Friday, December 24, 2010

U2 the greatest show in the world

Last weekend Jason and I attended the greatest show in the world- U2 (along with 60,000 other fans). However, it nearly wasn't to be with Jason locking the work garage door opener, his swipe card for work and the tickets in the car. For about 20 minutes we were wondering what to do as Jason couldn't get hold of any work mates. Finally we managed to get hold of Al, who was going to come down and save the day for us... and low and behold, someone came out of the building and we were in. Crisis averted.

The show started with Jay-Z rocking the crowd, for a rapper it was really good and he and his band really got the crowd going.

After the opening act we had about 30 minutes to wait.... until... U2 kicked things off with a rendition of Beautiful Day, on a beautiful warm night with the moon glowing overhead.

During the start of the show, Bono drew a comical analogy between cricket and rock and roll, referencing the day's Ashes Cricket showdown between Aussie and England. After likening each of the band members to cricket players, he got to the point. His observations that the Aussies and the Irish shared an "overwhelming desire to stick it to the Brits"... it was pretty funny and got great cheers from the crowd.

There was a great blend of old and new songs, including I will follow, Pride (In the Name of Love), Mysterious Ways, I still haven't found what I'm looking for, With or Without you, One, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Walk On.

U2's 360 tour is probably the biggest ever and most impressive concert Perth has seen. It was visually epic, with Bono at one stage wearing a laser jacket and many cameras hidden all over the alien-like claw capturing every moment while he and The Edge strutted a range of catwalks allowing the masses to get up close and personal with the stars. Here's some shots of the stage:
One lucky lady will never forget her close encounter with Bono, after being pulled up onto the stage only to have him lay in her lap as he sang the romantic In A Little While. While she looked suitably stunned, he slow danced with her, only to leave her with a kiss on the back of the hand.

Here's a couple of shots of the band rocking it out:So, Poppy has now been to Crowded House and U2 and I was VERY tempted by Kings of Leon and Santana (both in March). But we decided against it.

All I can say is, what a great evening and if you get a chance, I recommend seeing U2 live!!! Wicked.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 19 baby belly

Well after a couple of requests I have posted the first of the baby belly I am at 19 weeks and 1 day. Nearly halfway there now.

I had my 18 week check up on Thursday and my doctor said that Poppy is lying on the right, and you can see that my belly button is being pulled that was as well...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mmmmm Pizza

So last weekend my brother (a chef) and sister in law (who is also pregnant) came to stay. We had a great few days but today's post is all about the new pizza stone. On the Saturday morning we were all trying to decide what to have for dinner. We all decided on home made pizza. For one, it meant we could use the new kenwood for the base. Also, Jason has been wanting a pizza stone for quite some time.

So after a day out at Fremantle we made a quick stop at the kitchen warehouse for a pizza stone and a pizza paddle and then coles for some ingredients. Jane and Quentin were after a potato, garlic and choriza pizza, Jason was after a meat lovers and bbq sauce, and I wanted pumpkin and cherry tomato.

Expecatations were high and they were exceeded, the pizza stone worked brilliantly on the bbq and the food was just delish!!!

Here's Quentin making the pizza, the potato and chorizo finished product and the meat lovers in the making (on the bbq). No photos of the pumpkin and cherry tomato pizza and I was soooooo hungry and it was soooo good.
The following night, while Jane and Quentin were at a wedding, Jason made us garlic bread pizza style on the bbq for dinner. Yummo. I can see a whole summer of homemade pizzas ahead of us.

I think Jason's summary of the kenwood mixer (my Christmas pressie) was priceless as well - in his words - its bought nothing but joy so far!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My first pavlova

This weekend we had guests over for dinner (fellow kiwis) so I decided that I wanted to make a good traditional kiwi dessert. The mighty pavlova. I had never made a pavlova before so I wanted a tried and tested recipe from my mum. She gave a few good tips and tricks, especially as I do not know my new oven yet.

As well as the great recipe I had the great new kenwood mixer Jason bought me for Christmas (only given early for the sake of the pavlova). So between the great recipe, the FANTASTIC new kenwood mixer and a good reliable pavlova making oven I achieved the following result:
Not too bad for a first effort really. It tasted as good as it looked as well. I did toss up between mango and passionfruit with berries for the topping, but good old berries won the challenge on the day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The journey so far...

