Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Kettlewell camping and scarecrow festival

Fans of the blog will surely be wondering where all the camping has gone this year.  A rudimentary google search for "blueberry curls camping" suggests we've blogged about it c. 3.36 million times.  But this year we've just not found the time.  Having got back from Australia we sought to rectify this and booked a weekend up in Kettlewell.  

Fans of the Mosedale children (multiple generations) will know that when camping, you take photos of football being played.  

Those same fans will know that breakfast consists of multipacks of cereal.  Two boxes each day, with this pair.  This might be the last year that Marisca gets her own choice each day though, I imagine those coco pops will be quite coveted.

We had a lovely walk up Consitone Dib and to Conistone Pie.  Marisca did great, nearly 3 miles of walking and quite hilly.  She loved scrambling up the gully and we loved watching her have so much fun.

It was very windy on top!

Fans of Elspeth will know that Elspeth doesn't like me publishing pictures of her mid-eat, so this is the best family photo I have.  Marisca is mid-eat and mid-sulk too.

Fans of Wharfedale will know Kilnsey trout farm.  We had good fun exploring and feeding the fish.  

Even fans of scarecrows will find Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival a little bit too much.  There were some very good scarecrows and some pretty dull scarecrows.  There were a lot of scarecrows.  We abandoned after c. 75% of known scarecrows and had cake in a cafe instead.  A wise choice.  Here are my favourites: may pole scarecrows and wedding scarecrows.

And I'm not sure how this happened.  I mean, I remember taking the photo so it definitely happened, but I have no recollection of any blue sky whatsoever this weekend.  That didn't stop us having a lovely time though.  More camping next year!

Butterflies in the park

I'm catching up on weekend photos - I think these are about a month old...  Elspeth found out on the local grapevine about these great willow butterfly sculptures that some people had installed in Northcliffe Park, at the top of the hill.  They really were quite impressive (and hopefully they're still there).  We had a nice walk up, looked at the art, made out own (much simpler) version, and just had a bit of a run around.  Very much a nice local thing to do on a warm summer's weekend.

Visiting grandparents

We've just had a short overnight visit to Harmby to see Gran and Grandad.  Book reading, train sets, wall walking, and playgrounds all made an appearance.

And here are a bunch of Crockers.

Emotions and names

Tom is getting very good at emotions.  He can now name three.

For a long time I've been meaning to tell you about "Sad".  Particularly in his Thomas the Tank Engine books, but elsewhere too, if he sees a sad character he adopts a mournful expression and says Saaaad.  I can't really make that come to life more, just, well, it's cute and shouldn't be forgotten.

A little while later he got Happy.  And now he's got Grumpy.  Which is all the more amusing when he points to his sister after some spat that's involved her crying and says "Sad.......  Grumpy!".

I don't think that Cheeky is an emotion really but it's the funniest thing he says at the moment, with a big grin on his face.  Cheeky!

He is going through a naming phase at the moment - colours, everywhere we go (usually blue first, and then the actual colour).  Foods, objects, and people.  I remember our excitement one breakfast where he went round the table and named everyone, finishing with himself.  I'm sure that's a sign of recognising himself as an entity within the world, or something.  Interestingly, he called Marisca 'Giga' for a while, until he started going to Bonbons and will now call her "Marisha" for most of the week, reverting back to Giga after the weekend before being reminded at Bonbons how to say her name.  Bit strange but quite cute.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Australia: coming home

So we came to a last day, with flight home at 10 at night.  It was sad to be leaving - we could have carried on having holiday for a lot longer.  I think staying in an apartment in Manly helped make it feel a bit less like the round of hotel & evening meals out that can get tiring on holiday.

We decided to start the day with breakfast at a spot down on the beach.  It turned out the be somewhat posher than our usual breakfast locations and so we had a job to keep the children quiet enough for the surroundings.  Marisca's polenta porridge was very nice but she said she likes mummy's and daddy's porridge more!

The walk down for breakfast gave us a last opportunity to enjoy the morning beach at Manly.  How lovely, we'll miss the beaches.

A good little walk around the headland was had.  Nice to be walking on something other than boardwalk for a change, to be honest, and good to get a view of the harbour and a pod of whale watching boats out to sea. 

Here's a nicely eroded cliff.

And, although you've not seen the 'lookout point' sign, this is actually a very good replica of the pose in the sign.  Good work, girls.

We then took off up the coast to visit some of Sydney's northern beaches, stopping for lunch at Dee Why, at a nice cafe with a great space for the children to run around as well as toys and books for them while we waited.  Can't remember what it was called, but it was good.

Then we went to the beach (no surprise!).  Happy times playing in the waves and in the sand.  When it comes to beaches, Marisca is definitely a waves person (although it's better when they don't reach her) and Tom is a sand person, enjoying shovelling sand from here to there and back again.  

My last beach photos, of Dee Why beach: beautiful colours, and great waves.

And that was nearly that.  A couple of hours left saw us drive up to palm beach for the sunset, before we endured a busy and increasingly traffic jammed and stressful drive through the city to the airport.

I've said before that we wouldn't have come to Australia if we didn't want to visit our friends.  But we had such a great time, experiencing some great superstar locations like the reef, rainforest, and Byron Bay; falling in with beach, tea, and cake culture; and just having time together doing memorable things as a family.  There's a lot more to see and do in Australia and I'm sure we'll be back some time.

Australia: the Blue Mountains, a scenic world

One more day left and we decided to spend it in the country, rather than the city.  We drove up to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, for a scenic day.  This is definitely an area that we could spend more time, and in a different situation some proper walks down in the forest and through the mountains would be great.  Tied down by a need for child friendliness however, we got our fix through the Scenic World (cracking name).  This consists of a couple of cable cars from the mountain tops to the valley floor, and a few km of boardwalk down in the forest.

We travelled down on the railway - an old miners track and very very steep.  We weren't quite expecting to go through a tunnel just after we set off at this steep angle which was, frankly, terrifying, but it was a fun and quick way down to the valley.

Here's the view back up the tracks.  Steep...

Naturally we took the longest loop we could to enjoy the forest.  This worked pretty well although Marisca did need a bit of cattle prodding.  Once we got Tom down he was considerably easier to keep moving in the right direction.

The rainforest here does have a different feel to the tropical stuff up in Cairns.  Different species, I suspect, and a much cooler feel.  They still have big old trees though like this one.

Back up the top (on the Biggest Cable Car in Australia!) we had a rather tedious lunch and then a trip across to the opposite ridge, with a walk back for a mile or two.

Here's the cable car across with the three sisters rock formation on the left - pretty cool.

It's hard to tell from these photographs the sheer scale of the landscape.  These cliffs are big, and the opposite side very far away.  A big and beautiful spot, and we were glad we forsook the city for a day out here.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Australia: wiggley party

In the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, there is a permanent exhibition of Wiggles memorabilia.  Marisca loves the wiggles, although I have to say that it wasn't her that I had to drag away to see if perhaps Sydney had more to offer...

Magic colouring screen

Wiggles tat/merchandise - the Henry the Octopus belt in the bottom left is probably my favourite.  And we managed to find The Wiggles toothbrushes and toothpaste to bring home as gifts, although these just came from a supermarket, rather than the museum shop.

Toot too, chugga chugga, big red car!

And we tried to get a nice shot of Marisca with the big wiggles but she was too scared.  I can't see why...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Australia: Sydney

We took the ferry from Manly Wharf into Sydney: another beautifully clear sunny day.  The ferry was quick and easy and allowed us to see some of the sights:

We then decided to head to the Powerhouse Museum and work our way back from there to see a few different things - we weren't going to manage to see everything and decided to start with another child-friendly place for running around before we started dragging them places.

The museum is a good spot - playgrounds, interactive exhibits, the wiggles exhibition (see separate post).  I most enjoyed to oopsatoreum which is set up with a bunch of unusual inventions and objects with made up explanations of their use and purpose.  It was imaginative and funny, although my favourite thing is this forerunner to the Teasmade.

A wander north took us to Darling Harbour with nice view of the PwC office, and a winter wonderland.  It was midwinter, and it was chilly enough in the shade to necessitate long sleeves, but it wasn't really the weather for that kind of winter theme park!  We didn't go in - it would have been too weird - but Marisca did enjoy the lights.

Also in Darling Harbour there's a water feature playground - some pumps and a stream which splits and combines depending on the setting of gates set in the floor.  Marisca really enjoyed hopping over the streams and playing in the water, and Tom and I enjoyed a good sit down to watch her.

And here's a rare shot of me - I must have given the camera to Elspeth at some point while helping Risky with the pumps!

Playing on the carousel:

We then carried on walking, as far as The Rocks, where we stopped for hot chocolate and biscuits.  And while we were there these lorikeets popped down to fill up on sugar.  Beautifully colourful birds which gives them a special status - if these were pigeons they'd have been shooed away in short order.

And the last thing we did was to climb one of the bridge pylon towers.  Marisca climbed all 200-ish steps to the top and we got a lovely view of the city with the sun setting.  Here's the opera house again.

Elspeth, Tom, and the city:

And some bridge detail.

Heading home on the ferry again gave a last view of the bridge from the docks.  It was a great day in Sydney and there's lots we'd want to see if we were there again, but we got a feel for the city.  Another dinner out in Manly (very nice Mexican with margheritas) rounded off a busy and memorable day.