Just had to share with you the outlook on this weeks weather forecast!!! Steve set these widgets up on my desktop quite a while back. There are tons more that you can download for free i.e. joke of the day, daily devotionals, picture of the day, games, etc. However I seem to get quite a kick out of constantly checking the weather picture and how terribly the pound is doing against the Australian dollar!

Bank Holiday trip to Wales

Currently listening to John Butler Trio over and over at the moment. Love them, they are fab! So bummed though that JBT are touring Europe but are not coming to the UK at all. Why!!!!??? Great drums, fab guitar work, awesome lyrics, part reggae/bluesy/ndy rock, with a social and enviro consciousness that they act on not just fashionable “talk”, what further reasons do I need to love these guys! http://www.johnbutlertrio.com/

Excerpt from “Better Than” by JBT

All the time while you’re looking away
There are things you can do man
There’s things you can say
To the the ones you’re with
With whom you’re spending your day
Get your gaze off tomorrow
And let come what may

Anyhoo…It was Tony’s last weekend in England before heading back to Australia, it was a long weekend and what more do you need as an excuse to go travelling. The plan was to go to Skomer Island in Wales to see the Puffin colonies. The weather forecast was not promising but by now we realise that you have to continue with your plans and hope for the best or else you would never leave home. Of course you do always plan a number of alternative options to suit the weather conditions. Well the rain and gusting winds continued all the way down to St Martins Haven where we were due to catch the boat across to Skomer Island. I had begun to get the feeling that the boat trips were cancelled when more cars were coming towards us than heading in the same direction as us. This was confirmed by the gate attendant who also advised that the boat trips were not likely to resume the next day either. Time for Plan B.

Plan B was generally heading in a direction we hadn’t been before (incredibly scientific and well planned theory to this style of travel). In short, it consists of looking at a map, hmmmm that looks interesting, plug it in to Suicide Susie (the GPS) and away we go. With this plan underway we made our way around the Pembrokeshire coastline stopping at a few beaches along the way. Mainly admiring them from inside the comfort of the car as neither Steve, Tony or myself really felt like getting drenched.

Driving through Wales once you get onto the B roads is great fun. Then it is off down the tiny laneways hoping no one is coming the other way as you have to figure out where you are going to park to let them get by. The alternative is reversing all the way back to a wider spot on the laneway. Not a nice task to have to do in the pouring rain.

We headed for St Davids and along the way Steve spotted a fantastic house built into the side of a hill. Actually it was more the hill had been built over the house. It looked fab. He believes it is a house that has been shown on Grand Designs (one of our favourite shows).

St Davids is a must see in Wales as it has a spectacular cathedral. After having survived through an earthquake the cathedral is drastically sloping (very evident when you go inside). It is a fabulous place with lots of artifacts to see and if anything a great, dry place for the afternoon.

We then headed off to Cardigan to look for somewhere to stay for the night. Thankfully we found a B&B that was very well priced, well situated in the town centre and very tidy. Nice little town to visit, wouldn’t want to live there.

Monday we headed off to do a tour of Welsh castles on the way home. Seriously can’t remember the names of them so I have to google them! First stop was Cilgerran Castle 3 miles outside of Cardigan. We were there all by ourselves for a while which is always a great feeling wandering through these ancient structures being able to touch the stone and in the silence of the morning imagine what has happened on this spot over the years.  Great views of the surrounding areas from this castle and a great view of the River Teifi. My favourite part of this castle was some stairs that took you up to the top of one of the walls and from here you are above the tree line. It almost feels like you are flying above everything (especially when the wind is gusting and your’e hanging on for dear life!)

The next castle was Carreg Cennan Castle near Llandelio. Sited on the top of a hill (actually it takes up the whole top of the hill) we could see this one in the distance as we approached the area. By the time we got there it was bucketing down so we decided to have lunch in the converted barn. Tony was the only keen one who decided to make a sprint for the top. Twenty minutes later he returned, drenched, while Steve and I sucked on our deliciously warm hot chocolates. Tony had managed to get some photos despite the down pour. I think we will look at returning another time as it looked well worth the sprint up the hill.

Finally, the last castle was a return to Caerphilly. Steve and I had done this one before but Tony hadn’t and it is well worth a return trip. The castle had a number of displays on so we got in there and had a go with the swords, shields, bows and arrows and most interestingly learnt a bit about the ballock knife. Use your imagination and a bit of creative letter changing to figure out what this knife was used for in battle. At one time it was even fashionable to carve the handle of the knife to be a life sized replica. Ewwwwww.

Great to spend some time with you Tony before you headed home. We had a great weekend despite the weather. Have a great trip home and see you again in Sydney sometime!

Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Set in 1957 Indiana returns for the 4th instalment of the Spielberg/Lucas whip cracking, one liner, treasure finding adventure. Of course, there has to be a baddie and this is the Russian communists headed by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). The formula for another Indy instalment is all there, the baddies, the trail of clues to the treasure to be unlocked, deadly creatures, high energy fist fights and car chases, cheesy one liners and as little of the CGI that is often used in movies these days to cover up a bad plot. As much as I enjoyed the movie it didn’t have as much of the energy as 1,2 and 3. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, there were plenty of high energy scenes but I didn’t get left breathless. A few scary bits kept me on my toes and the humour was good as always and of course focused around the age of Indy and key things happening at that time in 1957. The best part I think was the scene with the nuclear bomb and how Indy gets out of that one.

In all, it was enjoyable and good to see Indy back on the screen. 3.5 out of 5.

Memorable quotes:

Indy to Irina Spalko “I gather by your “wubblewoos” your Russian”

Mutt “What’s he gonna do now?” Marion “I don’t think he plans that far ahead”

Newest arrival – Ashton Samuel Peter Sears

The newest arrival to the Sears family and a gorgeous wee brother for Emerson. Congratulations Garrison and Gemma to the newest addition to your family. For photos see Gemma’s blog with links to Emerson’s website. http://iriscreations.blogspot.com/

Take the opportunity to have a look at Gemma’s photographic work as well. I may be biased but I think she produces incredible work. Can’t wait to enlist her services if we ever decide to have some sprogs.

Love Aunty Carleen & Uncle Steve

The Eden Project – St Austell

Firstly, Happy Birthday to my husband. Hope you have had a great weekend of travel. Love you tons!

This weekend as the weather was not supposed to be the greatest we decided to take the opportunity to hit the Eden Project. Located 2.5 to 3 hours away from Bristol down in Cornwall we got up early Saturday morning to hit the road. A little bit of rain on the way but in all an overcast but fine day.

The Eden Project opened its doors to the public in 2001 and is made up of a number of indoor and outdoor working, educational and research related gardens. The areas of highest intrigue are the Tropical and Mediterranean displays located inside the Biomes. I suppose you could summarise a biome down into a very large space age looking greenhouse constructed of steel frames and double thickness hextagonal shaped plastic panels that provide the insulation and consistent temperatures neeeded on the inside. They look fantastic and have an incredible feel about them on the inside. It’s like being inside a huge bee hive but filled with plants.

The gardens have been constructed inside an old china clay pit thereby putting this disaster of an area to better use. The purpose of the gardens appear to be for research and education. It is interesting to note that a large number of British children don’t know where their food comes from let along the impact humans have on their surroundings and vice versa. Not only does it focus on food production but also the large number of other uses we have for plants, their extracts, what they provide for us oxygen wise etc. For example the number of medicines, building products, oil resources etc that come from plants is quite interesting.

The gardens are well constructed, labelled and provide a great time for kids (and big kids alike) for running around through all the displays, sculptures and adventure areas. They even have a zipline which Steve had to of course have a go on. Big kid!

My favourite display was the tropical biome. It was a great heat inside, high humidity (of course) and great displays complete with banana trees, coffee trees, paw paw, rice, rubber trees and even a waterfall. Fantastic!

To our Aussie mates – see if you recognise a certain plant in one of these photos. Discovered in the Blue Mountains of Sydney, its the Wollemi Pine! They are selling them over here in order to get as many out there as possible. You to can have a piece of Jurassic history for 80 quid!!!

Camping in the Forest of Dean

First and foremost – Happy Mothers Day to our mums in NZ! As you will read below we have been away camping with no power, phones or internet (horror) hence no phone call this year.

What a glorious weekend of sunshine! I can’t believe I can write that line! The weather was absolutely beautiful for our camping weekend away in the Forest of Dean. To be truthful I believe the site was near (not in) the forest as there weren’t any towering groves of forest like growth anywhere near our tents. We went with a bunch of my work mates and had a great time stretched out in the sun, laughter around the campfire, lots of food, drink, good company and burnt marshmallows thrown in too.

We all descended on the campsite on Friday night when it was still light so we could get our tents up, fire going and get well and truly relaxed before the sun started to go down. For only the second time putting our tent up I was quite impressed as to how easy it was (read – Steve did all the work as I had no idea!). Around 10pm we noticed lightning flashes in the sky coming from all directions. However we got the full benefit of the spectacular flashes but no rain. It was a great sight.

Saturday morning I was up early as usual (not hard to do when the birds start singing at 4.30am). I was up, showered and ready for a walk, so off I went with a fellow work mate for a tour around the area to find some bread and milk. It turned out we ended up getting it from the campsite Cafe. I was really keen to go for a canoe as I had heard that it is a “must do” in the area. The others were all up for some mountain biking. Personally I am pretty slack on a bike and as it turned out one of my mates had a rather nasty spill which left her in pain for the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, Steve and I had decided to go to a local canoe hire place at Symonds Yat. For 26 quid you get all your kit for a half day canoe down the river. Thankfully this also includes a lift up river to a launch point and you canoe back down to the hire place. I think it was about a 12 mile canoe trip in which they give you clear instructions and about 4 hours to do it in. The current was reasonably strong so unless you are a very strong canoeist taking the option of a lift up river is a must do. The instructions they provide for navigating the river make it worth going through a company that is experienced with the river themselves. The driver went through how to deal with a couple of key problem areas. Of particular note was a part of the river where some young ladies the week prior had managed to wrap their canoe around one of the bridge pillars that we pass under. See below!

That evening as we all wandered back to the campsite it was another night of campfire and laughs. However, as it was the last night and we were running low on wood anything that was able to burn was tossed on. Occassionally it was tossed on even if there was only reasonable chance of it burning. Thankfully our tents were required for the remainder of the night!

On our last day Steve and I decided to have breakfast at the campsite cafe. It was great to sit in the sunshine and not have to worry about the washing up. Finally, we all took in as much sun as we could before packing up and heading off on our own way ready to return to work tomorrow. Steve and I took a detour home through Ross on Wye which is a lovely town (reminds me of Ledbury). Then we stopped at the Royal Hotel for a drink sitting on the veranda overlooking the valley with the river running through and the occassional brilliant yellow fields. We then drove through the Wye Valley ending up at the Tintern Abbey for an ice cream along with every other man, woman and child in the area!

Anyway here are a last few shots of this weekends trip.