Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!!!!!
Hey everyone....sorry I haven't been in touch lately, but have been a bit busy. I have been seeing a fellow teacher who is a wonderful man. He started not feeling well about 6 weeks back and after a series of tests, it was decided that he should have his left kidney removed. A good thing too, as he had a cancerous tumour in it which had not spread and was considered to be about the best type to have, if you were to have it. It is a very good prognosis and Stan is now on the mend...the kidney was removed 2 weeks ago and he is still in quite a bit of pain and tires easily, but luckily he was in good shape when it was removed, so he is better off than many.
We are heading off on a road trip tomorrow to Darwin, which should be great...was not sure if it was still on but Stan figures he can recover in a van seat as well, if not better, than in a chair in the living room. We will be covering over 3,000 km and driving through alot of desert. Stan has been as far as Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock) before so is familiar with 1/2 of the drive. We have a camper van, but are worried about the cold - it has gone down to 1 degree here (it's winter) and lower than that in "Alice". It has been a very cold winter for me, as there is no central heating anywhere, and the school is like ice on cold days. People can't believe how cold I get and have been putting gifts of gloves in my school mailbox...who would have thought that in Australia of all places?!?!?!
Anyhow, we are off tomorrow on an iconic Aussie adventure which takes us from the bottom of Australia to the top end. It is jellyfish season, and the crocs are on the move from all the rain, so we will have to be careful once we get there...lucky you guys who can just jump in Lake Superior or Loon without having to worry about losing your life!! It will be warmer up there in the Tropics though...can't wait. It has been in the low to mid 30's there lately, so we can't wait to get back in to bathing suits, sundresses and shorts.
Will keep you posted on how it goes, now that my time is a bit freed up. Hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tasmania and beyond!!

OK, I know, I have been slacking off a bit, but my internet has been acting up and I am actually updating this from school.
I will have to go back in the recesses of my mind a few weeks (hard to do at my age) to fill you in on everything I have been up to. We had our first school break here about 3 1/2 weeks ago and I took the opportunity to head off to Tasmania for most of the two weeks! What a wonderful reminds me alot of Canada actually. The holiday started Easter weekend so I flew out of Adelaide on the Friday and arrived in Hobart in the evening to be greeted by Bill and Adrienne and our campervan. I met Bill and Adrienne on my last visit over this way in New Zealand. They are avid outdoors people and were excited to do some hiking and exploring in Tassie. We spent the first 5 days travelling slowly from Hobart (the capital of Tassie) to Launceston. There are many historical places with great significance in Tasmania and to Australia as a whole. "Port Arthur" just south of Hobart was a large penal colony where the the majority of people were sent from England and other parts of the world for stealing such things as apples or loaves of bread to feed their families. Many or these people were given 7 yrs of hard labour for such theft....they were treated brutally and most had extra years added on for various hey, they settled Australia, and lightened the load on Britain when times were tight and there was a burgeoning population that was going hungry. A very brave and determined bunch of people they were. I read of one young girl of 13 who got 7 years for riding her neighbors horse without permission. The youngest convict was 8...incredible (he stole an apple!)
On we meandered to places such as "Wineglass Bay" where we went kayaking and hiking, sheep cheese making farms, wineries, more sightseeing etc. will have to follow as my internet is not up and running yet.
On the sixth day we started our hike from Cradle Mountain to lake St. Clair. We were with a group of 7 other hikers and two guides, and the hike covered 80 kms over 6 days. It was fantastic!!! This was the main reason for the trip to Tassie. The "Overland Track" as it is called is one of the iconic bushwalks in Australia. We hiked through rainforest, beside roaring waterfalls, over moor-like plateaus and through brush. I would highly recommend this hike to anyone - we went with a group called Cradle Mountain Huts, which made the trip thoroughly enjoyable. We were extremely spoiled on the trek, as we only had to carry our clothes from hut to hut and nothing else. This company provides you with heated huts (hot showers each day) and all the food you need. We enjoyed a variety of Tasmanian wines and cheeses with each meal, along with many other Tasmanian specialties (honey, bush tucker, lamb, etc). Our guides were superb and provided us with endless information about the area and why it was an important world heritage site. They also did all the cooking (amazing!!! fresh bread and scones every day!) and were very entertaining on top of it all.
The first day a "snake" (very poisonous supposedly) was seen at the side of the trail, though I didn't see it (thank goodness!). I did manage to see a few wallabies, little lizards, burroughing crayfish and a hairy nosed wombat! We spotted the wombat on the last day of the hike, just off the side of the trail. They have poor eyesight and are nocturnal, so not seen too much in the daytime, though their "cubed" (literally)poop was in evidence everywhere. Well, after everyone else had taken photos and moved on I waited silently and patiently on the side of the trail, and lo and behold, the wombat wobbled up to me about 15 minutes later and sniffed both of my boots and then wandered into the had something wrong with one of its back legs and didn't look too healthy, so not sure if it would have done that normally. My guide saw it and said he had never seen anything like it before. A week earlier it was in the news that a wombat had attacked a man for 20 minutes straight and wouldn't let go (they can get to be 60lbs) and they have sharp, beaver like teeth. I was lucky I guess!
We could not have asked for a better group of people to hike with. The age range was 27 - 70 with everything inbetween. Interesting, informative, friendly, loving, and fun are all adjectives that I would apply to this group! We had a blast together and we are all hoping to reunite at some point in the future, even if just with a few people at a time....I do plan on looking them up if I am in their areas (most from Sydney or Melbourne area).
At the end of the trip we were picked up in a van and headed back to the lodge where we began. Our guides, both with extremely good senses of humour, had us play a "people spotting" game on the way back, with certain points allotted for bikers, walkers, waver, and of course, the most going to "streakers". Well, would you believe it, just as we rounded one of the last bends, there were two streakers, one male and one female. They were non chalantly waving to us while standing on either side of the highway!!! The perfect ending to a perfect trip! Too many highlights to mention.
I have to run to one of my many, many staff meetings now, so off I go. I will update you on the rest of my adventures tomorrow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

more Kangaroo Island Photos

Kangaroo Island

Ok, it's been awhile, but have been busy with school, the Fringe festival, etc, etc.....poor excuses I know, but there you go. I have been doing lots over the last few weeks and now must try to remember everything.
I went to Kangaroo Island 2 weekends ago with a group of exchange teachers from SA. It is a very unique, self-sufficient, and beautiful island just a few hours from Adelaide! It takes about 1.5 hours to get to the ferry (you can fly there as well) and another hour for the crossing. It can be quite rough at time, as seen by the number of sea-sickness bags readily available...luckily, our crossing was fairly smooth and I did not witness anyone getting sick!
There were 30 of us in total, including the organizers who are retired past exchange teachers. The people who came were lots of fun and very outgoing....I really enjoyed getting to know them (I met them briefly at a BBQ at the start of my time here). We did a ton of things on the island, which is about 100 km by 40 km, but many of the roads are gravel, so the driving can be slow going at times. We were also driving around in a yellow school bus, so you get the idea....roughing it but not hiking!! We stayed at an educational centre with dorm style bunk-bed rooms. I forgot to bring ear plugs, so needless to say, I had two very poor nights of sleep! It was the Adelaide Cup weekend (horse race, hence the fashion weekend, so good thing I was out of town!) so we had 3 days on the island!
Aaahhhhhhh bliss! It definitely has the "island time" feel to it and is quite relaxed. Most of the inhabitants of the island are very self-sufficient and I'm sure that they would not be in too much trouble if they never came to the mainland again! Some of the things we did included going to a eucalyptus oil/emu oil factory (solar and wind run), a honey producer who used to be a sheep farmer and now produces honey (and many body creams, etc.) from many different hives (and therefore different little ecosystems) that all taste very distinctively different from each other, "Kelly's caves" where went underground, a sea lion santuary, a sheep milking and cheese making farm, along with many beautiful and wild beaches and parklands! We saw kangaroos (surprise, surprise), koalas, echidnas, seals, seals lions, black cockatoos, emus, etc etc......
My favourite animal was a young orphaned joey that the eucalyptus farm had taken in and were feeding (it still gets 2 bottles/day at 18 months old) and taking care of. It was the softest, cutest and most adorable animal....I could easily have taken it home (see photos). The had set up this quilted cotton bag which it viewed as its "mom' s pouch" and it would crawl into it when it was tired!
We socialized over great meals each evening and made connections with people from all over the world (Canada, Germany, France, England, etc.). We are already planning our next trip to Uluru this summer (winter here).
This past weekend I went to a few plays in the "city" (downtown Adelaide) and still managed to have enough energy to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday the Irish Club of Adelaide! did a bit of Irish dancing, eating and drinking , and of course had a great time! Even ran into a teacher that I work with who informed me that I could take dancing lessons there and that there is a "bush party" at the Irish club this weekend which incorporates Irish and other dances together.....may just have to check that out after gliding Saturday.
That leads me into the last bit of my blog before I put you all to sleep. I am going gliding tomorrow (Saturday weekend) with a friend that I met who goes to Adelaide University and is a new member of the gliding club. We are heading out tomorrow morning to an area near the Barossa wine valley region where the "thermals" are good for gliding. I think I have 2 flights tomorrow, perhaps more if there is time. I am really excited about this and hope to be posting some photos "from the air" for you on the next blog! Hopefully this will be the first of many days spent checking out the area from the air!!
I am certainly not lacking for opportunity of things going on at the moment, or people to do them with. I hear that it slows down in the winter here, but that is a good thing, as I am actually quite exhausted most of the time....I do have to fit some work into this equation after all, and that can be challenging! Marks are going out next week, so it will be a busy one, followed by our first school break, which will be a 12 day stint hiking and site-seeing in Tasmania with a few days tacked on at the end in Melbourne for me. I am really looking forward to it all and to sharing it with you.
Stay in touch and take care everyone! Cheers, Kelly the Koala.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chinese/Vietnamese New Year's and family

the cousins playing in yard after dinner

On the beach with Jill's Family

Went to a celebration last evening for Chinese/Vietnamese New Year's, which is quite large here due to the large Vietnamese community (I believe there are about 70,000 here). We had a great dinner, which was organized by 3 staff members who are Vietnamese. Besides them, it was myself, my principal Meredith (who I keep calling Marilyn for some strange reason...very embarrassing) and the wife of one of the teachers. We had an amazing dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant that is near the school and which had won an award last year for having some of the best V. dishes in the city(I had been lounging in Ann and Jeff's pool earlier in the day).
The dish was a combination of 7 different preparations of beef. We cooked the majority of it on a flame which had a metal surface on it. I use the "we" lightly as all of the beef cooking was done by those who knew what they were doing, and that did not include me!! Not being Vietnamese, we weren't allowed to pay for our meals and we had to be "full"at the end of the meal to ensure a year ahead that would be prosperous and one in which we would not go hungry! It was an extremely enjoyable and educational experience for me!
After the amazing meal, we went to the ceremonies in a nearby parkland, where all the politicians were around for photo ops, as the election is kicking off here in four weeks time. It was quite something. We also watched a Vietnamese fashion show, which was an eye-opener and something not to be missed if you ever get the chance. The only thing I can tell you, really, is that "world peace" never came up as an issue that any of them were worried about when asked!!!! Quite entertaining....very beautiful women/girls as well, but as we all know, beauty is only skin-deep, and that came out clearly in the answers!! One girl, when asked how she would give back to the Vietnamese community if she won, answered with " I would volunteer to help the girls in next years show, by showing them how to apply makeup and do their nails, hair, and so on, so that they can feel good about themselves!!!!" She actually made it into the top 5 of the evening, out of close to 20!! I was ready to write a letter to the editor if she won!!
Tonight I had Jill's family for a BBQ at "my house". Elly-anne and Neil's daughters have the most amazingly beautiful red hair! They really stand out in a crowd being so fair and red-headed.
We started at the beach and ended here with the children (5 of them all together) playing on the trampoline and playing a game outside while we sipped on wine and chatted. It was a lovely, warm evening and we ate outdoors. I even got the lawn cut for me by Neil, Jill's brother, and Jeff, Jill's brother in law did the BBQ ing and the meat was perfect!! A very enjoyable evening. Jill has a lovely family and I feel very fortunate that they have taken me on as an extension!!