So here I am, 16 weeks into our first pregnancy and I thought that it would be a great time to recap our journey so far.

I think it will be very fair to say that Jason has been ready to have children since we married 6 years ago. However, around the time that we married I started a new sport for me, triathlon. Not long into my triathlon career I made the New Zealand team which led to some new sporting goals (namely a medal at a World Championships). Additionally, we wanted to own our own house prior to having children.

We achieved one of these goals in 2006 with the purchase of our Pembroke rd property in Wellington.

The triathlon goal took a little longer. After 21st (25-29 age group), 17th (Elite), 10th (30-34), and 13th (30-34) placings at various triathlon world champs I finally achieved my medal goal with a Bronze medal at the 2009 Long Distance World Championships in Perth.

So once this goal was achieved, we still had a little time to wait prior to starting to try for our family, this next wait was to get all our health insurances in order, but essentially we were ready. We are living in a place that we consider to be very conducive to raising a family, we are in a good position financially and most of all, we are both ready to embark on this exciting phase of our lives.

Roll forward to August 2010, and we fell pregnant on our 6th Wedding Anniversary weekend. While trying to fall pregnant I was doing some casual training for a local half marathon. The weekend prior to our wedding anniversary I ran 65km in 3 days, with one of those sessions being a 30km run at faster than 5min per km pace.

Fast forward three weeks and (unbeknownst to me at that time) I was pregnant but I was INCREDIBLY tired and still on the start line for my race (unwillingly however, given how tired I was feeling). Anyway, I had to walk 7km into the race and from then on I walk/ran the remaining 14.1km. Hmmmm this was the first inkling that I may have been pregnant.

Mid the following week I was still feeling tired and had been suffering a fever (38.5 degrees) so I visited my doctor. She suspected pregnancy, so we had a blood test- which was negative. A day or two later I had a "hankering for burgers and fries" not a usual craving for me, but in hindsight a small sign.

The following Saturday I decided to take a home pregnancy test and:
At this stage I was pretty excited (and also nervous). Jason was also very excited. Over the next few days I took a few more home tests just to check that I was still pregnant (pretty conclusive evidence really):
You may recall Poppy was named to represent its size the day we found out- a poppy seed. The next size reference was a lentil, so I much preferred Poppy as a nickname over Lentil haha.

Once the pregnancy was confirmed via blood test at the doctors it started to sink in that our journey towards parenthood was well and truly underway.

So pregnancy for me has meant extreme tiredness, more so than when I was training in my hardest weeks, and for some days all day nausea. I also had an unfortunate side-effect: insomnia. So in my early weeks I needed at least 4 hour nanna naps each weekend day and I had absolutely no energy to exercise at all (which for me has been a very tough thing to cope with).

For Jason, a pregnant wife means tiredness, crankiness, funny food cravings and aversions (I recently went off red meat!!!!) and quiet weekends at home.

Around week 9 we told all our immediate family the news of the impending arrival. Unfortunately not long after this I experienced some unexplained but reasonably severe cramping. This was when we got to see Poppy for the first time, we needed a scan to confirm viability- but we saw Poppy's heartbeat straight away. Phew.

The next stage was our nuchal translucency scan at 12 weeks 5 days, which checks for chromosomal disorders. During this scan it was truly amazing to see how much Poppy had grown. We could make out hands, feet, arms, legs and face. A week or so after our scan we got the results and we were very low risk for Downs Syndrome
(1:8695) and even more low risk for the other two chromosomal disorders tested.

Since around week 14 my symptoms have settled somewhat and I have been undertaking a little more exercise. Now I just feel very unfit after 14 weeks of minimal exercise. I aim for 4 exercise sessions a week at the moment and as my energy increases I will increase the number of exercise sessions a week.

So looking forward a couple of weeks - I have another check up at the GP in week 18, we have another scan in week 19 prior to heading to Queensland for Christmas and Poppy will be 20 weeks old on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crowded House at Sandalford Estate

Recently Jason and I had an afternoon/evening with Crowded House at Sandalford Estate Winery in the Swan Valley. I made some triple chocolate muffins and bacon and egg pie which we added to some good quality vintage chedder, gherkins, and crackers as well as some good scorched almonds and our picnic was set.

