Results tagged “Holidays” from Kazza the Blank One

Jason

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So another pretty quiet day today.  Just housework and jigsaw and food shopping.

Cooked tamarind chicken for dinner and watched some Discovery.

And then I totally needed a Jason Isaacs fix.  Looked through the dvd collection.  Considered Dragonheart but he just has a bit part in that.  Then The Patriot, but that was too long.  Next to that on the shelf was Peter Pan and I was sold.  Went downstairs to watch it while doing the jigsaw.  But you know you are captivated by a movie when you can't concentrate on your jigsaw for watching the movie.  Whoops.  

Giving Up

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So I had a few things I really wanted to get done this break.  I partly did one of them, but most of the rest never happened.  Today I gave up and started a new jigsaw (just a little 2000 piece one). 

Then headed out with Chrissie to do some baby stuff shopping.  Only came home with three jigsaws.  Did one of them - a 3D model of the Eiffel Tower which is pretty cool and only cost $5. 

Tonight we got pizza (it's Thursday) and watched Star Trek.  Stu's turn to choose a movie tonight so we watched Slapstick.  Ok that's not the name of it, but that's mostly all it was.  Jackie Chan movie with a few cool been-there's but utterly ridiculous movie.  Just had to lookup the name - Skiptrace.  I like Slapstick better.

Bit of hurty overnight but not too bad.

Finished tidying up receipts in the morning and finished filing photos from last year into appropriate directories.

Headed out for lunch (gotta keep my 40 week check-in streak going haha) and then went shopping for some new shorts (my "good" shorts from Colorado when they closed down - reduced from $70 to $20 - and I'm glad I didn't pay more than $20 cause they fell apart very quickly - aren't good anymore, and the daggy ones aren't the best for wearing around).  Amazingly the first ones I tried on fitted reasonably well.  For once a clothes shopping experience that didn't end in tears!

Just bits and pieces in the afternoon frittering my break away.  

Sarah came by late in the afternoon, followed by David, followed by Ben.  Sat in the pool til relatively late past dinner time.  We had food for ourselves but not for David so ended up getting pizza and watching Fawlty Towers.  Whoops.

But David did swap some taps around to fix the tap that broke in the bathroom a couple of days ago (the plastic disintegrated so couldn't turn the tap on anymore).  Have I ever mentioned my little brother is awesome? :)

The End of the Year

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Saturday 23.12.17

Dropped into Chrissie's to pick up keys and instructions for animal feeding, then did our food shopping for the week.  

Sunday 24.12.17 - Christmas Eve

Spent pretty much the entire afternoon cooking.  I cooked up a Christmas caramel slice (flavoured with a little ginger and spice), a cherry/raspberry white chocolate cheesecake that looked like crap, whoops, and then a 2.8kg piece of roast pork, as well as potato bake and roast veggies.  In the evening we had our Christmas Eve feast and watched new episodes of Fuller House, and started watching season four of Rake.

Pork and potato feast

Pork and potato feast

The fridge is choc-a-block full!

Full fridge

Monday 25.12.17 - Christmas Day

Had a relaxing and quiet morning because I didn't need to do any cooking.  I did clean up the kitchen, the bathroom, and the vomit some animal had left on our front patio - gross!!!  The sweetie and I went out and did a little pokegressing, then dropped into Chrissie's to feed the animals.  Came home and did a final bit of house tidying (and found out both families were coming for dessert, not just one).  After lunch (I had leftover pork and potato - yum!) Annie and the kids came over for dessert, and a little while later Scott and the family came over as well.  There was so. much. dessert.  And I'm not even a big dessert person.  My teeth hurt just looking at all the sugar!

Christmas caramel slice

Christmas desserts

By the time everyone left the sweetie and I were completely exhausted from *people*.  I cooked up the section of crackling that had been under the roast and so not crackled, and had that for dinner.  In the evening just Fuller House and Rake.

Tuesday 26.12.17 - Boxing Day

Did a bit of decluttering in the spare room - pulled out a pile of clothes to give/throw away, and started separating some of the stuff in the entrance way of what to Green Shed/Freecycle/eBay.  Cleaned the kitchen and family room window sills and trimmed the thyme which had been going a little crazy and tidied up all the herbs.  Did a bit of jigsawing, and worked on my new Nanoblocks building.  In the evening we went to Kit's as she and Pete were having a barbeque and a bunch of their friends came.  Stayed up probably a little too late, but it was a nice night.

