Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Almost Over

It’s hard to believe that our Aussie Adventure is drawing to an end.  Tomorrow we will set the alarm clock, be up bright and early, drop the hire car back, and get a shuttle to the airport for our flight home.  We have been warned that some of the airport staff could be taking industrial action, and to allow extra time to get through the immigration counters.

Yesterday we caught up with my brother Brian, who has lived in Australia for quite a long time now.  Brian and Noeleen took us out to lunch at a lovely local restaurant – and it was great to catch up again after all this time.

Robin, Brian, Noeleen, Jenny

Brian and Noeleen live in Redcliffe, made famous as the suburb where the Bee Gees grew up.  We were taken to the Bee Gees Way – full of photos, statues, info boards, and the well known Bee Gees songs playing continuously.

Bee Gees Way in Redcliffe

Staying in the city seemed a good idea on our last day, and we did a little shopping.  Not something that Robin really enjoys, especially in the hot weather.  But we found some new shorts for him, and a top and summer trousers for me, so we both came away happy.

Shopping time

And…..I had been looking around for a little something for my charm bracelet in memory of our Aussie Adventure, and finally found just the thing.  A pretty little koala bear gold charm.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Keeping busy in Brissie

We had never been to Brisbane before – and it certainly is a very cosmopolitan and vibrant city.  Here we are way up, staying in a central city apartment 22 floors high.  It was a good position to watch the Saturday evening firework display from the Brisbane River.  Our apartment is very nice, and has a lovely dining room with glass windows on three sides – rather like eating our breakfast in the clouds.

Sitting room and dining room

Hidden behind a door in the bathroom was my very own laundry – happy days!

We have been riding around on the free red ferry which criss-crosses the river from Victoria Bridge, around Kangaroo Point and all the way up-river to Sydney Street.  The journey took us past some very expensive real estate, lots of rather posh waterside restaurants, a museum, and a hospital, and under several bridges.  It was a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon.

City Hopper Red Ferry

The next morning we purchased tickets for the Brisbane Explorer bus.  And yes, they had concession prices for a couple of oldies like us – at a saving of $10 each it was well worth asking the question.  To make things even better, our tickets took us on two different  tours around the city.  We love this sort of tour, the commentary points out all sorts of interesting sights and buildings, and gives us a good overview of the city.

Brisbane Explorer, and looking over Brisbane City

And today we went into the Hinterland and walked along the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk.  This is set in 30 pristine acres of rainforest beside tumbling creeks and rock pools.  The rainforest smelt so fresh and clean, birds fluttered by, and crowds of people slowly walked along, admiring the views.

On the Skywalk

After a casual lunch in the Skywalk CafĂ©, I had a quick look around their gift shop, not really meaning to buy anything.  But sometimes something just jumps out and says “take me home”.  We have discovered that you really should buy a particular item which takes your fancy when you are away somewhere on holiday, because if you put it off, you will never find it anywhere, ever again!  So this is what I purchased – a new bag and wallet, in my favourite colour blue, of course.  Most of the indigenous items I have seen in shops are usually in browns, reds, and oranges, the colours of the outback but not my colours at all.  So I just had to buy it when I saw it, didn’t I?

My unexpected purchases.

If readers would like to keep up with our travels in more detail, do pop over to our other blog, which gives a much fuller account of our Aussie Adventures.
You can find it on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Of Trains, and the Top End

Things have been moving along, my poor old knee is slowly improving.  Meaning that I can now walk with most of my foot on the ground, instead of hopping and stumbling along.  Nothing is guaranteed to make you feel like a 90 year old than a sore knee, or feet, or a bad back!  As my 99 year old Aunt used to say to me, “Getting old is not for sissies”.  Too true. 

After my accident and subsequent trip to the hospital in Alice, we re-boarded the Ghan to continue on our trip to Darwin.  The scenery certainly changed, and giant termite mounds were scattered everywhere.  The dining experiences on the Ghan were memorable – we got to try crocodile, buffalo and lemon myrtle cheesecake, all new experiences for us.

In the restaurant carriage

We had an off train excursion at Katherine as part of the rail deal, and we chose to do the Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise.  This trip had the least amount of walking involved, we were told, all the better for my painful knee.  We gently cruised along, looking at the lovely peaceful scenery, the bird life, and keeping an eye out for crocodiles.

Katherine Gorge

Later the next day we arrived in Darwin, a bit out of our comfort zone with daytime temperatures in the mid 30s – and it doesn’t seem to cool down much in the evening.  The highlight off our time here was a coach trip to Kakadu.  Our trip, starting just after 6.00am, was the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise in the Kakadu National Park.  We walked a short way to board one of the boats, and were soon on our way, gliding slowly across the water.

All aboard the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise

It was so lovely and peaceful, calm water surrounded by trees, reeds, beautiful pink lotus water lilies growing,  and water meadows.  But the peace was deceptive, as under the water crocodiles were lurking.  One came up to our boat, and struck it hard with it’s tail – keep out of my space, it was saying!  We later saw another croc tossing a turtle around in the air before swallowing it down with a big gulp.


