Monday, July 09, 2007

Warm Winter Weekend

Last week Clinton and I packed up, leaving the rabbit to hold the Estate in our absence, and headed off to Fingal Bay for a couple of days R&R, as well as hoping to get a little bit warm. How warm can it GET in mid-winter, I hear you ask - well, a good deal warmer than it is in Canberra, anyway!

Fingal Bay is on the southern side of Port Stephens, and past the tourist mecca of Nelson Bay, so slightly quieter than many of the beachside resorts of that area, especially in July. We drove out of Canberra with the sound of bucketing rain on the car roof, however somewhere before Sydney we emerged into sunshine, and so it stayed until Sunday - bliss!

At first I found the whole Doing Nothing a bit difficult - I was agitated and fidgety, but by Day 2 I was well on board. We spent time walking - up Tomaree Head, along the beaches, to Zenith Beach - reading the paper in the sunshine (oh heavenly day!), and watching old episodes of Yes Prime Minister. We ate fresh seafood, and drank nice wine. Now that's what I call a holiday!

Nelson Bay itself is pretty poxy, but they do have a chocolate shop that makes AWESOME (dark)chocolate covered almonds, and we did enjoy having a beer on the marina in the afternoon sunshine. Sadly, though, Clinton was unable to find the donuts he was craving for the entire 4 days we were away.

Friday also really enjoyed herself, loving paddling through the waves and rolling in the sand as she does (hem hem!), and her break featured plenty of the afore-mentioned delights, as well as much ball chasing and chewing of pork treats. Dogs are not allowed to get up to much, according to the regulations of Port Stephens council, however being winter we were able to get away with several beachside walks.

We climbed up Tomaree Head, as I always do when I'm in Fingal, and though we didn't see any whales spouting from up there the views across the port and down the coast were spectacular.

On our last morning the clouds seemed to be gearing up for another wet assault, so we headed out for a quick walk before we had to pack up and head home (via Dad's place outside Singleton). We saw this pebbly beach from the clifftop walk above, and determined that we had, simply HAD to get down there! A muddy steep slide ensued...but we made it down there successfully!

The pebbles had all been rounded smooth from being washed about on the rocks, and there was not a speck of sand in sight. The sound of water sloshing through rocks is quite least it gives you adequate warning to escape incoming waves before your trousers cop a soaking!

On the way home we took a slight (hmm, about 2 1/2 extra hours drive!) detour via Dad and Anne's place in the Hunter Valley.

Though we had passed through a bit of weather on the way there, the sun was shining in Singleton, perfect weather for cooking up a barbie over wood, and using a cast-iron frypan - talk about old school!

It was nice to catch up with Dad, who is looking very fit and well, the best he has looked since before Christmas, and since his prostate cancer was diagnosed.

Friday had a grand old time playing with the dogs Bruce and Spud (getting her gender slightly confused and trying to mate with Spud was a first), and I cannot forget to mention that on the way out of town we stopped at the IGA, where I bought SEVEN packets of Leda choculence chocolate biscuits - dairy, sugar AND additive free! I haven't seen them elsewhere, so thought I'd best stock up!

The car ride home from there was long, but I have to say I surprised myself (and possibly Clinton!) by winning all our car games, and retiring undefeated as the Car Game Champ. Well, for this holiday, anyway!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Turning 29...

The 3rd of July marked my 29th birthday... it's kind of an age where you wake up feeling like perhaps you should have accomplished a bit more, or at least be in the process of realising all your life's goals...

Well, I guess this could turn into some musing about lives half lived, fear of change, all that dark-side stuff that quite frankly I'm not prepared to go into right now because it could all be a little too close to the bone! Instead I'm going to tell you about my day...

Traditionally in my family we put a ribbon on the dog of the day, and declare them a Birthday Dog, in honour of whoevers birthday it may be. So yesterday Friday was adorned with a shiny white ribbon, and decreed the Birthday Dog of my 29th. Isn't she beautiful! And there's me, wearing my not one but TWO icebreaker thermals, which my dad & partner each bought me for my birthday - perfect for the Canberra winter!

Next we went for a walk up the O'Connor Ridge, my old walking grounds of last year when I was living in Lyneham. The thing I love best about walking on the ridge is that you can see out over northern Canberra, and it helps give a sense of perspective to the day ahead. Much as I love Mt Ainslie, there are very few spots (within short walking distance, anyway!) where you get the same feeling.

Walking the Ridge was followed by breakfast at Tilley's (a Canberra institution), sitting outdoors in the sunshine. Because even though we are in the midst of a rather cold and very wet spell, the day of my birthday dawned bright, clear, and warm. Apparently the same thing happened 29 years ago, when I was there you go!

For my birthday I had this idea that I wanted to see snow. Clinton took the day off work, and we drove up into the Brindabellas, looking for snow. Well, I guess we picked either the wrong day, or the wrong location, because there was not a speck of snow to be seen anywhere!

Instead, we wound up in the beautiful Brindabella Valley, by a merry body of water of whose name I have no idea, enjoying a lovely picnic in the sunshine.

We ate well, and then I ran around taking photos (the digital camera was another birthday gift), astounded by the beauty of light reflected off the water.

It really was incredibly lovely. I hope that this augers well for my year ahead - that I may not get what I think I want or expect, but that where I end up will be unexpected and beautiful nonetheless. Fingers crossed!