Sunday, 16 December 2012


It's after 1 in the morning and I can't sleep so I've downloaded an app to see if I can blog on my we'll see how it goes.

I'm on my travels. Cardiff  has been reassuringly familiar. The city centre is a little grander,but still essentially the same. The walk from my mum's through the park down to the sea front and on to the pier is the same. The beach full of pebbles waiting for Sibs to throw into the brown murky Bristol Channel is the same...

I like that.

Everything about being home feels right. I am loving sitting in my mum's kitchen, drinking coffee and eating Jaffa Cakes. So simple, so familiar.

Sibs is having a ball too. From decorating the (real) Christmas tree to drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate to wearing her new ear warmers everywhere she goes!

Already in a week and a half there's been shopping in the city, a local matinee pantomime show, an evening at the theatre, a couple of days in Bath, a weekend in London and tomorrow we are off to Paris. I haven't got time to be tired!

Looking out of the window at Sydney Place, Bath. It was -3 degrees!
During the planning of this holiday I was the one that more or less came up with the ideas of the 'must do' places and booked the various trains, planes and automobiles. Neil on the other hand was tasked with finding accommodation. He knows that I'm a bit of a Jane Austen fan and whilst in Bath last week we stayed in the house where she actually lived!

His brief for Paris is - "somewhere that feels French...." He has excelled himself and I can't wait.

On our way across the channel to France we have been in London for a few days. Whilst Bath is beautiful, London is truly splendid and magnificent. I had forgotten quite how amazing it is.

Big Ben from the top of the London Eye
We have met up with three lots of lovely friends in London and the years apart have been forgotten in a minute. True friendships are like that. Even ournchildren sense it and became thick as thieves almost immediately.

At the gates of Buckingham Palace
Trafalgar Square where the pigeons were replaced by thousands of Santas!
I have been seeing familiar landmarks through the eyes of a child this week. It has brought back the wonder of the world....

I feel fortunate and happy that we have taken this opportunity to show Sibs some of her history and heritage.

Best get some sleep.... Paris awaits tomorrow



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

One more sleep...

It doesn't matter how organised I think I am there is always a whole heap of things to do right at the very last minute...

It's one more sleep until we leave the heat of Summer in Brisbane to fly to the other side of the world to a cold Winter Christmas. It's predicted to get to 39 degrees here today....yep, 39 degrees! At this precise moment it's 3 degrees in Cardiff - a drop of 36 degrees!

I am so excited to be able to show Sibs all that I remember about Christmas. The abundance of lights and decorations in the city; the carols and music; warm mince pies; hot chocolate; mulled wine...
We are going to see a pantomime at the local Pageant Room; we have tickets booked for Phantom of the Opera; there's a weekend in London; some time in Paris; a trip to the Lake District, not to mention the catch ups with precious friends and family. I....Can't...Wait...

The ipad has been updated with the latest ios thingamajig so I am hoping that I will be able to blog a little whilst I'm away. I also plan to post photos on instagram as and when I can get Internet access. The link to that is HERE  if you don't have a smart phone.

So back to my huge list....

Buy extra cat food = check
Stock up on contact lenses = check
Haircut = check
Write up a huge list of instructions for the house sitters = check
Tidy all kitchen drawers and cupboards = check (they have never looked so good!)
pack suitcases = half check
clean bathrooms = no check

On that note I have a dozen or so jobs to do before I escape to my yoga class for an hour.

Enjoy the Summer heat fellow Aussies and I can't wait to see you fellow Brits!

Bon voyage to me!

PS no photos in this post as Google tells me I'm out of space and I have no time to investigate this morning. Could be just instagram during my trip then....

Friday, 16 November 2012

Bit of this and that

Hello there,

I have been rather neglectful of this blog for a little while now. Things happen like that don't they? You miss a few days, it turns into a week, then another and all of a sudden a month has gone by.

Before you think I have been lazing around with my feet up... It's actually been the opposite.

There is some serious holiday planning happening  We are now on the countdown to our trip home for Christmas - 18 days to go before we jet off. (silent scream!)
It will be time to bring the suitcases out soon and air out the woolies! I have some gloves somewhere that I'll need to find and I wonder if I'll be able to remember where the thermals are?! Can you sense the excitement?

The list of places that we want to visit keeps growing and I doubt we could fit it all in even if we were away for 5 months let alone 5 weeks.

However, before I can get carried away with holiday plans there is the very important business of getting the house ready for the house sitters. Neil and I take a slightly different view on this preparation and he can't seem to understand the importance of tidying kitchen drawers and cupboards and lining up all the Tupperware and tins in the pantry! Tell I alone in this? Is it really important that the cutlery drawer is in order and all the towels in the linen cupboard are colour co-ordinated?

Then in the midst of this planning and preparing Sibs is taking part in a ballet performance for a few nights. Her ballet school is putting on a show at QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre). This is a pretty big deal as The Playhouse QPAC is a major theatre venue in Brisbane. It's such an exciting opportunity for the little kids to experience. I love this time of year.

getting all grown up on me and doing her own lipstick.

pink roses from Dad after her first performance

If you want to know what else has been happening then I've been snapping away with my iphone camera and sharing on instagram. You can have a nosy through the free instagram app on a smart phone  - (my user name is awelshgirl) or just click HERE and voila - my life in photos!

Have a great weekend,

Monday, 15 October 2012

Chess antiques

Yesterday we spent a day at home. Just relaxing, pottering, chilling...that sort of a day. I moved a few bits of furniture you do. (Actually, I find that quite satisfying, so it was my way of switching off.) As I was in the middle of heaving beds around the place Sibs and Neil decided to dust off an old chess set and sit outside in the afternoon sunshine.

Sunday afternoon chess lesson

Years ago Neil loved to play chess. Apparently when he was at school he played against some chess master or other...
Anyhow, for his 30th birthday he said that he would like "a really nice chess set". For a man when usually asked what he would like for his birthday would  mutter "I don't need anything" this was a revelation!

We searched  and searched for a table and a chess set. In fact I think it took almost a year until we eventually found just the right thing in a small antique shop in Edinburgh.

The top of the table can be removed and turned to play chess or left as a plain top and inside there is also a backgammon board.
When we got the table home the modern chess pieces just didn't look right. Not that they were too different  like "The Simpsons" chess pieces or anything like that - they were just too shiny and plastic looking.

 A little while later Neil's mum found him the perfect present. By this time I think that he had possibly celebrated his 31st...but that's the way it goes with us.

Look how proud the horse looks?

It's funny how you can sometimes forget the lovely things that are hidden away in a box.

As with any antique, I wonder who used these pieces before. Were they on display or were they also hidden away in the box? Did they belong to a 10 year old child learning how to play or a gentleman that would sit with his brandy and cigar....?

 I've left the pieces out on the table today. They are enjoying their new home on the other side of the world.

I wonder if the original owner would ever have imagined...

Happy Monday,

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Another escape to the country

We are into the final term of the year here and the countdown to Christmas. 

I'm still getting mixed up with confusion of the warmer weather approaching and the Christmas bits and bobs appearing in the shops. I guess I'll always have those split seconds of confusion this time of year. Brain thinks that Autumn is approaching as it's October yet body and surroundings tell me a different story! Then to add to the confusion this year I am starting to plan our Summer holiday which will be spent in the middle of Winter in the UK!

Anyhow, that's enough of my fuzzled state of mind....

We had a lovely couple of weeks of school holidays and managed to work through quite a few wish list items. During the second week we spent a few days in the beautiful countryside in Northern New South Wales.

trying to find the border between Queensland and NSW
It was absolutely stunning. 
I was driving at a snail's pace just drinking in the rolling reminded me of home...

See that first cabin in the row of three? That was our home for a few days.

This was the view that we woke up to in the mornings...

Not a bad place to relax and switch off is it? 

There were plenty of activities to keep the little people happy and Sibs had a fabulous time in the water from morning to nightfall. She was on the go all day and would be asleep within a second of her head hitting the pillow.

Whilst we were there some lovely friends made the journey down to spend the day with us. All in all there were nine children and four mothers. The kids canoed  splashed, swam and generally just had fun all day, and the mother's just enjoyed the freedom to catch up. 

Sibs was first in the queue for the twice daily animal feeding and tried to persuade me that we really needed to give one of the guinea pigs a new home...

Lots of fresh country air did us all the world of good.

For those that followed a few photos of our break through instagram - Sibs overcame her fears and eventually managed to jump from the board!

go girl!
Another spot to put on the list of places to stay.

We stayed at Hosanna Farmstay, Stockers Siding.
Website - HERE

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Newstead House visit

We are in the second week of school holidays here.
I'm grateful for school holidays. 

I love the change of pace that happens.

We are a small family, yet life seems to roller coaster along and it feels like Mondays become Fridays become Sundays. Anyone else relate?

So school holidays is a chance to apply the brakes and live life a little slower. I'm very fortunate in the fact that I can work around the school holidays. My employer offers a reduced working year scheme where I am able to buy additional days of leave and it means that I then get to spend the precious school holidays with my girl. I am so appreciative of this opportunity as it takes away a lot of the working mother stress and guilt. It also means that I get a break every few months - which is obviously rather nice!

I have mentioned before that we have a 'We should..' box. (blog post HERE). In this box we write down ideas for days out or activities that we want to do. One of the ideas that's been in there for a little while was 'take a trip to Newstead House. So these school holidays we earmarked a day and set off.

Newstead House back veranda and a picnic lunch in the gardens

Newstead House  (website - HERE) is located on the Brisbane river and dates back to 1846. It is  the oldest residential property in the area, which makes me realise how new Brisbane is.

It is filled with furniture and memorabilia from a by gone age and is a truly fascinating and beautiful house.

Newstead House - Morning Room, Dining Room and Drawing Room

As we wandered through the place the lovely gentleman that greeted us at the door came for a bit of a chat. At that point Sibs and I were admiring the drawing room with the gorgeous china tea set and demi grand. The conversation moved to the piano and he asked if either of us played....

Next thing he had lifted the rope that protected visitors from walking within the rooms and invited Sibs to have a play. She wasn't hesitant at all and made herself quite at home.

Newstead House - Sibs playing the Demi Grand Piano

Her repertoire was restricted to the current pieces that she is learning so in these majestic and formal surroundings she played.....'One Direction - You don't know you're beautiful' , followed by 'The Entertainer' and topped off with 'Coldplay - Clocks'!

By this time a few people had gathered and some tourists began to take photos! One man asked if she could play him some Beethoven. She had already exhausted her playing from memory and the only other music she could remember was chopsticks (!) so I got to take the seat and managed to play most of 'Moonlight Sonata'. I wasn't as comfortable as Sibs was with an audience....

It made a morning admiring a lovely house into a memorable occasion.

We always have to sign a visitors book

Newstead House, Brisbane

We've been ticking off quite a few things from our 'We should..' box this last week. I really should try and find the time to record our adventures. 

Just on another note, I seem to have been having a few issues with funny messages appearing on opening of my blog. I have removed the instagram button on the sidebar as this seemed to be the culprit and that should now be all good and safe - fingers crossed.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Some holiday planning

Do you like where you live?  

I had a chat with someone this week about choosing a place to live and bring up a family. 
It was a choice between Australia and Europe.

We spoke about the wonderful outdoor opportunities and health benefits of Australia. We touched on the  culture and proximity and such diversity of Europe. We thought about the cold, damp, dreary 'get me out of here' feelings of Northern Hemisphere Winters and then the fuzzy hair, 10 cold showers a day Summers in Queensland. 