Kit boxing day party

Wednesday 27.12.17

Had a bit of a slow start.  Did a water change in the angel tank.  We'd been planning to meet up with Potty etc to see a movie, but in between deciding which movie/session to see and actually booking it, they sold out.  We met up with them at the mall anyway for lunch (I also needed a few things at the shops so did that first).  Then everyone came back to our place for dessert take 2 (and the kids had a swim as well).  So I had to put away all the stuff that I'd spread out on the lounge room floor back into the spare room, where it's now out of sight out of mind :(  We put on the animated live action The Jungle Book to watch in the afternoon.  I say animated because just about the only thing that was real in the entire movie was the kid.  Still, it wasn't too bad.  I did the edge for the World's Most Difficult Jigsaw while watching.  By the time everyone left the sweetie and I were completely exhausted from *people*.  That and an entire day gone with pretty much nothing to show for it.

Thursday 28.12.17

Alternated between fifteen minutes at a time doing some deep cleaning in the bathroom, and doing the big jigsaw.  In the evening (it was Thursday after all), the sweetie ordered an epic pizza from Dominos.  It was nice enough, but it was sorely lacking in pepperoni, which was pretty disappointing.

Epic pizza

We watched The Space Between Us, which was nice enough, but some of the problems with it annoyed me (spoilers!!) - like being able to have online chats in real time - don't you know there's a three to twenty-four minute delay each way on comms (depending on position in orbits)??  Or what are they going to feed the kid?  I'm sure they didn't send any baby formula on the mission!  And I did call out the father very early on.

Friday 29.12.17

Just a few bits and pieces in the morning, including testing the dead LED fish tank light in the fitting downstairs.  I bought the LED light in April, but it died a week or so ago.  I'm pretty pissed off about that because the light was twice the price of a regular fluoro light, but it only lasted half as long.  I'm also pretty pissed that we don't have a receipt, because the sweetie doesn't tend to keep receipts.  Going to have to make a point of always getting him to give me receipts when we go shopping.  I know exactly when we bought it, and it should be in the sweetie's credit card statements, so going to try our luck getting a refund or replacement.  Moral of the story:  AquaOne is evil, and their products are crappy (always have been).  We bought another LED light in October that's still working, but we don't have a receipt for it either, so can guarantee it's going to die shortly too :(

Went into Belco to get our pool water tested.  Good news is our sunscreen levels are now down to the correct levels after last summer's dramas.  Bad news is there's no buffering (total alkalinity), which means it's all a bit unstable.  And even though our test kits say there's plenty of chlorine, the pool shop testing says there's none.  *sigh*

Went into the city for doctor stuff and lunch.  We went to Hero Sushi which is usually crowded and pretty good, but it was half empty and all the hot food was cold which wasn't much fun. Mostly just sorted pairs of pieces in the little jigsaw in the afternoon.  Had a swim then added a bunch of pool chemicals.

Saturday 30.12.17

Finished The World's Most Difficult jigsaw (it's not) fairly quickly in the morning, then finished the Nanoblocks Empire State Building.

Nanoblocks Empire State Building

Worked on the big jigsaw for a while in the afternoon so could finish it by the end of the year.  Serena came over after seeing Kit, and had a quick swim.  We watched Coyote Ugly in the evening which I first saw on the plane to the USA in 2000.  I didn't realise I'd seen it again back in 2003.  

Sunday 31.12.17 - New Years Eve

Was awake from dentist time to about 5:30am, then only managed about another two hours sleep after that.  So pretty tired and a very slow morning.  Watched Cinderella while finishing off that section of the jigsaw.  It's a pretty lame movie actually.  I don't think I've seen it since I was a kid.  There's a whole heap of just slapstick, and the "love" story is pathetic.  How do you fall in love with someone without them even saying a word??  Sure you can get a bit of a crush, but that's not really enough to live "happily ever after". 

Went out for lunch at the markets and to do our food shopping.  We didn't do much shopping as none of the butchers were open, I was super tired so couldn't even think about vegetables (and Tom's was very depleted on stock anyway).  We did pick up a huge pile of fish for $19/kg though, gave some to Kit, froze some, and will have it as a couple of meals in the next few days. 

This afternoon has just been catching up on this blog, and I've still got to finish my year in review post.  I started off well this year, taking notes for most of the year at the beginning of December.  But then everything just went crazy before Christmas and I kept putting it off.  It's probably half done so need to do that if there's nothing else I do before tonight.  We have no plans yet for New Years.  I'll be lucky to stay awake!

East China Sea GPS track

In case anyone missed me.. I've been cruising the East China Sea .. (see link in Holiday Blogs section).

