Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Working out, beach style ...

Whilst I'm in Manly for the summer, I'm taking advantage of some of the popular beach side exercise options that are available.  I've signed up with Vital Fit and have been enjoying the twice weekly 6 am beach side circuit and boxing classes, which normally involve a lot of running on the soft sand which I find incredibly challenging.  I've also signed up with Power Living, a very popular (last week, one of the classes had 70 people in it!) yoga studio that specialises in hot (30 degrees, so not as hot as bikram) yoga.  So far, I've been going three times a week and absolutely loving it - the stretching and the light and relaxed feeling that I get when I've finished are such great feelings.  It's also been a good 'character building' exercise for the perfectionist that I am because I'm not very good at yoga and have to satisfy myself with trying my hardest rather that trying to perfect each pose.  And of course, the other benefit of power yoga is the numerous half naked men who are in each class!  Exercising beach side has been a welcome change from working out in the gym and running at altitude.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Australian Museum ...

Last week, 7 year old R and I jumped on the ferry and headed into the city to visit the Australian Museum next to Hyde Park.  Our purpose was to visit the insect display in order to report back to R's Grade 2 class in Canada about Australian insects (to fit in with their current study topic).  To tell you the truth, the insect display was pretty boring but we also visited the skeleton exhibition which was amazing as there were skeletons from all kinds of animals.  The best part was the bicycle that you could cycle (with legs and arms) and see how the bones move together on the above skeleton on a bike.  Pretty cool.

(As a funny aside, we ran into a Grade 3 class from a local girls school with their teacher who was also a Miss Davidson!  Both their class and R found that extremely amusing.)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Fine weather again!

Shelley beach from our 'playground' this morning

After more than a week of miserable weather, it's nice to see that the sun is shining and the people of Manly are out and about again.  According to my workout group this morning, that was the worst run of weather that Manly has had all year (yes, even over winter time!).  I'm hoping that it stays lovely and sunny because Mum arrives on Friday for a beach holiday and C arrives in less than 3 weeks!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

It's raining, it's pouring ...

That's right, it's pretty miserable in Manly at the moment.  For over a week now, I haven't seen the sun shine.  It's simply been grey skies and rain.  It hasn't stopped me doing my usual outdoors things like walking to work or walking on the beach.  There is something wonderful about walking on the beach in the rain.  It's also been pretty good because I don't feel guilty about sitting inside studying.  I have a few 'indoor' projects on the go at the moment - my Canadian studies work, writing a thesis proposal, learning about the American Revolution so that I can teach it to 11 year old B in January and sorting through old photos, letters and memorabilia to work out what is a reasonable amount to take to Canada.  The only downside to this rain (and the accompanying coldness) is that I didn't bring any rain gear or very many cold weather clothes, so I've been wearing pretty much the same 1-2 outfits for the past week.  Whilst I'm happy for the rain now, I hope that it clears up for the end of next week when Mum arrives for a 10 day visit!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A flying visit to Melbourne ...

Thanks to cheap flights in Australia, whilst I'm here, I'll be able to make several trips to Melbourne to visit family and friends.  This weekend, I had a crazy whirlwind two day trip during which I managed to spend time with my Mum and brothers, dine out for every single meal, drink far too much, visit my Grandmother, enjoy the Spanish Festival in Fitzroy, catch up with some friends and make a trip out to Monash University to learn more about writing a thesis next year.  It was a full-on weekend and now I'm back at work for a rest!  But, it was a wonderful Melbourne weekend and I can't wait until the next one!

Paella at the Spanish Festival

Lexie, enjoying the sunshine at a St Kilda cafe

The Christmas pudding, hanging at my Grandmother's place, ready to be eaten on 24 December!

My hydration for the weekend

(As an interesting aside - It took me five different modes of transport to get home last night! Tram, bus, plane, train and boat!)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Manly the movie set ...

On Tuesday, both kids arrived at school to tell me that they had stumbled across and watched the filming of a movie being made in Manly.  7 year old R told me that it was all happening at 'Australia's version of the Great Wall of China.'  This perplexed me just a little and after some prompting, I learnt that she meant St Patrick's Seminary, which sits high up on the hills overlooking Manly Beach.  11 year old B told me that the movie will star Leonardo diCaprio, but I didn't believe him, thinking that perhaps there would be a greater deal made of such a big star being in little old Manly.  But, after some Googling, we discovered that, yes, Leo is in town for the filming of The Great Gatsby, which is being directed by Baz Luhrmann and also stars Carey Mulligan.  So Manly is not just a sleepy beachside 'village' but a rocking Hollywood movie set!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The daily commute ...

Work is up on that cliff, just behind that big tree

 One of my favourite things about working in Manly for the summer is the commute to work each day.  I've written about my Canadian commute here and the commute here in Manly couldn't be more different.  Each morning, it is 20 minutes stroll along the beach front and up a big hill past all the multi-million-dollar mansions before I arrive at work.  The view from my 'classroom' is pretty spectacular too.  Then in the afternoon, I walk home, often stopping at the beach to sit and read for a while.  It's not a bad way to spend the 'working' summer!

Looking back towards Manly beach

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

'Bloodland' by Bangarra ...

