Thursday, December 27, 2007

It has been a while

We have been to Sydney since I last blogged. We had a ball. We originally booked to go to help look after Nicole and Raff's 3 children while they attended an I. T. conference. The plans changed but we went anyway.

We finally climbed to the top of the Harbour Bridge after meeting lots of well travelled international tourists who had done "The Climb" and were surprised that we hadn't done it considering we lived in Australia. It was well worth the expense and was such a great experience. Nicole and Raff also did the same while we looked after the kids.

We took them to Lunar Park which was a bit ordinary. The kids enjoyed it and there was a wicked merry go round. It was the first time we have baby sat Lucy who was 4 months old at the time. She was great.

Photo: The family enjoying lunch with a million dollar view.

It rained on and off for a good part of our 5 nights in Sydney, except when we went to Taronga Park Zoo. We have been before , but to go with young ones was fantastic. It was hot!

Sorry Adam this is what Rufus looks like

The lead up to Christmas was frantic as usual. Rachel and I had a heap of catering jobs small and large which took a fair bit of juggling with me working more hours and with all the functions the grandchildren have with School, kindy and childcare all celebrating in the same week. Thank goodness for Nicole helping out as well with the kids.

The annual Christmas pageant was attended by all of us along with Julie, Lee and Tobias. It was great to watch the kids faces. With 7 grandchildren around we know we are alive. It is sooo much fun to be involved with them.

The child care that Sophie and Charlotte go to celebrated end of year with a Twilight family picnic at the school. It was a wonderful night. To watch the older siblings faces watch on as the little ones sang and danced for us was priceless. It was well attended by parents, grandparents and staff. It was such a good feeling being there. We have a lovely community here in Gawler.
We are so lucky as are the kids. Ella had her ballet concert. Wewere able to attend her evening performance.
The funniest thing was seeing her fast asleep on the way to the concert. I wonder how many others did the same. It is a big day. Hence the photo

Our christmas dinner this year was on a cruiser on the River Murray. We left from Mannum after an hour bus ride from Gawler. It was a 2 storey modern boat, with 2 kitchens and berths for 10. We had 50 of us on board for a 5 hour cruise. It was all put on by our wonderful bosses. The night would have to be the most relaxing Christmas dinner we have ever had. Food was constantly put in front of us. It was great and the start of the bulge again. I have just lost 6kgms . Oh well it is Christmas.
Next was Carols by candlelight in the park in the city by our river. Nicole and Raff opted to stay home this time .
It is way too hard with a baby. We loved spending that time with Rachel and her cherubs, as they were that night. Even if the fire works were yucky according to Sophie 2.5 years old. Sophie says "me no love fireworks". It is always a great lead up to Christmas. We are constantly missing Adam and Eva at these family events.

Charlotte was 3 on Christmas day . She celebrated with a party on the Sat before. That was great to see her enjoy her" first" birthday party. She is a crackup that one.
Christmas rolled on with the most glorious weather. It was held at my sister Rosalies' this year. The sad part was no great grandpas attended . They both decided not to come . The kids were all fantastic of course.We opted not to buy presents this year for nieces and nephews but instead to donate to a charity of our choice if we wished. Boxing day is the day our kids and grandchildren receive their presents from us. This year the winner was a Wii for Rachel's kids ...mind you I think Rachel was most excited ...and a cubby for Nicole's kids. Rachel and the kids have been saving up for a Wii for sometime. They had saved $100 towards it. When Ryan saw their present he was so excited and he came straight up to us and offered to give us the money they had saved. That was so thoughtful for a 9 year old. But that is Ryan. I told him he could put it towards a holiday we are all having in Queensland in October. The children are very thankful for what they receive. It all comes down to good parenting! It has been a wonderful year. Everyone has been well in our immediate family, although my dad and Nicks' Dad are not well. Can't believe 2007 is nearly done with. Even Ryan our 9 year old grandson said that Christmas came quick this year. Merry Christmas and a healthy , safe New Year to all who read this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Here we go again

