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.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Getting lost in Sibenik

We arrived in Split and found a bus going straight away to Sibenik back up the coast. Arriving in Sibenik was a huge change. The cars were a lot older and rustier, the people and the children were poorer and there was a lot more grafitti. There were empty shops right on the sea front, obviously not a tourist hot spot, but we did manage to see a wedding party emerge from a church, accompanied by a whole jazz band, bass and all, that certainly entertained us for a while. Nothing was open to find accommodation, so we went wandering to find a sobe (rooms to rent). Not a one in sight. We stubled across an agency and we were relieved to find there were two rooms available. Adam and Gabrielle went a wandering to find an ATM as a lot of the society is run on cash. Gabrielle stopped to ask directions, turned around andAdam was gone. Meanwhile Nick and Eva were enjoying a coffee back in the square watching the world drift past. The old town is a labyrinth of old and narrow dead end streets, wandering up and down stairs and Gabrielle also ended up well and truly lost. It was hot and we did mention the stairs everywhere. At last she found 3 lads about 10ish years old, smoking around the corner and asked them for directions. The little buggers asked for 5 kunas (about $1). She didn't have any money so they sent her off in the wrong direction. Meanwhile Adam had found his way back to Nick and Eva. Adam and Nick took the luggage to our accommodation and left Eva to wait for the return of Gabrielle. We all got back together about 30 minutes later. The place we were to stay at was a whole 3 bedroom apartment and we were able to do our laundry. There were lovely views and lots of stairs.

Friday, June 01, 2007

On the road again

On the road back to Split we passed through Bosnia and Herznegovia. we had to show our passports, but no stamps added to the passports. The journey was four and a half hours, but it was the most beautiful coastlines with lots of coves, boats, houses and the mountains were picturesque. A good proportion of the Croatians that we have seen seem very well off. This would have to be one of the most affluent country we have visited. Not much culturally challenging about it at all and most people speak very good English. The place is so clean and tidy, they seem to take pride in their gardens and cities, but the parking on footpaths means that often a walk on the road is the only place to be.. We have only seen one McDonalds, so far, and that was in the city. Lots of stairs and little fast food is probably the reason behind so many well figured bodies, both male and female.