Archive for July, 2009

River Walk on the Thames

Thursday 30 July   Sunny, then rain (quite heavy), then sunny again

 Janet took us to the Thames River at Maidenhead, where we walked along the Thames Path towards Bray, passing Rolf Harris’ home and many other mansions.  We walked as far as Bray, stopping opposite Ferry End House, where we stayed in 2005, with Sandy’s sister, Maria’s, brother-in-law, Michael and Maggie.  We watched rowers on the river as well as narrow boats gliding gracefully past.

 We then walked back in the other direction towards Cookham, stopping at Boulter’s Lock.  By the time we got to Ray Mill Island and Boulter’s Weir, the blue sky had turned to large grey clouds and heavy rain began to fall.  As we only had one umbrella between the three of us, we quickly headed back to the car.

In the afternoon, the three of us went to visit Janet & Adrian’s friends, Muffie and Greg, where we spent an enjoyable couple of hours, before coming home to pack for our Scotland road trip tomorrow.

 

Rolf Harris' House
Rolf Harris’ House
Ferry End House
Ferry End House
Narrow Boat
Narrow Boat
Boulter's Weir
Boulter’s Weir

Raining Cats and Dogs

Henley-on-Thames

Wednesday 29 July         Overcast, scattered light showers.

After a good night’s sleep, we both woke at approximately our normal times and after taking care of the mundane things like groceries and washing, Janet took us to visit Henley-on-Thames, approximately 10 miles from Maidenhead.  

Sandy and Janet

Sandy and Janet

 

 

We had a delightful walk along the river and through the town.

 

 

Henley Rowing Club

Henley Rowing Club

 

Henley is a world renowned centre for rowing – each summer they hold the Henley Royal Regatta, which is one of the highlights of the social calendar of the English middle and upper classes.

 

 

Henley Bridge

Henley Bridge

 

 

Henley Bridge is a five arched bridge across the river and it was built in 1786. 

 

 

 

 

 

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church

 

The church of St Mary is located near the river and features a tower built in the 16th century.

The BIG Adventure Begins

Finally, after months of plotting and planning and waiting, it was time for our big adventure to begin.  Richard’s sister, affectionately known as Eenie, picked us up and delivered us to the airport.  The check-in at Singapore airlines was quick and easy and we were relieved to find that we were under their weight limits for baggage, as it had been difficult to pack for a 3 month holiday, where we had to cater for summer and winter clothing.

At 2.45pm our A330-300 Airbus left Brisbane, heading us to Singapore, some 6,226 kilometres away.  The seating configuration was 2-4-2 and we were happy with our seats, the second row in economy on the right hand side just in front of the wing.  We had a good flight to Singapore, arriving at 8.45 pm (10.45 pm Brisbane time).

After finding our way to the centre of terminal 3 in the huge Changi Airport, we checked out the duty free shops, had a cup of coffee and headed to our departure lounge to board our A380 Airbus to London.  We were excited to be seated on the Upper Deck on the left hand side, just behind the wing, in a 2-4-2 configuration.  We left Singapore at 11.35pm (1.35am Brisbane time) for our 11,088 kilometres journey to London. Our seats were comfortable with lots of leg room and besides the overhead locker space, we had an extra storage bin next to the seat, under the window, large enough to hold two heavy coats, our laptop, and Richard’s akubra hat. 

A380 Airbus

A380 Airbus

We were very impressed with the service we received from the elegant, friendly and helpful Singapore Airlines staff and the food was excellent.

At 5.35 am (2.35pm Brisbane time) we finally arrived at London Heathrow airport, and made a quick exit through Immigration – no queues!

We were delighted to be met by an exited Janet and Adrian, carrying a large sign that read “No more sleeps!”

 

No More Sleeps

No More Sleeps

After hugs and kisses, and the usual photo opportunity, we headed off to Janet and Adrian’s lovely two bedroom Flat in Maidenhead, where we deposited our bags and showered, before heading off exploring.  Firstly, we took Adrian to work and were able to see his new office, then Janet showed us around Maidenhead, before taking us to see her school, The Piggott School, in Reading and her previous school, Waingels.  We then went to an English Pub, called Bird in Hand, where Janet’s friend, Hilary, met us for a drink.  After a nice lunch at the pub, Janet took us to a huge Marks and Spencers shop and a huge Tesco shop (like Woolworths and Big W combined) to pick up a few things she needed, before heading back to our new home to unpack and get ready for dinner.  As Richard had only had about 3 hours sleep on the plane, he was off to bed at 6.30 (after nodding off a few times earlier).

 We are both so excited to finally be here with Janet and Adrian – the adventure has begun!

Mini Adventure No 2 – Cairns

Thursday afternoon, we caught a flight to Cairns to spend the weekend with Katharine and Steve.  On Friday morning we went for a lovely walk down to Trinity Beach – what a beautiful part of the world! 

Trinity Beach

Trinity Beach

Then, the four of us went to the Cairns Show and had a fantastic time.  We saw lots of interesting exhibitions as well some great ring events, including 4  stunt drivers and an amazing stockman and his four horses.  He could get them to do just about anything with a gesture or a look.   

Clever Stunt Driver

Clever Stunt Driver

Amazing Stockman

Amazing Stockman

Sandy, Katharine and Steve

Sandy, Katharine and Steve

We finished the day off with a lovely meal at Ochre Restaurant in Cairns. 

On Saturday, Katharine and Steve took us to Paronella Park, which was No 1 on the RACQ’s Queensland 150 Must Dos and is just south of Innisfail.  Jose Poronella built the Park and it was opened to the public in 1935.  He had a dream to build a castle, which he did on 13 acres beside Mena Creek Falls where he built picnic areas at the lakeside, tennis courts, tunnels and bridges and planted an amazing range of 7000 tropical plants and trees.  The four of us thoroughly enjoyed exploring the grounds and had a wonderful day together.  We finished off a perfect day with a lovely BBQ dinner and a game of cards. 

Castle at Paronella Park

Castle at Paronella Park

Castle and fountains

Castle and fountains

Lake and waterfall

Lake and waterfall

 

On Sunday, we went to Katharine and Steve’s church and were thrilled to discover that instead of playing either her flute or saxophone, it was Katharine’s turn to sing.  After some shopping, we had lunch, played another game of 500 (where Sandy & Steve won again!) and all too soon it was time to say goodbye after a wonderful 3 days together.

 8 sleeps to our BIG adventure…….

Mini Adventure No 1 – Leeton

 
Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area from the air

M I A from the air

Leeton Main Street

Leeton Main Street

Murrumbidgee River

Murrumbidgee River

Gogeldrie Weir on the Murrumbidgee River

Gogeldrie Weir on the Murrumbidgee River

 

 

Mum

Mum

 

Fog at Wagga Wagga

Fog at Wagga Wagga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With only 3 weeks to go before our big adventure, we decided to visit Sandy’s Mum and sister, Maria and her husband Dennis, who live in Leeton.  Leeton can be found in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area in the Riverina District in South West NSW.

After an early morning flight on Friday morning to Canberra with Richard’s sister, Yvonne, affectionately known as Eenie, we picked up our hire car and Sandy drove the 400 kilometres to Leeton, via Yass, Gundagai and Wagga Wagga.  We stayed with Maria and Dennis at the “Hughes B&B”, where we were spoilt with lovely food and good company! 

We were lucky enough to have sunny days but enjoyed the gas heaters at Maria’s and Sandy’s Mum’s as the outside temperatures were not exactly warm.  

As we have been fairly frequent visitors over the last couple of years and have seen most of the rice, grain and vineyards on previous visits, we spent the weekend catching up with the family news.  We seemed to spend the weekend talking, eating and laughing! 

All too soon, it was time to say good-bye mid-morning on Monday for our trip back to Canberra to catch the flight home. The trip was unusual because we drove into fog about half an hour out of Leeton and didn’t see sunshine (or much else) for another hour and a half!  Very interesting, as Wagga Wagga was totally engulfed in fog at midday.