Saturday, 7 February 2015

Tropical adventures

So, after all that non-chronological Christmas craziness, it's waaay back to October and our trip to Queensland with my parents.

We had a lovely trip, starting in the Whitsunday Islands, where Jan and I have been before - on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, where we basically bankrupted ourselves on helicopter rides and boat trips because we were never going to visit there again.  Ahem.  

After a mere hop, skip and two plane rides, we were there and enjoying some serious sunshine. Airlie Beach is a chilled out town, with some nice restaurants and beautiful views to the islands, provided you are willing to sweat out every tiny droplet of water in your body to climb a steep hill to look.  We were most definitely NOT willing to do that - only... well... I managed to book us a hotel at the top of one of the steepest hills in town. Way to go, me! Welcome to Australia, 70-year-old parents! Let's go street hiking in 35 degree weather! It was kind of worth it though:

Chilling out in our hotel pool

We took a taxi up after the first trek. 

We booked ourselves on a boat trip for our second day there, which took us around the islands, stopping off at Whitehaven Beach for a BBQ picnic and Whitsunday Island for some scenic views:

Views from Whitsunday Island

We came, we saw, we took a commemorative photo

Whitehaven Beach - the sand squeaks between your toes, it's so fine!

No, my dad isn't wearing a shirt in the last picture - it's the English complexion abroad! 

On Sunday, we took our once-in-a-lifetime (again) flight over the islands and out to the reef. I have to say, this is the best way to really get excellent views of the Great Barrier Reef, although typically the men were way more excited about the landing and taking off in the seaplane side of things:

Someone is rather excited.... Can you guess who it is yet?!

This is Heart Reef. Romantic innit. 

Views from the plane

We have a bazillion more pictures of these views, so click here if you want more eye-boggling imagery. Suffice to say, no one was disappointed with that excursion!

In fact some of us were so excited, we had to go up again! Although less for the stunning views and more for the stomach-churning, goggle wearing, 70-year-old plane flying aerial trickery:

That magnificent man in his flying machine

Here we go loop-de-loop!

I mean, just cos you have to wind the plane up by the front propeller and a rubber band, it doesn't mean it's dangerously out-of-date or anything...

After three days of fun it was time to leave Airlie, and head down the coast in search of another island. So we packed up, hit the road and 20 mins later, I navigated Jan in the completely wrong direction and we ended up on a coffee plantation. Which is completely the RIGHT turn of events, if you ask me...

Coffee fresh from the plantation

We stopped at a fantastic old bed and breakfast that night, in a small town called Gladstone, and next morning, we set off by boat to our next destination - Heron Island:

No idea what's coming...

Pay attention to the completely innocent, unsuspecting looks on our faces. This was approximately half an hour before we were subjected to the most traumatic boat trip I have ever taken. Have you ever seen the movie, The Perfect Storm? Yeah. If you haven't, then imagine, if you will, being stuck in a catamaran on open sea in the middle of a HUGE storm for TWO HOURS. With really high waves hitting the windows. And schoolchildren*. Vomiting. And your 70-year-old parents. Who came to see you and enjoy the SUN and BLUE SKIES and not TO DIE AT SEA. Me? I buried myself in my seat and gripped the arm rests for all I was worth. My mom? Took out her teeth in case she was sick. My dad? Tried to cheer us up with jokes. Jan? Sat on the UPPER DECK for the ENTIRE trip and thought it was ace.

* Inside the catamaran with us, I mean. Not hitting the windows.

Shaking and weak, we arrived on Heron Island, and wished all the poor souls booked on the return trip good luck. We rushed to the bar for the complimentary cocktail we had been promised. I finally broke down when I realised that, after managing to brave two hours of maritime mayhem, THERE WAS NO ALCOHOL IN THE GODDAM COCKTAILS.

Next time on the blog: how we lose my mother on the smallest island ever! Will we make it back to the mainland without dying? How we bathed in pools of champagne! Our rarest animal spot yet!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Deck the halls with boughs of fake tree, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Tis the season to be (a bit too) jolly, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel, 
Fa la la, la la la, la la la. 

Troll the Coogee Christmas carol, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

I feel this needs further info - there was a carol concert by the beach in our suburb of Coogee.  Just so ya know.