So we got back on Sunday morning (thanks to Chrissie for picking us up from the airport!!).  While we were away they'd had problems one night with the alarm (went off for no good reason, and they couldn't find a spider).  There was also a problem with the back door not locking properly - the door has warped a little, possibly from all the humidity from the evaporative cooling, and so can't be locked unless you push the lock up quite hard.

Also, the internet was dead.  Something to deal with later.

Went to pick up something for lunch and for dinner.

After lunch I slept for about two hours, the sweetie most of the afternoon.  

I had a go at fixing the internet.  Rebooting the router didn't help.  Nor did rebooting the wifi (not that I thought that would do anything, on account of my pc is wired, and it wasn't even getting an IP address).  So I kicked the switch.  And everything came back.

Mostly.

My computer got an IP address and got back on the network.  But the NAS never came back.  Rebooted it.  Cold rebooted it.  Nothing.

We've had no end of trouble with all the Cisco gear we bought a few years back.  The 887 router just couldn't deal with our crappy phone line and would drop out and not come back til it was rebooted.  The WAP was pathetic and also kept dropping out.  We replaced both of them.  Now the switch has crapped out.  Anyone have any gigabit switches going begging?

Cooked sausages for dinner and we had a very early night.

And then woke up at 4:30 to the sweetie having a massive diarrhoea attack.  He was sick all day the poor thing.  I'm guessing a gastro virus picked up at the airport or on the plane.  So now it's the ticking time bomb of will I get it too..

Tonight I cooked myself dinner and gave the sweetie rice crackers for dinner.

And then fought with the NAS some more.  The thing has two network cables, but neither were giving a link light.  Given that the switch had spazzed out, I tried plugging them into a small 100mb switch we had lying around.  Sure enough, got link lights and the thing just started working!  So now I'm copying photos off the laptop at 100Mb/s (well actually about 9MB/s).  I really need to console onto the switch and find out what's up with it.

And we also really need to get our internet fixed.  Last night it was practically unusable.  It was a lot better earlier this evening, but has gone back to being almost unusable.  *sigh*

Last Day

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We had a very quiet day today.  After having to socialise Every Single Day of the break, we decided to avoid people.  I didn't get much done though, partly because I was feeling a bit blah about the end of the holidays.  We did do a bit of gardening though, and had a swim.  I cooked a nice big roast pork for dinner, because we missed out on getting much crackling or leftovers at Christmas.  Our fridge is stuffed full of food again now, so now the fun part begins of getting through it all :)

Roast pork

Shutdown

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Monday would have begun our week off.  Except it wasn't really a week off for us.  Well not that we could fully relax anyway.  But, I did get stuck into the house work I wanted to do.  Monday I cleaned out the spare room cupboard and organised everything in there.  Had sausages for dinner.

Tuesday I cleaned out most of our bedroom cupboard, although we still didn't find Stu's fitbit.  Kit cooked us some ribs on the bbq for lunch which was nice.  In the afternoon I cleaned out the ensuite cupboard.  Chris and Zac came up for a swim, then Chris Bell came over as well.  With Dumpling Inn apparently closed for the break, we did a big pickup from Chong Co instead.

Wednesday I cleaned out one of the kitchen cupboards which had been annoying me for a while.  That one is a lot more organised now.  Cooked up some pasta for dinner, and we watched Wag the Dog, which seemed a bit far fetched for me.

Thursday morning I didn't really get anything useful done.  Went out during the day to Bunnings then to the chemist and had lunch, and finally our food shopping.  Did a bit of sorting of stuff in the afternoon.  Mum took us to the Labor Club for dinner with Chris and Zac.  Had a swim in the pool afterwards.

Overnight I woke up at around dentist time and couldn't get back to sleep til around 5am because I was just too hot.  The cooler was working really well before Christmas, but this entire week has been stoopidly humid which means the cooler is pretty much useless.  No fair.

So Friday was a slow start.  Mum went home, then got stuck into sorting the year's receipts and other such things.  In the evening Ben and Serena came over for a swim, and we got pizza for dinner then chatted for a while.

And so now we're up to the last day of the year.  I still have a few more bits and pieces I need to blog today.  There's *heaps* of stuff on my todo list that I wanted to get done this week but couldn't because it was too hard to concentrate.  But at least I have another couple of days left which I might be able to get some of it done.  The ftp backup of my blog is *still* going :/  I did manage to do an sql dump of it all though which was good.  123mb, although a huge chunk of that is the search terms that people use on the sidebar.  Go figure.  Might see if I can delete some of that.

