Surprise Visit & Birthday Cake

Yesterday, May 9th here in Australia, we had a “surprise” visit from our eldest daughter Cyline, eldest grandson Evan and one of Norm’s nieces and her husband Andrew. They all live over 2 hours away so it was an unexpected visit by Norm who turned 70. I knew about it but not the details. It was difficult to keep Norm at home and away from his BBQ kitchen without explaining why. He had even suggest we went to Bunnings. When I declined he said he could go alone. Bunnings would have been a dead giveaway because they had all met up in the Bunnings car-park just 2 minutes away before all driving in together. Oh yes, and they brought all the food and the caramel birthday cake – Norm’s favourite kind of cake.

Archived in: Travel & Retirement

Driveway Repairs Done.

Last week I promised to explain why the outdoor kitchen divider was in front of the clothes line. The past 10 days have been rather busy and messy around here. These photos will show the work we have had done on our long undercover driveway and the footpath on the other side of the house.

First was the repair and grind.

Then a sand. The foot path on the other side was also repaired grind and sanded too.

The prep and first coat of cement rendering took quite a while to dry and giving a few days to blend.

The second cement render took another day and a half before Jake the tradesman could walk on it to roll the first sealing coat. We decided on the roll-on instead of spray because of the close proximity of neighbours and also it would be 3 years before a reseal instead of 1 year with the spray.

The final coat of the sealer went on 3 days ago. 1 more day before the sealant will have had time to cure. Once it’s cured we can start washing the dust off the walls and side gardens. It will be another 3 weeks before we can start placing things like the divider and herb pots back in place. Then it will be ready to bring the car back in. Climbing over the gnomes in the front or out the backdoor, past the clothesline into next door to use the neighbours footpath is not fun but it will be all worth it.

Archived in: Retirement & Travel

Butterflies, Birds, Reptiles, Stingrays and Sharks

Today is my birthday so I decided I would have to better last year’s swimming with dolphins outing.

Port Stephens N.S.W. has a Shark & Ray Rescue Centre but now they also have a butterfly room.

Injured and surrendered reptiles are also a new additions.

There’s also an out walk-in bird aviary which also has a turtle pond. Unfortunately, the water was stirred up with heavy raindrops. So no turtle photos in the pond. However, this cheeky one decided he liked to sit on my head.

Archived in: Travel & Retirement

Getting started for 2023 Birthdays

I actually started in December when I made Birthday cards for three family members and a friend who have their birthdays in the first few weeks of January. Now I’ve completed a few of each – male, female and a couple of children’s cards – although I’m yet to make and cards for the younger boys. Our eldest grandson will be 18 in February but he loves penguins. I do have a shop bought card with a photo of a group of penguins on the front so I might give him that one. Does anyone know if a “group” of penguins is correct or is there another name?

Archived in: Travel & Retirement

Cider, Wine, a Cheese Platter and Fabulous Views

After doing a little grocery shopping this morning we decided to head back to Harrigan’s for lunch before visiting the Cider House. Thankfully we were sheltered by the hot sun while we shared a paddle of three tasting size ciders and the taste of a local red wine.

The cheese platter was delicious and made to fit our taste and my allergies.

This child size house looked so adorable.

It was empty so we supposed it was for children to visit while their parents tasted.

Archived in: Travel & Retirement

Trip to the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley looking beautifully green and lush. We visited here many times but there’s always some thing new to see. Today was no different. We took a wrong turn and discovered Mount Pleasant. It’s so peaceful and the views go on and on; no matter which direction we looked.

Tonight we dine at Harrigan’s Irish Pub in the Hunter Valley with with our daughter, son-in-law and three teenage grandchildren.

Archived in: Travel & Retirement

It’s Getting Close

If there’s one thing I like to do, and I can do it more now in retirement, it’s card making. Throughout the year I make birthday cards for special people in our life. Now that Christmas is not to far away, I have set aside October to make the Christmas cards which are to be posted. I don’t know about where you live but our slow mail is really slow. It took two weeks for my daughter’s wedding anniversary card to reach her place just over 2 and half hours away by road. We could have delivered it in person if it wasn’t for being unable to travel that far yet.

