Friday 30 May 2014

Sausage, Stars and Bug Spray

If you missed the first few blogs to this series please use the links just below!

Australia 2014 Part 1
Australia 2014 Part 2
Australia 2014 Part 3

Fully recovered from my 24hrs bug or Sun Stoke (I’m not quite sure which) Pieter and Renee invited us to the home they were buying last time we visited Queensland.

Pieter was picking us up at our hotel, we arrived in the reception and did a double take as our friend Sue-Ellen was sat their waiting for us too! After a couple of excited hugs Pieter had arrived and off we went to theirs!

Sue Ellen had baked Scones, Renee had prepared lunch and we were all joined by Renee’s parents. I was a little nervous as Renee’s parents have very thick South African accents (and I’m awful at deciphering anything other than Southern English dialects!) but I warmed to the accent and the occasional switches into Afrikaans.

Sue Ellen and her Scones

We had such a lovely day; music playing, lots of laughs (mostly down to Mike) plenty of food, beer, great conversation and a stroll through the park, Renee and Pieters house backed onto, where the boys regressed to childhood!

Mike and Pieter

The following day we were meeting up with my cousin Andrew (His and my Father are brothers) and his girlfriend Christie.

An hour late (as always!) we met them in the town centre where we decided on the Bavarian Bier Cafe for lunch.

After ordering litre beers for the boys and girlie fruit beers for us girls, we started to catch up.

It was very sweet seeing Andrew so loved up. Because of the distance between the UK and Australia, Andrew and I didn’t meet until I was 14 when he stayed with our Nans place for a couple of months. He was the cool older cousin with the funny accent, the same accent that got him both in and out of trouble a lot!

Andrew and Christie

Lucky for Andrew, Christie is gorgeous, blonde, sweet, funny and intelligent to boot, the boy has fallen on his feet. Although a bias opinion I think Christie didn’t do too badly either!

Mike and I ordered the Bavarian Tasting Platter which had: Crispy Pork Belly, Haus Sausages, Schnitzel, Sauerkraut, Red Cabbage, Creamy Mash, Granny Smith Apple Compote and Löwenbräu. It was bloody huge! Enough for 3 or 4 people, although we both tried our best, the platter, despite its deliciousness, beat us, to be fair, we had all equalled our blood supplies in beer by this point!

Mike and I outside the cafe with Story Bridge behind us.

We were seeing Pieter and Renee again that evening Mike, Andrew, Christie and I went back to our Hilton Hotel and had cocktails while we waited for Pieter to come get us (again! Bless him!). 

We said our goodbyes to Andrew and Christie with every intention of going out with them later for an engagement party... unfortunately we didn’t make it, I was too tired and too sore – muchos sadness.

So, anyway we went back to Pieter and Renee’s as we were going stargazing with them and a couple of their friends. We drove to Mount Glorious with a picnic, a telescope, Mike’s fancy pants camera and plenty of bug spray!

We arrive to a picnic area that was incomplete darkness, the only source of light being our torches and the stars themselves.

I was in awe. I’d never seen so many stars and so clearly. It was a real wow moment!

One of Mike's photos

Using Pieter’s tablet, with a very useful app and his telescope we saw Jupitor, Saturn (clearly with its rings) Mars and a shooting star! I, of course, made a wish; I’ll get them where ever I can!

Mike spent ages trying to photograph the skies, luck was against him as we’d forgot one piece of his tripod, and he’d forgotten to look up the settings he would need for the best pictures, but I think he did a great job despite all of this.

It was getting late and the German sausage was a distant memory, so we tucked into sandwiches, crisps and wine whilst doing light art (some very creepy!) in the perfect darkness. 

Me, sitting alone, in the dark... creep myself out!

I started to get bitten by mosquito's so I sprayed myself with the bug spray.... only to find out later it was foot deodorizer, I smelt lovely but I was eaten alive - doh!

Close to midnight Renee and Pieter dropped us off at our hotel and we fell into bed!

L x

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Steak, Cake and Sickness

If you missed the first few blogs to this series please use the links just below!

Australia 2014 Part 1
Australia 2014 Part 2

Unlike our two previous trips to Brisbane, we had a feeling this trip wouldn’t be as jam packed this time.  We’d exhausted a lot of the city’s main attractions. As you read the coming blogs you’ll notice we were almost living there rather than being tourists. We now have a few lovely friends in Brisbane and some family, so we wanted to use our time to generally relax and catch up with people.

On day three we had a late start and breakfast, and then we “forced” ourselves to lounge by the pool in the 29 degree heat! I could have stayed there all day but Mike gets bored after an hour so, we hoped into the pool for a couple of hours. It felt like our private pool as we were the only people there for 3 hours!