Well, that is all for now. I have some marking and planning to do, so must log off. I know you all think all I do is socialize, but I actually do a fair amount of work to make up for my off days, believe it or not!!

Cheers mates,
Kelly the Canuck

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

good time photos!

the "shack"
another great meal of local fish caught by Mark, cooked by Corina
shrimp on the barbie!
Kelly waterskiing with beautiful sand cliffs in background
Kelly and Sonia on tube....I'm getting too old for this!!

good company, good food, good fun

Kelly, Corina and Megan
Tracey and Corina
The "shack" on the Murray River
outdoor dining
could I be any more relaxed??

Was invited out Corina and Mark's "shack" (that's a camp for you back home) on the Murray River for the weekend. Had a great time and met some wonderful people. Good times, food and fun were had by all. We headed out Friday after work and drove for 2 hours through lovely horse and farm country. You could see by the "jetties" (docks for you back home) which ended in shrubs and grasslands how much the river has fallen over the last 3 years. Much of the water is being diverted for agricultural reasons before it reaches Adelaide and the surrounding areas, so the farmers in this area are really getting a raw deal at the moment. Many places up for sale which used to be on the "banks of the river" 3 short years ago, and now they are 300 metres from the river's edge. Very sad and frustrating.
After arriving at the shack we had a wonderful salad which Corina and Megan are famous for and relaxed over some nice SA wine. A very relaxing weekend was awaiting me which reminded me of Loon Lake. Friends and relative popped over during the weekend to water ski, hang out, eat with us, and basically just socialize. Everyone was very friendly and made me feel right at home...I really did feel as if I were just down the beach at someone's camp. We actually cooked "shrimp on the barbie" along with many other wonderful things. The BBQ's are different here...see photo in next blog (more like a flat grill with no spaces). I
Some friend's dropped by with a sea-doo, so I got to go for a ride on that to start with. The next activity was similar to tubing, but no hole in the middle. I think Mark thought I was 13 (the same age as my companion on the disk) as he tried very hard to get me off the disk by whipping us over the wake at break neck speeds (or perhaps that's just my age speaking...Sonia didn't seem nearly as concerned as me!) My bathing suit bottoms were luckily caught just above my ankles on 2 occasions!! For the next activity (water skiing) everyone thought it best if I wore wet suit bottoms, so as to not traumatize anyone and never be invited back again!
I had a great time and definitely paid for it with a few aches and pains on Monday and Tuesday! Everyone has been very welcoming and open to inviting me places even though they don't know me. Very much appreciated by me. I am going to celebrate Chinese/Vietamese New Years this weekend with a woman from staff who is vietnamese, and just found out today that the principal will be joining us. Should be a nice evening. I have also been invited to a staff members house for dinner tomorrow night....she has a friend who went to Canada. Finally, the Adelaide Fringe Festival starts this weekend and goes on for a month, along with many music events, and other festivals (it is the festival city after all). I may try to go to the opening parade on Friday night. Lots to keep me busy, though I do miss family and friends!
A heat wave (the 3rd this year for SA) is predicted to start this Thursday with temperatures predicted to be above 35c for a week or more. That is too hot, even for me!

Stay tuned for more photos from the weekend....I can only add 5 at a time.
Cheers mates!