Friday, December 9, 2016

Day 13: Uluru and Kata Tjuta

This post continues the series on our two week roadtrip from Melbourne to Alice Springs and back during the July school holidays in 2015 (I'm determined to finish the series.)

An early morning wakeup to see the sunrise over Uluru. The kids stayed in bed and to be honest it wasn't a great sunrise, with clouds in all the wrong places.

The sun did set Kata Juta on fire in the distance. We were headed there after breakfast to do the Valley of the Winds Walk, a 7.4km circuit with two lookouts.


We had lunch then checked out the cultural centre, The Boy's expedition to climb was stymied by forecast rain that didn't eventuate. Pizza for dinner, and goodbye to our friends who were flying home the next day while we had an early start to hit the road back home.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Taking stock ...

Long time no blog ... over 2 months in fact, so I figured a good way to ease back into things and let you know some of the things I've been doing would be Pip's taking stock list ...

Making : a photobook. I finally finished our 2015 album and I'm eagerly awaiting its' arrival in the mail.
Cooking : Lots of new dairy free recipes, as I'm laying off the dairy for a while and simultaneously cutting down my sugar intake. We also had an Indian themed feast at the end of the September holidays ... but right now ... Salmon cakes for dinner. The microwave is beeping at me to come get the potatoes out.


Drinking : Water mainly but also coconut and banana smoothies ... and wine.
Reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
Trawling: cookbooks for new recipes.
Wanting: a new camera. I'm looking at the smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras.
Looking: at my watch, must make sure dinner is not too late tonight so we can get to the school carols.
Deciding: the menu for Christmas lunch.
Wishing: the Little girl would stop fainting.
Enjoying: hummus on toast for my snacks.
Waiting: for our reserve to come up at the library on the fifth season of the Game of Thrones.
Liking: Jamie Oliver's Everyday Super Food ... especially the bircher muesli.


Wondering: if the weather will ever warm up for summer.
Loving: the new plant we put in the front garden.


Pondering: whether to cull my to do list.
Listening: to spotify ads, the kids play it through the living room speakers but they only have the free account.
Considering: whether to look for a new dress when I go summer clothes shopping.
Buying: bulk at The Source, a new shop opened up near us.
Watching: Outlander on SBS.
Hoping: for an not too late finish to the school carol service.
Marvelling: at how talented some kids are.
Cringing: at the off notes ... but good on them for having a go.
Needing: a good sleep.
Questioning: why we let anxiety lead to persecution of the most vulnerable.
Smelling: climbing roses outside my kitchen window.
Wearing: jeans and a T-shirt.
Following: my kids around to end of year functions.
Noticing: that my pantry needs cleaning out.
Knowing: that there's only a few short weeks until Christmas and I haven't done much of anything yet to get ready.
Thinking: about doing a rewrite of an essay for publication.
Admiring: the sculptures at William Rickett's Sanctuary. We went for a quick visit on a wet day in the holidays.


Getting: a bit faster now I'm doing running club regularly. Thursday night is at the Tan but we often run to Olympic Park and do our workout around the track there.


Bookmarking: magazine layouts as inspiration for my next photobook.
Disliking: the cold weather.
Opening: a package of reusable produce bags.
Giggling: at the kids efforts to dress up Riley. He's chewing on the knight's cape.


Feeling: a bit stiff.
Hearing: traffic.
Celebrating: two birthdays. The Big Girl turned 15 and The Boy 13. It was pancake cakes all the way for breakfast. Dinner out and a small party at home for both of them.
Pretending: it's not nearly the end of the year but ...
Embracing: end of year festivities.
Gasping: that they really did vote in Trump ... I know it's old news now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A weekend at Pt. Lonsdale

It's school holidays now and we managed to get out of town after The Little Girl's Saturday morning violin lesson. Hubby took Monday off to  make it a long weekend. The weather wasn't great, a bit rainy, a bit windy and a bit cold but we managed to get out and about in between some much needed lazing about. We also took the opportunity in the worst weather to pop in to the shops and pick up a new toaster to replace our stopped working one. So it was a weekend of dog walking, open fires, rolling pin party pies, some tennis for the kids and I, jumping and swimming for Riley, a few more episodes of Game of Thrones Season 1 (borrowed from the library) for Hubby and I, wii Just dance for the kids ... and, just quietly, some digging for Riley.

Late afternoon walk.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

This week's links ...

Late afternoon walk.

I'm a bit sick of all the rain this week, the kids have spent a lot of the holidays so far inside in the pyjamas, but today was warmer and sunnier before a late afternoon shower which luckily cleared before sundown so we could get out for a walk. The weather doesn't look promising but we decided to head down to the beach for a long weekend anyway. Here's some reading for your weekend ...

1. This completely blew my mind. How non-English speakers are taught this crazy English grammar rule you know but you've never heard of. (via Modern Miss Darcy.)

2. Book series for while you're waiting for the next Game of Thrones book.

3. 10 Weekend Photography Projects.

4.100 Secrets in Melbourne Suburbs.

5. Smarter to Do Lists.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An off-line weekend.

#34 on my new list is to go off-line for 10 weekends. I've successfully completed one, although there were a couple of times where I plonked on the couch and was tempted by my phone. What I did ...

I finished reading Jane Eyre. I enjoyed it although I found Jane a little irritating when she dropped into her submissive behaviours round the strong males in the story. The good thing was that she was self-aware enough to know that about herself and strong enough to say no when she knew it would be to her detriment. This brings me 1/5 of the way to completing #81.

Before the weekend I copied out a new recipe I wanted to try for our Saturday night BBQ. Roasted New Potato Salad with Lentils.


As you can see I also downloaded my uni reading ... I still need to read it.

Saturday morning I dropped The Little Girl at swimming then did my 8km of intervals round the pond at Surrey Park while she swam.

After a shower and breakfast I took Riley down to the tennis club to watch The Boy play some of his match in the Club Championships before taking Riley to dog school.

I read the newspaper, watched a friend play a match in the men's singles Club Championships while chatting with his wife, popped into the supermarket and then made dinner. The potato salad was good. After dinner I printed and stuck some photos into my Italy journal and put the finishing touches on some of the maps.

Sunday was church. Then a run to the supermarket and quick tidy in preparation for The Little Girl's birthday party. At 1pm Hubby the Big Girl and I went down to the tennis club to compete in the women's doubles (The Big Girl and I) and the Parent/child doubles (Hubby and The Big Girl). The Big Girl had a full program, playing 5 sets but being young she was still bouncy at the end.


It was a good afternoon and we just made it home to have showers before the guests started arriving for The Little Girl's party. Pizza, ice-cream cake and a movie. We retreated to the lounge room ... even when the movie was on they were so loud, I'm not sure how they didn't all have splitting headaches.


The party finished at 10pm and by then Hubby and I were ready for our well earned sleep.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

This week's links ...

After a dreary day we were treated to a gorgeous sunset rainbow this evening, just in time to share before I go off-line for the weekend, starting after dinner which will be in about 15 minutes. Due to my self-imposed internet fast I'm writing this earlier than normal.

1. I made this chicken salad earlier in the week and these falafels. Both were winners.

2. The Big Girl and I get stuck into dystopian fiction together. Options here.

3. Free printable DIY seed packets.

4. 31 Must Read Books for all Readers. This is a crowd sourced list of books. I've read 11 and those were good.

5. Hubby would not like me reading things like this. He's very unlikely to eat leftovers that have been in the fridge for more than two days and his first inclination is to throw rather than take a chance. Although he is getting better at handling my leftover makeovers. How do you know when food is still safe to eat.

Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Currently ...


Enjoying some slightly warmer weather now that Spring is here.

Committing to completing my running program each week and celebrating my fastest 10km this morning at just under 57min ... with hills.

Reading Jany Eyre ... I know, I can't believe I got this far through life without reading it.

Filling in the blanks in my Italy journal.

Avoiding dairy. I have an intolerance that is usually under control but I've previously had periods of time where I've had to avoid dairy to let my immune system recover. My eczema isn't totally out of control at the moment but would be good to get rid of it completely but I mainly want to see if there is any difference to my energy levels and just general feeling of well-being. We did hit the gelato and cheese fairly heavily in Italy.

Counting down until the school holidays, starting at the end of this week. That would be the kids.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

This week's links ...


The Boy has been off school sick this week but looks to be almost over it today so he got to play his final basketball match for the season this afternoon. The Big Girl has been a bit too time pressed to continue Riley's training so I've had to take over, he was really an ideal dog this morning at class ... until he was not. He tends to turn off halfway through and start to run amok. He also like to visit the other classes. So other than dog school, I squeezed a run in between dropping off and picking up The Little girl from morning swimming, watching The Boy play basketball and I'll be heading out to The Big Girl's game any minute.

Here's some links ..

1. 2015 Book Award Winners. I've read "All the Light we Cannot See" which continued my love affair with Pulitzer Prize winners. The only other book on the list I've read is Lila which I enjoyed too.

2. PSD template for instagram photos.

3.  Question Time. Asking the right questions.

4. We had Pasta alla Vodka for dinner last night. Yum!

5.  Fog and Mist Photography Tips.

That's all for now ... enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

This week's links ...

Did not want to get up and run this morning ... but can I just say how good it is to do the run first thing. Now I don't have that hanging over me as a to do, and I've started the day with a win so I followed up with some Olympic watching since Riley and I have the week off dog school.

Here's some links for your reading pleasure ...

1. 25 Mason Jar Salads.

2. I've run out of printer ink but DIY printable wall art.

3. I made this Moroccan Chicken last week. It was pretty good and the slow cooker is always easy for busy nights.

4. Phone photography tips. Always good to keep reminding yourself of these.

5. DIY Melbourne Streetart Tour.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This week's links ...

Success ... we found and bought The Big Girl's outfit for her social that is in two weeks. Jumpsuit, jacket and necklace ... she's angling to get Hubby to take her to a Westfield when he flies in from Hong Kong tomorrow to get the shoes to finish the outfit. I'm glad to get that off my list. Other than that we had early morning swimming, Athletics trials, violin lesson, flopped on the couch to watch the Olympics Opening ceremony that we'd taped, one basketball game and then the Big Girl's opposition forfeited so I get an hour to myself while the pizza dough rises.

Here's this week's links ...

 1. You're not meant to do what you love. You're meant to do what you're good at. Which is why it is most likely that The Boy will be following in his sister's footsteps and doing Specialist Mathematics despite what he says now.

2.The kids generally pack their own lunches, but I still need to make sure there is something to pack. Non-sandwich lunchboxes.

3. A book list. Around the World in 80 Books.

4.  Traveling in Italy has inspired me to be a tourist in my home town. 21 Melbourne WalksThings to do in Melbourne.

5. Love this DIY journal pen holder.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The weather ...


Returning from sunny Italy, Melbourne felt particularly cold and wet. The final day of July was a glorious, sunny surprise.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This week's links ...

Lately the weekends are so busy. I seem to go from one kids activity to the next ... squeezing in cooking dinner and a load of washing in between. The Boy and The Big Girl both played the top teams in their respective basketball divisions with two very different results. The Boy had a 43-17 loss ... at least 5 members of the opposition were taller than his tallest team mate, one looked like he was getting facial hair, so it was always going to be difficult. It's amazing what a range of development there is at the 12-13 age group. The Big Girl's team had a 17-15 win so they were celebrating.

Hubby is off overseas tomorrow and there are more activities, plus I'm going to disappear to church in the morning so I thought I'd quickly post some links while Hubby finishes watching Collingwood win..

1. Substitutions for strange American ingredients.

2. Teen dystopian books for adults.

3. Secrets to amazing iphone photos.

4. Non-sandwich lunchbox ideas.

5. Organising evernote.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day Trip to Siena:Watching the Palio Trials

This was the Big Girl's second most enjoyed day of our trip, after our day trip to Lake Garda. We had a very early start, catching the 7:15am bus from Florence. The reason for the early start was Palio trials. The Palio is a horse race held twice a year in Siena around the Piazza del Campo. You can read all about it here. In the days prior to the race two trials are held, the morning one at 9am. We arrived in Siena at 8:30am and starting heading in the direction of the Campo. Soon we saw a mother and daughter wearing their contrada scarves (Porcupine) so we fell in behind and as we followed we became part of the stream of people heading towards the campo.

Before the Palio morning trial

It's a 10-15min walk from the bus stop. Inside the campo, school children in contrada colours sang and chanted from grandstands in front of Palazzo Pubblico. Sand covers the cobblestones and barriers are set up around the track. We could easily get a good spot close to the barriers to watch the trial. Soon the final barriers were in place, you need to be in place before that happens. The horses enter and do a lap, a loud explosive detonation alerts us that the trial will be beginning soon. The horses try lining up on the starting line ...

Getting ready Palio trial race

but one refuses and after some minutes all the horses do another lap of the campo before attempting again. This time the race begins and the front horses race past us, by the time they reach us on their second and third pass, they are taking it fairly easily. The trials are run to get the horses used to race conditions so the outcome does not matter.

Palio Trial Siena

Still, when the second explosive detonation signals the first horse past the finish, members of the winning contrada vault the barricades and celebrate, gesturing enthusiastically and congratulating the rider and each other.

Palio Trial Race Finished

After the barriers are opened we take a stroll around town. I had pre-booked the Duomo for 11am and apart from lunch and the cathedral complex, our only plans were to experience the hill town. I had downloaded some walking maps and we decided to do the orange track before our booking at the Duomo. As we walked a large group from the Chiocciola contrada passed leading their horse, chanting and cheering all the way.

Heading back to the Contrada

All the streets are decked out with contrada flags and lanterns.

Siena Streets

So even if, like us, the crowds of the Palio on race day would be just too much for you it is certainly worth coming out on the days prior to get a taste of the Palio festival.

Siena itself is a beautiful destination. I'm going to save my photos of the Duomo complex for later because it is truly stunning ... one of my favourite churches ... possibly the favourite that we visited and deserves it's own post. We had some fun looking for the various contrada animals.

Panther, Siena

Admiring the view from the wall ...

View from Siena's walls

Eating lunch at Osteria la Chiacherra, outside on the steeply sloping street on stools and tables with legs on the downhill side cut longer so the food and your bottom don't fall off.

Osteria la Chiacherra

Checking out the Campo without horses,

Palazzo Pubblico

enjoying a cool gelato and a walk around the fort before catching the bus back to Siena.

Friday, July 22, 2016

This week's links ...

Another weekend. These weeks seem to rush past. Riley is back at dog school today and later the girls and I will be going shopping. The Little Girl is going to one of the local boys school's social tonight and of course has nothing to wear. She has an idea of what she wants ... hopefully it is in the shops and in her size.

Here's some links for you weekend reading:

1. I listen to podcasts sometimes when I'm cooking or doing the ironing. I haven't listened to any of these but they might be worth a listen ... 11 Inspiring TED talks.

2.  Bujo Hacks. I use tabs and sometimes threading but haven't tried any of the others.

3. Homemade Instant noodles.

4. 10 Best Pre-workout Snacks.

5. 100 must read Scifi and Fantasy books by female authors.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day Trip to Lake Garda from Verona: Walking from Garda to Torri del Benaco (kind of ... )

Our day trip from Verona to Lake Garda was one of the favourite days of our trip. I'd decided to do the walk from Garda to Torri del Benaco via prehistoric rock engravings. A Torri round trip is in Walking the Italian Lakes, but I'd heard rumours that you could also visit them from the Garda side. I emailed the Torri tourist office and obtained maps for both walks.

Our plan was to take the bus from Verona to Garda and start the walk from there, but The Big Girl was getting a cold and was having some trouble with her feet with all the walking so we decided to catch the bus that runs north to from Garda and hop off at Punta San Viglio. This cuts about 50mins off the walk and drops you off directly underneath the part of the walk that diverts into the forest towards the rock engravings.

We caught the 9:05am bus from Piazza Bra which arrived in Garda at 10:02am. Then we had to wait about 20mins for the bus north. The bus stop at Punta San Viglio is on the main road near the car park, which luckily for us was manned so we took our map and got some directions. Following the dirt road to the right into the car park we walked to the end where a gravel path headed off to the right, up the hill and into the forest. There were several paths, which I think merged later up the track. We took the one furthest to the right that looped up and around the headland. It was quite rough in parts and we did wonder whether we were heading in the right direction until we came to the part that was marked with green to match the trail on our map. There are gorgeous views, down to Punta San Viglio and also over the southern section of the lake.

Lake Garda Panorama 1

We kept going until we came to the junction between the tracks from Torri and the Garda track. From here we took the track to the left up the hill, I think it was marked with both green and red. The track becomes quite steep and was washed out in parts as we neared the engravings. These were signed so you can't miss them. The first large rock had a number of engravings, the second was not as extensive and seemed more weathered. I read somewhere that pouring water on them helps them stand out, but we didn't find that to be the case.


The track from here travels further up into the forest and through the village of Albisano to Torri. We decided to backtrack to the junction of the red and green tracks and took the furthest right that wound back round down the hill. This track soon joins back roads and country lanes into Torri and was very scenic. The views open out to take in the northern part of the lake which is spectacular.

During the walk we also enjoyed the butterflies, wild flowers and the reptilian wildlife which are a favourite of The Big Girl. There were these stunning butterflies in the forest that looked like the lacy white flowers they were flying around but they never stopped to let us get a closer look.

Torri itself is beautiful.  We arrived on the promenade at 12:30pm, just in time for lunch. A long lunch, a glass of wine, sitting back enjoying the view was a perfect way to renew our energy after our walk. At about 2pm we went for a stroll around town, first along the promenade, with a quick wade to test the waters (warm at this time of year), then back through the narrow streets before checking out the castle with it's Orangerie out back.


Then we relaxed under a tree, enjoying the view of the lake while we waited for the 3:25pm ferry back to Garda. Torri del Benaco, apart from being beautiful is also less crowded than some of the other towns around the lake which was perfect for us. The ferries are not cheap in comparison with the bus, and much slower, but if you go to Lake Garda you must experience the lake on the water at least once.


For maps and detailed descriptions of the walk to the rock engravings from both Torri and Garda you can email the tourist office. They also sent details of a walk to the villages in the hills above and to the north of Torri: