Thursday, 3 April 2014

New South Wales - A Taylor family adventure Part 2



I feel like it deserves capital letters and exclamation marks because everything about it is big. Traffic, buildings and so many people. I know there are places which are even bigger. I mean I've been to New York, but in little ol' Perth, it's very easy to forget just what it is like. And in true fashion even our journey into the city has a big story.

We had tickets booked for the musical The Lion King, for Sunday which was the day we would be journeying back to Sydney. We left Nelson Bay at 8.30am giving us plenty of time before the matinee at 1pm. The GPS said it should take about 2.5 hours to drive to Sydney but you just never know what might happen. So gave ourselves plenty of time. We were making such good time that we decided to make a pitstop for half an hour for us all to refuel (coffee was the priority it seemed). We started back on the M1 highway and it wasnt long before it hit. Absolute standstill traffic. There had been an accident on the M1 and there was not a single car moving. We made the quick decision to exit the highway just before we hit the traffic. Best. Decision. Ever. While I suddenly had a slight panic (Oh my goodness. This is exactly what I was dreading. What if we miss the Lion King? What are we going to do?) we quickly realised we could hop over the Pacific highway which runs paralell to the M1, skip past the accident and hop back on the M1 before the two roads diverge. Crisis averted. Phew!

We continued on the M1 into the city and that's when the real fun began. Sydney roads are insane. There is just so many of them and they go in all sorts of directions. We weaved our way through the outer streets, worked our way to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, crossed the Bridge and I am so thankful for the GPS. How we would have found our way otherwise, I do not know. Seven exits all at once. Quick which one? Left. We need to be over there! Some very clever driving by Aunty Rachel we made it to our exit and we were into the CBD. My poor heart. Now there are cars everywhere. And of course it is the day before St Patrick's day and there is a parade happening right on the street we need to drive down. Oh I forgot to mention we now have less than half and hour until our show starts- and it has started to pour with rain.

Traffic is diverted and is again at a standstill. It took us 3 light changes just to move through one set of traffic lights. At this rate we will never make it! We are only about 10 minutes walk to the theatre so I ring Jonathan who is in the car a few ahead of us and tell him I'm going to jump out and walk/run (in my dress and sandles through the rain) to the theatre because I'm the only one who can collect the tickets. He jumped out of the car he was travelling in with Bill and Ruth and jumped into our car with the kids and Rachel while I jumped out and took off for the theatre. Jonathan will jump out with Gracie if they don't make better progress with the car. So off I went through the pouring rain, with thunder and lighting directly overhead, through a completely foreign city. I thought to myself  "surely, this is what it feels like to be on the Amazing Race" (cue Indiana Jones music).

Anyway off I go following the GPS and come to the place where it tells me the theatre should be. It's not there. What?! Where is it? I ask someone in a nearby shop and they tell me it is 2 blocks over. Great. More rain. Down two blocks and there I see a sea of yellow flags with the Lion King on them directing me to the Capitol Building. Surely this must be it. I make my way around and find myself at the stage door where a very nice man, dressed in black with a head set on smoking a cigarette, smiles at me and says "the entrance is around the other side". I give him a grateful smile and thankyou and run around the building dodging people and rain and finally make it to the counter. This nice young man sitting before me has no idea what I've just been through to get there. I get my tickets and call Jonathan. I manage to tell him not to follow the GPS and give him the street it is on just in time as his phone goes flat. Fingers crossed he and Gracie will find it in time. A very nervous 5 minutes goes by and I see them. Relief. We enter the theatre find our seats with 5 minutes to spare. Poor Gracie looks a bit bewildered, not really sure what has just happened. But we made it. Just.

The lights go down and the music starts. This is Gracie's first ever musical. I have been so excited for this moment for a long time. Finally able to share my love for musical theatre with my baby girl and I have hope that she will fall in love with it as well. The stage lights up and as the animals start to appear during Circle of Life, my eyes well up and I'm overcome with emotion. What a beautiful moment.

The whole show was amazing and Gracie loved it. Everytime there was a cblckout for change of scene, she asked me "Mummy is it over?" She was on the verge of tears when it ended. She didn't want it to be over. It is a memory I will treasure for a very long time. If you ever get the chance to see it, do. It is an incredible show.

