Archive | Photography RSS feed for this section

Leaping and Bounding

3 Mar

“Well, hello Mr Sparkles!”

It’s a nice way for your health nurse to address your 5 month old son, and at the time, pretty apt as the little person on the floor began demonstrating his latest new moves; the sort of downward dog, one leg in the air type manoeuvre that would make the most dedicated pilates practitioner proud. Back down on his knees and shuffling along, he looked up and gave her a winning smile before moving into the plank position and then dragging himself around to do a 180. It is quite exhausting just watching him and in those two minutes of action, you catch a snapshot of my day with my baby son. Baby going on acrobatic action man.

The past month has without doubt been the most challenging and that is even compared to when he was a newborn. Toby has been going through huge developmental leaps and changes, now almost properly crawling and up on his hands and feet, moving on to tasting solids, and sitting on his own for a few minutes at a time. Coupled with minor teething, he has been waking a little more at night and been giving me a few screaming protests when it comes to settling in the cot in the day. The result? One already tired mum finding herself unable to “sleep when baby sleeps” because I’ve been having to pound the pavements to get the little man to have a nap in the day.

Enjoying some apple

Enjoying some apple

If you know anything of Wonder Weeks, all this occurred around the notoriously challenging period of ‘leap 4‘. These leaps are linked to a baby’s mental development and the various milestones and skills they  are achieving. It also coincided with a visit from one set of grandparents and so they experienced a slightly more unsettled Toby to normal. It is amazing how quickly these things change. At just before three months, we seemed to hit a magic moment where he naturally found his routine, slept well in the cot in the day and was only waking once in the night. Hello three to four months and hello to an extra wake up (or two) at night, a sudden hatred of the car seat and massive protests at going down for a nap in the cot too.

His timing as ever was impeccable. The car seat issue reared its head on the afternoon we set off on a 1000km road trip down to Melbourne and when we had gone less than 5km and had had to stop three times to get out and settle him, due to a screaming fit in the back, we began seriously contemplating heading home and looking at flight options. Luckily by 10km, he had worn himself out and slept the rest of the way to our first overnight stop.

Pit stop en route to Melbourne

Pit stop en route to Melbourne

These little things become pretty big things when your day revolves around this one person and without playing the ‘single mum’ card too often, having no respite at all, becomes very draining, especially when I am now trying to find time to steam, mash and puree (and hence why I am inclined to offer more finger foods!) The low point came when I was making dinner one evening and realised that not only was I too tired to prepare anything but a bowl of salad, but it was the first meal I had eaten all day. I think it was around that time that I was thinking he had better be able to hold a trilingual conversation at the end of this particular leap for this to be worth it.

After weeks of little sleep, feeling the exhaustion creep in and with a small concern over his tummy, I went to the GP and I think it was as much for my own benefit as Toby’s. I am sure he is accustomed to sleep deprived, anxious new mums, at least, he was very supportive and luckily very happy with how Toby is doing. He has grown very long and is now above the 90th percentile for length but his weight has dropped off a little, probably because of all his daily acrobatics!

Support has come not only in the form of the health centre and doctor but mostly in the form of good friends and the new mum mates I have made over the past few months. Weekly catch-ups are a therapeutic way to let off steam, discuss the latest concerns and applaud the new milestones only fellow mums can get excited about. “He can now burp/settle/feed himself!”

Enjoying a day out in the park

Enjoying a day out in the park

I must add that aside from the above issues, Toby is generally a very happy and smiley little baby. It is a good thing; being on my own with him for such long periods of time, all the hardships melt away with one big gummy grin. I feel very lucky to spend my days with him, especially as his personality becomes more apparent and as I get to know the things he likes and finds funny. Admittedly, his current likes list extends to raspberries on the stomach, games of peepo and Humpty Dumpty and pretending to fly.

Happy Chap

Recently, I can add to the list: swimming (and avocado)! He absolutely loves it. I started taking him to lessons, something which living in a country obsessed with water and in a city surrounded by it, seemed fairly important. Three lessons in and he is already learning to stretch out horizontally to kick, hold on to the side by himself and has now been submerged as well, as he has learnt to close his eyes and mouth when going under. He came up still smiling afterwards so our little man is definitely growing into a little water baby.

Swimming with Daddy

Swimming with Daddy

A dip in the pool

A dip in the pool

Ready to jump

Ready to jump

I am also pleased to say, the past week seems to have been a bit of a turning point. Suddenly the past few weeks of adapting the bedtime routine, steeling myself not to pick him up at each cry and soothing him in other ways really seems to have paid off. He settles himself after just a few minutes in the cot and is now having two-hour naps in the day. These are the small accomplishments that only another mum can probably appreciate!

We have come through and survived leap four, we are now mid leap five but he has been taking regular day naps in the cot again, which means not only can I occasionally have a nap too, but can actually do laundry, clean the house, make some food, and tend to various admin such as passport applications for a soon to be world travelling baby.

He is definitely coming on in leaps and bounds and I am sure when James next sees his son, he will be amazed at how he has changed. Two and a half months is a huge time span at this age. In fact, it’s almost half his life.

Happy Days

Lying and chilling

Sitting up

Crawling

On the move

He will be reunited with a baby who will be crawling, sitting, eating food and grabbing everything in sight and the small things which change over time, will probably have much more impact. He now sits in a seat, not the pram bassinet; he sits up in the bath; he engages with you; he smiles at himself in the mirror; he knows his name when you call it; he has a high chair; he can play in the pool. Basically from four to six months there has been a monumental change. It has certainly taken its toll on my sleep state at times but I am seeing him grow into a very loving, happy little boy, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Moons and Showers

3 Aug The Three Sisters

Stick the word baby in front of ‘moon’ and ‘shower’ and you have two events, which have become almost rights of passage for women these days prior to having a baby.  Depending on where you live, the nature of each varies, but in Australia, a baby shower seems to be as common and as expected as in the US. The baby moon, previously the time after the birth, is now known as the short holiday before the baby is born.

I have to say I was not planning on doing or having either, but with James back for such a short time before leaving again, I was keen that we did go away, just for a couple of nights. I never thought of it as a ‘babymoon’, but if you are going to adopt the newly-used definiteion, then yes, it was a short break, where we could get away, enjoy some time as just the two of us and try to make the most of that, knowing in a few short weeks, things will change. Time as a couple is becoming precious and now James has gone again, I really have no idea how much more time we will actually have together before we are a family of three.

