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[Friday, 2012-10-26 20:09]
Welcome to the world, Aliana Ivy

This may rate as the shortest blog post ever. But I'd like to welcome our new daughter to the world. Aliana Ivy was born ths morning at 0313 after a 3 hour labour and super swift 20-minute delivery that almost happened in the car on the way to hospital!

More to come soon in my Aliana Blog which I will get online ASAP. Here's a few photos of today's events.

[Tuesday, 2012-10-09 08:19]
Is that you, BR ?

Today is the 9th October and Briony is 36 and a half weeks pregnant. We were hoping to go all the way to 40 weeks and a natural (spontaneous) labour, however the hospital has booked Briony in to be induced at 38 weeks and one day. That means in 9 days from now we are going to be having a baby!! At home now we're in a mad rush to get everything organised ... although I think the mad rush is something we psychologically have to do but in actual fact is probably unnecessary. It's more about the little chores that need to be done that we won't feel like doing once the baby arrives and we've been up all night.

I'm not sure how well the fact is known but I'm a but of a train nut. Well that's not quite true ... I don't spend hours by the trackside, nor do I write train numbers and times in a little book. But I do have somewhat of a fascination with trains in general. This fascination actually extends to anything big, greasy, oily and mechanical, and generally the more noise it makes the better.

I've wanted for ages to go on a steam train, and I'd heard the Pichi Richi Railway was quite good. I was browsing their site some time ago and saw a reference to the Teddy Bear's Picnic, which sounded like it might be good for Majandra as she also likes trains and likes Teddy Bears. I told Briony about the idea and then we found out by surprise that it was a long weekend coming up. So we rang up the caravan park at Port Augusta and booked a cabin, packed the car and headed off on the Friday night after work which meant Majandra slept most of the way.

On the Saturday morning after breakfast we drove into town and climbed the old water tower lookout. This offers nice views in every direction, it's also quite windy up there. While at the water tower site, I heard a loud whistle and I knew straight away that it wasn't a boat. Could I be in luck and perhaps that was a steam train?

We drove into town and past the railway station, and sure enough there we saw some old historic railway carriages lined up on the track. Just down the street the level crossing bells were active and as we turned the corner a huge steam train was approaching the crossing. He waved us through, and once we were past he continued with his manuever to get the locomotive joined to the carriages. Of course first thing we did was to find a car park and race over to the platform and look at the steam train.

We walked the length of the train, and looked at the carriages and also the flat cars which had some really old cars and a small army tank strapped on. Then we just stood there waiting for the train to go. The locomotive really was quite majestic, just sitting there building up steam, making sounds as if it were alive. We knew from looking at the online timetable that it would be leaving soon so we hung around, and right on schedule, all the crew boarded the carriages, there was a loud whistle and then the train slowly began moving among very loud hisses of steam. By this time I was pretty much dribbling, it was amazing.

As the train departed the platform we turned to watch it, when we heard a more modern horn and then a big diesel freight train came around the bend in the opposite direction. This was a very cool contrast of old and new, small and big, slow and fast.

We went back to the car, at which point I suggested to Briony that we follow the train for a bit and take some photos. I knew the train went to Stirling North then to Quorn, so we headed in the general direction. We managed to see the train just the other side of Stirling North and it was actually fairly obvious where it would be as there were about 7 other cars stopped in a gravel area on the side of the road. From there it actually became a morning of train chasing, we had 2 or 3 more stops along the way and all the other cars were doing the same thing - it seems the steam train attracts quite a following.

One of the stops we made was at the site of the township of Saltia (nothing there these days). I was standing around with Majandra waiting for the train to come around a bend. We were there for quite some time as it was in a really twisty and slow section of track. While waiting I saw a girl in the distance that (1) looked like someone I know, and (2) is someone I know gets dragged around the countryside looking at trains. In the distance I then saw a familiar looking person with glasses and cap, and sure enough, it was who I thought it was! G'day, BR !

We chased the train as far as Woolshed Flat. This is the mid-way station for the train that runs between Port Augusta and Quorn, and the terminus for the Pichi Richi Explorer which run between Quorn and Woolshed Flat.

When we arrived we were surprised to see another steam train there, facing the opposite direction as it had come from Quorn at the other end of the line. As we watched, the train from Port Augusta (the one we chased) went up ahead, the other train dropped its carriages and then the locomotive turned around on the triangle. Next thing the two locomotives joined together for a double header back to Quorn. That's a fairly rare sight and we felt priviledged to be there to see it.

