Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Got to Get Away

August 16, 2010

I couldn’t wait another second – I headed out of town on Thursday night for a spur of the moment spell at the holiday house. It was chilly, but sunny. We just spent the last 3 days lolling about reading books, playing board games, watching DVDs and eating.Mmm, even a fantastic baked dinner on Saturday night.

This place heals me – it is one of the very few places that just makes me instantly relax.

When we returned I even realised we’d brought home most of the junky snack food I’d thrown into a bag in a hurry on Thursday night and we’d eaten for the most part reasonably healthily. If you don’t count cheese as unhealthy. Dairy is good for you. It is too.

Today my muscles are telling me that rowing miles up the lake might not have been the smartest move. My bruises are telling me that falling in the lake after a few lemonades on Friday night serve me right and that water and alcohol do not mix. My mind is telling me that things just might be ok.

A Change is as Good as a Holiday

August 5, 2010

I have no idea who said that, but it sounds like a lie to me. Who in their right mind would say “Oh no, I don’t need a holiday – I’ll just change my job, or move, or any number of other frightful sounding options!” Nobody would say that, that’s who. They’d all say “I’ll take the holiday!” So I need a holiday.

Where to, though? The Boyfriend and I have been debating the merits of various destinations, for yesterday I decided – we need a holiday! Soon! At least 3 weeks worth! We shouldn’t waste any time in picking and booking, just in case an amazing job comes up for him. (He has an unusual work style. He blows any old job off if he decides he’s had enough. That’s why he’s had more jobs than I’ve had hot dinners. We think he’s decided what he wants to do though, finally, so we should go on holidays before he actually acts on that idea. Although really that gives me months, he’s not that keen – he’d probably prefer to win Lotto and not work. Wouldn’t we all, but some of us are more realistic than others!)

I quite like the idea of Turkey and Egypt. My mum always promised to take me to Egypt when I was a kid, as I was always fascinated by the pyramids and the ruins. Then she went without me, and told me that Turkey was just as good, if not even better, so perhaps that defines the itinerary. The Greek Islands are only close by, so that would round out a top holiday nicely. The Boyfriend’s done Egypt already though, and some of Greece, which kind of spoils the idea of going somewhere new! and exciting! together. This option doesn’t completely get ruled out yet though – there’s a difference, I keep telling him, between going and seeing every bar in a new city, to actually getting out there and seeing things – you can drink yourself silly at home, but you can’t pop over to check out the local ruins here, mostly because there are no ruins here.

Machu Pichu is another consideration. Apparently it’s all open again to tourists since those dreadful mudslides earlier in the year. I’m not exactly in top shape for a 4 day trek, but I think I could manage it. Neither of us has been, that’s a bonus. Another mudslide would really put a dampener on this option. Plus I really hate being dirty. I wonder how well I would cope with the reality of the idea.

I have seen some amazing deals for places close by (Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong) but they are much more common destinations – I don’t want to waste a big holiday really on just lying by a beach at Patong.

Any ideas? Somewhere surely must fit the bill – not too expensive, with enough to entertain for 2 to 3 weeks, somewhere amazing and different. I need to go and buy a world map, and populate it with pins for every place I’d like to visit. Might need more pins here.

Food by the Sea

July 23, 2010

When I wake up, and am still in that dreamy half sleep state, I often have marvellous conversations with The Boyfriend. Mostly about what I was just dreaming. I am assuming this is true, because of course I hardly remember any of these conversations. I only go by what I am told.

There are 2 specific things that I apparently talk about the most frequently when referring to my dreams. The first is the holiday house where I spent all my school holidays as a child, and still try to get to a couple of times a year even if just for a long weekend. Well of course I can understand I would dream about that place – it’s a magical, wonderful place. I plan to have my ashes scattered on the water there when the time for that little ceremony rolls around, it’s the most special place I have ever been. Speaking of scattering ashes on the water, I apparently dream of swimming all the time as well, but I kind of link that in with the holiday house – they are one and the same, in my mind. Not swimming in ashy water, to be clear, just swimming.