Just a few Christmas Card varieties I’m making this year.

Archived in: Retirement

Walking and Rolling Out and About

This morning’s weather was loads better than recent weeks. The sun was shining and very few clouds to spoil the blue of the sky. The chilly wind off the mountains in the west also had ceased.

The Coastal Walk was tempting but beyond the Breakwall it gets rather rocky for walkers as well as rollers. That is – Not friendly for prams wheelchairs, roller skaters and skate boarders. Norm is improving with his steering but occasionally I almost get flipped out of the wheelchair or bogged. All fun.

The painting on rocks along the Breakwall has been around for quite a few years. Some I saw were dated back in the late 1990s. Graffiti is rarely seen here which is probably why the rock painting began in the first place. People tend to respect other people’s art work; no matter how bad it is. Some people wrote commemorative messages for pets, family members a or friends. I wish I could show more but there’s way to many photos for WordPress.

On our return along the Breakwall we stopped for coffee and dessert at one of our favourite eating places – the Pancake Place. A very bright place to eat.

This is why I don’t like selfies and teaching Norm makes it no better. LOL!

On our return along the Breakwall we stopped for coffees and desserts at one of our favourite eating places – the Pancake Place.

Archived in: Retirement

New Skills and Bird Watching

Retirement can be challenging but there’s always something to learn and do, especially when it comes to the garden.

Well done, Norm. You’re never too old to learn new skills. I can’t wait to see what other species of birds will visit the garden.

Archived in: Retirement

Happy Birthday to the Man I Love AND Congratulations on 50 Service in the RAAF

Forever and Always. I’m so blessed to have you as my wonderful husband. You’re my best friend, my partner in life, my husband, my hero, my love妃y everything. You make me so happy just by being the man and the husband you are. Even after all this time, you never stop amazing me. – Happy Birthday!

Archived in: Announcements

Two Days in Port Stephens – oops. Take 2.

It’s been two days since we returned from a two day break in beautiful Port Stephens. The weather was nice with just a few showers over night. This is where we stayed. This photo is a photo of an advertising photo taken from the other side of the golf course. The apartment we stayed in was on the first floor facing the golf course in the building centre right of the photo – one of the taller buildings with the triangle frame at the top.

Neither of us play golf. It’s the tranquility of the place that lures us there.

On the first morning we took a ten minute drive to Nelson Bay where we enjoyed a quiet coffee while we waited for the ferry to take us to a little riverside town named Tea Gardens.

It’s near quietness was due to it being a day before Easter and the school holidays had not yet begun.

The ferry was pretty old but it added to the glamour of the trip. There was only half the passenger capacity so social distancing wasn’t a problem and the captain, and one crew man, were very informative.

Photo by Norm

With the swells being quite high through the heads, it was not easy trying to stand let alone holding a camera and taking photographs. These are just a few photos taken on the way to Tea Gardens.

After some window shopping, we wandered around to read the lunch menus on various cafe and restaurant windows. We settled on the Seagrass Cafe with gluten free options. I ate just over half of my meal. Norm ate all of his and almost the rest of mine.

The Singing Bridge was named after the hand-railed pedestrian fence had been installed. Apparently when the wind blows, from a certain direction at around 80 kilometres an hour, a very loud whining can be heard up and down the river until the wind lessens and changes direction. On the first occurrence, those who heard it were quite frightened by it. We didn’t get to hear it though.

The outing took just over three and a half hours with our return ferry ride being escorted at one time by a lone dolphin. We did see a few dolphins leaping out of the water some distance away on the trip out too.

Photo by Chrissy

Most of the time away was just to relax and watch the day go by. Returning home on Good Friday would have been OK except for road works that backed up traffic. We discovered just over this hill, two lanes suddenly became one. This photo was taken when the traffic came to a dead stop. We then proceeded at a speed of 2-4 km an hour for the next 5kms. As soon as we past the roadworks, the traffic disappeared.

