Sunday, April 30, 2017

And we did go for a final wander along the beach and round the headland into the estuary.  Then we packed up, tidied up our little apartment, packed everything in the car and drove off around the estuary, over the bridge, through Ferrymead to Sumner, which is a beach we could see across the water from Southshore.

It's much more vibrant in Sumner than it is in New Brighton.  I suspect that it can't have been as affected by the earthquakes in 2011. Southshore lost its shops, pub, takeaway food shops in the quakes, along with houses and other facilities.  Not surprisingly, people drifted away. There are lots of shops, eateries, facilities in Sumner, along with lots of activities.  While we were there there were surfing classes happening,  a group of scouts having a picnic on the esplanade, lots of groups of people doing things.

Friday's lunchtime view

And Friday's fish and chips
Clock tower on the esplanade
We had a wander along the esplanade, then headed along the beach towards the estuary to look at "our" spit of land from the Other Side

It was much too early to head to the airport, so we decided to go for a drive.  We headed up a steep road out of town.  The road I had intended to head along at the top was closed to traffic, so I swung left.  This almost immediately appeared to be a mistake.  There was a car ahead of us, which disappeared from view.  The road, then, was obviously used.  However, it was a narrow road, single lane only, winding, hugging the cliffside - and with no barrier between us and the steep, deep drop on our left.  I am sure it was perfectly safe but we didn't know where the road was going and we didn't quite see what we would do if another car came towards us.  There didn't seem to be many passing places.  At a larger than usual passing place, I turned around and headed back.  We then had a beautiful drive along a slightly wider mountain road with glorious views.

We had no dramas getting back to Melbourne. The flight was uneventful.  The Aussies let Jim back in. Lindsey was waiting for us and drove us back to Mount Helen.  Jim and I have had a lovely, quiet weekend which has been almost entirely uneventful.  Lindsey and Ian went on a day flight to King Island today. I don't think that counts as uneventful :-D

Friday, April 28, 2017

What a Difference a Day Makes

The weather yesterday was absolutely glorious. The sun shone. The sky shimmered.  The ocean glistened. It was just beautiful.

We started the day with a walk along the beach towards New Brighton.  We didn't go that far, mind.  It's a little over 6 km by road from here to New Brighton. Not sure how far it is along the beach but it's definitely too far for a leisurely morning stroll.  Plus, of course, we would have to get back!

If you click on the photos, you can see them full size.

Morning walk:

We decided after the walk to head towards Mount Cavendish, about a 20 minute drive, and to go up to the summit in the gondola. We really enjoyed it.  The gondola ride is lots of fun. They have a brief history of the Canterbury District at the top. It's much like to ride in Jorvik, only considerably shorter. We enjoyed that too. We had magnificent plates of fish and chips in the restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the views over Lyttelton Harbour, the whole of Christchurch - and our little peninsula.  We could even see the New Brighton pier (though it was too small for me to get a photo of with my phone)

Gondola Experience:

It's a long way up!

Inside the Time Tunnel

Lunch time

All gone - Even ate the batter!!!

We are staying to the right of that far spit of land.

Looking down on the gondola ride

Lyttelton Harbour

The afternoon continued to be glorious. So after a cup of tea, we took an afternoon stroll around the Southshore Spit:

All in all very good day.

My frustration with the kitchen was resolved today too.  We were talking to the owners, who were away when we got here, and mentioned the single, small saucepan. Within moments another, larger one had been delivered - I suspect from their kitchen!  I bought a pair of oven gloves. I was tempted to leave them here, but they are packed ready to head back to Ballarat.  And I decided I could live without a dish rack. The dishes have been draining on a tea towel.  And, most unusually for holiday accommodation - the sharp knives are actually sharp!!

It's not as sunny today, and it is our last day here.  Our flight isn't until mid-evening and checkout isn't until quite late.  I think we might go for a final stroll along the beach and then head out for the afternoon.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Brighton and Southshore

We had a really good flight over from Melbourne.  Jim in particular enjoyed sitting in the very front row of our Jetstar plane.  He had loads of room for his legs!

