02 January 2011

Mom's Canberra Holiday

After we stopped at the Bulli lookout - The Cliffhanger - our journey took us back to the highways for the rest of our trip.

By the time we got to Lake George just before the NSW/ACT border, Mom was ready to jump out of the car for a ciggie break.  Lake George is huge - 25km long & 10km wide.  For the most part, it's empty.  Being very shallow (at around 1m) and in a high wind area, most water that ends up here evaporates really quickly.  So windy in fact, that they built the Capital Wind Farm  on the far side of the lake.

Scott & Mom at Lake George
A panoramic shot of Lake George

Aaaahhh.....  Home Sweet Home!  Spending Xmas & NYE in Sydney was wonderful, but it was oh so good to be home.  It's actually amazing how quickly we've settled into our apartment and how it feels like home.  I don't think we ever felt like our house in Brisbane was our home.  And to be bringing Mom home with us was a real treat!

Scott trying out our new mat!  We've been looking for one of these for ages and finally found it at a great little shop in Avalon on the Northern Beaches while out with Mom one day.

Scott pouring Powerade down Mom's throat at the Captain Cook Memorial Jet

You shoulda done this for real Mom!!!!

The International Flag display at Commonwealth Place - yes, that's me trying to wave may arms like a flag!  The display acknowledges the United Nations and those countries who have a diplomatic presence in the Capital.

We thought we'd pop into the casino while in the city & see if Mr Moneybags could win some more dosh.  But alas, this is not your typical casino - it has absolutely no pokies (slots)!  Nope, not even one!!!  Only tables.  Apparently there are too many clubs in Canberra with gambling licences for pokies, that there was no pokies allocation left for the casino.  

Mom took this nice one of us at The Canberra Times fountain in the city.

Scott finally received all his goodies from Extron after passing his exams with flying colours!

Scott went back to work on the 4th of Jan, so I got to drag Mom around Canberra for some of the sights.

Now, I mentioned in previous blogs that I'd eventually get around to explaining the carillon...  The time has come!  The National Carillon is situated on Aspen Island on the Eastern side of Lake Burley Griffin.  The Carillon was given to Canberra by the British in 1970 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Capital. 

So what is a carillon?  It's a giant musical instrument consisting of a minimum of 23 brass bells - the National Carillon has 55 bells.  These bells are usually housed in a tower or belfry.  From the National Capital Authority's website:  "Carillonists play the suspended stationary bells from a keyboard of wooden batons and pedals, called a clavier. A system of individual cables and wire linkages draws soft iron clappers on to the bells as each wooden baton or pedal is struck by the carillonist."  

This is an example of a travelling carillon - just to give you an idea of the mechanics.

This is the clavier or keyboard.

Mom was keen to hear the carillon, so we grabbed the picnic blankets and picked up a couple of Subways on the way.  We watched the swans and the people going by until the carillon was due to start playing at 12.30pm.   

Mom enjoying her first Subway while waiting for the carillon recital.

This isn't my video, but it'll give you an idea.

And then it started playing....  Mom was quiet for a while and then quietly asked if it was out of tune.  LOL!  I hadn't wanted to say anything, but the times I'd heard it before, I thought it sounded horribly out of tune!  But it was all part of the fun of the experience!

We also headed out of the city to a place called Cockington Green Garden.  It's a mini city with these absolutely stunningly crafted miniature buildings and English country scenes.  I'll let the pics tell the story...

Mom with the gorgeous mini done up like an old Tudor style house as an advertising board for the attraction.  [Pearl, we thought you'd like this!]

Just to prove everything really was miniature!

Council house scene

Golf course scene - check out the water hazard!  The people who created this beautiful park really have a great sense of humour!

Godmanchester shops in Huntington

Duxford Mill, Cambridgeshire

The Gravyboat


This is a beautifully landscaped maze - it's actually not a maze at all as there's no way out.

 Another bit of humour - Babe herding the sheep

Then on to the international display - what an incredible array of replica buildings from around the world.

Torogan Marano in the Phillippines

This was a classic!  The aliens landed for a wee break!

St Mark's Church in Croatia - there were 45,000 individual handmade tiles in that little roof!

Groot Constantia, South Africa!

Mom posing on the bridge

Taking a ride around the gardens on a little steam train gave us a great view from above.

Drinks break!

Mom outside the entrance with some of the beautiful rose bushes.

