Category Archives: Home Life

Counting down the days

I have submitted my last uni assignment, planned all the lessons for the classes for the last two weeks of term (and caught up with the relief teachers to discuss it) and even packed my bags!

So I am ready to go! I have a very busy last few days and then fly out on Saturday morning (thankfully not on a red-eye)

The next 4 weeks are going to be heaps of fun, but crazy busy. I plan on blogging while I am away, so stay tuned for the adventures to come!


What was I thinking????

A number of months ago I had enrolled in a Graduate Certificate of Education and was “really looking forward to learning more about how to use ICT more effectively in my classroom, and hopefully a whole lot more!!!” (to quote myself from a blog I posted in January this year)

Seriously ..what was I thinking??

The first dampener on things was when I picked two subjects for the year and enrolled in them, only to find one wasn’t on offer this year, so I would have to change my choices. So I opted to study “Online Learning and Teaching” in Semester 1 and do the core subject “Understanding educational inquiry” in Semester 2.
There are only three subjects listed in the Graduate Certificate of Education, that are in my area of interest, ICT (and obviously my fourth subject would be the core unit). But two of those weren’t on offer this year, and when I asked if they would be on offer next year they said they didn’t know (Why bother listing subjects if you don’t actually offer them??). So I asked what I should do if I couldn’t do my selected subjects, and was told to do an “educational research project” and nominate one of the lecturers interested in ICT as my supervisor . This didn’t really align with my plans, but I thought that I’d just make a start and see what happens…

So I start this course ‘online learning and teaching’ and the lecture notes are all massive blobs of text, which introduce things like wiki’s and podcast’s and blog’s. It talks a bit about  what they are and then maybe asks you to reflect on how you think they could be used in the classroom. So firstly I am put off by this “online learning and teaching” class not actually making use of any good technology.

The the assignments are all talking about technology, not using it, not discussing ways they could be used more effectively. There is absolutely no practical aspect to this course. Even the first assignment in which we have to participate in an online discussion forum…we have to answer a particular questions, so you essentially write a mini essay to answer it, with references and post it on the forum. A discussion forum, to me, is about sharing ideas and discussing things. It’s not inspiring to go to a discussion forum and have to read a wall of text, then be assessed on making original, thought-provoking and insightful comments/replies that demonstrate a breadth of reading and knowledge in the area. How does this encourage free flowing conversation around a topic?

The other assignments are all very formal, writing a project brief for an effective education resource that makes use of ICT, back up why it should be done, what will it cost, what is the project timeframe, who are the stakeholders etc etc. But you don’t actually have to learn how to engage with the technology you are discussing!

The last assignment is an essay discussing the use of ICT in your work climate. It is an academic essay. So again you simply yap about technology but never have to engage with it.

I find it so frustrating to spend my time on these assignments and weekly readings when I have not learned a single thing so far! Perhaps I just didn’t have a clear understanding of what I would be learning, or perhaps I was too hopeful about what I would potentially learn that I didn’t stop to think about what it would actually be.

Another aspect that really made it difficult to engage in the uni course, was the Udacity course I started around the same time. The Udacity course was designed brilliantly, it had heaps of short lecture videos for each unit, with quizzes for almost each lecture to gauge learning and understanding. The each week was supported by a number of homework tasks. It was so interactive and interesting. It also made it easy to work through in stages, watch a few videos, do a few quizzes and then take a break. The design of the uni course with all its text to read, meant you had to be prepared to sit and read for a large block of time. Also the interface of the learning environment is just doesn’t inspire you to engage with it.
So to enrol in one course about learning and teaching that was presented in an non-interesting manner was very hard to deal with when compared to another course with such an interactive and interesting design.

The only plus that I can see from this class is that it has encouraged a little bit more web browsing and reading of technologies available. So it’s prompted me to a do a little more of my own learning, learning I don’t really get the opportunity to apply to my course of study, but things that I can then take and test out with my class.

So to cut a long story short, I think I will finish this unit (even if I don’t enjoy it and aren’t learning anything, I’d prefer to complete the unit than bomb out halfway), after that, I will ditch uni and will keep on doing what I was doing before and playing with the technology, engaging in it’s use, testing it out with my classes and getting immediate feedback, rather than philosophising about it’s potential.

I might even go back to doing some Udacity courses from time to time, in an area that interests me, that is presented in a way that encourages me to learn and engage with the material.


Study Stress!!!

So I’m really happy with all my amazing plans for the year and so far everything is going well. Only I am definitely having to be very effective with my time management. The workload and stress is slowly starting to build!

Work Plans

The Computer Science students so far seem to be responding well to the new, interactive course design.

I have made a bunch of YouTube tutorials (not finished yet) and have a number of subscribers, some are my students and some are complete strangers. It’s really exciting for me to have complete strangers ask for my help and value my response!

My students are responding really well to lesson blogging and often turn up to class having already completed the lessons activities!! That level of interest and enthusiasm is fantastic! Even if it does make it a little awkward to teach something they have already gone ahead and done for themselves! (Still have to teach it, because there’s also a large percent of students who don’t work ahead..surprise surprise).

OneNote proved a lot more challenging to get setup and syncing properly than anticipated, but almost the whole class has got it going now (I have learned a few lessons and in future years I will know what not to do!) I am yet to form an opinion on whether or not it is successful, as we have only just got the syncing sorted.

My workload in general has bumped up to 0.95 which financially, is awesome! I gained a new bus driving role this year.
With the study on the side, I am freaking out a bit about how much time there is in each day!

Study Plans

The course with Udacity, all online, is brilliantly designed. It’s very interesting content and the short videos supported by quizzes are very engaging. The fact that you immediately have to learn to apply the knowledge you have just gained is very effective in reinforcing your understanding of the concept. I wish I had the time and technology to do this with my own course..I don’t, so I will just make do.

I’m really loving the Udacity stuff, but even so there is such a huge volume of content, that I am very glad its only running for 5 more weeks!!

My course at UTas started a week ago, and while it doesn’t have the huge volume of work that Udacity does, it certainly does require time and brain power. I am hoping that I have finished my Udacity stuff before my big UTas assignments. The topics so far are really interesting, and I am currently working on the module about ‘synchronous and asynchronous discussion and community’. We’re starting to get some pretty interesting comments on the discussion forum.

Travel Plans

In the few breaks I have had from work and study I am finally sorting out all the details of my Europe Trip.

Flights to/from The Netherlands has been sorted for a while now, and I have been looking at how to split up my time over the four weeks.

The plans include:

    • An awesome wedding!!!
    • A four day family holiday with mum’s side of the family
    • A one day family event with dad’s side of the family
    • I have booked a 5 day Barcelona Trip (at this stage I’ll be going by myself..but who knows if someone decides to join me at the last minute?!) I will have 2 full days and two half days in which I want to explore Barcelona. I’d love to see a heap of the Gaudi architecture: Park Guell; Sagrada Familia; La Pedrera; and Casa Battlo, perhaps taking a cooking class, go see some flamenco dancing, maybe visit the Picasso museum etc etc. I also have booked a full day trip to visit the Salvador Dali museum in Figueres, and his beach house at Port Lligat.
      Salvador Dali is an artist…you have probably seen pictures of his melting clocks…
    • Mum and I are probably also going to spend a few days in Belgium checking out Brussels and Bruges..since its only a short train trip, I’m sure we can go exploring for a few days.
    • I haven’t told her yet but I would really love to take my sister-in-law to the theme park we used to frequent as kids: The Efteling. It’s not amazing for rides, but it is a bit of a traditional dutch children’s theme park, and I have so many childhood memories of visits there. I’d also like to show her around the area a bit, places we grew up, spent time.
    • I’d also like to spend some time in a few Dutch cities that I haven’t spent a great deal of time in. First on my list is Utrecht, maybe Leiden and Maastricht. That’s as far as I have gotten so far..

So all in all, the year is off to a good start, but I am certainly starting to feel the pressure from the amount of study I have taken on. Please keep your fingers crossed for me, that I can keep up with the workload!!


A busy year ahead

As far as I’m concerned it’s not really the start of the year yet. I’m still on holidays. However with each new day l’m starting to feel the relaxing summer days slip away, and the busy days are coming at me like a steam train. I’m already past the point where I am relaxed enough to sleep in.

This year is going to be a busy one! I have some great plans for the year…plans for study, work and travel. Since they are all things that I am actually pretty excited about, I’m going to tell you all about it.

Study Plans

Perhaps I’m a little crazy but I have enrolled in uni…again…because it would seem 5.5 years wasn’t enough!!
I have enrolled in a Graduate Certificate of Education, which is essentially the first half of a masters. (A masters is 8 units of study, but if you were to do 4 units and bail, you get nothing. So you can do a Grad Cert which is 4 units, you graduate and then whenever you choose to go onto a masters, you have already completed half of it)
Over my two years of part-time study, I intend to complete a specialisation in online/ICT pedagogies. So I’m really looking forward to learning more about how to use ICT more effectively in my classroom, and hopefully a whole lot more!!!

I have also enrolled in a 7 week course through Udacity in how to build/program a search engine. Its only 7 weeks and has been designed for people with no programming knowledge, so hopefully it won’t be too full on. Udacity is a new educational site designed to offer a variety of courses online, for free. As they are new they only seem to have 2 courses available so far, but I expect that to grow pretty quickly. This is an interesting read on Udacity and how it came to be: Udacity and the future of online universities

Work Plans

Having attended a few Professional Learning sessions last year, as well as messing around with each new technology I come across (usually introduced to me by other nerd friends), I have decided I want to change the way I teach my Computer Science class.
I say that I want to change my Computer Science class – the reason I am being so specific, is not to say my other classes don’t matter, but when you have great ideas that involve radical changes, then you have to start somewhere.
So by now you may be wondering what these changes are.. In essence, the idea is to get the students to be a bit more proactive and take responsibility for their learning through an increase in availability of teacher feedback and learning resources. (I think that kind of summaries every teachers goal).
I might break down the “new” Computer Science into the technologies that will be used:

Lesson Blogging I will blog every lesson, prior to the lesson. This means that students will be aware of what will be happening in the lesson and can bring appropriate resources. I will also upload any required notes or task sheet and embed any relevant YouTube clips. In addition to it being useful in the lesson itself, it’s also great for the student who can’t find his copy of that assignment sheet, or also for those who miss a lesson due to illness. I trialled lesson blogs for a portion of last year and the students, as well as their parents, thought it was fantastic
Student Blogging This is one I am unsure about at this stage. I would like to see the students blogging their experiences and reflecting on their learning. It would also be great to see them getting into the blogging interface and learning a little more about web programming from a different angle – especially since a huge number of software engineers develop applications using web interfaces.
However, when I trialled this last year, the kids didn’t respond brilliantly to it, so I may leave it for a year before attempting it again (especially since I am already introducing many other things)
Microsoft OneNote  Using Microsoft OneNote I have created a student notebook with all the worksheets that are expected to complete throughout the year. Each topic has a main tab with a summary of the topic and a checklist of all the activities for that topics (students can tick the boxes as they complete the tasks to keep track of their own work). Then within each tab there is a page per worksheet for that topic. Also at the front of the notebook there is general course info, and a table where student can record the activities they’ve complete and the grades they got – so if they keep it up to date, they will always have a good idea of their level achievement, and if they’re aiming for a specific result, then knowing their grades will indicate where they can do better or slack off (hopefully no one will slack off though!)Thats not the greatest part about OneNote…the greatest part is that they can set notebook to synchronise with a Windows SkyDrive (online storage) and then ‘share’ it with me. So anytime a student does work, I get the update immediately. It also means that if I am looking at their work, and they are struggling with a concept, I can provide assistance by adding in text, audio, video, links – whatever the student needs in order to grasp the concept. This can happen in real-time!! (ok maybe a minute or two delay..but almost instant feedback if we are looking at the document at the same time). This has amazing potential to personalise the level of assistance I can provide students!!
YouTube Tutorials To assist the students in being able to do things for themselves, thus freeing up my time to help others, I will also be making a series of video tutorials and uploading them to my YouTube channel. In programming there are a number of key concepts/structures that can combined in many different ways to produce weird and wonderful programs. I plan on making on video per concept. Each video will have an explanation, complete with one of my amazing drawings outlining the concept. I will then demonstrate how it would be coded in Eclipse (the software we use to write programs in). To finish each clip I will provide a coded example of where and how that concept might be used in an actual program. (I say “will” because I haven’t made these tutorials yet. I have a grand plan in my head and have already made a start on recording and uploading these tutorials, so they are ready to go at the start of the school year)
Laptops For OneNote to really work, I need the students to have a laptop that they can take home with them, that has OneNote on it. Slowly but surely we are working towards a one-to-one environment where every student has access to a computer, and ideally they all have a laptop to use for the year. Before something like this can happen in a big school, it’s a good idea to trial it first. So this year I am really lucky to getting the opportunity to trial it with my Computer Science class. As mentioned, this means that I can be sure OneNote will work properly, it also means I can be confident every student has the required software for programming installed (it astounds me how many students attempt to go a whole school year without installing the free software on their home computer, and then complain to me about not having access to the software from home). I also plan on getting all students set up with a set of Internet browser bookmarks, so I never have to hear “I didn’t know where to find it” (usually in reference to an assignment sheet or my blog). I admit I pushed a bit to get laptops in my classroom, but I also I admit I’m quite stressed about it. There is so much potential for it to have huge benefits to the students, I just really hope that the students do the right thing!!

(If you want to check out my blog and YouTube channel, feel free to have a sticky-beak: Obviously there are no current lesson plans up, as the school year has not yet begun)

Travel Plans
In true form, I am also trying to squish an awesome holiday into this busy year. June 8th I will be attending my cousins wedding in The Netherlands..which is really exciting!!
I am not going to fly over just for the wedding though, I’m going to take time out and hang out with the family as well as do some sight-seeing.

So I will take four weeks off (mid-May to mid-June … really I am taking 2 weeks off and also making the most of a 2 week term break), I will fly to The Netherlands together with my mum. There we will meet up with my brother and sister-in-law, who will be nearing the end of their 6 month round-the-world trip, and we will hang out with the Dutch rellies.

Because four weeks is way too long to be in one place, Mum is going to England for a few days and Pat, Anna and I will hopefully go to Barcelona for a week to soak up some spanish culture.

I’m really looking forward to showing Pat and Anna around Holland a little bit, so they can see where I used to live and work, and also show them around some of my favourite places. I’m looking forward to a holiday away with the Boertjes (family). I’m really hoping the Barcelona plans go ahead, as I am really keen to check out the Gaudi architecture, try some spanish food, maybe take a cooking class, check out some dancing and basically enjoy the city. Then to finish the holiday I am really excited about seeing ‘little’ cousin marry the man of her dreams!!!


An evening at the ballet


I’m a bit of a dance nut, as many of my friends know. It’s been quite some time since I have taken a dance class, but nevertheless I LOVE dance: watching as well as doing.

So at the moment in Hobart the Mona Foma festival is on, which means that for roughly a week there are different music and art events being held every day around the city. This year there is a dance performance on as part of this festival. It is called Aviary and is performed by a Melbourne dance company: BalletLab.
(BalletLab performed a trio of dance pieces at MOFO last year – the performances were free, however they didn’t advertise the fact that you had to collect a free ticket in advance to be able to attend the performance. I spent several hours waiting around for the performance only to be denied entry, and was furious!!)

This year I was on the ball, got the info early and booked tickets for Aviary.

As the name implies, the performance is about birds. “Aviary is a fantasia of contemporary movement and exotic birdlife, set against the avian-inspired 20th century idiom of French composer Oliver Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux (1958). Between the twitchy agitation of British New Wave, recordings of birdsong and the paradise of the New Guinea jungle, this is a dance performance of uncommon adornment and flamboyance.

After having watched a video clip or two about the performance, I am very intrigued as to what it will be like. I don’t expect it to be a traditional ballet in any way, and am pretty sure its going to be very ‘out there’. I’m looking forward to it…

Aviary from Phillip Adams BalletLab on Vimeo.


First of all quoting from the program:
“Aviary is a romantic, exotic and visual art-based contemporary dance performance that pays homage to the spectacle fo the bird. It is a suite of experimental articulations based on French composer Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, written in the 1950’s. These musical scores for the bird are interpreted through classical, modern and contemporary idioms, staged in a flamboyant rethink of paradise.
The suite arrangement implies a non-linking narrative structure. The scores are translated into different social, cultural and chronological locations: a contemporary experimental dance improvisation, a 1980s erotic disco floor, and a jungle in New Guinea.”

The first piece, Les oiseaux en cage, was set using black and white. The stage was lit with a very bright white, onto a white stage, with a white backdrop with a crisp black image on it. The dancers wore dress type outfits of black feathers and their movement utilised classical ballet to portray birdlike gestures. It was choreographed to look chaotic yet structured. The musical score was simple and supported by the dancers squawking like birds.
I quite enjoyed the first piece.

The second piece, Le coq dandy, set in “a 1980s erotic disco” used some phone booth type props and was lit with a grid of ever changing colours and pictures on the floor. The main dancers were dressed in soldier uniforms with birdlike headpieces on. There was a central character in the piece, who wore a suit with a jacket of white feathers to represent a broad white wingspan. The central character came across as a sleaze in a nightclub, trying to seduce and pickup people. The music was way too loud and pounded the ears and the movement style was modern, upright and quite angular at times.
This piece seemed very disjointed from the first and it was hard to grasp what it was about. I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

The third piece, Paradis, was much easier to understand. Its setting in a “jungle in New Guinea” was quite clear through the branches and leaves on the floor of the stage. The dancers came onto the stage by each doing a short solo, to the sound of the piano being played. The sounds produced by the piano linked into to the characteristics being displayed by each of the birds, typically higher pitched short sharp sounds were used for females, and longer, deeper, louder sounds for males. This one-by-one introduction to each of the birds was done well, with each bird giving a little ‘display’ as they may to another bird in the wild. The dancers were dressed in varying tones of brown, with headdress’ of long brown feathers. The movement type of this piece would be considered more contemporary and did not seem to have any of the structure of classical movement. Throughout the piece the birds formed different parings and went about different aspects of their mating rituals, I assume. They would scratch around and rifle through the sticks and leaves, gather what they wanted and carry them off to another spot to ‘nest’, and also take moments to ‘present’ themselves to another bird, or have a roll in the leaves with their mate. While this piece started off really interesting, it was quite long and as the music and movement built up and up, it then plateau’d and stayed where it was for quite some time before the piece simply ended.

All in all, I quite enjoyed the performance, though I did find it rather disconnected and confusing, however I think that was part of the choreographic intent.


New Years Escapades

I’m not a big fan of New Years, so rather than having people tell me to go out and drink and be merry, my friend Mark and I took off for a few days.

December 30 2011
We packed up the car with a tent and a bunch of food and headed off. We headed up the midlands highway, turned off at Melton Mowbray and drove over the central highlands, past the Great Lake and eventually got to Deloraine where we stopped at Red Cafe for a delicious lunch: Salt and Pepper Calamari Salad and Pumpkin & Prosciutto Pizza, and of course accompanied with a lovely glass of wine. Yummo!!

With our bellies full, we hit the road again and headed off to Mole Creek. We stopped here to do a tour of the Marakoopa Cave. I tried to do this tour with my cousin and her partner in January 2011, but it was flooded at the time. Marakoopa had some lovely rock formations, an underground river and much to my delight…glow worms!!!! The most stunning thing in the cave (glow worms aside) was ‘The Cathedral’.

After our tour we hopped back in the car and drove the last few hours to Cradle Mountain,. We checked in, found our allocated camping spot and set up the super amazing tent! After packing up we got out all our cooking gear and whipped up a delicious dinner of gnocchi with homemade rocket pesto.

December 31 2011
We had an early start to the day, meeting up with our Canyoning guides Leon and Nick at 0830. We thought it would be a great idea to end the year with a Canyoning expedition. We did the day trip to Dove Canyon with Cradle Mountain Canyons. The trip was roughly 8 hours.

We walked in to the Dove Canyon area and got kitted out in super thick warm wetsuits, wetsuit booties, wetsuit gloves etc in preparation for the chilly Tasmanian water. We started with a short abseil ending in a splash into the river below. From there we walked, swam and crab-walked our way down the canyon. We did some waterfall jumps (the biggest of which was 6 metres), slid off logs and waterfalls, and zoofed down some natural water slides.

All the different jumps started off a little scary, but as we got more into it we started getting more adventures with our jumps. Rather than stock standard straight-ish legs drops into the water we started doing some bombs and crazy was so much fun! (at one stage I did a 3-4 metres bomb off a was great!!

Our guides were fantastic, both informative and fun! The group of people who were on the tour were also a fantastic crowd, all offering encouragement for those with a fear of heights. Canyoning was a rush!! Absolutely awesome and well worth it!!!

By the time we got back to the bus, I was completely knackered. So we enjoyed an ice cream to cool off in the hot weather (the river was freezing cold, but by the time we were out of the water and had dried off, it was a scorcher of a day) before heading to the tent for a wee little nap.

Our new years was exactly how I like it: good company, good dinner (vegie stir fry), a cuppa and an early night!!

January 1 2012
We started the day with a little sleep in, before getting up packing our daypacks and heading out to Dove Lake. Today was a day for a challenging bushwalk.

We started at Dove Lake, headed around Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, up to Marions Lookout, across the plateau to Kitchen Hut, scrambled our way up to the very peak of Cradle Mountain, then headed along the Face Track before cutting down towards Lake Wilks and then finishing off a stretch of the Dove Lake Circuit. On a beautifully sunny (in other words, way too hot to be walking) day, with only a few short 10 minute breaks this walk took us 7.5hours and by the end of it I was EXHAUSTED!!!!

So in a bit more detail… it was quite a nice wander from our starting point to Wombat Pool, a lovely morning, clear blue skies and a nice light breeze. Along the path we came across a teeny tiny brown frog, but apart from the birds, not much wildlife. Wombat Pool had no wombats, and didn’t look like it was the shape of a wombat either…but still it was lovely and in the distance you could just see the tip of Cradle Mountain. Shortly after Wombat Pool the incline to Marions Lookout started..and I tell you what, it’s a hard slog!! It’s quite steep and on a hot day, very hard work. The view from the top was pretty speccy though! Our reward for getting this far, was to sit down for a few minutes and eat an apple.

From Marions Lookout to just past Kitchen Hut the walk was fairly flat. We had a great view of Cradle Mountain the whole way. Just past Kitchen Hut was where the hard work started. The rock scramble/climb to the peak. Basically we had to climb up and over huge piles of boulders. At the peak there was a teeny little valley to descend into before climbing again to the higher peak. At the higher peak I had a huge dummy spit and went back down to the lower peak almost immediately…my conquering of the mountain was destroyed by a plague of bugs that kept buzzing around me and landing on was what nightmares are made of!!!!!

The reward we had saved ourselves for the higher peak, was put off to a bug free point, after descending to the lower peak we gave ourselves time to sit down, soak up the view and eat some lunch.

The decent was almost as hard as the climb up, and by the base of the summit we had certainly earned ourselves a melted freddo frog!! Not spending too much time on our butts, we headed down along the face track, it was crazy how overgrown this track was!! Part way along the Face Track we took another track that cut down to Lake Wilks, and then further down to the Dove Lake Circuit. The last section of the Dove Lake Circuit that we walked was all nice and even timber pathways…a great break from all the hard work my legs had been doing.

At the conclusion of our walk we sat on some rocks and put out feet in the ice cold lake. My feet were hot and sore, so it was a great moment of relief!

I’m very proud of myself for having completed such a massive walk, the biggest and hardest walk I have ever done. It was hard work but well worth it. Now that I have conquered Cradle Mountain, I have no intention to do it again! My muscles are still aching!!!!

By the time we got back to our campsite it was time for food and drink, so accompanied by a nice glass of wine, we cooked up a big pot of pasta!!!

January 2 2012

We started our morning with coffee, some breakfast and made a start to packing up our super awesome tent. By 0930 we were on the road home. We made one stop along the way, to go and check out Liffey Falls. Luckily it was a short 40 minute round trip walk (my poor legs could not have done much more than that!!). There were people EVERYWHERE, which was a bit of a downer, but on the whole the falls were lovely. It was definitely worth stopping and even though it hurt a little, I’m sure that it helped my sore muscles to get a little bit of a stretch.

The remainder of the drive home was fairly uneventful, I drove and sang along (badly) to last years “JJJ Hottest 100” and Mark got the chance to catch up on some sleep (Probably a good thing he was dozing and not listening to my singing!!).

The changing of the year was heaps of fun and full of challenges!! Happy New Year!!!


Christmas fun with the new, extended family

In 2010 my brother got married to an amazingly awesome gal, called Anna. This year was the first year we have had extended family Christmas (our family + Anna’s family).