We decided not to chase the train all the way to Quorn as it's not a particulary quick journey and we were all hungry. At Quorn we stopped at Quorn Bytes and Bikes for some food and a coffee, both which were excellent. After lunch Majandra was tired, Briony was over chasing trains, so we headed back to Port Augusta, got some groceries, fed some birds, went to the playground and eventually went back to the cabin for dinner. Majandra worked out how to use the camera and spent 20 minutes taking photos, then went to sleep.

On Sunday we went to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden which was just near the caravan park. This park has a nice lookout area, and then the main part has large garden walks which go through areas of native and drought-tolerant plant varieties. We didn't stay long as Majandra cracked a fruity. We then drove to Quorn ready for our train ride and thankfully Majandra had a sleep on the way.

Sunday afternoon was the Teddy Bears Picnic on the Pichi Richi Railway, which departed from Quorn. We drove there in the morning, spent some time at the playground then boarded the train. The train ride was very good and fairly smooth, and really there's not a lot more I can say about the train ride itself. It was very cool and we all enjoyed it, Majandra loved it and enjoyed poking her head out the window. She got upset as there's one part where it's not allowed to have heads out the window as the train pases through a very narrow cutting and the rock face is only a few inches from the carriage.

At the end (Woolshed Flat) there is a shop selling coffee, tea and cakes. There was a man dressed as a teddy bear. There was a man and a lady who had ferrets. There were balloons. There were lots of children with teddy bears. So we grabbed a drink and a snack, showed Majandra the ferrets (obsessed!), took some photos of the train and then boarded ready for the return journey. Right as we pulled into Quorn Station, Majandra was just starting to get cranky tired, and was very soon asleep in the car on the way back.

Wow that's a lot of writing about trains!

On the Monday we drove to Stirling North and found the railway underpass for the Pichi Richi Railway for no reason other than my curiosity. We took some photos and then started the journey home. We went the roundabout way, up and over Horrock's Pass, did food and playground at Melrose, then another playground stop in Port Pirie. The Port Pirie playground was quite big and we were there for quite a while, both Briony and I getting dragged around by Majandra.

There's nothing more to report about the trip as the rest was just driving home. Oh, we stopped in Snowtown to see the bank where the bodies in barrels were found. Just because we were passing!!

In other news closer to home I've just got a few random photos to upload, including some nice ones we took recently at Belair National Park.

[Friday, 2012-09-21 08:24]
90 days of catch-up-a-roonies

i'm not going to make any excuses, but today I noticed that I hadn't done my blog for almost 90 days. I should be ashamed of myself. But maybe it's because it's been winter time, and we don't go out doing cool things as it's wet and miserable.

The last entry I did was after Majandra's birthday. Well a month after that, it was Briony's birthday. We went out for dinner of course, and had some mud cake.

The next party in a series of birthdays was Aston's birthday. He's one of the 2-year-old children from Briony's mum's group. The party was at Steamroller Park in Stirling, which has a good playground and of course a really big, old steamroller. Majandra enjoyed the party, and was seen multiple times hanging around the food while the other children were off playing. After she'd finished feeding her face, we had a play on the playground and she hid in a tree. Right at the end we did happy birthday and the cake was served. It was a rainbow cake with a ton of food colouring and a ton of icing. It was very well done and evenly layered, but wow it was sweet and only a small serve was necessary.

In August, we took a trip to Clunes for a few nights to see Kerrie and Rob. Ted wasn't home so we had to take Lucy with us. We decided that one long drive on the Saturday would be torture as Majandra would be playing up, so we decided to leave on Friday straight from work and we'd stay at Keith. The drive was fine, with Majandra sleepig most of the way as we'd hoped she would (sorry Maj!). We stayed at the Keith Motor Inn which has recently been refurbished and really was quite nice. I didn't get to stay in the room though, as of course no dogs are allowed. I slept in the back of the car with Lucy. Actually in truth it wasn't uncomfortable, although it was a bit noisy with all the trucks going by. My biggest complaint was that for me to have room in the car, we had to unpack EVERYTHING (and we'd over-packed as usual), which meant the best part of an hour re-packing the car the next morning.

We had a nice time in Clunes with Kerrie and Rob, mainly just taking it easy. We had a meal out at the Creswick Hotel, we went to see the farm at Tourello, spent some time in Maryborough and we visited a few wineries including one that had some dingoes and kangaroos that Majandra was obsessed with.

Naturally we also went to Daylesford for a morning out. This was on a Sunday so we could go to the regular Sunday Market, and since the market is held at the railway station we took a ride on the Daylesford Spa Country Railway which is a tourist train that runs on part of the former Carlsruhe to Daylesford line. The train used to go to Bullarto but these days it stops at Musk as the track has been damaged by fire beyond that point. Majandra quite enjoyed the train, loved the market, and enjoyed the Dutch Pancakes at the end! And of course we enjoyed the market as Majandra could run around without getting into too much trouble.

One of the highlights for Majandra was spending time with Kerrie's chickens. She loves all animals, and she took absolute delight in feeding the chickens, holding them, and getting eggs from the chook house. Kerrie also had some baby chickens inside, which Majandra would love to look at, touch, pat and hold.

Back to life at home, we've FINALLY moved Majandra into her own room and what an exercise that was!

The first step was to clean up the 'spare' room downstairs, then shampoo the carpet. The shampoo thing was easy, the cleaning up part was a pain in the backside as there were just piles of unsorted toys and clothes everywhere. Well, they were aparently sorted in "Briony order" but of course that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else.

Then we had to move all the stuff from the old computer room (now Majandra's room) to the new computer room downstairs, and then shampoo the carpets ready for Majandra. We were also planning to get a built-in wardrobe installed which means I had to move a power point. That of course meant I had to fill and paint the hole where the power point used to be.

I noticed the walls in general had a few marks, so while I was painting the hole where the power point was, I took the opportunity to dab some paint over some of the marks on the walls. Everything was fine until the paint dried, at which time the colour was slightly but obviously different. This of course meant I had to paint the entire room. While I hadn't done any painting for a long time I was pleased with how easy and quick it was, and I must say I did a fairly impressive job!

So as of now, Majandra has been in her own room for a week and a half and we're not having any trouble with sleeping. I set up a play fairy tent in her room and she absolutely loves it, she hides in there, plays house in there, stores her books and toys in there, she's obsessed. Whenever I get home from work I can see her bedroom light is on and I know exactly what's going on in there - yep, she's in her tent!

Here's some more random pictures ...

[Monday, 2012-06-25 08:26]
Happy Second Birthday Majandra

It was Majandra's second birthday on Saturday. We didn't have a big party this year, we had the family round for nice meal and some company. Plus Majandra got some presents and lots of attention :). Briony (with a little help from me) made a roast vegetable and party dish called tanratan or something, that turned out to be absolutely awesome. She also made a monkey birthday cake, which also was a success. Majandra got some puzzles and books from Briony and I, some Lego from my parents, some money from Ted and a pink fairy dress from Fiona and Oowan.

Apart from the party there are a few more changes on or around her second birthday. Firstly she's out of the cot and into a bed. Secondly I've turned her car seat to be forward facing, I think she'll really enjoy the change as I suspect looking rearwards was getting boring for her. And lastly, we bought a double pram and she's already chosen her spot at the bottom! I took her for a walk in the pram over the weekend, we walked down by the train line and then went to the playground.

A couple of weeks back we went to Oowan and Fiona's place for dinner. They have a cat. Majandra is obsessed with cats. Majandra had fun :). Also while on the topic of animals, we've had a dog door installed for Lucy, and Majandra's figured out that she can fit in and out the dog door!

Here's a random spattering of photos to finish this post ...

[Friday, 2012-06-22 08:27]
Crazy Rain and more

The last few day have been really wet around town - the night before last we had almost 90mm of rain just in the overnight period. I had a strange thought about the creek crossing near home being closed, and I was wondering to myself whether there are any advance warnings or whether a car would get to the bottom of the hill only to find the gate closed.

It turns out this was somewhat of a preminition, as the next morning Briony told me she drove that way, got to the bottom of the hill and the road was closed - no advance warning. This means Briony had to reverse the Outback up the road a bit, and we all know how much she likes reversing :)

Tomorrow is Majandra's second birthday. Where have the last two years gone?

