Canberra Day 93

[Tuesday 13th December]

Alright lovely readers, we’re on fire! So let’s keep it moving with the next Canberra day; promise we don’t have far til the end.

Today is a bit about goodbyes. The days are increasingly more about leaving and less about Canberra but I’m still fitting a few things in. I had lunch today with a new friend who has been super lovely to me and hubby while we’ve been in Canberra, and we had a great time catching up, albeit for the last time. I also realised that I’ve gotten behind in keeping family and friends up to date so I wrote some postcards, and then bought a few souvenirs to remind me of the experiences we’ve had. As I was popping into the souvenir store at National Portrait Gallery I saw that they had a new exhibit: this one was digital so photos of it don’t do it justice, but some incredible talent in short videos.

I started thinking today about things I needed to organise before I get home: firstly make an appointment with my psychiatrist for the first time in nearly 4 months! He gets booked a month or two in advance so no time like the present to make sure I can see him soon after I get home. I can’t believe that its been 3 months without meeting with him. I guess it shows how far I’ve come that I went off to Canberra so cheerfully knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him for at least 3 months. Any early in the piece and I wouldn’t have been prepared to go more than a month without seeing him. It helped a lot that I have his mobile number and have the okay to call at any time, definitely. And hey, I’ve survived 3 months without any debrief or counselling. It’s not something I’d recommend but I’m pleased that I got through it, and got through it pretty well. But nevertheless I’ll be glad to touch base again.

Today I had a couple of things I wanted to do. First off was yet another trip to the National Library which has been a surprising treasure trove of interesting exhibits and fascinating behind-the-scenes insights. Today I’m checking out an exhibit of Robert Ingpen called Wonderlands. Does it sound random to you? Maybe it wouldn’t be if you saw his paintings, or illustrations, in such books as Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and more. He’s a genius artist and the display was wonderful, if brief. And of course I had to poke my nose into The Sell exhibit once again; can’t get enough of cheesy advertising!

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Alice in Wonderland

I also wanted to walk next door and sit in on the High Court, but unfortunately they had concluded earlier in the day; much earlier at 11am. But hey, why not have a look around at the courts while I’m here, especially as you can’t take photos while the court is sitting, but you can photograph the rooms empty. And I have to say, the staff at the High Court couldn’t be more lovely and helpful! I highly recommend making time to talk to them if you visit. They have such a mental dossier of interesting facts and figures about the courts, the judges, past cases, upcoming cases, history of the courts, the decor…really anything that you’d ever want to know!! Just ask; you won’t be sorry.

Then on the way home I drove around the rear of Parliament House, an area you don’t see in pictures or in person much at all. Turns out, Australian Federal Police don’t really like you seeing it, at least not if you pause the car and take photos!! First time being pulled over by federal police! Oops! That’s an experience I don’t have the nerves to go through again. They were perfectly lovely and just asked me to keep driving, but still, flashing lights and the word “federal” have a way of pushing your heart rate up!

Last and most important job of the day: take dinner to Chester at work. This poor guy is working his butt off 60 hours a week at the moment, and barely seeing daylight!! They just will not extend the deadline despite the extremely poor chance of it reasonably being met. So we’re going down the path of it being unreasonably met! I say we: I’m not really doing anything, but I feel terribly about it, even while swanning around enjoying myself.

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New Zealand trip Day Five

[Monday 31st October, 2016]

I’ve been trying to get this done for days, obviously more than a week even but my computer has started down the slow walk to death after various bad treatments over the not so long period that I’ve had it. You know, dropping it on the floor while carrying it in one hand and food in the other (I mean tough choice, which do I save?), accidentally letting it fall off the bed while it was balanced on the edge trying to connect to the wifi while I’m upstairs (the wifi connection keeps getting weaker!), lugging it in a suitcase or carry on luggage or hand bag around the city and the world, letting it fall down the stairs while carrying it one hand stacked with all kinds of things that need to go up or down the stairs; all the way down the stairs! Balancing it on the laundry sink while doing the washing and maybe it slipped in…carrying it in the washing basket maybe getting it a bit damp, tripping over the power cord and tugging it off the couch, it all comes out! Obviously I live a bit too closely with my laptop, but that’s another issue. What have you done to your laptop?! says hubby. Oh nothing, why, it’s fine! But the toll has started taking its grip with a screw falling out, then another screw, then the backing coming off (but you can put it back on!) and finally a loose wire poking out! Oops! I do regret the amount of damage that I do…it’s becomes one long line of sorries! I never mean to do it, I never plan on it, and it always comes as a surprise somehow even though in hindsight obviously it wasn’t the best plan. Am I just clumsy? Hubby thinks more like careless or thoughtless or something. Either, either…well that doesn’t work well as text, but you know what I mean. The point of this gibber gabber? My computer which was never strong on finding wifi connections right in front of its nose has now almost ceased to find them at all! I stick the wifi right under its nose, it’s right there, but it secures the connection without internet, or connect to the internet but so tenuously that as soon as you want to actually USE the internet, it all falls down and drops out! So I’ve been trying on and on to upload a photo for this blog and I can’t! Jolly annoying since all the photos are on my computer only. And of course being away from “home home” I don’t have a USB to transfer the photo to hubby’s laptop. They are still on my camera so by some lengthy process involving cables and memory cards and installing software I’ll figure it out, but now my internet isn’t even sufficient to save this draft. Blah blah blah excuses excuses. On to the actual matter at hand!

