Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 ...

2010 was another year of adventures for not only me, but my whole family.  In January, we bid farewell to my brother, Tom, who was heading off for a year of travel and work in South America and Europe.  Mum headed off on her 'GAP' year to Alice Springs and I was headed to Canada, via Sydney.  I began my new job, filled with anticipation about the family and the unique experience.

Saying goodbye to Tom

Beginning my new adventure in Manly

In February, the children were pushing the boundaries and I was struggling with the isolation of my new job.  Relief came with a trip to visit family and friends in Melbourne and the beginning of my Masters study.

Birthday drinks in Melbourne

March was an adventure-free month.  The school routine began to develop more consistency and I enjoyed living in Manly. 

In April, the real adventure began when I boarded a plane bound for Calgary.  I was greeted by cold weather and snow.   I practiced driving on the wrong side of the road with a day trip to Banff.

The snowy ranch

My first trip into the Rockies ... snow covered Banff

In May, the family decided to travel to Africa to build a school, which left me with three free weeks.  After frantically finishing my first lot of uni assignments, I headed off on my first North American adventure, travelling to New York, Boston, Montreal and Quebec City.  Despite the stress of having my wallet and passport stolen, the trip had many highlights including four Broadway shows, Ellis Island, Harvard University and old Quebec City.

The Manhattan skyline

Harvard University
Crepes in Montreal
Old Quebec City
June was filled with Cowtown activities including cattle branding, cattle drives and polo playing.  At the end of June, I jetted off to Florida for the ASCD Summer Conference.  The conference was great, Orlando was a let-down and Miami was filled with Art Deco delights.

My first cattle branding experience

Learning to play polo

Beautiful Art Deco in Miami
The adventures continued in July, with my first trip to the family's island, near Salt Spring Island.  I also visited Vancouver for the first time as well as attending the Calgary Stampede.

First sea plane trip

Fairy Door hike on Salt Spring Island


The Calgary Stampede
August was the month of hiking.  I did many great hikes with C. and the family.  August also bought another trip to the family's island.

Bald Hills in Jasper

Kananaskis Country
Waterton NP and Glacier NP from Mount Bertha
Sunset from Deadmans Island

In September, the highly anticipated event of Mum's visit arrived.  We had a wonderful three weeks spending time on the family's island, in Vancouver, on the ranch, in the Rockies and also a flying visit to New York.

Kayaking in the Gulf Islands

Mum acquaints herself with the locals in New York

Mother and daughter hiking in the Rockies
October bought the end of Mum's trip and the frantic packing to get ready to return to Australia.

Cowgirls ready for the cattle drive

November was all about re-acquainting myself with Australia - catch ups with family and friends, spending time on the beach and exploring Brisbane with C.

Dad comes to Sydney for a visit
Catch up with my baby bro in Melbourne
In December, C. came to Sydney for a surprise visit and I headed back to Melbourne for Christmas.

Rob's snapper delight at the Davidson family reunion upon everyone's return to Melbourne
Tom with the family dog, Charlie
Mum on Christmas Eve
Dad and his partner, Carla, open their Christmas crackers
Helping Grandmother with her new telephones
The city from Clifton Hill on Christmas Day
So, that's it ... 2010, another year of adventures.  Bring on more in 2011, I say!  A taste of what's to come - another visit from C, my 30th birthday, a trip to San Francisco, several road trips and hopefully a visit to Canada from Dad, plus many more I hope!  I hope everyone has a happy, mindful and successful 2011!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The story behind Manly ...

I've often wondered how Manly got its name.  So, this week, I decided to look into a little further.  I did a little bit of hunting on the internet and also came across a plaque near the Manly wharf.  It turns out that the name Manly comes from exactly what it implies ... 'manly' behaviour.  In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in what is now known as Manly Cove and was impressed by the 'confidence and manly behaviour' of the local Aboriginals, those belonging to the Guringai tribe.  So there you have it, the reason behind Manly's name!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Visitors welcome ...

This is kind of what the harbour looked like last night from the Harbour Bridge

I don't have much of a social life here in Sydney.  It's a little difficult to meet new people when you work alone and aren't here for a long period of time.  But, I'm okay with that, I quite like my own company. Every now and then though, I do get a 'I-miss-my-friends' moment and want to race off to Melbourne for a visit.  It's nice when people come to Sydney for work or for play and have time for a catch up.  Last night, I ventured over to Kiribilli to catch up with a teaching friend, R.  It was wonderful to enjoy a bottle of wine and some dinner while catching up on a years worth of life gossip.  After dinner, we walked across the Harbour Bridge, from where there was a beautiful view with the full moon rising over the harbour and the opera house.  Sydney really is a beautiful city ... and if anyone wants to come and visit, you are more than welcome to come and relieve me from my incredibly quiet social life!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

The one day weekend ...

I only had one day off this weekend (in order to get a head start on my Christmas holidays) and after a super busy week, I decided to spend the day resting.  But, I still managed to 'do' a lot ... I went for a walk on the beach, read nearly all the weekend papers (which I'm normally still reading on the following Friday), looked at the Christmas displays in the city and watched two movies.  Not bad for one day of rest.

