It is home to sporting events, namely AFL and Rugby Union and entertainment concerts.
On this night I went to watch Hawthorn’s last game of the season. I was so glad I flew down to watch them play.
Etihad has a real vibe. On a near full crowd the place heaves with noise, cheers and awesome lighting. The facilities are considerate and cater for special needs. The foods is pretty dodgey like most Australian sporting venues, so eat before you come.
The easiest way to get to Etihad is via train. Just aim for Etihad Stadium, Docklands station. It is really easy once there and about a ten minute walk.
Over the years I have spent a couple of years all up, but is has been in 1-2 day short stays, or staying out of town and traveling in. There is always something to do, day or not.
This trip I was on the way to stay with my sister who now lives down in Cornwall. London seemed a logical stop over so she came up to play. Without much effort at all our day filled up with incredible sights, walks, foods and interactions.
Your 24 hours in London might look very different to mine. But can be equally as fun and packed.
Arriving from in International flight to Heathrow, getting into London is easy.
You just jump on the train which is right inside the airport.
The train takes you into town and then you simply train hop onto another line until finding your hotel.
This visit we stayed down near the Tower Bridge. Great hotel, good location and close to the river Thames which is always good for walking along. It is a long way fromBuckingham Palace and that side of town, but it suited us and we caught buses up to Trafalgar or the tube is never far a away.
Checking into the hotel at 330pm it was time to race off and explore.
The weather in London can be treacherous. The wind chill can be freezing and things can change quickly but if you are not prepared for the unpredictable wind changes of London. Fortunately most venues are warm once inside and there are plenty of shops if you are out and about, and need to buy a jacket. I think I am trying to say, don’t over think the preparation of a day in London. Just get out amongst it and don’t take your whole wardrobe.
It used to be akin to a goal letting people in and out of the old London. Conveniently located on the outside moat wall is a draw bridge so that boats (in years gone by) could bring criminals directly for hanging. It is affectionately called the execution door. Still with grills and water lapping at the sides of the castle, it is very easy to cast your mind back to a land and culture that sculpted our current politics and history.
From there we go for a “short” walk to St Paul’s Cathedral. On the way passing some new and old landmark buildings. The gherkin, the walkie talkie building and the older oblisk landmark called “ The Monument” which was erected following the great London Fires in 1666.
Along side St Paul’s Cathedral is a modern looking build called One New Change.
Find your way into it’s arcade and catch the lift to the top. If you are “appropriately dressed” (not looking like a tourist in sneakers) then you may enjoy a wine on their roof top bar. Otherwise they allow you to wander the roof’s side to check out the great views of St Paul’s Cathedral and London.
From there you are very central to many brilliant clothes shops. We bought a few things then headed back to the hotel for a cloth-change. Time to enjoy London night time.
Being a Friday night, beers at all the local bars, are the thing to do. People cascade onto the pavements, ale in hand and lots of chit chat. I would have loved to part-took but there was plenty more exploring to be done.
Wanting to chill and watch the sun set on a wonderful day , we headed to the Thames river and found on of the many venues where you can sit on a boat and enjoy a drink.Our vessel was called Hispanic beside Waterloo Bridge.
On the otherside of London – also known as the Southbank – is always a buzz of activity and things to do. The time we are there is a festival celebrating the river.
One great shows we saw was a film projection, with a back ground small orchestra, showing how Waterloo Bridget was built in 1944. IT was built my women as most of the men were at war.
Brick by brick, pylon by pylon.
It was an impressive slip show with much beautfiul imagery or women working together creating a massive sculpture.
You really can simply waltz along the river’s edge and participate in much. Even people watching is cool.
Time for dinner and we go to one of my sister’s old favorites, Trioia – a Turkish restaurant a block away from the Southbank but with it’s on great energy and vibe. The food is good, the pricing good and service quick. We order a Mezza (banquet) for 2 which more than fills us up.
Quite shattered at this point we call it a day and head back to our apartment to be gret with clean sheets and puffy pillows.
Up early on the Saturday we set off to explore the Tower of London again.