I booked us into a hotel in the Blue Mountains – a little luxury for a couple of days, to relax, go for walks, indulge in a nice meal and uninterrupted, adult conversations! In many ways it was an early anniversary gift to each other as well.

Lilianfels hotel

Lilianfels hotel

View from hotel gardens

View from hotel gardens

Hotel gardens

Hotel gardens

Admittedly, the walks were a little shorter than they might have been eight months a go but enjoyable all the same and as much as I dislike feeling as if I’m less capable now, there was nothing nicer than getting back, having a warm bath and curling up in the hotel lounge in front of one of the two big fireplaces. It was the first time we got a taste of winter, for it has been fairly warm in Sydney this year, apart from a couple of cold snaps lasting just a few days. Warm jumpers, hats and cosy log fires were just what we were after.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

Blue Mountains views

Blue Mountains views

Blue Mountains walking trail

Blue Mountains walking trail

Admiring the views

Admiring the views

Walking the trail

Walking the trail

Mountain trail

Mountain trail

Post walk drink

Post walk drink

Evening by the fire

Evening by the fire

We couldn’t resist the high tea, offered by the hotel but felt we had earned it after our walk! Well, I am eating for two now… Right?

Post walk high tea!

Post walk high tea!

Relaxing in the lounge

Relaxing in the lounge

Warming up with a hot chocolate

Warming up with a hot chocolate

Sunset from the hotel

Sunset from the hotel

It was just a couple of days after James left again that I had my baby shower. A couple of friends asked if they could throw one for me, which was very touching, and of course, I was delighted, although specified I was not after anything extravagant and was not going down the route of a gift registry, which many people do. The word ‘shower’, implying I would be showered with gifts, actually makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

Initially I was hoping to have a joint party with James for a modern-day twist; less baby shower, more a bit of fun with our friends before the baby arrives. However, dates were limited and eventually we settled on a low-key, girls-only, tea party at our apartment. I have to admit I did enjoy making a cake and putting together some home-made thank you gifts and tags, which involved baking several trays of macarons… Patience and lots of willing later, I think they actually turned out ok!

Macaron thank you gifts

Macaron thank you gifts

To be honest, I could not have asked for anything more and I was completely blown away by the generosity shown by our friends and the efforts they had gone to, to create a fantastic party. Beautiful decorations, flowers, food, activities and gifts; a room full of women, love and general support; a lovely occasion, which given the timing, was a good way to enjoy myself during my first weekend with James away again.

Clouds and feathers

Baby shower decorations

Baby shower decorations

Party details

Cake what I made

Cake what I made

Baby bunting

Baby bunting

Baby clothes

Stringing up the clothes

Fantastic friends & Party Planners

Fantastic friends & Party Planners

Baby shower friends

Baby shower friends

Showing the nursery

Showing the nursery

Everybody who came brought flowers, a tray of food and gifts. I admit I even shed a few tears when they played a short video montage compiled of clips from a few friends and my sister back in the UK, wishing me well. Saying that, I can cry at the drop of a hat these days… I blame the hormones.

Food and Flowers

Food and Flowers

Quilt made by talented friend

Homemade baby quilt

Special gifts

Baby shower present

Friends

Shan & Sophie

Generous friends

Generous friends

34-week bump

34-week bump

End of the day

End of the day

With so many lovely things, the ‘nursery’ (read corner of our bedroom for now) is now pretty much set up. One of James’ jobs the past fortnight was to build the cot. We have a mini one, which expands to a full size cot when required, and I love it. Now I just need to start washing a few more little clothes and should probably think about that hospital bag!

Just need a baby now

Just need a baby now

The long farewell

26 May

It’s been a long time in coming. Since February, James has been on course to ready himself to become Commanding Officer of a ship but it has been on the cards since July last year when he was on the signal to take command. In fact for James himself, you could argue it has been something he has aspired to for the past 17 years of his Naval career. Well, the time has now come and we have said our farewells. In eight weeks when he returns for the first time, we’ll be able to tell you whether all that preparation has been adequate!

The period of James’ sending off parties seemed to reflect the length of time he has waited for this job. I’m not saying he likes to milk these things but…

It started a few weeks a go when I held a surprise party for him at a bar in Sydney. After scouring his contacts list and asking a few people to pass the word on to Navy friends, more than thirty people were already gathered when we arrived to give him a big cheer. It was a really wonderful evening with so many friends offering a lot of good wishes and congratulations. I had been planning a special gift for him to say ‘well done and good luck’ for a while. It is a naval tradition that only the captain of a ship can write in red ink and so decided it was a good occasion to present him with a Mont Blanc pen complete with red ink cartridges. It went down pretty well!

The following weeks involved drinks with friends, being taken out for dinner, more brunches and evening drinks and finally a lovely Sunday lunch with some good friends.

We have tried to make the most of these last couple of weeks together, particularly as when he returns I will be significantly larger and probably less up for traipsing about or going on long walks. We have stayed local but spent time down at the beach or in the park.

Walking in the Botanical Gardens

Walking in the Botanical Gardens

Autumn in Centennial Park

Autumn in Centennial Park

Bondi days

Bondi days

Drinks at Balmoral Beach

Drinks at Balmoral Beach

We had not been to Cockatoo Island before and decided to take the ferry there to see the biennale  – the art festival held only every two years. Although there were a lot of obscure video installations such as the one involving a man with a bag over his head and people wailing in German, there were also a few interesting and interactive exhibits, including the gym installation and the giant waterfall at the end of one of the buildings.

Harbourside buildings

Harbourside buildings

Working Out the Art

Working Out the Art

Cockatoo Island is a perfect location for an art festival. The once busy boat building hub and former convict prison is now an almost deserted island of old warehouses, sheds and prison cells. There is an eerie sense of abandonment in some of the old work sheds where the day’s tea order is still scribbled on to a blackboard, machinery remains suspended, the pulley systems rusted and decaying and the clock halted at the point when no one returned to repair it. Art installations aside, it is a pretty interesting place to visit and the view from the wine bar at the top of the island is pretty good too!

Arriving on Cockatoo Island

Arriving on Cockatoo Island

Old machinery

Old machinery

Turning to rust

Turning to rust

Climbing to the top of Cockatoo Island

Climbing to the top of Cockatoo Island

Abandoned and empty

Abandoned and empty

View from Cockatoo Island

View from Cockatoo Island

As you can see we have been enjoying some incredible weather over the past couple of weeks. Autumn has graced us with summer warm days and crisp evenings. It is really a beautiful time of year here.

