About Me

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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Aussie Adventure - The Return Home & Reflections

If I'm totally honest I'd been dreading the return home from when we left Hall's Gap, even though we still had lots to look forward to.   Being with Lou, Andy and the girls for 2 weeks had been amazing.  We'd already started to chat about what our plans were for keeping in touch and Lou told us they were planning a trip back to the UK in November 2019 to celebrate her 50th birthday.   The bare bones are planned - we're meeting them in New York, 2 or 3 nights at the Waldorf Astoria and then fly back to the UK together.  I think we're going to fly to San Francisco before as it's somewhere I've always wanted to go.

The drive from Northcote to the airport took about 40 minutes and checking in was fairly simple.   Even though we'd bought quite a bit of stuff and moved a lot from our hand luggage to the main suitcases we were still well within our limits.  Knowing that we would probably spend a fair amount of time sleeping I ditched the colouring books and reading materials and packed them in the suitcase.  Shaun had packed our Western's wine glasses in his hand luggage and of course we had coats to carry.  We'd packed our "refreshing kit" in our hand luggage for the stopover at KL.  At the airport I made sure we had a large bottle of water each for refilling during the flight (wasn't going to make the same dehydration mistake again!)  and some snacks in case we got fed up with the salted peanuts that are in abundance on the flight.

The 8 hour flight on the smaller plane seemed better this time, much more leg room for some unknown reason.  I managed to get my hand luggage in the overhead and Shaun, being the keeper of the precious wine glasses, put his on the floor under the seat.  The food on this part of the flight was much better - a lovely baked aubergine and ratatouille for lunch and a pumpkin & spinach wrap before we landed in KL.   I managed to stay awake for most of the flight and watched 3 films - The Second Best Marigold Hotel, The Big Lie and Kingsman Secret Service.

4 hour stopover in KL - time to get freshened up.

Boarding the Airbus our seats were in the Upper Deck Economy section - the flight was packed so no laying down which was a bit uncomfortable, but at least we had the 2 outer seats and not the middle of the 4 seat row, and there were no children - all the families had been seated in the main economy below!   I'm not sure how much sleep  I got but I did manage to sleep through Legends (the Krays film with Tom Hardy).   Again the food was good, can't remember what I had but it was edible, all I can remember was breakfast before we landed at Heathrow was a bizarre Tofu dish with potatoes!  Shaun had shrimps and rice with an egg!    It was a very long 14 hours in the air with lots of getting up and stretching and not much sleep, I did remember to drink lots of water this time so no problems with dehydration.

Once we'd landed we were very quickly through Immigration and baggage reclaim (when the bags finally showed up) and thankfully the pick up service was waiting for us in arrivals to take us back to my parents to pick up the dog and car!   Archie was so pleased to see us.

So the big question - would we do it again?   Too bloody right we will.  

All in all we had the most amazing holiday (or trip of a lifetime).   I've experienced some things I never thought I would - the highlights being that climb over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and being immersed in Aussie wildlife at Halls Gap.   I've cycled and walked and spent some proper quality time with the hubs.   We've eaten well and drunk lots of superb wines.   The weather was amazing and just what we needed to get us through the British winter months, and we've ticked off another UCI Tour from our "to-do list".

Of course there's still so much to see in such a vast country after all we've only done a small part of 3 states.   We need to return to Sydney and visit the Blue Mountains and spend more time at Manly and some of the other areas of the City.

The flight wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, yes it's a very long time to be travelling but if I can manage it anyone can!  Flying Malaysian was a great decision - the cabin staff are fantastic, the cabins are clean (including the toilets if that's a worry to anyone) and the food is edible and well presented - coming back from Aus was better than going from the UK so perhaps it's the UK suppliers that need to up their game!

I did a lot of research once we'd booked and one of the best blogs I came across was the Rocky Travel Blog - a mine of information!  If you're planning a trip to Australia I recommend you take a look.   Alternatively, if you've got any questions or want some tips feel free to comment below or contact me on Twitter - @lilbeeloo67.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our Aussie Adventure.

Aussie Adventure - Melbourne Part 2 OUR FINAL WEEK


We're back from Hall's Gap and it's Australia Day.

I was hoping to get into the City to watch the famous parade, but Lou & Andy both said it would be ever so busy so we didn't bother.  Instead we visited Lou's sister (who lives walking distance away), had bubbles and cake and then walked back - the boys went for a bike ride.

Andy later drove us down to St Kilda to get some beach sand for Danni, and have a dip in the sea.   St Kilda was packed with families enjoying the public holiday, exactly how I imagined it would be.  While we were out we bought some food for dinner - a feast of sushi, freshly baked bagels with various fillings (the ones from Tesco will never taste the same again!), chicken salad and of course washed down with some good Aussie wine.
Far from home

Busy on St Kilda

We found a quieter spot

It's like being on Wanted Down Under - we've made our choice!
and bought back a little bit of Aus 
 Miah decorated the garden and our faces!

Wednesday  was a chill day as Lou went back to work.   Andy headed out with Holly the dog and Imi and Miah and we arranged to meet them at the Bean Counter for coffee.   Shaun then decided after the coffee we should head out on the bikes - thankfully it was only a short "flat" one along the banks of the Yarra - not that flat as it turned out.  The path goes all the way into the City centre if you follow the signs and don't go the wrong way!  As soon as Andy got back from his solo ride we caught the train into the city to meet Lou for a drink.  Back to the house for more sushi, bagels, salad and wine.   The realisation that we would soon be leaving and returning home settled in - not a nice feeling!

