New places to play

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I don’t get out much these days with study and a ton of other tasks to do at home so I had a mission to go into San Francisco for the day to renew my daughter’s passport at the Australian Consulate. I hopped onto the train to allow myself a time of chilling and knitting which was excellent as I have many projects going on at the moment. Arriving in San Francisco and walking through SOMA I have never seen so many dudes in my life – hey if you are a single woman get out there! There were packs of them and as my hubby says its ‘cos of all the tech companies in South of Market. Funny they all look the same and dress the same in their little uniforms of trainers, jeans, t-shirt or checked shirt and some facial hair and glasses. Walking through the city there were many homeless people even camped outside the building on Market Street right in the middle of the Financial District. Crazy how there is so much money in this city and there is no real solution to the problem of housing for the homeless. Hopefully, with the upcoming election, some wise nut will be able to do something about it and begin to care for the community. As I was walking down 3rd Street there was a hotel worker strike demanding better conditions and pay – go for it and I wish you all the best of luck, it is a tough and demanding job often disregarded by the many folks who travel and expect more.

Thank goodness the Australian Consulate has such an easy process with the paperwork and it all went smoothly! With 30 minutes to spare I wandered down the road to Bluestone Lane, an Aussie inspired cafe. The story goes that the guy who started the chain began his coffee shop franchise in New York by the need to get a decent coffee and enjoy an Aussie style coffee shop. I went to the cafe in the hope of having a CUP of tea but this is the cafe and only do “to go” so I had a paper cup and had to recycle it! They had a couple of tables outside and there I sat and ate my $8 avocado toast out of a box and read my book on Swedish Death Cleaning. I really needed to go to the coffee shop in Union Square if I wanted to have a latte with a cup and saucer, this is all explained on their website, American style to go or Aussie style sit down, relax and enjoy a cuppa.  Anyway, it was not as exciting as I thought it would be and as I have been living in America for ages I always set my expectations low, so I do not suffer disappointment.

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Our baby girl Bella chilling out – which is where I should be but between subjects for Uni but alas, I have a bunch of stuff to catch up on, mainly sewing!

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To end the week I helped out at my work for a couple of hours on Friday and volunteered at the school walkathon for another 3 hours and I was done and dusted for the week, time to chill. Missy had just come back from her trip away on science camp for 4 days and was determined to get herself a t-shirt by walking 75 laps which equals around 18 miles (28 km) that is quite a walk! She did it and was quite pleased that she scored a shirt but by the time she got to the end they had run out of t-shirts so she will get it this week! Still, I am quite amazed that these 5th-grade girls mustered up the energy to complete the walkathon after their epic 5-hour hike on science camp, though they did say that was training for the walkathon 😀

The weekend was pretty packed with stuff to do with the kids going to the harvest festival with their chickens for 4H and sharing their chickens at a petting zoo and pet parade. Unfortunately one of the white king pigeons flew away, hopefully, he finds his way back to the coop – it was quite distressing for the kids to see him fly away!

On Sunday we met our friends up in San Francisco at a hidden gem called Glen Canyon Park where we hiked around the natural habitats to the main drag of Portola and found some food before we walked uphill to Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower. Glen Canyon Park has such a fascinating history which was saved from development by the “Gum Tree Ladies” in the 1970s. The park provides habitats for Red Tailed Hawks, coyote, racoon and many other critters of the city. There is a fenced off super cool park for the kids to climb and play but be warned – Adults must be accompanied by children! 

We enjoyed burgers at Tower Burgers which was a 10-minute walk away from the top of the hill and with some energy we continued our walk uphill towards Twin Peaks.

The views on Twin Peaks were breathtaking, as was the wind that was blowing us sideways! The crows were having a grand old time flying in and out of the wind currents up there. Here is San Francisco in all its glory. The kids had a blast pretending to be crows using their jackets as wings.