After our hard morning by the pool we went back to our room for a hard earned nap lol!

Ironically, we had come all the way to Brisbane and were looking forward to seeing more of our friends Jen and Brian, only to find out they were flying to the UK on the evening of day three! We caught up with them for dinner just before they caught their flights!

We all headed to the iconic Breakfast Creek Hotel, known for its amazing steaks....and steaks we had! They were perfect, medium, juicy and very generous!

We were sad that we wouldn’t be seeing Jen and Brian more during our trip but thank Heavens for Facebook! (And Hashtags! ;)

Day four was my turn to be sickly! I woke up with terrible nausea, but did my best to ignore it.

As we had exhausted the first two pages of trip advisor, we went to page three to find the more random exhibits Brisbane had to offer.

We decided on going to the Town Hall where the Brisbane museum is. There, we found the full history of the town from its Aboriginal beginnings, to the Brisbane World Expo in 1988 all the way to today. 

Mike had a great moment when he recognised one of Brisbane Citys original free settlers as someone who may be a distant relative through his roots in Scotland – small, small world we live in!

Brisbane Town Hall

As I was feeling better by lunch, we went to the Shingle Inn, Brisbanes oldest cafe’, also situated in Brisbanes town hall. With dark wooden clad walls and waitresses in traditional tea house black and white uniforms, Shingles is a charming little gem that many of the city’s own residents had no idea it was even there!  

As much as I’d like to fib and tell you that the Shingles signature coffee and a couple of macaroons was the cure, it was not the best idea for my delicate tummy and the nausea returned. So we went back to the hotel. 

Whilst Mike worked, I continued our sloth themed holiday alive by having an afternoon nap.

The decadent but offending lunch! 

I woke up feeling loads better. We’d arranged to meet our South African Friends Pieter and Renee for drinks and dinner. We met them at a very busy bar on the river front forgetting it was the beginning of a long weekend, so every office worker within a mile radius seemed joined us in a glass of wine (lemonade in my case!).

We all headed back into the centre of town for dinner and decided on a restaurant called Vipiano. Much like Nando’s does, Vipiano is a great place for meeting friends as each diner receives a customer card to which they add their food and drinks to so that there isn’t that awkward bill splitting at the end.

I chose pizza and a cocktail, feeling sure that I felt 100%, and whilst the boys talked work and studies Renee and I gossiped over cocktails.

About 15 minutes into dinner the dreaded nausea came back, stopping me in my tracks. I donated my incredibly delicious apple and cinnamon cocktail and asked the staff to box up my pizza. Despite this, I thought I’d just needed to avoid all food and drink and  just carry on.

By the time we’d made it back to our hotel it was clear I wasn’t well at all. As we got to our floor I told Mike to quickly push me back to our room..... TOO LATE! I’d thrown up all over myself twice in the 100 metre walk!

So, the night ended with me showering in my clothes, taking anti sickness pills and going straight to bed – how does the boy resist me?
L x

Friday 23 May 2014

Back in Brizzy

 We arrived in Brisbane, the jet lag already setting in!

Our friends Jen and Brian (who you may remember from past OZ visits here and here) picked us up from the Airport and took us straight to our hotel; thankfully they appreciate jet lag more than most and didn’t expect a long catch up!

We were staying in the Brisbane Hilton (My TA review here). Oh my, it’s very posh! There's a beautiful marble clad foyer which is where their restaurant and bar were found too! Checking in was lovely and quick as Mike is a Diamond member of the Hilton Honours reward scheme.

Inside the Hilton

Our room was and 3x as big as our one back home, with city views, huge bathroom, a desk and cozy arm chairs.

Our Hotel view with Brisbane Town Hall in the centre :)

We were so pooped, we didn’t fancy going out so we ordered room service. This was my first time having room service, I was ridiculously excited (small minds!) and we ordered a classy selection of 
pizza, chips and milkshakes!

Room Service

With a very full belly and snuggled in my white fluffy hotel dressing gown we hit the sack.

On our first full day in Brisbane we decided to reacquaint ourselves with our favourite city. We had a wander through the city centre, over the river into the South Bank. After a couple of ours we headed back to the hotel with jet lag setting in and Mike (we later found) had a mild case of food poisoning.

After a nap, Mike’s phone lit up with a message “Pig and Whistle? Now-ish?”. How better to ease us back into the Brizzy life than dinner at an English pub – irony!

Our message was from Peter and Renee, who you may also remember for previous visits to Australia here and here. It had been two years since we’d visited so we had a lot to catch up on! We’d finished by 8pm and it was still 22 degrees – I could just feel my limbs thawing out already!

