Monday, 26 December 2016

Saying "I Do" again.

Wednesday 21st December to Saturday 24th December 2016

Our primary reason for the trip north as I have explained previously was to attend the renewal of the marriage vows by Diane’s parents.
This was to take place on Friday 23rd which also happened to be her mother’s 80th birthday, although these days she is not keen on being any older than 39.

Anyway, Sam, ever mindful that she needs to remain the favourite grand-daughter (of course, she is the only one), made the flight from Melbourne to Maroochydore; we duly picked her up from the airport – it is still hot and humid here, by the way.

We had not made any plans other than to spend the day with Sam – we did make use of one of the three pools where we were staying; caught up with Robert and Sonia; but mostly just tried to stay a bit cooler than was usually possible – the air conditioning helped some way for this.
Thursday we had planned for a family Xmas BBQ out at Mooloolah Valley where Diane’s parents lived; just a quiet time with all of the family there (almost all).

But the big day was going to be Friday, and we went over the last of the plans to make sure that we wouldn’t have any problems.

Dad was still apprehensive about it all, secretly waiting for anytime after 12  noon to suddenly appear so that it would all be over.
Mum, however, was keen to make sure that it lasted for as long as possible.

Not even a huge downpour of rain on Friday morning had any chance of upsetting the day – it was gone almost as quickly as it came; we all headed off at an appropriate time to make it there in time – it was a 45 minute trip from Kawana to Montville (near to the Glasshouse Mountains) – we made it with plenty of time to spare – well at least 5 minutes.

Mary, the celebrant was just making the last of the touches to the preparations; Mum and Dad were ready – looking really well, health-wise, and looking resplendent.
The happy couple - no pre-vow nerves

Diane (r) with her sister Vivienne

All the kids together - brother Robert in the middle 

Favourute grand-daughter - Sam
It was a lovely ceremony and with the weather being cool but not wet, it all went very well and the backdrop was truly magnificent.
It was fair to say that we all enjoyed it, but the day belonged to Mum and Dad and they did enjoy it as well.

After it was all over we all adjorned to the restaurant there – all pre-booked – we had the gallery area all to ourselves,the remainder of the restaurant was conveniently just away from where we were.
The food was very good and well presented – even the two chefs amongst us – Robert and Sonia – were impressed.
We managed to transport this stained-glass panel all the way from the UK
and then have it framed for them both.
But it is special thanks to Dot for creating this for them and they both loved it.

After a leisurely lunch we were ready to go home for a few drinks and just to relax a bit more.
It had been a longish day for all of us and we slept well that night; the following day – Saturday (24th) – the three of us flew back to Melbourne for our Xmas.

We were in bed relatively early (before 10pm) – with Diane eagerly anticipating Santa coming with her presents – she really is a big kid – and she still believes.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

South to North

Monday 5th December to Tuesday 20th December 2016

Most of the time, so far, has been spent on working for me, getting some things done around the house that Sam either could not do or was reluctant to start – she isn’t a great one for getting too involved with the backyard (as small as it is); but by far the biggest thing that has been happening has been the building site directly outside our front door.

We live in a townhouse in a group of 19 units with a central security area which is not open to just anyone. It is a walkway for the exclusive use of residents and guests, but it is an area over an underground car park and the garages for each unit.

Over the relatively short time since the units have been built, the waterproofing membrane has failed and the underground area, when rain is falling outside,  has resembled somewhere between an underground river and a series of limsestone caves – with Stalactites appearing in various places.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the residents (as a group and of which we are one couple) took legal action against the builder and we won the case – meaning that the builder has to fix the problem.
This has involved ripping up all of the outside tiled areas as well as the existing non-performing membrane and the screed – this has been a messy, noisy and dirty job – but the guys doing the work have been very good, keeping us informed about what the timing is.

Fortunately, part of the job has already been completed, so we can see what the outcome will be, but Xmas approaching has presented new time limits and constraints.

The upshot is that the screed will be laid before Xmas and the job will be finished off in early February (the building trades take 4 weeks off at Xmas).
This would be the "before" photo, with the preparation all done

This is the "after" photo - the area already completed

At the start of our time back home, Diane flew to Maroochydore to see her parents, which was our primary reason for coming home at this time of the year; she has reported back that they are much more frail than they were last year when she saw them, but looking forward to their upcoming renewal of vows – well at least her mother is looking forward to it, Dad is very much ambivalent about it all.

Sea and sun - oh and snorkeller

Not looking too bad here - this is a very good day.
After 10 days in Melbourne doing things as I needed to do – this included organising some things for Xmas in Melbourne, I have flown north as well, and now we are both in Kawana (near Caloundra) where Diane’s brother and sister-in-law – Robert and Sonia manage a beachside resort – they have been able to have a large unit available to us – 3 bedroom apartment with a private rooftop terrace and overlooking the beach – in the prime holiday season for a fraction of the normal price – very nice indeed.

Not bad really - this will do us for the week

From the baclony this is the short path that leads to the beach

The view from the apartment to downtown Maroochydore
The sea was a bit rough during one of the days - the remnants of a storm
had just blown through - but the surf lifesavers were out - and remember
to swim between the flags

The only problem about being here is the damned weather – as anyone reading this blog will know, we do not like hot humid weather and that is what you get here at this time of the year – all of the time; night and day. Temperatures have been between 25 and 30C everyday.
The sunrises have all been quite magnificent as these should show

But we are enjoying the air-conditioning and seeing the oldies; Diane’s sister, Vivienne, arrived on Saturday, so we only have Sam to fly in on Wednesday and we are complete – Mitch and Sara, understandably were not able to get here from LA.

Sisters - Vivienne and Diane
There have been a few periods of quite heavy rain here, which as we are in a sub-tropical region, is quite usual – it only helps to increase the humidity, but as we have been told before, we need to get a grip!

So, a bit of sun, a bit of surf, lovely pristine beaches, BBQ’s as much as we want – there are worse places to spend some time.

We did find this little fellow on the beach

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Time for a change

Sunday 27th November to Sunday 4th December 2016

As planned we did move off on Tuesday, but only just a mile where we have moored the boat up.
She looks mighty fine there with all of her friends - the weather was even fine
when we were leaving
We had a lovely meal with Stella and Dave at Barby Sporting Club that night – we have been before and for a place that is a bit out of the way, the food that they serve is really quite good – that is not just the opinion of Diane and I, but Stella also and she is a chef who really does cook well.

Tuesday night was a wee bit on the cold side (no, that’s not quite right – it was bloody cold) – getting down to -6C which was low enough to freeze the canal and lo and behold we had a tough time moving the boat to where we had to go.

Eventually that was all sorted and we moored it up all safe and sound – had to be really, because we were about to catch a taxi, which we did to Rugby Station and then the train to Birmingham to spend the night – The Premier Inn as usual – with a great nights sleep.
A lovely night sky and the German markets - all in Birmingham

This does not count as a true Santa photo my lovely -
it is not a real Santa

The following day which was now Thursday, we made our way to Birmingham International for a 13:30 flight – heading via Dubai to Melbourne – landing at 23:55 on Friday night (local time).
The train was a bit full so we were out in the vestibule with
the cases

Diane couldn't help herself - on the flight they were showing the movie Jason Bourne -
so naturally she had to pause it and get a shot with Ferndale in it.

Our lovely daughter, Sam, picked us up – lost a bit of her beauty sleep in the process, and we all managed to finally get to bed about 2 am – some of this time was simply spent talking once we did get home, but that is where we now are and will be for few weeks to come.

I managed to get a decent sleep, but Diane could not and she was still a bit tired on Saturday and succumbed to an afternoon nap.

We did, however, manage to get a few things done that we had needed to get done here.

The purpose of the trip is primarily to see Diane’s mum and dad for an “on-site” assessment of their health and well-being, as well as celebrating her mum’s 80th birthday (although she thinks that she is only 39) and also a service to celebrate the renewal of their marriage vows – now is your time Dad to ……. – but if you do it may be a funeral we are attending!!

Diane will fly up to Queensland on Tuesday and leave me here, and I will follow later in the month – closer to the actual time for everything – gives her Mum less time to remember her incantations and turn one of us into a frog or a newt or some other amphibian.

Upon our arrival, which was in the middle of the night, the temperature was a mild 13C, but Saturday warmed up to about 20-21C and Sunday has been a bit warmer in the high 20’s (but a bit humid).
It has been great to see Sam again, although we had only just seen her in London; it has been about two years since I was last here, but like any home-coming it has been easy to re-assimilate back into the lifestyle here.
The cafes are just great and after catching up with our neighbours – Frank and Helen – we did venture down to Puckle Street and had a late brunch – it simply is wonderful along here where dozens of cafes and eating places are vying for your business and it really is true of most places in Melbourne – If you are not up to the standard required by the public, then you will not survived – and the public is pretty demanding of high standards.

Anyway, we enjoyed it very much and will be trying out a few more soon.

This will, in some ways, be the preview for our return back to here for good – for the time being we are simply soaking it all up and enjoying a change.

Now this is a real Santa photo - the 2016 version; just
waiting for the one from LA with Mitch and Sara

1 Mile
YTD:  837 Miles (1347 km) , 452 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 21 Lift Bridges, 5 Swing Bridges

Total: 4632 Miles (7454 km), 3151 Locks, 124 Tunnels, 66 Lift Bridges, 172 Swing Bridges