Archive | January 2011

In my world: Flowers for you, mummy!

To the eyes of adult passers-by, they are just insignificant, barely noticeable, tiny weed flowers in the grass by the sidewalk. 
But to a little girl and boy, they are flowers for mummy.
And to the mummy of the boy and girl, they are a bouquet of sunshine. 🙂

***** 

Sometimes in the middle of cleaning the rooms, I discover little gems left behind by the children. (I wasn’t cleaning any rooms this time…but we’d just returned from grocery shopping at Coles in Cowes, Phillip Island, when the kids woke up from their naps, so we let them run around a little in a small patch of green near where we’d parked our car.)

This Friday series was started with the intention of celebrating the imagination and creativity in a young child’s world…and hoping that it’ll bring a little ray of inspiration and joy to your day, as it does mine.

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Notes from our Melbourne holiday – Day 7 (Melbourne – Singapore)

9:00am We walk out to the car to clear some stuff.  The weather is 40 degrees Celsius. It’s mad scorching heat, and we abandon all initial thought of exploring Melbourne city by tram and decide to just laze and take a slow day in our friend’s home.  🙂

The kids are happy to be left alone in the living room, playing with stickers and colouring their activity books and I decide to bake shepherd’s pie to bring for their dinner on the plane.

We’re honestly glad it’s the last day of our holiday. The individual activities have been enjoyable, but somehow collectively, the whole experience doesn’t seem as fun as Perth was. 

I’m not sure why, but I’m not in the mood to deconstruct now.  I’ve got a cool digital oven to play with, a good couple of hours to spare and I just want to zone out and bake. 😎

*****

8:00pm  Dinner is now only being served on the flight but that’s okay.

My kids polished off the last of the pie a half hour ago. 

They have A-Team showing on the inflight entertainment. 

I sneak a peek to find DD is chatting animatedly to DH in the row behind. Beside me, DS is busy enjoying a second dinner of spaghetti and feeding himself.  It’s a tad messy but I’m happy that everyone’s happy. 🙂

*****

11:25pm  We touch down in Changi on time, go through two travellators and clear immigration in a breeze.  And as we stand at the belt awaiting our luggage, and the children are safely in their grandpa’s arms in the arrival hall, I am reminded why I love Singapore.

Speed.        

Efficiency.           

Reliability.

Ahhh. It’s good to be home.  😀

Notes from our Melbourne holiday – Day 6 (Dandenong Ranges)

1:00pm This had to have been the most frustrating part of our trip. Getting to Puffing Billy at Belgrave took four detours of getting lost on the highways and byways, because of inadequate maps and our wanting to save money on GPS per day charge. Grr.  People shouldn’t be penalised for trying to save money on GPS. 😦

And when we got there, the cupboard was bare so the poor dog had none. 

The 1:55pm train leaving Belgrave was all we could make it for, and tickets were sold out. 

It was 1:00pm and none of us had had lunch. We were all running on empty tummies, and near empty patience as well.

Anyway. We give the kids their lunch. 

The kindly old stationmaster recommends that we could attempt to take the 3:20pm from Lakeside to Gembrook and back as an alternative.  

We finally decide to drive to Lakeside just to see how it is. We get there and find out there is a $2 per hour parking fee, so stingy poker me stands shuffling my feet and deliberating by the ticket machine. 

An SUV pulls up and the guy winds down his window, waves and calls out to us, “Hey, do you guys want a parking coupon?”

I’m so bowled over that I stand gaping with my mouth opening and closing like a fish, trying to make sense of this…

A paid full day coupon. 

So that decides it. We’re going to explore Lakeside.

*****

4:30pm  At Lakeside, DD is more interested in gathering sticks while her brother picks up pebbles. We also find some bread to feed the ducks at the pond.  It’s nicely therapeutic to just sit on the grass and watch the ducks run for the bread.

In the end, we didn’t ride Puffing Billy but apparently there were some delays today on the track, so it’s just as well that we didn’t as we’d have stressed ourselves out trying to arrive at our friend’s home in Melbourne at the appointed time. 

Here’s some interesting trivia about it though. 🙂

*****

6:15pm We’re sitting in our friend’s backyard now, enjoying lemonade, pasta and garlic bread, and waiting to sink our teeth into the sausages, lamb chops and beef steaks roasting and wafting out an amazing aroma on their BBQ pit.  And there’ll be pavlova and freshly picked cherries for dessert.  Ooh!

