Sunday, November 27, 2011

Open Day at the National Zoo and Aquarium

The National Zoo is only a short 10 minute drive from our house and earlier this year we took up the offer of an annual pass. It means we can call in whenever we like and it's a nice place to spend an hour or two. Amy has taken Audrey and Eli a few times since we've signed up for the pass, and the children have now developed their own routine in terms of which animals they see and in which order. Every trip ends in a milkshake in the cafe.

Sunday was an open day for members, which gave you the opportunity to feed a number of the animals. Amy and I fed a (very sedentary) lion with some bits of meat while he lay on the sun.

A while ago someone gave us a giraffe fancy-dress costume which Audrey decided to wear to celebrate the occasion. She got a number of admiring glances and it made a nice change from her usual fairy attire.

me feeding Christian the lion. I opted not to go in the cage and give him a hug afterwards.

Eli by the monkey enclosure
Audrey as a giraffe
Sign reads: Please do not touch the glass - National Zoo and Aquarium a touching experience

Our local park

Here's some (perhaps uneventful!) pictures of our local park. It's only a short cycle from our house and the kids love riding there while I pull them in the bike trailer...who wouldn't?

Last week's rain gave way to some lovely sunshine on Sunday.

A really nice thing about watching Audrey and Eli growing up is seeing their imaginations run wild. The slide in the park sometimes doubles as a rocket-ship, the area under the slide is almost always an ice cream shop and we invariably meet dinosaurs there. On our latest trip Audrey sold me an (invisible) raspberry ice cream for $110. It seemed a bit on the expensive side, but it tasted divine.

ChloƩ's 3rd Birthday

Lots of fun was had as well as a lovely birthday cake!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An audience with Princess Mary

On Tuesday Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark were in Canberra for the day. Audrey is quite smitten with princesses at the moment so I decided to take her and Eli to the National Art Gallery to see if we could catch a glimpse of Princess Mary. I couldn't believe it when we arrived - there were not many people about and we got prime position to see the royals arrive.

To top it all off, Princess Mary actually stopped to say hello to Audrey and Eli. Eli had taken along his Big Ted and dancing card (which he'd just got that morning at dance class and was well chuffed with) and Audrey had her favourite Barbie doll, nicknamed Princess Catherine. Princess Mary was rather bemused with the name of the Barbie doll!

I think I was rather more in awe of the royals than Audrey and Eli. The following day when our neighbour asked who Audrey had seen on Tuesday she replied, "A brown and ginger cat"! I had to prompt her again before she remembered her audience with Princess Mary.

Here's a still

Audrey, Eli and Amy appear about 1.30

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pat Cummins

It’s not often I have admiration for an Australian cricketer. There’s one or two I enjoy to watch but on reflection the last time I think I really ‘admired’ an Australian cricketer was Brett Lee at Edgbaston in 2005.

I’ve been following the Test Series in South Africa (a terribly short 2 test series), South Africa v Australia with interest and found myself actually cheering an Australian cricketer’s success.

Pat Cummins was the stuff of Victor comics – an 18 year old plucked from obscurity (after only playing 4 first class games) who then took 7 wickets in a match and hit a four for the winning runs (recording his highest batting score in the process). It was the stuff of dreams. Australian cricket has struggled for the last couple of years as old-hands retired or were dropped and mediocre or inconsistent players took their place. Throughout it all I haven’t shed a single tear at the team’s demise but I remember an Australian telling me (after Australia had drubbed England at cricket a few years ago) that things are cyclical, and so it appears.

It’s always great when young players ‘come through’. Whether it’s a 22 year old Gazza a youthful Ronnie O'Sullivan, David Gower, Andy Murray, Robbie Keane, David Beckham and even dare I say it Wayne Rooney. Some rise and then fall, some become sporting institutions and some get extensively tattooed.

It’ll be interesting to see how Pat Cummins fares, and probably I’ll change my view of him if he takes 7 wickets in his first game against England

Pat Cummins biffs a four

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Swimming+Tennis = tired children

After our weekly Saturday morning swimming lesson this morning we headed off to Lyneham Tennis Centre (National Sports Club) for their free tennis fun-day morning. It was a beautiful sunny day and we made sure the children were well basted in sunscreen. The morning was led by a friendly bunch of coaches and even though it wasn't hugely attended by the general public there were enough people both adult and junior on the courts to make it worthwhile.

Audrey and Eli took part in a junior coaching session. It was Audrey's second try at tennis, but although she really enjoyed it she didn't share quite the same enthusiasm as her little brother who tore around the mini-courts with a really determined look on his face. Both of them earned new racquets (given by the National Sports Club) for their enthusiasm and hard work. Here's them finishing their session followed by the drive home.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Garden Party Pics

We went to a really lovely BBQ/Garden party last weekend at some of Amy's friends.

They've got a beautiful garden with big trees a cubby house and a hammock which Audrey loved. I tried to sneak off to lie in it for a few moments peace myself but was thwarted by children taking turns to have a go. Here's some pics..

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New sand in the sandpit

We celebrated the forthcoming summer with a few new bags of sand in our sandpit. The beach comes to our back garden!

Mantis Ant (Australian Wildlife Encounters No.7)

There's no denying that Australia is full of creepy-crawlies. six of the ten most venomous snakes live here as well as a menagerie of cockroaches, mosquitoes, scorpions and spiders.

In truth though most Australians live in suburban cities and a lot of Australia's insects and bugs are pretty shy.

I'm absolutely certain that if you went wandering around the thousands of miles of outback something would sooner or later bite, sting or scratch you, but nothing (except for perhaps sharks and crocs) is going to hunt you down. (erm well ok maybe the mosquitoes)

Having said all that digging in our garden is always an experience. In the UK you occasionally unearth a worm, garden snail and woodlouse or two, here the creatures coming to the surface are invariably more exotic and surprising to my English eyes.

I occasionally come across the odd red-back spider (which DOES scare the bejesus out of me) and there's a fair number of bugs flying around that would similarly terrify me if they landed on my face.

Last week we witnessed huge number of soldier beetles flying onto the blossom laden trees and at the weekend I spotted a few ants on a plant outside of our front door which turned out to be (I think) mantis ants. I looked them up and found they are remarkably voracious. It made me glad to know they were only 5mm in size! Here's a picture I took of one before I learned that they were actually very good at jumping!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Butterfly and a Tiger

We went along to Holy Trinty's Fayre yesterday where the kids enjoyed some face painting. I'm always amazed how still they sit when someone is painting their face.