We came through immigration and customs without incident, collected our car and pottered into New Brighton to the supermarket.  Then we drove the ten minutes from there to our base for the next few days in Southshore.  I have to say that it's nothing like as spectacular as the place we stayed in Lyttelton; it's nowhere near as hilly and you don't have the views.  But we are a 30 second walk from the beach. There is a nature reserve at the end of the road. There is loads of (flat!) walking. It's very quiet.  And there is a very friendly cat who comes to visit.

Our backyard seems to include the Pacific Ocean:

This is our morning walk. We turned right along the beach and then went round into the estuary:

As you can see, the tide is out

We ambled in to New Brighton in the middle of the day. The Pier is being repaired but is open to visitors, so we walked along it.  We had a cup of coffee in one of the coffee shops.  We pottered around the shops. We went to the supermarket.  New Brighton  surprised us a bit. We had expected a thriving seaside town with lots of gift shops and tat shops.  In fact many of the shops are empty. Not sure if that's because we are out of season, although we are only just out of season. The suburb itself, and particularly Southshore where we are staying, seems quite affluent.

We went for a late afternoon wander through the nature reserve and back around to the estuary. The tide was in this time

We are enjoying our stay in our wee, bijou apartment.  The bathroom is lovely, the hot water is HOT, the water pressure is STRONG and the bed is very cosy for sleeping.  I am, however, finding the kitchen a tad frustrating. There is only one saucepan and it is quite small and one frying pan.  There isn't a dish drainer, nor is there an oven glove.  We do have a small oven, a couple of hot plates and a microwave, but the microwave is up so high that I can only just reach it.  Despite all that, I was quite pleased with our steak, roast potatoes, stir fried veg and mushroom sauce last night (although it was slightly treacherous trying to lift the bowl with the mushroom sauce out of the microwave!!!)

Right.  The sun is shining. The morning is getting on.  It might be time for another beach walk.  We'll turn left this time, I think

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


We had really rather a jolly weekend.

Lindsey and I went out to the Lakeside Farmers' Market on Saturday morning and came home with a basket full of delicious vegetables and some rather nice looking lamb.  Lindsey ran into a friend who she used to work with, until the friend and her husband moved to Ballarat couple of years ago. The friend hadn't known about the market until she randomly drove past it and stopped to see what was going on. A good find for her, yummy things to buy, and a Lindsey :-)

We all met Emily for lunch in a cafe near her place.  Until a year or so ago it was a milk bar.  Alas, many of the old milk bars are closing down and, if they're lucky, transforming into something else. This one has transformed into a nice little eatery. It's not far from the hospitals and I think is doing  good trade in weekday lunches with hospital staff.  This, of course, was a Saturday and it seemed to be doing well with families.  The food was excellent and the atmosphere cosy.  I very much enjoyed my "Webster's Breakfast" (at lunchtime!) but especially enjoyed my Jaffa hot chocolate which was a fairly bitter hot chocolate served with a hot Jaffa sauce on the side together with a scorched marshmallow on a stick. It was very unusual and extremely delicious.

Webster's Cafe on Webster Street, Ballarat

On Sunday we went to Eynesbury, near Melton, to inspect the monthly market. We didn't know very much about Eynesbury, apart from what we had seen on a brochure advertising the market.  So we were unaware of the existence of the Eynesbury Homestead, or the protected grey box forest, or anything much. We did know that there is a housing development underway there because we had seen hoardings advertising it on the Western Freeway.  So we packed Sam (much to his astonishment) into the boot of the 4WD and off we went in an exploring mood.

The Sat Nav took us across country.  This was very exciting.  It took us, in fact, the way that Ian's had taken him on Easter Monday afternoon when there were massive hold ups on the freeway.  At one point we went down a steep and very winding road that reminded Jim and me of the roads from Spitewinter, near where we lived, into Bewley or Rowsley near Chatsworth.  The comparison was compounded when we got to the bottom and emerged into a village called Rowsley!!!  It's very pretty spot, much more rural than Rowsley in Derbyshire.  But we would never move there - no phone signal!

The Eynsebury market was lovely.  It combined elements of farmers' markets, food truck markets and arts and craft markets. We didn't need much in the way of meat and veg, although Lindsey did buy a beef pack for the freezer.  But there were lots of yummy thing to eat and pretty things to look at.  It's also entirely dog friendly.  Sam had fantastic time chatting to  small dachshund, a shiny black great dane and various other happy dogs.  I think we will probably go again; it makes an excellent lunch venue.  But we probably wouldn't also go to the Lakeside market on the same weekend.