I had my 6 month checkup with my doctor last week. Because I had some fast growing lesions that proved to be carcinogenic removed 6 months ago I need to be checked regularly. He found this inocuous spot... looks like a pimple on my calf muscle that he found this time and another on my face. I am going now to have them removed. Hannah is home today and wanted to come and watch until I told her he would sew me up with a needle and thread. She said when I was growing up sunscreen wasn't invented in the olden days. She is right. We had zinc cream only and didn't like applying that because it always got in your eyes when we got sweaty. Must go now...... I am back now. That was very sore today. I feel a bit down because I also got results from blood tests today and my Cholesterol level has only decreased slightly from9.6 and it is now 8.5. I have had elevated levels for years and seriously have been working on trying to get it down. He said no more, its not working and I need to go on tablets. Bugger to that! I hate taking pills but the alternative is I may not see our grandchildren grow up.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday Girl.

Hi to Adam and Eva , Happy Birthday Eva for today. Can't believe you have been away for 2 birthdays. It has certainly flown. We all hope you are having a great day where-ever you are. Have a drink for us. I was going to give you your present but you already have him Love to the both of you. Hi from all of the in-laws.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

School Holidays

Lucy embarrased to be seen with us
At the top of the lighthouse Lucy at 3 months
I was very lucky to be out and about with Nicole and 5 of our grandchildren on Monday. We travelled to the Port to the Maritime Museum. It was an interesting morning for the kids. Except Lucy (now 3 months old) all she wanted to do was sleep and feed. We do have some great sources of information in Adelaide for a fairly reasonable cost. Ryan was excited because he found his family name on the ships registers. The passenger lists for ships coming to S.A. are available on the computers set up at the museum. His family member on his dads side came out here from Hamburg in 1855. Ryan was pumped about that. It was great to see he has an interest in his heritage. Thanks to his Nanny who has compiled a family tree. All the children were fantastic and we were able to spend time with them as we didn't have the youngest two with us. They were happily in childcare together. We also climbed the lighthouse at the wharf with great views over the Port and Adelaide. It was great to be with inquisitive kids. To have the chance to do this all over again as we did with our own children is one of the joys of our life.To top off the day we visited Rachel at work to see where she goes on Mondays , the kids loved that as well. Thanks for the loan of your kids guys.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Time to catch up

It is certainly time to catch up with what has been happening over the last couple of months. We have been backfor 3 months since visiting Adam and Eva in Europe . It seems like forever ago. We always are glad when the football season is over. It seems to take up most weekends for 6 months. We will around until Jan09. No long trips overseas until then. I need to stay home to work to cover our shop manager who is leaving to have twins. She is on maternity leave. Oh well we will be able to do some work on our home and garden. We are in a serious drought situation here so we all need to rethink what we use water for. We will try and have a weekend off every now and then. We are going to Sydney with Nicole ,Raff and their 3 children for 5 days in late November. We are going to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge can't wait for that. I have been lucky enough to be able to go to a few school functions. That is a great advantage of working part-time. I was able to help the staff for an Indonesian cooking session with Ellas class. Our girls and Paul also had a stint with their children. I really enjoyed it. The photos are of book week assembly. On Saturday we hosted our dinner party post dated for my birthday. Before that, earlier that day we watched the football grand final between one of our local teams and a Victorian team. The team happened to be our sons' team that he follows. They haven't won a flag for 41 years. It was exciting to say the least as they won with a resounding victory. I called Adam throughout the game to help him have a little bit of the action, they were not able to see the game in the middle of Germany. They are off travelling again. Lucky Buggers! Back to the dinner party.

Photo:Adam and Eva snuck home for our dinner party
We had a great night catching up with Sue and Steve(Evas parents), Sue and Bernie(friends from a long while back) and my sister Julie. Rachel our eldest gave me the dinner party as a birthday present . What a present it was! She prepared all the food from pre dinner nibbles to even supplying some delicious chocolates. The food was divine to say the least. WEedidn't have to pay, to prepare to cook or to serve. She cleared the table between and cleaned the kitchen. She wouldn't cook for us the next night though. Rachel, thankyou for the sentiments you expressed also. Nick and I are so blessed to have such thoughtful kids. We are always able to help them when they need us and that is returned by them 10 fold. it was a great time that we had thanks also for Rachel for choosing our wine to compliment the food and for also supplying them as well. I keep waiting for the bill.We went for a huge walk today along the River Torrens linear park. It was a beautiful day . It is always fantastic when we can spend time together. Even after 35 years together.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A wonderful moment from a grandparents life

