Sunday, January 14, 2018

One week of music summer school down!

One week down, one to go. Eli played at a concert organised by the school today. His trumpet group played the Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme) on stage to probably around 200 people. I thought he did excellently - and so impressive that he's only been playing his instrument for a week! When I picked him up he said he was so nervous that he'd nearly dropped his trumpet! Audrey's concert is in week two!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Music School

The summer holidays are really so tricky to negotiate. This year the calendar has fallen so that A&E have no less than seven weeks of school holidays, it's made me realise that at this time of year I am often dreading, rather than looking forward to, Christmas. Additionally occasions such as this make you realise without doubt that parenting is a two person job. I also look enviously at friends who ship their children off to grandparents for the summer or who at least have them on hand for occasional-days of love and support.

Unfortunately we're not so lucky so the kids have had to do a variety of holiday programmes and I combine this with help from kind school Mums to get us through to February. It sounds fine in principle but holiday programmes are usually pretty expensive and somewhat ridiculously a lot of them finish at 3 or 4pm so not really ideal when you work until 5! In addition it means that Audrey and Eli are often exhausted by the end of the day which leaves us all a bit tetchy and grumpy. It's not ideal by any means but we don't have an awful lot of choice.

This year, on a friend's recommendation I signed them up for a music school running at the Canberra Girls Grammar. It was pretty expensive but the appeal of having them at least in one consistent place rather than a double drop-off around town - meant that I was happy to pay for the convenience. Until this point neither Audrey or Eli have really played instruments as the school takes a fairly low-key (no pun intended) approach to music tuition.

Neither of the kids were that concerned with which instrument they would play. I chose trumpet for Eli (I've always fancied myself with a trumpet) and guitar for Audrey - again an instrument I've tried but without much success.

Due to the cost I found it quite an exclusive crowd when I parked among the SUVs and BMWs to drop them off. The place was full of posh kids heading off with their organic cucumber wraps - one Mum was even in tears saying goodbye to her kids (it's a school holiday programme people!).

Audrey and Eli went off quite happily. They were both really excited when I picked them up at 5.30 - they'd mastered a few notes - Eli could get a really good blast on his trumpet and Audrey practiced her guitar until late that evening. I don't know whether it'll be a phase but day one was certainly pretty good. Just three and a half more weeks of holidays to go!

Vegetable update

The raised wicking beds we put in our garden a few years ago continue to be really productive. They've been topped up with horse poo (we have an endless supply courtesy of Audrey's riding school) and this summer we're growing tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans and potatoes.

I think one has developed a bit of a 'leak' which means the water doesn't reach the end of the bed as it should so I may take it apart in the winter and re-configure it. They've been so good though and with Canberra's hot summers I always advocate wicking beds to people rather than beds with top watering systems.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year - Dawn walk up Booroomba Rocks

Rather than the usual New Year's Eve Fireworks I decided to join a friendly bushwalking group and watch the morning sunrise over Canberra from the top of Booroomba Rocks. The rocks are an escarpment about an hour's drive south of Canberra. With the sunrise due to happen at 5.30am it meant that we had to get up at 3.30am to meet the group (4.15am) As a result we were tucked up early on NYE! The fireworks passed us by, and on the 1st we all woke up on time, got dressed and drove to the meeting point. From there we drove in a convoy to the base of Booroomba Rocks and then set off on our walk.

Because it was still dark when we headed off we wore head torches (which kind of added to the excitement). The pace set by the walk leaders was staggering, but we kept up (just about). Eli led the way and Audrey marched behind. I think if we had been alone the walk would probably have taken 30 minutes longer!

Nevertheless the view from the top was spectacular. We watched the sun come up and then ate bacon/veg bacon and egg sarnies. The kids had been bribed with bubblegum(!) and someone in the group had carted a bottle of champagne to the top which was nice. We probably hung around chatting and admiring the view for about 45 minutes. It's such a nice spot.

The descent of the rocks by comparison was pretty sedentary. We reached the car park easily and then drove back to Canberra. We were home just before 9am and so the day seemed realllly long but it was a good way to end the holidays. I was back at work the next day (and the kids have a whole further month to go!)

complete with our head torches

About halfway

back at the carpark

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Big Splash!

We had a fun New Years eve (day) trip to nearby Big Splash. Big Splash is Canberra's only waterpark and apart from a short trip a few years ago we'd never been there - which I guess indicates just how much there is to see and do in the rest of Canberra!

Typically on hot days like today I've preferred the picturesque Cotter river to the waterpark, but together with some friends we went along. It was actually pretty good timing as a lot of people leave town at this time of year to head inter-state to see family or to Sydney for the fireworks. It meant that the park wasn't crowded, queues for rides were tiny and we all had a fair share on numerous rides.

The park is actually pretty good - they advertise that they have nine slides - which is a bit of a stretch as some of them are really only for tots, but on the whole it's a really nice set up and the big rides that they do have were now perfectly suited to an 8 and 10 year old. We spent a lot of the day there - armed with our new $30 'no' pro which I think takes pretty decent pics given its cost.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Short break to Marlo

Weather wise Canberra, being inland, heats up in the summer while coastal towns including Sydney tend to remain at lower (and often more bearable) temperatures. In the winter the reverse happens.

As a result the majority of Canberra's population heads south east during the summer to the beaches of Batemans Bay - encountering the Kings Highway which has precarious twists and turns and usually has at least half a dozen fatalities a year as people rush to and fro from the beaches.

Similarly while Melbournian's do head East they often end at Lakes Entrance (a spot probably 300km from the centre of Melbourne) and most likely holiday far closer to home.

Recently we've discovered Marlo - a small town situated about 4 hours directly south of Canberra and east of Lakes Entrance. It's in, what one of our friends described as, a bit of a 'tourist shadow'.  It's a further (but less difficult) drive than Batemans Bay (and probably adds about an hour to the journey) but is an attractive little place - being built on the outlet where the Snowy River meets the Sea.

That in itself probably causes the place some issues (there are pictures online of floods which have happened at various points) but for the majority of the time it is a quiet and picturesque place with pelicans and a small friendly local population. There is a lovely pub which looks out to the estuary and affords beautiful sunsets each evening. Some of the beaches nearby are so unspoilt - we walked to Salmon Rocks one morning - a long stretch of incredibly beautiful beach with great waves.

Nearby Orbost is the 'centre' of things with a couple of schools and a supermarket. Orbost has a busy and thriving highstreet - but even that though looks like it's been pretty unchanged over the last 50 years or so.

We headed down to Marlo a couple of nights. In the end the kids decided that we should stay longer, so two nights become three, which in turn became four. Living is easy in that part of the world, we had a morning fishing (Audrey caught 4 fish, Eli 2 and me nothing!) and a couple of days on the beach and in the river, so we were sad when we finally did head back home.

Waiting for the sunset in the pub
Beautiful Marlo sunset

Beach selfie

Audrey and I made a driftwood campsite! (Eli conked out and slept on the beach)

Youngs Creek Waterfall (a really tranquil spot) - we were the only ones there all morning

Audrey showing her fishing skills

Eli with a salmon

Eating our catch!

Friday, December 22, 2017