The second thing is food. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me really either, I am greedy and love to eat. Luckily, I love to cook as well, although I don’t do as much of it as I really should as work really cuts into my leisure time. But hey, when that Lotto win comes through I will be happy to hang around the house and cook up a storm. (I could then pay someone to diet for me – that should work, right?) I didn’t realise I dream about food so much – although I suppose, the one dream I do recall from the past fortnight is the one where I was for some unknown reason carefully dipping sliced cucumber into melted chocolate. I guess that clears up the worry that I’m forgetting fantastic recipes that I dreamt up, eh.

I was surprised these were the dreams I ramble about the most. The dreams that I do remember are usually rather vivid and frightening, and involve mazes and races and running away from something/someone. The Boyfriend looked at me rather dryly and said that when I am not dreaming about cooking, and not dreaming about the holiday house, I apparently dream I am in a cooking contest at the holiday house, so I managed to get the “competition/race” part of that involved in there too. For a while I got a bit excited and thought I surely would be a natural shoe-in for next season of MasterChef. Then I realised that cucumber dipped in melted chocolate was probably not a MasterChef winnng combo.

*Edited to Add:

That’s a lie – I just realised there IS one other dream I remember from last week. It has nothing whatsoever to do with food or the holiday house, either. It does tell me that work is stressing me out JUST a tad though. I dreamt I was at a book launch, for a book I had written. It was a children’s book, and was beautifully illustrated much in the style of Beatrix Potter. I couldn’t quite remember what I had written in the book, so was flicking through it. It was a story about a little bunny rabbit who was having issues with her computer. Etc. Till the last page, when it ended with “Peter the rabbit smiled to himself, feeling pleased, for he didn’t have any issues with his computer – he used a PC, not a Mac.” I’m now convinced that I have either totally lost the plot, or thought up the idea that is going to make me my fortune.

In The Middle

May 27, 2010

The other week, The Boyfriend and I headed way out west – to Central Australia for a quick weekend getaway. Right bang on in the middle of Australia is Ayers Rock, and it was on my bucket list, so I had to grab some cheap plane tickets when they came up on sale. Of course, I committed to those and clicked on “Purchase” before checking out local accommodation prices, which was silly, but it just meant my bargain cheap weekend turned into a rather expensive jaunt, so I just grinned and went with it.

I’m pretty sure Ayers Rock is one of the most recognisable Australian images in the world. I’ve now taken one of those typical shots that everyone’s taken that has been here, ever. Saturday afternoon turned very overcast, so we missed the usual colours as the sun set, but it was still pretty breathtaking all the same!

The Boyfriend was disappointed the walk to the top of the rock was closed. These days, local Aboriginals ask that you not climb the rock out of respect for their sacred sites, however there’s no legal grounds to stop people doing it. Thankfully it was a drizzly day on the Saturday, forcing it to be closed, because there is no WAY you would have gotten me up that rock. It was steep. And scary looking. Can you imagine climbing the steep sides of that thing? Not with my fear of heights!

I was really surprised that the overnight temperature got down so low – down to about 3C (37F). Isn’t this supposed to be the desert? It didn’t matter so much anyway – we spent such little time in our hugely overpriced room after having dinner at one of the restaurants, followed by a few beers watching a band in the pub, then getting up to see sunrise over the rock. I am pretty sure the only reason I agreed to this is because I was actually suffering from such a bad cold that I thought I wouldn’t make it till morning anyway, so I may as well pretend like I’d be thrilled to get up an hour before dawn to drive off into the freezing desert.

After seeing the sun rise, we headed off to see The Olgas, nearby. I was actually much more impressed with The Olgas than Ayers Rock – they are a group of red boulder shapes just sitting in the middle of a flat plain. Part of the same rock foundation that Ayers Rock is made from, I believe.

We went for a bushwalk through The Olgas – a camera just couldn’t capture the stark red rocks against the clear blue sky. Just gorgeous. The walk was called The Valley of the Winds. I could see why – the wind whips through those rock formations surprisingly strongly!

Who knows what part of Australia we’ll see next. The Boyfriend is rather keen on Tasmania. I think that’s just because he knows there are 2 breweries and 1 chocolate factory there that all do tours…

Edited to Add: I would not have chosen to climb, even if the climb was open, and didn’t mean to sound flippant about that – I chose not to climb out of respect for the wishes of the traditional owners of the land. The Boyfriend had made the same choice to NOT climb when he was there a couple of years ago – I was relieved it was closed at the time so he didn’t have an option to reconsider that decision – he said at the time he was disappointed it was closed, but has since said in conversations he wouldn’t have climbed anyway either, for same reasons I had. It DID look scary anyway as I reported. I wasn’t too clear on my own personal reasons however! When you report only snatches of conversations it can give the wrong impression, as that portion of my post has done for some – for that I apologise. No offence intended.