Heading home

Heading home

When James and I next see each other it will be mid winter and it won’t just be the season that will have changed. I am sure James will have a fair few stories and experiences after his first stint in command and well, I just probably won’t fit in any of the clothes he last saw me wearing!

The Bump!

The Bump!

Sapphires and poppies

8 May

There are many things we’ve got used to after two and a half years in Australia and one of those is the fact a six or seven-hour drive is no longer considered that long or even unusual. When planning a trip away over the long Easter weekend, we decided to venture south to an area we had not yet visited together: the Sapphire Coast. A mere six plus hours in the car, still in the same state and only broken up a few more times than usual to let a pregnant woman stretch her legs and back!

Stopover in Kiama

Stopover in Kiama

The drive was actually worth it for the scenery alone for once you have hit the Southern Highlands, you are accompanied by rolling green hills, dramatic, sweeping coastline, sun-dappled forests and picturesque dairy farm land.

Rolling hills of the South Coast

Rolling hills of the South Coast

 

After a few wrong turns bouncing along dirt tracks, which would end abruptly at a river or some dense woodland, we got back to the road with the Sat Nav insisting we should, “U-turn when possible” and had our first night with James’ step uncle and his wife, who have a property near Wyndham.

It was lovely to visit them, after last seeing them both nearly three years a go at a party, where, to be honest, I met so many of James’ extended family, that I still struggle to remember who is related to who! Their home is set in several acres of land, which we walked around the following morning. It was distinctly cooler being that little bit further south and it was the first time we had to sit round an open fire in the evening.

The house near Wyndham

The house near Wyndham

Grahame, Andy and James

Grahame, Andy and James

The following days we stayed in a B&B near Tathra and explored the beaches and countryside around the Sapphire coast. It really is a stunning area, more remote than the South Coast closer to Sydney, fringed by long stretches of beach or smaller, bays, bordered by bush and forest. The water, unsurprisingly was a clear sapphire blue and in the middle of the day it was still warm enough to take a dip.

Tathra Beach

Tathra Beach

Bega Kiss Lagoon

Bega Kiss Lagoon

Forests along Sapphire Coast

Forests along Sapphire Coast

One of our favourite spots was Nelsons Beach, accessed by another dirt track with ocean one side and a beautiful lagoon on the other, which was perfect for swimming.

Nelsons Beach

Nelsons Beach

Walking along Nelsons Beach

Walking along Nelsons Beach

Lagoon at Nelsons Beach

Lagoon at Nelsons Beach

We treated ourselves to dinner at Mimosa Wines one night and seeing as we didn’t get to see it in daylight, stopped there again on the drive back up to Sydney. Artisan workshops, galleries and foodie joints seem to be springing up along the tourist drive, which winds along the coast and through national park.

Walks near Tathra

Walks near Tathra

Mimosa Wines

Mimosa Wines

Coffee with a view: Mimosa Wines

Coffee with a view: Mimosa Wines

Quaint shops of Central Tilba

Quaint shops of Central Tilba

It was definitely the breather we both needed and possibly our last chance for a long weekend away even before the baby comes along with James going away a few times before the due date.

It was a big holiday week in Australia that week, with Easter falling late in the year and coinciding with the same week of Anzac Day.

Anzac Day 2014

Anzac Day 2014

For the third year in a row, James got to march in an Anzac parade, this year in Sydney again, and a friend and I went to watch and support on what was a fairly wet and dreary start to the day. Luckily, by the time the rain really came down, James had finished his march and we were safely esconced in the officers’ pub of choice on Anzac Day, The Forbes.

Rain fails to dampen Anzac crowds

Rain fails to dampen Anzac crowds

Marie Bashir, Governor General NSW, applaudes marchers

Marie Bashir, Governor General NSW, applaudes marchers

James on parade

James on parade

Navy on parade: Anzac 2014

Navy on parade: Anzac 2014

Remembering the fallen

Remembering the fallen

After a few drinks there, James was clearly up for some stick, as we headed to the bar where some of his Marine friends were meeting up but ‘Jack’ was welcomed in with just a few derogatory comments!

Comrades!

Comrades!

The Anzac parade is always a spectacle seeing the hundreds of men and women marching together in uniform. It is certainly a moment to feel proud of those who serve and an event that equally shows them, the gratitude and support from the public. Every year since living in Sydney I have been moved at how many people, young and old, turn out for the parade, even in miserable weather. Perhaps a glimmer of the Anzac spirit being demonstrated in honour of those who fell.

A taste of Summer

8 Apr

Well Summer is well and truly over. Although it officially ended a month a go, we managed to grab on to a few warm and sunny days into March before the storms hit – and boy, have we had some storms. Living up high gives us a pretty spectacular view of the lightning shows and storm fronts, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Storm front over Sydney

Storm clouds build over Sydney

Luckily we had a pretty good Summer, although the oppressive humidity was not always welcome when battling morning sickness!

Now I am back on my feet, I can finally post some of the pictures from our third Summer in Australia. It is incredible how quickly the time has gone. Our third Summer of beach trips and barbecues and our third Australia Day, which fortunately was not as eventful as last year’s camping trip! In fact it involved a picnic overlooking the harbour at Manly – and a few flags just to show willing!

Australia Day celebrations

Australia Day celebrations

Australia Day picnic

Australia Day picnic

Manly for Australia Day

Manly for Australia Day

With James on course, it has meant we have been able to spend a lot of time together before he heads away next month. His routine has been a little more relaxed, which was useful when he had to come home and cook, but he has discovered some new culinary skills, in particular, sausage rolls, which he proudly showed off with the help of our friends’ daughter at their house.

One man and his sausage rolls

One man and his sausage rolls

We also managed a trip down the coast to Kiama and into the Southern Highlands, one of our favourite areas.

Beaching in Kiama

Beaching in Kiama

Lookout point across the Southern Highlands

Lookout point across the Southern Highlands

So, as we start to ‘rug up’ for Autumn, which over here involves wearing a cardigan over a T-shirt, and suffer the temperatures dipping to the low 20s, I will leave you with an image of our local beach where we have spent a few very pleasant Summer afternoons going for  swim.

