Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feel lucky, punk!

May 23rd in the southern hemisphere, the sun turns in at 5 p.m., and the winter season is nigh. It is my second winter in Canberra. To be honest, I have a hard time calling it winter when I have an 11:00 a.m. tee time on Sunday and I continue to argue with myself every morning on the merits of wearing a jacket. Still, the days are short and the house is chilly, bone chilling to be exact, Canberran builders missed the chapter on insulation. I broke down last week and bought a hot water bottle which must be placed on my side of the bed at precisely 10:00 p.m., nah I'm not getting soft.

Around here we've all taken a turn at being sick this past fortnight. I'm not sure that you can tell much about someone by the way they handle sickness but I have to say all four of us are from a different school of thought when it comes to battling post nasal drip. I use denial. I have to be asked 30 times if I'm sick...no,no,no, I'm fine, no really, just sounds bad, maybe a bit tired, nope I'm the cats pyjamas all good. Generally I follow up the diatribe with a huge coughing fit that lasts 10 seconds and leaves people waiting to see which internal organ will come forth. It's a real show.

Mackenzie gets mad, plain mad dog mean. She gets a firm Clint Eastwood stare and threatens to do unmentionable things to the little viral scoundrels that course through her veins. She will do anything to get better, she refuses to give in, and most of the time the illness is so terrified it goes away peaceful. Hell hath no fury like Mackenzie's immune system.

Shannon falls fast and hard. It comes on quick, she medicates, throws together a few 20 hour naps and awakes with the energy of a bull in the streets of Madrid. A two day cleaning fest ensues where she catches up on all that was lost. I have found it best to stay out of her way on such occasions. Once the cyclone is downgraded to a dervish its safe to re-enter the atmosphere.

Malcolm takes it slow, he seems to know the minute an infection even begins to think about coming towards him. For years we pulled our hair out trying to figure out what was wrong with him only to be proven wrong every time as 2 days later the symptoms would emerge and we would feel the guilt of not believing him. He knows.

Well it's on with the show. This school term is about half gone already, time to start think of another vacation. Hmmm where to next...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Unfortunate Tune

Mothers Day yesterday. We ate breakfast at Gus' a Canberra institution.

New Zealand was spectacular. The Corramandel peninsula was my favourite,but the Abel Tasman National Park wasn't far behind. Unfortunately the wind conspired to make kayaking impossible but the walk (all 50 km's of it) was fabulous. It turns out Abel Tasman was a person. In fact he was the first European to set eyes on New Zealand. After a tired ride from Holland, old Abel snuck into the the small slip between the North and South Islands and spotted a Maori village that just looked perfect for a little refuelling stop. Not wanting to stop in unannounced Abel got out the horn and bellowed out a small chorus to announce his intention to dock. However in a sad twist of pitch and rhythm he unfortunately sounded out the chorus to a Maori war chant. The party of 4 which he dispatched to shore to greet the Maori were "engaged" (shall we say) and consumed in a bay aptly named Murderers Cove. Abel left abruptly, never played his instrument again and left it to subsequent explorers (Cook, etal) to try their luck. The bay was later renamed something far friendlier to encourage tourism.

The 50 km hike I speak of was contested over 3 days but that as they say is "a lot of walking". Of course the sting was taken off of the adventure as it was punctuated each night with a gorgeous cabin and a five star dinner. My idea of "roughing it".I spent most of the time trying to keep up with my son, unsuccessfully, who apparently has a small amount of mountain goat in his pedigree. The guides on the tour were great, they mixed in the odd story each time I looked like the next step would be my last (god bless them).

I was pleasantly surprised with the two "big" cities we visited, Auckland and Wellington. Very nice places with great waterfronts. Malcolm was particularly impressed with a restaurant in Wellington named "Chicago" that served chicken wings, not exactly Australian fare, a food group he has been missing from his diet for too long. And in Auckland there were highlights of a strange game called ice hockey playing on the telly at a local pub (globalization I believe it's called).

How many more times will we get to travel together as a family before our children's lives steam off at a million miles an hour and colleges and universities begin to interfere with our schedules. I guess we will cherish each time. The trip also allowed us to reconnect with the Birds, our New Zealand friends, who we hadn't seen for 10 years, but who took us in at the midpoint of our holiday and treated us like kings.

A good time had by all.

Back to the Canberra winter, short sunny days and cool crisp nights ahead. Great weather for golf if you can squeeze it in through the daylight hours and I intend to.