Majandra is doing really well, she is showing signs that she getting past the cranky mood she's been in lately, and she's learning more words all the time. She now knows the colours pink, brown and blue, and with a gentle reminder she knows green, white and purple. She knows how to climb onto the couch, she knows how to ask for help, and knows how to ask for food or milk. She likes to mix things, wants to spread her own honey on the bread, and she loves sucking up household dirt with the dustbuster. She can identify lots of different animals and the noises they make, and her memory is getting better - this morning I played a pig video on my phone, she could not see it but she heard the music and recognised that music as being PIG! straight away. She's a good girl :)

[Monday, 2012-06-18 08:12]
A Mental Blank at 40,000 feet

I was sitting on the train with the laptop open, looking at my blog and having a mental blank. It'd been 2 months since my last entry, and for the life of me I could not work out what we had actually been doing lately.

Then I looked in my phone's camera gallery and saw some photos from last month's trip to Fiji. How could I have forgotten!

So anyway yes, last month we went to Fiji. We had taken a trip there in 2011 when Majandra was not quite 1 year old. We stayed in the resort area of Denarau Island, and as you'd expect for a resort it was clean, safe and convenient. As we are now expecting our second child, and Majandra still flies free being just under 2 years old, we decided to go to Fiji again.

We stayed 5 nights at the Sofitel resort same as last time, and then 5 nights at Plantation Island Resort. Both locations were nice of course, but I'd have to say Plantation Island was more enjoyable - there is more room to move and less crowd. That being said it's also more expensive.

Majandra is almost 2 years old, and we actually expected we might do similar or more things compared to last time. But the truth is that we actually did less! Majandra is in that time of her childhood where she really wants to have her own way and if she can't get her own way then she certainly makes it known by getting cranky, crying, screaming and throwing things. This throwing of things includes food. Most mornings at buffet breakfast Majandra didn't eat much and as we tried to get her to eat, various food items would end up on the floor.

Majandra was also a bit sick for the first few days - she wasn't eating at all, and anything she had to drink just came back up again. A few days in though, and all was well.br>
So what about the good stuff? Well at Sofitel we pretty much spent our day either eating, swimming in the pool, walking on the beach or Briony and I would watch a movie while Majandra slept. The pool was great and Majandra enjoyed it, we even took her on the waterslide a couple of times.

There are hundreds of frogs that come out at night, and of course during the day if you look closely you can see them hiding under rocks. Majandra was absolutely obsessed with the frogs and just wanted to find them and look at them, and then jump up and down on the spot saying SOG SOG SOG. The frog obsession has stick with her, she still looks for frogs and does the jumping on the spot thing, the difference is that SOG now sounds like FUG, which actually sounds like another word entirely.

Plantation Island really was great. The weather was nice, it wasn't too crowded and there was just more space in general. There was a pool only a minute's walk from our hut, and the way the pool was layed out was really good as it had a raised section in the middle which means overall the pool was a big, deep ring like a donut, and the middle bit was shallow. This gave Majandra some extra opportunity to walk, run, paddle and jump in the water.

I really enjoyed the food at Plantation Island too, we ate our breakfast in the buffet area but lunch and dinner were mainly in the restaurant part. Briony didn't quite feel the same way about the food but of course that's pretty typical of Briony for any food that is that little bit different. I thought the food was quite nice :) and while we were eating there was a man playing a guitar which kept Majandra amused. And outside the restaurant was a large grassed area which had lots of frogs!

Majandra enjoyed the playground at Plantation Island Resort, also we enjoyed some walking along the beach, swimming in the beach, feeding the fish from the little jetty and also just some relaxing.

When it came time to leave we packed up and headed off, the plane journey from Fiji to Brisbane was fine. But as we'd woken at 6:30 then had an hour on the boat, plus 6 hours hanging around at the airport and a 5 hour flight, Majandra was getting quite tired. On the next flight from Brisbane to Adelaide Majandra had what is probably the biggest screaming match ever. I can't really call it a tantrum as she wasn't angry, she was just really really tired and the prospect of putting the aeroplane seatbelt on was simply unacceptable. She screamed, arched her back, went all floppy, collapsed on the floor, screamed and cried, threw the dummy, screamed some more and then started rambling random words including mum and dad - it was as if she was so tired that she didn't know where she was and didn't know mum and dad were right there. We eventually calmed her down and thankfully she slept the entire trip home.

In summary we had a nice time away, but I think we'll stick with local holidays until the children are older :)

[Friday, 2012-04-13 18:03]
4 days, 3 nights and 2 traffic jams

When we bought our camper trailer my parents said they'd been wanting to go out camping again. Since we were going camping on the Easter break we decided to invite them along. Dad duly unpacked their tent and all the other camping stuff that had been packed away for the last 20 years or so. They took absolutely everything including a spare tent and poles as there was no way of knowing what 20 years of storage had done to their stuff. It turned out that all their stuff was just fine, the tent had no rips, tears or mould, the hardest part was for my parents to remember how to put the tent up since they no longer have the instructions. In true camping spirit another person came along and gave some tips since his tent was almost the same. With that advice we had the tent up within minutes.

We stayed in Coobowie Caravan Park earlier in the year and it was just us and two other sites in use (in the unpowered area). This time there were about 10 other sites in use. One group was a bit noisy too, although we had a laugh the next day when Briony overheard one of the women in the toilet complaining about being hung over.

Also I have a funny story about the drive to Coobowie, since the Easter traffic is well-known to be a bit mental. So anyway this meat head in a Renault Scenic was behind me on Port Wakefield Road doing 100Km/h. I changed into the right-hand lane to overtake a slower car, the Renault changed into the right lane behind me to also overtake the slower car. As I had the trailer on I made sure to leave plenty of room before I moved left again, and as I started moving I noticed the Renault change violently into the left lane as he was going to attempt to overtake me on the outside. Once he realised I was moving over he then changed violently into the right-hand lane, accelerated like crazy and flew past me. I noticed he had his roof rack piled high with bags and also his gas bottle was up there, it looked a bit dodgy. About 2Km down the road we saw this orange thing, which looked about the size and shape of a rolled up sleeping bag, go flying through the air. A moment later we drove past the Renault Scenic who was on the side of the road. He had a piece of wood underneath all the stuff in the roof rack and I'm guessing the wood caught some air at high speed, it had flipped upright and all his stuff was scattered all over the road. What an idiot, and thankfully we weren't anywhere near him when the gas bottle went flying.

So back to camping ... on Saturday we drove to Stansbury in the morning for the monthly markets. The market was quite big, although there wasn't really anything we needed. We had a browse, grabbed a donut and coffee and just sat by the beachfront for a bit. In the afternoon we went for a drive which was originally intended to follow the route we'd travelled last time which ended in a lovely beach. But we took a different road and found ourselves following the official scenic drive through the Wattle Point Wind Farm and then along the southern coast. We didn't end up getting to the beach as the coast was all cliffs, however given the cold wind that's probably for the best anyway! The scenic drive was nice, some lovely views and not really many other people around. Our Subaru Outback handled the dirt road without hesitation.

On Sunday we visited Ballywire Farm which is about 20 minutes drive from Coobowie. Their website isn't currently working which means I really had no idea what to expect but from general reading on the Internet it seems there is food and there are animals for children to feed. Since Majandra loves animals we thought we'd give it a go. And we're glad we did - Majandra was so excited, she had an absolute ball. The museum sheds are quite well done too. And then at the end we had fresh scones with jam and cream. We actually went back to Ballywire Farm on the Monday aswell, not for the animals but just for the food - it's inexpensive and the food is fantastic - genuine home style cooking. The iced coffee milkshake is also pretty awesome.

We had some rain on Sunday afternoon, followed by some sunny periods which were just enough to dry the tent out. We started packing up early Monday morning even before breakfast as it looked like there may be some more rain in store. We managed to get everything paked up in fairly good time, headed to Ballywire Farm for lunch and then the drive home. I thought by leaving late we might skip the traffic jams that friends have mentioned, but then about 2Km from Port Wakefield we hit traffic and were stuck there for about half an hour. Not perfect, but better than some others that we'd heard got stuck in 17Km of traffic for over 90 minutes.

So that's the camping story. What else have we done?

Well the other week we took a drive to Goolwa and then rode the Steamranger tourist train to Victor Harbor. It wasn't running steam power that day, we were riding in an old Adelaide Red Hen. I was pleasantly surprised with the ride - for a tourist railway it was clean, quiet (considering the age of the railcar) and the track was smooth. We got some good speed going too. It's not a cheap ride, but it's definitely a ride we'll do again. Majandra was thrilled at the animals she could see out the windows too.

There wasn't much to do in Victor Harbor as it was a Sunday so most shops were closed. We just ate some lunch, went to the playground, let Majandra pat a camel and enjoyed the sun for a bit. Just before we were scheduled to return to Goolwa we grabbed some donuts and I had a Wendys supa shake which Majandra absolutely loved. She stole the cup from me and scoffed as much of the shake as possible.