Shark Beach, Sydney

Shark Beach, Sydney

Bracing for summer: Bushfire season comes early

18 Oct

Well, long time no blog, and despite best intentions to update several times over the past few weeks, other things, primarily work, has got me sidetracked and taken priority. I have been spending the last few days going through a huge database of thousands of businesses, ready for our new app. The launch date is now hopefully just three weeks away and so it is all hands t the pump.

I expected to update, when I could, about the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review, which took place a couple of week’s a go here in Sydney and was a true spectacle. At some point, I will blog about this and post all the pictures, but today I had to write about what we are experiencing right now.

Nearly every day, we feel so very lucky to live here, waking up to blue skies and looking across the harbour and appreciating that we live in a very beautiful city. The contrast to our view yesterday was quite startling.

Yesterday, after heading back from a work meeting in North Sydney, I looked out the train window and had to do a double take. There was no sky. There was a large, yellow, grey mass, crawling across it, obliterating the blue and turning Sydney an eerie shade of sepia.

Smoke cloud starts to engulf Sydney

Smoke cloud starts to engulf Sydney

Sydney smoke cloud from the train

Sydney smoke cloud from the train

It had been a scorching 32 degrees with a fiercely hot wind gusting through and it was only when I got home that I realised the seriousness of the situation just kilometres away, as close as Northwest Sydney and stretching up and down the coast. Bushfires had ignited everywhere from down in the Southern Highlands, up to the Central Coast and out to the Blue Mountains. After the hottest September on record and barely any rain, the flames had spread quickly and ferociously, ripping through neighbourhoods and rapidly burning out of control.

It is always hard to hear of those situations when you are relatively safe in your apartment and feeling very removed from it all. This time it felt much more real, as the fires made their presence known even in central Sydney. The smoke cloud hung, suspended over the skyline all afternoon, streaked with orange and we went to bed smelling burning in the air. This morning the haze remains, as does the smell of smoke, which catches in your throat.

It is an indication of how bad these particular fires are, with the smell and smoke reaching the CBD.  The reports state these have been some of the most ferocious fires people have seen due to the constantly changing conditions and how rapidly they have spread. The high temperatures and strong winds we have been experiencing have meant the fire services have been preparing for and expecting a bad bushfire season but it has started early this year and people are now dreading what is ahead this summer.

Sydney smoke cloud near Bondi

Sydney smoke cloud near Bondi

Smoke cloud obliterates the sky

Smoke cloud obliterates the sky

Smoke cloud hangs over Sydney harbour

Smoke cloud hangs over Sydney harbour

Smoke cloud shrouds the Sydney skyline

Smoke cloud shrouds the Sydney skyline

Due to how quickly the fires started and spread, there was little time to prepare and save much at all. People hearing about the fires were rushing back from work, trying to salvage what they could, search for animals and rescue treasured possessions.  Others were not so fortunate, they had to be told to move on and get to safety as the intensity of the fires increased and it proved too dangerous to return. Some people have lost everything.

Tragically, one 63-year-old man died, after trying to defend his home. His neighbours said he didn’t have much but he felt rich with his friends.

Watching the families on the news, going back to the blackened shells of their properties, picking through the wreckage, telling of lost photographs, treasured items, and missing pets is heartbreaking.

The heartbreak has been felt not just by the victims, but by those involved with fighting the fires as well. Particularly poignant was the press conference given by NSW RFS Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, who had to fight back tears when asked about the pride he felt in the firefighters who are risking their lives. “We have the best firefighters in the world, they are second to none,” he said before having to stop to swallow back tears in front of the cameras.

I am always in awe at how some people cope with these tragedies and how they retain their sense of humour. A prime example was the woman who walked through the charred remains of her home, burnt fully to the ground, pointing out the trampoline “with not much bounce in it” and the fact they still have the kitchen sink.

There are still nearly 100 fires burning and it is going to take weeks, not days, to tackle all the blazes. More than 200 homes have been destroyed and it is feared more will be lost today as fast moving fires continue to spread in certain areas.

In one town on the Central Coast, forty homes have been lost in one street and in another, a historic, heritage home, dating back to 1887 and in the same family for generations, has been completely gutted.

Some of the most beautiful areas are currently ablaze, clouded in thick, black smoke and forming large scars on the countryside. This morning, there was some welcome relief as temperatures cooled to the low 20s but no one is becoming complacent because as the day heats up, the fires are gathering pace again and flaring up in other spots. The initial reaction was to protect life and property and as days go on, firefighters will be able to work more on containing the fires. They know they will not be able to extinguish all the blazes by the weekend and on Sunday, temperatures are expected to soar again, causing more problems.

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected and to the exhausted firefighters and volunteers working round the clock to tackle the emergency. Australia is prone to natural disaster but when it strikes it still hurts. The stoic Australian spirit shines through in these situations and so whatever happens over the coming months, I am sure there will not just be more stories of tragedy, but also of communities pulling together and facing such adversity as only people living with this constant threat can.

The Salvation Army have launched an appeal to help those affected: http://salvos.org.au

Raro Time

6 Sep

From the moment we stepped off the plane, the Cook Islands welcomed us. It was the sound of the man in the straw hat and tropical shirt (who we now know is called Jake) strumming away on his guitar with island tunes while we waited in the tiny arrivals area for our bags to appear on the one luggage carousel. It was the sign saying ‘Welcome Louise & James’ when we headed to the desk for our transfer and it was our driver, Gna, offering us a glass of champagne in the back of the car before taking us to our accommodation. We had arrived in Rarotonga and from now on, everything was going to happen in ‘Raro time.’

The brief introduction to Rarotonga as we sat in the taxi, watching the dark shapes of palm trees and low-rise buildings slide past (the speed limit is a maximum 50kph on the whole island), informed us that tourists make up a higher percentage of the population than locals, the entire island is only 35km around and one of the best places to watch sunset is at the end of the runway.

It was 1.30 am and the owners at our accommodation had long gone home but Gna walked in, found the keys and showed us to our villa. Anywhere else, it might have seemed odd, but this was Rarotonga, a tiny speck in the middle of the Pacific, as far from anywhere as you can pretty much get and right then, Sydney, the city, work and daily routine felt very very far away.

Just before heading to bed, with the sound of the waves enticingly close, we had to walk down to the beach and less than twenty metres from our front door, we were on the sand and looking out over the lagoon, which surrounds the island. It was dark of course but feeling the sand between our toes and hearing nothing but water lapping the shore and a sweet, balmy breeze, we were on holiday.