Last year while I was in Sydney, I got quite hooked on going to see theatre productions, either at the Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company or Griffin Theatre Company.  I was lucky in that I was in the last few months of my twenties, so could take advantage of the cheap 'Under 30' tickets.  This year, however, I'm not so lucky and will have to pay full price for tickets, but there are a couple of shows that I will splurge on over the summer.


I started this year's Sydney cultural experience with a trip to the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf to see a Bangarra Dance Company production of 'Bloodland' with Dad and his partner.  I had previously seen one of their performances in Melbourne and loved the way the combination of traditional and modern Aboriginal dance told the story.  However, this performance was somewhat more abstract and, at times, was difficult to follow.  The performance didn't have nearly as much dance as the other one I had seen, which was slightly disappointing as that I had enjoyed that aspect of the previous performance so much.  It was a very 'arty' theatre performance and, as a result, the more I thought about the performance, the more I enjoyed and appreciated it.  

Cate Blanchett in 'Gross und Klein'

The other performance that I've booked for the summer is a Sydney Theatre Company performance of 'Gross und Klein', starring Cate Blanchett.  I am super excited about seeing her on stage and also sharing the experience with my Mum.  I also have my eye on a couple of other shows that I might book for early next year.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cremorne Point Foreshore Walk ...

The first peek into the harbour

Since I only have a few more months left of living in Sydney and it's unlikely that I'll ever live in this city again (Sydney, I've decided, is amazing if you have money and can afford to live on the water.  Not so wonderful if you don't), I'm aiming to make the most of it while I'm here.  This past weekend, Dad, his partner Carla and their dog, Archie, were visiting me.  Yesterday, we walked the Cremorne Point Foreshore walk.  The walk hugs the coastline and has some terrific views of the water, the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the Taronga Zoo.  There weren't too many people on the path, despite the fact that it was a lovely day.  We did run into the same park ranger twice and got ticked off twice (well, Dad did) for not having Archie on a lead.  We finished off the afternoon with a burger and a beer next to Manly Beach.

Two Sydney icons - Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Not a bad view from the Cremorne swimming pool

Another Sydney icon, the ferry

Looking across to the zoo - the 'Birds of Prey' show

Lush gardens on the harbour

A giant asparagus?!  Or a cactus?!
Big home

Another big home

Into the rainforest

A home in the rainforest

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Happy Friday!

My new puppy dog!

The picture above is of the 'Westie' that C gave me when I left Calgary - cute, isn't he?!  Well, this is the first full week I've worked for quite some time and I am more than ready for a weekend.  I'm looking forward to hanging out with my Dad when he, his partner and dog arrive for a visit.  Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Back to the books ...

View from my study 'desk' yesterday afternoon

Several weeks ago, I completed the coursework component of my Masters course - 3 units in gifted education and 1 in research methods.  Early next year, I will begin the thesis component and I'm hoping to knock it over in 6 months so that I will be study-free once I start full-time work in a school (positive thinking - I am going to find a job in Calgary!).  However, despite the fact that I have finished the required work for Monash University, I've still got uni work to complete.  Last week, I began a course with Athabasca University.  Completing a course in Canadian Studies is the only thing I have left before I can be a fully certified teacher in Alberta.  At first I thought it would be a (expensive - $1500) drag, but once I saw the huge range of course options, I began to look forward to this requirement.  After eliminating the boring (to me) subjects and the ones that require exams (I don't like exams, I much prefer a nice long essay), I ended up choosing 'The Women's West: Women and the Canadian Frontier Settlement'.  So far, I'm really enjoying the readings and I'm learning lots about the role of women, particularly native women and Metis (half Indian, half White) women, in the fur trade in the 1800s.  Whilst I'm enjoying all this study, I do look forward to April, when I will have finished this course and (hopefully) July when I will have a Masters degree to my name.  Anna Davidson, BTeach (Primary), BAppSci (Human Movement), MEd (Gifted Education) ... it looks very sophisticated doesn't it?  PhD next perhaps?  Doctor Davidson?!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A day at the races ... Stakes Day 2011 ...

Mother and daughter

Being a horsey gal, I've always enjoyed going to the races.  When I was a kid, I loved going to the racing stables and admiring the horses with Dad when we made our regular trips to collect stable manure for the garden.  The past few years, I have missed Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival, so I was excited to have the opportunity to go to Stakes Day with my Mum on Saturday.  Mum had never been to the races, so it was fun to dress up together, prepare a picnic and head off for the day.

Studying the form guide

Checking out the horses in the stable area

We arrived nice and early to get a good spot on the rails, about 100 metres back from the finishing line and within eyesight of a big screen.  We spent the few hours before the races began people watching, choosing horses for our bets, checking out the betting ring and admiring the horses in the stable area.  Oh, and feasting on cheese, dips, sourdough bread, sundried tomatoes, veggies and the desserts that seem to be the 'in' thing right now, macarons.


And they're racing!

