Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Home sweet home, it's spring & we've missed some horrible weather.

NZ & OZ were fantastic, we've enjoyed every moment with new experiences every day.

Singapore was all hustle & bustle; where they find space for all the new building going up, I'll never know! Reclaiming land & rising to greater heights seem to be the answer!

The hotel was superb. Breakfast lasted me practically all day!!

Nothing like that here but it's all been great fun.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Now I've swum with have snorkelled with the fish on the Great Barrier reef. We had to wear Stinger suits because of the jelly fish around at this time of year.

We've visited coffee plantations, tea gardens and eaten exotic fruit ice-cream !

We left for Ulura (Ayres Rock) on the 18th. Saw sunset then got up early to see the sunrise, it is all magical! Been on a cultural walk with an Aborigine guide. It was 40C at 5pm out there, just a touch warm!!!

Next was King's Canyon where we did a rim walk of 6km starting at 6am, to avoid some of the heat!

Alice Springs was a flying visit over night!

Now in Perth, the storm was amazing but we were fortunately with our friends Jo & Bruce in their house. Saw all devastation the next day. I've never seen lightning quite so close or thunder so loud!!

Lunchtime so must go. See you all next week.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

That was ONE amazing experience!! Even for those who can't stand opera; the sets, costumes and atmosphere was so intoxicating it was over before you had time to think too hard!! Even Paul admitted he'd enjoyed it!

On Wednesday we took the local bus out to the SMALL Bondi Beach. Honestly, I thought from the pictures it was huge, but no, it is about 3/4 of a mile in total, with a tented area where there is live music every so often & the lifeguards hang out. It's more like the front at one of our older resorts like Hunstanton!! From there we took a walk along a wonderful cliff path which clung to the edge of the sea & every so often you would round a corner into a little cove. It was absolutely delightful. We swam in Clovelly cove where there was both a sea water pool and a long inlet onto a beach. The small jelly fish didn't put us off & we used our masks to watch Gropers swimming under us & other tiny fish doing fishy things! We ended up at Coogee & got the bus back into Sydney. I think I saw the cricket pitch Anna but wouldn't be 100% certain!

Thursday we flew up here to Cairns, collected our hire car & drove up to Port Douglas. It is very hot, often rains (it being the rainy season) & is sometimes humid. We have an appartment until Thursday. Everything grows like mad & is very green. There are lots of tiny & bigger bugs but most seem fairly harmless unless you disturb them! We have a small pool at the complex so it is lovely to cool off in it in the late afternoon.
Yesterday, we went to explore the rainforest. Up to the Daintree National Park which is a world Heritage site. It is very lush with very tall trees of many varieties, a lot of which I had never seen before (29 different types of Palm!!) plus Rosewood and other hard woods that I've only ever seen as furniture! We stopped at Cape Tribulation which is the only place in OZ where the rainforest touches the Great Barrier Reef. You begin to imagine a set for a really gripping adventure movie! We then turned back & st5opped at the Daintree Discovery Centre which is a brilliant place with walkways and a tower to climb above the canopy! We saw Orange footed Scrub fowl & whilest eating an icecream a Cassaway walked passed!(a bit like an Emu with a bright blue comb!!)
I also saw a tea Plantation and tasted the tea grown there - never done that before!!
The rain has stopped so we're off to see more sights & visit a Coffee plantation.

Hopefully, we're snorkling on the Barrier reef tomorrow but there is a cyclone hovering not far away so we will have to wait & see!

Ayres Rock on Thursday, so should be warm there!!

Bye for now......

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Wow we've hit Sydney - it's hot, 27C or above most days. Today, it's cooler only 25 so I'm catching up!
We arrived on Saturday afternoon, our hotel is bang in the middle so it's easy to walk to most of the famous attractions. We've walked over the Harbour Bridge. This is an amazing construction of 1920/30, so not Health & Safety considerations, the men hanging from ropes & balancing on beams suspended over the water 50m up!! The museum is really informative but the continuous drum of traffic passing over the 6/8 lane highway depending on the time of day is amazing!! There is also a rail line & footpath & bikes track.

The Opera House is superb the arching roofs house 2 big theatres & 3 small ones. It is all rented space so companies & artists are continuously moving in & out. Going to see La Traviata tonight which is very exciting!
We went to the Blue Mountains. They are sandstone which has iron running through it so it is striped orange. The 3 sisters are pillars sticking up out of the Jameson valley which is all rainforest, very green!

Also been wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, Lindemans is huge but also went to Oakvale who sell lots of wine to Tesco. It's cheaper to buy in England than here because the tax here is so high!

You can travel a long way in OZ without seeming to go very far, hence the need to fly!! Off to Cairns on Friday!

