Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 16 Omereau and Bryce Taylor

We awoke and decided that we would try and get somewhere a bit closer to town..So we booked out, went into town had a pretty ordinary breakfast and a wander around and came upon the very old but quite nice and very central It was a little dodgy but very handy.
Alans cute face as a penguin
Then we set off to the sights of this great town. The penguins were high on the list. We visited the tourist info centre (Al had a turn on a penny farthing) This town has a historic section, many buildings made of limestone..they had markets on so we visited these. It was at these, whilst I was looking at a stall that a young boy asked me "are you a local" when I said no he said "I have a penguin out the back do you want a look?" well it seemed very shifty so giving Al that nod nod wink wink he thankfully followed me and this young fellow out the back to this junk yard where the boy went over to a little box and knocked on the lid, lifted it up and there was a little fairy penguin sitting on an egg. How special. He ezplained it had made a nest behind old wood, so he and his father had made the box and lured it there with feathers..o so cute. So no he wasn't a white slave trader or anything..I did buy one of his little statues (naturally a penguin)
We then went to the penguin place and found out when to go, had lunch overlooking the water, visited a cheese factory, visited Janet Frames house (an angel at my table) then it was off to see the first lot of penguins to come ashore. They are the yellow eyed penguins. We were blessed to see one so close. About 50 metres up the cliff face and we were told she was a 16 yr old who had lost her life long mate this year and had picked up a toy boy and he was a bit wayward and didn't always come home and she was waiting for him. How funny. The man who has a site mentioned us on his page..."stood next to the viewing platform for about an hour, she preened and gave a few calls before moving off into the bush. Excellent. I spoke to nice folk from Czech Republic, France, States, Australia (especially Mary & Allan) and the rest of the world. " wow we found that after we got home.
Then it was a race to get to the site for the blue penguins (or fairy penguins) where we saw about 90 penguins come ashore. Whta a site..and then afterwards they were everywhere waddling along the road etc. They are sweet. The next day we were off to Twizel

One of the rare black lambs we saw

Where we staye night 2

Lucky it was attached to something..

 The young man...I think it was Bryce who
showed us the little penguin

the penguini bought is in the front centre

Outside Janet Frames house

Waiting for her toyboy

Coming ashore

 in someones healighs (o maybe ours)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Christmas letter

WOW what a year we have had! A family holiday, a wedding, an admittance, an awesome overseas holiday as well as good health.. That in a nutshell is 2009 for us. Last Christmas, we were blessed to have everyone home. It was wonderful and enjoyed a great time together.

We started 2009 with just one focus in mind. Clare and Shane’s wedding. The time slipped quickly past and before we knew it we were off to Brisbane for a hens night and then over to Straddie for a week of holidays and then the wedding. The week was great. We had an old B & B, where we all stayed, so plenty of room for all. A fantastic view over the beach and just perfect weather. We did have the threat of a cyclone, which never eventuated and the threat of containers of some disgusting stuff being washed up on the beaches but that too did not eventuate. God was so good. Clare was the perfect bride. So easy going and when even the beach washed away, she took it in her stride and we found a beautiful grassy headland overlooking the beach. Much better for access, with my Cinderella shoes. It all went well and a great day was had by all. It was lovely to catch up with so many family members. A huge thank you also to our own Pastor Jeff Frankham who stepped in and married Clare and Shane. A big effort but so appreciated. After that it was back to normality.

Alan working at the Salvos, I still at the library and Aj still at Ballina High. She is now also the school Chaplain. A role, that complements her Scripture teaching role. We really see very little of her. She has a hectic social life, and with Boot camp and swimming it really is go go go. We are very grateful to her for taking such great care of our baby Molly and all the other animals and the house whilst we were in NZ.

I did fit in a surprise quick trip to Mundubbera for Chari’s birthday. I had never been there for her special day and I had a wonderful weekend. So exciting to be there when she opened her pressies and blew out her candles.

Just before I went Overseas I became the proud owner (or at least I am paying Optus) of an Iphone. O my Gosh it is fabulous. It warra nts a paragraph all to itself in bold and Italics. I LOVE IT!!!

All too soon it was time for a quick trip to Canberra for Clare to be admitted to the law society. Danny and Del put us up in style and we got to meet the new Grandpuppy “Ellie” a miniature schnauzer. Very cute. We were so proud of Clare and as she stood and took the bible to swear her Oath, I felt such love and pride in her. She had worked hard to achieve this and it was great that we were able to see her be admitted. As she was admitted in Canberra she is admitted to the law society as well as the Bar….impressive.

We also got a chance to catch up with my precious Aunty Joan. She is in a nursing home and is very frail. It was so good to see her. Clare was very sad to see her, as she had not seen her since she became ill. We were sure she understood about Clare being admitted. I so love Aunty Joan. We also saw Uncle Geoff and cousin Peter, which was great.

From then on it was a downhill slide to our NZ holiday. We were so excited.. There were a few dramas with me getting my passport, but eventually I held it in my hands. YAY. The day arrived and we were off. We had an amazing time. We drove over 3,000 kms saw some fantastic sites. Baby seals frolicking in a waterfall pool, went in a helicopter, sheep, seals ever so close, sheep, morning sunrises, sheep, deer, snow on mountains, played in the snow and some sheep. While over there we had the sad news that a young man we knew was killed in a motor bike accident. Really threw us a blow and left us in shock. My blog actually has a day by day update of our holiday if you are interested..

So we returned 3 weeks later, excited and so in awe of what an amazing country we had just visited. We arrived back in Brisbane to be greeted by Clarey, Kirsty and all 3 of our grandchildren. What a surprise. When we finally got back to Skennars Our Molly puppy was so excited to see us as was AJ, our precious at home baby. It really was hard to tell which one was more excited.

Kirsty, Natty, Chari and Sammy stayed for the next 2 weeks and it was so nice seeing so much of them. The sadness of having them live so far away is a daily thing and we love when we get to spend time with them.

We came back feeling that we would like to really do something different with our lives. Not just sit back here at Skennars till we retire. So who knows what the future will bring. We have prayed a great deal about it and know that God hears every prayer and will answer us.

Our children, their wives and their husbands are all well. Grandchildren well and just amaze me how quickly they are growing up.

Kirsty and Michael and kids are still in Mundubbera, Kirsty working at home, scrapbooking and then working at the NAB a few days a week. Michael, who had his gallstones removes this year is now really well and has been promoted to be in charge at Mundubbera Parks and wildlife. Also just a few weeks ago they became new parents again with the arrival of Daisy. A shihtzu maltese 8 week old puppy. They are all besotted with her and we are looking forward to meeting her at Christmas. Although I believe toilet training is a not so happy event, currently.

Danny and Adele continue to work hard and much to my dismay continue to be really happy in Canberra. I keep hoping they will move this way. As mentioned earlier they have puppy Ellie who is O so cute and really very loved and spoilt. (naturally)

Clare and Shane had a wonderful wedding and then honeymoon in Hervey Bay and did so many exciting things. Shane has just finished at Aldi and is commencing in a blind cleaning business with his brother. He is really happy about it and we hope he does well. Clare is still at HBM lawyers and would love a change in the new year. She continues to be a great Tupperware dealer and certainly is kept very busy. We get to see her fairly regularly, but nowhere near enough for us.

Kim and Beth continue to go well. They are the leaders of the young adults program in our C3 Church, where they are helping to make a direct impact on peoples lives. Bethy is still working with the photographer and Kim now works with Life without Barriers. He seems to be enjoying it and I think very good at it. He has a high tolerance level and often sees the humour in some difficult situations. They have recently had a Bali hut put up in their yard. It is amazing and Alan and Kim did the decking for it. It’s fabulous. They also have had a new fur grandbaby a bunny named “Sunny” but after I was left to babysit it, I have renamed it Houdini.

We will be spending some of Christmas day having Breakfast with Kim and Bethy, and then off to Brisbane for lunch with Clarey and Shane and hopefully Christmas desert will include the Piper family. Naturally AJ will be with us. The only ones missing will be Danny and Del. Danny working 7am-7pm (sucks to be him) Lucky Del has her family all down there.

We were shocked early in the year to hear of my cousin Julies sudden death. So young. It really rocked us and we really think of her family at this time of year. It will be a hard Christmas for them.

We continue to pray for all our families, both Alans and mine for health and happiness. We both managed to catch up with our families during this year and hope that 2010 will be the same.

Happy Christmas to all..may you be blessed and really enjoy this amazing time..

Love always and many apologies for my really quick letter but it was this or none at all..

Day 15..Oamaru

Our morning view from porthole
We awoke early and stood on the bed and looked out the porthole. we were about 60cm above water line. It was a very grey light as it was early, but a clear sky. We figured we had been sleeping under the waterline...weird!! We quickly got dressed and went up on deck. IT WAS FREEZING. But beautiful. Most other people slowly arose too and as we stood and watched and took photos the sun started touching the mountains..It was berautiful. Al got us coffee and that was wonderful. It is hard to describe just how cold it was.
At about 6.45 a rooster began crowing on the boat to wake everyone up who wasn't already up. A cute way to get people up and going. Breakfast at 7.30 and the boat underway soon after. Out to the Tasman sea. First time this season. We were up on deck but it was rough and freezing (did i mention it was cold)
Then it was a mad scramble to get ready to be dropped off at the underwater observatory. We had paid for that when we booked. We had not realised that we left the boat then and were returned to the terminal on another boat.

The sun kissing the mountainsHeading out to the Tasman
So at the was just Alan and I that got dropped off. Funny!! Yep we had the whole place to ourselves complete with 2 staff. The reef under Milford sound was pretty awesome. Its about 15 m under the water but because of the high rainfall..Milford sound had a layer of fresh water on top and sea water under. The sfresh water acts as sunglasses so its quite light down so deep. Fascinating. When our 30 mins was up it was back to the top to discover a huge sea cat ready to take us back. Yep 10 staff a huge cat and Alan and funny. "Its ok Al I'll save you a seat" The trip back was eventful as the boat nearly ran aground. But it was so fun.
We then set off on our trip back. We had no plans and decided to just go until we found somewhere we wanted to stay.
We stopped and had a snowball fight..the tunnel was not as scary when I was ready for going up hill so way slower
We travelled once again across the country. From Milford Sound to Dunedin..When we arived there we were tired and cross but really busy there (we nearly got divorced) so we kept going and arrived about 8pm at Oamaru. The drive across was amazing. we came across rolling green hills..that were awesome.
We finally found a little spot north of the town Then it was time to organise dinner as we were both suffering low blood sugar levels. Of course it was  the rugby night so Alan decided NOT to wear his wallabies jacket. The pubs were thick with people. I saw a few naked men doing a run through a car park. But we did find a lovely spot and enjoyed a wonderful meal. Then it was home to bed.

Yes the Tasman

A typical Milford Sound view..note the day

Al in an action shot just b4 it hit me

O so green..on our way to the East Coast

Gore..a sister city of Tamworth

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 14 Milford Sound

WE awoke so excited. We were off to Milford Sound. An overnight experience. We had booked and paid for this while at home. It had been fairly expensive but it included everything. So when we got out of bed and saw drizzly skies and fog everywhere, for a second we were concerned, but then we realised we had prayed specifically for this time and then we knew it would be good.
So up and packed, breakfasted on our supply of goodies and were off. So much to do before we could leave. Alan and I had decided we would buy the camera for me as I was not happy going to this great place without a camera. We got that, after spending ages on the net at the Te anau Library (which was free)

Camera bought, Petrol topped up in the car and tramping supplies (LOL) we were off.
Nothing could have prepared us for the amazing journey we had. The views spectacular and as the cloud and rain disappeared, the steam on the road was incredible, the snow, everything was just breath takingly beautiful. We passed reflection pools and so many amazing sites. Saw more of the Kea birds (the local bush parrott) Such a funny bird and heaps more.

As we climbed higher into the mountains the views became more and more spectacular. Suddenly we were about to enter the Homer tunnel. We had read about the homer tunnel and how the traffic is worked on a one way system with traffic lights..we had been told to be prepared for an amazing view..etc BUT no one told us that in avalanche season, which was when we were there, with warning signs everywhere not to stop that there are no traffic lights. Another thing no one told us was that the Homer tuunnel is VERY dark. Like really dark. As we approached the tunnel there is little warning..maybe 200 m from the time to stop and think m(no traffic lights) suddenly we went into this hole and bang..darkness.. "Mary turn on your lights" "yes they are already on Alan, I need my glassses, my sunnies are no good in here" and then suddenly buses coming the other way, hazard warning lights flashing..seemingly taking up 75% of the road. It was incredibly scary..It is downfhill all the way so the good thing was the buses were going very slowly.

All I can say is the scenery was just magestic. after the tunnel and as the road went steadily downhill and all we did was go "ooo" "wow" "gosh" It really was great. Even though I was driving i still was ooing and ahing.
We arrived at Milford and found out where we needed to be and then went and had coffee at the one little coffee place there. After that we walked down to the terminal, and saw for ourselves how beautiful it was. There was a waterfall that was sending as mist over everything. By this time it was about 3.30 so I walked back up to the car, drove it down and unpacked our gear and sat and waited. Alan was so excited.
Come 4.30 we boarded, were given a quick run down (safety check included) shown our cabins and we were off.
That afternoon we saw some of the Fiord (which is what it really is as it is caused by a glacier) and then we parked (dropped anchor) for the night and went out on a tender (a small boat) where we saw penguins, and seals. I might add here that God once again looked after me. I prayed to see penguins and we saw penguins and seals. The other boat saw nothing.

We declined to kyak or swim but the 30 or so high school kids (who we were lucky enough to have along with us, for the night) all did (FOOLS) just in normal swimmers. I might add it was freezing on the water and we were told  the water temp was about 9 degrees..ha I swim only when it is over 25 degrees..
Back on the boat, wine, yummy dinner, informative talk, a walk out on deck (ever so briefly to admire the stars) and bed. A great day

 * One of the reflection terns we passed
* Avalanche warning signs. they were everywhere
* Some of the mountains around us
* Al after another photo shoot
* Homer tunnel with a warning sign not to stop..note the snow.Caused by an avalanche a few weeks earlier..
*Our first glimpse of our boat
* Al checking in at real journeys counter
* the next 3 are just some from the boat..beautiful
* Al and I freezing about 5pm on the small boat
* Photo of the big boat from the little boat
* One of the Fiordland yellow crested penguins.. (native to that area)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just thought I would do 5 favs

Gosh its been so long..I realy apologise to my myriad of friends..\

My 5 faves this week are..

1.. having my friend Lara back. I didn't realise how much I missed her..but she is now back and staying within 2 hours reach so I am stoked.

2. Knowing my daughter Kirsty is so her painting. I already knew she was talented as her scrapping is awesome..but her painting is WOW. check out her blog..

3. Having time alone in the house. Al is out at his photothingy tonight and AJ breezed in for 5 mins and is gone again. Its just me and Molly..good times..

4. A glass of icy cold white wine after a long hot nice and refreshing..and relaxing o YES.

5. Going to the Melbourne cup luncheon with my sister and friends Jenny and Marilyn. So fun and so good..Jenny and Helly and I all won stuff (Helly even won a bottle of wine lucky door prize) It was good fun..We really enjoyed dressing up and wearing our 'fascinators'.

Thats it for my favs..I thought I would add an extra list for this week..things that make me foul

* Hot We have had hot weather (around 30-35) since August on and off..YUK What will summer bring???

* Plus then there is the was sauna like..Horrid horrid

* being on a diet..I have been on one my whole life (well never just eating what I want. Always thinking thats not good..shouldn't have that. I'd love to never have to worry and just eat whatever I like.

* blood tests..trying to get in early. All the old dears who have nothing better to do hen race down to the pathology office at sparrows. (a really important day for them) Heck I MUST have my blood tests done TODAY at sparrows. One almost gets run over by the motorised scooters..rushing down to the pathology office..NOOOOOO

* House cleaning..I hate that too..wish I could get someone into clean. I feel I would allow someone to do what they are passionate about.. and then I wouldn't have to do something I really hate.

Ok enough for this week..I will keep up with my NZ holiday. Hope you are enjoying my day by day commentary.  I can tell you are by all your comments..LOL

Ok thats it

Day 13 Lake Te anau

We arose and had a lazy morning..self service breakie again..We had a late check out so we took advantage of it.. I finally wrote some postcards and then left them downstairs at reception for them to post for us..they finally arrived back in Australia about 4-5 weeks bad..

We set off slowly taking in sights and enjoying the ever changing landscape.
We had morning tea at a cute little cafe, complete with shetland pony and picnic tables outside. It was relaxing. We were surronded by windmills (modern ones ) on hills and Alan took heaps of pictures.
We arrived in Te anau and checked out the itag place and then into town where we found our "cheap" accommodation $120 (nz) a night. It was very dodgy but clean and ok..

When I say dodgy I just mean it was very dated and like a little house complete with hallway..seperate toilet etc and the bathroom was so dated..quite funny really..then we set off for a walk into town..

We booked in at real journeys for our overnight cruise the next night and got the run down on where to park etc..then headed off for sight seeing. Al took a picture of me with a Takahe statue  and on handing the camera (my camera ) back to me we both managed to let go and broke it..V SAD..
We both were in shock. Our big day the next day on Milford Sound and me no camera.

We went to the local store and he only had some point and shoot We went and had coffee and decided to think about it. He did however confirm that the camera was broken..

On the way home we called in to the Moosehead pub and ended up staying for dinner. Alan watched the footy and drank and I played the pokies and drank and then we both had dinner and continued to drink..a perfect night really. Just what we needed.

Then we walked (stumbled home) well really we weren't so bad but it was a great night. albeit I had a broken camera. It had been a good day very relaxing..and we were way excited about the next day

The entry to the Queenstown snow fields..v famous. Al nearly had a heart attack when I pulled off here. He thought I wanted to go all the way up to the fields..
About 40 mins out of Queenstown and still the lake comes. Looking back towards Queenstown.
The view from our "dodgy" hotel..great view.
Me and my Takahe
The final picture with my "ol faithful"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 12 Queenstown.

So we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and a huge day planned..onto the the kiwi park and up on the gondala.

We set off around 9.30 after another delicious toast and free spreads breakie. We had decided on the jetboat ride in Queenstown..which went to the shotover Dart river.. see web address..  We arrived about 9.50 and bought our tickets..11am was the time for the jetboat. So we went off and had coffee, got some sea sick tabs (just in case) and were back to clamour into huge coats and life jackets. Off we went. It was rough accross the lake but as we headed up the river it was fun..a few 360 degree turns and some low trees on the shoreline and we were at the Dart river...very exciting..shooting over tiny 'puddles' of water 360 degeeing etc etc..It was terrifying but fun..

I got a tad wet and when we got back we were ablr to go downstairs and look in the underwater observatory..diving funny..

Then we headed off to the Kiwi park.. This was located adjacent to the entry to the gondala and the walk up was quite hard (for unfit me!!) we found kiwis and were lucky enough to sit through a talk while they fed them.v interesting. I did loose the map over a balcony at one stage but my amazing husband rescued it..YES!!

Then it was off to the gondala..O M Gosh..scary as ..never thought it would worry me but it was such a steep accent..These are stats for anyone interested.

Bottom Terminal Elevation: 340m

Top Terminal: 790m

Vertical Rise: 450m

Total Length: 730m

Incline Angle: average of 37.1 degrees

Average Speed: Variable to 3.5m/sec
Now if my maths are right it means that the thing actually rises almost 1/2 a km at a 37 degree angle..yep it was scary..and Al wondered y I hated him changing sides and bouncing around..oo scary.

The view was amazing..but I was wet and being a princess so I was miserable and hungry so we ordered lunch at about 3pm and left. Now there was a haka show on at 6.30 but no way was i waiting that long.. So it was back down the mountain..back to our warm room..and then we ventured out later in search of PIZZA!! All we felt like was pizza and eventually found it in HELL!! Down a back alley the best pizzas ever..we had seen it advertised the night b4 on a current affair show and it won against dominoes and pizza hut in healthy, time we tried them and they were great.
The other thing  I wanted to do was go to the icebar..but by now I was actually sick of being cold and we headed home..what a day..

The pictures are..
morning at our unit
The 3 pictures i stumbled on of us on the net..(we had bought the pictures
Al on the jetboat
Our place from the jetboat
The diving duck
The weka (nz mountain parrott)
My kiwi photo
Alan outside the kiwi park
Going up that scary mountain
Alan and Us at the top
At lunch on the mountain
The amazing sheep on the side of the mountain