Posts filed under ‘exploring




exploring

It was time for a short break so over Queen’s Birthday weekend we went to South Stradbroke Island which is a small island just off the Gold Coast.

We stayed at Couran Cove the resort on the island. couran.com

The resort was pretty run down, it’s 12 years old & the facilities looked it.  When we were there the jet ski’s were out of action, the restaurant closed for refurbishment & the kids pool heater broken!  The pool would have been good for CJ & MC but regardless, we had a really great time together riding the farty old bikes around, playing on the beach & picnicking.

I had read reviews of the resort advising people to take their own food so we took lots of yummy food & mostly made our own tasty meals.

Our room, a one bedroom suite, was clean & in good condition.

The beach was gorgeous & the island was just far enough away to feel like we’d had a break but not too far from home to travel.

When we got off the boat we were glad it was just a short drive home.

surfer's paradise from south straddie

Being mid Winter it was very quiet which made it lovely for us, & really 20 degrees isn’t really winter like weather!

It was a really great weekend away.

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Add comment June 20, 2010

Byron Bay Roady

We hoped our shipping from Dubai would be delivered before Easter, but that was wishful thinking.   Rather than sit around an empty house we decided to head down to Byron Bay for a few nights.  Leaving it so late to book accommodation we were really lucky that a farm stay in the hinterland had a late cancellation & we were in luck.  We left on Friday & instead of heading straight down the coast we decided to take the scenic route!  We spent the day driving in the Gold Coast/Northern New South Wales hinterland & it was stunning! We set out towards Springbrook, then down to Murwillimbah & on to Uki cafe for coffee.

A slight wrong turn had us heading towards Nimbin but we soon realised & back-tracked to get on the correct road which took us on a dirt road through a national park over to Mullumbimby.  We had lunch at Brunswick Heads, the best felafel pockets from Yami & CJ got some fine fish n chips as he insisted he doesn’t like felafel (tired boy).

Byron Bay was just down the road so we picked up some supplies & headed up to the farm.  I had a cold & was feeling pretty bad but it had been a day of really magnificent scenery.  That night we slept in REAL BEDS!  The first time in months.

off to collect eggs :-0

Saturday morning & my dream of fresh organic eggs came to an end when CJ & A came back from egg collection duty empty handed.  CJ exclaiming “The chicken tried to attack A & flapped his wings at him with all his might!”  Hmm, avocado on toast it was.  Back in the car & off to Bangalow for a coffee stop, this was one of my favourite towns, along with Brunswick Heads.  It was quite a drive to the middle of nowhere & the famous Nimbin. We bought a bit of tie-dye but it was a bit tacky really, sort of commercialised & not the cute little hippy town we were expecting.  We decided to leave Nimbin & drove back to Byron for lunch & a look at the beach.

Then back to the farm for a bit of boating.

The Easter bunny came on Saturday night so we had chocolate for breakfast (& shop bought organic eggs!).  It was strange drizzly weather but we went up to the light house & then to the markets.  Talk about market heaven, very much my cup of tea.  CJ & MC were both grumbly so we didn’t hang around long & headed home ,stopping back at Yami where Cosmo ate loads of felafel.

Happy Easter!

Add comment April 20, 2010

Full Moon Drumming

We headed out to the desert last night to join the full moon drumming circle.  As we got closer to the location we ended up in convoy heading into the parking area at the start of the desert.  From here 4WD’s shuttled everyone into the camp, it was a slightly hairy ride with C&M but we were there in a few minutes.  The set up was awesome, down in a hollow there was the drum circle with dance floor behind, traditional Arabic seating around the drumming, an area for food & a bar, real toilets, camel rides and a bonfire pit.  The tall surrounding dunes were used for sand boarding, running down & as a lookout for watching the action.

The first few hours were brilliant.  We did some drumming and MC loved dancing up the front.  CJ started off a bit overwhelmed & wanted to play in the dunes & have a camel ride.  He didn’t take long to warm up though & was soon running around having fun,  smacking the main drummers bottom’s & hitting their drums!