Neil Finn hit the nail on the head when he said "what a wonderful place to be on a Sunday evening". And it truly was, the temperature had dropped to a balmy 25 degree evening (well down from the 36 degree day) so we had a beautiful breezy, warm spring evening with a fantastic sunset.

The beautiful sky just added to an all-round lovely evening, with a great venue that catered for the 8000 plus crowd with ease, creating a chilled, relaxed atmosphere.

Here we are with Kent and Fiona, just chilling, eating our picnic food and listening to the warm up bands.

A couple of stage shots and some of the fantastic surrounds we were treated to. The lake and fountain was a lovely touch.
Neil Finn introduced himself as: “Neil, full of zeal. Neil, Neil, lemon peel from Te Awamutu.” His sense of humour was evident as well, encouraging the audience to wave to one of many planes that flew overhead towards the airpor: “We couldn’t afford fireworks so we asked Qantas to supply a plane,” he joked after playing Four Seasons in One Day.

We were treated to some old Crowded House favourites, i.e Don't Dream it's Over, When You Come, Locked Out and Distant Sun, ensuring plenty of crowd sing-a-longs and dancing, as the signs requested:
Finally, the last song of the night one of my favourites. During this song the crowd raised their mobile phones on Finn’s request, waving them slowly above their heads as all the lights were turned off. And with that, Better Be Home Soon boomed out. It was a magical moment.
All in all it was a great night out and we both had a lovely time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The month formerly known as November is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health.

Jason's work has a team and he is starting to look somewhat Magnum PI ish, or even a little like Goose from Top Gun.

What else is there to say really.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

All about Jason...

So all my blogs seem to be about me, so this post is just about Jason and a few of the things that he does to keep himself occupied here in WA. Jason works at a small niche company called Yambay. From their website "Yambay is a leading provider of field-service, job scheduling and mobile platform products servicing enterprise customers from the resource, utilities and field-service sectors". In my words (and Jason will probably tell me I have it wrong haha) Yambay provide the mobile software that companies suh as Western Power (electricity transmission and distribution) use for fault call outs. Jason spends about 3 full days a week down at Western Power in East Perth and the other 2 days at his main office in Subiaco.

Here's a few shots of jason over the last couple of years.

In terms of recreation, Jason has a few things to keep him occupied. Firstly and foremostly (well it takes up mst his time anyway) Jason has a passion for his computer and his online games. Some nights I have to get up and remind him that its 2 or 3 in the morning. Here's Jason playing. His headphones have him connected with other members of his playing group (clan). They all talk to each other. It was a bit weird at first hearing him talk (seemingly to himself) in the other room, but now I am used to it.Jason did a lot of martial arts growing up and recently he has headed back to it. This time to do brazilian jiu jitzu (BJJ) two nights a week. This is a martial art, combat sport and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting (thanks wikipedia).

It teaches that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique—this is by applying joint locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.

This is Jason's gi hanging on the line drying out after a night of BJJ (I wasn't allowed a photo of him in it). You will also see the BBQ in the background, Jason is a whiz at BBQ cooking.Next up is Jason's green fingers and his love of bansai. Here is a sample of his plants out in the garden on the $5 table from the recycling centre. The big one in the bag was bought to celebrate Poppy and will stay in the bag for at least another year or so while it develops.
Here are a couple of the smaller bansai, with many, many years of growing ahead of them.
Finally, Jason plays water polo for the Melville Water Polo Club, this club is amazing, they have their own swimming pool, right on the edge of the Swan River (near Fremantle). See below for a shot of the pool. Jason plays once a week and trains once a week. His team is pretty good, often winning 12 or 13 goals to 1. Jason does lots of other things but these are the main ones for the moment. See ya next time.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A new addition to the family is on the way...

Hi there,

Well the blog title says it all really. Jason and I are expecting an addition to the family around 14 May 2011. We had the 13 week scan today and the following are a few pictures of little Poppy (as Baby Papps is called at the moment). Poppy was named to represent its size the day we found out- a poppy seed. Poppy is now 69.9mm long!!!

Here's a photo of Poppy's heart beat, sitting at around 134 BPM.

This is relaxed Poppy, feet up on the wall of the uterus and hands behind the head. No doubt that so far Poppy's taking after Jason in this shot.
Poppy has two normal arms and hands, if you look closely on the right, thats a thumbs up.
The arms crossed over from above.
Finally the spine.
SO all in all, everything is normal and healthy and where it should be.