There was no conclusion....

Well, maybe there was?

The conclusion was that there is no perfect place. 

We make the best decision based on our circumstances and the opportunities that we can take at that time.  I am grateful that I was given the choice of where to live and for now I chose Australia.
I enjoy the benefits that it gives, but  I feel that my real fortune is the link that I still have 'home'.

Every now and again I feel the need to strengthen that link and head back. I have written before about not wanting to let go of my history -  HERE and HERE.

Travelling and experiencing different cultures is an education far beyond the classroom. Yes there is the disruption of moving home and I'm sure for those that are constantly on the move there are numerous challenges. However, the chance to view life through a different lens is a real opportunity. 

So where am I going with this? 
Oh yes, -  flights have been booked and we are heading back home for Christmas!

Yes, it will be cold..... yes it will be might even snow - but I CAN'T WAIT!

There are so many things on the list of things that I want to do, places and people that I want to see it's almost daunting....but very exciting. There are theatre trips planned and booked, there are visits to old haunts up and down the length of the UK from the Lake District to London.  There's Paris, Amsterdam and anywhere else we can fit in....

In anticipation of a Christmas in Wales my girl has been fishing out her Welsh books and brushing up on her vocabulary.

We are flying through the re-cap of colours and days of the week and basics of naming things around the house but the daily struggle at the moment is the pronunciation of  "CH" and "LL".

We can be in fits of giggles when I try and correct her pronunciation for "cyllell" (knife). It's so difficult to try and even attempt to put into words how to get your tongue to the top of your mouth, behind your front teeth and then as your say "L" you need to blow! See how hard it is?

The other morning just as I was getting ready for work I could hear some strange noises from her room then she marched into the bathroom, looked me in the eye and without muttering another word just came out with a very slow  "cyll - ell". She has perseverance - I'll give her that!

She has set herself a goal of learning the words to the Welsh National Anthem. Her original goal was to learn how to say 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllandisiliogogogoch' ....we're working on it!

So I am in deep planning mode now.
How to fit about 5 months of 'stuff' to do into 5 weeks?
 I can think of worse things to do with my time...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Father's Day and a Strawberry Cake

We celebrated Father's Day in Australia on Sunday. 

It was a lovely day just relaxing at home and being together.

Neil got up silly early (it felt like the middle of the night!) to run the Bridge to Brisbane 10k. Whilst he was away Sibs and I got the breakfast table ready and about 7.30am he walked in to the smell of bacon and eggs and fresh coffee. We lazed around the kitchen, pottered about outside, flicked though some old NZ Home and Garden magazines pretending that we were choosing a holiday home.....then it was time for lunch. The first lunch outside for a while.

Father's Day lunch

Neil is a very hands on and involved Dad and Sibs reaps the benefits.
They have a gorgeous relationship....and she's a very lucky little girl.
Sunday was our chance to appreciate him.

Father's Day afternoon
 So in other news... strawberries were almost being given away at the markets on Saturday so we had a fridge full! I'll probably freeze some, but had a bit of an inspiration this afternoon and as the banana bread was in the oven I decided to try and make a strawberry cake.

125g butter creamed with half a cup caster sugar,
Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and 2 eggs.
Fold in 2 cups of s-r flour and half a cup of milk,
Add about a cup of mashed up strawberries (I probably added a cup and a half and it was a little too wet)

It's not the best cake that I've ever made, and I think another idea could be to layer the mashed/pureed strawberries in between the cake mixture? I'm sure it will disappear though!

Just before I finish - a quick update on Twmff the cat and his sprained shoulder.
He's been kept indoors for the last few weeks and eventually his limping has been improving. He's almost back to his old crazy self and he should be out and about again in a few days. 

Sibs trying to interest Twmff in her new shoes.