Married on the third day of December in our backyard, Canberra, Australia.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Dina, my dear friend, has her birthday the day before mine. So my other very good friend, Tonya, decided to shout Dina and myself brunch at Shadowbrook!! Ahhhh, it's such a beautiful place to have brekkie. We were very lucky enough to have a table that we could view the river as it flowed past. (You had to be there really early to grab a river view table). All in all, we lingered there for as long as possible as the food was wonderful, company fantastic all surrounded by a beautiful environment! What more could one ask for?

When we got there, we had the option of walking through the lush rain forest like path or take the trolley down! Of course, we took the trolley!

Sean and Me.....

Abhi, Dina, Sean and Me standing beside the Soquel Creek.

Me, Tonya, Abhi and Dina standing above a waterfall.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Louise's Birthday Party

Yep, I turned the big 3-0 on August 10th. And I feel wonderful!!!! :)

To celebrate, I decided to hold a birthday party, something that I haven't done in a long time. It was held at The Nova Studio and we made tub tea and my favourite, Thai Milk Bath.

It was just an all girl thing as I didn't think boys would want to make tub tea, smell herbs and chat about women stuff. So Sean, became the photographer and managed to sit through all of the girl conversations. Luckily, we didn't start chatting about babies as there were 2 up the duff girls there ready to pop very soon, Alice and Sarah.

At the end of the evening, everyone received a little goodie bag for helping me celebrate and for driving up to The Nova Studio.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pacific Science Center - Butterflies

The real reason we went to the Science Center was to see the butterfly house.

Riding the Pendulum Bike

At the Pacific Science Center they have a bike that you can ride around a thin track about 4 metres above a pool.

Noisy video:

There is a safety net, but if you bail on the far side of the ring they will probably have trouble retrieving the bike since it is self powered. I guess they have a stick or something.

Even though you can't fall off the track (the weights below you keep you in place) it is suprisingly scary. I had to do it three times before we got the video right! See if you can spot where I wave.

Pacific Science Center

After riding the Ducks (a tour we went on), we decided to check out the Pacific Science Center. Once in line, they told us that if we waited another 15 mins. we could get in for $5 instead of the usual fee of $15. Why? Well, they were closing in an hour and we weren't able to see everything. So we caught some snaps of interesting things and then headed straight for the butterflies!!!!
Outside of the science center there are a few small statues. Here are are school of 4 fish with grumpy faces.
The science center has a large water area. There are water cannons, human powered water wheels and an elevated bike that you can ride around a track.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


After leaving Santa Monica I visited Seattle, Washington. Louise joined me for the last few days and we had a look around.

Seattle is a beautiful place. There is an abundance of trees and greenery. The city isn't packed with traffic or pedestrians. With the exception of the archaic method of payment they use at a lot of public parking, it is a great city to visit.

One of our first tourist stops was the Seattle Underground Tour. Between this and the Ride the Ducks tour we learnt a lot about the city.

On the Underground Tour, which actually does go under the sidewalk, we learnt about how the city is built on mud flats. After it burnt down in 1889 they decided to raise the ground level. This was to address the problems of living at sea level, such as tides causing sewers to flow back out through toilets and giant sink holes forming in the roads. The unusual thing about this is that the street level was raised after the city was rebuilt, so you actually enter on the second or third floor of most buildings. Also, because the side walk is owned by building owners the city council did not have it raised.

Eventually sidewalks were built between the streets and buildings. The Seattle Underground Tour shows you the original sidewalks that are like tunnels under the new sidewalks. It covers a lot of the early history of the city, such as the introduction of the Crapper.

Walking around town we saw a lot of unusual art. We saw a statue of Lenin that was rescued from Russia, a parade of pigs and a giant bridge troll.

A tour guide filled us in. One percent of the cost of non residential buildings in Seattle has to be used to buy art for public places. This "One Percent for Art" concept apparently started in Seattle in 1983 and has spread to 300 other cities. As a result, Seattle has both a lot of art and a lot of character.

We sought out the giant yeti and giant squid in Pike Place Market. While we were looking at a map, a passer by stopped and offered directions. That has never happened to us before!

There was a boat race on Lake Washington the weekend after we left. While we were there we missed an annual parade. Seattle also has the first drive through ATM that we have seen.

Washington borders Canada. You can actually hire a seaplane and fly up to Victoria in British Columbia.