We were being closely observed this weekend as we variously pottered in the garden

There are lots of kangaroos in the paddocks at the moment

You find Jim and me this morning back at Tullamarine Airport, heading back to Christchurch for a couple of days by the beach. It's not three months since we came back from our last trip, but we're going to Hobart next weekend to start the celebrations for Lindsey's 60th birthday and then there are various people coming to visit at various times and most of May is quite busy and it might be difficult to fit in an overseas trip when the three months are actually up. We don't want to breach Jim's visa conditions, partly because that's never a good thing and also because we are commencing the process of applying for a partner visa for him.  So when I found cheap flights to Christchurch for now, I figured we might as well take advantage of them. They are still renovating the facilities airside, but at least now there is a cafe one which sold us a very pleasant plate of eggs on toast for breakfast.  Much more expensive than Hungry Jack's offering but also quite a bit more palatable.  We'll be off to board soon and will catch you on the other side of the Tasman Sea.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


I can vividly remember how shocked I was when I first landed in the UK to find that pretty much all the shops were open on Good Friday. I was surprised, but not quite so shocked, to note that virtually all the shops were closed on Easter Sunday.  Being closed on Easter Sunday made a kind of sense (Sunday trading was still in its infancy 20 years ago) but being open on Good Friday just seemed wrong.

It must be said that my British new arrivals in various bits of Australia were equally surprised to discover that almost all the shops are closed here on Good Friday and open on Easter Sunday (Sunday trading, particularly in Victoria, is definitely not it its infancy. Shops can open for whatever hours they choose on Sundays in Victoria).  On Good Friday, however, they are emphatically closed. (Likewise Christmas Day, and in the morning of ANZAC Day.)

Consequently, we had a fairly quiet day on Good Friday.  Unless you were Ian, who spent the better part of the day preparing an amazing Paella for Good Friday dinner.  Or Emily who also didn't have a particularly quiet Good Friday. She was working but joined us for the Paella.

Lindsey was working on Saturday.  I came down to town with her and moseyed on out to Mount Martha to collect Stella and Tony, who were joining us for the Easter Feasting.

Many other people also joined us for Easter Feasting.  I think we ended up with 17 people sat around the dinner table.  And we had a mighty feast indeed.

Thanks to Lindsey and Ian for the photo - and the feast!

Lindsey and I took Stella and Tony back to Mount Martha on Monday afternoon, cleverly avoiding the traffic delays on the Western Highway.  Ian came down later and his Sat Nav took him on a merry drive all around the countryside - the traffic delays had got much, much worse.  Jim stayed at Mount Helen to look after Sam and to recover from all the feasting.

Things I saw over the Easter weekend:

In other news, the very annoying woman who was planning to buy our house in Tupton has, at the eleventh hour, pulled out of the sale.  I can't say that I am surprised.  Despite the fact that she has had pretty much every survey done that it is possible to have done, I have felt almost from the beginning that she wouldn't finalise the purchase.  If nothing else, I don't think the house particularly wants fussy and frustrating people living in it.  So.  Back to Square One.  Anyone fancy buying a lovely little house in Tupton?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Birthday Weekend

It was Jim's 75th birthday on Sunday and we decided to make a weekend of it.

First, though, on Saturday morning we went with Lindsey to inspect a new to us garden nursery in Haddon. It was a lovely morning for a country drive, and we enjoyed the nursery very much.  We headed back to the garden so Jim could plant the new arrivals in their new homes.

While he was doing that a huge, enormous, dark, dark black cloud headed towards us, bringing with it rain, wind and thunder.  Jim and I escaped to the station and took a train into Melbourne.

The storm cloud followed us!!!

We managed to get from Southern Cross station to the flat without getting too wet, but decided to abandon our plans to tram into Carlton for Pizza or to walk up Smith Street for Japanese or Chinese, or down Victoria Street for Vietnamese food.  We stayed snug and dry in the flat and had birthday pizza from the pizza bar beneath our feet!

