Canberra Day 95

[Thursday 15th December]

Today I have to bite the bullet and start packing! I thought we’d be here a bit longer because hubby’s work isn’t finished but our rental apartment ends this weekend so I guess we going home! I’ve got to sort out our mail redirection too, it’s been an utter mess since we moved out of our family’s place into our own apartment – to date we still haven’t received a piece of correctly addressed mail despite many phone calls. Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter now cos all the redirection will be cancelled. But its been a bit hopeless.

I didn’t put too much on my ticket today because of all the packing, but I am doing a tour of the Old Parliament House rose garden in the drizzle. Myself and another lady were booked earlier in the week but the guide never showed; some administration issue apparently. So there are gardens on each side of House and they were designed with the politicians in mind for their rest and recuperation when they weren’t sitting. There aren’t many things more relaxing than strolling through a rose garden so I think it was well intended. There are some themes that run through the garden including sections dedicated to a particular politician or wife, and different varieties and pedigrees of roses, plus bowls and paths and arch ways. It’s beautiful really, just wish I could fit in another visit. The photo doesn’t do it justice; it was raining.

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Then I picked up a free National Gallery of Australia highlights tour, which looked through the sky space , went through various collections, overlooked the fern garden and some of the sculpture garden and was a terrific glance over everything. I went back over a few collections, but time being of the essence it was time to keep moving.

Later in the day I went back around the embassies to get some photos. When we did the driving tour earlier in our time here I just enjoyed it without taking photos. So I had fun taking some photos until I got near the USA embassy then I got emphatically shooed off! They are very touchy!

So, I’ve just about fitted in as much as I can here, and tomorrow is the last day for me! Hubby has to fly back up on Monday morning for another week but he’s not getting any free time at the moment, so I doubt he’ll be getting any tourist attractions. Til tomorrow!

Canberra Day 89

[Friday 9th December]

Time is getting short here, and a weekend trip back down to Melbourne is going to make it shorter, but we wouldn’t miss it for anything. Hubby’s grandmother passed away at the start of the week and the funeral is this coming Monday so tonight we’re piling into our brother and sister-in-laws dual cab for the 7.5 hour trip south. It’s the least we can do to pay our final public love and respect. And we’re looking forward to being with hubby’s family, we miss them so much more at a time like this. It’s not sad that she is gone, in that we wouldn’t wish her back in her age, health, memory state but we’ll always miss her. I realise at this time that I’ve failed in my essential duty of letting many of my good people know that she has gone…I’m sorry! It’s mostly because it never occurred to me until the funeral; brain fade!

Since we’re going home for a bit anyway, and I have so much stuff (his words, not mine), I’m packing a few bags to take with me. You know, pharmacy reading I was going to get through, a cross stitch I was going to start, a sketch pad I never opened, a photo album I was going to go through and caption, books, clothes I won’t need, most of my shoes etc. Plus a few little purchases; I tried to keep it few and small. And its that time already, time to make a few coffee/lunch dates to say goodbye to my new friends! Nooo! Not already.

On today’s ticket? The amazing Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. It’s only showing in Canberra, so lucky me! I know NOTHING about Versailles, except from the ads: gold, gold, more gold, marble, flowers and I hear there’s a special perfume! So what better way to take it in than a guided tour? This is opening day, probably not an ideal day to see it but I haven’t got that many days left so gotta go for it. I realise as I arrive at the National Gallery that I should have come here ages ago! There’s so much else to see apart from this exhibition; I’ll have to try and get back here. The tour was an audio one with the guide speaking quietly into a mic and the followers listening through headphones; good idea since there were multiple tours running and lots of people everywhere. The guide was amazing, she knew so much and spouted off all the dates and history like she’d done it a hundred times before even though it was day one. And the exhibition was magnificent!! There WAS a special perfume designed specifically for this exhibition! It was constantly sprayed through the entrance hall of the exhibition to give the impression of the massive gardens surrounding the palace of Versailles and the gazillion orange trees that lined the 100 something metre hall leading into the main palace. Some people smelled orange blossom, I smelled roses. Either way, what a cool device for an exhibition, engaging your sense of smell as well as sight!

So what did we see? So many beautiful paintings, either from the palace, or of the time and people from Versailles and France, all in such massive, elaborate, golden, carved frames that would do my grandma’s decorating style proud. Then the real things: enormous floor rugs, gorgeous gold and glass vases, furniture, clothing, a room immersing you in a 3D experience of the elaborate irrigation system in place for the Versailles garden which was demanded by one of the Louis’ despite the palace being basically in the desert. The history of the 3 Louis’ of the Versailles palace was also fascinating to me, having never heard any of it before. A brilliant exhibition; highly recommended! I did manage to sneak back another time and it was worth; so much detail to take in!

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An amazing photograph of the main hall of the palace of Versailles giving a glimpse into the decadent era that began with the reign of the Louis’ – the 2 foreground statues are replicas of the original. There were something like 373 mirrors along this hallway paired with windows on the other side

Then another little experience: a 2.5 km walking tour of Lake Burley Griffin with a guide talking about the history of Canberra and the lake. It’s a free thing that the tourist board do, so of course I have to do it! Never pass a freebie, me. We looked at the globe of the world inscribed with all the consulates in Canberra, the Menzies statue which is REALLY tall, the armed forces monument, the dead police  persons, the island, the musical tower. To be honest, I’ve done that many laps of the lake on my bike, plus the boat cruise, plus other tours that this one was a bit superfluous! Oh well. It’s done. But in a bit of a weird format, the tour is one way. It ends 2.5km from the start. And then you have to walk back again under your own steam! Bummer! Oh well, get trudging.

