Monday, April 27, 2015

Born to ride

Get your pedals runnin'
Head out on the bike path
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes your way!

Audrey loves riding her bike - it's quite an obsession with her - she graduated from her training wheels (stabilisers) quite a while ago and loved pedalling her Barbie bike (secured for $10 from the tip) around, particularly at the cycling facility at Stromlo Forest Park.

The Barbie Bike has grown ever-smaller though as Audrey has got older, and inspired by a couple of her mates (who have now got 'gear' bikes) Audrey would occasionally bring up the subject of wanting a 'gear' bike of her own. I was going to hold onto her birthday, but recently I've felt like it's more of an imperative(!)

I'd been scouring the internet for one and then on Sunday we took a drive to the north of the city and bought a second number. The bike is light blue and white (with a dash of purple) which has taken over from pink in most little girl's palettes - clearly influenced by Frozen - but frankly not before time.

The bike came with seven gears, and though it took a few minutes for Audrey to get used to the larger wheel size she quickly mastered the gears and kept challenging me to guess the gear she was riding in.

We've since had two trips back and forth to school on our bikes. She builds up quite a speed - she looks very much at home on two wheels! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Trip to the Gold Coast and Brisbane

As the kids grew older and became more adventurous Amy and I sometimes chatted about taking Audrey and Eli for a holiday to the Gold Coast.

I'd been to Surfers Paradise a few years ago on holiday, and (between you and me) I have a quiet admiration for Brisbane (even though many Australians often look down their noses at the city's many charms). Sadly Amy and I never got our holiday together with the kids. Another thing we all missed out on.

A few weeks ago a good friend Sam wrote to tell me that she was going to the Gold Coast with her teenage kids. I had worked with Sam in the UK during a fabulous time in our late 20s when work (and life in general) was more fun and carefree and I hadn't seen her since our trip to the UK nearly three years ago. Sam's got two kids who are teenagers (they were babies when we worked together - I remember meeting her daughter as a tiny white haired toddler in the Fanum club)

Another good friend, Wendy (also an old work friend from the UK), offered to lend me her apartment in Surfers Paradise - which eventually became a loan of a car in addition to the apartment as well as a food parcel, generosity and good company as well.

The three of us set off on a short (but fun) adventure.

I've just read a lovely (yet poignant) article about psychological stretch marks. I'll try and paraphrase it (badly) but essentially it talks about accommodating changes in our lives when we're not quite ready. Things like watching Audrey and Eli grow and develop whether I like it or not. Adapting and accepting change that will inevitably happen in my life however much I try and resist.

I find it hard that despite the passing of time it is still makes me a bit sad to see Eli reading or wearing his long trousers to school, Audrey becoming a confident chatty young girl and all of it happening without their Mum being around to see it. Amy would have loved to have seen the kids growing up and of course there are many many more highs and lows to come. Not having Amy around, but having to accept that the kids carry on growing (and I carry on growing older!) are psychological stretch marks that I guess I have no choice but to live with.

Anyway, let's talk about the holiday....

Three theme parks in three days - Sea World (jumping dolphins), Movie World (great rollercoasters - and a very nice looking catwoman which left a number of Dads drooling) and finally Wet 'n' Wild - which incorporated water in many different forms - from huge spiraling slides to hot spas and wave machines.

We stayed not far from the action in Wendy's apartment....the theme parks were incredible but equally I suspect the kids would have happily spent their days in the apartment pool which was lovely and had a spa pool. Our days were relentless - an early start - travel to the theme park - lunches of junk food and then cramming of mind blowing entertainment until the park closed at 5pm. More junk food for dinner. 

I don't think a vegetable (apart from potato chips) passed our lips for two days!

It was lovely to see Sam. Eli adored her thirteen year old daughter and asked when we could see them again. It was sad to say our goodbyes - I hope we can catch up again soon. 10,000 miles is a long way sometimes.

On Friday afternoon we traveled up to Brisbane to see Wendy and her husband Kieren. Her three kids got on wonderfully with my two. They were so kind to us all and made us feel so welcome. On Saturday we were treated to a ride in their (lovely) boat - Audrey was less keen on me driving - I bumped so many waves that she clung on to the side with far more panic than she had during any of the theme park rides we enjoyed. We spent the afternoon swimming at a resort pool. Real luxury.

The weather during our break was glorious. We flew back to be greeted by rain and clouds. Thanks Canberra.

And so I guess another milestone completed - our first 'family' holiday. 

It was so much fun though and it was great to catch up with old friends a welcome relief from Canberra's oncoming winter. It's 5 o'clock and dark outside - I'll have to just think of catwoman to cheer me up.

about to go over the log flume!

Jess and Sam

Audrey and the joker
Stunt driver show
Audrey loved this pink car!

Eli on the boat

Here comes trouble!