Bethany , our eldest daughters second child is of many characters check out Rachels blog . She is 6. On Mondays I take the children to Kindy, School and childcare and pick them up at the end of the day. Last Monday they all stayed for dinner which was great. Later as we crawled into bed we found a note from Bethany. It said"Papa rules Nana rocks keep smiling" with a picture of herself. It brought tears to both our eyes . The fact that she felt that way and the fact that she put it on our bed was wonderful. Kids don't always say how they are feeling about their relationship with us as grandparents. We are just there for them. I called her next morning to say thankyou for the note, saying that it made us feel special. She came back with "you are special Nana". Thanks Bethany.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Cure

Wow! Rachel and I headed to the Cure concert last night wondering if we would know a lot of their material. She had been trying to catch up with his later cds. I hadn't done such research. From the moment they opened at 7.45 they played non stop except for two encores until 11.00 pm. It was visually one of the most exciting concerts I have been to. The lighting effects were stunning. A huge stage in our biggest venue was apt for the show they put on. The floor space was covered with a mass of bodies dancing and screaming to every song. By the end of the night they had covered all the oldies and a lot of new tracks. The music and guitar work was incredible if not ear splitting at times. Robert Smith still looked the same. Still wearing black. They have been around 30 years and haven't toured for 7 years to Australia. He didn't say much. One of his utterances was that we were miles away. He doesn't like flying. The money spent for Rachels birthday was well worth it . The crowd was an interesting mix. Not as much black as I remembered from his first concert many years ago. Back then he was the goths domain. Someone was actually wearing pink. I just sat there thinking how much Adam would have enjoyed it. If you can catch them in Europe somewhere do it. A big thankyou for Rachel for letting me come. It was the best.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Our eldest daughter turned 33 on Wed !st.August. On the Monday two days before her birthday I organized for them to come to our home for dinner for her birthday. That night I had to drop something off to her place when I walked in a very excited Ryan (8 years old) pulled me aside and told me he had organized a surprise party for his mum. He had already started ringing people and had a list of who he wanted to come. After asking him a few pertinent questions like where was he going to have it, what food, what time and what about a cake . . think he realised that a little more planning had to occur. He was sooo excited. We had quite a lot on the next few days with catering and working. He said he had called Andrea (his best friends mum) and she said perhaps he had better let me know what he was planning. First he thought I could have it at my house we could have an icecream cake and it would be after school. Well it started off very simple. I want to be 8 again. He said he was going to go shopping with his mum for food .

Because I was working until 3 that day we decided to have it at their house, I don't know what money he was going to use or how it was going to remain secret.We decided to enlist the help of Nicole for some food. I ordered a cake no time to make one and cooked some bits. Rachels' friends bought some food with them as well. I decided to have it at my place then so I could do stuff so it was a surprise. Rachel cottoned on something was going on. She thought it was at their house so she tidied up. After school they went home to get her presents telling her they had to go to my house for something. They raced inside making everyone hide in the dining room to shout surprise. We waited and waited and she didn't come inside. I went out to get her she was laughing. She made the appropriate sounds and faces to show it was a suprise much to the delight of the kids. It was a great party and we are so proud of Ryan for thinking up the idea and wanting his mum to celebrate her day with a surprise. It was all his idea. At 8 and doing that, imagine how he is going to propose to his girlfriend in years to come. He is a very thoughtful lad and I am proud to have him as my grandson. They shopped for presents as well with their dad. I think it was one of Rachels best birthdays. She is so lucky to have those kids. I also appreciate my workmates as they shoved me out of the door at work so I could race home to get there before everyone else . Happy Birthday Rachel and next time maybe a few extra days notice would be good. It was funny to have more kids than adults at an adults party. That would not have been Ryans ulterior motive I don't think. photos to follow

Over a month gone since last time.

