Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coogee highlights

Coogee has been working its magic on the young ones - making up for their lost (at the last minute) holiday in Ubud Bali.

We met up with them on Saturday for lunch at old fave Barzura's then came across this amazing character (the lizard's owner) as we walked along the beach path on Goldstein Reserve afterwards. The lizard is a genuine bearded dragon - and apparently he loves the beach (and a cuddle) ......

 and sitting up on top of heads!

..then a walk up Dolphin Street to the  new playground there - the girls love the flying fox!

 ... then an early (for us) dinner at Poco Cantina up at The Spot and a very amusing stop afterwards at the Cold Rock Ice Creamery on Perouse Road to watch the girls enjoying these (only eaten on holidays) icecreams.

On Sunday we talked the young ones into trying Sydney's public transport system: a bus to Circular Quay (why is that pronounced kee instead of kway says Ella?) and the ferry to Manly Beach. We made it across the harbour and to Manly Wharf just in time before the hunger pangs hit. Our choice of Criniti's on West Esplanade proved to be a big hit!

The girls loved the food, Jody had lots of GF to choose from and the Italian wine and beer menu pleases everyone. The girls took AGES to choose dessert from the all colour, all dancing iPad menu.

 Jody was delighted to have an Italian GF dessert option but she had to share most of it!

Manly beach was crowded with day trippers, even though the conditions were cloudy and coolish. It didn't stop the girls enjoying some time together on the beach though.

Another headband was found in Manly too. Despite all the new arrivals over Christmas no permanent replacement for the green one has been found, unfortunately - will this be the one?

We spent Monday (yesterday) back in Coogee - in perfect Summer weather - 26oC, sunny and just beautiful.

The girls and Josh spent the morning in the pool at our hotel. They love having Daddy around to play with ALL DAY (and I'm sure they couldn't care less whether it was in Ubud Bali or in Coogee Sydney)!

Our hotel overlooks this stunning view of Coogee Beach - imagine having all this choice of places in the sun.

Abi loves this playground in pretty Grant Reserve, just south of the main beach...but today her main focus was on playing with that water bubbler.

 Because we eat so early there's never a problem getting a table at lunch. Today we try the sunny (but cool and breezy) bistro at the Coogee Bay Hotel and find the food very satisfactory.

Then a late afternoon play on the beach, in idyllic conditions, as the crowds cleared a bit!

I think Joshy invented this game..the ball gets kicked into the waves and then it makes its own way back to the thrower depending on the wave action. The game was working well this afternoon on the incoming tide.

 ..but it did result in a very drenched (but happy), tiara wearing two year old.

Isn't this the BEST and COOLEST thing to have on a beach??  No need to sign the books out - it all works on an honesty system - people just return them when they've finished reading them. 10/10 to the Randwick Public Library Service for this great initiative. Coogee Beach has WiFi now too - so no reason to ever leave.

This morning the kids were back in the hotel pool, making the most of the remaining time before our check out.

They'll love returning to Ubud, Bali next year....but in the meantime the young ones have found a lot to love and lots of happiness being together in beautiful Sydney Australia this holiday season.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas days

It's been a fun week - starting last Friday, with Ella and Abi spending the day with us, making gingerbread men (and ducks, and love hearts and stars and....) and all sorts of other fun.

Then a few dramas on Friday evening as we realised the young ones weren't going to Bali after all....... but Coogee instead; more on that later!

Ros and Pete arrived in Canberra on Tuesday morning, bringing cooler weather and good rain with them. They've really helped liven up our otherwise very quiet Christmas celebrations here - and our Mum got a huge thrill out of seeing them again of course.

Our Christmas day together was a very happy one: champagne for everyone, starting in the morning!, catching up with long distance kids via Skype, email and sms.....

eating some of the finest fresh seafood you'd find anywhere in the world (and drinking some great Canberra region wines)....

 and some slightly overcooked turkey breast (rescued by that creamy potato bake)....

 ..and all sorts of other goodies too.

 Over a relaxed afternoon Pete did a wonderful job entertaining Mum...

and we added finishing touches to that 1000 piece jigsaw of the Cinque Terre (very apt choice considering Ros & Pete are visiting there in a few months time).

Of course Christmas day always reminds us of many wonderful Christmases we've celebrated in the past with all the kids much younger and all together. We remarked to Mum at one stage that she would be celebrating her 101st Christmas this year (Isn't it terrible, she replied!) 

And how about this for our own distant memory?  The girl in the pic above and the girl in the pic below is the same girl!!  That's Ros yesterday and that is her on Christmas day 1966 (we think) at our (still unfinished) Coolum Beach house on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

The pic below is of the three sisters on the same day. I bet I am playing a new Beatles LP (not too loudly with Mum and Dad around) on that old "stereogram". We would have spent the rest of the day at the beach, with a special lunch that Mum would have been getting ready (with very little help from us) while we were off having fun, and then games in the afternoon...not all that much different to what we do now really.

 And we wish every far flung member of the three sisters' families and their friends much love and joy - always, but especially at Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Christmas already

With most of us heading interstate or overseas in the next week or so it was time to celebrate our extended family Christmas this weekend...with all the usual trimmings: tree, kitsch decorations, lots of presents, Secret Santa time, seafood, Majella, silly games...and HEADBANDS!..

Opening presents was SUPER exciting this year..Ollie wanted CASH (for a skateboard purchase) and was very satisfied with what he scored!

By now Abi had scored her second headband of the day (while enjoying a reminisce about some of the highlights of the past year!)....

 The boys were ecstatic about their present all the way from the London branch.

 And Ella was very pleased with her haul too.

 and Claire...
 and Angus....
By now Abi had on her third headband of the day - CUTE choice from the London Branch!

 While Angus called on some help to get started on his miniature lego guitar......

Please take note of Abi's fairy wings - they are an absolute work of art (from the Maxie studios!!) lucky girl....

Joshy took on the job of keeping our Majella glasses full. Ironically, Majella Coonawarra Sparkling Shiraz was featured in the Sunday Food & Wine section of the paper today (a top drop for Christmas the reviewer reckons!) with a little story about the visiting Chinese wine judge awarding her International Judge's trophy to our fave Majella and summing it up as "one wine of the whole set (in the competition) that I could safely give to every single person in China and they would like it".  Of course they would like it!!

 Abi in her fourth headband (and the first of her three new tutus)......

We enjoyed a very relaxed lunch outside on the verandah - delicious salads (seafood, chicken and pulled pork with plum and rhubarb relish)  and all very laid back.

Abi's favourite headband of the day was back on by now ..well done London branch......

The mellow mood continued after lunch. Ella discovered Claire is an ace hair braider....
while Angus and Granny K tried to get Ella's new play wig and headstand to behave itself.

Ella  has tried to convince Claire to come for a visit first thing in the morning on the next school day. 

Rod had some quizzes planned for the kids, which they completed with a very competitive spirit.

 and the usual Christmas scavenger hunt in the bush at the back of the house.

It was a lovely day together..great excitement, shared fun - lots of good memories.

Ella's BIG Christmas present arrived this afternoon - home delivered by tow-truck...her very own set of monkey bars, handcrafted by her Daddy - 4 and a half metres long no less and around two and a half metres off the ground..WOWIE!

 She swings out to the third bar already!

 This girl has serious upper body strength and callouses to be proud of.

It has Abi's seal of approval too!

 And yes that is another headband!