Easter Sunday – a Brassy Day

A beautiful sunny day. Happy Easter to all.

We were going to go to the church service at the Cathedral but I want to stay outdoors. So we head to our happy place. The beach.

The Merewether Ocean Baths

We drive this time as we want to explore.

These baths are famous and I remember going there as child visiting an aunt in Newcastle. They are wonderful. If I lived here I’d be at these free baths everyday. With the grandchildren. There are two big baths. One very shallow sandy bottom with a sand beach. Perfect for little children.

The other big pool is long – 100m by 50 metre wide with 10 lanes across for lap swimmers. It’s washed by waves and today the waves are pumping. Big waves crashing over into the pool create a wave pool. There are round the year swimmers here daily.

Free pool for all

There are flower capped ladies walking and talking and more importantly laughing together. There are lap swimmers of all shapes and sizes some in budgie smugglers some in short wet suits.

I spoke to one lady as she was preparing to enter and she told me she swam twice a day since her husband died. She said it helped. And I couldn’t agree more. Swimming is good therapy. So good for the mind. As well as the body.

Steve swam so laps and I walked and chatted.

We walked along the beach front and watched the surfers. The surf is up and they are all out there loving it. Hundreds of walkers stood and watched the display.

Newcastle must be a very fit town. Lots of Lycra for its hundreds of runners, walkers and cyclists. and lots of wonderful foreshore to do it. And hills to climb.

Back in the car we drive to Bar Beach left the car and walked north to eventually join the Memorial Walk. A new walkway suspended above the cliffs and rocks. It’s a tribute to those who have served. It was very windy walking along and we saw several hats being swept over the railings.

From there was drive a little further through King Edward Park with Easter picnickers and found the steps down to the Bogey Hole. Down we went until we caught sight of it. Spectacular. No swimming there today. It was so rough. The giant waves were crashing into the pool and half way to the steel steps leading onto the water.

Steps to the Bogey Hole

After all the walking it was time for brunch. The seaside cafes were awash with eaters. The 30% holiday loading wasn’t putting people off. So we headed back to Darby street a few streets back. A different cafe and a delicious brunch.

How many ways to do smashed avocado? lots and lots is the answer. Did we in Australia invent this popular way of serving avo for breakfast? Do you have it overseas as well? I’d love to know.

Back to our lovely hotel where we changed and Steve headed off to start an Easter afternoon of brass bands. I did a little reading then ‘ booked’ our room refresh. This hotel the Crystalbrook Kingsley has an app for your phone or an iPad in the room where you can do everything including selecting a time to service ( refresh) your room. So convenient.

I also love their bamboo room key ( or link your phone to open your door). It has a green footprint so everything is environmentally friendly. The room lights are great. Including the little low level light that comes on as you walk to the bathroom at night. I loved it. No stumbling around.

I got into the swing of it and joined Steve at the Civic Theatre to hear the Brisbane Brass A. ( not Steve’s new band. He’s going in Brass B) They were very good. Good enough? That shall be revealed.

We took a break for dinner and went along the street to an Asian Fusion restaurant Light Years. what a find. We had a few shared plates prawns, pork Bao Buns , Spring rolls. A glass of bubbles and wine before we made it back to the City Hall to hear the last few bands in Brass B section. Yes we heard Brisbanes B band and also one from the country town of Gunnedah. They were a big surprise. A small town with a big sound.

A little video of Brisbane B

Many in the band are still at school. ‘At least half ‘ said one of the proud mums sitting near us. The conductor was the most enthusiastic bouncy conductor there. It’s obviously a big community effort to get them here. Shades of the movie ‘Brassed Off’s ‘ Grimthorpe Band. They were followed by a local band of mostly retired musicians. I’m getting invested in this competition.

Brisbane B played and were very good. The last band performed at 8.30. There was quite a wait for the results. We looked up the results of the Brass A bands and Brisbane A came a very good 6th.

Finally the results were in for Brass Bands B …..a Victorian band won followed by ……… Gunnedah! Small town made good. I was thrilled for them. Disappointed for Brisbane B. But their 6th out of 14 bands was still very good. They all played 4 pieces. A hymn, their own choice , a March and the test piece selected by the judge ( poor them heard it 14 times).

So it’s all over until 2023 when they will be held in Adelaide. So we could be in Adelaide even longer in March with the Writers Week, The Fringe and now the Brass Band Competition . if Steve is playing with them!