Mii greeted us on our first morning and offered to take us to the supermarket to stock up on a few provisions. We weren’t planning on doing much self-catering, but a few bits for breakfast and lunch were all we needed. In the daylight, we saw our first glimpse of the inland lushness of the island; mountains reared up in the centre, covered in a vivid green carpet and all along the roadside were lawns, palm trees and bright flowers punctuating the dense foliage.

On the other side of the road, white sand sloped down to the lagoon, crystal clear and bright turquoise. I might be describing your typical tropical island paradise, but then, that is exactly where we were.

Rarotonga from the lagoon

Rarotonga from the lagoon

Rarotonga - main road

Rarotonga – main road

Titikaveka Beach

Titikaveka Beach

We hopped out of Mii’s car. The windows were left down, the doors left unlocked and every other person waved, smiled and hugged Mii as we walked in.

This is the kind of island, unsurprisingly, where everyone knows everyone. It is the kind if island where “going up town” refers to heading to the one settlement with more than two roads, on the north side. It is the kind of island where there are only two buses: clockwise and anti-clockwise and where, if you are waiting for a bus to take you home from ‘town’ at night and the police drive by, they tell you to “hop in” and give you a ride back to your villa.

Our villa was one of just ten, all facing the water, set back a few metres from one of the best beaches on the island for snorkeling and swimming. With a coral reef, protecting the island, there was plenty of coral to snorkel around and tropical fish occasionally jumping up near where we were lying on the beach. We did a lot of that. Lying. Lying and reading, lying and sunbathing, lying and sleeping and maybe occasionally rolling over, you know, if we were getting too much sun on one side… I think we occasionally mumbled something to each other but basically, the holiday, which was booked as a much needed rest and recharge, was just that.

Lazy days

There were several restaurants within walking distance and a few, which we went to by bus. Most were small, on the beach, serving Polynesian food, which is essentially a lot of fish, rice and typical sides like papaya salad. The American influence was still apparent: key lime pie and New York cheesecake were a common feature on the dessert menu!

Beach bar

Beach bar

The resort, where we stayed hosted a couple of communal events each week, to get guests mingling and talking. The first of these was a morning tea by the pool, with hokey pokey muffins (honeycomb for the Brits.) We got chatting to another young, American couple, who were honeymooning on the island, and a few of the other guests, mainly Kiwis. The second event, fell on our last night: the Petanque Championship. The stress was on ‘fun’ not ‘competition’ but if you’re going to stick a ball in James’ hand and mention the word ‘Championship’ to either of us, we aren’t going to take it lying down (perhaps we’d had too much of that during the rest of the holiday.)

Competitive spirits aroused, the other guests were not going to get their sedate game of petanque whether they wanted it or not. We won. Of course. Petanque champions of the week. We could leave, satisfied.

Petanque Champions

Petanque Champions

Our final meal that night was as local as you could get. The American couple had befriended a woman, who lived across the road and who had offered to cook them dinner. They invited us to join them and that evening, Mama Nicky came to their villa with dishes of home-cooked food: fish in coconut cream, chicken curry, raw fish in lime juice and a home-baked banana bread. It was delicious and a good way to say goodbye to the island.

Mama Nicky and crew

Mama Nicky and crew

We never got to see a sunset from the end of the runway, but we’re sure, the ones we did see, were not too bad.

Sunset from Titikaveka

Sunset from Titikaveka

 

City2Surf 2013

14 Aug

Last year I waited anxiously on the Saturday evening before my first City2Surf as the wind howled around the house and rain battered the windows. I was hoping the following morning would at least stay dry. It did, thankfully, and I completed my first City2Surf run in a fairly respectable time of 73 minutes. What a difference a year makes. Clear blue skies and temperatures well into the double figures greeted us for City2Surf 2013 and it was not just me running but James and five other friends as well.

I have now run this event twice and feel qualified to say, I love this race. There is a real buzz and sense of fun that you do not always get with more competitive, accredited races. With a previous qualifying time, I was in a different start group to my friends and just after 8am, my gun went off, followed by James’ 20 minutes later. The nerves may not have been as bad as last year but the pressure was on. Last year, it was about finishing and experiencing the atmosphere that you can only get in amongst 85,000 runners, pounding the streets of Sydney all the way to Bondi Beach. This year I had different expectations and a time to beat. I had not put in as much training and I knew heartbreak hill was going to prove more of a struggle than I wanted but I thought a 70-minute race might just be possible if I didn’t let the muscle burn get the better of me.

I started well but it was hard to tell how I was going (I do not have a Garmin or timing device) and in amongst faster runners, I was very much ‘one of the pack’. If anything was going to spur me on, it was knowing James was going to be on my back, and although starting well behind me, I admit there was a little competition going on between us, as well as with myself!

©Louise Edmondson

©Louise Edmondson

©Louise Edmondson

©Louise Edmondson

There are not many timed running events where you can high-five children lining the street, pass a man running in a policeman’s helmet or dressed as a smurf, get sprayed by water pistols by onlookers and feel the mutual sense of pain as you all dig deep to get up that hill. The urge to pat people on the back and just say, “keep going, you can do it,” was quite strong!

Once heartbreak hill is conquered, it is not, as some people like to believe, “all down hill from then on” in fact there are a couple of pretty sneaky but nasty ascents along Military Road before Bondi comes into view. The approach to Bondi is always the hardest part. You are so close and the finish is in sight yet the course, parallel to the beach, seems to go on forever and then you have to double back on yourself to the finish line. I saw a friend among the spectating crowds and gave a yell and a wave as I ran past and then it was the final stretch to the end.

It’s a tough course, no doubt. Need to see the faces on people as they finish?

Finishing relief!

I did not feel too bad after crossing the line. There was the sense of achievement at having finished and kept running and there was the knowing I had raised over $400 for my chosen charity, The Butterfly Foundation.  I had no idea of my overall time but I knew it would be close whether I had cracked my sub-70 goal.  Fortunately, James and I managed to meet up and walked home (up another hill), feeling a little tired but proud to have completed the, let’s say, ‘undulating’ course! A sunny Bond is not a bad place to end:

James_medal

IMG_0352

Once home, as much as the temptation was to have a soak and fall asleep, we had a party to prepare for. We had decided it would be a good afternoon to have our belated housewarming party so there was no time to sit and relax. There was food to get ready, barbecues to light and a house to clean. We were so lucky with the weather: sunny, cloudless skies and 22 degrees, perfect for taking advantage of the views and getting use out of the balcony. This became not just a sun trap but a tourist viewing platform, with everyone getting out phones and cameras to take pictures!

