Monday, August 30, 2010

Click go the shears boys

Today we had our playgroup at a sheep farm near Tidbinbilla National Park so we could watch the sheep being shorn. Audrey was so excited, singing 'Click go the shears' and 'Baa baa black sheep' on the drive to the farm.

The farm has 9000 head of sheep and 1000 cattle. The shearers are paid per sheep so were working pretty fast. It's amazing how quickly they could get the wool off the sheep. We also saw the wool being classed and packed into bales.

It was a lovely sunny day so it didn't seem so bad for the sheep to be stripped of their woolly coats but I bet they are feeling the cold tonight! Brrr...

The shearers working hard

Tom Roberts' (famous Australian artist) painting 'Shearing the Rams' from 1888 (not a great deal appears to have changed)

Audrey feeding the pony

Weekend in Sydney

We drove to Sydney this weekend to spend some time with our friends, Tim and Hayley, and their two children, Alex and Ted. Audrey had been talking about seeing 'darling Teddy' for a while so we decided to make the trip. It was a lovely relaxing weekend and the kids all played together really well. It wasn't until we were leaving on Sunday afernoon that we realised the only outing we had taken was a trip to the local park. Who needs to go anywhere when the company is so good!

Tim reads to the kids

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eli and Mymie

Eli has a couple of toys he loves. One is a wolf (stands to reason really) and the other is Jemima. Jemima tends to be carried everywhere and is known affectionately (by Eli) as "Mymie". Here's a picture of him and his "Mymie" taken this morning

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Audrey!

On Sunday we threw a 3rd birthday party for Audrey. We both find it amazing that our little girl is 3!

I’m not sure how she reached the decision, but for the last 6 months Audrey has been asking us for a ‘Humpty cake’ for her birthday and so Amy and I were labouring away on Saturday evening putting the finishing touches to Humpty's features. Play School finished some years ago in the UK, but is still going strong here in Australia. Here’s what Humpty on TV looks like;
And here’s what our cake looked like

Not a bad effort methinks!

We hired a cottage in Kambah (just a few minutes south of where we live) and around 20 under 4s appeared (+ one 5 year old) together with their parents. It was a really lovely morning and Audrey was exhausted at the end of it.

It was great to watch Audrey’s excitement build as her friends arrived. At one point she was literally jumping up and down with enthusiasm. The party started at 10am and just after midday Audrey was flagging and (even though she denied being tired) she sat down with heavy eyes. Eli kept going strong throughout, but in fairness didn’t have the pressure that came with being the centre of attention. He loves hanging around with the bigger boys that came along.

Here’s some pictures of the morning.

blowing out the candles

Eli and a balloon

Cutting the cake

Canberra Botanic Gardens Twilight Adventures

For a couple of days during science fortnight in Canberra the Botanic Gardens opens its doors to visitors after dark. Guides escort a small number of visitors (you have to book in advance) round the gardens in the dark in the hope of spotting various native fauna and learn about the flora.

Me and Audrey went last year and enjoyed it so much that this year we encouraged our friends Duncan and Penny (aged 3) to come along too.

Our guide (Will) was fantastic and our group was lucky enough to spot a number of animals during our walk. Rabbits and Kangaroos were fairly easy to find (although they are 'discouraged' in the gardens as they both take a fancy to eating rare seedlings). More of a challenge was our spotting of a couple of possums (both bushtails). Half way round we also stumbled on a tawny frogmouth who was perched only a couple of feet from where we stood and then retreated onto a nearby branch. I've always thought they were owls (actually they're a closer relation to nightjars) but I was really chuffed to recognise it, despite never having seen one before.

Towards the end of our walk Will spotted a sugarglider in the distance and we rushed over to see it. They're only tiny creatures, so spotting it in the dark half way up a tree 50 feet away was a pretty decent achievement by our guide.

We headed back to a visitor centre where we ate biscuits and drank hot chocolate. Audrey loved the adventure, but fell asleep as soon as we reached home (3 hours after her usual bedtime).

Visit to the Nursery Farmyard

Audrey and Eli were very lucky to be invited to the Nursery Farmyard to help celebrate Tessa and James' 2nd birthdays. Although the Nursery is on the fringes of the suburbs of Canberra it felt like we were in the countryside. There were lots of animals there for the kids to interact with - rabbits, lambs, pigs, a pony. Audrey and Eli both held the rabbits and helped feed the sheep (including bottle feeding the lambs). Audrey was also brave enough to step into the pen with 2 big female pigs to help give them a brush. She also helped brush the ponies. A big step up from a girl who freaks out at cats and dogs!

Afterwards, we enjoyed eating birthday cake. Here are some pictures from our morning.

Eli admiring the alpacas

a friendly lamb

eating birthday cake

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Food festival at the Shine Dome

It's the Australian Science Festival during the next couple of weeks and as part of it we went to a rather lacklustre food festival at the Shine Dome in Canberra.

Even though the food wasn't up to much (basically a few people stood behind trestle tables without m/any free samples), we still got to see a few daleks and visit the Shine Dome - which I think is a great piece of Canberran architecture - resembling something out of Terry Nation's Blake's 7. (n.b Terry Nation also invented the daleks)

Eli walks some more

Eli showing how much his walking has improved over the last couple of days - his stride obstructed only by the amount of toys on the floor.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Greening Australia (no.2)

August 1st was National Tree Day(!) Despite uncertain weather Audrey, Eli and I headed off to Pierces Creek Forest (giving Amy a morning off) to plant a few trees on a 'Community Planting' organised by Greening Australia.

After 30 minutes drive we reached the precarious un-sealed road that leads to the Forest, which we'd last been to nearly two years ago (pre Eli) and the wind had picked up and the rain started falling. Fortunately by the time we'd parked the car the rain had stopped, so the three of us headed to the planting site and there took a bucket full of native plants, a pick (for digging) and some canes.

There were maybe 40-50 others there (Audrey and Eli being the youngest). The two children actually provided quite useful aides, with Audrey putting the plants in the holes and Eli generally digging in the earth (he got an ant in his eye at one point)

We planted around 20-25 trees/shrubs in all. Definitely making a small difference. There was a barbecue after our digging, but the rain started to set in and so we ate our snags and bread in the car before both Audrey and Eli flaked out on our drive home.

my two assistants (the bucket of plants is on the left)

one day all this will be green!

admiring our line of plantlings (Eli is yawning!)

sausages and sleep on the way home

Lone Swimming

Audrey goes swimming every week (she loves it) and this week was the first time that the instructors told the parents to stay out and leave the kids to themselves. There were a few tears all round, but Audrey and the other 5 kids that she shares her lesson with all did remarkably well.

Kitted out with 'bubbles' (basically polystyrene back packs) the kids could all 'swim' on their own. (Audrey kicks and paddles pretty well) and they all made it through the lesson. It was odd though as the 30 minute session which normally passes in the blink of an eye seemed to last an eternity watching Audrey leap in on her own and paddle with the instructors.

Another Dad who goes, whose boy is a few months older than Audrey, told me that it was a remarkable stage as his boy actually started taking more notice of the instructors than he had of him, and so hopefully it'll prove the same with Audrey.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, but here's a picture I took of her with my phone (post-lesson) at the pool.

Audrey, future Olympic swimming champ?