Meeting the Police in Beautiful Bargara

We farewelled Bargara with a small hiccup and a run in with the Police.

But in the nicest possible way.

Another sunny day and I didn’t want to miss out on a swim. The little lagoon was chilly at 7.30! But in we went and loved it. So good on my still swollen knee.

After breakfast and pack up we headed to The Journey coffee shop. I was all a fluster. I couldn’t find my credit card. I keep it in a pocket on the back of my phone and it was missing. I searched in the car and my purse and from the coffee shop rang last nights restaurant & then Carmel asking her to search the unit. No luck.

So off went went deciding not to panic.

We drive in convoy to Tinaberries.

A lovely strawberry farm.

As we arrived Steve received a phone call from Rob at Bargara Police Station. My card had been found in the street just near The Journey coffee shop. I must have had it in my lap and dropped it. We would have to go back in Bargara to collect it. After our ice cream.

The strawberry farm encourages picking your own. We didn’t.

But we did buy their delicious ice cream and sat in the gorgeous garden. And had a brain wave. I rang Policeman Rob at the station and said could they cut up the card to save us returning and I’d just get a new one. He said he couldn’t do that as he’d done the paper work!

So he’d send a police car out to deliver it. He knew where we were ! I didn’t want to inconvenience them so said we would return but he insisted he send a car out.

15 mins later, Poiceman Rick arrived with the lost card. I signed and presented him with a box of strawberries as a thank you. He was delighted. I hope it’s not seen as a bribe.

What service.

Drama over. Lucky me.

We got to stay with the group and head off for Gin Gin & onto Goomeri for lunch.

The Bakery in Goomeri is famous. A local lady decided to go to Paris to learn all about baking. She learned how to do it so well when she returned to Australia she opened a bakery in her home town. It’s a huge success.

The pies , sausage rolls, pastries , cakes etc etc are world class. I had a delicious savoury pastry with tomato , basil and cheese.

Decision time in the Goomeri Bakery.

From Goomeri we made our way past the Everything shop in Wondai to Kingaroy. This shop is amazing. So much junk!

We’re staying at Room Motel. New, stylish , comfortable and all prefab. Great idea.

Now for champagne and a little mahjong game with the girls before dinner.

Beautiful Bargara

Our unit overlooks the water and it’s sparkling this morning. The early birds, Kath and Pam were up with the sun and captured a beautiful sunrise as they walked the headland making me a little jealous.

They also had a swim in the lagoon just around the headland near us. They thought it was a little cold but when they spoke to an 85 year old lady who swam there everyday of the year they didn’t complain!

Within any travel group there are a variety of ‘paces’. Some are up early walking and finding the best coffee places using an app called Bean! Others meandering later after a short walk and then there’s the injured who don’t get up and sieze the early start. Steve and I fall into this category at the moment. With my new knee I’m not walking too far , Steve has an ankle injury, so we both get up and do our exercises!

Tomorrow I’m swimming!

After breakfast on the verandah we all met at the best coffee place. The Journey. These places are always down lanes – not the big corner spot with chairs and views.

They are run by friendly but somewhat trendy young tattooed people who sometimes curl their lips disapprovingly if you ask for coffee extra hot! Something about burning the beans.

Fortunately these young people didn’t curl lips except to smile.

Great coffee.

Every t spoon carried a message. Mine: Conquer from within.

Following coffee our group of 14 split. Some to Mon Repos turtle centre, some to wander the main streets of Bundaberg and most of the men went to explore the Hinkler Museum.

I went to the turtle centre with Jill. It’s housed in a beautiful timber building behind the beach at Mon Repos. It’s well set up and has a good selection of interactive activities to discover things about turtles.

Great for children. There is a theatre for the short film and then a ranger gives more information about turtles, their nesting & hatching and answers questions.

Photos courtesy of Jill Wilson

You can walk out onto the beach, where during the nesting and hatching seasons you can visit at night to watch closely in the dark as these ancient looking animals start laying eggs.

Only thing missing was being able to see turtles! I realise they don’t keep them in captivity but it made the experience a bit underwhelming.

Next stop was the Patchwork House. No, I haven’t taken up quilting but several of the girls are very keen. It was a big house with so many beautiful fabrics. It was was almost enough to make me take up this craft. But I resisted!