From now on the blog that used to be all about triathlon will no doubt become all about little Poppy and the progress through the next 27 more weeks.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time to smell the roses... literally

Hi there... so the last blog post was all about our new house. What it didn't show was the garden. We are lucky enough to have about 12 really well established roses in excellent condition (after we sorted out the aphids that is). They are just starting to come out now- the whites and yellows are out (as you will see from the photos below) and the pinks, reds and oranges are really close to flowering.
Its really been lovely having a garden to tend again, the other morning I did some weeding before work and Jason really has inherited a green thumb as well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our new house...

So a couple of weeks back Jason and I shifted house. At that time I promised some photos for you all... here they are. One of my favourite parts about the new house is the back lawn, with the new BBQ, outdoor table and chairs and outdoor couch. Its a fantastic back yard, at any stage of the day you can have sun light or shade and in the evening the sun just drops away so it will cool off nicely for the summer nights. For those NZ readers out there, the house profile looks a little like a marae to us :-)
We have a massive lounge out the back as well and have had to get a little more furniture. The tiles keep the room cool as well, which I am looking forward to over the coming summer months.
Here is our kitchen and dining area... did I mention lots of space in this new house??
The spare room (for anyone who wants to visit), Jason's computer room and the "exercise" room (a.k.a. the room with nothing in it yet).
And finally our bedroom... trust me it is as big as it looks as well.
So there you are, our new house for the next year or so. There's a room and a bed for anyone wanting to visit WA as well.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Advanced Management Programme

For 6 days of last week I was on a residential Advanced Management course run by the Australian Institute of Management and the University of Western Australia. It started on Sunday at 10am and finished on Friday at 4pm and there wasn't a lot of time off in between. They told us about the importance about work-life balance but warned us that it wouldn't be demonstrated during the course.

Sunday: Started with introductions and a team exercise (building a lego tower in our syndicate groups - My syndicate group started off as a challenge- 5 male engineers and me. I was worried that it was going to be a very long week with this group). Following this we had a couple of leadership sessions. We were also introduced to our case study for the group assignment. Mine was BP and Global Climate Change.
After returning to the hotel we had 30min free time and then it was a formal dinner with David Wirrapanda as our guest speaker. We were asked to fast after dinner for blood tests for Monday morning.

Monday: Started with reviewing the case study and making notes at 5am, then blood tests at 6.30am, breakfast at the hotel and then back at Uni by 8.30. We had strategic thinking sessions and a number of group activities. Monday was also a nice lunch at Matilda Bay Restaurant. We had about 30 min of personal time on Monday afternoon, then back to it. Syndicate case study discussions, strategic leadership, a bbq dinner at the university and then an executive health session. 5am to 9pm today.

Tuesday: It was a group exercise session first and then another full day at uni. Topics were Strategic Finance, strategy and more syndicate case study discussion. We also got the results of our change questionnaire and no surprises... I still have a preference towards more structured change processes :-) This shouldn't surprise any of you at all. At the end of the day we had 30 min spare time to get ready for dinner which was at the UWA Club with Colin Becket from the Gorgon Gas project as a guest speaker.

Wednesday: This was the shortest day of the lot, just 7am through to 5.45pm (managing human capital and strategic marketing). I did have a swim in the hotel pool to wake up and try and get a bit more energised the 20 m lengths made me really dizzy while tumble turning. There was nothing planned for dinner and most on the course were having their partners join them for the evening. Unfortunately Jason could only stop in briefly on his way to water polo but it was nice seeing him all the same. By this stage most on the course were feeling pretty tired, as I was. I had intended to do another exercise session, but when it got round to it I had a massage in the hotel spa instead and it was the best choice. Following that I had room service for dinner and it was an early night for me.

Thursday: This was going to be the biggest day of the lot. We had to finish our syndicate assignment and presentation for Friday. By this stage our group was working quite well and I was strategically leading from behind. Just doing little things to keep them going but not being an overt leader as they didn't respond well to that. We had another couple of strategic thinking sessions, then a negotiation skills session. We applied the negotiation skills in an exercise which I did well at (surprising me). We had some personal time allocated after lunch but my group decided to work through on our presentation. The afternoon session was a health de-brief, my fasting glucose, cholesterol and iron levels were all normal. Others had a few shocks though. Finally we had 4 hours to finish the presentations. During this time each member was taken out for an hour session with an executive coach where we went through some 360 degree analysis. Finally at 10pm we were done and the bus was there to take us back to the hotel.