Archived in: Retirement

Just a few Holiday Photos

We have been in this beautiful town of Coffs Harbour since Sunday March 13th. We have so far visited the dolphin and marine research centre, a pebble beach, walking trails, spa, swimming pool and restaurants.

We also visited the Honey Place today but no photos. The information on beehives and whole honey process was very interesting. We’ll be here in Coffs Harbour for another three days. When we return home, there will many, many photos to sort through.

Archived in: Retirement

Happy Birthday to Me

What did I do on my 65th Birthday? Swim with a dolphin, of course.

She’s teaching the dedicated team of vets and researchers more than they can teach her.

Archived in: Retirement

White Picket Fence

I have always wanted a white picket fence. Because we live in an over 50’s lifestyle village, there are rules for height and colour etc. The local Bunnings store had these garden surrounds made from treated pine.

Day. 1 & 2. Painting the pieces.

Day 3. Joining the pieces together and marking the location of where each spike will go.

Tightening up the nuts, bolts and screws.
Just in time for a clean up before lunch.

After we had eaten Norm’s wonderful roast beef dinner cooked to perfection in the outdoor kitchen the rain came down in force. It was such a heavy rain we couldn’t see the new fence from the front window.

Over the next few days, I’ll touch up where the ends were cut as well as hiding the screw heads with white paint.

A job well done, Norm. Your handyman skills are improving.

Archived in: Retirement

Riverside Walks & Views

Archived in: Retirement

Boxing Day Pizza Party

Dylan, the youngest of the now teenage grandchildren, has often been found in our kitchen with either Norm or myself at our house. This year he was eager to help his Pa cook the Boxing Day pizzas. Never to old to help out.

The secret to overcome the problem of leftovers from Christmas day is to make pizzas for three teenagers. Below include three of our grandchildren who are aged 14, 15 & 16. {We had an early Christmas last weekend with the younger two grandchildren)

More photos to add to our photo album from Christmas 2021. Crazy but lovable teenagers.

Archived in: Retirement

Not all work…

After spending a few days delivering Dad’s estate items to family members and visiting some of our adorable grandchildren, we decided to stay overnight at one of our favourite destinations before returning home with an empty trailer.

After checking in at the resort in the Hunter Valley, we headed to Harrigan’s Irish Pub where the food is delicious and the chef is willing to adjust a recipe for my allergies.

On our return to the resort, we changed our footwear and went for a walk to burn off some of the calories. Photos- a joint effort by Norm & Chrissy

We came across a park bench seat where we enjoyed the same view as a pair of ducks who hardly moved the whole time we sat.

After a comfortable night and a light breakfast we drove the remaining 3 hours home.

Archived in: Retirement

Don’t worry, beach happy.

This is Rainbow Beach. A beach teeming with shells and pebbles of different colours – probably how it got it’s name. It’s a beautiful day to be able to roam in spring. We love beachcombing. While re-hydrating with a cool bottle of water and nibbled on a finger-food lunch we sorted through our finds tossing many back into the surf or onto the sand. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we didn’t do any stone stacking.

Archived in: Retirement

Alfresco Kitchen/Diner Completed.

Norm’s new BBQ/Pizza Oven/Cooker
First, check instructions.
View to back garden.
Decor creations.
Herb pots scattered around for handy use in cooking.
If you check the photo Norm is in, you will notice the new outdoor clock. The photo with the art work above was taken before we decided to put up the clock. The artwork won’t be down for long. We’ll find a new place in the garden for it. I’m pretty sure we aren’t finished yet with what goes where but I’m sure future photos will reveal changes here and there.

Archived in: I’m in the Garden & Retirement

More Alfresco Planning.

To follow on from the post a few days ago, we spent this morning fertilizing the lawn and painting items for the garden and Alfresco area.

Archived in: I’m in the Garden

A Bargain and another Snap Lock-down.

We found these 2 black concrete pots on Gumtree, a local online market place similar to eBay. They were just $10AUS each. While waiting for the tiling to be completed we spent our time stripping the layers of old paint, sealed and painted them white. When the alfresco kitchen/dining is completed I’ll post update photos. Update: We have gone back into a snap lock-down. Our tiler can only do emergencies. Again we wait.