After so many patchwork decisions it was time to eat lunch. ‘Indulge’, a little cafe / restaurant in Bundaberg had come recommended, so the girls headed there and got tables under the trees in the middle section of the road. It was cool and due to covid seating restrictions not crowded.

The boys collect for lunch

The lunch was delicious and served by the most gorgeous Belgium girl who came to Australia on a working holiday and married the owner of the restaurant.

Next stop, with lots of excitement was the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. What a slick operation it is. We’ll set out with an informative museum , film and tour of the distillery.

About 50% of rum drunk in Australia is consumed in Qld. We love our dark & stormy ( rum with ginger beer )

Mark, Helen, Pam & Susie

Our tour with Adam included two tastings. They loosened us up. And prepared us for the next stop.

The KALKI Moon Gin Distillery where it turns out the owner of the distillery worked at the rum distillery for many years – so as well as making gin he makes rum – but it takes much longer so meanwhile the gin business is growing.

◦ We learned the secrets of gin making and then got into tastings. Very delicious gins. I like mine with soda and lime. I bought Steve their signature Old Navy Gin at 57% alcohol. That will knock his Fathers Day socks off!

Assorted gins in the Kalkimoon range.

The couple who run the gin distillery were so helpful. They had been closed for tours due to covid but were able accomodate our group of 14 after hours.

We were nicely warmed up for dinner at Kelly’s restaurant back in Bargara. A lovely meal, a glass of wine & great company finished off a fun day on tour.

A Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Day…………….. Maryborough to Bundaberg.

It’s easy to forget how attractive our smaller Queensland cities are and how much history is attached to them.

Waking up in Maryborough I was sorry I’m not ready for big walks ( new knee will only carry me so far) so Steve and I drove through the streets of Maryborough.

Maryborough, population 27,000+ sits on the Mary River on the Fraser Coast. It has some very attractive buildings and a lovely Queens Park and Portside on the river.

I particularly enjoyed the many beautiful timber houses built with the plentiful timber from the area.

One if Maryborough’s most famous people is Helen Lyndon Goff born in 1892. She went in to write Mary Poppins as PJ Travers. There is the Storytime bank where you can visit the Mary Poppins Museum.

We left by 9 am our group well organised and enthusiastic. First stop Burrum Heads which is the sleepiest, prettiest little coastal town. Full of little timber houses dotted along the long sandy beach it would be perfect for a family holiday wanting a simple beach holiday.

Back in the cars we headed for Childers with a stop along the way for an ice cream.

Made locally these ice creams on a stick were perfect for a refreshment under the trees.

Then we arrived in Childers a bustling little town made famous in recent years for the fire lit deliberately in the backpackers hostel. It claimed many young lives and the museum in the hostel tells of the sad day it happened.

We enjoyed a coffee in the old Post Office grounds.

There are some great little shops, all covid safe along the Main Street with some funny names!

On to Woodgate and lunch at the Bowls Club. Another lovely beach side holiday destination.

We arrived in Bargara on the coast outside Bundaberg for a two night stay. It’s on the water and is just lovely.

We had a self catered bbq at our units and shared many stories over a few glasses of red!

Up, up and not away to New York

As everyone, everywhere, knows covid19 has put a stop to all travel.

We must all be careful to stay safe by ‘Staying at Home’. In Australia we’ve been very good at staying at home and helping to ‘flatten the curve’ or as some are now saying ‘fatten the curve!’

There’s been lots of Instagram memes!

Today we should be flying out of Brisbane bound for New York. Off to see our precious new grandson, Leo. He was born in the midst of a pandemic that has devastated NY and many other places around the world. But out of the chaos came Leo. Born on April 11 – Easter Saturday in NYU Hospital. He’s beautiful.

Leo enjoying a walk
I can’t wait for a cuddle

We planned to spend 2 weeks in NY getting to know Leo. We’d booked an Airbnb in West Village, an area we were getting to know as we have spent the last two April’s visiting our son & his wife in NY.

One of the many little gardens in West Village

I’m imagining the spring flowers coming out as they do after the cold of winter.

What does their life look like now ? They have spent the past two years doing everything they could possible fit in, to really enjoy their life in this busy city. Restaurants, concerts, exercise, galleries, riding bikes, swimming, walking. Enjoying their jobs and getting out of the city on weekends & holidays to visit places like Boston, Charleston, Portland, Pittsburg, Austin, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Miami, California, Mexico. ….now they are lucky to visit the nearby park. Photos of Leo on his daily walk show very happy new parents, not letting the Coronavirus stop them.

