Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let it NOT snow

So things are still looking a little bleak here.

Eurostar is still grounded so, we abandoned ship on that idea. The next plan was to catch the ferry to Calais, but again, we abandoned ship on that idea. Lucky we did as it's absolute mayhem down there with everyone who has been unable to get to France via Eurostar, now trying to get across with the boat.

So our plans are to fly out tomorrow to Salzburg, spend a few days there and then train back to Paris on the Eurail via Munich. Lucky for us, we got the last 5 tickets on *that* train ride!

Now all we have to do is sit and wait... and HOPE for good weather so that we can fly out tomorrow! PLEEEEAAASSEEE everyone join us in hoping for fine flying weather to Salzburg tomorrow morning. Perhaps not looking definite since it is snowing, as we speak... at this very second outside!!!

I just hope we can get there as I have always wanted to go to Salzburg and this will be my last chance for a while!

On a 'positive' note, the snow here is like nothing I have ever experienced before! It is SO soft, fluffy and just all around gorgeous! Certainly makes you feel lovely and christmassy!

Off to see Avenue Q tonight in what we hope will be our last night in London for a few weeks.

Update - am downloading photos to post on here, and it seems the road outside is not blaketed in snow :(. Noooooo!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More advenutres of the unlucky traveller.....

Well it seems regardless of when or where we travel, bad luck always finds us! It always seems to be centred with ME too since everyone else in the family without any hitches.... is there a greater being trying to tell me something?!?!?!?

As luck would have it, we got our wish - a white christmas and some lovely white blanket of snow around London which was exactly what I ordered.... only.... I ordered it NOT to interfere with our travels either.

After a lovely christmas lunch with my uncle and family at their house in outer-london, blanketed in snow (it was like a postcard) we find that the Eurostar which we were set to be on NOW has been cancelled due to the passengers on Friday being stuck in the rail underground for SIXTEEN HOURS! Sounds pretty scary since some of their warnings was not to breathe too heavily as they may run out of air :-O. Not exactly what you want to hear!

Anyway, because of that our train is/ was no longer leaving today and we don't know when the Eurostar will be back and running.... which, means we are stranded in London.. Not that bad it may seem, but now our hire-car for Europe has fallen through... as not only will they be unable to hold our car, we didn't know that in Austria you need mandatory snow tyres or winter tyres.

So now.... while we may be able to get to Paris tomorrow (either with the eurostar back up and running, or catching the boat from Dover to Calais (including me getting travel sick :o) ), we don't know how to get to the REST of our trip... which included Germany, Austria, Salzburg, Munich and then back to Paris.

To say we are disappointed would be an understatement, but what can you do right?!

The other plan is to base our travels in Paris/ Salzburg, but obviously with it being Christmas/New Year weeks, finding Eurail tickets at a reasonable price is next to impossible....

But fingers crossed that it all works out in the end.

Maybe this is a hint for me that I should keep my feet firmly planted at home and not travel... seing as every time I have set my feet overseas something bad has happened!! This is SO not fair!! Ah well - stories to tell the 'grandkids' one day right?!

so everybody keep their fingers crossed that everything works itself out in the end!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A photographic expedition.

So it's now day 2 on our Europe expedition and since I haven't been suffering too much from jet-lag they have been action packed. Beware - this blog is also 'action-packed'.. so make sure you're comfy!

I arrived at 6am on the 16th December, after around 24 - 30hrs in transit. Needless to say, I was happy to be moving about and not cramped on an airplane anymore. Arrived at Scott's place safe and sound, and then, feeling pretty ok, decided to head down towards Oxford St for some retail therapy. Didn't find much that was of interest to me, but it was nice heading up and down the streets of London browsing the stores. Naturally it's pretty cold here, but I seriously don't remember it being this cold 6 years ago when we were here for Christmas in 2003. It's absolutely freezing! Thank goodness for my ski jacket... that's all I can say. It's certainly making sure I'm staying nice and warm.