Archived in: I’m in the Garden, Retirement

A Visit to the Plantation.

Yesterday, I went with Norm to the Koala Hospital tree plantation where we grown, not only local food trees but trees for koalas who come in to the hospital some distance away in other home ranges. Norm usually does one day a week at the plantation under the guidence of the manager. The plantation not only has acres of very old trees but also rows and rows of trees from seedlings, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 year old. There we pruned dead wood and new shoots that will choked healthier limbs to encourage growth at the lower part of the tree so leaf collectors can’t climb. The plantation is where most of the source of fresh leaf is collected every morning of the year for the ICU, rehabilitating and the permanant koalas that cannot be released into the wild because of blindness, severe injuries and organ damaged caused by diseases among other health issues. It was a beautiful sunny morning without being to hot. I hope to learn more from the manager, and Norm, about the different species of gum trees so I can recognise which leaf is which when I feed the koalas. We try and give the koalas 3 varieties every day but those special change slightly each day. The trip over to the north shore of the river is quite a pleasant drive. I hope to take more photos of the fauna and flora in the area next time.

Archived in: Retirement

Thank You Cards

One nice thing about lock-downs, there’s always time for indoor crafts and activities.

Instead of ordering bulk all-the-same Thank You cards, I decided to make them. Even the similar cards a slightly different but they are more suitable for postage.

Archived in: Retirement

Morning Walk

I hope you enjoy some of the animals I met on one of my morning walks this past week.

Archived in: Retirement

Cruise time

With the floods receded and the weather beautiful, we decided to take a dolphin sighting cruise.
My dear friend, Lyn at The Call of the Pen is visiting for a few days.
To our surprise, we were the only ones on the dining room level of the boat until lunch. There were only a few small groups in other areas. At a quick count, there was probably only a dozen on board. No problem here with Social distancing.
Some of the debris from the floods are still coming down river.
Many of these prestige homes were under water to at least first floor just a few weeks ago.

Archived in: Retirement

A Summertime Christmas

I see a lot of winter Christmas posts and they’re all wonderful but I thought some photos of a summer Christmas needs to be shared.

It’s our 2nd Christmas at our new home but because we only moved in a few weeks before Christmas last year we didn’t decorate much.
Simple decorations in a little house can look good too.
Poinsettias are common here too.
Outdoors is where you will find us most days.

Archived in: Retirement

In the trees

But up here it’s amazing.
Sometimes we just wanted to stay awhile.
Amazing trees. Huge and very old.
Now that’s a big tree. We were close to the end of the walkway and close to the ground. We couldn’t see the top of this one.
The base of this one wouldn’t fit into the camera viewer.
We could hear the roaring of the waves of a nearby beach.

Archived in: Retirement

Photos by Norm Siggee

Mathematics and the Cheese Board

While we were visiting Timbertown a few weeks ago, Norm and I spent some time looking at items made by a local wood craftsman. I mentioned to Norm that I would love a large cheese board but we found nothing that I liked or big enough. Norm said he could try and make one. This seemed a good idea because now that he’s retired he is often looking for something to do but this was not one of his academic projects. We were given the phone number of the suppler who invited us to his property to view his huge shed full of all his wood. Well, I fell in love with some beautiful pieces but they were much too big. We were able to take one home to see if would work but we returned it because it was too much work for Norm who had never attempted anything like this. As you can see all his measurements and calculations went out the window.

Then it was sanded and lacquered on both sides. This took another four days. In the meantime, Norm cooked meals outside on the BBQ or in the pizza oven.
The final look.

Not bad for an academic’s first handyman project except I still need a cheese board.

Archived in: Retirement

Three days in Coffs Harbour

We took a few days away to visit some of our favourite places and new places too. One of our favourites is the Butterfly House.