Today is the last day of our cycling tour. It has gone really fast!! So far 78 kilometres, oh my. 78 kilometres of beautiful scenery, great food and birds; oh and nice company. Today is going to be our longest day, but plenty of stops so let’s do this! We started from Havelock North at 9.30am with the plan to cycle back to Napier, then onwards to the next part of our holiday. My quads are really stiff today! Maybe due to getting very wet, then very cold then huddling inside getting warm with no stretching yesterday blah blah. So I’m feeling a bit sluggish from that, then the first 3km are a small grinding gradient uphill making my legs feel totally feeble and useless. I hate grinding gradients! Although I am not a fan of hills, I’d rather go up and down sharp hills all day then grind slowly upwards. But after that 3km the rest of the day was lovely and flat so…besides at the end of that short 3km was an absolutely gorgeous winery, Black Barn Vineyard! I mean this was the epitome of a beautiful Tuscan vineyard set on a sloping hill with olive, fig and citrus trees, a private estate for rich people at the top of the hill with ocean views then a stunning winery including outdoor dining under the vines and…gee, am I gushing? It also has a cute boutique food and gift shop. It was so nice! BUT…it was before 10 in the morning so no tastings. It’s just a bit early. Besides, we’re not exactly starving for wine, hey? Next stop: Te Mata cheese factory! Oh yeah, much more interesting; I LOVE cheese! Tastings, tastings, tastings but sadly no purchases; just too difficult to get back to Aus. But seriously: Takina Gold, Camembert, pink and white terraces named after the now-extinct landmark, sheep hard cheese Sleeping Giant, young sheep cheddar, drool, drool, drool! Aahhh, but sadly no. But instead we had a drink and snack and I discovered the amazing New Zealand creation of berry smoothie in a bottle! Delish! Now back on the bike. We could sit here all day but…gotta get back on the flood levee bike paths and follow the Tukituki river out to the coast and check out the lovely wetlands around the mouth of the river. What a lovely ride once again, so pretty and what a fine day today; fine, warm, excellent! Then through the cute little town of Haumoana and along the coast on a gravel track to the stunning Elephant Hill winery for a tasting. It’s another beautiful vineyard and a unique winery with the outer building completely made of copper, designed to look like the ocean; and it really does, sea blue with an infinity pool, very posh eating, all the drinks back lit with blue lighting, and very professional staff. Actually by the time we got there I was a bit in the zone. 3 days of riding, of socialising, of new experiences, new people, new scenery, and I am a bit washed out. Plus its our last day in the north island and I’m not at all sure that I’ve seen enough birds yet. A tasting or two in and I’m over it. Instead I’m going to wander around outside in peace and quiet and solitude and talk to the birds and get some photos until the others are ready.

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Next up is lunch at the Te Awanga winery up the road (literally, like 300 metres) and a tasting at the table there. Much better than standing around tasting. Another beautiful lunch and a lovely lady who brought us tastings with sea views and a gorgeous cottage garden. Actually I’m over tastings, well not the white ones but reds have gotten on my wick, I never liked red much to begin with but tried them anyway and a couple were alright in that they weren’t very red-like, but I’m done with them now, unless its a sticky dessert type thingamebob. It’s odd, with the last tour I didn’t get sick of tasting over the 5 days, but here after 2 days I’m done. Well after filling our faces, off back to Napier. After some issues with wind, it’s meant to be a tail wind all the way home! YIPPEE! And what do you know? A lot of the way home is along a wetland between the shore and the levee, YAY for me! Birds and more birds! So 47km done today bringing our grand total to 126km with the group, and another few kilometres around town. Unfortunately my grand plan of doing the 1 hour walk around the boardwalk on the estuary in town didn’t really eventuate. I mean let’s be realistic: 47km today, 134km all up and I thought I was going to do a walk? With no way to actually get there once the bike was returned? No, no. A shower, a spa to repair my legs and wait for it, the best is yet to come! Dinner at the Mission winery! Exceptional 3 course meal! Truly amazing! Crayfish bisque; superb! Absolutely divine pork belly, which nearly everyone at the table chose. And vanilla and peach schnapps creme brulee with the most amazing super thinly sliced pink lady apple flash frozen and super sweet! Fantastic! Definitely a recommendation. No sad goodbyes, just glad that we got to do the tour and on to the rest of all our holidays.