Our View!

Our race times came in by text. James, 76 minutes – very impressive considering just a year a go he was hobbling about after a knee operation and myself…. 71 minutes, a minute over my target so a little disappointing but at least a bit quicker than last year. When I thought about how I could have shaved off the minute, I started blaming that brief stop at the water point, the zig-zagging between people at the beginning, the seconds spent waving to my friend in the crowd… At the end of the day, I just needed to run faster!

Next year, there is always next year… But first, there is the Sydney Half Marathon in just over one month’s time.

The best kept secret

8 Jul

I walked up to the trees, twinkling with fairy lights, candles suspended in pretty, glass jars and orchids entwined in the branches. There was soft music in the background and the clink of glasses and low voices. From the light and noise of the main road, I had walked through the park and arrived at the bar and knew instantly it was the perfect setting. The perfect setting that is for our friends, S and A, to be holding their baby’s Naming Ceremony. It was very them , especially S, who has been accused of being a bit of a hippy in her time but definitely has a spiritual, nature-loving side.

Celebrating the arrival of a new baby is always a happy occasion. Baby Ash arrived into the world just over two months a go and her Naming Ceremony was held yesterday. With James now away again I was flying solo to the event, which we were told would be a formal, evening do with a celebrant. It was held at the Bodhi Bar in Sydney, which specialises in vegan dim sum and Chinese style food.

Ash looked gorgeous in a little dress, both S and A looked very smart and the grandparents were there along with a small group of close friends. Just after 5.30pm we were asked to gather outside under the trees where the celebrant welcomed us. That is when after a few introductory words she announced that with all their close friends and family gathered, this ceremony was not just going to be about welcoming Ash to their family, but making that family complete. At this point, I think I might have let out a little squeak. I knew what was coming.

We had not all just been asked to come for Ash’s Naming Day but in fact to celebrate their wedding!

You can imagine the surprise from all the guests as not a single person (bar the parents and A’s brother) had known this was going to happen. There was a lot of cheering and applause and of course, open-mouths and dismayed faces! From the laid-back atmosphere, to the outdoor setting and the intimate gathering, everything was perfect. Our small group parted to let S walk through with her mum to the front where she an A said their vows and became husband and wife. We had not been totally duped for once the rings were exchanged, they took Ash and under the lights, candles and stars she was officially named and a candle lit in her honour.

This has to have been one of the hardest secrets they’ve kept because despite a few of us (myself included) knowing they were planning on getting married one day and knowing A had asked S to marry him, none of us believed that would be the night.

Sadly, James missed it but  funnily enough was still part of the celebrations. After drinks and speeches in the bar, A’s brother produced a brilliant video montage of clips from friends who could not be there. Those people had been given a few days’ warning and let in on the secret and James was one of them. I don’t know whether I was more shocked to see his face pop up on the screen, unamused at the fact he was in an airport car park, or at the fact he had been told and managed to keep it a secret for a full 24-hours!

Anyway, it was nice to see him because at that point I had gone nearly 30 hours without hearing anything from him and was getting a little worried. (Turns out their flights had been diverted and delayed due to the crash in San Francisco, which was not news I wanted to wake up to when I knew he was due to be on a plane heading that way overnight!)

All’s well that ends well and I feel very honoured to be one of the people present to witness their new family becoming complete. Here are a few of the pictures from a very magical evening.

Happy Couple

'I do'

Family complete

Naming Ceremony

Sydney through a lens

31 May

How do you walk for miles and actually not go very far? Don’t worry, I’m not challenging you to a riddle. I discovered the answer on Wednesday when I walked ten miles (about 16km) yet never left Sydney. It was me, a friend, our cameras and a whole day taking hundreds of photographs. She was doing a project for school and I had been asked to help her.

We’ve got to know her family pretty well over the past few months. A fellow Navy family, they shared our leech walk, (James and Rob shared a little more), we have had barbecues and dinners at each other’s houses and we have been a source of mutual support for one another since they are also RN transfers. However, I was still surprised when asked to help out their daughter, mainly because I am not an expert photographer and I hardly felt qualified. Still, I was happy to help in any way I could and that is how we came to walk for seven hours straight from Sydney’s Circular Quay and back again via the CBD, Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, many alleyways, and Darling Harbour.

Her aim was to produce a final project called ‘Sydney at Work’. My aim was to supervise, give her any pointers, any advice or suggestions and be a bit of a guide. In the meantime: have camera; will shoot. It was actually great fun for me too.

There was a real atmosphere that morning with a low fog suspended over the city, seeming to render it mute and deserted. Boats and ferries emerged, ghost-like, from the mist, the wharves were silent and the tips of buildings faded into the clouds with an ethereal quality. We snapped away and set off for our day, unsure of what we would find and how successful we would be.

In the centre, the morning coffee rush proved a good source of shots of waiters, baristas and business suits. Construction sites and road works dotted around the city suddenly became interesting, and window shopping became window shooting. People seemed very accommodating that day; the kiosk vendors, buskers and workmen all seemed happy to have their pictures snapped and even a couple of chefs, spotted through the swinging door of their back-alley kitchen, posed for a shot. I was not there to take pictures of working people but if I saw something that caught my eye, I clicked. So, here is a selection of my shots: Sydney Glimpses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The latest project

10 May

I have been quite busy this past week.

I have been thinking on this idea recently, stemming from my enjoyment of designing photobooks and knowing how many people have hundreds of photos stored on their computers, never doing anything with them… Here’s where I can now step in!

square

I came up with a small business idea, spoke to a few people about it, took and edited photographs, made slideshows, set up the website, designed and created a logo, registered the business and domain names, created a facebook presence and now Louise Edmondson Design is a fully registered Australian business and ready to go!

holidaybook

Please take a look at my new website: LouiseEdmondsonDesign.com.au and you can find the facebook page as Louise Edmondson Design.