Over a hearty dinner, we catch up over all the happenings in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Australia and the UK. And it’s all good. 🙂

Notes from our Melbourne holiday – Day 5 (Great Ocean Road – Surf Coast)

8:57am  We left the house at 8:00am today to catch the vehicular ferry across from Sorrento to Queenscliff.  We want to board the 9:00am so it’ll give us a good headstart for our drive down the Surf Coast.  We didn’t think we would, but we do make it, our car crosses the ramp onto the ferry…at 8:57am!  We’re the second last car to get on board.  Whoo hoo!

Everyone’s at the top deck of the ferry, taking in the ocean breeze, and hoping to spot dolphins. 

We don’t see any, and eventually it gets too chilly to stay up top, so we make our way down into the covered passenger lounge where it’s warmer, and eat our egg, tomato and cheese sandwiches. 

Ever since his bout of airsickness, I have been very wary of allowing DS to eat too much on any rides, but he seems to be on a roll.  He just won’t stop eating! Before this, he could never be convinced to eat sandwiches. I want to tell him, enough, but in my heart, I’m also really glad that he’s finally so into chewing that I decide to just play it by ear.

At the Queenscliff information centre, we meet a very nice old man named Brian at the counter who provides us three maps and extensive information, including where the petrol stations are to guide us on our intended route.

*****

12:00pm We stop at Airey’s Inlet for lunch. The tearoom scones are expensive! $4 a piece!  Thank God, mum prepared fried rice, as just scones and a pot of tea for three, set us back $21!  Ok, that’s a tad too many exclamation marks but seriously… 

*****

4:00pm The highlight of this drive was seeing the koalas in the trees at Kennett River. It was exciting for the kids, and of course, fantastic that it was free of charge. The koalas are high up in the tree branches and you have to peer up to find them.  There were only two around that day, and we were fortunate that they stirred from sleep a couple of minutes after we arrived. 🙂

But that shouldn’t be the only highlight of a drive along the Great Ocean Road. 

I guess I expected more.

From what I’ve seen so far, I personally think the Great Ocean Road is rather overrated.  The scenery is pretty much the same across, and honestly, if we have to drive twice the distance and time that we’re doing now, to get to view eight stone stacks in the sea…umm…

Well… 😦

I think New Zealand has better views and more interesting cliffside driving terrain and topography. 

Okay, that’s all I’m going to say before some patriotic Aussie comes along and clobbers me.

Notes from our Melbourne holiday – Day 4 (Strawberries, Signatures and Sorrento)

9:30am We’re at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. The sun is positively blazing but it doesn’t deter the long queue of eager berry pickers!

The field is packed with locals and tourists alike and it’s quite amusing to hear excited exclamations, every few rows or so, about the size and sweetness of the strawberries, in English, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hindi, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese…and Singlish. 😉

The strawberries are huge and crunchy! 

We pay $28 in total for entrance and 2 empty 2kg punnets to fill with our harvest.  That works out to approximately $2 more per kg than store-bought strawberries.  I think it’s worth it though, as I’ve never seen what strawberry vines look like before, and so it’s an educational experience for both the adults and the children. 🙂

To our surprise, DS is eating non stop and asking for more, and more, and more.  DH says he thinks DS has finally discovered his teeth and is enjoying the benefits of it.  That’s a big hurray to me, as it means he will hopefully lose the habit of swallowing his food wholesale without chewing.

*****

11:30am We arrive at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove.

2008 Montalto Pinot Noir, and 2010 Pennon Hill Moscato

My colleague recommended me this place and so we’re here to check out its signature Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  We eat at the piazza since that is where everyone seems to be.  It’s also easier on the pocket than the restaurant, and this allows the kids freedom to run around in the gardens.

The food is good. The wine and olive oils as well…especially their basil infused olive oil…yummm!  After tasting its signature offerings, we find the Montalto range full-bodied, it really packs a punch, whereas the Pennon Hill range is lighter and fruitier.   So we end up buying a Pinot Grigio and Moscato to bring home.

What I like about Montalto is how you can get up close to the vines.  They’re right beside where we sit, so the children get a first hand close up view of what grapevines look like to compare it with the alphabet craft they did for V for Vine.

*****

3:45pm After a brief rest back at our accommodation, we drive out to the beach at Sorrento. The children chase (more!) seagulls and play with sand.

