Newcastle sites…

Catherine lives across the street from the Newcastle Museum — how cool is that! There is a famous/photogenic camel outside and I had to take a photo. (Honestly, the camel is best when seen from afar. He’s kind of scary up close.)

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The children’s area was way more fun than I expected. There were several good interactive exhibits involving magnets, and one where you could lift a real (small) car with a lever and ropes. Physics in action.

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The coal industry is huge in Newcastle and it was a big steel producer. The steel industry shut down but there is a big part of the museum dedicated to it. This is 1 ton of coal. It makes you wonder who looked at that rock and had the idea to burn it. That would not be my first thought.

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We hiked up the 136 stairs to the Newcastle Memorial Walk. It was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle.

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The names of soldiers are inscribed on the metal figures.

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The views are amazing. Catherine says they are more amazing when it’s sunny but I appreciated them nonetheless.

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Coal Ship

Beach from Anzac Walk

A small memorial just outside the fence was peaceful, even with the chain link.

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The rain moved in and we went shopping. I really, really hope everything fits in my suitcase :-).

The Hunter Valley Gardens…

We went back to the Hunter Valley to visit the Gardens on Sunday. It’s been rainy but we were lucky and it was a beautiful day. Most of the flowers were dormant but that really didn’t matter to me. I enjoyed the fall display.

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The hedges are skillfully trimmed. I especially liked the cutouts that allow you to see through to another part of the garden.

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There is a formal garden, very nice.

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There is a lovely children’s area with a Mother Goose/story book theme. My favorite thing was the big red chair:

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There are rides, but it’s off-season here so they weren’t working. That also meant fewer people in the garden with us so, actually, it was not a bad thing.

This is the safest, least-scary Ferris wheel I have ever seen. It made me wonder if it’s as much fun as those where, even though you are strapped in, it feels like you could fall out.

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The Japanese Garden was serene, as you would expect.

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My last photo of the day. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen cut roses floating in water. I hope I don’t forget this…

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Blackbutt Reserve…

Before you go getting any ideas, blackbutt is an Australian tree in the eucalyptus family. The Blackbutt Reserve, in Newcastle, is more than a park and not really a zoo. It’s a reserve providing a home to many Australian animals. And trees :-).

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This duck was the first critter I noticed. Does it look to you like he’s trying not to own that pile next to him?

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The high point was seeing the wombats (Catherine’s favorite animal) being fed. They are nocturnal but the reserve feeds them in the morning so that people can see them before they go to bed. This is Sally, 3 years old.

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And this is Clyde, who is 15. They live in different enclosures, side by side, because they are solitary animals. It appears to work for them very well.

 

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The koalas were sleeping. Very soundly.

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The kangaroos seemed thoughtful, as if they were plotting an escape.

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My favorites were the very pretty male Gouldian finches. The females were nice, but not as showy. And none posed for me.

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This fine fellow posed and posed.

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The rain started as we left. Excellent timing!

River boat cruising…

Catherine and I went on a day cruise up the Hunter River today, from Newcastle to Morpeth.

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There were just enough clouds to make the sky interesting, all day long.

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The scenery along the way was lovely.

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We mostly had the river to ourselves, except for the occasional fishermen.

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I did figure out that the concrete ‘pencils’ I saw a couple of days ago were probably posts :-).

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Farms and ranches lined the way.

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Morpeth is a scenic small village where were spent 2 hours shopping (of course) and having lunch.

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Then it was back to the boat for the return trip!

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Really relaxing is not something I do much of. This was a day of enforced relaxation… no work, no sewing, no internet. Amazing!

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Another wonderful day down under!

We walked (and walked) along the shore…

I don’t wear a Fitbit or Apple watch anymore, and data is turned off on my phone, so I have no idea how far we walked this morning, but I suspect it was 5-6 miles. Maybe it’s the sea air, but at 4 in the afternoon, I am tired!

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My photo challenge this week is sky/clouds, so I pointed my camera up a lot.

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There were a couple of these huge3 ‘pencils’ tossed about on the rocks. It is concrete and many feet long, and it is tall enough that it could serve as a bench. Catherine had no idea what they were for or where they had come from.

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We stopped for a leisurely coffee on the way home. I’m not sure when I have relaxed so much on a vacation!

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We shopped this afternoon and I bought a skirt. Simple design, made locally. Yes, I could sew it but, no, I don’t want to. It was so much nicer to know that I am supporting an Australian sewer and that I look forward to wearing that skirt for a very long time!

 

Traveling to the other side of the globe…

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Yes, it takes a while to fly from Texas to Australia, but that’s OK. I did pay more to have extra seat room and footrest on the 15-hour flight and Tylenol PM helped me sleep. I landed at 7AM, dazed but in pretty good shape.

The train trip from the airport in Sydney to Newcastle, where Catherine and Andrew live, was quite nice. I sat across from a dad and his daughter who were quietly entertaining for most of the 3 hour ride. Mostly I was reminded of how hard it can be to keep a youngster occupied for this sort of trip. He did a fantastic job, mostly talking to her and rarely looking at his phone. I was impressed!

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Catherine and I went walking yesterday… she and Andrew live in Newcastle near shops and restaurants, and very close to the water.

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It is so very different from my land-locked home in Sherman, TX. It’s going to be loads of fun seeing more of this part of Australia with my friend!

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Now that we’re home from the Grand Hotel…

Elanor spent the day catching up and shipping orders. Three big bags of packages will go to the post office first thing tomorrow morning.

There’s one order from class with no name or contact info for side-threading needles. If you think that’s you, please email me at becky.pieceocake@gmail.com.

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I spent part of my day going to doctors. This morning I saw my foot doctor. I have a toe that curls under its neighbor and it has begun to hurt. For now, I can wear a tiny little silicone sleeve on it. In late July, he’s going to do a ‘1-stitch’ procedure to fix it. I think that means he’s going to lop off the offending underside of that toe. If it works, the other foot will be having the same thing.

My mother told me that when I was a baby she did her best to straighten up those two toes, wrapping them to make them grow straight. It didn’t work but, Moms, they know so much.

I went to the dermatologist this afternoon. I have a line under my thumbnail that a physician/student suggested it would be good to have it looked at. My doctor looked at it and my other fingernails. Turns out, I have a similar thing going on under other nails, just not so pronounced.

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After much deliberation we both decided that it was probably not melanoma, but that it was prudent to watch it. I’ll be going back in 3 months. He measured but didn’t have to do a biopsy today. That’s all good news. The bad news is that I need to forego polish for 3 months. Dang!

Donna, who takes very good care of my nails so that they always look good on camera, will make even unpolished nails work for me. I’m sure of that. However, the transition from one to the other might not be so lovely so it’s good that I’m not on the road teaching again until August.

FYI: If the line under my nail gets wider and irregular, that’s bad. If you have that, go to the doctor NOW!

Side note: I wore a dress in case he needed to look me all over. Turns out, he did. Nothing of note, thankfully.

And, lastly, I should show you this room at the Grand Hotel. I took the photo as we walked by and the door was open, between guests. All of the rooms are decorated differently and I didn’t see that many, but I really like this one!

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The predominant colors at the Grand Hotel are green, red, and aqua. This guest room also has a touch of periwinkle which is very nice. Many, if not most, of the ceilings are pale aqua… just like my very own bedroom at home. Sweet!

So much pattern! Big prints! Strong colors! I don’t want to bring it to my house now but it is loads of fun to visit :-). You should definitely visit the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island. It’s an amazing place.