Friday: The day of presentations. Ours was last so I had the nervous wait watching all the other fantastic presentations. However, ours was also a resounding success and we had VERY good feedback. So all in all a success. The rest of the day consisted of personal and group learning reflection. The group learning reflection was very innovative, with an interpretive acting/musical group playing out what we had learnt or achieved during the week. A fun way to do it. Finally there were the group awards- I got Ms Conscientious reflecting the extra group work I did to keep it all running.

So all in all it was a great week, tiring but great. I was very pleased to get home at the end of the week and very pleased to have a three day weekend.

The Pinnacles

Two weeks ago Jason's parents visited us in our new home (another blog to follow on that later today or early tomorrow). Jason took the week off to spend with them but I was unable to take time off due to work commitments. I also had a work course starting on the Sunday so we only had Saturday together. We decided to head north to the Pinnacles for a day.

The Pinnacles are limestone formations contained within Nambung National Park near Cervantes (a small fishing town about 3 hours north of Perth). Before we went to the Pinnacles we checked out some local wildflowers (wildflower season is August to November). See below for some of the photos. They weren't as good as usual as the flies were irritating us all and early on in the day I had disrupted an ant nest and I felt like the ants were all over me- hehehe.
The pinnacle formations are best viewed in the early morning or late afternoon as the play of light brings out the colours and the extended shadows of the formations delivers a contrast that brings out their features. So following the wildflowers we had a late picnic lunch at Jurien Bay. This meant that we arrived at the Pinnacles at around 4pm. The day had been very overcast but the sun was trying to peak through. It was way better than I expected but we missed out on the most spectacular sunset- we were driving home when the sky broke open. It would have been great to capture it at the Pinnacles, but we still got to experience the sunset!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From Claremont to Tuart Hill

After nearly 2 years (yes we have been here nearly two years) we are moving out of Claremont (and our one bedroom apartment) to Tuart Hill (to a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom duplex).

We may be without internet for up to two weeks so I thought I would do a quick update today and then post a bigger blog (with photos) of the move once we get internet back.

So- a few things about the suburbs.

Claremont, established in 1898, is located 10 minutes' drive southwest of Perth's centre (more in peak hour traffic). Claremont covers an area of 4.9 square kilometres and is nestled around Freshwater Bay on the Swan River, in the midst of beautiful parks with an abundance of mature trees.

Claremont is an attractive and sought after residential suburb, noted for its village atmosphere, shopping and entertainment precinct, educational establishment and facilities such as golf, swimming and yachting.

Shopping includes upmarket retail, particularly clothing and designer boutiques, home ware and designer gifts, jewellery, collectibles, arts and crafts and bookshops. In Claremont you can be parked at a set of traffic lights with a Bentley, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi and a Porsche and no-one bats an eyelid. So there is lots of money in fancy Claremont.

In Claremont we are 1km from the Swan River and 2.2km from the beach.

Tuart Hill, established after WWII with rapid growth through the 1960s and 1970s, is a tidy, mostly-residential suburb, about seven kilometres north of Perth’s CBD. From the centre of Tuart Hill, it’s a quick drive into the heart of the city... it’s only nine kilometres or so to some great beaches, such as Scarborough, Trigg and Floreat, and just three kilometres from extensive recreation areas around Herdsman Lake and Lake Monger. Like most Perth suburbs, there are swags of open areas and parklands throughout Tuart Hill.

So we are definitely making a move into suburbia. But we get 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a separate dining room and laundry and a back yard for a BBQ and some outdoor living. I will miss the boutique shops of Claremont and neighbouring Cottesloe. But I will really enjoy having a house again and no longer having to have 4 bikes in our bedroom!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Updates from Perth

Just a couple of updates from Perth (and no photos sorry)...

Last weekend I ran the City to Surf half marathon. I wasn't particularly fast but it was nice getting out there and just running. There were thousands of competitors (40,000+ over 4 races) and I felt a bit claustrophobic to be honest. I am not sure that I like running with so many people and my next race will have a few less I think.