It is interesting to note the Oriental and Occidental divide – rows and rows of fair-skinned Westerners lying in the sun, soaking up every UV ray possible, whilst mum and myself, and other Asians are taking shelter in the shade of the trees as best as we can. Haha!

We explore an enticing boardwalk that leads out to a small jetty where boats pick up and drop off passengers from larger vessels out in the sea.  The railing is only on one side, scary when you are holding on to two young children!

Notes from our Melbourne holiday – Day 3 (Mornington Peninsula – Cape Schanck)

11:30am We leave Phillip Island today and head for Mornington Peninsula.

Along the way, we decided to stop and explore the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. Sorry to say, it’s nothing much. The free tasting consists of a single truffle which although smooth, wasn’t enough to send me into flavonoid heaven and back. 

Additionally, everything is priced extremely expensively, in comparison to The Margaret River Chocolate Company. Unimpressed, we leave in a matter of minutes. Everyone is glad DH suggested going to the Nobbies yesterday instead of to the chocolate factory. It was a good call.

It’s a long drive and we break midway in Hastings for a picnic lunch.  DS and DD run and climb awhile in the playground, while we chat with a friendly local for directions to Cape Schanck.

*****

1:30pm  By the time we reach Cape Schanck, both children are fast asleep in their car seats so DH opts to watch over them while mum and I explore the grounds. 

There is also a boardwalk that hugs the cliffs of the cape but this one is a lot steeper and has a lot of steps. 

It’s quite a climb but you can go all the way to the bottom of the cliff, stand on the rocky shores and literally taste the salt spray from the ocean.  My ears throb from the pressure of the powerful winds and I pull my hoodie up around my head.  I don’t know how my mum is surviving without a windbreaker, I’m positively freezing! 

When we’re almost to the bottom of the steps though, it starts to rain and so everyone runs helter-skelter in a vertical marathon back up the steps. Whew!

*****

4:45pm We gladly pull up at our accommodation. Time for a simple dinner, a quick trip out to get groceries, and then bedtime. The children are the only ones full of energy. Mum and I are beat from the cliffside trek and DH from the driving!

Notes from our Melbourne holiday – Day 2 (Churchill Island and The Nobbies)

9:00am The kids and us go out to feed the chickens. We manage to collect two freshly laid eggs! The city rats are completely excited. I’ve never collected eggs from a chicken coop before. 😀

The farmhouse chicken coop

DH also finds a dandelion.  Incidentally, we’d been reading about dandelions just before our trip so it was pretty cool for them to find a real one to blow away the seeds.

*****

10:30am We arrive at Churchill Island Heritage Farm. The kids admire and pat some clydesdale horses…

… and watch a cow milking demonstration. Each of us gets to try our hand at milking the cow. The small quantity in the pail is given to the piglets, who fight with each other to drink it.

The farm also has ducks, chickens, turkeys, sheep and peacocks, which one can get pretty up close with and we spent some time going round each of the enclosures.

*****

1:00pm We have a very yummy lunch at the café and sit back and enjoy a little while more before heading out to the town centre to do some proper grocery shopping. The children fall asleep in the car on the way. So while my mum stayed to watch over them, we hotfoot it to Coles and get some quick and efficient shopping done.

Hurray, we’ll have pasta, roast chicken with veggies and grilled salmon for dinner tonight! Mum smiles and says it’s like our delayed Christmas dinner.  😉

*****

4:00pm On a whim, DH decides we should take a drive to the Nobbies – a couple of large rock islands off the southern coast of Phillip Island where there is a colony of Australian fur seals. You can view the seals from a large screen that receives real-time feeds from underwater cameras, in the Nobbies Centre and then explore the rugged coastline scenery and nesting seabird colonies on a boardwalk that circles around the cliffside.  Entry is free, and I hope they are able to let it stay that way.  

Along the way, we spot two pairs of tiny fairy penguin feet in a little burrow.

Can you spot them?

The coastal boardwalk brings us to some really magnificent rock formations, carved out by the sea.

It is simply.magnificent.

Powerful waves crash upon the craggy rocks, seagulls swoop over the cliff face and the leaves on the hill rustle and bend to the will of the winds. 

I stand, still and small, shielding my eyes and cheeks from the wildness of nature all around me that resounds with a glorious anthem of praise to its Creator. And I worship God.

“Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.” ~ Psalm 89: 8 – 9