November 30th, 2008

This weekend we visited the Hunter Valley for Amy’s ongoing birthday celebrations. I think we should
try and extend Amy’s 30th birthday party to last an entire year as it has been great fun the last two weekends and mid-week birthday celebrations.

The Catcher in the Rainbow

We drove up to the Hunter Valley to some crazy sunny sometime, rainy the other time style weather, which made a great rainbow when we arrived at the Belleray Homestead, a house that Amy booked for the weekend. When we pulled up there was Kangaroos in the garden and “Bruce the Goose”  making a run for it, we snapped a picture of him (you can see him on Flickr).

The house was one of the most fantastic I think we’ve stayed in for a weekend trip. It was a huge place with loads of bedrooms and everything was new and there was no scrimping on the fittings neither. The towels were Sheridan and the toaster poped the toast up a variable speeds and the iron was the best irons I’d ever used. The only downside to the place was if you forgot something in the bedroom it felt like a 10 minute walk to go back and get it (it was that big).

Team Belleray – Not sure how the photo ended up like this

Lucy, Marcy, Simone, Amy, Nancy, Lorraine, Chris, Stu, Marcus and I made up Team Belleray. On the first night Lorraine made a delicious curry which was really fantastic tasting and we went to bed with an early schedule of a wine tour around the Hunter Valley the next morning.

Eric picked us up in a mini-bus and took us around to lots of wineries in the morning. We were sipping on some wines at 10am in the morning. I’m not really a wine drinking but I really enjoyed tasting the fizzy varieties, sweet desert wines and stroking the wine yard dogs.

Tasting at Tempus Two

For lunch we went to Enzo and Pepper Creek for a light lunch. It wasn’t so light but was fantastic!

Lunch at Enzo’s Peppers Creek

We wanted to save ourselves for our dinner that was going to be cooked for us at home by two Ninja Chefs. It was very LA rich and famous style having people come around to your house and cook for you. It was really fantastic and everyone dressed up for the occasion whilst the two ladies served us up with some Salmon, Lamb and a fantastic birthday cake for Amy.

Posh Dinner in the Belleray Living Room

That night we played Nancy and Marcus’ fun game where everyone has to write down three “things”, I wrote down “Vincent Van Gogh”, “Socialism” and “Pain au Chocolat”. We then split into two teams and we had to empty a bucket of all these words written down one at a time by explaining them without using the word, when they are all run out you do it all over again but by miming, then a third round where you are only allowed to use one word. It is all timed and the person with the most at the end wins – it is great fun.

The next morning the sun was shining proper and the checkout wasn’t until 4pm which was great. So we spent some time around the pool Miami Vice style and had a champagne breakfast –

Champagne Breakfast

Breakfast was a fantastic effort and very delicious!

Chris, Simone, Amy and Stu playing Extreme Pétanque – Poolside

There was a little rowing boat in the lake at the bottom of the Estate, here’s Marcus and Nancy taking it out for a row –

Nancy and Marcus on Lake Belleray

It was a fantastic weekend and I wish we were still there it was so great. Big ups to everyone that came. Ciao Bella!

November 24th, 2008

This weekend Amy’s sister Taryn and Wade paid for us to fly up to the gold coast to celebrate Amy’s 30th which was very nice of them. We stayed at there beach unit which is literally on the beach (the surf was about 5 metres away) which was absolutely fantastic – a surfers dream!

I drove to the airport on Friday but got stuck in rush hour traffic, basically meant a traffic jam from Manly all the way to the airport, it was ridiculous and so took twice as long as I expected it to take, therefore I had to leave the surfboard in the airport carpark or else I wouldn’t have been able to check my surfboard in – I literally got to the airport, met Amy and then got onto the plane which was already full of people. The surf would have been fun but I got a lot of body surfing in which was good fun as well.

View from the Balcony

When we first arrived Baby Z and Amy celebrated with a Bottle of Moët and some pizza which was very nice –

Baby Z and Amy celebrating 30

That night we went to sleep with the sound of the ocean outside which was very soothing. It was strange when we came back to Manly as we can’t hear it and I thought made it harder to sleep without it.

The next day Sam, Elliot, Cooper and Ali came down for some beach time, it was a beautiful day and the surf was nice. I helped out with the sand castles –

Me, Elliot and Coop Building Sandcastles

Afterwards we met up with Amy’s parents for dinner at the Burleigh Heads Surf Club which was very nice and located pretty much in the sea at Burleigh Heads –

Birthday Girl, Parents, Grandparents and Kids – Burleigh Heads

It was a very tiring day of swimming, celebrating etc. that we went back and had a sleep, however it wasn’t long before we were back into party mode again. Taryn had bought some funny eye brows from a joke shop of some description and we drank some Grandin, a fantastic drink of rigorous grape selection and a 12 month secondary fermentation.

Eye Brows and Moustache and some Grandin

The next day was our last day but we started it like our first by going to the beach and enjoying the weather. Little Z-Unit had her first day in the water the day before but ended in a few tears, Sundays beach session was much more successful for her. I must have spent ages in the water as it was so much fun just going under and riding the waves I felt like Jean-Marc Barr in Le Grand bleu. Here’s how nice the beach was –

Inbetween the flags at Palm Beach QLD

We had lunch at the Palm Beach Life Savers club which was very nice but Wade didn’t win anything on the raffle, he was one number off with one of the draws which more or less sealed the fate to not win.

We then had to prepare ourselves for out trip back to NSW. We got taken on the scenic way back via Currumbin, Kirra, Snapper Rocks, D’Bah and down a road called Boundary Street where one side is Queensland and the other side is New South Wales, which must be very confusing as they are in different time zones.

Back in Sydney now and it feels cold and we wish we were back at the beach unit. A fantastic weekend.

November 17th, 2008

The video camera broke on our trip to Bali and I thought all the footage I had was of me filming Starbucks, which probably wouldn’t make the most interesting holiday video. Last night as I prepared the camera for its trip to the repair shop I noticed I had a few more clips of Bali so I made this little video of the first few days of our trip back in July this year –

[flv: 640 360]
November 9th, 2008

This weekend we went on the Harbour for Jennie’s Birthday. It was a fantastic little sea cat that took us out across the heads and into downtown Sydney.

Amy, Lorraine and Marcus on the Sea Sydney Cat

The weather was overcast but that wasn’t bad as we’d have got some serious headaches from drinking in the sun! The boat took us into a little cove where the hard working staff cooked us a fantastic BYO BBQ. We also watched a Qantas 747 circle over us which looked like it was in a holding pattern.

Me about to enjoy the BBQ

The boat trip ended in a trip to the Manly Pacific Hotel for more boozing and then it was on to the Four Pines for Darren’s birthday. The 4 Pines brews its own larger and sells it in pints and I think is the only reason why I didn’t wake up with a headache this morning!

November 5th, 2008

Many people I know including myself are happy that Barack Obama is the new president of the United States of America today.

The huge turn out for this election and especially within the younger than 30ies age group is fantastic and is a turn around from how I thought the world was going. In my opinion it doesn’t really matter who runs a country as long as it is choosen by the people who live in it (i.e. a democracy) and that those people continue to get a say in it which I don’t think was always the case with the previous US government (which no one is still really sure if they actually got elected 8 years ago).

President Barack Obama Attribution: jmtimages

What really interested me about today is that I found out that Obama had won not by watching a news report in the television but from the everyday people of the world via twitter –

New Television

You can see the election page and what people are still talking about on twitter at

On a side note I hope the democrats can sort out the current financial crisis as it was the democratic party that contributed to us getting into it in the first place (read: Would the last honest reporter please turn on the lights?).

November 2nd, 2008

Yes, back off of Seal Rocks 2007 and Seal Rocks 2006 comes Seal Rocks 2008!!! This was a very special Seal Rocks trip as it was the celebration of Rach and Mike’s engagement.

A lot of these photos are courtesy of Nancy and Marcus as I am pretty sure Seal Rocks sand broke the video camera I wasn’t going to tempt fate and take my last working camera down the beach. When we arrived at the Rocks the surf was seriously pumping, like I’d never seen it. Here’s a shot from inside the bay which is normally flat as a pancake –

Seal Rocks Pumping!

We had real difficulties lighting the fire on the first night because of a downpour in the week, people at the campsite next to us walked past us trying to light the fire and when they came back about an hour later they must have felt pity on us as we were still trying to light it so they brought over some kindling that wasn’t damp (pre-purchased) and some fire lights and an axe for us to use. Very helpful!

The next day the had come down a bit but the only surfable point was off the rocks and was a right so I wasn’t keen on going out, here’s the lineup –

Seal Rocks Rights

In the evening to celebrate the engagement a special dune party was setup, Rach and Mike bought a fire bin to protect the dune. Matt Bass bought his Sax and there was musical instruments all around. It was a fantastic evening of (slow) BBQ’ing and drinking –

Dune Engagement Party

Sunday morning and we went back down to Treachery Beach which was having some of the best waves ever. We watched a few people pull into barrels and make it out of them, the line up was a bit like Sydney as everyone and his dog had come down. Some guys even had their own boats to push them onto the waves –

Boat Tow In

So a fantastic 2008 trip to Seal Rocks, Gaetane has added some more photos on Picasa and a great celebration for Rach and Mike –

Mike and Rach

A great weekend looking forward to Seal Rocks 2009! Thanks once again to Nance and Marcus for their pictures.