As the race was a point to point race there were always going to be some logistical issues. But we had an inspired idea... the night before we planted one of our cars at City Beach (the end point of the race). The morning of the race I took advantage of the free train travel for competitors to get to the race. The 10 min walk/jog either side of the train trip served well as my warm up as well.

I arrived at the race start in time to see my good friend Sandy come through half way in the Marathon looking strong and heading towards an AMAZING 3.05 debut marathon.

For the first time in the race I didn't jostle for a good start position, I just started where I ended up. The first KM along the terrace was fast (a bit too fast for my fitness levels) but that's always the case at the start of a race. My first 5km were great, but then it went a bit pear shaped with a couple of toilet stops... so after that I pegged it back and just enjoyed the run to the finish without pushing at all. It was very weird doing a half marathon and not racing it, but nice all the same. Quite a different experience.

Jason biked from home to watch the race and then we got to drive home. I was sooooo pleased we had the foresight to park a car near the end of the race as I didn't fancy battling the shuttle buses with 40000 other people.

The second bit of news from Perth is that after 2 years (I know I can't believe that we have been here two years either) we are moving out of the 1 bedroom apartment and into a 4 bedroom duplex. In addition to the 4 bedrooms the new place (in Tuart Hill, Perth) has a separate laundry, dining room, big lounge, storeroom, 2.5 bathrooms, and a great little back yard and outdoor living area. What will we do with the space??? One thing is for certain, our 4 bikes will no longer reside in our bedroom that's for sure!!!

So our moving plans are to pack up and move all the little stuff ourselves next Saturday/Sunday. We will also but a new bed on Saturday as well and get it delivered to the new place. On Monday we have a removal truck arriving to take the big things- bed, dining room table, couch and fridge etc. Jason is taking the week off to finish the moving and spend time with his Mum (arriving in Perth on Sunday evening).

So that's about it from Perth for the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

6 year wedding anniversary

22 August 2010- 6 years since Jason and I were married in Noosa Australia. It really doesn't seem like that long ago at all. But when looking back I see all that we have achieved in those 6 years...To commemorate the day and the journey leading up to the day, I thought I would share some of the great memories we have.

It started with the engagement. We were heading to a Jazz Festival at Church Road Winery in Hawkes Bay and decided to stay overnight in a lovely hotel in Palmerston North. At 3am (and far too excited to sleep) Jason woke me up to ask me to marry him. I can't recall (at all) what he said, but I said a big YES. The next day I was into planning mode, lists upon lists upon lists.

Fast forward 5 months and we were ready to head off to Noosa for a couple of weeks with 36 close family and friends. On the eve of our flight out a massive storm hit Wellington and closed not only the airport, but all the major driving routes out of Wellington. At this stage we were uncertain as to whether we were even going to be able to fly out. The airport opened the morning after, and after a few more hiccups at the airport we made it out of Wellington. They held the plane in Auckland for us and we were on our way.

Once we arrived in Australia it was all go. Meeting the photographer, finalising the venue, hair and make up trials, picking flowers with Mum, making the gifts for our guests, folding and adding the ribbons to the napkins, meeting the celebrant and having all the necessary rehersals. Finally, after a whirlwind few days we were ready to go.

The night before was really relaxing for me, a manicure and pedicure, followed by a lovely dinner with my bridesmaid Josie. Jason and his grooms men played poker, drank bourbon and smoked cigars all evening.

As our wedding day dawned I went for a good long walk on the beach before we started to get ready. Here I am with my girls- my sisters Camille and Tiffinee and my friend Josie.
We were transported to the ceremony (which was at the Noosa rivermouth) in style- the 1969 Valient and two late model V8 Holden Utes. Here are some photos of the ceremony.Yay, we are married.Some black and whites of the wedding party, and me and Jason.
More photos as the day progressed. Jason's groomsmen- Lorry, Sam and Mark.
It was a fantastic day, light winds (by Wellington standards), about 25 degrees and our closest friends and family with us.
We were lucky to have the reception at a great restaurant on the beach front.
And finally, three of my favourite photos from the day.
It was a wonderful day and I may be slightly biased in saying this, but it was the best wedding I have ever been to. Here's to another 70 odd years of marriage and many more memories to come!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stirling Ranges trip

Firstly, sorry for the lack of posts recently. Time has just gotten away on me and I haven't had that much to blog about... until last weekend that is. So last weekend two of
my very good Perth friends (Sandy and Richard) and I went down south to the Stirling Range for the "Hugs and Hills Tour 2010".