Whistling ducks on the bank, and geese on the water meadow

Watch out for the crocs

It was a wonderful trip, and we feel very privileged to have spent a little time in the huge Kakadu National Park.  Mind you, covering an area of 20,000km, we could only see a fraction of it.  Kakadu National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding natural beauty and as a living cultural landscape. 


Next stop – Brisbane.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Quilts on View, and a Tale of Woe

A “Town Like Alice” half day tour sounded like a good idea.  Our first stop on the tour was the School of the Air, which runs the largest classroom in the world.  First established in 1951, the service provides education to primary aged school children in remote locations originally using radio equipment.  These days the equipment is much more high-tech and utilises satellite internet services.  A team of  10 teachers prepare and send out the lessons from this building.

There were quilts displayed, with the blocks made and decorated by the school children in these far flung places.  The first large quilt I saw was made way back in 1988, and shows life on the stations and farms where the children lived.


A lot of work has gone into making these individual blocks

And tucked away around a corner I spotted a second quilt, made of hand prints to celebrate the 60 year celebration of School of the Air.  Both teachers and pupils contributed their hand prints to this quilt.

Celebrating 60 years of distance learning

While there I purchased a tea towel from their gift shop, very bright and showing scenes from the remote places where the School of the Air is broadcast. 


Sadly, while exiting the bus at our next stop, I twisted my knee and could hardly walk.  After hobbling around for a while, things were not easing and we decided to forgo the remainder of the tour.  Our driver took the others to the next stop, the Reptile Centre, and kindly drove us to the Alice Springs Hospital.

Hobbling up the hospital steps, we were processed quite quickly, forms were filled in, and I was given a card with my hospital number.  Also in the Emergency waiting room were two armed policemen, a necessary presence at the hospital it seems.  One of the staff found me a wheelchair, and before too long I was wheeled in to see a doctor.  So what had I done to my knee?  Not a torn ligament or tendon as I had thought.  I had ruptured a Baker’s Cyst behind my knee when I was twisting my legs to get out of my seat on the bus.  No, we had never heard of that either.

Waiting to see the doctor

Treatment is rest, elevation, painkillers, an elastic bandage, and gentle exercise, and my knee should slowly improve.  And luckily for us, Kiwis get reciprocal hospital care with Australia so no charge was made.  We are boarding the Ghan to continue our journey up to Darwin this afternoon,  so I will be able to hobble up for meals on the train, and relax the rest of the time.  Let’s hope it heals up quickly so we can continue with our exploring.

If readers would like to keep up with our travels in more detail, do pop over to our other blog, which gives a much fuller account of our Aussie Adventures.
You can find it on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Quilt Shop in Alice Springs

At the conclusion of our 4 day coach tour into the red centre of the country, we are now back in Alice Springs for 3 nights.  I didn’t know much about Alice Springs, but I had heard there was a quilt shop in town.  How exciting – I need to check that out!

Waiting patiently outside the quilt shop

The Aboriginal Fabric Gallery is a lovely shop, full to bursting with the colours of Australia.  The owner (sorry but I didn’t catch her name) told me she was a Kiwi from Auckland and was quite happy for me to take a few photos.  Alice Springs has a thriving quilting community it seems, as well as lots of other different craftspeople living in the area.

Views of the shop

There were all sorts of lovely goodies to temp visitors.  Fabrics on bolts ready to be cut, extra wide fabrics for backings or tablecloths, lots of fat quarters, jelly rolls and the like.  I made my selection, a little of this and a little of that, then got a lovely surprise.  The owner came and popped three lovely fat quarters into my bag showing Australian plants in three different colourways.  How kind – thank you so much.

Thank you so much for the extra goodies

Even though we are on holiday, the laundry still needs to be done.  So down we trotted, armed with a pile of $1 coins to set it all in motion.  We had stayed at this hotel overnight before we embarked on our 4 day Kings Outback Tour so knew all about this particular laundry.  I can’t help myself, just have to get the washing done.

Happiness is clean laundry

If readers would like to keep up with our travels in more detail, do pop over to our other blog, which gives a much fuller account of our Aussie Adventures.
You can find it on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Red Centre

Here we are in the red centre of Australia.  And slap bang in the middle is the iconic Ululu (Ayers Rock) which has been given World Heritage listing, and rightly so.  Uluru rises 348m from the arid desert floor and we have been on trips to view it at various times during the day.  Always awe inspiring, it is no wonder that it is considered sacred by the indigenous people.

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock

Less well known but equally inspiring are the 36 dome heads of Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas.

Kata Tjuta

We took a walk between two of the domes, so it was good to get up close to these interesting rock formations.  However, the track was extremely rough, and we were very careful where we placed our feet – a bit wary of a sprained ankle, or worse.