Finally by day two we were starting to move into the appropriate time zone! After a lovely complimentary breakfast at the Hilton, and another walk around town, we headed to Brisbanes’ Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) after hearing about a fascinating exhibition called Falling Back to Earth by Cai Guo-Qiang.

You all know by now, I’m no expert in art. But I really do not know how to explain Mr Guo-Qiang’s work other than with the word Epic! There was Heritage; made up of 99 animal replicas all drinking from the same lake. Then there were 99 wolf replicas all running/flying towards a glass screen called Head On. The symbolism of 99 suggests that the sequence is not complete leaving room for expectation and questions but you’re better off looking at my photos that taking my word for it!

Head On
Head On

By late afternoon we were staving and decided on a “dinner” of pancakes at Brisbanes 24hr Pancake Manor! For the first time in about a decade, I left my camera AND my mobile at the hotel, so just imagine, three large pancakes, smothered in berrys, ice cream, marshmallows, chocolate sauce and cream all melting on top... diet? What diet?
L x

Saturday 10 May 2014

Third Time and Very Lucky

Please excuse the lack of posts lately, I'm having a mini relapse (I think my body loved the warmth in Australia and the UK is bloody cold at the moment) so my limbs are all twisted and I'm on my full meds again! Plus there have been a few....erm... dramas? I don't know if that's the word, but there has been a lot going on and I've felt a tad overwhelmed!

Anyway... Australia

Yes, I am a jammy so and so! I went to Australia for the third time in 3 years. Please don't hate me! Mike had training with work... I say this limply because his course is 3 days long...we were there for 14!

Anyway, as always, I love to write about my travels, so here it goes....again!

The Journey

Picture the scene; It's Monday April 7th. After some mundane food shopping, I settled on the sofa to catch up on some TV. Mike is in our study, most likely doing Genealogy research - it's his guilty pleasure! He walks in to the living room and the conversation goes like this;

Mike: So, do you want to come to Australia then? (It had been discussed for weeks but I didn't see it happening)
Lynsey: Always, when?
M: Saturday
L: Which Saturday?
M: This Saturday.
L: *Looks confused* in 5 days time?
M: Yeah
L: It's a bit cheeky though.
M: Why? I have air miles and 6 free days in the Hilton Hotel there.
L: Shall I check the diary?
M: Really?
L: Hell no!!

So cue frantic car/flight/insurance booking, summer clothing shopping and major hair removal!

So, 4 days later we took an airport car to The Holiday Inn by Heathrow Airport. It's the same hotel we used for New York, clean, friendly staff and a huge disabled friendly room. You can find my review here (notice the comments below from their General Manager :)

With a 4:30am alarm set, I was asleep by 9:30pm!

The alarm went off, I was instantly angry, only made better when I realised what was happening! I positively leaped from the bed *may be a slight exaggeration, and physically impossible for me!* and into the huge shower. I chucked on comfy clothes, ignored my make up case but still had to straighten my hair much to Mike's confusion.  Girls, am I alone in this?

We arrived at the airport and within 20minutes I was asleep sat up in my wheelchair, so much for leaping eh?

As Mike travels so much for work, we get to use the Singapore Airlines lounge! This is still a complete novelty to me. Free magazines, booze, food and wifi - my simple mind was joyful! Unlike the first time Mike took me into a lounge, where I was too scared I would be chucked out or charged £20 for a single drink (this is London!) this time I had breakfast, several coffee's and nabbed copies of Marie Clare and Hello!

Singapore Airlines were as brilliant as ever. We had rung up to inform them of my special needs and informed them I was bringing the wheelchair on my travels. Throughout the checking in, boarding and both flights they were thoughtful, they didn't make me feel like a nuisance, they kept me informed of their plans too.

Singapore Airlines - Hotels in the sky!

Singapore Airlines are now my favourite airline, so far no other has come close.  They're service in economy feels like first class with menu's, cocktails, personal screens with 100's of films, TV shows and plenty of music to keep you amused for the 21hrs of flight time!

Our midway point was at Singapore, where we headed straight for the lounge again to keep loved ones informed and annoy our Facebook friends with hideously annoying holiday status'! 

The only bad bit of the whole trip was the aisle seats they use to get disabled/elderly people to their seats on the plane. I'm not thin, but I'm only a UK size 14 yet these chairs gave me almighty bruises on my thighs and bottom, sadly this can't be rectified as airplane aisles are all small and compact but be prepared if you're any bigger than a size 14! The first time I went to Australia a just about fit....last time we came I had inches either side, this time I just about fit...wonder whether I'll fit on the way back?? eek!

L x