With barely anyone around it was quite a different place. You could imagine how it would have been hundred’s of years. ago. The well kept draw bridge is still in use today and walking across it is easy.
The other side has a few gems to explore. WE find the converted convent from 606AD , now an active catherdral stunning. It is the oldest standing gothic building from it’s time. Shakespeare, Dickens and Harvard were all associated with the church which is conveniently tucked away beside the Borough Markets.
We were there easy and didn’t see the markets in full swing but the foods were incredible. Everything from partridges, delicious pastries to wheels of mature cheese. A simply stunning array of food.
Back to the hotel to check out and my sister was off to get her hair attended to by her long term hair dresser (which sounded like she had followed all around the UK) in Notting Hill.
Notting Hill is a delightful suburb north west of the city.
The hair dressing salon is great and I am served a peppermint tea then treated to a shampoo and blow dry. My self esteem lifts as having my hair done well (and stylish) is not unfortunately something I have mastered yet.
I do a little bit of local exploring around Kensinnton Garden Square, where many of the consults live. Maple leaves drift from the skies reminding me that autumn is on it’s way and whilst today is warm, soon the days will be short and cold.
Back on the double decker red bus to Hyde Park. Which isn’t that far, but we are preserving our legs a little bit.
The War Memorial between Hyde Park and the start of Buckingham Palace is a sombre reminder of New Zealand’ and Australia’sinvolvement in all of the British Empire’s wars. The arch in the middle of the park is quite stunning.
A short wander brings one to Buckingham Palace. Today is it buzzing with people and the sun is shining and everyone is happy.
The park that guides you back to town is called St James Park and simply beautiful. Royal geese and swans make the lake a beautiful sight. Deck chairs for hire are a great option but we find ourselves to the kiosk for lunch, which serves a lovely chilled wine and good food.
I decide to do a quick water colour inspired by my favorite Claude Monet.
Once the sun has dried it off we venture towards town. Today they have the streets sealed off , with lambaginis and porches chasing each other in a movie being made. Lots of street fun for a short interlude.
We follow our noses to Horse’s Bridge which is beside 10 Downing St.
Here the royal guards sit on their magnificent horses, keeping watch. Tourists love the guards and I have a little horse whisper with both of them who both said they would rather be running around a paddock, then strung up on a warm Saturday in London. Surprise.
From here we are close to everything – Big Ben, Westminister and the Thames, but we head left for Trafalgar Square. I love going to the National Art Gallery. It’s pure size is hard to comprehend and art works one of the best (if not the best) collection of post impressionsm anywhere. I love it. And it’s free!
The Great Hall is a magestic set of rooms housing Vincent Van Goughs (such as the Sunflowers, Starry Night and his famous chair). Monets, Degas, Cezanne dominate the opposite wall. And then to remind you of what an absolutely incredible era it was a few guagins, Manet and Pissaros.
Just in one room!
Outside of the art gallery is a festival. There is always so much to absorb around Trafalgar Square, including the shrine landmark to Lord Nelson set up high.
Today we are privvie to an incredible musican playing with just his guitar. The sounds coming from his beaten up guitar are like those I have never heard before. Wonderful. We stay for a few tracks and I purchase his CD.
It’s time to find another wine so back to the Southbank to watch radio BBC hosting a rock n roll contest. The sun has bought our many smiles on the locals and tourists and everyone is happy!
Another little food festival is taking place behind the southbank but sadly we only have time to sample some curries and wild hog. It’s time to head our of London (via Gatewich) to Cornwall.
Recently I went to Woodford again to join in with The Planting.
I didn’t really know what to expect but if was along the same vein as The Woodford Folk Festival, I knew I would would love it…. and so would the kids.
Determined to let my inner child dominate I set few rules for the weekend (just the usual safety ones for the kids) .
We all seem to sigh a breath of relief when I declare these weekends. We all get to honour fun and play in nature.
With that in mind, this is my ” inner child’s” take on The Planting Festival, held the first long weekend in May each year.
The Planting 2016
We arrive late on Friday afternoon... too late in the afternoon.
I forgot that the sun goes to bed really early now, and that there would be loads of traffic leaving Brisbane, heading north for the weekend.
It was a long car drive. It rained.
The traffic stopped. Then it started. only to Stop again.
It was actually loads of fun, until we got there a little too late…. It was nearly dark, and raining consistently.
The kids were really good about it though and the volunteers are all friendly and make it a really easy process.
After showing ID at the registration tent it was an armband on, then directions to the camp site.
The kids were buzzing with excitement as was I.
The excitment momentarily died as we put the tents up in the rain..
Time to explore.
Inside the festival was awesome.
We headed straight for the Tree House.
It had been built over 2 weeks by about 14 people including these amazing people:
Arief from Indonesia who has a passion and business in the bamboo industry.
There was something very wholesome about him and his nature that left you smiling inside to out.
And Jed – another cool person who has been involved with Woodfordia and the art side for many years. He also had that incredible luminsing energy that left you feeling happy.
The Tree House is a magnificent structure that is best described as living art and an absolute trip wire for one’s imagination.
It’s window off the lounge room offers a placid and surreal scene.
With a foggy haze and fresh smell of rain in the air, it is everything fantasy and make believe could ever hope to achieve.
We were all individually and collectively experiencing our ultimate fantasy world; Shrek, Beauty and the Beast or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe… We all talked about our favorite fairy tales on the way up the sculpture.
Our imaginations were being flooded with ideas.
BACK to NATURE folks.
The children’s festival, on the fringe of the pond, is like entering into another realm, another world, another place in time.
What a wanderlust weekend playing with my children and hanging out in Woodfordia, planting trees!
A fun WET weekend (apparently the first wet Planting in 18 years)!?
We pitched our tents in the rain on Friday night and head into the festival to try to make the most of the night.
The kids are immediately on the Woodforidan page… you mean “we all get to live happily ever after?”
I am writing two more blogs on the Planting Festival – one on the man behind the festival Bill Hauritz and the other blog about the festival through my children’s eyes.
One of my favourite moments was walking back from planting some sapplings with my son and meeting a new friend, Mel.
Two hours earlier we found ourselves standing around literally in the pouring rain listening to Noni, Peter, Tim and Helen explain plants in the wetlands, the importance of butterflies and the dilemmas of modern day weeds.
Fascinating as it was, I must confess I only caught about 30% of the wonderful knowledge being shared as my imagination was already chasing rabbits in the fields and being distracted with wander…
And I noticed my son wasn’t far behind me day dreaming.
We buddied up with random strangers but after working together planting trees they felt like old mates.
This is a short clip that summarises a beautiful, lusciously wet and green weekend.
It is the start of April and a few hundred competitors line up to do the classic swim.
Classic it is!
Today is a special day for me- a day when I was returning to swimming (following my near-crippling neck injury) . It is also the first ocean swim my nine year old son has done.
We both agreed to ease ourselves into it – my son opting for the 300 metre swim this time and myself the 1km.
The day was so well organised, no stress, no over zealous organisers, just let’s all have some fun, and as the lady on the starting line said “look after each other”.
Bare bodies, bare personalities and bare facts.
The small talk on the beach before taking off is always interesting.
Some people are taking it really seriously and not up for much chat. Others are in it for the personal challenge and others are in it and truly regreting it… It’s a mixed bag and I think talking to total strangers in your togs is always liberating. Bare bodies, bare personalities and bare facts. I like it!
Today the thoughts going through my mind were about feeling happy and successful.
To get to this point, the point of standing on the beach at Coolangatta in my togs ready to swim 1000m has been a long road.
It doesn’t sound like much but after my neck injury a few years ago it was a huge moment.
No one will really know what it felt like 3 years ago when I thought I would never be able to swim again.
At the time, I saw two neurosurgeons and they both muttered I was lucky not to be in a wheel chair: “..This is an injury we see with car accidents...” but I had been hit by a guy in water polo.
The result was two damaged neck discs.
Over the month following the injury I lost 7 kgs, couldn’t use my left arm and had issues swallowing. I was in pain regularly and sleep was nearly impossible.
I decided though, after hours of crying and hanging in the neck brace that I did not have an option. I had to get better.
I did what the surgeons said, I considered their surgical offer, a fusion, but decided I would see if I could fix it myself.
Over the last three years I have seen my friends – both chiropractors, who I believe have helped me heal. Dr.Jay Miller is awesome and has been a close friend for years, and then last year, I swapped to Dr. Kieran Crowe as he has a different technique. Both very good and over the year my pins and needles, pain and awareness of the injury dissipated.
Two weeks ago an uber driver told me about the Cooly Classic and said he was swimming and I should check it out. I did then I decided.
I decided to do it.
I hadn’t swum for weeks but I knew my heart and determination would carry me over the distance. I just didn’t know how much I would enjoy it.
Over last week I did four swims and they were pretty lame and certainly no where near the 1000 meters I need to be able to swim but I knew I could do it.
And then I stopped thinking about it and just started trusting.
I trusted the factI had always been a swimmer.
I trusted the fact that even if my fitness let me down I could breast stroke.
And I also trusted the fact that if everything caved in there were plenty of event life guards to rescue me.
This clip is funny…
Off we went…. striding through the ankle deep, then knee deep waves…. until I tripped, like most, and decided it was time to swim.
Unlike other ocean swims where you can’t see the bottom, (and can spook yourself), the water here was crystal clear and relaxing.
What an experience.
I feel like Dory in the Movie Finding Nemo when she is released to swim again. The new “old” world opened up.
The Underwater World is incredible.
Around Coolangatta and Kirra even more incredible.
Beautiful, turquoise blue warm waters washing away any stresses and enticing day dreams and thoughts of success.
I can’t describe it entirely but I wish I had swum with a go pro.
It’s the sort of thing you could watch over and over at night to wind down… add some beautiful back ground music and I could fall asleep to it. It was hypnotic, meditative and empowering. Just me, my intact neck and the magic blue ocean.
I love it and it was FUN!
At the end I found a little reserve to do a beach sprint (always a self conscious moment for a mother of three) but I gave it my best.
I had a few minutes at the end when the adrenaline hit me and I nearly wanted to vomit but I am sure it was a mixture of physical exertion and emotional over whelm.
After my swim I raced over to watch my son.
His first ocean swim.
He ended up loving it too and found his competitive spirit coming out of the water.
All afternoon he relived his moment of glory and wanted to know his time. A transformation compared to his mindset before the swim!
Everyone swimming would have their own reason for swimming and their own personal stories just like mine. That’s what makes these events special. People pushing themselves outside their normal boundaries.
After wards there were a few sponsors and co-sponsor was swimming legend Michael Klim.
Michael had won a few medals in the Olympics and has been a lot of older swimmers icon. He had plenty of time to spend with the kids and adults and was inspirational for all.
I will be checking out his baby and adult skin care range called Milk & Co.
After the swim we headed up to the Kirra Surf Club. Along with neighbouring clubs – Rainbow Bay, Coolangatta and to the north, Currumbin, Kirra boasts one of the best views on the Gold Coast…. and no one knows about it.
I am looking forward to Noosa swim now and so is my son and friend that came down. We are thinking about making the weekend a family weekend and hiring a house and taking a few people up. I can’t wait.
Thanks guys for a wonderful event and for getting me back in the water.
With squeals of delight I tell my friends tonight if they want to catch up this weekend (and I hope they do), I will be planted down at Snapper Rocks watching the Quicksilver Pro Surfing Competition.
In my mind, one of the best spectator, must-see-events of any sporting or outdoor event.
You literally stand in thigh deep water as the best surfers in the world surf past you (on one of the best breaks in the world). It all comes together for me as a happy blurr. I haven’t missed a year and each year I adore and respect it more than the year before.
This year it feels over in a heart beat and I am so glad that I make the decision to go down every day regardless and start work late.
Aside from the final day, the weather was perfect and the waves sublime.