Whilst wondering around shopping, I was able to experience my first real snowfall yesterday. It didn't stick on the ground, but hey, it was an experience all the same. I was like a little kid smiling to myself as walking the streets, and I was half tempted to tap the passerby's on the shoulder and say "hey do you know it's snowing... like actually SNOWING!!" but I figured I would probably be looked at with some pretty strange expressions so I kept it to myself :).

By the time it came to head over to the Battersea animal shelter, walking 15mins from the tube station to the shelter in blistering cold with snow blowing on your face, the fascination had worn off. Add to that nearly slipping a few times whilst walking, I was trying not to think of the 35deg temperature that you all are having back in sunny Melbourne!

Battersea was fantastic. Similar and yet different in so many ways to the RSPCA. I had a great time asking a million questions and having a look at every aspect of the shelter. Needless to say I am a little jealous of their 16-man behaviour unit, compared to my one man behaviour unit!

By this stage (5pm) my jet-lag was setting in, so I called it an early night and headed back to the Scott and Lily hotel for an early night in.


After a good 12hr snooze (and then some ;-) ), I woke up late and decided to complete some walks from the book "Walking London" that Dad had gotten from Scott and Lily for Fathers Day. I wanted to see the main sights of London today and try and take some photo's, practicing what I learnt in my recent photography classes. Some I wanted to be a little 'different' (ok... well not really) but some I wanted to be the key landmarks. All the while, doing this walking around London and soaking up the atmosphere. I think I'll say here is that BOY am I glad that I decided to buy and bring along with me a nice little lightweight tripod! It's really made all the difference (even though I do feel a little like a fool setting up my tripod here there and everywhere!). Either way... you better appreciate these photos. Need I mention how COLD it was?!?!?!

I think it must be said here that my sense of direction is squat. That's right... you can always count on me to make every wrong turn possible. If ever there was a person in mind when the GPS was invented it would be me! Now before you all sit there and pity me, or say HOW can you get lost when all you have to do is head right out of the station and head down this road, keep in mind that there are like a zillion exits to one station, and yup, it would have to be ME that takes the wrong exit.... every time! I guess it add's to the experience... right?!

So - after finally heading in the right direction, first port of call was a walk along the Thames and the Christmas markets there. Was nice to have a little wonder around here and begin to feel a little 'Christmassy'. With all that's been going on of late, and organising to come on this trip, it left us little time to actually get organised and feel anything like Christmas... let alone a little under one week away!

From there I also tried to take one of those "Merry go round" photos where you get the blur of all of the lights, but to no avail. I couldn't get it quite right, so we'll leave it out of this entry as I sure have plenty to share :)

Here we also saw a variety of buskers. One that caught my eye was this guy here who was dancing with a 'dummy' or manequin, whatever you want to call her. He made her look quite life-like and it was interesting to watch :).

Now of course, walking along the Thames also meant that I had to take the token "Big Ben" picture right?! Well talk about taking a million and one of the one bl**dy building as I just couldn't quite get the exposure right... too light, too dark, too... something! With the sky being quite overcast, it did make it quite difficult at times to snap a good pic! But... here of course is a sample of some good ones I actually snapped.

This one here is to try and show you the quick change in weather. It went from just 'cold' to 'bl**dy freezing, so windy I can barely breathe, hailing in my face' in just a matter of seconds! Naturally.... as soon as I found shelter the hail ceased..... *sigh*

And some of the clocktower (just a few minutes after the hail storm.... and they pick on Melbourne's weather!!!)

Thankfully... getting a decent shot of the London Eye was a little easier... otherwise I'd never have been able to finish off my tasks for the day ;-). Oh and this was also taken about 5 mins before the hail-storm!

Next up was Westminster Abbey... I got a few different shots of these, as I love the slow shutter speed and the effect of the cars on the image... gives a nice effect I think!

This here is your token "London phone box" photo, but I love the effect of the tourists stopping to take in the sights while the busy Londoners walking by... hehe - yes I became a little 'obsessive' about the slower s/s!