Canberra Day Thirty Six

[Sunday 16th October, 2016]

Since we’ve moved closer to the city we have a shorter drive to our morning fellowship but the drive is just as beautiful! And today is a beautiful day. Finally, people are saying, finally its spring! Lovely blue skies, warm sun, breezes; aahhh! And for more than one day at a time. A lovely group of people on a lovely day; life is pretty good.

And then lunch. Well we aren’t organised for it so eating out it is, such a shame. I mentioned Piallago to hubby a while back and he brought it up for today. Perfect. It consists of one short little road that goes off the highway into a little country nook and to my count has 7 plant nurseries, 1 moonlight limo bus, Piallago Estate and ballooning. I’d only been there during the week when it was dead quiet on the road and only a couple of cars in each nursery car park. The weekend was something else! Cars parked in every possible place that a car would park and then some! Far out! I guess that’s what you get when you combine nurseries, the weekend and a beautiful day! Anyway despite the majority of people having booked in advance, obviously knowing more than we did, we got a perfect little table mostly in the shade, out of the wind and with a great view. Luck of the walk-in customer! A great little lunch, enjoying time in the weather, chatting; spot on! Nip home for an hour’s nap, off to the mission meeting, then back to one of our new friend’s places for dinner. A lovely couple and their Miss 4 and Mister Nearly 3. We had such a fun time with the kids and with their parents. A great dinner and a lovely night. A nice lovely little day.

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Canberra Day Seventeen

Tuesday, 27th September, 2016

A bit of a nothing day really. Woke late, didn’t stay up long before going back to bed for a midday nap. Lunch was drive through, afternoon snack was drive through, liquid of the day was lemonade; not a high moment. Did not a lot of anything until I finally got myself out of the house to do some exploring/bird watching in the beautiful sunshine. Had to do something or it’d feel like a total waste of the day! I’ve always got a list of what to do next, and this one was very local which helped. A nice walk through the Goorooyarroo reserve turned a bit annoying when I was harassed by magpies for the first time in a long time! So harassed that I changed my entire route home to avoid them; they just wouldn’t give up! I can’t help that they built their nest right next to the walking track when they have a nature reserve that goes for literally miles! Took a gazillion photos and got two birds that I’ve never seen before!! YAY! And countless kangaroos, and a swamp wallaby, and a few rabbits. Nature reserve indeed. I ended up taking the route less travelled tracking down a bird call, and ended up making life hard for myself by having to haul myself up an enormous hill. I feel like this is some kind of metaphor, me taking 10 times longer than it should take to get anywhere because of having to drag myself uphill! So it’s my photo of the day.img_6469

The day actually got better and better from then on. Hubby came home and we had one of the best nights together that we’ve had in ages! Just good fun and easy company doing the groceries then having dinner out to fill his laksa craving, then a good honest chat about a few things that have been getting fudged about or glazed over or beaten around in the bush about. It’s given me inspiration to be more upfront in my relationship about the things that I’m struggling with, instead of hiding them away. I always think I’m a stigma fighter, but here I am encouraging stigma by hiding what is plainly obvious. I have issues with food these days. I mean, you don’t get to be my size on Vegemite sandwiches! But I try to squirrel away the fact of what I’m actually eating, as though there is any point to that. But it takes a hero to help you come out of yourself enough to be able to admit what you most dislike about yourself. I’m a lucky lucky woman to have just such a hero!!

Canberra Day Twelve

I had such a wonderful surprise on Tuesday! I was idly wandering around Facebook when I saw a post from some old friends that I grew up with from about 3 or 4 years old which showed their location as Canberra! I thought, really? So I messaged them and yep we had managed to coincide in a city that neither of us had really been to before! So we organised to catch up for dinner and it was the best night! All the years and events that have passed since I left home 10 years ago haven’t changed a thing and it was a fabulous evening of yummy Thai food and chatting about everything under the sun.