Oh, and Majandra has become completely obsessed with planes. She loves to watch plane videos on YouTube, and in watching them with her I've seen a few videos of the Concorde - it's really quite an awesome story from design to build and then all the controversy surrounding that beautiful aeroplane. I might have to find some more videos to watch and learn more!

Here's a few random photos ...

[Tuesday, 2012-03-14 08:18]
Goodbye Summer

Saturday just gone was my birthday. I'm now 33. It's funny, every time someone asks me how old I am I actually have to stop, think and count. Not that it matters anyway.

We skipped the traditional birthday dinner, as we're currently watching our dollars since we've spent far too much in the last few weeks. Of course we'll enjoy what we spent it on, but it does mean we need to be sensible for a litle while.

So what did we spend our money on?

Well the first big one was a holiday to Fiji. That's coming up in a month or so, that will be lovely to get away for about two weeks, and it's the last international flight we can do and still take Majandra for free.

We also bought a new car, somewhat out of the blue. We'd sort of been thinking for a while that we'll need a bigger car, and one day in January Briony proclaimed that she really loves the Subaru Forester. Then we were at a wedding and Briony's boss was at our table. She was saying she's just got a Subaru Outback and that it's really a great car. I'd actually always liked the Liberty, and of course the Outback is just a higher, chunkier version of the Liberty. I should point out that I really only like the previous model of Liberty/Outback, the 2005-2009 series. I think the new (2010 onwards) series look bloated and horrible. In fact I really can't stand them at all! The model we bought (4th Generation) I think just oozes style but in a not-in-your-face way.

One afternoon we were driving around and we called into the Subaru dealer at Glenelg just to have a look at the Outback. We liked what we saw, so I started keeping my eye out for a good car and also I definitely wanted a manual transmission but they seemed to be few and far between. Eventually I spotted a 2009 model at a nearby dealer, it was a little on the pricey side but only had 33,000Km on it. I got in touch and arranged a test drive. Both Briony and I were quite impressed at the comfort of the ride, and the fantastic road handling.

So here we are only 6 weeks after Briony first said she liked the Forester, and we have ourselves a 2009 Outback 2.5 Petrol with manual transmission! I should probably also put in a shameless plug that we bought the Outback from Goran at Plaza Holden. Goran was very helpful and polite, in fact we are quite happy with the overall service from Plaza Holden. They didn't want to move on the price of the car, but they did offer us what I considered a reasonable trade-in for our Laser.

I have to finish the car story with Briony's clutch story though. So we used to have the Festiva which is a tiny car and 4 speed auto. Then we got the Laser which certainly wasn't my first manual, but it was Briony's first manual. The Laser is also a little bigger. So the first few nights were spent taking Briony through the back streets, explaining how to use the clutch and learning how to park the larger car. Briony's not known for her patience, and there were many a frustrated tantrum and horrible clutch work. Alas, she eventually learned.

During the week, we had exactly the same thing with the Outback. It's quite a bit bigger than the Laser, and actually has a fairly heavy clutch. Briony's not a huge fan of the clutch, also the gear stick seems to demand a little more effort when compared to the Laser. So we were driving around, and she was refusing to press the clutch which means she stalled it a few times. She was being rough with the clutch. She was being too light on the gears and throwing her hands in the air when it didn't slot into place. There was yelling, and screaming and tantrums, then she was fumbling with the controls and ended up shining her high beams at the car in front who then dropped behind and followed us down the road.

Anyway after an hour or so of driving Briony did calm down somewhat. The next day she had to drive the car to work by herself and it comes as no surprise that beside all the carry-on, she managed quite okay!

Also recently I did the 2012 Tour Down Under Challenge Tour which was a ride of about 130Km from Norwood to Tanunda. This was my fourth Tour Down Under ride and as usual I really enjoyed it. I stuck with Matt all the way and we made okay time if you look at the actual riding time. By the time the breaks are factored in we were a little slower than I'd hoped but still we got there before the finish line closed so that has to be okay!

I'll finish with a Majandra update as usual. She's going well of course, and getting more words all the time. The latest words are : plane which sounds like pa (she gets really excited and wants to look at planes), more (generally for more food), cheese (loves it). We also caught her on video recently, imitating Lucy's panting!

Oh, she's also discovered "bubba" which is her baby doll that has no underwear. She absolutely loves her bubba. Majandra has taken to putting bubba to bed in Lucy's pink bed. The bed covers are part Lucy's blankets, topped off with Majandra's clothes that she's quite happily unloaded from her bedroom drawers.