Now the long trip home. 10hours and at the moment Steve is playing his favourites from his CD collection. Yes Brass Bands. I might put my AirPods in and listen to an audio book.

Easter Saturday in Newcastle

After the dramatic lightening last night today it was a bright, sunny but very windy day. We decided to walk along the Harbourside to Newcastle beach.

There are some lovely buildings in this very old town. It was settled very soon after the first settlement in Sydney.

The old railway station
Customs House

Steve was keen to swim in the Ocean Baths. A famous old sandy bottom pool. Unfortunately it is closed. After a lot of controversy it has been decided to renovate the pool and concrete the bottom!

We continued on to the beach. Newcastle has many beautiful beaches and is known for its good surf. I love the steps leading onto the beach. It gives a natural seating area to sit and watch the beach , the surfers 🏄‍♀️ and to catch a little warming sun.

The beach cafe was doing a brisk business in the very chilly breeze. Steve got our coffees and we sat away from others on the steps in the sun. So good.

We walked back up the hill behind the beach. Newcastle has a few good steep hills with wonderful views over the beach and to wards the harbour.

There are some lovely very old buildings including the old hospital.

The hill rose sharply towards a cathedral which we thought was Catholic but turned out to be Anglican. It was cool outside so we went into explore and found a team of volunteers cleaning, getting ready for the Easter celebrations.

I sat and quietly observed and enjoyed the peace while Steve went off to explore. I then heard a voice calling ‘Fran, is that you!’

I looked over to see a lady armed with a broom. It was Janey Smith , the National Chair of ADFAS. I’d just returned from our Sydney Conference ( where I picked up covid) Janey knew to keep her distance and we laughed about the coincidence of meeting in the church. We had planned on meeting for coffee but when I got covid I canceled. Yet here I was ! Almost covid free but definitely keeping away.

I love the tapestry kneeling pads. There must be 300 in the church.

Back to our lovely room at the Crystalbrook for a rest and refresh. This is a very good hotel with a lovely room and a well planned bathroom. What is your favourite hotel ? For amenities and layout?

By now it was lunch time which we were having at an airy outdoor cafe on Darby St There are lots of places to choose from but our friends Brian and Deb Campbell had chosen one for us that had big tables and was away from any other people.

We had a huge catch up. Like Elizabeth and Peter from Crescent Head we met the Campbell’s through their son Richie and our son Rob’s waterpolo career. We sat and cheered their many games together in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane , Beijing & London. Our boys are friends and so are we!

After lunch Steve headed off to more band competition and I headed to the room to rest and read.

Steve enjoyed Canberra City band where he played about 55 years ago!

Steve had a chat to some of the members of the Canberra City band including the conductor. A good reminisce for him. They’ll be inviting him to the bands 150year anniversary in 2025!

A quiet night in our hotel tonight.

Road trip to Newcastle

‘You’ll love it’ said Steve.

The National Band Championships are to be held in Newcastle. an hour north of Sydney. About 10 hours south of Brisbane.

We always go to our beach place at Caloundra for Easter but Steve has joined Brisbane Brass and will start with them playing his trombone after these championships.

Three days after being hit with covid we set off. Steve decided he could risk sitting with me in the car for the 10 hours it takes to drive. If I wear a mask.

We were to stay with our friends Peter & Elizabeth in their beautiful home on the hill overlooking Crescent Head beach. But I wouldn’t put them at risk.

Instead, we met them by the river in Gladstone. It’s a pretty spot. The weather was warm and Elizabeth had the Rose,beer and nibbles all ready at a socially acceptable distance. After sitting for 5.5 hrs with a mask I was ready for a splash of Rose!

After two hours of non stop chat we drove into Kempsey to stay the night at the Blue Moon Motel. At $140 it was a find. They had room service from their motel’s Chinese restaurant and a full moon. Just right for a night.

My covid symptoms are very mild almost non existent, thank goodness. So I’m coping well with the travel.

Last night we had dinner with Dinah, a school friend from Steve’s Canberra days. It was at a airy table almost on the verandah – to be away from others. It was at her sons restaurant Tinta. It’s on Lake Belmont and was just lovely. delicious barramundi.

Our hotel in Newcastle is well located next to City Hall where the championships are held.

This morning we heard the Brisbane Brass band 2 – the one Steve has joined and will start playing with when we return. They were very good and Steve is feeling nervous that he isn’t ready for it. But boy …..he’ll give it a go.

Dinah & Steve we’re at school together more than 55 years ago
The views over the lake were beautiful including the lightening behind the clouds.