We headed back to the car by walking along the Gum Tree Girls trail and encountered many obstacles such as tree roots, low hanging branches, tunnels of scrub which makes it such a wonderful walk you have to be aware of your surroundings. This was another fun time in San Francisco with our friends being tourists for the day and discovering new places to play!

 

Good citizens

I was jamming it last week with writing my 2nd essay for Indigenous Education and Perspectives with this essay focussing onThe Stolen Generations and bringing light to its relevance in education. I researched The Stolen Generations and its relationship to the Sorry speech by Kevin Rudd the PM in 2008, what a speech that was and so long overdue! It was an intense essay looking at racism and discrimination and I had a so much to draw upon with the connection to the Dumpo era here in the U S of A.

So with all that writing, I needed to focus and needed to eat well and drink matcha tea and made this delicious coconut milk matcha tea in the Vitamix after leaving it on for a while – beautiful, frothy and warm! And with my lack of time dinner has been super easy with taco Tuesday and tonight’s cool soba noodle salad topped with a fresh bantam egg.

Over the weekend we went to Open House for Missys week-long science camp coming up soon and we checked out the nature lab to touch this Trans-Pecos Rat Snake – it was so friendly. As as the kids have toyed with the idea of owning a reptile I found this info sign to share with them, it will remain here on the blog for reference if they have serious thoughts of snake keeping in the future. It is quite an expensive outlay and lucky for them there is an aquarium near our place in Melbourne and they can go an visit the reptiles there or maybe volunteer to give food to the snakes.

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I found this in a binder from my daughter’s 1st-grade class – if only this was the mantra of all humans! This is why I love being with kids they know where it is at and how to behave.

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As I have been cleaning out so much stuff and getting rid of boxes of everything from fabric to books to clothes and kids stuff, I found this lovely little scrapbook that Ash made when he was in Kindergarten – it is super cute. Our friends are in the pics but I have blurred their faces as they may not want to appear here 😀 respect! The kids are so cute and so young and he has captured some good times from the redwoods to the snow even with our green car!

 

Everybody walk the dinosaur

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We made our trek down south to Melbourne and we were greeted with a coolness only Melbourne can offer. The winter down here can be quite brutal so I always carry a coat, lucky I found this great vintage lambskin leather coat to keep me warm. Of course it does not snow here like the East Coast of the USA but coming from sunny Queensland to Victoria it was a bit of a shock!

We have an perfectly sized Air BnB house – 2o mins by tram to the city. Our first couple of days we were getting organised and enjoying the local shopping precinct before we decided to head on into the city for an afternoon adventure. We enjoyed a tram ride into the city and walked over to Federation Square so that I could show the kids the place where my husband and I met volunteering over 10 years ago! It was so cool to see how the space had changed since it first opened – there’s a cinema, cafe and bar upstairs, free exhibits for the public on the ground floor and the gallery below currently hosting a Scorsese exhibition. I will have to take the kids for a peek this week to check out the videos and games in the free gallery space.

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Saturday we met up with some friends outside the Melbourne Museum before we met up with our family here. We enjoyed a coffee from Ciuccio (Donkey in Italian) Cafe down Gertrude Street and the kids played together on these Roman ruins outside the museum. Even the take away coffee does not fail to disappoint here in Melbourne!

We were checking out the museum exhibits and the cousins were warming up to each other before we headed in for the highlight of the day the Jurassic World exhibit. It was $90 for a family to enter and we did not know what to expect when we went through. Once we went in it was such a treat as the dinosaurs looked so real! At times the kids were holding onto to us, as they were a bit scared of the gigantic realistic dinosaurs.

The lighting was dark and it was an adventure for all, like you would experience in a film and presented in a way that has some excitement – though I won’t give away any surprises!

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After the exhibit we had a look at other exhibits in the museum including The Melbourne Story and we found a 3D model of the Australian Coat of Arms with a taxidermy Kanga and Emu. It is so funny how when you are travelling you learn so much about your country when you visit. I had never really taken any notice of the shield and how each pictures represents one of the six states.