Briony and I actually did a brainstorm the other day and we counted 60 words that Majandra can say. Of course her pronunciation is far from perfect but there's still 60 things she can say and we understand what she means.

The words are : _______

That's enough for now, back soon with more!

[Wednesday, 2012-02-07 08:28]
Hello, my name is 2012

It's early February now and we've been busy entertaining ourselves. We had a great Christmas, we had the family around to our place again and this time Oowan and Fiona joined us since they've just relocated back to Adelaide. The day went smoothly, the food was tasty, the wine was even better, and Majandra loved her presents. The new tricycle went down especially well, she still loves it.

I also took the opportunity to convert Kerrie from the dark realm of Windows 7, to the higher plane of Ubuntu v11.10. Kerrie had been looking to set up a proper network for a while and I happened to have some gear that I wanted to move on so it worked out well for everyone. I got everything set up nicely and she took it all home and I'm glad to say it works a treat.

While Kerrie was over we went to the Adelaide Zoo for a day out. This was great, we were there practically all day and Majandra was as happy as ever. Unfortunately Briony had a nasty upset stomach so the day wasn't so good for her, but she did survive long enough to see the Pandas and to see Majandra in the Children's Zoo.

During the break we also took Majandra to the Hahndorf Barnyard Farmyard ...

Following New Year's we'd arranged for some extra time off work and we took the camper trailer over to Yorke Peninsula for 4 nights.

Our first camp ground was Port Hughes Caravan Park. We have our own 12V power box which can power a small light in our tent, so we really didn't need a powered site. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the unpowered area is a massive grassed area and literally we just picked a spot. There were only three other groups there, and we had heaps of space which is way better than the powered area where it's all crammed in.

We had a bit of a challenge setting up, bear in mind this was literally my third time setting up the camper trailer and it was a little windy so the awning kept flapping around. Another camper eventually wandered over and gave a hand which was lovely. We let Majandra have a sleep, and then headed down to the beach. Port Hughes Caravan Park is literally right next to the beach, and another bonus of the unpowered site is that the walkway to the beach was right next to our spot. Perfect!

The following morning we spent some time in Moonta, which I guess you'd call the closest "big" town. It's actually quite nice there, with several op-shops which means Briony was as happy as a pig in mud! After some op-shopping and finding some cheap shoes for Majandra, we called into a cafe for lunch. I couldn't help but order a milkshake, and Majandra couldn't help but consider it her obligation to help drink it :)

After lunch we crossed the road to another second hand shop but this one was more furniture and stuff, so nothing for us. But joining this shop was the local hardware store and they have a whole section of camping gear. This was just what I was looking for! They had some good pegs and ropes, plus some other bits and pieces that I really needed to get. This was fantastic to get it all in one place. I also noticed a solar shower for $20, and a folding pop-up cupboard for $80 (I think). There was heaps more stuff there but I had to keep it sensible!

After spending some time in Moonta town we went a few kilometres down the road to the tourist railway station. We ended up doing the trip the next day we were just in time for a train but it was full, and Majandra was beginning to get tired and cranky so we didn't want to push our luck waiting for the next train. Of course when we did the train ride the next day we overheard the staff saying they put on extra carriages yesterday when it was full but nobody extra got on. If only we knew they were getting more carriages, I guess I should have asked.

Anyway since we'd missed the train we took Majandra for a sleep back at the caravan park, and afterwards went to the beach at Moonta Bay. I think it was called Moonta Bay anyway - it's hard to tell as all the places are so close together and they just blend into each other.

After the beach we went into Moonta town to find something for dinner. We ended up settling on a pizza which we took to the park and ate. Majandra helped herself by picking all the olives off and eating them.

After a good night's sleep we had to pack up the trailer the next morning. We visited the tourist train first, that was really cool.

Moonta is an old copper mining town and there's a whole heritage area there with ruins of buildings and remnants from the mining days. This is where the tourist train goes. Part of this area is also a big wasteland from what they call "slime". Basically they mined the copper and the waste product called Tailings went into a big pile. But they noticed when it rained the tailings turned green which indicated there was still copper in there. So they invented this process involving tailings, seawater, acid and iron, which extracted the final remaining copper. The problem was that after this was done the waste product was a mixture of really fine particles mixed with water and acid. This was just pumped into a vacant land area and it covered everything. 100 years later and there is still no sign of vegetation. The tourist train took us around a mine site and we saw some of these things first hand. Very cool and highly recommended, even if it is a bit disheartening about the fact that slime is actually really nasty, acidic pollution.

