Sunday, 30 August 2009

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Here are Pari and I during our day trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein yesterday. It was beautiful. (More pictures and details later!)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

new food blog!

I have been reading and writing about cooking so much recently. It has become a real passion. So I have decided to start a second blog, a blog devoted to cooking at called meals with sarah.

To keep all my recipes in the same place and as a complete, searchable database, I copied all my cooking posts from this blog across to meals with sarah. This blog has not changed at all, but on the new blog I have edited the posts to be more food focused. Also I have made a new set of post labels, for example, desserts, bread, veggies, holidays, and so on, to make finding a recipe you remember easier and quicker.

I'm so excited to be starting this new blog. Please add it to your reading list and pass it on to anyone you think might be interested. As always, I value your feedback. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

trip to Hong Kong

We had a short stopover in Hong Kong on our way back from Australia. What a good idea! It turns out that our friend Pari has an aunt and uncle there, so we were really blessed to be able to stay with them. We loved talking and eating with them, so we actually ended up doing less sightseeing than planned and spent our evenings with them.

The weather was hot and humid, quite a change from Australia's moderate winter weather. It was between 30 and 32 degrees while we were there and mostly raining, or on the verge of raining. It was hot, steamy weather. How did Ant survive? you ask. All the buses, taxis, and buildings are air conditioned. So we walked a bit, then stepped inside for a bit, all the time we were there. Our stopover was two days and three nights in total.

One of our main plans in Hong Kong was to have suits tailored for us. We got these from Sam's Tailors, quite a famous shop in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong. Ant got a navy pinstripe suit with two pairs of trousers and I got a charcoal suit with a skirt and trousers. This was Ant's first fitting (only six hours after we ordered the suits and were measured). They were complete the next day by the close of business!

Sam's keep your measurements on file for ten years and so if we ever want another suit in the same style (perhaps in a different fabric) was can just contact them and they will make it up and send it to us! I reckon we will get Ant another at some point because his suit just fit so well. He could really use a new suit each year so that he starts to build up a collection for work. But I doubt I will ever need more than one bespoke tailored suit since my work is a little more relaxed. I often wear a blazer with any dress trousers or skirt. But this will be my best suit and I will wear it for interviews and parents' evenings. The suits have our names and reference numbers stitched into the inside of the jackets. Wow, that made me feel so special! Ant says he likes the way I look like I am breezing out of Sam's like a natural!

We had a great journey on a traditional Chinese junk boat.

The views of the Hong Kong skylines were wonderful. The city is bustling, but from the water everything seemed much more calm.

Ant and I discovered over the course of this holiday that our favourite parts were all the things we did that involved being on the water. We loved travelling by ferry in Sydney, and especially kayaking in the Sydney harbour. Last summer we kayaked in Halifax as well. We have decided to keep doing water things, and to try to sea kayak any time it is an option.

On one of our two days we walked around the flower market and the bird market. I loved the flower market. There are several streets of flower and plant shops. I wanted to buy so many things! (But of course, flying with plants is not really an option.) There was one flower and plant store that had four levels!

Down the road is the bird market. Since space is at a premium in Hong Kong and almost everyone lives in a small apartment, birds are a common pet. They are more valuable when they have a delicate voice. The rows of bird salesmen were lined up over several streets. (Pari's uncle said that since bird flu the bird market has become much smaller.) The bird market was very noisy.

The birds on sale were mostly very small and pretty. There were lots of vibrant colours. The stalls also sold dry bird food and live crickets to be fed to the birds.

This mosaic was on a wall between the bird and flower markets.

By this time Ant and I were tired and hungry, so we came upon a conveniently placed cake shop. Ant opted for the mini chocolate mousse, no surprise there.

I chose the mango coconut mousse, also not unusual since I always choose fruit over chocolate.

This was my favourite plant. It reminded me of one I saw at Kew Gardens with Mum and Dad a couple of years ago. The leaves are green on the upper side and purple on the underside. The little plant cost about £1!

There was lots more to Hong Kong we would have liked to see. But we tired easily due to the weather and our time there was really short. It was such a natural stopover between here and Australia and we would definitely go there again. A lot of people spoke English due to the ties with the UK (and the vast number of tourists and business people), so my main fear of being stuck and incomprehensible was avoided.

Blue Mountains

Here are a few photographs from our weekend away (a couple of weeks ago) with Chris and Tamra. We drove out of Sydney to the Blue Mountains and stayed overnight in a cottage in a small village called Leura.

The scenery was beautiful as you can see. It was quite a bit colder there than in Sydney, especially when we went down to the valley floor, where there is a rainforest ecosystem.

We visited a beautiful historic house in Leura called the Everglades. The gardens there were stunning, from formal lawns and lines of trees to a waterfall and swimming hole, and also beautiful views off into the Blue Mountains.

The Everglades house is a beautiful art deco building with some rooms open for tea and others furnished in an original style.

We spent quite a lot of time just relaxing and walking around the village. We had cream tea at a little shop that also houses the largest private collection of teapots in the world. This is just one of the six or seven rooms lined with teapots.

Chris and Tam's son Ethan is now three months old and absolutely adorable. Ant and I were very impressed with his expressive face. Chris and Tam are such relaxed and comfortable parents; we think this has rubbed off on Ethan because he is a very relaxed and predictable baby.

Monday, 10 August 2009


Kayaking on the Sydney harbour was a fantastic experience. Ant and I would completely recommend it. We had a private tour that started at 6:30 am with Patrick from Natural Wanders. Our paddle took us from Lavender Bay, under the Harbour Bridge (avoiding the ferries) and along the shoreline of Kirribilli then around Kirribilli Point opposite the Opera House.

We paddled past Admiralty House (the Governor General's residence) and Kirribilli House (Prime Minister's residence) the along to Neutral Bay. In Neutral Bay we looked at some famous racing yachts and followed the shoreline around Kurabba Point into Shell Cove then along Cremorne Peninsula and around the lighthouse at Robertson Point into Mosman Bay.

After our paddle around Mosman Bay we took a more direct route across the harbour back to Lavender Bay. In total we paddled 12 km. Here we are, tired and happy, returning under the bridge.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

the zoo

Ant, Micah, Anna, and I went to the Taronga Zoo today. Micah's favourite were the giraffes. See how the two giraffes (above) both have their back legs crossed? I am not sure why they do this, but we saw that they all did this while standing still. They are so elegant in the way they walk as well.

The giraffe has one more leg joint than we do and this means they can bend over their front legs. This one is doing the splits to reach something on the ground!

These stately sheep were completely motionless.

Micah says it is a differential equations problem to explain the formation of the stripes on the zebra. Even the hair running down their necks fits in with the stripes.

Ant took a break with this huge seal (statue).

There was an Australian habitat, where you could walk right alongside the kangaroos and wallabies. They were very docile.

We also saw lots of animals that were much more difficult to photograph, like the echidnas, my favourite. They are little balls of spikes with a snuffling snout.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

the Sydney harbour

A lot of the sight seeing we have been doing centres on the harbour; it is so beautiful! On Saturday Micah and Anna took us to Manly Beach. We went there on the ferry and then we bought some fish and chips and walked along the beach. It is not really warm enough for swimming but there were quite a few people surfing. When we were coming home on the ferry the sun was setting.

Today Ant and I went out for a walk; first we took the train to Circular Quay, where all the ferry wharfs are. The best view of the harbour, Micah says, is to be had from the train station. The view here is from across the platform.

We then took a ferry to Cremorne Point and started to walk along the point. We saw some stunning buildings and very lovely gardens. We saw these beautiful flowers.

And we also saw lots of sailing boats.

And to finish, here is a photo unrelated to the harbour. On Saturday evening we went for a very enjoyable game of Australian rules football at the Sydney cricket ground. It was so much fun! I was astounded. The game was very close and we all lost our voices from cheering and hooting.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sydney sight seeing

Ant and I have been out several times now to the city. Last week we went into the city and stopped at David Jones foodhall (a posh department store) for a picnic, which we took to the Botanic Gardens near the Opera House. We really enjoyed walking around the Opera House and the harbour and seeing the bridge nearby. Then we walked around the Rocks area of Sydney and then over the bridge. From the bridge we got this great view of the Opera House.

The bridge walk was really excellent--a nice brisk walk with great views. We felt pleasantly energetic afterwards. (We have not been sight seeing every day. On other days we have been relaxed and not doing too much at home with Micah and Anna!)