Going to the park on a Sunday is a must. Families out enjoying the open spaces – essential in big cities. Walking, listening to the buskers, or watching the tennis players or those rowing on the lake.

What would we be doing if we’d gone across to NY today? Walking with the pram along the village type streets of West Village and visiting the parks. Washington Square Park is nearby and so lovely. Of course Central Park is something I do on every visit.

Visiting the art galleries is another must do. Each visit I try to visit different galleries. This time it was to be back to the Met. And the Museum of Modern Art – MOMA which I haven’t been to in quite a few years.

We would be catching up with our swim trek friends from our Galapagos trip. Lynn and Lois live in New York, others were flying in to meet us. Betty from California, Lexie from Mexico, Barry from Canada and Bill from London. Our plan for a catch up ……gone. We had a great reunion in 2018. Maybe next year.

A concert at Carnegie Hall and we were to see La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera. We had great seats and on returning them recently, actually made money as the value of our dollar has dropped – as we’d paid in US $!

We also got a full refund on our Airbnb which was great.

This time last year we were there visiting and playing with our friends Peter & Elizabeth McGregor. We had a lots of fun and the photos bring back so many happy memories.

Instead of preparing for our trip we have been in isolation at our beach place. Right on the beach we have been able to swim each day and go for long walks. Lots of reading. Some tv series, cooking, collecting shells, sketching,yoga. So not all bad!

Look back at my posts from last year in NY and see the things we did then. In my mind I’m travelling there again. That’s all we do at the moment.

Stay safe everyone. Especially as things start to reopen. Don’t forget the simple things like washing those hands well and social distance always. This virus hasn’t gone yet.

What have you been doing in isolation? Wherever you are in the world, let me know ( in comments) how you are and what you’ve been doing.

Last day : Lodi to San Francisco

Poppy has a sleep over last night so Jordan took her for a walk to get our coffee ! Great start to the last day.

Lisa went to work a little bit later to make the most of Poppy time and to farewell me.

Right on 10am John , Jordan and I set off for San Francisco. It’s a beautiful warm, blue day and they are taking me all the way to San Francisco. About 1.5 hrs with some great signs along the way.

It was an interesting drive past vineyards and into the delta area where we sang the song ‘ drove my chevi to the levy but the levy was dry ‘

There are a number of levy here which cater for the farms in the area. Many crops are grown here.

I could sing my way around America!

‘Are you going to San Francisco….’

‘Do you know the way to San Jose….’

Visiting any area of America produces the opportunity to sing about it!

We arrived via the rather beautiful Bay Bridge. It was replaced after an earthquake brought down part of the old bridge.

It has a great approach and is a rather lovely structure.

We arrived into SF and drove along the Embarcadero………

past all the rejuvenated piers until we reached pier 39.

We parked the car and walked out on pier to Scomos. It’s an old restaurant – like bring on a ship. I had a great shrimp salad. And a glass of Rose!

Last time I’ll see Jordan before baby M arrives!

The day was perfect so we walked along the water. I admired the people swimming! It would be just a little chilly!

Then John took me on a tour. Of course the famous zig zag Lombard St featured.

The views down Lombard St.

We arrived at Grove St at a rather small hotel, one block from the painted ladies of Alamo Park. John and Jordan helped me in and then it was goodbye. Next time I see my daughter in law will be with a baby in her arms.

As the weather was so lovely I headed straight out. Up the hill to Alamo Park and the infamous Painted Ladies. SF style houses painted different colours.

My hotel is just down the street to the left.

I then walked …… and walked……. past some great houses.

Past public buildings

City Hall
Love the circular rooms
Mosaics
Opera & Ballet Theatre
Great street art.

Until I had passed numerous homeless people to reach Union Square where I had stayed years ago.

By now I was quite exhausted so had a cup of tea! Watched the passing parade and caught an Uber back to the Grove Inn.

I refreshed in my little room and went to the Alamo Square Seafood Grill. What a find. It was a little FRENCH ! place and I had the best fish fish! Grilled blackened snapper with delicious veg. And a glass of Chardonnay.