See the blazing Yule* before us, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
* Sun 

Strike the harp and join the chorus. 
Fa la la la la, la la la la. 

Follow me in merry (wine) measure, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

While I tell of Yule tide treasure*, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la. 

* Food. Food is precious, like treasure.

Christmas couscous! I realise it's not exactly the best food photo ever, but I was too busy eating it to care...

Fast away the old year passes, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la. 
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Janta Klaas says you'd better have a good 2015, or he's coming at you with the Blue Steel...


Monday, 8 December 2014

Things we lost on holiday

The next section of my parents' visit concerns our holiday to Queensland.  However, I feel it's important to be honest and give you some understanding of a typical Oates family holiday.  I therefore present the following list of the things we lost on holiday:
  1. My passport*.  
  2. My parents' passports
  3. My glasses
  4. My dad's glasses
  5. My dad's camera
  6. My dad's hat
  7. My engagement ring
  8. Jan's patience with this ridiculous family who lose everything
  9. My mother
But you can all breathe safely - we pretty much found everything again.

* I had put it in a safe place.  You know the one - it's so safe even you don't know where it is.

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Or, cake-for-breakfast day, as it's known in our house.  It was fantastic having my parents here to celebrate with me, because:
  1. I hadn't seen them for ten months, so being able to spend the day with them was super special.
  2. We got to go to the Opera House for our first time and theirs.
  3. Having your parents around always makes you revert to behaving like a child, anyway, so I felt much younger than the 21* I was turning.
* What?!

But mainly it was number 1.   To start the day, it's a tradition that the birthday person gets a birthday table - including, but not limited to: a cake, flowers, candles, a present, cards,  chocolates, miscellaneous sundry treats.  This year I got TWO birthday tables!

The inside table, flowers, cake, gift and cards achievement unlocked
Outside table - good weather and good company achievement unlocked
 After spending a lovely day together, we got togged up in our best attire and headed to the opera house.  We had a lovely dinner there, with this as the view:

Then we had a great time watching the King and I.  Sadly, we seem to have no pictures of us all looking dapper and sophisticated, but let's just pretend you can imagine that, ok?!

All in all, a satisfactory start to my 21st* year!

* Seriously, what?!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Antipodal Adventures: Parental Edition #1

Right, it's time for the first instalment of the excitement of having my parents here. They arrived at the end of September, looking dazed, bleary-eyed and slightly shellshocked by the joys of long haul travel. "There was just so... much... orange juice". But they had had a nice stop off in Singapore for a couple of days to break up the journey. And, just to make them feel really at home from the start, it solidly rained all day on their arrival. Thanks, Sydney.

The first few days were spent recuperating from the jet lag and processing the whole 'being on the other side' of the world thing and also discovering the wonders of a couch with a chaise longue*.

* If you're short like me and my dad, you can stick your legs out ALL THE WAY and you still don't reach the end! Wheee! Needless to say, that became "Dad's spot" very quickly.

Then it was time to go out and explore.  We took them on a mini road trip down the coast to Botany Bay to show them where all the crims first washed up:

It turned out that the fleet arrived at Botany Bay on the recommendations of a previous ship that had stopped there. However, the first ship had arrived in the Australian winter and had marked it down as lush and liveable.  By the time the First Fleet got here,  it was summer and an arid wasteland again and they were like, "What the heck were those guys thinking? Eff this schizzle" and moved on up the coast to Sydney Harbour. 

But as we were visiting in early spring, we got the nice version too:

Full disclose: Jan hates this top I'm wearing with a passion. Well, ok, he strongly dislikes it. But I am NOT getting tan lines for my wedding dress, dammit, and I don't care how awful I look in the meantime, 
Then we took them along the Grand Pacific Drive to see the sea bridge and the beautiful coastline. In the face of such beauty, my dad remained the most impressed by how much taller Jan is than him:

So that was their first few days!  In the next edition: it's cake-for-breakfast day!

Saturday, 8 November 2014


I am lazy.  Not just a little bit lazy, like, oh I can't be bothered to <insert whatever task> right now, but BIG FAT SUPER lazy, where even getting up sometimes can be a problem. Sure I can get ready to leave the house for work in 10 minutes!  In fact I can probably do it in 8, so maybe I will snooze for an extra two minutes! *Arrives at work stupidly late because no-one can get from bed to work in 8 fecking minutes*.  And then I do it all again the next day.