More later, love to everyone.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

South Island is just as beautiful as North Island. We are now moving across from the west to the east. We visited Mt Cook on Monday. It's mighty high when you get close up!! But as luck would have it by the afternoon the weather had closed in and it was pouring!! Still, it is March & autumn has begun! We spent the day at the Visitors Centre and then the Hermitage, the shangrila of mountaineers! It devotes a lot of space to Ed Hillary and his achievements, which are immense!! There is a large smart hotel, restaurant & cafe as well as a cinema showing the beauty we couldn't see! There were some amazing characters around, dedicated climbers in faded shorts, professionals with followers listening attentively to every word and single minded young men who going out whatever they were told by the advisers on duty. I saw one young Japanese lad later, soaked to the skin cos he just got over enthusiastic!!

Tuesday (2nd) we visited the most southerly astronomical observatory in the world. This was at Mt John 1000m up between Twizel and Geraldine (where we are at present). This was set up by a wealth American in the 1960's. It started because the americans wanted to map the southern hemisphere night sky. By 1968-82 the american military had taken it over to track spy saterlites (sp?) communist! 1984 that had all finished & the americans moved out. The University of Canterbury took over & with the support & money from a wealth Japanese gentleman established the most fantastic 2m mirrored dish telescope. This works using digital photography & is at present looking at galaxies beyond ours. They have found over 200 new planets & according to our guide other planets with life are all over the place it is just that they are so far away & may be very different to us!!

Today, Paul has met the Pope, she was a lovely lady while watching Golf croquet!!!! You can tell we have been apart today! I've been taking in the museum here which tells me that before/during the 2nd World war they grew all the linen flax that was woven in Scotland to make the covers for the Spitfire & other planes. 200 ships a year were transporting it to the UK. It is all gone now but just shows you how we depended on places like NZ for a long time.

I may not get a chance to do another before we hit OZ. I'm keeping your list ready for Sydney Anna, thank you, it is good to hear from home. Even the papers get here several days late! So I'm all at sea.!!!

This is such a lovely country, there only 4 million people and the roads are a delight to drive on, I can understand why Brits come & live here.

Bye for now........

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The deep south. Here we are in Wanaka, having climbed on the Franz Josef glacier and been on my first helicopter ride. the glacier was amazing creaking & groaning, water rushing in streams downhill over white & blue striped ice looked like toothpaste spread everywhere!!
Next we walked up to Fox Glacier and ate lunch at it's snout! with the water rushing out of the terminal cave, anamazing experience!! Then out into the temperate rainforest, felt really weird!!
No rain just 20ish degrees C every day, I keep trying to blow you all some warmth north but there seems to be a bit of a block!!
Have seen Fur seals basking on the beach along the Tasman Sea. Missed the Blue penguins but they are nocturnal & I'm not very good at being a 'night owl' - too much walking.
Wanaka is well known for its skiing, so if anyone feels like skiing during the summer hols, this is the place for you! It has a huge lake which is quite warm at present & the surrounding mountains are barren and dried up, waiting for the weather to change for winter!

Hope everyone at WPS had a good half-term break. Has Caroline had the baby yet? I do hope all is well.
More anon.......

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Now reached South Island. Rotorua was interesting for the pulsating mud pools. The geyser was a bit a fake as they had to put soap flakes into it to make it erupt at 10.15 am! The colours of sulphur, bright yellow, a lake of lime green & another with an orange edge. Lake Taupo is huge like an inland sea with great waves & blowing a gale!! Fantastic B & B in Tangurini & a red rose delivered by the lady of the house for Paul to present to me, arn't I lucky!!
On to Wellington Delightful city, took a tour of the parliament building very interesting. They have abolished the Upper Chamber but it still seems to work through lots of committees. They also have proportional representation so that all the communities are fairly represented.
Fabulous Botanical Gardens full of both familiar & unusual plants - rose beds to Gum trees.
Stayed with a lovely lady, who must have been 75, yet still worked 2hrs a day playing the Grand piano in the most emminant department store Kirkcardie & Staines. She had 2 harps , a baby grand & several uprights in various rooms - a unique experience!!
Interislander ferry was lovely, sea like a mill pond fortunately. The ferry wended its way passed islands covered in fir trees and little inlets where a tiny community nestled.
Picton, just a small port, picked up new car & travelled along the coast road to Nelson. We would not have found this but had been advised by a friend to download the maps of NZ onto Tom Tom before we left so we have had fantastic routes to follow all the way around, brilliant!!
We have spent 2 days here gone on a tour of the area, enjoyed wines at a winery, eaten olives grown on the farm, & eaten apples off the trees. Saw the factory for Gensa the company that we get our apples from in Waitrose!! The fruit here is generally much larger than we get in UK so they must grade us down!!
Off to Westport next, it's a fanatastic place, the high mountains loom.
More later......