they don't know when...ha!) makes me fizz with excitement. It'll be 17 months since I last saw them all. Way too long, but I know how lucky I am to be able to make the journey and we'll make the most of every minute. It may not sound very special to an outsider, but just doing the everyday things - making breakfast porridge for the kids, doing the school run, picking up a coffee at my favourite cafe, walking the long beach to Point Cartwright with Esther
hanging the washing on the line and avoiding the ENORMOUS spider who makes her home on the garden fence, catching up with Aussie Masterchef while cuddling Clara Bow,the one-eyed miniature black pug, eating cheesy popcorn at the movies - the bliss of watching a movie with Esther - just talking and laughing as much as we want to...all these things are my idea of perfection and bring tears as I think of them. Ordinary, simple everyday things that are usually denied us because we live so very far apart. The stuff of life.

And this time, some new experiences too...Esther and I are taking a long weekend trip to Melbourne, a city we've both long wanted to visit....I'll be celebrating my birthday there too (something I've never done with the 3 children) and Scout, my niece, is planning an ice-cream extravaganza party for me...and Esther will make my very favourite devils food cake....I won't mind being another year older at all!

I'm leaving Paul & Alice behind this time...and I'll miss them so much, but it'll be wonderful to see Paul at the airport when I get home and then I get to celebrate my birthday all over again! Lucky, lucky...I am so truly lucky and blessed. This I know.

I'll be blogging from Australia, so will update you then. But you can think of me, perfectly happy, the children playing on the swings and slides behind us - maybe one of them cuddled into my side, holding the hand of my darling sister as we sit by the sea in Cotton Tree...

maybe on this very bench.....

See you in the Land Down Under. xoxo