Edit:  deleted nearly nine years of activity history, and the sql dump was cut down to 25mb :)

Airgaps in the flights are because A380s walls are so thick it's hard for the GPS to pick up the signal.

Europe 2016

Europe 2016

Europe 2016

Europe 2016

The Remainder

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So the last couple of days have been busy with more bits and pieces.

Mum went home Tuesday morning, and spent the rest of the day and also Wednesday morning doing "finance" type stuff - downloading various statements, sorting receipts (cross checking bank statements, chucking out the boring ones), that sort of thing.

Went out to feed various cats, then out for lunch, then did our food shopping for the next week.

Got home and Kit asked if we could help her taken Petal to the vet (her car is out of action), so did that, and had a drink at Bentspoke while we waited.  Like Wig and Pen it has interesting beers, and would be good to drop in every so often to try different ones.

This morning I've just been blogging the rest of my photos that need blogging.

Still have a lot more stuff I need to do this holiday break, and only four days left to do it ....

So mum was here overnight Christmas night.  So didn't really get anything much done Boxing Day morning (we did beat the rain on a walk down to Chris' and raced back up during a brief lull - it pretty much rained solidly all day which was *awesome* for Canberra).  Around midday she headed down to visit the little brother in Junee.  I built SPACESHIP!! as well as started a jigsaw mum brought down for me.

In the evening Kit and later Ben came up for a while.

Yesterday morning I completely tided up the fish tank corner of the garage.  Things had been dumped there for months and you had to climb over things just to feed the fish.  Felt so much better to be able to go up to the fish tank without tripping over anything.

I also cleaned the kitchen and then almost completely cleared out the fridge.  I pulled everything out except the condiment shelf, cleaned the shelves, threw out some yukky stuff (including something of Potty's that had rotted in sealed plastic cups that once they were out of the fridge expanded and went off with a BANG - it was soooo loud it made my ears ring and I screamed.. Stu put ear plugs in and took the other cup outside and popped it out there), and then rearranged everything back into the fridge in an orderly fashion.  Felt so much better to have a clean fridge and be able to find everything again!

Then mum arrived back from Junee so didn't get anything much done after that.  Leftover roast pork for dinner.

Today while mum was out and about I spent probably six hours tidying the "workshop" corner of the garage in front of my car.  Mostly just organising all the crap that had just been dumped there over the past year or so.  Felt so much better to be able to walk around that area of the garage without tripping over anything, and be able to find stuff again.

Also did a wander to feed Doc's cat, and pickup a key to feed Annie's cat.

An ongoing project of mine is scanning photos.  At the moment I'm scanning Mum's photos of our trip to Western Australia in 1984.  This morning I scanned this photo of the Leaning Tower of Albany - a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in a guy's back yard.

Leaning Tower of Albany

At the time, the tower was two years old - it apparently having been built in 1982.

This is what the tower and the dude who built it looked like in 2006.

And this is what the tower looked like in 2011.

And here's Google Street View of it in 2015.

So the dude who built it, Aldo Scamozzi, is apparently still alive, and still living in the same house.  The National Library even interviewed him once.

Fun times!

Penultimate

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So I've had a great Christmas break so far.  Mostly.

Christmas day was a fairly lazy start after staying up a little too late with Kit on Christmas Eve (I forced them to watch the carols hehe and then we half watched Frozen, oops).  Didn't get to Potty's til a bit later than I wanted to, which meant the pork didn't get on til a bit late, which meant it was going to be a late lunch.  But we brought heaps of nibbles so ordinarily that would have been fine.  But just as we were sitting down to eat lunch everything happened at once.  While serving ourselves lunch Annie and the family turned up (it was 2pm and they were meant to arrive after lunch, but lunch was late hrmm), and miss V took that as her cue to open her presents.  Next year I'm not putting labels on presents.  That'll learn em.  Anyway, so instead of a nice relaxing Christmas lunch it was all super rushed and stressful.  Grunt.  The rest of the afternoon was a bit better though.

Christmas selfie

Family photo

George really didn't like his Christmas collar and was so depressed he almost got run over because he wouldn't get out of the way when we came home.
Depressed George

Friday morning I got stuck into my holiday break.  Friday and Saturday I had really productive days, getting stuff done around the house, as well as some sorting out of *stuff* and sorting my photos and lots of sorting of Dad's photos.  

Annie got me this for Christmas - super cute, goes with the little Neuschwanstein Castle she got me last year.
Nanoblocks Big Ben

Cherries at Damien's
Cherries

Sunday morning was more of dad's photo sorting, then we went over to Damien's for a Thermomix feast lunch.  Not a demo as such (he wasn't trying to sell us one), just a fun little banquet of dishes from it.