On the trailer where it hitches to the car there is a small hole where a pin can be inserted just to help prevent the latch from coming undone. The guy who sold us the trailer gave us a padlock to go in there ... there's no key so he said don't do the padlock up, just loop it through the hole. While I was doing the trailer earlier in the day, Briony was nagging at me about something and I absent-mindedly did the padlock up. This meant I now had no way of detaching the trailer from the car.

So after the tourist train we went back to my favourite hardware and camping store. I bought some more stuff including that fold up cupboard and solar shower, and after I'd paid I asked the man if I could borrow his bolt cutters. He happily let me, which solved my padlock problem!

The next destination was Coobowie, a fairly small down a couple of hours south. We got there in decent time and unpacked the camper trailer. Again the unpowered sites were a massive area with plenty of space and hardly any other people there. Just a short distance from our spot was an older couple in their tent. They were sitting under the awning and I noticed them both watching what I was doing. So I had to be quite conscious not to make a fool of myself. Of course this was my fourth time assembling the trailer so I was getting quite good at it. I unpacked everything and got it up without any dramas, and the man from the other tent actually came over and commented that they were watching us (which I knew) and that he was quite impressed at how well the camper trailer had gone up. He took a look around and he seemed quite impressed by the whole setup! We returned the favour that evening taking a look at his tent, they had a fairly good setup, the tent was massive and apparently only cost $150 from a second hand store.

We made some dinner at the campground, and I went to the general store after dinner to get some ice. Of course I grabbed an ice cream while I was there. Back at the campsite Majandra caught a glimpse of Briony's ice cream and she raced over as fast as she could and literally grabbed the ice cream away from Briony. She ate about 1/3 of the ice cream and then proceeded to feed the rest to Briony. Very amusing (and this is why I eat my ice cream fast, so it's all gone before Majandra realises what I've got!).

Although Majandra had a nasty cough, we still got a fairly decent night's sleep. The following morning was our last full day of holiday and we did a lot of driving around the southern area of Yorke Peninsula. From Coobowie it's only a few kilometres to Edithburgh, where we stopped for a look around yet another opp-shop. From there we drove to Yorketown where we grabbed some pasties and donuts from the bakery and headed to the local playground to eat. Majandra had a good time and enjoyed her baby-size donut.

We kept going from place to place just to see what was around, and we ended up at a small area down the end of a dirt road which had a lovely beach with nobody else in sight. After a while there we drove some more and ended up going all the way to Corny Point in the rain and looking at the lighthouse. Then back to the caravan park for dinner. All up there was a lot of driving done that last day, however we got a good feel for what's around and the distance between places.

The next morning we packed up and headed home along the coast road, stopping only at Ardrossan for some lunch and a quick visit to the playground where an older girl called Mackenzie befriended Majandra and took her down the slide a few times.

We had a good time on our holiday, even though it was only 4 days. Briony commented that there wasn't a lot to do, but that can be better explained by saying there was plenty to do but we had to consider Majandra's morning and afternoon sleep plus also not taking her out in the hot sun too much.

We'll definitely go to Yorke Peninsula again!

Last but not least in this blog entry is a Majandra update. She's as good as ever, but certainly getting to be more of her own independent person and she definitely lets us know when she's not happy about something. She's learning to talk, she still has some way to go with the words but we know what she's trying to say. We've got car, dog, bowl, mama, dada, bird, bye and a few other gems. If we asked her what noise a cat makes she makes a noise which I guess it sort of like a cat, and if we asked her what does a train say she says toot toot toot. She knows hoot from the ABC TV show, and she's absolutely OBSESSED with Santa. We have this annoying spinning santa that plays music - she loves it. Also I have the Talking Santa app on my phone, and whenever she seems my phone she says "Sasa" and wants to play. It's funny as the Talking Santa gets presents out of his sack, and Majandra says OOOOHHHHH for each present and if she recognises the present she'll say the word (there's two cars and a dog that she knows).

Here's some random photos ...

Oh, and I almost forgot, some photos from our recent bike ride to McLaren Vale where Majandra enjoyed her first Babycino (and I had officially the best Iced Mocha I've ever tasted) ...

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