Category: Adventure

Christmas in Australia

After a ten hour flight from Shanghai, we finally arrived in Sidney, Australia. Now we just had to navigate trains and buses before we arrived in Raglan. The transportation system used swipe cards, and we had a little confusion figuring out where we wanted to go and where to swipe. On the train, we ran in to the only snag of the whole trip. We had set our suitcases in a place that looked like a luggage spot, and Lee checked on them from time to time. When we got to the place where we switched to the bus, his bag was gone!

He announced this emphatically, and someone came to the rescue saying they saw a bag in the next car. It had been opened and rifled through—his clothes were tossed around. He managed to lug everything off the train and sat on the ground to get the bag repacked. Luckily, only a couple of kilt pins seemed to be missing. It was frustrating, but could have been worse. Finally we were able to settle on the bus.

Now we could relax and enjoy the scenery. I thought it resembled Southern California with rolling hills covered with tan grass and the occasional green shrub. We kept our eyes out for kangaroos, but unfortunately we never saw one. They tend to come out at dawn and dusk to graze.

The bus stopped at Raglan at a turnoff next to a gas station. Sarah perched on a log waiting and I jumped up to give her a hug. After all the travel, it was wonderful to see a friend. She scurried to the gas station to get a soda for Lee whose blood sugar was low and we all chatted as if we it hadn’t been years since we had seen her.

“I hope you’re hungry, it’s pizza night,” Sarah informed us as we arrived at her house. Sarah and her mother-in-law Miriam started an assembly line, rolling the pizza and topping them with sauce, meats and cheese. They made four. Sarah had to feed a crowd—her own four kids, her in laws, herself and us. We made short work of the pizza.

After dinner, she drove us over to the bed and breakfast I had lined up through Airbnb. It was lovely, private and complete with everything we needed. Miriam had left some fruit, including the best mango I ever had. There is just something about eating fresh fruit where it is grown and ripened. I savored every bite.

The next day was Christmas Eve. While I was prepared for Christmas to be warm, I was not prepared for the long days. It was the height of summer after all. People did not decorate with lights like I am familiar with. The town decorated with banners instead of wreaths and Christmas trees. The service at church was all I could wish. They started off with confetti poppers instead of candles, and the readings were narrated with children in mind. All in all, it was very enjoyable.

We had a lot of fun on Christmas Day. It has been a long time since we had any small children around and we relaxed and enjoyed a house full of chaos. Sarah had a special meal planned, but it was in line with the summer weather. She baked a ham with a delicious glaze and set out an array of cold salads. She decorated the table with gold plastic ware and branches of gum trees. She reserved the candles for the adult’s table because the gum branches were dry and very flammable.

I have to say—that was the best ham I have ever had. Ever!

Photo Dec 24, 10 15 38 PM

The next day we left early to catch the bus. Sarah and Miriam had researched the bus times so we could make the boarding time for the cruise, and have our bags stowed safely in the luggage compartment. We were even able to get the train to the harbor without too much trouble.

Our first job after getting off the bus was to hunt down some breakfast. Lee discovered that Australian coffee can come with an ice cream topper!

One of the most memorable moments happened on the train to the harbor. Lee wore a Princess Bride themed shirt that day and a young lady on the train recognized the reference right away. For the rest of the ride they swapped quotes. Lee even jumped at the opportunity to quote the Mawwige speech at her request. The rest of us in earshot just sat and laughed and rolled our eyes.

Our first view of the harbor was exciting. We could see the boat off to one side and the wharf had lots of people strolling around. We stopped for some ice cream, Lee tried passion fruit. I gave some money to a busker. It was so much fun to hear the live music as we sat in the sun to eat our cones and then wander over to the entrance to the ship.

Photo Dec 25, 7 57 27 PM

 

We were able to board right away, so we went hunting for our stateroom to leave our hand luggage, and then we went in search of lunch. It was fun to explore the ship and figure out what the routine for the next 11 days would be. The first three days were spent crossing the Tasmin Sea. I loved waking up in the morning to see nothing but ocean. I could open the door and step onto the balcony in my jammies and breathe in the sea air. It was very relaxing and invigorating as well!

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One More Week

My husband and I are leaving on a trip next week. It has been a bit of a challenge to get organized for a trip and Christmas at the same time but everything is coming together. I think all the shopping is done—I have one more medication to pick up, but all the presents are bought and awaiting wrapping. There is plenty of wrapping paper and tape.

We are planning to have a family Christmas on Saturday with presents and a festive meal. The kids requested Dad’s meatloaf complete with mashed potatoes and peas (my suggestion, I like peas.) We can make it fun without trashing the whole kitchen.

Our son is living with us at the moment, but he has lived far away and has experienced a number of Christmases without Mom and Dad, but our daughter has always lived close-by and this will be her first. She has plans to spend the day with friends and invited her brother. I am sure they will have fun.

This is the first time my husband and I have been away from home for Christmas since we were first married. We will be celebrating our forty-first anniversary on this trip all packed in with Christmas and New Years. I am really excited. We are going to explore new places and see new things and old friends. There will be some time for relaxing in there too!

Right now, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Some Thoughts about Thanksgiving

(This was written the week before Thanksgiving, I’m running behind with posting!)

I’m sitting in a nice coffee shop this afternoon. There is a fire in the fireplace and I am here with some writer friends. We write a bit, chat a bit and drink delicious coffee. I am thankful that I am able to do this. The café is run by a local church so they have nice music in the background and a playground room next door.

Today, they have Christmas decorations out. The trees are covered with little white lights, and the throw pillows have snowflakes on them. It is festive, but not garish. I’m feeling the mood for the holidays begin to blossom.

My husband and I are planning a major trip in December this year. We have less than a month before we go—a month that includes two holidays! (The trip is in two weeks now.)

I am set for Thanksgiving, except for some last minute shopping, and most of the Christmas shopping is done. That is a new one for us, since we have been known to hit the stores on Christmas Eve. It is nice to get everything done ahead of time. Things were also eased by the fact that I asked our kids what they wanted. Yay! Of course they still add things to the lists, but we can cope with that.

I have plans to decorate the house on Friday or Saturday this week. I don’t like to rush the season, but this year I want the decorations out so we have plenty of time to enjoy them before we leave. Our family Christmas is planned for December 17, then our church Christmas dinner is on the 18. We set off on our journey on the 20. Things will be busy between now and then!

Meanwhile, I am concentrating on being thankful. I have a wonderful family and two of my children live nearby. My middle son is in the Air Force, so he has to go where they send him. I am thankful for his desire to serve, and for his safe return from deployment.

I am thankful for our house, and our friends. My writers group is important and I have known some of them for 18 years. We have a great church family, and nice places like this café to meet in.

All in all, life is very good.