First he made up some pizza dough.

Damien and the Thermomix

Then he made a very nice dip of cream cheese, garlic, green onions and parsely.

Then a leek and potato soup

Thermomix soup

The leftovers of the soup made the base for a sauce that went with this steamed chicken and vegetables

Thermomix chicken and veggies

And here's that pizza

Thermomix pizza

And finally a sorbet to finish

Thermomix sorbet

So quite a feast in the end!

Afterwards we played a round of the Logo Game, which I won, then came home and did more photo sorting.

Monday and today was primarily photo sorting and a bit of house stuff.  And shaking my head over dad's "system" of backups.  So much waste.

Here's the "before" pile.  The offsite backups, the archives, the working copies, backups of mum's photos, unsorted cds, copies of other people's photos, and an entire large spindle of unfiled duplicates.

Dad's backups

And this is everything I'm chucking out.  Over four hundred cds :(  Such a waste.  They would never even have been used either.  He would have just burnt them, filed them, and that was the end of that.  And I swear about fifty of those cds were from their Gulf Savannah trip in 2007.  Sooo many copies of everything.  Sigh.

So much waste, dad

Last night we went to EffanC's for dinner, and after dinner we watched Labyrinth on the big screen (aka their lounge room wall).  It was super awesome.

David Bowie big screen

So I've gotten a lot done this break, although not nearly as much as I wanted to.  There's still so many things on the todo list.  Life is too short.  Holidays are too short.  Sigh.

I got nothing

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Lined up all my holiday piles of paper tonight, dating back to 2008.  It covers the length of the dining table.  Some are better sorted than others.

But I did find the one million mark note that we bought in Germany on our honeymoon but then couldn't find.  So that was good.

Then some tv and jigsaw.

Gobble Gobble

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Since I don't post regularly, you might not have noticed that it's been a little quiet around here lately.

Well this time I have a good excuse - I was on the other side of the planet :)

Check out the blog (without pics) here.

After getting home just before midnight, I actually slept fairly well and had a decent sleep-in, so basically back to normal today.  

Today I unpacked, did some washing, finished downloading photos and blogging, tidied up and generally caught up with life.  The day went entirely too fast!

Tonight we had duck and venison sausages from Eco Meats, but they weren't as good as the last ones we had.  Then we watched Harry Potter (on DVD not tv).

Bermagui

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So last weekend (well really the weekend before.. sorry, I've been a slacker) we went down to Bermagui for the weekend.  We had a slow start and left Saturday morning and didn't arrive till nearly 4pm.

Cheese!!  I wanted to stop here and try cheese .. maybe next time..
Bodalla cheese factory

A crappy photo of the Wallaga Lake bridge, which was recently used as a film set for Angelina Jolie's upcoming movie "Unbroken".  The bridge is meant to be in Japan!
Wallaga Lake bridge

When we arrived at Bellbird Cottage B&B we got out of the car and it was all BELLBIRDS!  They were peeping all around the bush and it was a lovely welcome!

The B&B is delightful.  They only rent out one (very large) room and it's downstairs and has its own entrance, so it's very private and has a wonderful bush outlook.  

Bellbird Cottage B&B

Bellbird Cottage B&B

I was sitting on the toilet for this photo..  :)
Bellbird Cottage B&B

Bellbird Cottage B&B

Bellbird Cottage B&B

On the first evening they bring down a cheese platter as a welcome, so it was lovely to sit and nibble cheese and look at the bush and listen to the bellbirds.

Bellbird Cottage B&B

We chillaxed for a while before heading out.  Unfortunately we were a little too late for the seaside fair, so we had a wander around Sculpture on the Edge.

Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

This was probably my favourite - it's made with the tops of milk bottles and old bicycle tyres and has solar powered strings of led lights mingled through.  I would love to have seen these at night.
Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

Sculpture on the Edge

Wandered down to the wharf to find some dinner.  The cafe was booked out, so we got some fish and chips from the outside servery.

Fish and chips

It was about 7:45 at this point, and there were fireworks scheduled for 8:45.  It was threatening to storm on us, so we went and found somewhere that we could park with a view of the fireworks.  This is the spot we found.

Bermagui Fireworks

The fireworks were actually really good for a small country town

Bermagui Fireworks

Bermagui Fireworks

Had a pretty good night's sleep.

In the morning they brought down a fabulous breakfast with a yummy variety of food.  In fact there was so much food we couldn't finish it all, and I packaged up the leftovers for our lunch!

Bellbird Cottage B&B

Then it was off to meet up with some people at the beach.  It had been raining in the morning and it did look a little miserable to start with, but the weather cleared into quite a nice day.

Armands Beach

Armands Beach

Armands Beach

Armands Beach

Armands Beach

Came back to Bellbird Cottage and chillaxed and listened to the birds and sipped some wine.  Lovely!

Bellbird Cottage B&B

Then we met up with J&H and D at Il Passagio down at the wharf for dinner.

A very nice salt and pepper squid
Il Passagio

Polenta chips - crispy and yummy
Il Passagio

Quite a nice steak
Il Passagio

Good panna cotta
Il Passagio

The next morning was another amazing breakfast

Bellbird Cottage B&B

Saying goodbye to Bellbird Cottage - we hope to be back one day!

Bellbird Cottage B&B

Went via the foreshore to hack some portals

Sculpture on the Edge

Stopped by some cliffs and took photos of birds

Eagle

Scratching himself on the wing?
Eagle

Stopped at the rather green Blue Pool.

Blue Pool

And headed home via Cooma.

Stu fell in love with this place overlooking a beautiful valley and across to Brown Mountain.
Stu's fantasy home

Fred Piper Memorial Lookout.  On a clear day you can see the ocean.
Fred Piper Memorial Lookout

Glider south of Canberra
Glider

Hume Solar Farm
Hume solar farm

And then we were home.  A bit tired from what seemed like two days of travelling, but it was lovely weekend nonetheless.

Thirty years ago this month our family took a five week holiday to the USA.  It was the first of four "flying" holidays that the were the most memorable and exciting of my childhood.

So I created a blog for it :)  

I took a combination of my parents' photos and added some of my own memories.

It took me ages to scan all mum's photos at 600 dpi.  But I've decided my scanner is retarded.  Mum's photos are a bit age-coloured, but not as bad as the scans make it out.  I think its colour balance is way off, scanning way too much yellow :(  

Dad's slides were scanned thirteen years ago by Dad on a flat bed scanner that wasn't really designed for slide scanning - the pictures are very pixelated.  But when you resize them to a max 500 pixels you'd never notice and generally the colour is a lot better in those.  Unfortunately with Dad's photos, he put everything in theme and "show" order, which meant things weren't in chronological order, which made it super annoying to try and fit into the nice chronological order that my brain likes!  Spent ages and ages trying to figure out where to put his photos so they were in the right order!

And I might have spent entirely too long trying to find the *exact* locations of some of the photos.  I may as well have geotagged the whole lot and be done with it! heh

Also, Movable Type is completely retarded, and it won't save the blog to a nice chronological order of entries.  So you'll just have to start at the beginning and click your way through. If you even care.  I'm suspecting that noone apart from my brother and mother will.  The rest will end up as Google Image Search fodder.  (Not to mention the blog using the butt ugly "Rainier" theme which came with Movable Type 5.2.  I really hate it but don't have the energy to fuss with it).

If anyone cares, here it is:

http://kazza.id.au/usa_1983/1983/04/day-1---sydney-to-los-angeles.html

..Oh, and the guys and work didn't believe it was me in all the pictures - they couldn't believe I could have been so skinny as a kid!

Home

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So we're home after nearly a week away.  

And after having spent just about every Christmas since I left Sydney either in Sydney, or in Queensland, or had family etc staying (except 2009 I think), I had a dummy spit the other day.  I want the week off next year.  I don't want to go anywhere or do anything.  I just want a week at home.  Is that too much to ask?  After sixteen years I still miss my uni three month long summer holidays.  And yet for the past five years I don't think I've had more than four or five days in a block at home since I moved here.  So yeah.  Next year will be going on strike!

Think people are here for our new years eve celebrations!

Hunter Valley

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Day 1

The day after boxing day we made our exit from Sydney.  Since we had to be back on the 30th for my cousin's wedding, the options were to stay in Sydney, go home, or have a couple of nights somewhere else.  We decided to go to the Hunter Valley.

We let the GPS guide us out of Sydney, and we managed to avoid the most horrible piece of road in Sydney, which is the five kilometres between Gordon and Hornsby, where it's just stop start the whole way.  The GPS took us round the north of all that, and it was much less stressful.

It's amazing the number of L-platers that were out.  I reckon they should either be banned from highways altogether or allowed to do the full speed limit.  Because forcing them to slow down on the freeways just makes everything slow for everyone else.

Learner drivers

We decided not to go up the Sydney-Newcastle freeway, opting to get off at Peat's Ridge and take the back way.  We mostly had the road to ourself, and it was a much prettier and less stressful drive.

Driving

Bucketty!
Bucketty!

Coming down the valley along the Great North Road was very pretty
Driving

Spaceman in a sculpture park north of Wollombi
Alien

Cessnock is very pretty at the moment with all the trees in bloom
Cessnock

As it turned out, we probably should have gone up the freeway, because we decided to go out to Minmi, which is right next to the freeway.  So it was a bit of a detour, but we weren't in any hurry so that was ok.

Crazy big house on Richmond Vale Road
House

Minmi Courthouse
Minmi Courthouse

Caboose in Minmi
Caboose in Minmi

I want a liqour shelf like this!  Pretty!  Popped in here to get a (non-alcoholic) refreshing beverage
Liquor shelf

Then out to the cemetery to find graves of Stu's rellies

Minmi Cemetery
Minmi Cemetery

Stu hunting
Minmi Cemetery

Found one!
Minmi Cemetery

These guys found their own rellies
Minmi Cemetery

Then onto the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.  A little pricey, but very nice.

Crowne Plaza reception
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

We got a hotel style room in the main building.  There's a tonne of self-contained units around the place that hold quite a few people.  They looked lovely, and people were out with deck chairs sipping wine, which totally looked like the life :)  They're a bit further away from the main building, and something like $800/night - ouch!
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

View from our room - not that exciting
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

What I did love about the place was the abundance of power points.  Something like 14 of them around the room, in nice useful places, like right next to the bed. 10 points right there!
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Settled in and got ourselves freshened up, then went for a walk around the place

The huge pool.  A bit emptier at this point, but it was full of people a little earlier.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Giant chess set (there was a checkers set in the main building too)
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Beach volleyball court
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Waiting in the Vista Lounge before dinner
Vista Lounge, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

The Red Salt restaurant (also the breakfast buffet)
Red Salt, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Our view for dinner
Dinner view

We started with this lovely Adina (a local) Pinot Grigio
Pinot grigio

The sweetie enjoys the wine and the view
The sweetie

Stu's entree.  I think this was "Caramelized Tart, of golden shallot and baked locally sourced goat's cheese, witlof salad"
Red Salt Dinner

I had "Warm salad of lobster, kipfler potatoes & frisse endive, poached quail eggs & black truffle dressing"
Red Salt Dinner

For mains Stu had "Coq au vin free range chicken, braised in Hunter Valley pinot, golden eschalots & smoked bacon, roast garlic puree, fried bread crumbs".  This thing was delicious - and look at that huge chunk of bacon!  Yum!
Red Salt Dinner

I had "Confit duck leg with cassoulet of white beans, lovedale smokehouse sausage & bacon, poached quail eggs".  The duck was nice, but too many beans for my taste.
Red Salt Dinner

We also had a side of "Sauteed mixed mushrooms with garlic and sherry vinegar (Swiss Browns, Buttons, King Oysters, Enoki)".  Omigosh this was so delicious!  One of my favourite parts of the meal!
Red Salt Dinner

We also had an amazing Rosehill shiraz - so smooth!  Yumm!
Red Salt shiraz

For dessert we had some Brokenback vintage cheddar (we were too full to eat any more!)
Red Salt Dinner

After dinner I was so full I went for a little walk around the place.

Took this nice HDR shot from the entrance area on my phone
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

 

Day 2

We had breakfast the next morning at the resort.  A pretty decent buffet of food.  Was quite crowded though, even though we were there near the end of service.

Breakfast

At 1pm we piled into a little minbus with a family of Swedish people and headed out on a winery tour (stopping to pick up some other people on the way).

Stu in the minibus

Our first stop was Peacock Hill Winery.  This was quite a small winery, and was much like the tours we did at Yass last year with a very small cellar door and crowds of people.  I found it a bit stressful, but the lady was reasonably well organised, so it wasn't too bad.

They have dinosaurs, which kept the two little Swedish boys amused
Peacock Hill dinosaurs

Peacock Hill dinosaurs

Peacock Hill selection of wines
Peacock Hill wines

Yeah being driven around the Hunter Valley tasting wines is a lovely way to spend an afternoon
Winery tour

The next stop was McGuigan's.  Having heard of this winery it wasn't surprising that they had a much bigger cellar door.  And they have this whole room setup for tour groups that looked pretty amazing.

McGuigan's

Tour group wine tasting room
McGuigan's wine tasting

Us at McGuigan's
Us at McGuigan's

This cork stool looked pretty cool (but $249 and not particularly practical)
Cork stool

McGuigan's also make and sell cheeses.  We might have bought some, but didn't have a cooler bag or a fridge at the hotel.
Stu inspecting cheese

Sunflowers at McGuigan's
Sunflowers

Next stop was the Pokolbin village for chocolate and cheese tasting.  The chocolate tasting was ok (half a dozen nibbles of chocolate), but the cheese tasting wasn't really anything special.  First you had to find the store that was doing it, then you had to ask for the cheeses to taste.  Yeah, not ideal.  

I did buy this cute little chocolate penguin from the chocolate place.
Chocolate penguin

Our last stop was Brokenwood.  This had a medium-sized cellar door and we sat around barrels to do the wine tasting.  We even got to taste a wine which was normally only opened for people paying to taste the wines.  So that was very nice.

Brokenwood

Brokenwood

On the way back we got up close to some kangaroos, which I think all the tourists liked :)

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

So a very nice (although somewhat expensive) afternoon, with half a box of wines and fortified wines acquired :)

For dinner we went to the Grapevine bar for beer and pizza

Beer

The sweetie

This was the "Truffled Mushroom" pizza, which sounded nice on the menu (swiss brown, button and enoki mushrooms, white sauce, confit garlic parmesan, thyme and truffle oil) but was a little bland
Grapevine pizza

This was the "Italian" pizza - pepperoni, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, parmesan & chilli, sour cream, thyme and rocket.  This was much nicer (I think the sour cream was a winner!)
Grapevine pizza

After dinner the pool was looking nice so I wanted to go for a swim.  But a change had come through which made it quite cold.  So we didn't stay in long.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

 

Day 3

So our final day.

First stop (after breakfast at the Scottish Restaurant in Cessnock) was a trip to Morpeth to look for more of Stu's relatives in the cemetery.  We didn't find any.  Just some harness horses trotting by.

Trotting horse

Then to St John's College, only to find the whole place has been turned into a retirement village.  So far the historic buildings remain, but who knows for how much longer.

St John's college

Walking around to the chapel
Chapel

The organ is still there, but the chapel is now a little community hall
St John's chapel

And the garden out the back has a gazebo, and the cross has been removed.  A bit different to last time we were here.
St John's chapel

And instead of a nice view out to the floodplain, all you can see is houses
St John's college - retirement village

So that was all a little sad.

Kept wandering.

This is the bridge at Hinton
Hinton bridge

And we found another probable relative of Stu's in the Hinton Cemetery
Hinton cemetery

Next up the sweetie thought it might be nice to head to Port Stevens, and Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.

Nelson Bay sign

As apparently did the rest of New South Wales
Nelson Bay

It was so crowded it was painful.  We didn't stop anywhere along the beachside.  Couldn't have anyway - no parking!  Just snapped a pic out the window.
Nelson Bay

We did stop at the lighthouse though (only because a super huge 4WD couldn't fit into a half sized parking spot, so we got it)

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Nelson Head

Carried on.  Shoal Bay was just as crowded.
Shoal Bay

Shoal Bay

Eventually ended up at Fingal Bay where we stopped for lunch a few streets back from the beach, where there was actually parking.  Fish and chips and potato scallops.  Because that's what you do when you go to the beach.  Even though we were nowhere near the beach.
Fish and chips

So left the craziness behind and headed back to Maitland to meet up with Margie at the Fox Bar.  This a nice little wine bar.  We had the whole front area to ourselves, but it was only when I went to the loo that I saw the lovely little garden they have out the back.
Fox Bar, Maitland

And finally headed back to Sydney.  Would have been uneventful except a horse float overturned on the freeway near Kariong killing two horses and completely closing the road.  The GPS saw it coming and we took a detour around it.  No idea if it worked out faster (it probably did) but it was certainly less stressful and no stop-start traffic for us.
Trouble

Finally made it back to my parent's place and crashed into bed

Happy's and a jab

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Had the first vaccination shot before the holiday today.  Followed by dinner at Happy's.  Because I wanted meat.  Lots of red meat.

Sizzling beef
Happy's
Fried mushrooms and bamboo shoots
Happy's
Cycled (slowly) for an hour.  And did my washing.  And ran the pool.  And did some holiday research and other bits and pieces. 

Not the most productive of Mondays, but not too bad I suppose.

Quiet day at home yesterday, didn't even leave the house.

The sweetie cooked kangaroo for dinner.

Tonight he cooked a Japanese curry (sort of).

Here's a couple of photos of sunflowers.

Sunflowers
Sunflowers

Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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