Real life cowboys on Moose Mountain (aka Brokeback Mountain)

The day began with a skype movie date with C.  We decided to watch the same movie, at the same time and then chat about it.  A little nerdy perhaps, but it's important to do things together even though we are on the opposite sides of the world.  We chose 'Brokeback Mountain' for several reasons - C. hadn't seen it and I was keen to watch it again since it was filmed very close to the ranch where I live in Canada.  In fact, the fictional Brokeback Mountain is actually Moose Mountain, a mere 20 minute drive from where I live.  It was exciting to see the now familiar scenery and I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me miss Canada a little bit.  As we watched the movie, we had a few 'intermissions' where we paused the movie, called each other and chatted about the story so far.  It was a fun way to begin a Sunday morning, it almost felt like we were sitting on the couch together watching the movie!

Brokeback Mountain in the movie

The other movie I saw was a preview of 'Sarah's Key' at the Palace Cinema in Paddington.  I was a little apprehensive about seeing this movie since I loved the book so much and generally don't like to do the movie/book comparison.  The movie, as to be expected, was very sad.  For those of you who don't know the storyline, it's about the round up of the Jews in Paris in July, 1942 ... over 13,000 French Jews were held in the Velodrome D'Hiver before being transported to concentration camps such as Auschwitz.  Kristen Scott Thomas was fabulous, as always, and the little girl who played Sarah was very convincing in her role.  Although the movie was very well done and the story was beautifully portrayed, the book was much better.  In the book, the reader got to know the characters much more intimately and the relationships between characters were developed in much deeper way.

Sarah's Key - the book

For now, it's back to work for another 3 days before some time off for Christmas.  I hope everyone is enjoying the lead up to Christmas!

Friday, 17 December 2010

An unexpected adventure ...

On Thursday night, I headed to the Sydney Theatre Company to see True West, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and starring Brendan Cowell.  It was a play with a bit of everything - a lot of dark humour, sadness and quirkiness.  The opening scene began with a long, increasingly uncomfortable silence.  Both the actors were very convincing in their roles as brothers with a troubled relationship, but I had a hard time believing they were in western America.  The scene changes were very unique.  As each change began, a short burst of loud, rough music was played and the stage was bathed in a harsh fluorescent light.  Backstage people came on stage to make the changes that the actors were also involved in at the same time as continuing to act.  But it wasn't the play where I found the unexpected adventure ... 

Pier 1 at Walsh Bay ... home of the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf 1 theatre

The surprise came as I was making my way from Circular Quay, across the Rocks to Walsh Bay.  I had plenty of time, so I found myself wandering through the touristy part of the Rocks and over the back towards the non-touristy area.  I wished I had my camera as I passed some beautiful old buildings and the views ... wow!  The building that houses the Sydney Theatre Company has been beautifully renovated and is quite an amazing place.  I enjoyed looking at the huge black and white photos of previous plays held in the building.  The evening totally surprised me and I can't wait to head back to the area to do some more exploring.

The view from the bar

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

It's a beachy life ...

Manly beach

I have been a bit slack on the blogging front lately, but I'm hoping that my reasons are valid.  Firstly, I've been busy at work ... we just had an interactive whiteboard installed, so I've been playing around with that a lot.  Tomorrow, we are having a small presentation morning, so the kids and I have been practicing their presentations over and over.  I've also rediscovered the beach now that the weather is getting warmer.  When C. was here, we spent a lot of time on the beach ... swimming, sunbaking, reading, chatting ... it's always much more enjoyable to go to the beach with someone else.  Since he's been gone though, I've been for a few dips and continued walking and running along the beach.  This week, I began early morning walks and have been surprised by how busy the beach is at 6.30 am - runners, walkers, swimmers, volleyball players - it's quite amazing actually and I've decided that I really do need to make the most of living by the beach from now on.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A little bit of culture (nothing too highbrow though) ...

'Blue Valentine' ... coming to a cinema near your on Boxing Day

During the week, C. and I ventured into the city twice to experience some of Sydney's cultural scene.  On Wednesday night, we had tickets to the preview showing of 'Blue Valentine' which stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.  The story follows a married couple at two contrasting moments of time in their relationship.  The movie is raw and compelling and well worth seeing when it comes out on Boxing Day.  The free glasses of Prosecco were lovely too.

'Looking Through a Glass Onion' ... coming to an Opera House near you soon

On Thursday night, we headed back into the city and enjoyed a romantic harbour side dinner (with hundreds of Oprah mad tourists) before heading to the Opera House to see John Waters and Stewart D'Arrietta in 'Looking Through a Glass Onion'.  C. is a huge Beatles fan, so I was a little nervous about taking him to the show but it was well worth it.  I've been a fan of John Waters since I was a tot watching him on Play School, so it was wonderful to see him on stage.  The show told the story of John Lennon's life using both spoken words and singing.  Both events probably couldn't be classed as highbrow cultural events, but they both made for fun nights out.

Taking the tourist to the zoo ...

The best view of the city ... at the bird show

A trip to Sydney is not complete without a trip to the Taronga Zoo.  It was perfect timing for C. to be here, since I already had a zoo trip planned with six year old R. as part of school.  Taronga Zoo is her favourite place to visit and since it fitted in well with her studies in animal adaptations, we headed there on Thursday.  Taronga Zoo is in such a spectacular location, it's hard not to have a good time admiring both the animals and the view.  As was to be expected, C. was suitably impressed with our trip to the zoo, which concluded with another iconic Sydney experience ... a trip on the ferry.

The giraffes also have a pretty amazing view


The tourist was fascinated by the Tassie Devil

A peacock preening for the ladies


Spot the goat ... the Himalayan mountain goat

The lovely meerkats

An owl during the bird show

Komodo dragon