These gardens were exquisite!  And the miniature trees and plants...  Wow!  I've been back again - I had to take Scott.  We were lucky enough to get to chat to one of the gardeners.  She was saying that what we had mistaken for bonsais, are actually dwarf and miniature varieties of plants.  Apparently bonsais would be too hard to maintain as you have to take them out of the ground and trim the roots.  So all they do is plant these dwarf varieties which also grow slower than their full sized cousins.  And when they get too big, they just take 'em out and replace them with smaller plants.

Mom outside Blundells Cottage on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin.  This is a historic stone cottage built around 1860.

We decided to have another picnic near Blundells Cottage.  Another Subway finished, it was time for a ciggie and a whole new indulgence....  chai latte!

We took a drive up Mount Ainslie for some great views of Canberra


There were hundreds of butterflies and Mom managed to catch on landing on my cap.  There were also thousands & thousands of ladybirds - literally!  They were everywhere - I've never seen so many in one place!   And dragonflies everywhere!

This is what happens when you smoke a cigarette on my balcony!!!  LOL!
The fire alarm went off in our basement.  I was mightily impressed when the 2 fire trucks arrived within 5 minutes.  And those firies are really so yummy!  Quick Mom - light another ciggie!

Mom and I at Coppins Crossing (for those who don't know, Mom's maiden name is Coppin).

The devastation after some flooding at Coppins Crossing.

Mom got to see her first wild kangaroos up at Mount Stromlo

The view from Mount Stromlo

Mom telling the time on the Gwynvill sundial

I got snapped while taking some arty pics

The ACT Bushfire Memorial at Mount Stromlo - a memorial to those who lost their lives, homes and pets in the 2003 bushfires.

It's beautifully done with bricks salvaged from the wreckage used to create these curved walls.

With some of bricks inscribed by survivors with messages of hope and grief alike.

These represent the fires and the lightening that started the fires.

This pond with a bubbling spring in the centre is surrounded by tall glass and metal columns.  On closer inspection, we found that the glass in these columns are etched with photographs of the fire, before pics of houses and pics taken of the devastation after the fire.

At yet another picnic, Mom noticed this face in a tree.  That led to a whole series of fantasies about fairies in the parks, trees that moved around after dark and oracles...

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end.  Who said that?  Why???!!!!  *sigh*  For a Mom's last night with us, we ate out at Portia's Place in Kingston.  It was a beautiful evening so we decided to walk there - it's just a 15 minute walk there.

Me with a mouthful of delicious Chinese food!

The food really was out of this world!  

Yip, that's evening!  You really have to love daylight savings.  This pic was taken at 7pm.  

Walking home was interesting...  

Where ever I took Mom during her visit, I'd say to her "So show me where our apartment is."  LOL!  She'd look for the nearest crane on a construction site and point proudly in that direction.  We had such a good laugh - I know Canberra is small, but it's certainly big enough to have more than just the one construction site visible from our balcony!  

Anyhoo, the sense of direction thing became a bit of a joke, so Scott decided to take it a step further.  As we started nearing our apartment building, Scott whispered for me to just follow his lead.  And he just kept walking.  Around the corner.  Down the road.  Across the road....  We just couldn't hold in the laughter any long and gave up the game at the next traffic light!  Mom said later she was sure we'd already passed the apartment but didn't want to say anything in case we laughed at her again for not knowing where home was!  LOL!  What a great laugh and such a great way to end a really awesome holiday.

After a stupid Virgin Blue debacle with Mom's carry-on luggage, she made it to the departure gate for her flight up the Gold Coast to see Doug, Mons, Chris and Jazzie.

You know, we are all devastated by Dad's death.  As I write this on 8 Feb '11, it is 6 ½ months since he died and although the shock is gone, the pain and sadness isn't.  Least of all for Mom.  Time does heal I suppose - that's what everyone says, so there must be some truth in that.  
I think there is something else we can do to help the healing.  And I know it's something Dad would approve of - if not expect of us - and that's to live, to keep on having fun, to keep on adventuring.  But most of all to make new happy memories.  Well, we certainly succeeded.  Having Mom here with us has been good for our souls and a great start to the new year with happy memories of a wonderful holiday.

Thanks for coming to visit us Mom!


mupersan-1 said...

Thanks for the visit Mom, you got us adventuring again, and although you may not have realised, we needed your visit as much or more than you.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Blog Mandy and Scott.
Always great to hear from you. Keep up the good work!! Lots of love to you both. Pat & Reg xx

Mamajoon said...

My comment didn't appear on the first blog! Just wanted to say that I'm glad you nagged. You are special people you and Skottel an amazing couple with a zest for life and such a sense of adventure. Love you both so much.
Thanks for a wonderful holiday and treating me to a pamper session with your lovely hairdresser!