Mainly I waste spend most of my time on the internet.  And I sit there reading about all these great things and really getting excited, like, yeah! I am soooo going to do that*, it sounds fantastic. In fact I'm going to start right now! And then three hours later, I am still sitting on the sofa mentally compiling all the great things I'm going to do, whilst not having moved an inch.  Even now, I have stopped writing this to buy a voucher for yoga classes and check Facebook (even though most people I know are asleep on the other side of the world right now) because, also, I now have the attention span of a 3-year-old child.

* that = anything from actually eating breakfast in the morning, to doing regular exercise, to being more organised and responsible, to swimming with crocodiles...

It's the same with the blog.  I'm driving to work, or sitting on my arse doing housework and a great idea comes into my head, and it's frikking hilarious!  And then I sit down to write something and forget it all instantly and write complete rubbish instead.


Hence why it's only now, a week after they've gone, that I'm telling you about my parents being here for six weeks.  Six weeks! And only now do I sit down to, I don't know, perhaps mention it at all?! It being so very important and huge and all?! Good job, Cate!

Haaaanyway.  So yeah, my parents came to visit. It was great fun and we had lots of adventures, which I will tell you about soon.  You know, I mean, soon as in maybe possibly at least before next year.  Well, if I get round to it.  Cos... you know... I have all that important Facebook lurking to do. Oh, and I suppose I should use that yoga voucher. Maybe. Let me just check what's happened on Imgur first, then I'll definitely go. Definitely. In a minute.

In the meantime, have a picture of my dad, the intrepid explorer, who is ready for anything at all times:
The quintessential Englishman abroad...

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Rather belated news...

Erm.... so.... *looks shamefacedly at her feet*.... yeah. Hi. How are y'all doing? It's been a while. Sorry about that. *sweeps away accumulated dust and tumbleweed off blog*.

Don't worry! I haven't forgotten you! It's just, well, there has been rather a lot going on of late, out there in 3D land. And rather embarrassingly, it's stuff that I usually would be jumping straight online to tell people about. Big things! Important things! But I have been running around in a manic ball of whoopdeedoo and huzzah and yippedydoodah and things of that manner and rather neglected the old blog.

Anyway, as this blog started out as a reflection of major life events, I shall start with the biggest life event thing first - Jan and I are engaged! After a mere ten years, five house moves and two continents, we have decided we'll probably not kill each other after all. Happy days!  

Jan and I like to make all our major life decisions in a thoughtful and serious* manner. 

* ridiculously flippant

Moving to the other side of the world, away from all our family and friends, to a place we had never been before was done via text (Me: Fancy moving to Sydney? Jan: Yeah sure).  So the story to be passed down to children and grandchildren about the auspicious day we decided to splice for life runs like this:

It all started on a sunny Saturday morning in Coogee. We sat down at our favourite coffee place, in the sunshine sipping flat whites and musing on holiday plans for next year. Somewhere on this side of the world, I posited - after all we moved here so we could explore the area more easily (for some reason, before we got here, I thought Japan, China and Thailand would be merely down the road. Yeah.  Should have Google Mapped that some more....)  Jan piped up, "Or I could take you back home and make an honest woman of you"!  I laughed for a while, then went to work. After a nine hour shift involving rugby and V8 supercars, I returned home to a beautiful dinner on the table and Jan asked when we were getting the rings.  Oh. OH. It's.... it's not a joke?! To top off all the unrelenting romance, Jan got a heavy cold and remained under a blanket on the sofa for the rest of the weekend.

It took another 48 hours of me harassing a runny-nosed Jan with, "So it's not a joke then?" and "So, are we really engaged then?" before I though it might be worth ringing the parents.  Jan and my dad agreed on 16 sheep and 2 goats and the matter was settled. Although, I think my dad might think he is marrying Jan, as his response when Jan asked for my hand was, "Yes, of course you can have my hand in marriage"!  

And so we enter the next stage of our adventures together, when in June next year, we will head to Germany's lake district and get married.  And yes, I did finally believe we were getting engaged, when Jan presented me with this, on bended knee: