Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Do you mind if I knit?

Last week the wonderfully talented artist Vanessa Cabban died.

Hearing about her death has made me pensive about a great many things...but it's also reminded me how much inspiration I've gleaned from blogging over the years and just how lovely the blogging community can be.

The world of blogging is certainly a duller place without her.

I hope that the outpouring of love from those who were inspired by her gives her family some small comfort at this terribly painful time.

Here are the photos of her and her work that most made me smile:
(you can find more of her work on her blog 'do you mind if I knit?')

Fee x

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Hello Noosa...

I can't believe it's taken me this long to finish writing about our Australian adventure. If truth be told I had a serious case of the blues on return to the UK - made worse by the fact that Cleggy stayed over there for an extra week to finish off the work bit.

I always have a bit of the blues after the summer - just missing us all being together. I love the lack of routine (and lack of making of packed lunches/washing uniform)

So, for the last bit of the trip we travelled up to Noosa, a little town in Queensland on the aptly named Sunshine Coast.
 As it was out of season we bagged a great holiday house that would have been well out of reach in high summer
It was beautifully designed - great for the amazingly hot summers...
...and also cosy for the few cold rainy days - 
of which we saw more that our fair share! 
The area is made up of small towns, miles of river, pretty hinterland and amazing beaches.
Just like in Sydney the locals were really friendly and welcoming.
It's also known as a foodie's heaven - perfect!
One of the main attractions is the National Park - the most visited National Park in Australia.
And it's not hard to see why - the many trails criss cross stunning woodland, pockets of rain forest, rare orchid swamps and the most beautiful coastline. Little coves, dramatically steep cliffs, the chance to watch dolphins and whales and a population of koalas - what's not to like?!
Alexandria Bay behind is a 'clothing optional' beach. Fortunately empty on our visit!
we were really chuffed to see dolphins!!
weird storm clouds gathered - we got drenched shortly afterwards
and amazed to spot an Echindna...
I was also chuffed to find that despite being outside the big cities there were still lots of wonderful coffee opportunities. We sampled many - but my absolute favourite was called Twig & Grace
I was seriously smitten...
I couldn't go to Noosa and NOT meet up with my long time blogging pal Felicity - so we had a blind date. I wasn't a bit surprised to find that the very same cafe was one of her favourites too - and thrilled to have another reason to visit.
She gave me the most beautiful ring - which has a photo of the Noosa River with the Cooroy Mountain in the background.
A perfect memento from a gorgeous day...
(It was wonderful to meet you special lady - 
lets do it again one day!)
We did some great walks in the Hinterland but one of the best for views was up Mount Tinbeerwah - about 20 minutes outside Noosa. 

Just along the road we stumbled across Noosa Botanic Gardens - with it's lakeside amphitheatre
 We spotted turtles in the lake
and pretty blue birds
In the middle of the Noosa bit Kenzie had a birthday - 
and became a teenager.
For his special day he chose to have breakfast out at a lovely restaurant called Sirocco, right on the river front
Much of the rest of the day was spent messing about on the river!
We hired an electric boat - 
which everyone could have a go of piloting.
After a hairy first few minutes (narrowly avoiding a passenger ferry!) it was a very relaxing day - and a great way of viewing some of the wonderfully luxurious homes on the banks of the river 

Feel the need to point out that wasn't The Teen's bottle! But it was where he spent much of the day...
In the evening we went to Noosa Boathouse - which by bizarre coincidence our good friends (and old neighbours) Graham and Tracy have just moved out to Oz to manage, alongside Graham's twin brother. Unfortunately they arrived just after we left for home - but it's lovely to know where they are and be able to picture their new home. (VERY jealous!)
 Anyone who knows my blog of old knows how special this gorgeous boy is - we privately celebrate his birthdays just that little bit more than anyone elses - as we are so lucky he is still here!
For which we feel unfeasibly blessed.
Another favourtie spot was Noosa Lookout - 
the sunsets were breathtaking.

Some of the best days were simply spent on the beach - 
Noosa main beach being our nearest
It's popular with families, surfers and photographers
and Geordie Boy!
We found these fellas on the rocks basking in the sun...
and enjoyed a drink in the surf club
Like everywhere else in Australia there are plenty of vintage cars to admire - this one was my favourite - look at those wheels!
I am NOT a fan of jellyfish....
but I am a massive fan of sunsets
                 Other favourites were Coolum Beach
and of course Sunshine Beach!
cold wine at Sunshine beach surf club....I found the receipt in a pocket last week...it made me smile and then have a little weep!
I LOVE the way this boy embraces life!! Hope it's always thus
On a rainier day we took (the slightly reluctant) 
boys to a sculpture park!
I was happy as Larry - beautiful plants, interesting sculptures and plenty of birds. They resorted to a huge (friendly) stick fight. Including Cleggy.
 This was my favourite sculpture - it was about'family'
We drove a little further south to Mooloolaba - which was also nice to visit but felt a little bit more touristy. Nice beach though...
Another interesting place was a little further down the coast at Kings Beach - another lovely beach, walk and home to a moving memorial to Australian Service men and women. There's also a memorial walkway where brass plaques describing the service of hundreds of soldiers, sailors and airmen are sunk into the pavement.
We also found some amazing rainforest trails in the hinterland - so worth a visit.
I think this one was in Mapleton
some of the trees were enormous
and the views breathtaking...
There are some great drives through the hinterland - with a choice of interesting and quaint towns full of tea shops and crafts. We spent longest in Montville - 
where one of these owls may have been purchased!
There were some interesting little shops - clocks and chocolate, lights and jewellery
On the drive home we had some wonderful views of the
 Glasshouse mountains
We spent one day travelling North - we wanted to visit Rainbow beach but didn't quite make it! But we did find amazingly remote and empty beaches in the Cooloola park. Just stunning. (even if I didn't like the signs warning about how to stay 'coyote safe'!!)
Another favourite trip was to the famous Eumundi Market. We started with breakfast in Bohemian Bungalow (up there in the best cafes)
I am a massive fan of french markets - but this one beats them all!
 I bought a little necklace of charms:
 ...and Cleggy bought a ring made out of a vintage spoon.
There was plenty to inspire!
I couldn't finish a blog post about Noosa without mentioning the amazing wildlife we saw. We searched high and low for a Koala to no avail - but we did see Kangaroos more than once (amazing!)
These ones were just in front of someones house - it just felt so weird to see them in the open air like that!
These funny (ugly!) turkey type birds are all over the place...
Including the beach!
And I was thrilled to find there were more pelicans - my favourite!
 We were also lucky enough to see a glossy black cockatoo and  a white bellied sea eagle - none of which I managed to capture on film with any success. I did however get some lovely shots of two baby Osprey (we think) squawking away waiting for their Mum to come home with the dinner!
 Lots and lots of beautiful birds...
Including these friendly ones who visited our balcony each day
 We also found these little jelly cnidarians called Velella, but also known as 'by the wind sailor', 'purple sail' and 'little sail'.
All in all I think it's fair to say we loved Noosa!
Apart from anything else we felt so lucky to be able to have that time as a family - enjoying each others company (in the main!) and making memories of our adventures.
 I found the last evening in Queensland very emotional 
(and still do looking at these photos!)
We took one last long walk along the beach,enjoyed one last sunset
and one last look at the beautiful view
 We then travelled back to Sydney for one last night with our gorgeous friends before the boys and I left for home.
There are few people in the world who make us laugh as much as these two do - an inhaler was most definitely needed...
We had an ace meal in the newly opened Coogee Pavilion - which was right up our street and would work brilliantly over here (think cool warehouse restaurant but still child friendly, mixed with cocktails)

 And one last breakfast in our favourite cafe Ruby's - the place we had had our first meal in Australia 5 short weeks earlier.
 We absolutely LOVED Australia - and can't wait to go back one day. It is AMAZING.
 I said a small teary goodbye to Cleggy  - and then had a BIG cry whilst checking in. Much to the embarrassment of all three boys. Who tried to (genuinely) hug me better - whilst pleading with their eyes to get a flamin' grip!! Fortunately the lovely lady who checked our bags in was from Devon and had me laughing in no time. Everyone sighed a massive sigh of relief.

As our plane took off we spotted a beautiful rainbow...which cheered us all up.
 But more special was the rainbow that appeared as we descended into Manchester.
It was more subtle - I had to look harder to spot it, and that's the spirit in which I tried to approach the feelings I had as we arrived home. There is so much to be grateful for.
Fee x