Sunday, July 31

Final AOTM post - lots of photos!

And now, the end is near... And so I face the final curtain...This is my final aritst of the month post for bead buddies. Here's the rest of my travel adventures!
This month has absolutely flown by. I've just sat and arranged my budget spreadsheets to take to the mortgage advisor tomorrow, so we avoid the trying to figure out what we spend out on each month - we went to see an advisor a few months back to check we were on track, and struggled to remember it all!  Roll Eyes Hopefully it will be good news and that we are still where we need to be to get our house hunt officially started to hopefully buy in the next 6 months!

Anyway, as promised, here follows the details of my stay in Australia. I was a bit gutted to find that half of my pictures taken in Sydney appear to have been lost somewhere along the way... I need to try and find an old back-up disc as I'd be completely gutted if I've lost them completely. I do at least have a photo book with some of them in if that's the case.

Where were we... On our way to Goomeri! We got taken to the local bus depot where we picked up a Greyhound coach that took us to be picked up by Matt, our ranch hand for the week. 

We arrived and settled down in our bunk room and headed out to the conservatory for dinner. The meals here were fantastic, every night we had something different and delicious, and on the last night we had a huge barbeque GrinThen it was off to bed ready for our first day on the ranch. Now, I can't remember exactly what order we did these in, but what does it matter - it was all great fun!

Quad Bikes

These were bloody good fun, and we spent several hours going along various tracks, ridges and speeding across fields. You wouldn't believe the power in these machines, and unfortunately one of the girls did find that out the hard way. It involved a wheel slipping on a loose rock, adjusting the steering on the bike and causing her to go head on into a barbed wire fence. That's how easily it happens. Fear not, she was OK, but lucky to have hit the brakes when she did or it could have been less slicing and more garotting... A stark lesson. But as I said, other than that - bloody good fun! The scariest bit for me? Being at the top of a near-vertical hill, and pulling back on the throttle to go down it. Oh. My. Gosh.


This was terrifying. I've never ever been a fan of bikes, and to be honest they scare the living daylights out of me. Needless to say, when these were presented to me, I was less than eager to get on one. Thanks to Matt though, I made it onto one, and set off. First we had to go in a straight line, not so bad. Then we had to go around a little course. The only catch, it was up a hill, then around and across the top before turning onto the decline and back down. Not so easy, but after a couple of shaky laps, I soon caught up with the others. This was all OK, until we started doing a long run up to a hill where we had to turn full circle and come back. Why so nervous, you may ask - well the hill wasn't just a nice smooth grassy hill, it was absolutely riddled with boulders and rocks, and I started to doubt I was going any further on one of these things. Again, Matt talked me around, and although my cousin had to rescue my bike from a rocky outcrop once, it went alright. Then we were off! Out on the tracks, a different way to the route we took on the Quads, stopping off quite early on at a big round dusty 'circuit'. I pulled a wheely! I never thought I'd pull a wheely EVER, but it was awesome. Again we headed out along tracks and ridges and up into the top fields of the ranch. Once we got there we had great fun in making our way down the ridges. The fields were all ridged as we came down, this is their form of irrigation so that the water doesn't all collect at the very bottom of the hill. Half way down, we all pulled up and lined up to jump one of the larger ridges, and we knew we were getting stitched up - ranch hand's jokes aren't always funny you know! We all pulled off, and as my front wheel went over the ridge, all I could see was sloppy sticky mud underneath me. Lucky for me, I had flown over just behind two of the other girls, and my bike clipped the side of one of the others who had just got well and truly stuck in the mud! This resulted in my handlebars locking back and slamming into my leg - this was the end result:

The one on the left was taken the following day, the second one was about 7 days later when I was in Sydney. I still have a dent in my leg to remind me of it now Grin

4 x 4 driving

I loved this. We went out to the top of the fields again, and the first thing we did was learn about a 4x4 and maintaining them. This included each having a go at changing a tyre on one of these beasts. I couldn't remember how to do it now though... Smiley I have hubby for that Grin
After our little lesson, we each took it in turns to take it for a spin, and we had to be careful because those of us who weren't driving were sat on the back of the truck suffering any arguments with tree branches or excessive water splashes! We did all get out and go one by one for the big hill though - the reason? At one point the tilt of the vehicle was within 5 degrees of it's rolling point - that got you sweating! This was me on my way back down said hill - sadly it really doesn't look half as big or scary as it was!

Horse Riding
This was what I was looking forward to the most. I started horse riding when I was 2 years old, and I used to help out every weekend in exchange for a ride on a Sunday evening. I really miss it, as due to the expense of it, I haven't been in over 2 years. The smell of stables is a very nostalgic one for me. Here though, there were no stables - we had to round up the horses before we even started, quad bikes at the ready! We got them in, and groomed them to get rid of the dust before we saddled up. Whoever has been horse riding here in the UK will know we have quite a strict way of riding, in that you must always have your shoulders, hips and feet in a straight line, sitting up straight with your heels pushed firmly down. Americans for example, ride in a very laid back fashion with no such rules, they just sit back in the saddle and get on with it. Australian riding is somewhere in between, so for me, it was a little bizarre at first to do rising trot with my feet in front of my body. I soon settled into it though, and what followed was a very enjoyable ride. Highlight: when me and Molly cantered off with Laura the ranch assistant and jumped a sizeable log. What a rush, and how I miss it.

[Sorry no pictures of this... It's just building fences!] We got to play with chainsaw's today - felling excess trees, and chopping them down to size for collection. Later we headed to the wire fences and learned how to repair them and put in new posts.

Tractor Driving

This was wicked fun. My granddad used to work on a farm on tractors and harvesters, and used to tell us stories of his days there. We had to move the haybales from one location to another, ready to feed the cattle when we brought them in the next day. The gears and clutch took a minute or two to adjust to, but after that, playing with the spike and the lift at the front was brilliant. We also got to enjoy some beautiful views, and experimented with our sunglasses a bit Grin

The final round-up

Our last day was what we had been building up to, it was time for the cattle to come into the ranch. I saddled up with Paul, and the others picked quads or motorbikes to head out on. The plan was to do two rounds of the fields to collect every last cow and bull, and bring them back into the yard ready to be branded, clipped, injected and castrated... The first round went pretty well, we kept to formation and managed to round up all of the cattle. However, on our way down the last hill, me and Molly got into a bit of a to do with a bull who tried to break away from the front of the herd, and on our chase Molly lost her footing, and I went flying. Subsequently I was winded, and couldn't hold on to her reins - Matt galloped off after her to bring her back, and the other ranch hand came over on his horse - who apparently spooks at bodies on the floor. That was fun, there was nearly two of us spangled on the floor! Unluckily for me, when I landed, it was almost square on my tail bone, so when I got back up on the horse (which you always have to do!) I didn't get too far before it was hurting. Alot. I bade the group farewell and me and Molly took a steady walk back to the yard whilst they made the second round trip. We had a pleasant hour, I gave her a thorough wash down and brush, and lots of cuddles Smiley then when the others arrived back with the cattle up ahead, it was into the paddock with them. We had to get in to herd small numbers at a time into the bigger 'keep' paddock, via a small filter gate where we could seperate the calves that needed attending to. 

We all went home that night with a great feeling of accomplishment, but also sadness that it was over. We all celebrated with a barbeque, and got our certificates for passing the week! Oh, and we had a little bit to drink Smiley

From here, I bid farewell to everyone and as they headed off to work on various ranches, I made the trip back to Brisbane airport to fly to Sydney to meet my friend Tim. Unfortunately, it is now getting late, so I will leave you with snaps of Sydney, and tell you it really is a beautiful place. Wherever you look there are stunning water features, the gardens are so peaceful, the Opera House sublime, and the only thing I regret is not climbing the bridge, but that was something I just couldn't afford by then. I will be going back, and next time, I'm taking hubby. If I can, I'd like to time it to see the chalk festival again - if I ever recover those missing photos, I'll be sure to post them for you to see. Some of the art work we saw was amazing, and we got to decorate the water paths with our very own chalk stamper! 



Well, from here I thank you all for reading, and would like to invite you to my blog to keep up to date -
Please welcome for this month Dee! I look forward to reading your blog Dee, and sorry to everyone that I've been a bit of an inconsistent blogger. Wish me luck for the mortgage advisor!

Saturday, July 30

The travels - attempt #3!!

Here we go!

In 2008, I set off for what was supposed to be 3 months of travelling with my cousin. I'd been planning it for over 18 months, and we had all sorts of plans to see different places and do different things. However, having met hubby the previous June at a rock festival, it didn't quite turn out that way, and the 3 months became 3 weeks of travels. I still loved every second, but I really missed Jim by the second week, and made the decision to book my flights home for 8 days later.