Another favourite is The Clog Barn and the miniature Dutch village.
Clogs are made and sold on the premises. I couldn’t resist the photo with the eastern water dragon that likes to sunbathe or take a shot cuts over the houses.
Day 2 we drove up to the sky pier that gives a panoramic view of Coffs Harbour.
As you can see, Norm had charge of the camera. We were the only ones on the sky pier. We then headed for the break water.
At the end of the breakwater we decided to continue the 2 kilometer/ approximately 1 1/4 miles UP 40 metres/ approx 130 feet above sea level to the to of Muttonbird Island.
Views from half way point. Zoomed in of course.
Yes, way up there is where we went.
While walking the break wall we booked a table for lunch. I had a fresh tuna steak with an amazing salad and Norm had roast duck. We both decided on this Mango cheese cake for dessert. It’s so good for a gluten free dessert.
Day 3 we visited the botanical gardens.
We walked several paths and board walks during the hour we were there.

My apologies if the photos are out of a alignment. I haven’t got these new WordPress changes worked out yet.

Archived in: Retirement

Old Timbertown

A day’s outing took us to Old Timbertown in Wauchope. With the school holidays over it was a quieter day with very few visitors. Just the way we prefer it. It was nice to wander around with no itinerary.

This is Honey, a young Llama with plenty of freedom to roam the town.
A draft horse being hitched on to a wagon. We didn’t hear the name .
The steam engine is powered by timber from the saw mill.
We couldn’t resist a ride.
Magic, another draft horse.
mmm…. it was tempting to leave him there.
An old steam tractor looking sad.

We bought a few bottles of Timbertown’s red wine and a carved fruit bowl from one of the merchants. The blacksmith was just tinkering but was fascinating just the same. Stepping back in time for a day into the late eighteen hundreds and it’s slow life style made for an interesting day.

Archived in: Retirement

It’s that time of year again!

I’ve never had so much space to work on my favourite craft and not have to pack up so we have room to eat. I can leave it out ready for the next time I have a spare hour or two.

oops. A little blurred but you can see that I’m making Christmas cards. I’m also making January Birthday cards.

Some finished. Others I need more craft material. Our local craft store has closed temporary because their stock is sitting on the wharf in Sydney where the dock workers are having a strike. Ebay may be my only hope to finish them in time for Christmas mail out.

Archived in: Retirement

Memories

Some not so great and some tougher memories of 2020.

Drought

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Water restrictions

Broken pipes

Broken garden tools

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New plantings during Covid19 lockdown

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New plans

Painting

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Compost making

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Finding new hobbies through a Covid19 winter

Archived in: Retirement

Whales Ahoy!

It’s whale season here on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia. Whales head north to warmer waters from the Antarctic to breed and give birth. Just a few days ago, we were taking the ocean road to head home the long way when I spotted a whale breaching of the coast. We parked the car at one of the lookouts and enjoyed the view. Unfortunately, we left our camera at home. Today we set off with the right equipment but sadly they were 15 to 20 kilometres off-shore. Even the long distance lens didn’t help. We met a gentleman who is one of the official whale counters who told us that 396 whales passed the headland and just a couple of kilometres off the coastline yesterday. Sadly, these are the best of 50 photos we took today.

Because you have read this far, I shall reward you with a few photos taken back in June 2016 – three years before we moved here. We had brought my dad up here from Sydney for a holiday. The whale watching cruise was the highlight of his trip. These whales came within 20 feet of the boat with one coming up alongside the boat to check out the humans.

Note: Boat owners are not allowed to approach whales but sometimes the whales come to the boat so engines are switched off to wait for the whales to move on.

Archived in: Retirement

Mother’s Day Drive

Highs of the day.

Sun 10 2

An astounding 490 metres above sea level.

Sun 10 3

A beautiful Sunny Sunday.

Sun 10 4

From the North Brother we could see the South and Middle Brother Mountains.

Sun 10 5

We were down there last week taking a drive.

Sun 10 6

Who would believe such a beautiful lookout is situated just 30 minutes south of home.

Sun 10 7

The canal to the Pacific Ocean

Sun 10 8

Looking up the coast.

Sun 10 9

Mountains to the north.

Sun 10 10

Queens Lake north of Laurieton.

Sun 10 May 1

Archived in: Pre- Retirement