Thursday - Lou & Andy are both back to work so we offered to take Imi & Miah into the city for the day.  The plan was to go to the Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium, the Eureka Tower and then to Starbucks (Imi's request).

The Sea Life Aquarium was brilliant - well worth the entry fee and so much to see.   The format is the same world over - touching pools, lots of interactivity for the children and some great exhibits including the shark tunnel, Salty the Croc and a 4D film.

The weather was absolutely awful and we got absolutely soaked coming out of the Sea Life.  As the Eureka Tower was shrouded in low cloud we decided to give it a miss.   Instead we spotted an UGG store so went in to have a look and bought a pair for Danni, then we went to Starbucks.

Friday - Everyone's back to work and school so we entertained ourselves.   We wanted to do the Melbourne Free Walk as we'd really enjoyed the Sydney one.  This free walk comes highly recommended too.  
Melbourne Gaol where Ned Kelly was imprisoned and hanged

888 monument 

Sleeping Possum

Entrance to China Town - much the same world over

Ned Kelly

Section 8 - the not so much a pop up bar

Beautiful ceiling in Crabtree & Evelyn

Graffiti in Hosier Lane

Flinders Street Station

Views of the City

After the walk we headed back to Hosier Lane & AC/DC Lane to seek out some more of the street art, couldn't find the Banksy rat for love nor money.  We did manage to find the Section 8 "not so pop up bar" though and had a drink

tired after all that walking - and fuzzy hair thanks to the humidity

If you're in Melbourne Section 8 is in Stevenson Lane - by the Ned Kelly street art!
Wonderful atmosphere in Section 8 

 After a late lunch at a nearby food court we headed back to Northcote.

Saturday penultimate day - A last walk to the local coffee shop for breakfast and then Shaun & Andy went for a last blast on the bikes

and then took one of them back to the bike shop (the £50 bike was staying with Andy).

Lou, me and the girls walked to a gem shop - wish I'd remembered to take some money, could've spent a fortune.   Having spent the afternoon packing we got dressed up and headed to Flour & Salt for a lovely meal

Sunday 31st January - the dreaded departure day!   Sat in the garden soaking up the last of the sun and finishing the packing. We were so sad to be leaving but I'm glad we've arranged to meet up again in 2019 when Lou, Andy and the girls return to the UK for a holiday.  

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Aussie Adventure - Tour Down Under & Back to Hall's Gap

Friday 22nd January

We woke very early to the most horrendous thunderstorm, torrential rain and strong winds - bits of tree falling all over the place!  Not much fun for the 5 hour drive to Victor Harbor for the Tour Down Under, the first UCI tour of the year.

To break up the journey we stopped at Bordertown for breakfast - lots of coffee and breakfast rolls!   The drive from Hall's Gap to Victor Harbor is pretty much boring - some breaks in the view with the odd hill, but mainly just open fields and very few trees.

We were booked into the Anchorage Seafront Hotel
After checking in we headed out to find some lunch and find a spot on the finishing straight of the day's stage.   The Bupa Ride was in the finishing stages too - we'd got tangled up with some of the cyclists on the way in.  We found the ideal spot and waited

Here comes the cavalcade

Spotted Jensie doing the commentary

Sprint for the line - Caleb, Simon Gerrans & Swifty

Jay McCarthy
Sergio Henao cools down

Simon Gerrans waits for Ochre Jersey presentation

Henao receives his polka dot jersey
Jensie presenting jersey
Caleb Ewan
Luke Rowe
We had dinner in the hotel the first night - it's always knackering spectating and we'd had a long day!  The Anchorage Restaurant has a lovely menu - not a great deal of choice but sometimes that's better than having loads to choose from.

Before we left the hotel the next morning to find a spectating spot on Willunga Hill we had breakfast in the cafe.  Andy found a great spot at the opposite end of the hill to the race route, about a mile's walk to the finish.  We walked up and down the hill for a bit, trying to suss out the best place to stake our claim - once again we ended up at about 150m to go, right where the Strava KOM segment ends.
The finish line
End of the Strava KOM segment
The Hill was very busy with cyclists right up until minutes before the pros came through for their first pass.   The second pass was very exciting as we could hear from the commentary that Richie Porte was in the lead - we really wanted him to claim another win at Willunga - it was one of the reasons for making the trip!  He certainly did not disappoint

After presentation we headed back to the car, through the team buses, just as Sky were getting ready to ride back to their hotel in Adelaide
We decided to return to the Anchorage via a vineyard - the Victor Harbor Winery.   We tried a few reds but settled on a Cabernet Malbec, which is really unusual for me cos I really struggled with the Cabernet blends.  Back to the hotel we sat on our balcony & drank the wine before dinner.

Sunday 24th

Up early for the 5 hour trip back to Hall's Gap with a breakfast stop in Bordertown.

When we got back Lou had been busy with the girls tidying up, and because of a few problems with plumbing while we'd been away had managed to get the keys to the other side of the cabin - Shaun and I were going to be having a very comfortable final night in the Grampians in a proper bed with our own bathroom!

We'd had a lovely time on our mini holiday - Monday we packed up and drove back to Melbourne.
Before we left Hall's Gap we visited the Aboriginal Centre at Brambuk