I've been very lucky ever since I was young, and my parents have taken my sister and I away on some lovely holidays. Gran Canaria, Corfu, Spain, Penang (Malaysia), Florida, Egypt, Cyprus (honeymoon), and here follows my journey to Dubai, Singapore and Australia.

We decided not to do the flights in one stint, having flown to Malaysia and back twice, I didn't fancy a long flight going straight into Australia, so we made stops for a couple of days in Dubai and then Singapore. We arrived in Dubai in the evening, and it was absolutely one of the most humid places I've ever been to. Due to the heat, we didn't get much chance to explore here, and we were nowhere near the coast, but I can't say I'm all that bothered, and I won't be going back.

The 'blurring' in these photos isn't done by me for effect, I could barely take two photos before my camera lense was fogged up! We were quite lucky with the accommodation here, as it turned out to be a self-contained apartment, and for a very good price. Nice.

A couple of days later, we headed back to the airport and on to Singapore. The accommodation wasn't so good here, but a room with a bed is a room with a bed, for a couple of days anyway. In fact, my cousin even managed to drop the window...

Yes - that is sellotape. Oops. On our first day, we decided to go for a wander and see what we could find. Little did we know that our hostel was not far at all from western conveniences - McDonalds, Pizza Hut, etc - instead, we headed off in completely the opposite direction and found the local market street. Some very... interesting foods which we didn't go for. I believe dinner that day consisted of a bottle of coke and lots of crisps from the local store. If only my nose could have led me to pizza Wink Our second day was more successful; we headed into the town centre, as we wanted to visit the Raffles Hotel. After a little bit of window shopping, we headed inside to the Long Bar where we had a burger and chips, and I decided that with my coke, I would indulge in a Singapore Sling cocktail. Here's what my cousin thought of that:

Brilliant. Interesing fact - The Singapore Sling is a cocktail that was developed sometime before 1915[1] by Ngiam Tong Boon (嚴崇文), a bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore. The original recipe used gin, Cherry Heering, Bénédictine, and fresh pineapple juice, primarily from Sarawak pineapples which enhance the flavour and create a foamy top

This is definitely among my top 5 most expensive meals, but it may be the only time I get to do it so what's £50 for a burger, chips, coke and cocktail hey? It was a good burger! What I loved about the Long Bar, is every table has a bowl of peanuts on it. The customary way with these, is to crack the shell to get the peanuts out, and throw the shells on the floor. You would
 be amazed at the number of people who would pile their peanut shells up nice and tidily on the table, only for the staff to come along after they left and sweep the lot on to the floor!

Let's see if I can get past this bit today - I would like to let you know, that I had just started writing the first paragraph todayand Jim's laptop did the blue-screen crash dump and restarted, so this nearly didn't happen at all... I wondered whether I am destined not to tell you about our journey! Third time lucky perhaps

From Singapore, we took our third 7 hour flight on to Brisbane, and spent a few days with fellow backpackers at the Brisbane Backpacker's Hostel. Our starting point when planning our 'gap year' was to do a week's ranch experience - this was organised a long time before we left England, and we had made arrangements to be collected from Brisbane airport by the rep. After over an
hour of panicking, they finally arrived to collect us, and after introductions to those others who were also doing the week on the ranch, we headed up to our rooms, sorted out our bags and bunks and headed out for a drink to celebrate. The only bar open was
a Rasta bar, and I had to settle for drinking spirits which I don't normally, but we had a good few days settling in.

Here comes the fun stuff, so I'll leave you wondering for a bit - I need to get some dinner on. I'm all by myself this evening, I dropped hubby, brother in law and our friend Ben off for a boys night out camping in the woods earlier this afternoon, so he's looking out on a lovely view a little bit like this, before they head into the tree-line for the night

Back in a bit!

Thursday, July 28

Computer FAIL

FYI - I'm about to cry, I was just adding the photo for my last paragraph of my travels part one, and my b&%$£y computer just crashed. Unbelievable. I don't even remember the last time it happened. As it's now 10.20pm I'm afraid it's going to have to be tomorrow now, but in the meantime, here are some of the pictures I had prepared for it! In mini, so when I do my blog tomorrow, you can then see them properly Wink

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