Good and Bad

March 9, 2010

Good.

This weekend, The Boyfriend and I are headed to the South Coast of NSW with my baby (ok, not so baby – my younger) brother. The Boyfriend and I are going to a wedding in the area on Sunday and decided to shout my brother dinner at Bannisters – the new Rick Stein restaurant on the NSW south coast – on the Saturday night in exchange for a lift from the holiday house to the wedding and back on Sunday. That’s why the three of us have Monday off next week, for a non standard long weekend.

Bad.

Before the weekend away, we need to attend a funeral for a local.. how to describe him… a guy who lived a few blocks away that had different life choices than myself; who was in trouble more times than not (as in, the most positive story I can think of to illustrate this without getting all into stuff that’s not my business is that he just got allowed back in The Local after several years being barred for selling wacky weed in the beer garden), but that we knew reasonably well, and many of our friends knew and loved. It’s a respect thing in part, but I must admit when I walked past his house on Friday and he told me a few very funny (and inappropriate) jokes I would never have imagined a heart attack would have been the end of him by the Sunday morning. I had the hard job (“because you have that geeky internet thing at work, right?”) on Monday of emailing a few out of town folks to let them know what had happened – I am NO good at emailing bad news, my email even ended with “Insert some kind of non awkward closing sentence here”.

Good.

Well, funny at least. I went to see the COO of my division today. He had asked me to put together a 1 page summary of a specific work issue: status, what was happening to resolve it short and long term, etc etc. I put some hours into getting it right and headed over to my weekly catch up with the big boss. He was cross. He asked silly questions. After we got through only 2 sentences of text, he paused and said “Well, I have asked 10 questions already. That tells me this document is not clear at all”. I was really annoyed he wasn’t getting it, and answered with “Well, I understand it perfectly. Perhaps you’re just stupid?” Luckily he thought I was joking (which OF COURSE I was) and even ended the meeting by telling me I was a star as I left his office.

Bad.

Let’s forget any more bads, and just end on the good. (Am now writing this in permanent marker on my arm, just to remind me through this busy stressy week ahead!)

Culture

February 22, 2010

Late on Friday night, The Boyfriend and I decided to take off to Canberra, our nation’s capital, for the weekend. Canberra is truly the most boring place in the world. All Aussie schoolkids are sent there on a school excursion in around 6th grade, it seems, so the place is also full of squalling kids all through the week, high on sugar and bored of traipsing through the Mint or the War Memorial or the Art Gallery.

We were aiming for the Art Gallery deliberately – the Musee d’Orsay in Paris is currently under renovation, so they have loaned many of their works to the Aussie National Gallery. Fantastic exhibition and well worth the wait (the line up was over an hour – and that was in the quietest part of the day!). I have always loved Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and to see it in person was rather breathtaking. So many examples of stunning art – if you’re in the area it’s well worth the effort of getting in to see it.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the exhibition meant that every single hotel, motel, B&B, cabin, you name it, in the whole of Canberra was booked out on Saturday night. We were determined to make it into a proper weekend away so we found a gorgeous little pub called The Bushranger Hotel in nearby Collector. A brilliant example of country hospitality – we ended up getting rather sozzled with the owner, who then took us on a ghost tour of the supposedly haunted hotel. It was a real laugh – but I must admit my thoughts on streaks on the mirrors are not that they are ghost children’s fingerprints, but that they are dirty mirrors! Plus, dudes, the ghosts are supposed to be adults. Great pub though – I’d stay there again, and it was so much more fun than a boring hotel room with no personality.

Across the road from the pub was a very strange example of a different sort of culture. Apparently the man who used to live here made this in memory of his father, who died in the war. Which war, they weren’t sure. Looks like the alien vs human war to me.

Lions and Tigers and Bears

February 1, 2010

OK, I didn’t see any lions. Or tigers. Or bears. I did see a few crocodiles and dingoes though. I spent the last week up in the Northern Territory, staying with my sailing friends.