Our few days in Sydney consisted of sight seeing in all the usual places, a trip on the Mnnly Ferry out to Manly Beach, a surprise catch up with our Perth friend David, who was in Sydney also for a few days and water play at the magnificent Darling Harbour playground.

We met up with David at this Pub just down the road from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is the oldest Pub in Australia. The photos on the wall inside were from when the Pub was first opened. Amazing! How they built the Bridge back then with very little machinery is astounding!

We flew home on the Wednesday after a very memorable 10 days. It was good for us all to be together, play together and create wondeful memories together. Goodbye NSW, until next time.

New South Wales- A Taylor family adventure Part 1

Talk about hitting the ground running. We got back from a wonderful trip to the Eastern States of Australia 2 weeks ago and this is the first opportunity I have had to sit down and sort through all those photos (I may have come back with about 600 photos) and videos and memories and collate them into something to share.  End of March was crazy busy.

But now I've had a moment to breathe, the holiday feels like months ago! It's wonderful to look at these photos and remember just how great it was. The whole Taylor family went, Nanna Ruth and Grandpa Bill, Aunty Rachel and the four of us. We flew very early Saturday morning to Sydney picked up the hire car from the airport and drove 3 hours to the Hunter Valley, our first destination. Considering how much I dislike flying, it was a great flight. The kids, I could not have any better of them. Gracie was excited as anything as the plane took off. She spent 4 hours watching Peppa Pig, intermittantly looking out the window and occasionally snacking. Ollie was glued to the window on take off and landing and thanks to a cuddle with Aunty Rach managed a 2 hour nap as well. Phew!

Once in Sydney, it took us over an hour just to drive out of the city. We arrived in the Hunter Valley to be greeted by a traffic jam, only 500 metres from our hotel. John Farnham and Lionel Richie were in town playing a concert at the winery accross the road. So our first evening was spent listening to these two superstars and the roaring crowd. No need for tickets! We basically got a free concert!

View from our hotel unit. Breathetaking.

The next day we drove inland to a town called Singleton and spent the day at Jonathan's cousin's property. Kathy, Ian and their girls Claire and Lauren welcomed us with love, tea and cake along with Isobel and Stan Jonathan's aunt and uncle and his other cousin Mick. It was the most gorgeous day and their little farm is stunning. It was actually quite eery how much it reminded me of my Aunty's farm down near Albany which overlooks the Porongorups. Ian and Katthy's place also overlooks a mountain range in much the same way.

Ollie and Gracie spent hours meeting the animals, playing on the giant trampoline and befriending their cousins (I don't know what the actual relation is) Claire and Lauren, who so patiently played with them all day.

Ian even took us for a bit of a joy ride in his beloved Kingswood. Between the familiarity of the farm and riding in a V8 with it's passionate owner, I definately felt quite at home here.

After a wonderful day it was time to head back to the hotel. Between daylight savings and jetlag, we loosened our usual bedtime routine as none of us were heading to bed any time soon and we all walked down to the lake to watch the sun set.

One of our favourite adventures in the Hunter Valley was visiting the local Zoo. It was a home to many local rescue animals as well as a few foreign and exotic ones. It was very hands on and kids got to feed, touch and get up close and personal with many of them.

Our favourite was definitely meeting Zola the 11 month old baby Wombat. She was so hyper active and I have never seen a wombat move as fast as she did. She got so excited playing with us, she gave herself hiccups! Wombat hiccups... so cute!

The days that followed included lots of relaxing, visiting a few wineries, the Hunter Valley gardens village and just enjoying having finally slowed down.

After 4 nights we drove to Nelson bay, just north of Newcastle and checked into our next hotel. Out first adventure here was a Dolphin Cruise. Gracie and Oliver's first boat experience. Again they took it all in their stride.

 Nelson Bay is a beautiful quiet harbour town which reminded me a fair bit of Albany (again). We spent many hours playing in the water, looking for fish and shells. Blessed with amazing weather, 30 degrees and sunny. Perfect.

To be continued... Well done for making it this far. Not too much more to go ;)