The Stirling Range is a range of mountains about 350km South East of Perth. Some of the main peaks (all of which we intended to summit over three days) are:
  • Bluff Knoll - (1095m)
  • Mount Hassell - (847m)
  • Mount Magog - (856m)
  • Mount Trio - (856m)
  • Talyuberlup Peak - (783m)
  • Toolbrunup Peak - (1052m)
Sandy and I started Friday morning with a 20km run in Perth before we headed off on our adventure, just so we could get our weekly mileage up before some hard running in the hills.

On our 5 hour drive we stopped in the mighty metropolis of Kojanup for lunch... population doubled by the arrival of the three of us hehe.

So here we are on our drive down, at the Gateway to the Stirlings, and doing some recycling! We managed to spot some Emus on our trip down as well, however, they disappeared off into the scrub pretty quickly so no photo opportunities.

This was my first glimpse of the Ranges themselves and coming from relatively flat Perth I was pretty excited!!!We all got more excited when we stumbled across the first Canola field... we ran around like little kids (after trying to elegantly scale the barbed wire fence).
The Australian bush is amazing, check out these plants recovering from a bush fire. Ina year or so time, these will have re-sprouted and will be back to life totally.
So after a 5 hour (or so) drive, with a stop off for some supplies we arrived at the Stirling Range Retreat and our rammed earth cabin. After making ourselves at home, cooking up a quick Moroccan Chicken on rice with poppadoms (yum!) we settled outdoors around a little camp fire and started roasting marshmallows for dessert.

You cannot believe how great it was just hanging out outside, under the stars, and being away from city life, knowing that I had three days of fun times and running in the hills ahead of me.

Saturday morning dawned and we were all looking forward to the day ahead of us. Our plan was to head up Toolbrunup Peak, which is the second highest peak in the ranges. At just 4km return but predicted to be 4 hours I should have been a little more worried about the difficulty. Instead I went off all carefree and rearing to go. Here is the first sighting off Toolbrunup... the literature is correct in noting that it towers above other peaks. The track was also listed as a 5 (out of 6) in terms of difficulty.
It was on our drive that we first encountered the Army. They were in the middle of a SAS training week. 6 days of climbing, walking and sleep deprivation for the hopeful SAS recruits. It made for some interesting times for us as well meeting up with the trainers at the top of the peaks and coming across the recruits on many of the climbs that we were doing.

The brochure from our accommodation said that Toolbrunup is "a wilderness trail with steep loose rock and scree over the last quarter of the trail, before reaching the summit half the size of a tennis court with magnificent 360 degree views". Let me tell you, Toolbrunup was tough!!! My calves were in agony and it made me realise how much hill fitness I have list since living in Perth! But I was LOVING it!!!

Here are some of the amazing views that we encountered on our trip...
Here's Sandy and Richard!
Us at the top of the peak. WICKED is all that I can say.

Halfway up the mountain there was a mountain risk warning, noting that we shouldn't proceed unless fit and agile.... it was tough and at times we were using all fours and moving up the peak is a style reminiscent of a crab. But I am happy to say that we did the 4 hour trip in 1 hour 46! Even the SAS trainers at the top were impressed with our ascent time.
After our morning hike we relaxed back at our cabin- lunch, music, photos, laughs and fun times all round... and of course diet coke for me...

Later in the day we were all feeling a little less fit and agile... we had all stiffened up somewhat, but we started our preparations for our evening ascent of Bluff Knoll (perhaps the most famous of all the peaks and known as one of Australia's 25 best hikes). It was the most "commercial" track. We had decided to summit this peak and watch the sun go down from the top.

It was touch and go as to whether the weather would clear for it. But we decided to head up anyway. I left my camera in the car but Richard had his camera. As we were anticipating it being cold at the top we were rugged up for this trip... and within 3 minutes of the climb we were all sweating and dropping layers of clothes.

Near the top we came across two more SAS trainers waiting for more of their recruits, they were pretty well camouflaged and laughed at how long it took us to spot them.

Once we made it to the top we settled down, putting on all our spare clothes and waited for both the weather to clear and the sun to set. We weren't disappointed at all... the weather cleared long enough for the sun to put on its show. What a great way to end the day.