In & Out in Lodi.

I’ve been told by many people to experience the taste sensations of the local burger place. Or is that palace?

Recently, Qantas, our Australian airline, wrote that when in LA one shouldn’t miss out on visiting an In & Out Burger.
Started in 1948 it is basically the same today. Read about it here :

https://www.in-n-out.com/mobile/history.aspx


I was told it was better than McDonalds!So today John , his mother Ann and I visited an In & Out. Jordan was working from home so passed. Perhaps avoiding a burger !

My first impressions. Bright, clean, with the feel of an American diner – what I think is a diner!

I went for the basic cheeseburger. And we shared the ‘animal fries’ what are these! No not fries in the shape of an animal. They are fries topped – or loaded with cheese and a chopped onion.

We helped ourselves to the drinks while waiting for our number to be called.

I checked out the kitchen where the staff, all looking very neat and tidy we busy freshly chopping potatoes for the fries and serving at the take away windows.

John collecting our order

We settled into booth. And checked out the food. Neatly wrapped burgers.

Well presented cheeseburger!

It wasn’t too big so I really enjoyed it.

We cruised around the big streets of Lodi past other drive in shopping areas and made another stop at My Yoghurt. Yum!

The owners are neighbours of John & Lisa. In fact they seem to know someone every time we go out. Lodi isn’t that big.

I stopped in at Ann’s place to look at her garden. She a keen potter- taking cuttings and successfully nurturing them ! She’s a loving grandma to Jordan as was reflected in the present from her grandchildren on her 80 birthday. Take a read of this ….

We picked up Poppy, John & Lisa’s 2 year old granddaughter, and went for a walk to the beach. I really love this community private park and river beach.

Poppy is gorgeous and much loved by all the Donati family. My grandson will be born into a loving family, so I couldn’t be happier.

Lisa cooked a lovely family meal for my last night. Thank you John & Lisa for making me part of your family.

Baby Shower Fun

An early start for a fun set up.

Beautiful food

flowers ✔️ glasses ✔️napkins ✔️ plates✔️champagne chilled ✔️bibs, singlets, fabric pens✔️ balloons ✔️bundini✔️ quiche✔️

The girls arrived. The champagne popped and the chatter began.

Traditions in countries differ in the way people celebrate the mother to be.

Perhaps readers have some traditions they have ….. please share in the comments at the end of this post.

All the girls arrived. Neighbours popped by and beautifully wrapped presents gifted to Jordan for her baby.

Guests were invited to design a bib, singlet or little baby suit. The ideas were terrific.

Even little guests had a design in mind.
Mine said Surfer Dad, Surfer Boy.

The food was delicious and the few baby games we played were lots of fun.

A great gift from Claire in Australia
Absolutely glowing.
Surrounded by love and presents.
My beautiful daughter in law

Preparing for a baby shower. American style

Feeling refreshed after a lovely long sleep I heard chatter in the family area at around 6.30. Jordan and her parents were up drinking tea and catching up.

I went back to sleep!

By 8 am I was ready for a walk and coffee. We walked through the quiet streets of Lodi towards a cute little coffee shop.

The houses are mostly low ranch style with nice gardens and the occasional American flag.

The Donati’s have lived in their comfortable house for about 32years and it’s a lovely big family place with a beautiful pool out the back.

John & Lisa outside their house

We called into Jordan grandmas house after coffee. Everything is nice and close here and nice and flat for walking.

Lisa has a list of little jobs to do that would have me exploring Lodi and nearby Stockton as we prepared for the baby shower. Jordan was off to a bridal shower with her friends.

Jordan in her way to her friend’s bridal shower

First stop for us was The Hobby Lobby! A giant craft type place filled with everything needed for setting up your arts & crafts. We bought a selection of glass vases for the white flowers we got later at Costco ( along with a Speedo swimsuit!). We also got ribbons.

Then it was the party place for baby shower napkins, table decorations, a banner and other bits and pieces. As we queued up a lady commented on my lipstick colour! She was very impressed I had come all the way from Australia for a baby shower.

Little blue bundtinis

Then to Stockton for the bundtini – little decorated cakes. we couldn’t but look at Flair a ladies boutique owned by godmother. I bought a lovely shirt. Not there – at another store Lisa likes.

Back home for crab salad lunch , flower arrangements decorating and family gathering before heading to a family style brewery. It was perfect for pizza, beer and games for the kids.

Travel: has its ups and downs

Receiving the invitation to Jordan’s baby shower at the end of January started me thinking!

Why not surprise Jordan by arriving for her baby shower?

Rob and Jordan live in New York but the baby shower was to be in Lodi, north California.

I checked…… I could get a points flight. Done – booked.

Flight day arrived ( Lisa and John were in on the secret and ready to meet me in San Francisco)

Arriving at the airport nice and early I tried to check in. No!

Qantas had no record of my ESTA. ( Despite having seen it was valid until March)

So no check in!

I had to apply for a new ESTA and rebook on a flight the next day. Only problem. It was out of Sydney.

Long story short. I flew to Sydney and onto a 6pm flight. Luckily I still was able to get a whole row of seats to myself ( thank you Pat)

Jordan’s dad picked me up at and we drove to Lodi. It’s a small place about two hours east of San Fran. In a wine region.

Passing through Stockton we collected crabs for dinner and headed home to surprise Jordan.

The reaction was amazing. I walked into the house. Jordan was on the phone with Rob( who was back in NY) and screamed and started sobbing! I think it was a joyful sob!

Rob was just as surprised – but with out the sobbing. Then asked why I hadn’t told him, as he would have come across from NY!

We had a big, happy, family night with crab, salad and lovely local wine. From Ann ( Jordan’s grandma down to Poppy aged 2 ) it was a fun night. My jet lag was non existent. When surrounded by happiness it’s hard to be jet lagged.

But finally into bed

Heading for Galle: Along the Tsunami coast

The day was warm as we walked to breakfast past the lagoon with the crocodiles. I check them out every time I pass by!

Our last morning in the wild!

Leopard lady Marcelle, our Australian /Sri Lankan, arrived back from her third safari absolutely jubilant. She had finally spotted a leopard. Her guide was the same we had the day before and was determined she would see it. And she did.

We set off along the dusty road back to the main road to Yala where we were to pick up Hema our guide. He has to find his own accommodation in town.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen” he started “I’ve missed you”. And we’d missed him. He is a gentleman himself.

The drive today is quite different to the days in the hilly areas around Kandy and Ella. It’s very lush and green lots if palm trees and rice paddy fields.

The trip was a little slow as we started to see the effect of the coming elections on Saturday, as we passed through the bigger towns.

A comfort stop by a beach was welcome. The coffee was good and the beach lovely. This place was devastated by the tsunami in 2004. It’s hard to imagine the wall of water that hit the area crushing everything in the it’s path.

A little further on at Dickwella we stopped at a centre for lace making. This is a regional craft. This centre, supported by Marcelle our Australian – Sri Lankan , has women who were previously living on the streets and has taught them this dying craft. The woman now do lace making on site.

It’s fascinating to watch.

The ladies in our group were more than happy to support the centre by buying some of the lovely products. I bought a toy (each for Oliver and our next Bub) and a nightie and wrap.

On we went along the coast. It looks so calm and lovely. The devastation has past. The buildings are reappearing – some right on the beach which was against regulations. But as usual money talks and the building rise.

We came to the first of the political rallies. The maroon-capped people trying to win the election on Saturday. They must be sponsored by the party. There were hundreds assembled and buses lined up as far as we could see.

It made our progress to Galle very slow.

We decided not to stop for lunch. Once again we enjoyed a bus picnic.

It was interesting to look out the window at the sea, the people, the traffic, the colours, and food stalls selling everything – including big fish stalls.

The stick fishermen made us stop. It’s an method of fishing not really practised now but it makes a good photo.

Carmel paid for the photos.

Eventually we made it to Galle. Though the traffic of the Green Party rally.

Our new hotel The Heritage Galle is charming. Open verandahs , flowering plants, wonderful plantation chairs, lovely rooms with a huge bed. Another feature we love a big long bench for all suitcases.

Having worked up a thirst we walked past multiple jewellery shops towards the ramparts of this old fort town.

Climbing the stairs of the Ramparts Hotel we were greeted by beautiful views and a stunning red sunset.

A few drinks later we walked to a very nice restaurant with a charming Serbian man as our host. He was very modern in appearance with short pants and no socks and glasses which a John describes as ‘square peg, round hole’