We were both woken at just before five on Sunday morning by a very bright lightning flash followed almost immediately by an enormous thunder clap.  We were quite pleased that Sam wasn't with us.  It would have given him a heart attack!  Although Ian and Lindsey reported that the extended storm overnight in Ballarat meant that Ian had spent quite a lot of the night sleeping on the couch, stroking Sam.

Fortunately, the storm had subsided by the time we needed to leave for Jim's birthday/Christmas treat.  At Christmas Freyja and Simon had given us Red Balloon vouchers.  We had used Jim's half towards this treat and I had bought the rest for his birthday lunch.  We made our way to Central Pier in Docklands and boarded the Lady Cutler for a Seafood Brunch and cruise around the Docklands area

No sunshine but at least there isn't a storm in Docklands

The Lady Cutler, formerly a Sydney ferry and now a dining venue
The boat went out under the Bolte and Westgate Bridges, along the Yarra and out into Port Phillip Bay where we toured around past Port Melbourne and then back past Williamstown.  The crew brought us lots of very tasty seafood morsels, including smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwichettes, sushi, prawns, fried things, barramundi pieces, oysters, lots of very tasty things.  Then they had a buffet for the main course which I have to say wasn't as delicious as the seafood things.  It suffered from having been kept warm for a long time.  They would have been better to have replaced it with two or three extra seafood morsels and a bowl of chips.  The tiny desserts where as delicious as the seafood had been. The crew were charming and all in all we had a great day. It was an excellent Christmas present, and definitely a good start to a 75th birthday

We arrived back at the pier and took a tram back to the flat, narrowly dodging a band of rain that had come to see what we were doing.  Fortunately, the rain cleared before we headed out in the evening with Lindsey and Ian.  We went up Smith Street to The Noble Experiment where Lindsey and Ian treated to the Chef's tasting menu.  We've been once before, with Lindsey but not Ian, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This time the food wasn't quite as experimental as the first time but it was equally delicious.  I think the first time we had a couple of courses where I had thought "I wonder what on earth made them to think to do that" (smoked carrots, for example) whereas this time there were courses where I thought "Ooo, I wonder what made them think to do that" (Orange flavoured dashi, anyone?).

Believe it or not - Lindsey is drinking a cocktail!

We did get wet on the way back to the flat, but that didn't really matter.  It was quite late and time to change into our pyjamas.

It was a great day.  Jim enjoyed his celebrations enormously. Thank you to everyone who was involved.

We had a visitor last Friday afternoon:

I don't think the magpies or rosellas were quite as delighted by its presence as we were :-D

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

We went to the monthly Bridge Mall Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. It was cool and grey and drizzly - which made it almost compulsory to treat ourselves to hot sausage sandwiches for lunch. We came back with lots of tasty thing for the fridge and the freezer.

We thought about going to Castlemaine on Sunday to see if their alleged monthly Farmers' Market was really on but decided that we couldn't be bothered trekking all the way out there just on the off chance.  We'll go on another First Sunday of the month.

Our clocks went back to Eastern Standard time early on Sunday morning.  This has hugely confused Sam the Dog who can't understand why we are being so slack with his mealtimes, and particularly with his breakfast. It doesn't help that he is wanting his breakfast very early, even if we were still on Summer Time.

It has been apparent for some time that there has been at least one mouse in the pantry. We could smell mouse.  Jim has seen mouse. There were mouse droppings. We have also seen dead or dying mice in the kitchen and in the car park. Lindsey and Ian have been away, in Far North Queensland dodging cyclones and in Japan hunting for cherry blossom and Lego. I decided to take advantage of my four day weekend to clear out the pantry. It was a bigger job than I had anticipated but it is now done.  I have put loose food into  containers and am awaiting a supply of labels. There are definitely no mice in there now!

In other news, we have FINALLY had word from our removalists that our possessions are FINALLY on their way. At the moment they are sailing through the Mediterranean towards the Suez Canal.  Lucky them!  There hasn't been very much movement on the sale of the house.  I understand that the buyer is having the local searches done.  I can't think what can be left to do before she coughs up the dosh and takes possession of the keys - but I'm sure she'll think of something. She's taking a very long time over this sale.

Autumn evening in Mount Helen