Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mulligan's Flat

We paid a visit to Mulligan's flat last weekend. We didn't go very far as the kids were tired and Amy was feeling sore. Still, it's a really nice wildlife reserve and it was a pleasant sunny day. The park is on the edge of (north) Canberra and is gradually being surrounded by new houses some of them spectacularly huge. We're neither sure where the people who are moving there are coming from, nor what they are doing for jobs. Anyway Here's a few pics

Monday, March 14, 2011

My birthday with Bob

The four of us went to Commonwealth Park this afternoon to celebrate my birthday and also for the kids to see the Bob the Builder Show. We'd been talking about it (for perhaps a few too many days) which meant that both Audrey and Eli were pretty hyped up about seeing Bob 'live!'.

We were pretty lucky to arrive at a perfect time between shows so Audrey and Eli got to sit/stand right at the front of the stage with their friends Will and Abbey. By the time the show started the tent was packed to the rafters.

It was an action packed show (even though the machines were missing - something that Audrey complained bitterly about afterwards) and Audrey and Eli danced/clapped their way through the event. Afterwards a group of us ventured into Civic for a Chinese meal. A nice way to spend the day.The lovely cake Amy made me

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An update on Amy

Amy's now had 22 of her 25 radiation sessions. She's really looking forward to this Thursday, which will mark the end of her current session of radiation treatment.

As well as a lot tiredness she's also had quite a few days of sickness and nausea. Above all else, I also think she's completely fed up with going to the hospital every day for the last month. Although her treatment is pretty quick she's had a few days where she's had to hang around for over an hour before she got to see a nurse. All the staff at the hospital are really friendly and the level of care seems excellent.

I can't really speak for Amy, but the radiation has left much of her skin extremely red and sore. The skin has also really broken up under her arm and is giving her quite a bit of pain. It's pretty unpleasant really.

Thanks once again for everyone's kind wishes and offers of help. We've got Amy's folks with us until the 18th March. I suspect things will be quite tricky trying to juggle everything after that.

Music at Lanyon Homestead

I really like Lanyon Homestead. It's an old country house built as long ago as 1840 odd. It's still a working farm, albeit one owned (and I guess supported) by the ACT local government.

It's only a short drive out of Canberra. It must once have been really remote, but it is now being gradually consumed by urban sprawl. As you leave the main drive down to the homestead you can see new housing development (Conder) creeping up a nearby hill. In 20 years time the green fields which surround Lanyon will probably be inner-city and concreted over.

They've got a music festival there for the next two weekends. Not exactly Glastonbury, but a nice way to spend a pleasant evening. Amy's Dad, Ivor accompanied me and the kids. We ate chips and danced to the Rockabilly/Blues band. They always put on a really great craft tent for the kids which is a real bonus too. A herd of cows blocked our way on the drive home.

Eli heading away from the craft tent with his bag of goodies

Audey and Eli at the park

The three of us cycled to the park today to afford Amy a bit of a rest at home. After a couple of ginger bread men at the local shop we ran into Audrey and Eli's friends Abbie and Will on the way home. Here's a few pics.


Canberra has a new festival called 'Enlighten'. From what I can see it's basically lots of events that used to exist previously only they're now all grouped together and called 'Enlighten'. Apparently it's an attempt to get people to visit Canberra at times in the year other than Floriade (the flower festival in Spring). In fairness they're also lighting up a few of Canberra's most prominent buildings at night for four nighs (hence the enlighten bit).

It's sparked a whole load of ACT revelry - I heard a lady singing Canberra's anthem on the radio yesterday (it's great) and we've had our own flag since 1993 hopefully we'll get our own currency before too long. Not bad for a town of 320,000 people.

Anyway, combined with the launch of Enlighten, this month was also the start of the annual Balloon Festival which is now an "Enlighten event". We've been the last couple of years and if you can make the early start it's always excellent when the balloons go up.

This morning was fine and still and so Audrey and I headed into town a little after 6.15am. It was still quite dark and it was excellent watching the sun come up and the balloons rise over Old Parliament House, one of Canberra's nicest buildings. There's probably 20 odd balloons - they take off about 6.30am and they're all in the air by about 7.15am.

Here's some pics;

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wednesday Morning 6am

Amy's parents have been staying with us for the last couple of months. Because our house is pretty small they've been sleeping in their caravan parked on our front lawn.

Although it is probably starting to get a bit cold at night the caravan gives them some solace from the constant chattering of Audrey and Eli. The two kids love their 'Nanny and Pop'.

Lie-ins at our house are at a premium and even if you're escaping in your caravan you're not exempt from our two little children as this clip shows...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fat Thursday (Tłusty czwartek)

Borrowing from Poland what is probably the best celebration I've ever known, we celebrated Tłusty czwartek or Fat Thursday today. Jam Doughnuts are a poor substitute for pączki

I still have fond fond memories of the bakery on Chmielna

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gulliver the Big Guide Dog

Australia is full of Big Things.

There are estimated to be around 150 of them around Australia. Basically they are tourist traps gone troppo - huge statues (mostly constructed from fibre glass, concrete or other bits and pieces knocking around) designed to encourage you to take a detour off the main highway and have your photo taken then buy a pie or fridge magnet etc.

In my short time in Australia I've been lucky enough to see a Big Orange, a Big Merino (sheep), a Big Prawn, a Big Rocking Horse and a Big Bagpipe-playing Scotsman! I haven't made it a project to see these things, even the most casual visitor here can just stumble on them. There are some souls who dedicate their lives to ticking off all of the big things. Good luck to them. Perhaps when I reach a critical mass of around 30 or so I'll join them in their adventures.

If you want to see a list of them (in order to plan your Australian Big Thing route, click here which is a very good site detailing them all, or alternatively another listing can be obtained here.

Do they encourage tourists? I'm not sure. Most Big Things are connected to dilapidated gift shops so I rather suspect not, but a landscape possessing plenty of natural beauty but devoid of fifteenth century cathedrals, Victorian stately homes or Cromwell ruined castles needs something to get people talking.

One Big Thing you might find tricky to spot on your Big Thing adventure is the Big Guide Dog. That's because the cunning people at Guide Dogs (NSW and ACT) have put the dog (Gulliver) on wheels. I guess it's handy as should the Big Scotsman, or Big Ned Kelly ever have need for a Guide Dog one can easily be at hand, I guess it takes mobility to another level. As with all Guide Dogs, Gulliver was immaculately behaved.

Gulliver came to Canberra last weekend and we caught up with him. He was only in town for an hour and then carried on his somewhat clandestine tour around the country.

Was it as impressive as the Big Pineapple or Big Banana? I'm afraid I really can't say, but it was good to tick another big-thing off (even if it was sneakily on wheels).