Once the races began, we stood on the rails and cheered for 'our' horses, although we didn't have much success on the betting front.  The highlight of the horses for the day was definitely seeing Black Caviar race.  For those of you who are not in Australia or who have had their head in the sand, Black Caviar is the world's best sprinter at the moment and on Saturday, she won her 16th consecutive race (I think the record is 18 or something like that).  The atmosphere surrounding her race was amazing, with the crowd waving Black Caviar flags and sporting Black Caviar masks.

The crowd

Flags for Black Caviar

It was an incredibly hot day and Mum and I both struggled with the heat, so we ended up buying a Flemington umbrella so that we had some shade in our prime position on the lawn.  Despite the shade and a lot of water, we were still too hot, so ended up leaving the after the Stakes, race number 6.  Neither of us had felt the urge to drink anything alcoholic at the races due to the heat, so once we were home, we enjoyed a bottle of bubbles, as every mother and daughter should do!

And there she is, the superstar herself!

And there she goes, winning the race by several lengths

Leading the winner back to the winner's circle

Monday, 7 November 2011

Melbourne ...

Internal view from Mum's apartment

Even though the concept of 'home' is relatively abstract for me, there is definitely a feeling of coming home when I visit my family.  On Thursday morning, after arriving in Sydney, I jumped on another plane headed straight for Melbourne.  Despite feeling a little weary, I had an amazing few days hanging out with my family and catching up with some friends.  Mum's new (less than a year) home is in a terrific location, right in the heart of St Kilda, minutes from the beach and also from the city.  I can't wait to spend more time there over the next few months.

St Kilda Pier from St Kilda beach

Being back in Melbourne made me realise how much I miss the food in Australia (okay, I'm a greedy little pig, I love all food!).  It felt like I spent most of the few days rolling from one session of eating and drinking to another!  Interestingly enough, on the Thursday night, we ended up at a pizza place called Banff, where the pizza was amazing. Another culinary highlight was enjoying my favourite breakfast of poached eggs on toast with a side of spinach (no greasy piles of potatoes to be seen!) at the St Kilda Sea Baths whilst looking out to sea.  On Friday night, my younger brother Rob took Mum and I to a delicious Japanese restaurant called Wabi Sabi on Smith Street, Collingwood.  Another culinary highlight was perusing the South Melbourne Market for goodies to take for a picnic lunch at the races on Saturday (the topic of tomorrow's blog entry!).  There is so much fresh and tasty food to be enjoyed, I had better make sure I'm on top of the exercise front while I'm in Australia!

On the beach looking towards Port Melbourne

My few days in Melbourne ended much too quickly and now I'm back in Sydney, looking forward to catching up with the rest of my family (Dad) this weekend when he visits me in Manly.

View from our table at Sandbar, near Mum's place

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween ...

Chairman Mao demonstrates how to carve a pumpkin

My last night in Canada just happened to be Halloween and the running of the Melbourne Cup, so there was no time to dwell on how much I would miss C.  Instead, the bubbles and candy (oh how I hate that word) flowed and there were good times to be had with a couple of friends who joined us for the festivities.

A close-up shot of the pumpkin carving demonstration

Carving my first pumpkin

To begin the evening, C (aka Chairman Mao) taught me how to carve a pumpkin.  It was an interesting experience as it required a trait that is a weakness of mine (patience) and one that is a strength (perfectionism - which can also be a weakness!).  First, I drew an outline of my Jack O'Lantern face and then proceeded to carve it out (C had done all the hard work of getting the pumpkin innards out).  It was surprisingly fun and I carved two pumpkins with different faces.  We set the pumpkins (complete with tea lights inside them) outside the house to signal to 'trick-or-treaters' that we were open for business.

The look of concentration!

The finished product! (one of two)

It was a lot of fun to greet the 'trick-or-treaters', some who were as young as 2 and some as old as 13-14, although by the time kids are that old, the whole thing idea of dressing up and asking strangers for candy seems to be a little uncool.  There were some incredibly creative outfits including The Four Seasons, a Leafblower, a Homeless person, Ketchup and Mustard and a Half-Dead-Half-Alive person, as well the predictable flow of princesses, dragons, witches and cute, furry animals.  By the end of the evening (about 6-9pm), we had handed out nearly 100 small chocolate bars!

Our efforts (mine are the two on the ground on the left)

Chairman Mao greets (and scares?) the first 'trick-or-treaters'

The whole time this was going on, the four of us managed to polish off several bottles of bubbles and get stuck into a bottle of red.  Dinner was an odd mix of cheese, biscuits, veggies with hummus, ginger snaps and a red monster cake.


A very creative costume, The Four Seasons (poor 'Summer' was too cold to look too summery!)

As the evening was winding up (it was a school night for nearly everyone), we tuned into ABC 774 to listen to the running of the Melbourne Cup.  What a great race!  It was amazingly close and if you were the owners/trainers/jockey etc of Red Cadeaux, you'd be pretty disappointed, I would imagine.  None of the horses I had money on placed, so I'm really hoping that my bookie (my younger brother) couldn't make it to the TAB for some reason!  So, Halloween and Melbourne Cup celebrations provided a great way to finish another 7 month period in Canada and now it's time to head home to see family and friends and head back to work after nearly a month off!

Another creative costume, a Leafblower (C is fixing the poor leafblower's leaf)