So from here, the only natural place to continue my walks was through the "Central London Parks".. so basically St James Park, Green Park and Hyde park.

This was a lovely little cottage I saw in the middle of St James Park... so yes.. a little random..

Another random here... well, I am an animal person, and I couldn't help snapping this. Said squirrel would come up to everyone, including climbing on my shoe and stick his nose in the air to see what you were up to! Gave quite a few tourists a fright! Unfortunately most of the time he was moving way to quick for me to respond with my camera (hmm... I'll blame it on the gloves....)
A few more 'random's in the park' trying to practice my photographic expertise... with minimal success... not *exactly* the 'feel' I was going after... but I still like them!

And of course... this also meant a stop-over for a quick visit with the Queen... I mean, we were literally walking by....

Naturally we couldn't stay long with the Queen, as we had many things to do! So onwards we travel, with the next logical stop being Wellington Arch and the Australian War Memorial...

Onward to Hyde Park, where lo and behold there is another Christmas market! This one a little more exciting than the last. Feeling a little weary and hungry, I stopped here for a bite to eat and some delicious Hot chocolate, which I got to enjoy while standing outside and watching the ice skaters go by on the outside skating rink. Something I've always wanted to do is skate outside in winter.... especially around christmas time! I was however, too chicken to go by myself. Perhaps while in Europe I can con one of the family to come with me!?!? But, Kylie, just for you I have included a snap in here :)

By this time the sun was beginning to set (yes, at some ridiculous hour of I thinkabout 3:30pm!! How do they live like this?! So I begin to make my way out of the parks and head towards the warmth of Harrods...

Along the way I came across this lovely sight of Christmas decorations... not sure what hotel (at least I think it's a hotel!) is, but it sure does look pretty!

After NO wrong turns, I make it to Harrods which of course leads to the token 'harrods' shot outside the store... mm... green lights.... have they always been green? or is this a christmas special?!

It seems Harrods have their own version of the 'Myer Windows' with these year's theme being the "Wizard of Oz"... not sure if this is just for Christmas or not, but it was quite amusing, given that there was very much a Harrods 'plug' in each of the windows, ensuring that each part of the story entailed that all the Wizar of Oz characters were extrodinarily happy with their "Harrods" goods! *vbg*!

By this stage I was getting pretty tired, so with only one stop left to go, I headed on my way to Trafalgar Square for a happy snap with their Christmas tree in place. Have to say, I was a little disappointed with the tree as it wasn't really much to look at! I remember thinking this also back in 2003, but I figured that was just because the tree in Lucerne was just so impressive... but still... thinking this time the tree was not much chop!

Once again, I found these photos a little hard, trying to get the exposure *just right*

Oh and of course I had to play around with the effects of the fountains too! You can also see how windy it is in some of the pics with the direction the water is falling!

After that I hung around the Square for a little while, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sound of the carollers. By this stage the wind had picked up again, so I decided to call it an early night and head on home!

Phew... that was a looongg post! Don't expect another one like this in a hurry! Might need to break it up a bit!! LOL! Can't see myself doing this again for a while. Photos, yes, blog yes, but marathon blog?! I think not!

Supposed to snow tomorrow! Hopefully this means good news for a white christmas at Salzburg! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Travelling again

Well I thought since the reason I started this blog over 3 years ago was because I was heading off jet-setting, it seems only right that I re-start the blog with my next big travel.

Lets hope I don't let it slip by the way-side again ;-). Facebook is taking over :P. but then so many of us are blaming facebook for everything these days!

Well I only have 7 mintues left as I sit here at the Melbourne Airport waiting until it's time to board. Where am I headed?!

Basically we are crossing our fingers for a white christmas. A first for me!1 LOL! I'm heading to London and staying there for a few days where I hope to get the opportunity to have a look around the Battersea Animal shelter for work purposes (and general interest!), then heading off to Europe. Where exactly, I am not sure as I'm mega- lazy at planning things, so I'm just 'going with the flow'. Big Brother & co. have organised it all so I am sure it will be great and I will leave it in their capable hands.

All I know is that we will be in Salzburg for christmas day and Paris for NYE. Sounds nice doesn't it!! LOL!

Not looking forward to the long flights and sitting for around 24 hours on a cramped plane..then having to go through a whole day in London before rest (I arrive at 6am!).... should be interesting!

Well - I'll keep you all updated! My time is almost up, but keep checking back, I'll keep posting with my travel-stories!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Yeh Gods....

Can it be true?! Is it really happening?!?! THE BLOG LIVES!!!!!

Has it really been that long since I've posted? I guess life has a thing of getting in the way doesn't it.... either that or Facebook....

Still I miss writing about our recent happenings, and I think most of you know them by now anyway :).

Dogs are all doing well. Zara is growing like a weed and we've told her she can slow now and concentrate on fixing up her little faults PLEASE! At nearly 7mths old she's all legs and no substance, including a SHOCKING rear end which is making me shudder every time I see it. Where it came from I have no idea seeing as her lines shouldn't be producing something like that. I mean her 3/4 sister is Diva, a gorgeous, gorgeous blue girl who won BOB at the Melbourne Royal! I swear I got the short end of the stick :o. Alas, we shall wait and see how she develops.

Kinta is absolutely ROCKING the obedience ring since her return with a lovely 198 and high in trial at her first trial back, followed by a 191 the week later. Fingers crossed we can get that title in the trials before the year is out. She has really matured and is looking nice for the show ring, so fingers crossed those 15 pts come soon. With two passes also down in Novice agility, one would hope we can pull off the last one for that too, but hey, lets not ask for too much ;-)

Leo is also doing well :-). We've done one UD trial now and I was RAPT with how he went. This boy is just so awesome... just when you think 'ah you're nothing special, he pulls off something amazing'. Agility is also going really well for him to and hopefully we can finish of his ADX shortly.

Looking forward to the summer break though where we will spend the majority of the time at the beach and just having some fun in the summer sun, rather than training ;). I'm sure the dogs will love it (just don't tell them I'm going away to London for 3 weeks over xmas!).

As for me... I'm loving work and that's keeping me very busy at the moment. Am actually house-hunting now which is quite stressful trying to find something that I like and meets all of my criteria. In my (spare) time I'm just lazing infront of the tele! Nothing overly exciting!

Lets hope I get some new piccies soon and can innundate you all with new photos from the continuing photography experience :)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Photography... and other stuff!

So my camera has been having quite a work out lately especially because of my photography course no doubt :). I think I'm slowly improving, getting a better 'eye' for subjects and things I am familiar with (read dogs, portrait type shots of flowers etc), but I still SUCK big time at landscapes and also at portraits and 'casual' shots of people. You know how people can just 'snap' photos of the most mundane things or moments and just make the photo look absolutely amazing?! Well I certainly am not one of them! LOL!

Well last week I had a meet up with my little (now almost FIVE months old!) puppies! Minus Kinta of course, who is still sporting a 'woe is me attitude' and having to stay at home due to being in season. Gosh life is tough for some mistreated animals.

It was a great meet and to see how my pups are growing up and developing. I'm SO pleased with them.

Anyway - some piccies of the little ones ;)

Yesterday I went to the State "Top Dog" trials to see the top 10 dogs of the state competing for the top agility/ jumping dog of the year title. There were many great runs made by many great dogs ;). Once again I practiced my photography skills and tried to snap some shots of the dogs doing their runs. Rather than post heaps in here again, I will post the link instead!
If you watch it in slideshow it's much easier/ better ;)

Today I took the dogs down to a park near us to see if I could get some happy snaps of them as well. Now and again I do these challenges on an 'online forum' to practice your photography. This month is 'landscapes' so it was a good place to practice.

I managed to snap some good shots of the dogs too - so here are a bit of both ;)

Over the coming weeks I have a few trials coming up, but when one of them will be obedience I have no idea!!! LOL! Nothing much else happening at the moment... well worthy of writing about really ;)