Spread the word, especially if you know people who might be interested 🙂

 

All support (and feedback) will be gratefully received! And if anyone reading this has any ‘small business’ or promoting tips – please comment!

wedding_book

© Louise Edmondson 2013

© Louise Edmondson 2013

Lest We Forget

26 Apr

As the dawn broke over the cliffs of Gallipoli ninety-eight years a go, it saw the dawning of a political and military disaster for the Allies in World War I.  It was the moment hundreds upon hundreds of young Australians and New Zealanders were sent, mostly unprepared, with instructions to secure the Turkish peninsular and sent ultimately, to their deaths. This day, April 25th, is now commemorated as ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) Day and marked with dawn services around the world. It marks the occasion young men landed on the beaches of Gallipoli full of courage, fighting for their lives and fighting for each other in a battle they were never going to win. Young men who fought with bravery, persevered with determination and buried their dead with compassion: values which have come to be known as epitomising the ANZAC spirit.

As Ruth Pollard, who was present for the dawn service at the since-named Anzac Cove at Gallipoli, wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, the headstones of those who lost their lives during the campaign also reflect the spirit and laid-back nature of the ANZACs. The headstone of ‘Trooper E.W. Lowndes of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade reads simply: “Well done Ted”.’

It was at a very poignant and moving dawn service at Bondi Beach, at the same moment that the ANZACs landed, that we were described the horrors that awaited those young men: ‘a maelstrom of bullets and blood’ and we were asked to turn and look out to the beach and try to imagine it without the shops, cafes and houses and instead the grizzly scenes which would have met the soldiers; a stark contrast to the calm and serenity of Bondi that morning. The guest speaker gave a powerful reminder of why we were there: to honour those who fell, those like many of the young men stood in the crowd amongst us. More than 11,000 lives were lost in that one failed campaign and the statistic, which resonated with many of us today: in the Australia of just 5 million people, 300,000 joined up to fight, the equivalent of 1.4 million young men doing so today.

Thousands of people gathered to attend the dawn service, an apparently growing trend, and made the occasion all the more special as there were so many children in the crowd as well – a point which I have noticed here is that the younger generations seem to mark the day and are encouraged to continue the tradition and commemoration more so than for Remembrance Day in the UK (this may have changed a little due to the recent war in Afghanistan and it may help that it is a public holiday in Australia.) An estimated 20,000 people paid their respects at the cenotaph in St,Martin’s Place, Sydney and over 3,000 stood silently at the North Bondi RSL. Current and former servicemen and women decorated with medals, stood with ordinary members of the public, some of whom were also wearing the military medals of their ancestors or carrying a photograph of loved ones who had been killed in action. Particularly poignant was the laying of wreaths by the parents of two young combat engineers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, the most recent having been killed in October last year, aged 24.

All rights reserved

Thousands at Bondi RSL ANZAC dawn service

Dawn over Bondi beach

The sun rising over Bondi was a more cheering sight after a 5am wake up and so it was on to breakfast and then into the city to watch the parade. My friend and neighbour, Katie and I watched proudly as all the Navy marched first. Both of our respective partners were parading and it was particularly touching to see how much applause there was and how many cheers erupted from the crowds, particularly as the veterans walked or were wheeled past.

Veterans ANZAC 2013

Paratroopers Sydney parade

ANZAC Day 2013: Sydney parade

HMAS Watson parade ANZAC Day 2013

SYdney parade ANZAC Day 2013

Marching band: ANZAC Day 2013

Support for the troops

ANZAC Day 2013: Sydney veteran

The sombre and ceremonial aspect of ANZAC Day is countered with a much more celebratory but none the less important part of the day as well. Following the parade, it is a chance for serving members (and the public) to enjoy a few beers. A chance for some to get as drunk as possible in one afternoon but generally, a chance to let the hair down, relax with colleagues and comrades and a moment to feel very proud of the uniform they wear.

ANZAC Day celebrations James said the whole experience of ANZAC Day, from the words spoken at the dawns service, to the obvious support from the crowds, gave him a feeling he wishes he could bottle to bring out during challenging times at work, those moments when motivation may be at a lower ebb.

James at Rose Bay

For those who use the public holiday as an opportunity for a lie-in and a booze in the sunshine, I would ask that although you don’t need to attend a dawn service, or even support the troops in a parade, at least spare a thought for the reason why you are having fun in the sun, for the men and women who have paid with their  lives to let you enjoy those beers, for that is the real reason behind ANZAC Day. A day on which many Australians and New Zealanders do reflect on the ultimate sacrifice so many made to protect their way of life, a day on which they do spare a thought for those past and present in the armed forces, a day on which they remember three words with a very significant meaning: Lest We Forget.

Sunset over Sydney

Great Expectations

8 Apr

Baby showers: had never been to one, never had one and didn’t even know anyone who had hosted one, so I was wondering what I had let myself in for after a friend asked me to help organise hers.

At over eight month’s pregnant, she wanted something low-key, with no fuss and relaxed. It sounded simple but then you know how the simple things always seem to take more time and effort? Like natural-looking make-up probably takes twice as long to perfect than a full face of gaudy colour. Plus, not only have I never experienced child birth, none but one of the girls she invited had children either, so her vision of women all offering her pearls of wisdom and advice was also looking a little doubtful. Not to be defeated, I set about researching baby showers and thinking of ideas, which would give my friend the relaxed afternoon surrounded by girlfriends that she wanted.

If the term ‘earth mother’ fits anyone, it fits my friend. She has stocked up on bamboo silk, reuseable nappies, her windowsill is currently abound with jars of oil, infusing with calendula to bathe the baby-to-be, the baby will be fed on wholesome, organic foods and she holds dear all things related to her family and particularly the advice of her own mother, who happens to live in South Africa. As such, it was no surprise that she wanted, in her words, ‘a day of female-power’ and the pressure was on; it had to be meaningful with a capital M.

We discussed the guest list and dates and then she told me she would like everyone to write a message for her baby and place it on an ornamental tree that she owns. With this as a starting point, I then just had to organise, the gifts, the food, the drink, any activities and the decorations. It may have been my friend who was expecting but it dawned on me that there was going to be quite a lot of expectation on me too.

Given that my friend already has a lot of clothes, equipment and products for the baby, choosing a present she wanted or needed proved tricky so it seemed clubbing together to get something she would not get for herself was going to be the best way forward. I knew she would love a family photo shoot once the baby is born so between us we came up with enough to buy credit for a shoot and several prints. I used the extra to put together a pamper box of goodies she could use before and after the birth and a a couple of little things for the baby. Luckily in Sydney it is not too hard to find eco-friendly, paraben-free, sulfate-free, organic products!

Then there was food: baby-sized tea party was the theme so bite-size brownies and scones, mini cupcakes and cake pops, miniature carrot cakes and plenty of teas and champagne were on the menu. I made afternoon tea cup cakes and attempted cake pops (cakes on sticks – they should be simple as described  by Bakerella here  but mine were far from perfect and at 9am on the day of the shower after the first batch flopped and fell apart, I had to make do! I definitely did not give mine long enough to firm up.)

cup cakes

For the activity we ‘ummed and ahhed’ over doing something like a joint painting or decorating bibs and babygrows but whatever it was it had to be able to be done seated, involve everyone and hopefully create something that mum and baby could keep. That’s when I saw the calico teddy bears and had the idea that everyone could stitch a patch on to the bear. Cue an afternoon in my idea of heaven trawling craft stores for suitable materials for the bear and pretty papers for her messages on the tree. I reminded myself how to do a blanket stitch and started off with an ‘A’ for the baby’s name, Ash. Then it was on to making the card.

homemade baby shower card

Patch teddy

Of all the items on my to-do list, locating decorations and bunting seemed hardest and what to do when the places you go to have either sold out or require a second mortgage to purchase them? My solution: two packets of Cath Kidston napkins, a ball of string and a couple of hours in front of the TV that evening, sticking and sewing.

emergency hand-made bunting

Come the day before the shower I had a box of pampering goodies all wrapped and in cellophane, a scrap book for her to put all the messages in also filled with quotes and photos of her and the bump over the past few months, a card, a voucher for a family photo shoot, a teddy bear, sewing materials, Japanese papers for the messages, organza bags in which to put said messages to hang from the tree, trays of cupcakes and cake pops and some home-made bunting.

The day of the shower I arrived to set up with a couple of friends and mum-to-be disappeared for an hour to leave us to it. In that time, her mother-in-law, who she is very close to, arrived, so she was there to surprise her when she got back. Not only that, I had got in touch with her mum in South Africa, asking her to be part of the day too, so over the past few weeks I have been receiving parcels from Cape Town containing messages from her mum and other members of her family as well as a present and poem, written by her mum, to read. If all else failed, there were going to be enough surprises to keep the excitement levels up, I just had to hope they didn’t also cause the onset of labour!

After gifts were given and poems were read, we all got crafty and got our granny on and each stitched a patch on to the teddy bear. She now has a very individual gift, which we have all helped to create.

heart work

sweet talk

sweet treats

message tree

Loving Granny's blanket

I think I can hesitantly say my first baby shower was a success. There were screams (of surprise when she saw her mother-in-law), there were tears (when she saw there were messages from her family in South Africa), there were smiles and hugs for the presents and most importantly she loved being surrounded by her girlfriends, exchanging stories and words of support and encouragement. Hopefully there were enough meaningful moments and expectations were met and we get to meet the biggest expectation of all in just a couple of weeks.

To everything there is a season

2 Apr

The months of March and April we used to associate with days growing longer, temperatures getting warmer and winter melting away.* Of course, now we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, this is completely reversed and where spring would have sprung, autumn now starts to fall. We have begun to notice a slight chill to the air first thing in the morning and until our clocks go back at the end of this week, it is a very dark day we wake up to when the alarm goes off. Easter was a time of  blossom on the trees and lambs and calves wobbling about, trying out their new legs. Having said that, with the temperate weather here, it appears lambing can also happen in autumn so at the Sydney Royal Easter show there were enough baby animals to satisfy anyone pining for a burst of spring (probably something the UK is in need of right now.)

We went along to the event on Easter Monday: a huge fair at the Olympic park with rides and attractions for children, exhibition halls for food, wine, produce, fashion and home styling, arenas for animal  judging and stadiums for parades and spectacles. My highlight was petting the adorable baby goats, lambs and calves, which due to my fear of cows, was quite an achievement! James’ highlight was the wood chopping championships. I have to admit I disappeared to the craft hall at that point and left him to watch great hulks of men wield axes over great hunks of wood. The event dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of Wood Chopping’ attracted huge crowds and despite the heat, the arena was packed. (If you are interested the New Zealand team won the World Championship and these men can hack through a tree stump in under 60 seconds.)

P1080571

P1080601

The Easter weekend itself, we travelled to the South Coast and stayed in a small B&B in Berry in an idyllic spot, run by the parents of one of James’ Navy colleagues. If it seemed like spring in Sydney (or still summer if we’re honest right now) we woke up to a truly autumnal morning in Berry. Fields (of cows) were shrouded in mist as the sun came up and the temperature was below 20 degrees for the first time in a while.

We drove into the Southern Highlands, up through Kangaroo Valley and to Fitzroy Falls and went to Gerroa in the afternoon to try and take the paddle board for a surf but the wind made it very difficult. That evening, we walked over the rocks, saw dolphins jumping through the waves and then had a meal at the Hungry Duck in Berry – highly recommended.

P1080212

We took a big detour back to Sydney, back through the highlands and then Kiama to walk the coastal path (more cows but I gave a wide berth) and stopping at the Scarborough Hotel for a drink and a pretty incredible view.


Back to the city and the only cow was the one on our plate that evening at a friends’ barbecue. Fantastic Easter weekend.


*We note that this year, spring seems to have ignored this rule in the UK.

18

28 Feb

Well, it’s been a while since we (I) last blogged! I guess that’s not for lack of things happening, but more that the things that have been happening have been very ordinary, some might say, dull! I think it’s also just symptomatic of the fact we have adjusted, settled and are getting on with the day to day. The weekly shop is not that blog-worthy (even if you have an experience as I did the other week involving traffic, closed down car parks, forgetting wallets, a second run to the shop and then said shop running out of what you need); the housework is really not that exciting (the laundry basket is constantly full of uniform, the patio is constantly full of leaves and the sink is constantly  just full) and work is as it is for most people: frustrating and slow at times, stressful and demanding and always needing to be done!

On that note, can you tell we have been here 18 months? Yes, 18 months! It is the second longest period of time either of us have ever lived in one house in our adult lives. 18 months, 180 degree flip to the other side of the world. Here we are. So here are 18 photos to celebrate the milestone and the journey so far 🙂

James@Sydney Harbour

Coffee in Frankston

Roos on the quarterdeck

Harbour Highlights

Louise & James - 1920s style

Festive friends

P1010717

P1010818

P1010924

Three Sistas!

James

Sunrise

Newcastle arrives

Cute Koala

Sculptures By The Sea: View

P1070174

P1070690

P1070869






%d bloggers like this: