Friday, September 21, 2007

Canberra fun

I've spent the week hiding from the online world - my RSS feed items numbered in the hundreds and email piled up. The trip to Canberra completely exhausted me and I've only just recovered. But now that I've caught up with it all I can finally regale you with the tale of our trip. WARNING: this is a long post.

After an extremely busy day last Thursday (incidentally my niece's 2nd birthday), taking the kids to school, visiting work colleagues for morning tea, having lunch with a friend in the city, walking all the way back to Uni to take Elora for her immunisations, picking up the kids, driving home, feeding and bathing them, and packing, we finally left home at 9pm. My mother decided to come with me for the drive as she was worried about me doing the 3 hours by myself. It was about two hours later than I'd planned, but that was due to my immense procrastination the night before, not packing or preparing!

At first the drive wasn't too bad - D fell asleep fairly quickly and so did the little girl. Atti didn't fall asleep until about 10:15pm! He was so overexcited. About two hours in, at Goulburn, I decided to stop for a quick break. Big mistake. The lights in the car woke up Elora, who started screaming her head off and woke up A. Dante was wonderful - he just put his pillow over his head and slept through it. She screamed almost the entire rest of the way to Canberra... and we finally arrived a little after midnight. The boys shared a room and were so excited that they didn't fall asleep until well after 1am. Ack. Total disaster. I was completely zonked.

The next day Atti woke up at 6am! Of course he woke up Dante as they were in the same room but thankfully there were televisions in all three rooms in our apartment so I put on ABC Kids and went back to sleep. Eventually we rose - Dan rushed off to his conference and the rest of us had a leisurely breakfast and prepared for the day. My mother had to catch the train back to Sydney at midday (the last one for the day) as she had a function on Saturday. What a pity! She didn't see anything of Canberra at all. I felt really sorry for making so much trouble for her.

After dropping her off at the station we went to Kingston for lunch - it is a suburb that I know a little as my brother lived there for six months in the mid-90's and I stayed with him for a week. It has some nice cafes and restaurants. Of course, the boys saw the Pizza Hut and demanded pizza for lunch, so that's what we had. It was a terribly cold, windy, rainy day so my plan picnicking in a park by the lake was dashed. Instead we parked behind the High Court and sat in the back of the car! The rest of the day we spent napping in the hotel room and watching cable TV.

Saturday we met up with my cousin Cecelia and her son Seth (almost 2) and we spent the day at the Questacon. Oh what fun it was! I highly recommend it to one and all. The "MiniQ" section is particularly great for under 6's. It has a climbing gym, home corner, dark cave section, construction area, space-themed room, water play as well as a baby section. The water areas were terrific fun and they even provide apron/paint shirt thingies so your kids don't get completely drenched. The boys loved it, although Dante couldn't wait to see the "Big Kids" sections of the museum (he had to wait for Dan to join us at lunch time). Even Elora enjoyed watching the lights and playing with the water. At lunch we bumped into a distant cousin whom I'd only met in April at an extended family picnic!

We ended up staying there until 3:30pm when I finally took the two youngest home for their naps. Dan stayed on with D and we went over to my cousin's place for dinner. They live in a "new" suburb, right on the edge of the city. It was quite spooky driving out there. On one side of the road were houses and lights and on the other side it was pitch black. "That's the 'Limit of Maps'," Dan told me.

On our final day we decided that we'd brave the crowds and visit Floriade on the grounds of Commonwealth Park, beside Lake Burley Griffin. For once the kids slept in a bit and we took our time packing up the room, only to be grumbled at by the house maids who wanted us out right away! Dan had already cleared a late check-out with the hotel but it was annoying to be rushed like that.

We parked across the lake, near the National Library and walked across the big bridge to get to the flower show. The big fountain (apparently called the Captain James Cook Memorial) was in full force, much to Atti's delight. The wind blew the water spray quite a distance. Cool!

Floriade was, as one would expect on opening weekend, crowded with people and flowers! We walked around, Atti pointing out all the colours and the rest of us just enjoying the show. The hyacinths were especially fragrant. Dante had fun with the "living statue", who produced lollipops from his pocket when money was given. The boys were entranced by the Victorian-era dancers while we queued up for lunch. Elora wanted to eat everything (flowers, hats, you name it)!

We popped in to the Art Gallery on the way home, but unfortunately Dan's favourite artwork, the Fog Sculpture, had been turned off by the time we got there. So he hung around in the gift shop instead while the kids and I found a kids drawing exhibit which kept them busy. Also bumped into a family friend from Sydney who was visiting the town. What a small world!

Well, we eventually left Canberra at 4pm with our two cars in convoy. I had all the kids and Dan was in the small car. It was okay until we got to Goulburn again (what is it about that place?) when we stopped for a walk around. Thereafter Elora screamed and screamed, and Atti screamed back (especially when she would drift off to sleep) for about another hour while I fumed and tried to get in touch with Dan to pull over. I had stopped but he drove straight past, not seeing us, so then the rest of the time was spent trying to catch up and find him on the highway. I sped way too much for my liking. At least I was in no danger of dozing off, the adrenalin was pumping so hard.

Finally I managed to call him and we met up an hour out of Sydney. Elora was beside herself. Everyone had a good stretch and I transferred Atti to Dan's car. The rest of the drive home was wonderfully peaceful and relaxed.

And we were so glad to be home.

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