Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010 - London

The Place: Spent Christmas at home in London cozy and and warm indoors. We unwrapped presents, listened to Boney M Christmas carols, watched Christmas movies, and skyped family. Liz made a delicious chicken roast and I made us some gluhwein for later. Good times.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Berlin - Germany

The Place: Made a great weekend out of a work trip to attend the 17th International Energy Accounting Forum in Berlin with a work colleague and one of his friends.
Some features: Took a cycle round the city to see some of the sights including the Brandonberg Gate and Reichstag.
Spent a while walking through the vast and isolating holocaust memorial which is an area of 19000 square feet covered with 2711 concrete slabs. As you walk between the blocks which are knee and waist height on the outskirts you realise the ground slopes steadily downwards as you go further in, resulting in you ending up completely swallowed by the the surrounding concrete.
Wandered around the war museum at Checkpoint Charlie (the American checkpoint at the Berlin Wall) which was a fascinating museum showing many of the inventive ways in which the Germans would try to escape the East, history of the start and end of the Berlin Wall, as well as great pieces of art.
Had two great nights going out in some of the good spots in Berlin which included the 'Lucia' bar in Kreuzberg, some streets close to our hostel in Warschauer platz and the surrounding area of Lyschener-,Shliemann- and Dunkerstra├če.
The Berliner Dom is an amazing domed church to see, and on the right, set behind it you can see the Berlin television tower (Fernsehturm) which is one of the popular icons of the city (apparently built by the East to impress the West during their separation).
Also saw the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was bombed in 1943 but still stands. It was unfortunately under restoration so we could only see the top of it.
Enjoyed sipping gluhwein and eating currywurst while perusing the Christmas markets that light up the streets at night.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Noosa - Australia

The Place: On the sunshine coast about 2 hrs north of Brisbane, we spent a relaxing 4 days in Noosa.
Some features: We were pleasantly surprised on the first morning by someone calling out my name. It turned out to be Trent and Caryn dropping in for a visit. We spent the day with them visiting three of the beaches around the Noosa Heads and having a picnic on the bank of the laguna. Also took a walk through the National Park which follows the coastline for some good sunset watching where we saw a koala wedged peacefully in a fork of a tree, and watched dolphins out at sea.
Spent the next three days winding down completely, going for swims, beach and nature walks, reads on the beach and wondering through the town which felt like an excellent way to finish off our holiday. Spotted turtles off the cliffs of 'Hell's Point', rare black cockatoos, and another koala.

Great Barrier Reef - Australia

The Place: Off the coast of Cairns, took a ride on a catamaran out to Michaelmas Cay, one of the outer reefs.
Some features: The tiny reef, about a 3 hour ride out to see is a bird sanctuary as well as a brilliant spot for diving. Took an introductory dive which was amazing - we spotted amongst the amazing corals and fish life, an eagle ray, turtle, and numerous giant clams. Spent some more time snorkeling after the dive which was a great experience!

Cape Tribulation - Australia

The Place: Stayed a night in the Daintree Forrest at Cape Trib Beach house, about 2 hrs north of Cairns.
Some features: Had to cross a ferry and drive for about an hour through dense forest to arrive at the accommodation. The place we stayed was right on the beach so we could walk out onto it first thing with a cup of coffee. Signs warn not to swim in the summer months due to the stingers (jellyfish). Had a shallow swim (though it was hot, it wasn't yet summer) and spotted a turtle popping his head out the water about 20m out from me. Later we visited a few beaches close by which warn against the Estuarine crocodiles which live in surrounding waters and mangroves. Kayaked to coconut beach, a pristine beach where as its name says, hundreds of coconuts lie on the beach amongst the palms, some already sprouting new trees. Liz while on her kayak got bumped by a big turtle which gave her a scare while our guide told us stories of the crocodiles which live in the creeks, the males of which swim out to sea to find a mate in nearby creeks sometimes kicking out the local males. Apparently, according to our guide, 9 times out of a 10 a shark will kill a croc if they meet out at sea. The shark will go for the crocs tail leaving it defenseless. Not sure if true but made for some interesting listening!

The farm - Australia

The Place: Liz and I were treated to a day at Armand and Marcia's farm close by in Marnoo where we spent the day yabbying (setting traps in the farm dams for fresh water crayfish).
Some features: We set around 15 yabby traps and pulled in around five per trap, +-75. I got to try my hand at sheering a sheep under Armand's guidance -or at least I sheered one of its sides. Was very interesting to see how it's done properly with the sheep pinned down in the right holds without moving a muscle while it's entire fleece is taken off in minutes. Liz the roustabout showed me how the fleece is gathered up and spread out on the table in one swoop.
Went wine tasting that arvo at Taltarni and Warrenmang, 2 wine farms set in the nearby Pyrenees hillsides followed by dinner at the best (and only) pub in town (Moonambel). Got that real small country town feeling chilling with a beer while Marcia, Liz and Armand were offering the bartender advice on how to keep his 2 new lambs from becoming flyblown. Good times.

St Arnaud - Australia

The Place: Spent just over a week with Liz' family in her home town of St Arnaud, in country Victoria.
Some features: Attended Janine's (Liz' sister's) wedding which was held at a beautiful spot at one of their farms lakes which is positioned between some of the indigenous gum trees, frequently visited by kangaroos, and has recently seen eagles move in and make a nest for their chicks.
Had a few trips out to the farm and got to ride around the paddocks and woods on their 250CC scrambler and ended up chasing kangaroos through the trees while Liz, her dad and Marcia mended fences.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Muse Live at Wembley - London

The Event: Muse live at Wembley stadium on Sep 10. The gig was incredible. We were lucky enough to get really close to the front of the stadium which seats 75000 people, definitely for the biggest performance I've ever witnessed.
Some highlights: They pulled out loads of classics like New born, Undisclosed Desires - during which the stage extended out into the crowd and rose up and rotated while the band played - and some of their new hits including Uprising. A UFO appeared for one of the tracks and descended onto the crowd while an acrobat dropped out from its centre to perform while suspended in the air.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Battersea Power Centre - London

The event: Went to watch the Redbull x fighters freestyle motocross with Tim, Stuart and Sean. This year the event has moved from Mexico, Egypt, Russia, Spain, to the old decommissioned Battersea Park Power station in London, and moves on to the final in Rome, Italy. The tricks these guys pull out are insane, had a great time.