Tag Archives: The Blue Mountains

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

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The Human Enigma

27 Mar

Our usual crowd, minus James of course, decided to spend a weekend in the Blue Mountains for a friend of friends’ photography exhibition. Draftsman by day and a moonlighting photographer, Matt, helped by his girlfriend Nicky (not to be confused with our English friends Matt and Nicky, although this Matt is from Liverpool originally) exhibited a series of his photographs taken during a long overland expedition through Europe, the Middle East and Asia. They were displayed in a small art space above a restaurant in Black Heath in the Blue Mountains. The exhibition was entitled the Human Enigma, hence the title of this post, although it also seems quite apt for other reasons, namely nothing short of a miracle quite recently.

Wind the clock back a couple of weeks and I received an email from a friend asking if she could stay for a night as she urgently needed somewhere to stay in Sydney. Her dad was on holiday over here and was rushed to hospital after a heart attack. The hospital had called Penny telling her to come as soon as she could as the prognosis was not good. I have known Penny since we were ten years-old but as with many school friends, we had lost touch bar a few messages on facebook (although we had spoken more recently because we coincidentally got married on the same day) and our parents remaining friendly. My mum also contacted me, saying Penny and her mum had been in touch, wondering if I would mind putting up Penny and her husband just for a couple of nights. Of course, it goes without saying I agreed and arranged to meet Penny at the hospital on the Saturday night after she landed. After driving round the sprawling mass that is The Royal Randwick, we eventually found each other and I have to admit I was a little concerned as to what the situation would be, wondering if I’d be faced with a distraught and very jet-lagged Penny and Matt (another one just to confuse matters). However, they were all smiles and just seemed very grateful to have somewhere to stay, insisting they would find a hotel as soon as possible but they had had to get the first flight out. I told them they could stay as long as they needed. After all, we have the spare room ready and with the parents gone, it was ready to be filled again!

The miracle I referred to earlier was this: Penny’s dad had ‘died’ three times on the way to hospital after a blood clot in his heart artery caused a cardiac arrest, he had been put into an induced coma and the outlook was bleak; yet by the time Penny and Matt landed in Sydney, he was awake and talking and as the days progressed, so did he. After four days with me Penny told me her dad was almost ready to be discharged. It was incredible and meant that although Penny and Matt went each day to the hospital, we also went out in the afternoons and they got to enjoy a bit of Sydney too. After the emergency was over and her dad was no longer critical, it was a few days of lots of catching up and laughing about various wedding day moments.

Clearly word had spread that I was now running a B&B as within days of Penny and Matt leaving, another friend asked if she could stay a couple of nights as she needed ‘some space’. I won’t go into all the details but I got the spare room ready again… The company is good while James is away!

The last weekend was also spent with good company: The group of Matt, Nicky, Peter, Andrew, Sophie, Shannon and myself stayed in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains ahead of the grand opening of the photography exhibition on Sunday. We installed ourselves in the least-closed looking of all the town’s pubs and soon a large group of us had assembled – all friends of friends – and all making the journey up to the Blue Mountains for (Liverpudlian) Matt’s exhibition. We pretty much took over the entire place but I don’t think the staff minded as I’m sure they got their money’s worth judging by the state of the dancing (if you could call it that) which happened once a live band started playing.

Five of us checked into a motel for the night – all in one room and all a little inebriated but it was probably the only reason I didn’t feel any pain when half the ceiling fell on top of me in the night. I exaggerate slightly, but it was a large piece of coving and it was very heavy and certainly if I had been sleeping any closer to the wall, I would probably have been knocked unconscious. Note to self: there is a reason hotels charge a little more – they don’t use pritt stick to attach ceiling decorations.

Breakfast was in a wonderful little cafe run by a religious group of some sort, but the prayers must help because even though they serve ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ the smoothies were amazing!

The exhibition itself was a huge success for Matt. He gave a short speech on his thinking behind it all and there were a lot of appreciative murmurings as people wandered round the room (although I’m not sure what else really happens in those situations anyway). More free wine and canapes and we were set for an afternoon driving and walking to various look-out points and admiring the stunning views in the Blue Mountains.

There was nothing enigmatic about the five of us on our journey home –  tired from the fresh air and all with fuzzy heads (although I’m not sure mine had anything to do with alcohol – probably just a mild concussion!)

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