The weather was far too hot and humid for me to cope with, however it was worth it to get to places like Katherine Gorge. I’ve wanted to get there ever since I was about 8.  We saw some amazing rock art and went swimming in our clothes (we stopped in at a croc-free swimming pool and hadn’t expected to be able to swim so didn’t have anything to swim in but what we were wearing).

The swimming was amazing at Litchfield National Park, at least until I tried to be a little too gung ho and ended up caught in a whirlpool before tumbling down a waterfall. A small waterfall, enough to bruise me lots but not too seriously. I can laugh now, but there were a few minutes of terror before The Boyfriend rescued me by sticking his leg out for me to grab on to.

Lots more to say about the whole week but it will have to wait – work calls.

I wonder if the people in this cafe got my subtle message about their food?

Cruisin’ – Days 7 to 9

December 23, 2009

Day 7 and 8 – at sea

We spent these 2 days swanning around the bars and pools.

Day 7 was the cocktail challenge. I think we’ve had every cocktail on the menu. It’s a long menu. The bartender was very generous on the measures too, and being that I am not usually a spirit drinker the cocktail challenge may have been a bad idea. Especially given that it was another pool party that night and we were pickled enough to go to bed while that was still carrying on. The theme of the day was line dancing. If you’ve ever wondered what hundreds of drunk old people line dancing above your head sounds like, wonder no more. Not pretty! Like a thousand drunk hippos and elephants doing a private dance on your head. We popped up to the purser’s office and got an emergency spare cabin for the night. In hindsight the spare cabin’s location was a bad move – even if it was quiet, it was right at the bow of the ship, down low, and this was the choppiest night at sea so we were rocked about all night long. I am sure that’s why we both felt ill the next day, a touch of sea sickness and nothing to do with cocktail consumption the day before.

On day 8 we splurged on a couples massage, which took place in a room overlooking the view of the sea. Not too hard to take at all, even though we were still feeling slightly ill.

In the evening of day 7 I’d got chatting to a lady who was on a trip with her mum and siblings and her daughter. She was having such a terrible time she had decided to jump ship in Brisbane. I couldn’t believe it – I’d been lucky enough to meet some fantastic people and she just hadn’t met any. I gathered her up under my wing and introduced her to some of the fun crowd. I was so touched when she found me the next night to tell me I had saved her whole holiday for her. (Plus as a bonus had introduced her to a nice single guy we’d met who she talked to that night till 5am.) The Boyfriend had laughed at me a few days earlier and said I could (and did) talk to absolutely anyone even while underwater with my mouth full of marbles, but this just proved to me it never hurts to have a go talking to different people.

Day 9 – BrisVegas

Being nice obviously brings good karma. My rescued bird from a few days before found me to let me know she was actually from Brisbane, was still getting off but was in a much happier state, and would we like a ride anywhere. The ship had docked at a container yard a good 45 minutes out of town and the ship’s shuttle busses to town were a huge rip off, so we jumped at the chance. She drove us all the way to the carlton united brewery, where we were the sole people on a brewery tour so got a personalised tour. Followed, of course, by taste testing at the end! Great place to visit – a truly interesting and fun tour. Plus we’ll keep in touch with the lady we’d made friends with! We battled public transport back to the ship (no mean feat to work out, the brewery is half way to the gold coast) and headed to the pool for the rest of the afternoon where we have swam in the pool and chatted to various people we had met.

I just saw another lady get off at Brisbane who had decided to not do the last 2 days. She got off without her husband. He may not have noticed, as last time I saw him he was cracking on to some other chick right in front of his wife. I guess she’d had enough.

We’re about to cruise out of Brisbane and off for another day at sea before it’s home time when we get in to Sydney on Friday. I trust it’s been a rewarding week at work for you – we’ve had a blast.

Over and out

Cruisin – Day 6

December 18, 2009

Day 6 – Port Douglas

Mosman Gorge is called ‘gorge’ because it is just gorgeous. I could have stayed there all day long – a fantastic fresh water gorge with pools to swim in and small rapids to slip down. We swam for an hour and a half there before heading off to the Daintree River for a river cruise. I was expecting huge snappy crocodiles but was slightly disappointed to only see a small 1 metre croc and a baby at about 50cm. This was after much hunting for them, too. The Boyfriend did not let me take up my suggestion which was to try to draw some out, using the noisy 1 and 4 year olds also on our river cruise. I had to satisfy myself with poking my tongue out at them whenever their parents weren’t looking.

A quick look around Port Douglas for the afternoon answered my puzzlement about where fat oldies buy their swimmers – I found a fantastic fitting swimming top at a boutique and paid about a squillion dollars for it. I will have to wear that swimming top to work every day for the next year to get my money’s worth, but those are the sacrifices you make. (No, I won’t be wearing it on its own, I do actually have some slightly non butt cracky boardies that will do as the bottoms!)

Tonight one of the previously missing dinner companions has asked us to dine at the Charles in Charge location with them, as it is her birthday. I suspect she wants me there to deflect attention from her so she can have a good night. It is her birthday, and I can’t think of a nicer pressie I could give her. What a shame I didn’t think to pack valium in my toiletry bag.

After we ship out we spend 2 days at sea before docking in BrisVegas on Wednesday. Try not to work too hard while we’re at sea and I’ll have a cocktail by the pool for each of you. It’s a hard life, being a sailor.

Cheers all

Cruisin – Days 5 & 6

December 14, 2009

Copy paste again from holiday emails – otherwise I’d only be whining about the fact that A) I am back at work – ERK!! and B) I got through a WHOLE CRUISE without getting burnt only to get sunburned yesterday putting up a little pool in the back yard. I remembered to put a big market umbrella up once it was all set up, for shade, but during the set up (which took hours and 3 adult helpers to get right) I might have forgotten that the sun could burn me then too.

Day 5 – Cairns

The first thing I noticed this morning on awaking is that banana boat rides on Daydream Island actually use muscles. Specifically the right butt and thigh muscles, and the left arm muscles. Luckily my right arm seems to be coping ok with the weight lifting exercises I have done this afternoon. I think it’s important to stay in shape on the cruise, and pints full of beer seem to be just the right weight to keep my right arm in shape.

I must ask myself today why on earth I decided a 7 1/2 km cable car ride over the rainforest between Cairns and Kuranda was a good idea, given my deathly fear of heights. I stopped shaking long enough to look around Kuranda (pretty little tourist trap type town) and then spent the afternoon checking out Cairns.

Lots of girls don’t seem to wear much in Cairns. We popped in to a hotel for a quick cider and were served by a young bargirl wearing the teeniest denim shorts and a skimpy black singlet top. “So what?”, you might think. Well, she was also about 15 months pregnant. I also tried to buy a new pair of board shorts in several surf shops. Finally, at the 4th shop I asked for help from the shop assistant. “What board shorts do you have for fat oldies? I don’t think anyone really needs to see my butt crack” (even though it (my butt) seems to have been a recurring theme here). He showed me to a rack all of about 5cm long with a selection of hardly anything before umming and ahhing and telling me they really don’t cater for ‘that type’ of market.

Cairns also appears to be at least half full of absolute yobbos. No, this did not make me feel at home, it made me feel rather un-yobbish. It may have been the lady (?) unbuttoning her pants in the main street. Then she cackled and said to her companions “ha, tricked yez all, I got me swimmers on under these”. Oh, that made it perfectly understandable. For sure. Then she spat in the street, and I was even more charmed. I found out later that despite its looks, the pretty beer garden we had stopped in at that point was THE worst bar in town. Phew, I’d hate to think there would be worse!

Tonight we depart Cairns and head off to Port Douglas. The evening challenge I have set for tonight is to get half the ship calling my pleasant dining mate, Charles, “Charles in Charge” after that dreadful 80’s sitcom. It really does suit him, after all.

Day 6 – Port Douglas

Nobody called Charles “in charge” but someone did ask me if I got stuck eating with “that arsehole” again so I decided my intervention was not required – he was making a big enough effort on his own.
The day has just begun – we’ll send this off now and see where the day takes us… I’m voting for Mosmon Gorge and a cruise up the Daintree River. The Boyfriend is tempted by hiring a mini moke but I did promise my mum I’d come home in one piece and NOT in a paper bag, so I’m not keen on the idea. More on Day 6 next message!