Lots have been happening but not for publication. The 2 weeks half of our family were away in the snow flew so quickly. I had all these plans but work got in the way. Talking about work.. great excitement the brothers that own the bakery where I work are expanding in to Gawler . Our food is so popular that there is a need to bring it to the people who can't or won't walk or drive the 5 mins to Gawler South were we are now. So they will own two outlets as well as delivering their stock to towns all over the state. We are having big changes to staffing ,uniforms etc. We are as thrilled for the boys as they are. Their business is 40 years old this year so it is very successful, particularly since they took over from their Dad a few years ago. I will be working more hours. Our front of shop manager dropped a bombshell on us at our staff meeting last week. She is 37 and told us she never wanted kids... guess what... they are pregnant and having twins. Apparently they have been trying for 5 years not even their family knew. Great excitement for them and for us. Jackie and Robert are two beautiful people and will make great parents. Good luck to them. I work at a family owned business and love it. I feel very blessed to work at a place that doesn't have a work agreement ...yet. They are flexible and so are the staff that work for them. We are very loyal. How do you think I have managed to have 5 months off for travelling over the last year? Lots of stuff still happening with my Dad and Mum hopefully that will be resolved soon. I am worried about Mums wellbeing as much as Dads health. We will keep plodding on there. Some good days sometimes with him. We have been catching up with the kids and grand kids a lot lately which is a huge bonus living in the same town. We have caught up with our nephew Paul as well since being back from his prolonged working holiday to N.Z. He is a very interesting lad with a very bright future ahead of him once he decides what he wants to do . Ah to be 23 again with the world at your feet. Of course he has the travel bug well and truly. He is working at Telstra with his sister Lee and Nick at the same workplace. Missing Adam and Eva a lot again is a year tomorrow since they left Australia. That has flown.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sprout is a girl

Photo : Lucy at 1day old
To the uninitiated , Sprout was the name given to our daughter Nicole and Raffs' 3rd. baby by their children Ella and Charlotte. Well we are pleased to announce the safe arrival of Lucy Anne (alias Sprout) She was born today 29th.June at 5.30am. She is a bouncing baby only need to look at the photo in our last blog of Nicole just before having Lucy.
She weighed in at 4.45 kg(9lb 13oz) and is 54cms long . What a huge baby. So perfect in every way. Her dad Raff has a lot to do with her inherited genes.
Every birth we witness in our family is a big miracle so it was with great excitement that Nicoleand Raff ventured to the local hospital at 8.30 pm... The staff said they strolled in. Little did they know Lucy would not arrive until the next morning. Nicole was having quite strong contractions but decided to ride them out at home in more normal surroundings... they were every couple of minutes and giving her considerable but manageable pain by the time they arrived at the hospital. She was only dilated at 4cms wich meant a fair way to go. After a couple of hours and an awful lot of contractions measured the same. Meanwhile Raff was supporting Nicole physically and emotionally. It was incredible to watch. I know Nick and I had that same intensity when we gave birth to our 3 children, but to witness the bond it was quite moving. Thankyou Raff for our three beautiful grandchildren and for being Nicoles rock. They had to make some tough calls during the labour, one of them was to decide they needed to have their baby by caesarean section as the cervix was not dilating and all the contractions in the world were not going to bring this baby into the world in a hurry. After much deliberation by Doctors and midwives the decision was made to support Nicole and Raff in their choice. We have a new healthcare system in our community which means we don't have a surgical team on standby at our major hospital. An hour and a half later they arrived from the city a distance of 30kms. The time by then was 4.30am. For Nicole and Raff after trying to contain the pain management for so long it spiralled out of control at times but together they managed to change their mindset to focus on each issue one at a time. Eventually the team was assembled with a local Doctor as the anaethitist. After inserting a catheter.. which was not much fun for a woman in labour she was whisked off to theatre with Raff. As it was a spinal block Nicole would be awake. All this was bringing back memories of our first labour 32 years ago, that ended in Rachel being delivered by caeser for the same reason. Sitting in the corridor at 5am was one of the loneliest times of my long life. I sat as close as I could to the theatre waiting for an eternity. It wasn't until I heard a faint cry of a baby did I relax a little. I then couldn't find out how my baby Nicole was fareing knowing how much blood was lost last time. At last someone beckoned me into recovery. I don't think I was supposed to be there. Nicole was wheeled in looking frightened and shaking uncontrollably so much stuff was happening around us it was quite surreal. Lucy was weighed with lots of oohing and aahing over her size. Nicole was starting to get feeling back in her body ...they block all pain from her breasts down.

