Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hail the queen ;-)

Why not? When you get a day off for her birthday , you ought to show your gratitude right.

Funny how two of the states celebrate her birthday in October and the rest on the second monday of June. I really love the fact that they try to keep the public holidays on Fridays/Mondays whenever possible.

As soon as I got back from my blink-and-you-miss-it trip to India , I started planning for the June long weekend. A rather early start for me , but too late by Aussie standards - people here plan a few months in advance!!! So we ended up making a plan for Port Stephens which meant just a 4 hours drive and no flight bookings to worry about.

A beach holiday in the middle of winter? And that too when a 90 % chance of rain was predicted ? - I was pretty much prepared for a disastrous holiday. But luck was on our side .and the rain gods too. While it rained non-stop here in Sydney , we had 2 days of sunshine in Port Stephens which meant we managed to do our whale watching cruise and sand boarding adventure without getting wet :-D

30 minutes of sailing with the whales (they move really slow I have to say) and I was left with one question - Don't they get bored? I mean , all they do is sail around and eat(tons of fish that too) all day. But it was a real relaxing time - being in the middle of the sea for a few hours :-)

Sand boarding - not as exciting as I expected it to be.How many times can you climb up a dune to just come speeding down for a few seconds to end up with sand in your mouth and ears and nose ? I say , 4. Should have gone for the Quad bike tours instead.

Can't really say much about the food - almost all places specialised in seafood and being allergic to seafood , I was left with not many options.

Our accommodation turned out to be a real good choice. When I booked a studio room at 90 AUD/night I wasn't expecting much. But a really spacious room located next to a national park and with a private beach access was what greeted us. And they even provided us with flash lights to go walking in the park in the evening :-)

The best part - beautiful beaches with hardly anyone around :-)

The sad part - didn't get to see any of the ship wrecks because rough seas prevented access :-(

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Those weird moments

Bad weird - you are standing right next to your colleague discussing some serious stuff and your stomach makes a low rumbling sound (the kind it makes when you are hungry) .You can only hope that your colleague is partially deaf.

Sad weird - you ceremoniously bake cupcakes for you guests , using a store bought mixture alright but you did blend all the ingredients ( added as specified in the recipe using measuring cups/spoons you bought in a i-am-going-to-bake-my-way-to-masterchef moment ) and fill the cups and put them in the oven.Then you realise that you forgot to check whether the emulsifiers in them were veg/halal .And you get to eat all 12 of those cupcakes for dinner and breakfast.

Irritating weird - Getting up at 7am is a herculean task for you on weekdays (ask the snooze button on your alarm and your coffee mug) but you are wide awake at 6.45 am on every Saturday and Sunday.

Happy weird - You meet someone from college after 6 long years and just carry on as if you got back to hostel after the semester vacation.

Weird weird - You do nothing but shop for groceries and eat and read the whole Saturday ( you are going through a phase of keen interest in the life and history of British queens and reading I, Victoria)but goes to bed at 9pm leaving the husband to watch a movie alone because you are too tired to watch a movie.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On a rather low gear ;-)

Back in 2009, I used to listen to a few of my friends talking very animatedly about Top Gear and having heated discussions regarding the identity of “The Stig”. I never gave it a second thought. I like cars. As in, on seeing a nice looking one, I will probably go “Hmm. Nice if I can buy one like that. Nicer if it has automated parking”. But I don’t love them and is not the type to spend hours reading auto magazines. So I had assumed Top Gear was not my cup of tea till I actually saw one episode of Top Gear UK on TV. I don’t know whether it’s the British accent or the very charming Jeremy Clarkson, but I was hooked.

Hooked enough to do my version of a Top Gear in my mind when I have to rent cars for my site visits. (Disclaimer: I have driven all of 6 or 7 different ones during my driving adventures and the ones I get to drive are a league apart from the ones they cruise around in. Let us not even go into the charm department.) .The one would never forget is Nissan Micra. Felt like I was in a toy car, the blue paint just helped the feeling I guess. Had a Gulliver-in-Brobdingnag moment when a huge truck passed me by 

Now that I have shifted to a new job, my site visit days are behind me .So no more of the 2-night stands (with rental cars that is)  I am definitely going to miss those days.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A trip or two

Last month this time, I was so eagerly waiting for my office Xmas-New Year closedown. 10 days of not having to worry about ironing your shirt and yes, not having to work too. We were expecting just a long weekend break for xmas and had planned for a 4 days trip and since we came to know of the 2 weeks closedown too late to book flight tickets (without causing heartburn) , we went ahead with our original plan. And off we went to Coonabarabran – The Astronomy Capital of Australia. I spent 30 minutes trying to learn how to pronounce Coonabarabran because the way I did made it sound like one sleepy little village somewhere in Kerala. Haven’t really learned to roll my tongue the way Aussies do :-)

And as usual I had an excel sheet for it.

Sample entry:
24-Dec 8:00 AM Start drive (450km , approx. 6 hours)
24-Dec 4:00 PM Arrive at Mathew Flinder's Motor Inn , Coona
24-Dec Drive to Coona towncenter and dinner

Is this normal? I am starting to get worried about myself :-) And I am definitely not getting into event management.

The trip didn’t start too well. The weather forecast showed thunderstorms for the whole week, my music player broke down the night before (The Husband (TH)’s song collection doesn’t really suit my driving mood) and I got a weird haircut the day before (fringes on curly hair!!!Seriously Anphy, what were you thinking?).

I had actually been looking forward to the 450km drive, but have to admit that driving on long stretches of a deserted highway is not much fun. And we arrived at Coona to find only a Chinese restaurant open for dinner :-) The Inn we stayed at is owned by a sweet German couple and I would stay there again just for their breakfast and the free wifi.

But Day 2 went better. My music player mysteriously sprang back to life and my collection of songs cheered up TH so much that he took to ‘actually’ listening to the GPS lady giving instructions instead .For the first time in my life , I did absolutely nothing conventional to celebrate Christmas. We went to the Sandstone caves and Sculptures in the Scrub in Pilliga forest. I got very excited about the 30km dirt track we had to drive on; but if I were to do the same in India I would have been more pissed than excited – me and my double standards. Hehe. And came back to find that all restaurants were closed for Lunch on Christmas. So we had Pita Bread and yoghurt followed by a packet of prunes for our wonderful Xmas Lunch :-( The plus - I didn’t have to cook :-)

Next day , we headed to the Warrumbungles. Saw a couple of Emu’s crossing the road- I never thought they even existed!!!The best part was the 12km Grand High Tops walk we did there. Breathtaking- literally and figuratively. We had the place, by which I mean the whole park :-) , to ourselves – not many people crazy enough to go bushwalking the day after Christmas, I reckon. I am not complaining since we had kangaroos for company. It took us around 5 hours and it was raining for the first 1 hour or so but it was so much fun. We had planned for a night time telescope viewing but it got cancelled because it was too cloudy. I was secretly hoping that it would get cancelled since my leg muscles were creaking and groaning after all the walking. By then we were already feeling so bad about the trip coming to an end that we ended up planning our next trip to Canberra right then and there.

And Day3 , we drove to the Siding Spring Observatory and then headed back home .Managed to see 7 planets in the Virtual Solar System Drive .

Would love to post some photos but then I deleted the whole folder by mistake as part of my ,ahem ,weekly laptop de-cluttering. Now I am really starting to get worried about myself :-)

Note : we did make it to Canberra 2 days later , but who wants to read about driving around in crazy roundabouts ? :-D