The other New Zealand trip days

As for New Zealand trip Day Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven?

Day Six, November 1st: We woke to beautiful sunny ocean views from Crown Hotel in Napier again, breakfast at Milk and Honey like the first morning then check out and transfer to the airport for the next adventure. We’re off to Christchurch where we got in at 1pm. We had to be picked up in 2 cars: one for my suitcase, one for his bike! Lucky we’re staying with lovely friends whose accommodating parents let us borrow their cars. A lazy afternoon once we’d arrived sitting around in the lounge room chatting to our friends, their 2 cute daughters, their sister and parents until nap time. Then we went out to some friend’s of our friends house for dinner and had a brilliant time! They have 2 kids pretty much the same age as our friends so the four of them had a brilliant time, even more so cos their dad has rigged up a heavyweight hook in the lounge room to hang a plank swing or rings so of course that was a massive boon! And the parents are our age and so lovely to hang out with, what a wonderful evening, so glad we could do it.

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Off on our next adventure!

Day Seven, November 2nd: A nice day hanging out with my girlfriend and her kids and parents today. We had a nice walk down to the shops for a few its and bits with Miss 3 on her balance bike and Miss 18 months in the pram and I got me a New Zealand bird guide! Yay! Now I can find out what birds I’ve been shooting. A lovely morning for a walk, it’s nice to wander around somewhere new. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby had dashed off as early as they could wake up for a mountain bike ride in the Port hills that went for most of the day, and boy were they happy with themselves when they came home. Then we went to a friend of my girlfriend’s for lunch with her 2 kids and had such a fun lunch, a kid’s lunch she called it: mini franks and sauce, spinach feta triangles, tasty drinks; fun! A nice drive there and back checking out the countryside, a lovely nap, another nice family dinner sitting around the lounge room (the kitchen table is tiny!), our Bible study meeting and bed.

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Enjoying the backyard where we’re staying…turns out cute Silver Eyes are in New Zealand as well

Day Eight, November 3rd: A girl’s day out with my girlfriend who was having a kid free day thanks to her wonderful mum! So we had a walk around Travis wetlands cos I’m always on the look out for more birds! We got hussled by a swan and hissed at by a Canadian goose; fair to say that the breeding season is still well in play. Then we had a drive along the beach and a look around the estuary in town for more birds, a relaxed chatty lunch at a restaurant on the beach at Sumner and a walk through the cave rock getting sand in our shoes; fabulous. Then some shopping at Ezibuy and Postie. What I loved most about Ezibuy is they have my size in nearly everything! I should go there more. Then home for a nap. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby were off somewhere having a ball mountain biking, and the kids hardly missed us at all so a good day for everyone! Well grandma may have been a bit exhausted come to think of it, 2 kids all day is pretty full on. Lucky aunty was also there to run interference.

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Oh wow, sun sand beach rocks birds, oh my!

Day Nine, November 4th: We started the day with a 2 hour scenic trip in the car to Hanmer  with hubby, my girlfriend and her hubby and sister as I snapped away at the scenery with my camera. And lucky I did snap the scenery, since we got home a 7.2 earthquake has devastated the area and the road! Today is THE day that we’ve been most looking forward to, but actually everything has been great. And what a day! Lunch, a bit of boutique shopping (which I struggled to be interested in apart from the lollies and the art gallery, feeling a bit flat today), snapping a few more birds and an awesome pedal cart for 6 people and most importantly, lazing in the hot springs and screaming down the waterslides like kids; the best fun! That was awesome! I definitely felt better after the water bowl and water slide. 3 hours soaking, a nice bite of Indian on the way home and what a feeling of well being after a wonderful day with friends.

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The epic waterslide and water bowl at Hanmer Hot Springs

Day Ten, November 5th: A slow morning for me then a little shopping trip with my girlfriend’s sister and hubby to Kathmandu for a new (gorgeous purple!) rain coat for me and a nice hoodie for hubby, then a wander through the RESTART mall in the centre of Christchurch looking at the container shops and the progress that has been made since we were here 4 years ago. It was all interesting, but I’m just struggling today, most of my energy has been used up and I’m just dragging myself through the motions. I wish I wasn’t, I want to be fully into it because this is the last day of holidays, but I just can’t try any harder. Meanwhile hubby and pal managed to pull off another bike ride and hubby is in mountain biking heaven! A couple of loads of washing insisted on by the lovely lady of the house this morning means washed clean clothes ready to go, packing up and an early night for an ungodly early start in the morning!

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Fascination about bikes all round as hubby cleans his up for entry back into Australia

Day Eleven, November 6th: A travelling day and a half, but we eventually got home to Canberra in the afternoon. Up at 4 in the morning, first breakfast at sometime after 5am, second breakfast in a different city at 7.30pm, something weird with time going backwards, and still it took til after 3pm to hit home! Epic! With the humidity in Brisbane, then the humidity in Sydney…but at last some warm weather in Australia! Welcome home!

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Another airport, another lounge, this one not so shabby!! Time for second breakfast