Sunday, May 30, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I have to run before the smoke alarm goes off!
Son took a day off work and took his Dad out to the ‘range’ - DIL and I presumed they meant the golf practice range. When they got back we were informed that it was the shooting range - they weren’t sure what my reaction would be if I’d known beforehand! In Australia it is illegal to carry guns unless you have a licence to do so - for instance police officers carry them on duty. I have never been able to get my head around the idea of people having guns in their homes (let alone carrying them). However Son has become quite proficient at shooting as a hobby and every so often goes with a group to areas specifically for the purpose of shooting wildlife. Son and a friend had a great morning ‘teaching’ Dad how to shoot targets! Of course got a photo for posterity! LOL
Sitting out on the deck some afternoons I was fascinated by the red cardinal birds who appeared to be nesting somewhere close by. The male, so vibrant in colour and his paler little mate would fly from tree to tree gathering nest-building material. I managed to get a photo of him but his back was turned - they are so quick and the trees so large it was difficult to just get the ‘perfect’ shot. Other cheeky birds were bolder and came closer to the house. Feeders for hummingbirds were hung during the week with great excitement when the first one came to drink. I managed to see one at quite a distance and was amazed at the minute size. Such amazing little birds!
Texas wildflowers Red Bonnets
Our son had purchased a shade sail to put up over his newly built deck - Dad came in handy with suggestions of what was needed to erect it and assisting to buy the necessary equipment then helping to get it up. It certainly made a big difference to the area and with a new outdoor setting gifted, outdoor meals and lounging during the summer months should be more comfortable this year.
The night before we left, we were treated to a great meal at The Salt Lick BBQ restaurant a little distance outside of Austin. The weather was warm and meeting with friends ensured a very memorable evening. We were sad to be leaving the family the next morning but all good holidays come to an end and in many ways it felt good to be going back home and sleeping in our own bed again.
The family at The Salt Lick
Resident peacock at The Salt Lick
Our flight back to Los Angeles was uneventful and we arrived there about 1pm - our flight to Sydney Australia wasn't due out until 10.30pm that night and as we didn't fancy sitting around the airport for all those hours, we took a bus to Westwood Village, near to UCLA and spent a couple of hours wandering around the area. Before we headed back to the airport we had coffee and cake at a little coffee shop. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
We were quite excited to know that the aircraft we were to fly in back to Sydney was a new A380 - what a huge machine! Fortunate also to have seats in a row which enabled DH to stretch his legs out in front of him - a treat indeed when travelling economy class!
Monday, May 24, 2010
After boarding the shuttle bus from the hotel, we made it in very good time to the airport by about 4.45am. Our bags checked in, we had plenty of time to make for the departure gate at 6.30am. It was rather sad to be leaving England - we’d had a marvellous time there - but we were excited about meeting the family again. It had been some years since we had all met and we were so looking forward to catching up with our grandchildren and with the new puppy addition to their family.
We had a long day of flying ahead of us. From London Heathrow, our next stop was Frankfurt, Germany. Our flight was very smooth and we landed in Frankfurt on time. Because it was still so early in the day, with few shops even open, we made our way to the departure gate to wait. And wait we did. Our boarding time came and went, and so did our departure time. Eventually we were loaded on to the plane an hour and a half late. We were soon told the reason - the smoke and ash from the volcano in Iceland had begun to create havoc with air traffic - planes were being diverted and consequently late in arriving at their destination. We were so fortunate we were able to leave when we did - we saw the dirty brown ash line as we flew south of England and on towards the USA. Our next stop was Los Angeles where we had to clear Customs and Immigration before we could board a domestic flight to Texas and because of our late departure, we were very much afraid we would miss our connecting flight. However, all went well and we were able to reach our departure terminal without further problems. We arrived in Texas on time but feeling very weary - it had been about 27 hours since we had left London - but even the heavy rain falling couldn’t dampen our feelings of excitement in meeting our family again.
Our DIL Rachel had made arrangements for me to go with her and some friends to a Womens Bible Conference being held in North Austin. We were to overnight at an hotel to save travelling once the Friday night session had finished and so the next morning I found myself packing my small cabin bag again with what I would need for the next couple of days. Lisa had already picked up Liz when she called for us in her vehicle and the four of us set off, excited about hearing speakers who were coming from California. It was a pleasant drive and although showery, the temperature was comfortable - which was rather enjoyable after the cooler UK days. Sheri Silk and Kim Walker-Smith were exciting speakers and kept the attention of the women during their sessions. Kim, a multi-talented young woman was the guest soloist on the Friday night and all who were there were thrilled at not only her voice but her Spirit-filled presence in praise and worship. Getting back to the hotel at the close of the session, it seemed rather strange to be sleeping in a room with three other women but the Lord took care of all the details and I think we all got our fair share of sleep without disturbance from any stray snores!
Rachel & me
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Next morning after breakfast we headed off to the university town of Cambridge which was north west about 71 kilometres (44 miles)from Ipswich. With little parking available in the township, large ‘park and ride’ areas are available for all day parking on the outskirts. We rode into town on a double decker bus taking in all the sights en route.