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So the cake, what’s that about? Well, while this family have been on Victorian school holidays visiting Canberra, the youngest girl had her birthday and this was the cake she had. It was huge, tall and sugary with the fakest colours available, a horror to some of the family who wouldn’t choose this kind of thing ordinarily, and only half eaten. They’re moving on Saturday and really can’t take the cake with them. So a condition of our catch up was coming back to the hotel to eat cake! Not the worst thing in the world hey…and the absolute delight of hubby who will eat anything colourful! Fruit loops, smartie smiley face cookies, sprinkles, cakes of exactly this description etc. It was delicious, but I didn’t get through it; turned out it was pretty sweet after all! But what a lovely way to end the day: old friends and familiar faces in an unfamiliar city. Bliss!

Otherwise the day was washing, drying, folding, making phone calls I’ve been putting off for ages, writing emails I’ve been putting off for ages, organising a catch up, trying to decide on accomodation for a long weekend coming up, and watching for rain so I could decide when to do a bike ride. Turns out that I watched for rain all day and it never rained. But then it was the end of the day. And I didn’t get to ride. I wonder where I went wrong? In my defense it poured the entire previous day. So. Also, I realise as I’m writing this down what a social day I had; quite unusual for me generally. I must be going pretty well at the moment. I guess I already knew that, but it’s nice to have proof.

 

Canberra Day Five

15th September 2016

Some enthusiasm has gone out of me with a string of late nights trying to catch up with slow days; never a sensible plan. But I’m pushing on. I must remind myself that no day is a fail even if I don’t get as much done as I hoped. After all, it’s day 5. That’s FIVE days so far. Not even a week! It’s nothing in the scheme of things. I’ve been so many places, seen so much of Canberra’s urban and bush areas, and birds, and lake and although there’s so much more to see, it’s just one day after the other.

My morning routine continues, and today I plan to check out Mount Ainslie. There was actual peak traffic on leaving hubby’s work! A surprise! It was raining (maybe the reason for the traffic) and as I drove towards the mountain it looked like the top was in cloud but trying to be the optimist, I went up anyway. Yep, nothing to be seen but white fluff. Oh well, I tried. I’ll be back some sunny day. So I head for home, but what’s this? A sign for Mount Pleasant lookout! I’ve never heard of it, but let’s go check it out. So I make a right turn and happen to find myself in a fascinating little world that is Duntroon, the Army military college. Gorgeous old style cream and maroon houses and buildings, parade grounds, the odd couple of soldiers left and righting it along the footpath, military police, its own ambulance station; it’s so interesting! If it weren’t raining…but it is so I’ll write it down for another day.

The signs to Mount Pleasant prove a bit difficult, but whether its me or the signs is difficult to say! A few false turns and finally I start up Mount Pleasant. It’s not far, and a gradual climb – I might just come back on my bike and practice my climbing skills! Another misty, rainy view; it’s becoming a thing but it’s another location full of possibility for future walks, bird watching and bike riding. I’ll add it to the plus list. I’m still proud and pleased that I made it here to get the view; it would have been easy to turn and head for home today.

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Not a great deal more to the day except for getting a few jobs done down the street, familiarising myself with my local shops and getting a new pharmacy, a new Coles, a new post office and getting a nice Cold Rock icecream with fruit tingles and Nerds to round out the afternoon. Oh, and my daily 2 hour nap! No day would be complete…

For dinner we had a spontaneous night out for Japanese banquet at Kokoro in Gunghalin…I’m gradually getting used to the foreign sounds of the Canberra suburbs; I think I’m more used to Japanese! 6 courses of Japanese delishousness…not something I’ve ever done before but I think I’m sold! The raw fish section was a challenge but I got through at least one piece of each and some wasabi mayonnaise and soy sauce helped the rest to go down. I now LOVE lotus root chips, I’m ambivalent about edamame beans, and I renewed my appreciation for Japanese style sushi with just rice and fish. The sticky cooked salmon was wonderful but being the last course, it was hard to really appreciate! As for the black sesame and green tea flavoured ice cream…no thanks! But give me amaranth tea with floating flowers anytime, it was divine. Heavy tummy, off to sleep!

Check out the rest of today’s photos on my website: Duntroon and Mount Pleasant

Some of today’s blossoms are included in my Spring Blossoms portfolio: red and pink japonica, yellow daffodils and the deeper pink tree blossoms