We'll definately be visiting Washington again. Next time we will have to visit Mount Rainier.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Peach Picking

Sean missed out on this activity too! :( I went peach picking with Dina to a little place called Brentwood. We had soooo much fun and walked away with a bucket of yellow peaches and a bucket of white peaches. All up, we spent $36 on peaches. Not bad. But they tasted heavenly!! Mind you, I gave most of mine away as I can't eat all of them by myself! But the best part of the day after posing in the peach orchard, was finding this little cafe and discovering that they have the "best" apricot pie I have ever tasted!!!!!!! It melted in my mouth and I just had to take home an apricot pie for Sean to enjoy too. So, it sat in the freezer until he came home. Which thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long. :)

Lavender Picking

While Sean was away in Santa Monica, I was invited by Karen to come lavender picking at her friend's place in San Jose. This is the view from the lavender fields.

Me, bending over and picking the lavender. It's best to pick lavender in the early mornings as the sun dries the oil out if picked later. We weren't super early, like 6am but managed to pick the lavender at a much more reasonable hour, like 9am!!! :)
This is Karen, who's very happy with her efforts! :)

Our stash!!!! I'm planning to use my lavender in a hydrosol - just need to buy the equipment first...... (a double-boiler basically). :)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Santa Monica and Hollywood

I recently visited Santa Monica, which is near Los Angeles. It was during a heat wave, so the weather might have been more spectacular than usual. Whilst I was there I got a CVS disposable digital camera (well, I got two, one to hack and one to use) since Louise was using our normal camera.
Santa Monica is a 30 minute bus ride from Hollywood. I went there to check out French General for Louise, but they were overseas so I couldn't. I decided to try out a Hollywood tour, which was pretty good. They don't take you up near the sign, but they take you through Hollywood Land (the older part of Hollywood with nice (expensive) houses.) I didn't see any real celebrities.
Hollywood itself is a bit disappointing, there is really nothing to see and it's got a bit of a dodgy character to it. The wax museum demonstrated how difficult it must be to make was models with realistic colouring and dimensions. I found a good pizza shop.
Whilst in Santa Monica I got some $2 notes. They are perceived to be rare, and they don't work in some machines (the Santa Monica bus ticket machines don't accept them). It is a shame that tipping is expected here, but if I must tip $2 notes are definitely good tipping currency.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


This is my current staff photo, I'm sitting in the sysops GEM car. Thanks to our AA for the Hello Kitty gear! This ride is fully pimped.

Summer in Mountain View

We went for an afternoon walk around Mountain View. We wanted to get photos of the magnolias, since the huge flowers were in full bloom.

On our way to the park, we noticed that the gate to the seniors garden was open. It is a little slice of land between what appears to be a mains water distribution pumps and houses.

There is usually someone tending the gardens when Sean walks past on his way to work in the mornings. We didn't see anyone, but they were probably there at the far end. We got some good photos of an artichoke and other vegetables.

The bee hive is in a little fenced off section of its own.

We left the garden and went to the park. At the park there was a squirrel rummaging through the rubbish.

Here are the pictures we were after.

Check out how large the petals are. They smell lemony.

On the way back home we got this good picture of a bumble bee collecting pollen.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shoreline Lake and Park

The car is due for a service, so we didn't want to go to far this weekend. Luckily, Shoreline lake and park is literally just down the road.

The lake and park were built on 700 acres that were previously flood plains, a sewage treatment plant, a junkyard, a pig farm and a dump. About 15 feet of landfill raise the land level high enough to prevent flooding. These days it is a park comprising a golf course, a lake, some cafes, Rengstorff House and a nature preserve. The Shoreline Amphitheatre is right next to the park.

From 1978 to 1993 methane was extracted from the ground under the park to supplement the gas needs of the local community. This gas paid for the parks maintenance. Local rumour has it that in the early days people sitting on the lawn at the Amphitheatre used to poke holes in the ground and light the methane that seeped out.

Rengstorff House, now located in Shoreline Park, belonged to one of the early settlers in the area. It is now open to the public, and can be rented for private events. Henry Rengstorff was a German immigrant. He arrived in 1850, but must have decided that he had missed the 1849 California gold rush as he stayed in the bay area as a farm hand. He saved up until he could buy his own farm, where he built Rengstorff House. He used local redwood and other tall timbers, some beams span from one end of the house to the other. By the time he died he owned 6 local farms.

When developers bought the land where Rengstorff House was originally located, the local council bought the house from them for $1. They moved it to just inside the Shoreline Park gates, where it sat for 10 years before being moved to its current location and restored. In exchange for opening it to the public, the council reserved the upper floor for council member offices. The city web site has more info about Rengstorff House.

The 50 acre lake divides the park into a golf course and a picnic family area. You can rent bicycles, boats, kayaks and wind surfing equipment.

Whilst we were walking, we noticed that there are a lot of lizards living in the undergrowth. You can see one if you look closely at the photo below.

As we left, just before we drove past the kite flying area, we saw a burrowing owl foraging in the grass.

There is a virtual tour of the park, with lots of photos and background information, on the Bay Area Governments web site.