Monday, 27 November 2006

Summer Holiday 2006

OK, so we are a little behind in reporting some of our trips, including Bavaria, Paris and our summer holiday to Croatia -- in reverse chronological order. So first one first let's go through our haul over to Croatia.

The purpose of this holiday was different to last year's summer excursion. Last year it was all about getting to one of our most-wanted-to-visit places (Italy) and also get in a little bit of relaxation as well. This year the ideas were different.

The drive to Croatia was broken up with a stay overnight at Augsburg -- no sightseeing, only somewhere to stop, eat and sleep. We reached the campsite mid-afternoon the next day with enough time to set up tent, make some dinner and meet the neighbours. The people next to us were very friendly, greeting us in German (since they saw the car's plates) and then switching to English when I explained in German that my German wasn't so good. Turns out they were Slovak and were very kind and friendly to us our whole stay. Both the mother and father also spoke Croatian -- which turned out to be very useful later in our stay -- and the wife also spoke Hungarian! These Europeans!

Pretty much from the next day the name of the game was do as little or as much as you liked. Gaynor, of course, had a book or four she'd bought to read. "Holiday" is a synonym for "book reading" in Gaynor's language. Gaynor also enjoyed a swim in the bay first thing most mornings and considers it a great way to start the day. The children spent time in and out of the expansive pools of the campsite and various trips down to the bay shoreline for swimming as well. They had a great curly waterslide with water pumped out of the bay and this was an especial favourite of the children. Unfortunately not too many photos from around the camp as most of us were too busy with nothing to do but, to View over the baythe right here, you can see an example of the sort of sunsets we had to put up with.

We did manage a trip or two into the town of Rovinj itself, working our way to the church and up the church tower. We seem to climb these whenever available with Gaynor staying at the bottom with Bryna and the other children coming up with me. Churches themselves don't cost to go in but the towers usually incur a charge. The attendant did warn that the stairs were a little worn in places. I passed this information on to the children along with instructions to step on the outside of the stair if it looked a bit dodgy. I knew Elijah was listening carefully since I had never seen him move so slow when awake! He placed his foot gingerly towards the outside of every step as though it contained some volatile explosive. In the end I had to hurry him along, even though the stairs were pretty worn.

As well as the seemingly obligatory visit to the church we also patronised a couple of restaurants, one of which -- Figarola, as seen in the picture -- is now our new favourite restaurant in Europe. We highly recommend it to you if you are ever in the area. Apart from the wonderful views, Gaynor was particularly impressed with the seafood risotto with all the of seafood sweet and tender, not overdone like so many other places. It was creamy and well seasoned with fresh herbs that rounded out the flavour to perfection. Other delicious servings included a pork schnitzel with a special seasoned crumbing (Fenton), grilled chicken breast in a creamy sauce (quite a departure for Mara from her standard spaghetti bolognese) and a pork and prawn kebab (Joshua).
We really enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing time only wishing it could have been longer. The drive home included a couple of multi-hour waits through the mountain tunnels of Austria and another overnight stop in Augsburg. This time though we took in the town centre and the cathedral, which is home to the world's largest and oldest stained-glass windows. We didn't stay too long but still another pleasant memory to add to the trip.

Monday, 13 November 2006

Recent Birthdays

This time of year is always busy in our family with birthdays. Children recently on the receiving end were, in chronological order, Mara (the 19th of October), Bryna (the 30th of October) and Joshua (the 9th of November). They clocked 10, 3 and 13, respectively.

Mara wished to get her ears pierced. I offered but she claimed something about infection and had Gaynor take her into town to a slightly more reputable place. She's been asking for a couple of years for this particular kind of pain and, in principle, I didn't have a problem, happily agreeing to 25 as the correct age for this procedure. Gaynor pointed out that she herself had holes put in her ear lobes on her 7th birthday. She seems to have turned out alright and so I acquised. Here is a photo of Mara with a few of her friends who came for a sleepover party.

Next up was Bryna whose only real birthday wish was Nanna, Poppa and a birthday cake with candles on it. We knew this was her real wish since she repeated it many times over the course of about two months. We are glad to report we came through with the goods -- special thanks to Nanna and Poppa for doing their bit (travelling half the globe). You can see the cake that showed up in the photo.

Finally, Joshua made it relatively unscathed into his teens. He actually voiced few birthday wishes but when pressured finally came up with a couple of sporting goods and a DVD. Some happened, others didn't but he also had a sleepover party with a couple of friends -- staying up quite late (and then also getting up quite early) to watch movies and play video games. You can see a snapshot from this event below.

Of course Gaynor provided her usual scrumptious birthday dinners (menu by request) and wonderful cakes. Though they don't seem especially so now I'm sure the children will thank us in the future for the delicious food their mother generated and the genetics that allowed them to enjoy these delights repeatedly.