After some drumming & dancing we had our dinner.  It’s still really hot so we were all dripping with sweat & covered in sand but happy to be there.  Things went a little down hill when the organiser droned on for way too long with impromptu blabber  & the energy of the drumming died a bit.  This was followed by music & dancing that made us imagine what it’s like in a (bad) Beirut nightclub!  We were tired & my poor pregnant body was sore after a long day so we headed home around 11pm.

It was a cool scene & we will watch the moon and look forward to following the next full one back to the big party in the desert.

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drumming

the camp

the camp

getting her groove on

getting her groove on

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Add comment October 3, 2009

home

Hello.  I’m home and it feels like I’ve been away forever.  The heat is unbelievable but I am back a new Bonnie, I will not complain about Dubai anymore!  Well, I’m sure I will but will try not to as our time away highlighted the fact that home is home. It’s your own space where you make the rules and do what you like when you like.  My family’s sanctuary.  It turned out my nervousness about the trip was intuition, it was a mixed bag with good and bad, hard and easy days.

We spent our first 11 days with my dad’s cousin in a small town in Fife called Leven.  We had a lovely time here and were so well looked after.  We had dinner cooked for us every night which was a real treat and CJ loved the attention and company of the 2 big kids (19 and 20), his “mates”.  While we were here we played at the park and beach, took the train to Edinburgh and walked up to the castle, took bus rides to Elie and Anstruther and had a day at St Andrews.  We met most of dad’s cousins and their children and grandchildren.  Fife was beautiful, I loved the rolling lush countryside and dreamed of riding horses in the rain. MC started to walk everywhere and was so proud.

From here we left to stay with my uncle in Dunfermline where unfortunately things went wrong.  CJ didn’t cope with the change and missed Leven terribly.  This brought out his homesickness and he started to cry and scream for A most days. I caught a cold and felt miserable.  But the biggest challenge for me was the fact that my parenting was challenged and I’m sorry to say that I failed badly at being assertive and sticking to what I believe in.  The theory in this house seemed to be,use junk food, TV and noisy flashing battery operated  toys to keep children occupied and out of the adults way.  CJ ended up glued to the television and lost all motivation to go anywhere or do anything.  He was saying “no, you go mum, I’ll just stay here and watch my DVD”.  I was gutted and I wish I had have put my foot down from the start and made it clear CJ doesn’t watch much TV.  They were shocked I didn’t let CJ have Cocoa Pops for breakfast and sweets on tap through the day.  I felt my parenting was under the spotlight and the results were not good!  Massive tantrums almost constantly made me feel like a disaster.

We tried to make the best of the situation and managed another trip to Edinburgh which was a great day.  We went around on the double decker tour bus (2 laps!), went to the castle and had lunch there overlooking the city.  We visited the gorgeous old village Culross and my uncle took us to Loch Ness in the highlands.  But there was more bad luck here as I got a stomach bug overnight, no sleep and was sore and shattered the next day.  Driving home CJ lost the plot, which I totally understood as he was tired of being dragged around tourist sites and was just falling asleep when we woke him up to see another one.  This resulted in my uncle saying some harmful things directed at me about CJ.  We left the next day.  I’m sad as I never got to meet my dads uncle and I had really looked forward to meeting him, I think I’ll always regret that.  We also had a festival day planned (for today actually) that looked like a lot of fun.  But we had to go.  Poor CJ was a mess and needed his dad badly.  The night before we left, when we were in bed he said to me “I’m sorry for crying so much today mum, I just didn’t get enough sleep”.  Heartbreaking.  I could see that, I understand he is a small person with real feelings.  It’s so sad that children are judged as ‘good’ by how quiet they are 😦

So, we made it home sweet home.  MC was a superstar on the plane walking up and down the aisles waving at everyone like a celebrity.  Grumpy was there to meet us, he’s been sick too and life is fast going back to *’normal’*.  I read the intro of Unconditional Parenting again last night and just thought ‘thank god for Alfie Kohn’!

Notes on Scotland: lovely. cold. fresh air and food. green. grey. old. natural. scenic.  I prefer traveling to more foreign, exotic places though so although it was nice, it was familiar and slightly boring or at least same same.  I think the highlights were our days in Elie, Anstruther and Edinburgh, when it was the 3 of us out exploring on our own.

P7050045CJ at FalklandP7060068CJ at ElieP7070091P7070096St Andrews

P7080117P7080125P7080137Edinburgh

P7100156P7100162P7100163Anstruther

P7140176P7140177P7140175Culross

P7160179CJ with my cousin’s son

P7170190the rail bridgeP7190224Dunfermline AbbeyP7200249Edinburgh Castle CannonP7200242CJ took this one fo MC and meP7200260The scary man with the blue face (I had to go with CJ)

Blair Athol Castle

Blair Athol Castle

drumthebucket AKA Drumnadrochit (sp!)

drumthebucket AKA Drumnadrochit (sp!)

famous castle at Loch Ness forgotten the name!

famous castle at Loch Ness forgotten the name!

looking for Nessie

looking for Nessie

gondola near Ben Nevis

gondola near Ben Nevis

The start of Glen Coe

The start of Glen Coe

Apologies to MC for the lack of photos, she was attached to my front or back.  I will post a pic of her in her new shoes tomorrow!

Add comment July 25, 2009

treasure

I had completely forgotten about these gorgeous antique Ottoman tiles we bought in Aleppo, Syria.  Last night putting MC to bed they came into my head & I was panicking thinking they had been lost in the move to Dubai.  A had them away above the kitchen cabinets, now we have to decide where and how we can display them?

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Add comment June 19, 2009

Fujairah for the day

I felt a desperate need to get out of Dubai for the day so yesterday we headed off to the East Coast, the Fujairah emirate.  It took us 90mins on the Sharjah-Kalba road (S116) and it was a great drive.  We saw the usual sand dunes, camels, goats and the last 30 mins or so was through mountains.  From Kalba we drove up the coast through Fujairah, Khor Fakkan and to Le Meridien hotel on Al Aqah beach where we spent the day.  It was roasting hot but we really enjoyed our day.  We spent a couple of hours by the pool then had lunch inside under the AC which we really needed by then. MC made a pig of herself and then she had a lovely afternoon snooze in the pram while CJ, A and I swam all afternoon in the ocean and relaxed at the beach.  They were the best swims I’ve had in the UAE, absolutely gorgeous.  The water was clean & clear & warm oooo I want to be there now!  MC woke up for an evening beach swim & then we had a hard time getting CJ out of the pool for dinner.  Fish n Chips outside by the water.  In the evening when I changed out of my togs it was still so hot my body could not get dry, I was dripping with sweat.  We left around 8pm and made it home by 10 with 2 sleeping babes who had fallen asleep as soon as they were in the car.  We will definitely return when the temperatures cool down again but with it not even being June yet it could be a long hot 4 months ahead.

P5220829Kalba

P5220834Khor Fakkan – an inviting spot!

P5220835Finally I got my snap!  I tried to take a photo of one of these signs at the Oman border & we were quickly yelled at by security & made to delete the pic.  Yesterday I got my photos, I love this sign.

P5220837Bidiyah Mosque.  The oldest mosque in the UAE mid 15th C.

P5220852Look how clear the water is.  And look how cute his bum in the next one!

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Add comment May 23, 2009

Organised Chaos – Egypt

It feels like it was so long ago we were in Egypt.  So much has changed since we returned to the UAE & we’ve been busy settling into our new home.  My feelings are very mixed, I am definitely sad to be out of Abu Dhabi.  I never felt comfortable when we last lived in Dubai & I get the same sense this time too, the place doesn’t sit well with me.  On the other hand I really like our villa and it has really changed our routine.  CJ & MC are enjoying playing in the garden every morning & evening & it is so private.  In the apartment although it was big we had to get out everyday to stay sane.  This week I’ve left the house once!  So the three of us are spending really good home time together & it’s been lovely. We have some exciting activities starting all in the neighbourhood this week & our ready made friends  have made settling back in so stress free.  I have to face the traffic tomorrow, Dubai driving for the first time again (I have a fear since the crash), at least it will be on a quiet Friday morning & is to yoga so I should be nice & chilled out for the drive home!

back to the worlds best organised chaos…..