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Later on we enjoyed some wine and a delicious risotto fresh from the Thermomix followed by a mango sorbet ready in 6 minutes – amazing. Thank you to my sister in law for the incredible Thermomix demonstration and food! Her hubby found this super cool wine ‘Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch’ – I just love the label!

Last Sunday I had booked in ages ago with my good friend who I have not seen in 5 years! So we travelled down to Port Melbourne to visit and enjoyed wine and some lunch with them before we took the kids on a Pokemon Go adventure down to the beach. See those black specks on the beach, they were a gang of Pokemon hunters!

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While we were there we met this super cute fur baby named Neville Furbottom going for a spin in a bike basket belonging to his human. This little cutie just loved pats and the kids!

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Soon the Melbourne weather started to get a wee bit chilly and we headed back home – we had a lovely relaxed afternoon with our friends and the kids made some new friends! It is so good to see old friends like it was just yesterday when we last caught up, the major difference is when we see the kids and they are all growing like weeds!

The Rainbow Connection

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I love reconnecting with long lost friends after a long time when we come home. My friend Markus & I used to have such a fun time together going out dancing all night long back in the day. We were reminiscing about the fun times we had together and caught up with what our lives are now – we had not seen each since 2009! The great thing is about good friends is that when you leave and come back the connection is still the same.

We planned for a big day out to the Redcliffe show with my uncle and the kids – as we went in the plan was to track down the farm animals and the one thing I remember from when I was a kid going to the show was the pastel colored chicks! Here are some Frizzle chicks washed with wool mix and dipped in food coloring and then blow dried for extra fluff. Apparently their feathers take ages to dry!

Soon we wandered down to side show alley and found these crazy gangster bananas – who designs these things?!? There were plenty of clown heads and certainly plenty of photo opportunities! The highlight of the day was the pig races with these cute little piggies with sequin outfits on. They were not racing on who was the fastest pig, they had a little obstacle course and the first one to the feed dish is the winner! Of course in Australia you buy some raffle tickets for which pig will be yours and whether you win a meat tray – thank goodness our numbers did not come up!! I am a vegetarian who enjoys fish.

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After our lunch it was time to go on some rides – the Gravitron was there and we were saying it was the original from back in the day, complete with ripped vinyl inside. Thank goodness these days my stomach cannot deal with that centrifugal force, so we gave that one a miss. So we opted to go on the ferris wheel – it was hilarious, as we had to separate as a group to balance out the ride as no one was riding it! So Markus and I hopped in and held on tight making sure not to rock the cage as it went higher and higher. The view was quite lovely up there and we held on tight! There were visions of us going round and round all day and night as the ride operator watched movies on his mobile phone and left us circling. Soon it was all over, we survived and made it back down to earth in one piece.

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Markus commenting that this was higher than he planned to go!

There were lots of fun shopping opportunities though traveling for a couple of months makes sure that we cannot add more to the weight of the luggage. Ash enjoyed himself checking out the hats but the kids ended up with no show bag and found themselves with yet another stuffie – this time an ocelot and a rabbit from Minecraft. Minecraft is a big thing here too with the kiddos!

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Thursday we went on a walk from one beach to another along the shore. It was lovely to take the kids and share with them what we used to do when we were kids growing up by the water. Lots of old Queenslanders are still there but in a state of repair and next to them the apartment developments facing the beach selling for the thousands. Lucky there still is a height limit on buildings in place though it does make me wonder who is buying these apartments – maybe they are vacation rentals, who knows? I still love the big verandahs on the big old Queenslanders, they have such character and inside they are designed to be cool in the summer and great for entertaining. We walked back to the main beach called Sutton’s Beach in Margate and found this great place called Pilpel by the Sea and ordered some takeaway shish kebabs with mediterranean couscous and rice and sat by the water watching the kiddos play. It was perfect as I just love Mediterranean food and it looks like we will be going back for more later in the week when we bid Redcliffe a fond farewell.