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Talk the Walk

boots“Over the next few days, we’ll all get to know each other really well, eh?”  Our guide, Stu, says in his thick New Zealand accent at our pre-walk briefing in Queenstown.

I look around the room with disinterest.  I’m not here to meet new people.  I’m here for a girls’ week away, a catch up with friends; to have a break from daily routines, from worrying about who needs to be at what activity when and what to cook for dinner.  And, by the by, I’m here to walk the Milford Track. Read more

A Venice Romance

IMG_1887Lingering on the iconic Rialto Bridge at dusk, we gaze out over the Grand Canal as the sky turns rose-pink.  Lights from the opulent Renaissance palaces dance on the water and a gondolier, silhouetted against the rising full moon, silently passes below us.  Oblivious to the throngs of passing tour groups and jostling photographers, we kiss.

“Oh yuck!”  “Gross!”  “Do you have to?” interrupt our children.

I give my husband an I-told-you-so-look.  It had been his idea to come to Venice.  I was keen of course, but not now when our children are still young.  And with us. Read more

Coming Down with Montague Islanditus

terns and gulls“So, how long have you kids been doing this type of volunteer work?” asks Boyd Hastings, a National Parks Field Officer and our guide for the morning, as he hands out gardening gloves, safety vests and digging tools.

Our kids respond with a blank look.

I realise it is time to come clean, both to Boyd and the kids. “They actually didn’t know they were going to be doing this.” I admit. Read more

At Home in Hakuba

Claudia at HappoOneWhen I first contacted Mayumi of “The Funny Inn” about accommodating our family of six during our ski trip to Japan, she immediately replied offering availability in two rooms saying: “I promise special time in both room which is very popular for foreigners guests”. Feeling this was an offer too good to refuse, I made the booking. Read more

Day 3 on the Camino de Santiago

I’d agree it wasn’t the best way to start a marriage. Spending three months walking 1,500 kilometres across France and Spain with my new husband was one thing. With my father-in law was quite another. Read more

Easter Rituals

Wyangala5I pull my hood down over my face and make a dash from the car. I feel conspicuous in my brand new aqua-blue gortex jacket. I am the only one giving a Sydney postcode when I check in to the campground.

“It hasn’t rained this hard since the last time we went camping,” I half joke while dripping over the reception desk.

“Oh, you should come more often” replies one of the friendly staff jovially.

That’s the problem with camping with country people. You can’t complain about the rain. Read more

The Honeymoon

canoeing1In the early dawn light, the bride stands on the shores of the Katherine River and watches, wordlessly, as canoes are carried to the sand; waterproof barrels are packed with sleeping bags, mosquito repellent and toilet paper; spare paddles tied securely on. She offers no help, or comment. Her husband is excited. This, a three day canoeing trip on the Katherine River in the Northern Territory, is the start of their honeymoon. He has kept all the plans a surprise. And she is surprised all right.

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Beechworth, Where the Wild Things Aren’t

Beechworth lolly shop I expected the biggest decision I would have to make would be between a rump and a T-bone. Perhaps what flavour sauce to top the vanilla ice cream. I never imagined we would have before us twice cooked duck and goat tagine with polenta. I am now reluctant to leave the warmth of our fireside table. I am keen to savour our surprisingly special meal, sip our wine slowly. Not venture out into the cold night to wander around an old lunatic asylum. Read more

High and Dry on the Dachstein Slopes

Waluliso apartment, Schladming

Our apartment and everything in it is brand new. We are the very first to stay here which worries us somewhat as with eight children between us, we are likely to trash it. The kids run excitedly from room to room, exclaiming about the three flat screen TVs, the rooftop sauna and the funky coloured lights. We adults are impressed by the panoramic mountain views and cow on the kitchen splash back. It seems to have everything. Except for one thing. Read more

Christmas in Salzburg

There is one thing you need to remember when planning a white Christmas in Europe: Christmas shopping should not be left to the last minute. Christmas Eve is the time for feasting and celebrations, not late night shopping. My footsteps echoed on the eerily quiet streets as I searched in vain for an open shop door. A promising shaft of light only revealed the omnipresent Turkish kebab shop. I didn’t think they could sell me wrapping paper.

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