Walking at Kata Tjuta

And to finish off our time at Uluru, we joined a happy band of other holiday makers at an evening barbecue.  The temperatures drop quite low in the desert during the evening, and we were supplied with fleecy ponchos to wear, if required – looking rather like a group of monks having a big night out!  We got to try kangaroo steak, and found it rather tasty, together with more prawns, chicken, salads, Australian wine, and dessert to follow.

All rugged up for our BBQ in the cool dessert air

I’ve been busily writing up my travel blocks, recording where we stay, where we go, and attractions visited.  Also other exciting (to us) titbits such as trying kangaroo for the first time!

Writing on more blocks

I purchased another apron too, (just call me the Apron Queen) the fabric was designed by Aboriginal artist Rachael Stevens, so will be a great reminder of our time spent in the outback of Australia.

Another new apron

If readers would like to keep up with our travels in more detail, do pop over to our other blog, which gives a much fuller account of our Aussie Adventures.
You can find it on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Monday, September 12, 2016

Our Aussie Holiday

We are certainly keeping busy on our Aussie Holiday.  We enjoyed a lunch cruise on the Murray River, check out those prawns!

Prawns for lunch

Proud Mary Murray River Cruise

We enjoyed a meal at Jamie Oliver’s in the heart of Adelaide

Spent the day on Kangaroo Island seeing all sorts of wonders.

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

And now we have just travelled from Adelaide to Alice Springs on the mighty Ghan Train.  We are spending a week touring the outback from Alice Springs, then will board the Ghan to continue our journey to Darwin.

Ready for our Ghan adventure

Enjoying a meal aboard

Robin celebrated his birthday on the train, and the staff presented him with a bag full of goodies!

Happy Birthday Robin

We are off to enjoy a birthday meal tonight to celebrate his birthday.  It's another busy day tomorrow!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

South Australia–we’ve here

Gidday Aussies!  We’ve arrived safely in South Australia, after two flights with a lay-over in Sydney.  And I have started recording our trip on my travelling quilt blocks. 

I’ve written on my first holiday block

We are staying on the lovely city of Adelaide for several days.  And what a glorious city it is, full of parks and beautiful stone architecture.  We had a little look around today, and booked a “City Tour’', seeing all the highlights. 

Can you see me in the front seat?

One of our stops was to look through St Peter’s Cathedral, built of local stone in the French Gothic style, and services began here in 1877.  I couldn’t leave without purchasing a new apron, showing the outside of the cathedral in all it’s glory.  As it’s burgundy, colourwise I think it will work nicely as one of my caravan aprons – a messy cook like me can’t have too many aprons!

My new apron

Interior view of St Peter’s Cathedral

Another stop on our tour was at Haigh’s Chocolates, where we had a quick overview on how hand made choccies are made, before being let loose in the shop.  Purchasing chocolate wasn’t compulsory, but I’m sure that everyone did.  Including us of course, just a small assortment of apricot, ginger, hazelnut and peppermint.  Not to eat all at once, of course.  We’ll save some to nibble on our Ghan Rail trip next week as we trundle through the outback.

Yum, yum, chocolate

Monday, September 5, 2016

Family Catch-up

Sunday was time for a family catch-up. The table was set with one of my pretty hand embroidered tablecloths.  This one was rather special and has a bit of a story to it.  I had purchased it as a kit many years ago.  Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know how to do fancy embroidery.  After it had been hanging around for quite some time, Nicky claimed it and took it home.  Some time later, she gave it back to me for a birthday gift, all beautifully embroidered!

Tablecloth hand embroidered by my daughter

Delicious smells wafted in from the patio as a Robin had a leg of tasty New Zealand lamb sizzling away on his Weber Baby Q barbecue for Sunday lunch.  It was a rainy day, so the BBQ was tucked away under the eaves.

Yum, yum, lamb for lunch

Slathered with gravy, served with roast veggies, and a selection of greens, it was a delicious lunch indeed.  We had home made apple tart with whipped cream for dessert, plus a pavlova and strawberries, so no one left the table hungry.

Presents were swapped – Nicky had recently celebrated her birthday, and I received a belated Mother’s Day gift.  Which was a lovely bright souvenir tea towel from their travels.  And a lovely Tudor Rose pin – Nicky knows I love that period of English Royal history.


Happy Mother’s Day to me

Daughter and son-in-law Nicky and Robert had recently returned home after four months travelling around England, with a quick whizz-bang trip through France, Venice, and Switzerland.  So we spent a very pleasant afternoon looking through their travel photos, played through our TV.  Grand-daughter Emma soon got bored with this, and took herself off with her computer.

Emma found this much more interesting

Soon it was time for the family to head off home, but not before the obligatory family photo.  It was lovely to see them, and catch up with all their news.  Next time, we can bore them silly with our holiday photos!

Nicky and me – oh dear, I’m looking old!

Emma, Robert, Nicky, Megan and Robin

Once we had waved them off, the house returned to its more usual “quiet mode”.  Goodness – those girls are noisy!