Views of Cambridge
A quick change and we were ready to be taken out for a delicious meal at an Ipswich Italian restaurant. We were helping Margaret and Magnus with their family, celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. What a lovely occasion to be sharing with them. We did enjoy the evening. Our time with these lovely people was all too short - in the morning we had another fairly early start to the coach station. Only one more day in England before we left to fly to Texas to meet with our son, daughter in law and two grandchildren.
We were ready to meet the coach when it arrived and we boarded and commenced our journey from Ipswich to Heathrow Airport. It was a miserable day so we were pleased we weren’t on a sight-seeing mission. After one stop half way to change coaches, we arrived at Heathrow about 1.30pm. We had booked a hotel room as we had a very early flight check in. This would ensure an early night and a short distance to the airport tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Some time ago I had made contact by email, through a genealogy website, with a lady who was descended from the Double family - as DH is. We discovered through corresponding that we had quite a lot in common and have continued to keep in touch. It was most fortunate that she lives only a few miles from Worthing and before leaving Australia we had made arrangements to meet with her. She drove and met us and took us to her home for a cup of coffee and a ‘catch up’ before taking us to lunch to Highdown House, a little gem just three miles west of Worthing and tucked in amongst beautiful gardens. This lovely peaceful garden with views out to sea is a real horticulturalists delight. So many rare and unusual varieties flourish at Highdown that the entire garden has been declared a national collection. Being a beautifully sunny day and after a delicious ‘roast dinner’ from the carvery, we spent time wandering through this beautiful little oasis with its blossoming trees and beautiful ponds and spring flowers.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Wednesday dawned bright and sunny which was rather nice for our drive to Balmoral castle a couple of hours away. We were still ‘rugged up’ though despite the warmth in the lovely car. The scenery once we were away from the Aberdeen township was just as I imagined it to be. Small villages, mainly grey granite houses with people bustling about their everyday lives. Passing miles of fields we were rather fascinated by the number of mole holes with farmers apparently trying to get rid of the offending animals. We don’t have moles in our part of the world so this was something quite new for us. Tiny stone cottages dotted the countryside along the way with forest trees lining both sides of the roadway for much of the way. Close to Balmoral we caught glimpses of mountains still with the snowline quite low. Apparently the week before our arrival, Aberdeen and its surroundings had suffered quite a nasty blizzard.
The entrance to the castle was across a bridge over the River Dee and down a short walk to the gates all hidden from the main road. A quick ride behind a tractor brought us up to the back part of the castle where we were let out to roam in the various display rooms. Examples of birds and animals were on show as well as carriages which had been used in bygone days by the royal family. Inside one area of the castle itself was a large room where many items were displayed including different dresses the Queen had worn on many important occasions, china, photographs, all manner of memorabilia which was most interesting.
DH and I outside the main Castle gates
A small amount of snow lay on the ground and DH took great delight in rolling himself a small snowball and throwing it at me. It missed, but I caught it on camera - for posterity’s sake of course, you understand! We roamed around the gift shop and had a beautiful lunch in the little café. The drive back to Aberdeen seemed quicker - doesn’t it always on the return journey? We had time though to change and have a refreshing ‘cuppa’ before heading out to a lovely Chinese restaurant for an early dinner before we attended the stage show “Sound of Music”. Talk about being treated like royalty! We certainly were - we were so grateful to our new friends for their generosity!
Our time in Aberdeen seemed so short and the next morning we were away again towards the airport by 7.15am to fly back to London where we were being met by more friends. How fortunate are we?
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Canterbury is no less historic than so much of the United Kingdom. Buildings in the main street dating back to 1500 and still at least from the outside, looked in quite good condition. Painted boards outside the different establishments were fascinating. The Cricketers and The Old Weavers House A.D.1500, only two which took my eye. We had visited Canterbury a number of years ago and had seen inside the cathedral so our first stop was for lunch - a modern little Italian restaurant - quite a contrast in architecture right outside the cathedral entrance. Leading to the cathedral gate, a small circular courtyard was surrounded by old looking shops with ‘busker’s’ performing beside a fenced off monument in the centre.
We wandered through the main street, battling against the bitterly cold wind and back to the car. On our way again to “Chartwell” the home of Winston Churchill, so famous during the second World War. Unfortunately it was too early in the season for much of the garden (which the home is quite famous for) to be out in bloom but the flowering bulbs were an absolute ‘show’. Loved the vibrant bluebells and particularly the Lenten Rose which I had never seen before but grows from a tuber and blooms during the period of Lent.
Churchill was a prolific painter and his studio has been preserved as a gallery for the public to view. Interesting pieces were on show which over the years had been given to him as gifts. A short drive and we were back ‘home’ to where we were staying. We were grateful for time to ‘get our suitcases in order’ as we had a very early start the next morning - taxi arriving at 4am to drive us to Luton airport - bound for Aberdeen in bonny Scotland. An early night indeed!
The chair from which Winston Churchill painted
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Will be back soon to tell all.