The descent was also pretty wicked. There's nothing like night tramping. It was just us, a beautiful night and nature. Loved it, loved it, loved it. After the second effort of the day we were home for a great pasta dinner and bed.

On Sunday we all awoke with some different aches and pains, the bodies, while we are all fit, were not used to some of the rough terrain that we were encountering.

We planned to climb both Mount Magog and Talyuberlup on this day. On the way to Mount Magog we came across a nice sight. The dull morning leading to some pretty good photos.
At the bottom of Mount Magog we came across about 15 SAS recruits who were waiting to be picked up as their training week had finished. They were generally in good spirits, but were desperate for some real food. We offered some food from our eskie (uh oh- Aussie lingo now hehe) but they were not allowed any outside assistance.

The start of the trek started with about 2.5km through a valley, Sandy and Richard were much faster than me as I ambled along, running some, taking some photos and generally just enjoying life really. The SAS trainers were hiking out and asked me if Sandy and Richard had left me behind, I said that they were much fitter and that I told them to go on ahead, they laughed knowingly and said that they would slow down pretty soon... and they were right... it was tough. We had about 600m of ascent over less than a km.... tough on my already battered calves.

Halfway up the climb I got a little sad at the fitness that I have lost over the year (its taking me a while to adjust to being a "normal" person and not being world championship fit) so I had a little cry. Herein came the Hugs part of the Hugs and Hills tour... I felt much better after a mid climb hug.

We were nearly at the top and we came across a mission rock scramble that required some reasonable bouldering skills. I was a little apprehensive about getting back down over these rocks, but it was time to enjoy the third peak of our trip... with some pressups- one armed and normal hehehe.

The reverse trip down was tough... and I really had trouble at one bit, taking about 10 minutes to go around 5 metres... I just froze up there and was scared. But Sandy and Richard talked me through it. Nothing like pushing boundaries with great friends.

Halfway down the climb I started to play to my strengths (down hill running) and just opened up on the track. My legs felt a little clumsy at first but not long into it I was flying. I love down hill running, having to think ahead 5 or so steps and just loving the free feeling of running. I pulled ahead through this section and felt free from all the pain from climbing. Again, the trip was great for the soul.... slowly but surely I was letting out all the negative tension that had been building over the past few months and smiling, laughing and feeling free from worries and work pressure.

After a 45 min break, we did the second climb of the day- Mount Talyuberlup. A tough, but short climb and perhaps the best views and amazing rock formations of the lot. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera for this trip as I was tired and my camera weighs a lot!!!

That evening we planned to head out to the local- the Borden Tavern. Taking a few touristy shots on the way. Here is the Dutch Lilly Windmill, with the magnificent ranges in the background.The ranges and more canola fields...
Just having fun... Me taking a "bath"... or wanting one at least. There was a lot of larking around at the "Nudists Crossing Here" sign- I'll leave that one up to your imagination.
And more shots of the windmill and ranges for you...
We made it to the local for what was initially planned to be one drink, then back to the Bluff Knoll cafe for dinner. But as all epic nights out go, this one was unplanned, but one of the most fun nights I have had for years. We had a few shandies... and the rest they say is history.

Monday was our last day of our trip and we had left the two easiest peaks till last. Up till now the weather had been on our side so we started early to try and get in a sunrise from Mount Hassell. Unfortunately, no sunrise for us, but the climb was good. So after a few more one armed pressups we were on our way back to the lodge to pack up.

So after a good breakfast, packing up and check out we headed off to the last peak of the trip. I am happy to say that I was really tired and if one person had said that they didn't want to do the climb I would have faltered. But we all did it and once we had started it was ok. A few hundred steps on this track and then it flattened out for a nice easy 1.5 km to the top. A great way to finish the trip!!!

We drove home a slightly longer way, via a number of small country towns... and then stopped off for the biggest (and at the time) the best burgers ever!!! We were all REALLY hungry by that stage.

Anyway- this was one of my best weekends away with friends for a long, long time. I really wish Jason had of been able to enjoy some of what we did, but it's not really his thing! Sandy and Richard were great company, I had an absolutely wicked time and over the last couple of weeks since the trip- if I am stressed, tired or sad, all I need to do is look at my photos and they make me smile!