Photo:One hour old Lucy and proud Mum

Photo:Happy families...look how grown up Lucy's big sisters are.

The moment Nicole held her little bundle Lucy started feeding as if she has done it forever,
all was well in their world and ultimately our world. That was a very long night but I would not swap one moment to have been privy to our daughters wonderful marriage and their 3 children. God knows what is in the water in Gawler as Rachel has 4 children.... and still Ryan her eldest is our favourite grandson as he is our only boy. Thanks to the midwives Julie and Kylie for their kindness at such a difficult time . They were extremely sensitive and supportive of the situation. Julie midwife of 30 odd years commented to me that she felt superfulous in watching Nicole and Raff as a team. I can't wait to see Nicoles summary of her labour. Well done guys! A huge welcome to our 7th. grandchild Lucy Anne to your wonderful life in your family and your extended family. Her cousins are as excited as if she was their sister. Rachel once again has been a great support to Nicole and Raff managing to get her friend Vicki to come and sit with her kids while she came to give support in labour. Adam and Eva kept sending messages of encouragement from Scotland and also a bunch of flowers... don't know how they got here so fast from Scotland. Nick and I are so proud to be the parents of our 3 children and inlaws to Eva and Raff and to be grandparents to 7 fantastic lucky we are

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our newest Grandchild

No, Sprout hasn't come in to the world yet. Another week to go. I was lucky to go to the hospital today to meet the midwives that are going to bring the next Stomaci into this wonderful family. Nicole's baby bump is very large, reminds me of when I was carrying Adam who was nearly 10 pound and very long. When they put the heart monitor on to hear the baby's heart beat, it became very real. I became teary again. I am so glad to be around to participate like that. Our girls are very sharing in that way lucky are we.

Photo: Nicole and Raff at the airport with 10days to go
Nicole is very well and very positive ...and actually looking forward to
the birth. It is their third after all. Ella nearly5 and Charlotte 2.5 are very excited as well. Their cousins are also waiting patiently, everyone is very close.

Back home again

We can't believe we were lucky to have two holidays in one year . This one was very special though. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to travel with our son and his wife. We did manage to travel quite well together. we will have many special memories to share for the rest of our lives. Thanks guys for a great time. It was as sad to leave them behind in Glasgow as it was when they left Adelaide 10 months ago. I sobbed like a baby...again.It was also great to catch up with Niamh, Kitty, Julie and Neil in Ireland and Scotland. Thanks guys for your hospitality. It was enlightening to see how you live your lives when you are at home. Hope you can all come to visit us in Australia one day. No holidays for a while now. Photo: our 6 beautiful grandchildren greeting us with a Bethany inspired poster welcoming us home

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Glasgow - the workingman's city

Photo: William Wallace and his memorial in the background

Photo: Glasgow's premier museum , beautiful architecture

Even though the buildings have been cleaned, they used to be "3 shades of grey and one shade of black", there is still a different feel to this city. Business and new enterprises are being established to regenerate the city, which once used to have over a hundred shipbuilding companies and train locomotive builders. These have now all closed down and the industrial city must change. We met Julie and Neil after not seeing them for 4 years. We had some delightful times recalling at the memories we had shared with them in the 5 weeks we had spent in China together. It was a great 2 days. We appreciate the fact that the drove up for 4 hours from England to meet us. We went with them out to Stirling. Braveheart fans will remember Wallace and Robert the Bruce country from the movie. The castle was smaller than Edinburgh, but still impressive. All the old history lessons returned as we were reminded of Oliver Cromwell's successful attempt to take this castle and how the disoraganised rabble toppled the English Forces. The climb up the 288 stairs or thereabouts was definitely worth it for the information and the views. A Scottish guide told us that it wasn't really fog that we could see, it was more a heat haze, or maybe dust. Well it was 23C and the local lads were wandering down the mall with their tops of as it was soo hot and a lot of the locals were also sunburnt.

Photo:The Textile Mills at New Lanark at Lanarkshire. John Owens was a forward thinking man and gave rights to his workers particularly the children. He was the first to introduce healthcare, education for children, accommodation for the workers, safe conditions and the forerunner for trade unions.

Back in Scotland

Onwards to Edinburgh. What a treat this place is.. We were met at the bus stop by Kitty (we met her in Cuba last November) and walked with her to her apartment. Kitty and her partner Paul live right in the heart of the city, which meant views from her fourth floor apartment window to Edinburgh Castle were incredible.The next few days were spent walking around admiring the awesome architecture of Edinburgh, the style is different to other places we have seen.

Edinburgh so far is our second favourite city after Istanbul, but there are many more to see yet. We toured Edinburgh castle and immersed ourselves into the history of the place as we continued on a city bus tour, which covered all the old town and the New Town, well, it was new in the 1770s when it was designed and built. We continued on and visited the Royal Yacht, Britannia. Didn't spot any royalty though.

Belfast to Dublin

Not much left of the violence that has taken place over our lifetime in Ireland. It is indeed a very clean and peaceful spot at this moment in time. They have the most impressive City Hall we have seen so far. The road system throughout Ireland is excellent. We really only backtracked a couple of times as we were trying to get to the airport in Dublin to return the hire car. Those 3 days flew.

Coastal drive to Giants Causeway

We decided to hire a car to see the Antrim coast . We saw this area on a travel show back in oz and have wanted to visit the region . The Antrim coast is in Northern Ireland. It took us all day to get to the coast as there is so much to see. Castles in ruins , old manors , bishop's residences , mausoleums all stunning to see. The quaint villages make Ireland quite unique. The lanes are very windy and quite hairy to drive around. There is only room for one car.

Quite often we had to stop for sheep and cows to be herded by the farmers. When crossing the "border " between Ireland and Northern Ireland the currency went from euros to pounds and from kms to miles.

Arriving at the Giant's Causeway was jaw dropping. The geographic formation from volcanic activity caused the rocks to form tall pillars of hexagonal stone, the area was full of them and we could climb over them. It was one of many times we wished the grand kids were with us. They were also up on the cliff face as well. It was well worth the journey.

Onto even more spectacular scenery to cross the ocean to an island via the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It spans across a 24 metre swinging rope bridge 80 metres high above the chasm... glad it wasn't windy then. We watched the sunset over looking the Atlantic on top of 120 metre cliffs sitting on the soft grass amongst wild flowers, just the two of us ... one of those moments. We could have spent a lot longer in that area as well.

Achill Island... Island in Paradise

Niamh drove us , at the end of our climb , through some of the best scenery we have seen, to Achill island. The largest island in Europe and it is on the west coast of Ireland. The place we stayed in was a beach house owned by her friend Dorina. Her friends Madeleine and Tom were there as well. Their home was built in the early 20's and was set between a lake and the Atlantic Ocean.... delightful to say the least! We appreciate being able to share their home for awhile. The drives we went on were stunning. welived in the attic with views over the sea. the drive along the rugged cliff tops was truly wonderful. The grass is so green , the sea so blue, the houses so white and we had the best weather to top it all off. it pored all weekend in Dublin. We drove half way back across Ireland to meet some of Niamh's family including her mum. We are so grateful to her for taking us to places we never knew existed and we were welcomed by everyone. We were quite sad to leave her and Dublin.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


What a surprise.
We expected it to be drab and uninteresting. After utilising the City BusTour to orientate ourselves, we discovered many hidden secrets. We definitely did not allow enough time, except the 3 hours we spent at the Guinness storehouse tour. It was interesting as they have utilised very successfully their old factory into a museum. As a reward for spending time and learning the process we were given a pint of Guinness to try with our lunch. It tastes different to the stuff in Australia. Guinness is good for you.
We stayed with Niamh whom we met in Central America. She owns a semidetached 2 storey place fairly close to the city. Her place is very nice and comfortable and was a good base to explore Dublin. She made us very welcome.
We were in Ireland for a Bank Holiday weekend which enabled us to travel across Ireland with Niamh. We had a ball. 300 kms across to the west through the mist and rain. As soon as we arrived in Westport the sun shone and stayed that way for a BBQ we had with some of her friends.

On the way we stopped in Knock. This was the sight of an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879 and is therefore now a place of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world. what a touristy place the streets were full of many plastic Jesus handicrafts etc. It was also the place to take Holy water home from (a 100ml bottle full would not have been enough for us s that is all we could bring back on the plane. You can buy bottles, flagons and any other size container you could want and fill for free from the local spring.
talking of pilgrimages , after having a good night in Westport - good food, wine and beer at O'Malleys we went to another local pub where there was live Irish music. We stayed there for ages, until it closed anyway. It was great to see the real thing, just a group of musos jammin' the night away.. And one really great thin, there is no smoking in any enclosed premises in Irelnad so NO SMOKE. so cool.

The next morning after another full Irish breakfast, sausages, egg, tomato, black pudding, bacon, soda bread etc, we set of for Crough Patrick. It is a place of pilgrimage and devout catholics climb to the peak in bare feet. We struggled to climb it in hiking shoes, maybe too many sins. It was very steep, stony and rocky. The views were worth the struggle though. wWe did not quite get to the top. We had to leave something for another time.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Sorry about the lack of blogs. We are in Ireland and as it gets dark at about 1030 we are usually eating then and suddenly it is midnight and time for bed. We looked thoroughly around Dublin and then travelled west to Westport and spent a night in a B&B right on the seafront at Newport. We then spent the day on an island called Achill at a friend of Niamh's holiday house. It was really relaxing and we walked along the beach and in the morning watched as some sheep demolished some plants in their yard. More on that later. We are off to Northern Ireland and the Atrim coast tomorrow. Thursday we are off to Edinburgh. If we can get some time for blogging we will add some pictures.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Last days in Croatia

Next day we caught several buses to our final destination in Croatia, Pula, on the Istrian Peninsula. We stayed in a spartan, but comfortable, home stay for our final night in the old town. Pula has its own amphitheatre. It is in better condition thanRome's, so they say. Quite a lot of Romanesque and medieval. While not as touristy as the Dalmatian coast, it still has its charm and is quite peaceful, but tourism will fix that. We will be leaving Croatia and Adam and Eva after spending a fortnight with them. We never thought we would have the opportunity to travel with them. Everything went perfectly even the weather

Plitvice National Park

The Blue Lake in Mt Gambier is unusual. We expected the Plitvice Lakes to be similar, but with waterfalls. Adam and Eva organized our itinerary and did the research. Boy, did they find a gem. If you are ever passing through Croatia, it is worth going there. We travelled by bus through the mountains and through the many tunnels, the longest was 5.6 kms. The mountains and the forests we passed through were spectacular. We found some fantastic accommodation on our arrival in a little village which looked very Austrian. It was a fantastic home for 2 nights and breakfast was included. In the morning, up early, crisp and cloudy we ventured into the park. Little did we know that 8.5 hours later we would still be there.

Our first sighting of the lakes was breath taking - hopefully our photos will do it justice. Plitvice Lakes . The waterfalls between the lakes were formed by mosses that retain the calcium carbonate that is absorbed in the water as it rushes through the karst (limestone rock). Travertine builds up, sprouting plants that grow on top of each other to create barriers to the river. It is an UNESCO World Heratige site. The turquoise lakes are surrounded by hectares of wooded mountains and linked by a series of waterfalls and cascades. The water is crystal clear and there were lots of fish everywhere. We were able to follow the boardwalks and hiking paths for 8.5 glorious hours. There were caves, but no bears, even though we were told that there may be a possibility of sighting one. At night we took a little train to the restuarant for dinner. During dinner there was a thunderstorm and it started to rain, we had a perfect day with no rain for our sightseeing. We had to run and walk rapidly for 45 minutes through the forest in the pouring run in the darkness, it did not help that Adam had to pretend he was a bear. It was a great ending to a great day to have shared it with Adam and his beautiful wife Eva.