We flew from Aleppo to Cairo & spent two whirlwind days exploring Cairo.  It was fantastic.  We stayed at the Windsor Hotel which was the coolest old hotel, like something out of an old murder mystery.  Actually it’s an old officer’s club & was attacked in the Black Saturday riots in 1952.  It was my favourite hotel of the trip

windsorcairo.com

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On the first day we went to the pyramids at Giza & Saqqara, there was a sandstorm at Saqqara so we didn’t get a good look there but found shelter at a wonderful little restaurant near by with a garden with playground for the babes.  Riding camels around the pyramids was one of our trip highlights but my bottom was SO SORE!  We got dropped off after lunch at Khan al Khalili the bazaar then headed back to the Windsor for dinner & bed.  Our second & last day in Cairo was full on.  First we went to Al Azah park which was such a pretty quiet space in the city with amazing views.  From there we went to the Cairo Tower for another view of the city.  From the tower we walked until we started running out of time & jumped in a cab to Zamalek, found a trendy cafe for lunch & enjoyed espresso & Western food for the first time in about 10 days.  After lunch we took a frantic guided tour of the museum, I am not the museum type but really enjoyed it (especially as CJ & MC slept in Ergos) , but our time was so limited so we gave up after the tour & headed ‘home’ again to shower & meet the transfer to the night train.

We got on the overnight train & I had been dreading it.  I thought it might just be seats that lay down with a curtain across (I must have seen photos of some like this) but we had a tiny cabin & the beds were comfy enough.  We all got to sleep, although I felt nauseous & took some meds, MC must have had something wrong  too because in the morning when we were ready to enjoy the view she pooed EVERYWHERE.   We got off the train in Aswan & straight onto our Movenpick cruise up the river Nile to Luxor.  Again I hadn’t been sure how we would enjoy the package holiday ‘cruise’ thing but it was fab.  The boat was nice & it was just so easy having your days planned including meal times & cup of tea time!   I liked being rushed around the sites, you saw so much & didn’t have time to get bored.  Those ancient Egyptians were an artistic & spiritual bunch to say the least!  CJ made a best friend for the 3 days on the boat & they were really cute hanging out together.  We got off the ship in Luxor for our last 2 nights & stayed on the West Bank.  What a good choice that was!  The East bank of Luxor is impossible, the hassle just drives you crazy & you can’t escape it.  We were happy in ourlittle haven El Nakhil, we took it easy, used a neighbouring hotel’s swimming pool, ate a lot & finished the adventure with a hot air balloon ride over the West Bank.

What a magic and unforgettable time we had.  Our family was strengthened more by our time together & our experience.  It was however one holiday we’ve had when I haven’t left saying I would love to return.  Now I’ve seen Syria & Egypt I don’t think I will return there (but who knows).  It was a once in a lifetime trip & I am so glad we did it.

Giza pyramids

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Cairo

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Philae temple

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The Nile

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karnak (I think!)

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CJ & his BF (for a few days)

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Hanging out at El Nakhil

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hod hod hot air baloon, CJ was a bit afraid & was asking to go home for his breakfast.  He says it was the fire that was scaring him, he did great.

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1 comment April 17, 2009

Notes from damascus.

This is going to be a long & often edited post but I need to get writing, when I post photos it will be finished!

First of all Notes From Bon.  What an adventure we’ve had, everyday has been busy with traveling & sightseeing or activities.  MC surprised me & settled into life on the road perfectly, taking her naps in the Ergo, breastfeeding when & where she could & bathing in various buckets & tubs! CJ did great too although he got his cough & cold back & found the whole thing tiring.  Right at the end he also learned to nap in the Ergo rather than fight it & end up exhausted.  He only learned the F word yesterday so not too bad :0 He had some rough patches.  A was funny, definitely enjoying the more luxurious legs of the journey.  The fact he slept 4 nights in a hostel & on a train was impressive.

Me, I liked the big cities Damascus & Cairo.  Bosra stands out in my mind & some of the incredible meals we had in Syria.  I did excellent planning & it was a whirlwind 2 weeks.  As usual I felt confused by it all, I felt privileged but not necessarily happy to be so.  In Egypt (Luxor) kids begging, men hounding foreigners to make a few bucks or ripping people off, women in the background.  At first the hassle makes you angry but later when I ponder what it must feel like for someone who gets by day to day by begging I feel troubled.

Back later.

I left the last post in Damascus so back to the start of our journey.   The next day we bused to Palmyra.  My highlight was buying a filthy old dress hanging outside a small shop on the main street, it’s made out of the Arabic black and white checkered head cloths.  A was disgusted I was spending money on it & it took 3 washes to get the water to change from black but I was right, love itp3180218

I guess the roman ruins were quite cool too!  We stayed here

ishtarhotel.net/index_en.htm

Decent clean hotel where we had more really yummy food.  We also had a great meal at a small B&B called ‘Casa Mia’ with our travel buddies from Damascus.

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Palmyra to Krak des Chavelier.  The countryside and castle were stunning, the nicest part of Syria.  We had a huge feast for our lunch, tons of the best mezze and then chicken for the boys.  We didn’t need to eat a proper meal until the next evening it was so good.

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From Krak we traveled to Aleppo via Hama, Dead Cities & Apamia.  Hama sux it was disappointing as I’d looked forward to it.  We were freezing, & it was smelly & dirty so we ended up tasting all the Arabic sweets in the bakery.  It was a long day & e were happy to arrive at Hotel Mandaloun in Aleppo.mandalounhotel.com/photo_gallery…

Hama

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Apamia

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Aleppo.

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Well it seems my notes on Syria have been misplaced along with, one Syria Lonely Planet, one beautiful new turquoise necklace, and one tap juice bottle.  So off the top of my head: Cold in March, dirty, crazy driving, bleak, concrete block flats without paint, great food and welcoming people, very traditional little Western influence, no colour – greys & browns, Damascus old town- neat windy narrow streets Krak des Chavelier- countryside & castle were stunning, Palmyra was amazing, Aleppo reminded me of a big town centre (Porirua!) we were warming to it when we left, pictures of Bashar al-Asad everywhere.

Add comment March 29, 2009

This is not a travel blog!

But of course I want to tell you all about our trip.  We are in Damascus and so far everything has gone perfectly, Damascus is very cool.  Qatar airways was awesome and MC & CJ traveled really well.  We’ve been in Damascus 3 nights now staying at the Damascus hostel which has been very comfy & an excellent base.

damascushostel.com

Cosmo loves ‘Bunny’ the bunny.  We’ve been exploring the old town & souqs, went to the Omayyad mosque and Azem Palace, went to Bosra on the bus, tasted some yummy food including an impromptu lunch at the Four Seasons.  That was funny, everyone was in suits excepts us with the kids & in dirty jeans, we think they were suspicious of us as the F&B manager came over to talk to us – find out if we had the money to pay I reckon!

I bought some beautiful clothes this morning, a hand embroidered dress and pants made by Syrian women in a scheme to have them keep alive their craft & create employment for them.

I’m in an Internet cafe now, A had an interesting time here last night when 6 officials came in to go through the computers & check out what people have been looking at.   You have to show your passport when you come in too.

We’re off tomorrow, busing to Palmyra.

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Bosra

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2 comments March 17, 2009

Holiday

I’ve password protected by UAE dis, big brother and all that.  And I don’t want to contribute to wordpress being banned here.  CJ’s middle name will get you in.

Something really weird happened.  We sold my car and most of our furniture.  We were almost mentally prepared to leave and were looking at the possibility of buying a business in Thailand, or trying to decide where to from here for us.  so just as the last bed was being removed on wednesday night the phone rang and A GOT A JOB!

So I wrote I wanted to go to Syria and Egypt and then come home, and that is exactly what we are about to do!  We will be coming home to an empty house (no beds, no oven, no fridge, no power by then) but we are staying and are very happy about that.  We’ve been camping out in CJ’s room and eating meaty boy meals (bleugh) so looking forward to setting off in the morning.

Here is our itinerary

4 nights Damascus, visit Bosra

1 night Palmyra

1 night Krak des Chaveliers

2 nights Aleppo visiting Hama and the Dead Cities on the way

2 nights Cairo

sleeper train Cairo – Aswan

3 nights Nile Cruise

2 nights luxor

It all feels surreal and I half expect to come back and have something go wrong.  But it’s all looking good so we will enjoy our trip and the huge sense of relief we are feeling.  Phew!

Add comment March 13, 2009

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