On Christmas eve the Stam clan: Mum, me, Pat & Anna met up with the De Vries clan: Martin, Mumfie and Joel at the new-ish Stam shack, Utopia, at Coles Bay. (Mum and I arrived a little earlier than the others, so we went exploring and checked out Sleepy Bay before the others arrived)

We started our Utopian adventure by putting the boat in the water at Swanwick and cruising down into Pelican Bay, checking out the local sights. A bit after lunch time we headed indoors where Anna constructed the gingerbread scale model of utopia she had backed. Once the foundations were sturdy we all got stuck into decorating it.
We ended the day with a big dinner: a huge spread of Indonesian dishes with rice. It was delicious, thanks Mum!!

Christmas morning we all slowly got up, had coffee, ate the muffins that Anna made for brekky. And then got stuck into opening our christmas bons bons and unwrapping presents. We all got lovely gifts from each other – all presents were very thoughtfully made or selected.
THEN it was time for evil Christmas!!!

Evil Christmas: You each pull a number out of hat. Number 1 chooses a present off the pile, and unwraps it. Person number 2 can then steal number 1’s present if they really like it OR they take a new present off the stack. It continues until everyone has a present. (The last person obviously has a lot of responsibility – they can either steal from someone else to keep the game going or pick the last new present to end the game)

The first present was opened by Anna, and she got a Nerf Gun. Unfortunately for Anna, Joel also liked the Nerf gun and he stole it from her. Then Joel lost out when Pat stole it from him, Pat lost it to Martin, Martin lost it to me and finally Joel stole it back. (the other presents were also amazingly and everyone ended up with something awesome!! But the story of the Nerf gun was by far the most entertaining!!)

After all the presents we launched into our Christmas lunch: Prawns, Oysters, Salmon, Ham, Cherries and Cheeses. Accompanied of course by a lovely bottle of champagne!!

Joel put his Nerf Gun to good use by shooting the motion sensor Santa, and sneaking up on people and unloading a clip of Nerf darts at them. (Its ok though, others got him back when he wasn’t paying close attention to the whereabouts of his gun). Anna built her lego lighthouse. I attempted to make a haiku with Anna’s haikubes. We generally spent the afternoon fluffing around and enjoying each others company.

Boxing day was a bit of a dud in terms of the weather. The bonus of this is that our water tanks are full!! We used this time to eat, build furniture for the shack and snooze. We did spend some time fishing in the morning and again in the afternoon. The morning session saw three fish hauled in. Two were undersized, but Martin caught an australian (cocky) salmon that was sized, so we brought it home. The evening session didn’t produce a single nibble, but it was so perfectly still out on the water, that we had a splendid evening anyway.

The 27th was an absolute cracker of a day!! We had 24degree weather with clear blue skies. So a few of us headed out on the boat. We went out the barway at Swanwick, went past Coles Bay and headed around the Hazards. Just at the start of The Hazards we came across a pod of dolphins. They were fishing, so unfortunately they weren’t overly interested in visiting us. But we followed them along the coast for a while. Such stunning creatures!!!

After a while we thought we should leave the dolphins in peace, so we zoofed around to Hazards Beach where we found a great spot to drop anchor and go for a swim. The water was perfectly clear, a stunning blue and … freezing cold!!!!!!

I dived-bombed into the water and the air was sucked out of me by the cold water! After a little while though it wasn’t too bad and I swam around and enjoyed the amazing scene around me. Once I started to go numb, I climbed back onto the boat and wrapped myself up in a towel to warm up.

After our swim Captain Joel took us back to the shack for some lunch before an afternoon adventure. At this point int time my camera had dried up, so I thought I’d whack it on the charge so I could take plenty of pics in the arvo. Unfortunately, water got into the camera somehow and at this point in time my camera died 🙁

So I drowned my sorrows by eating a few pieces of pavlova. Then put on my walking shoes and headed out with the crew to walk up to the Wineglass Bay lookout. As we went walking around 3pm, we didn’t suffer too much with the heat and the walk was really pleasant. We stopped and checked out the views along the way, as well as some of the furniture. Once at the top we were all impressed with the view (and for those of us who had been a few times, we spent some time admiring the newly designed and built lookout – so much better than the old one!!)

After absorbing the scenery for some time we started the wander back to the car park. One the drive home we stopped and checked out the Cape Tourville lighthouse.

All in all, it was a fantastic Christmas adventure with fun, and a great opportunity to get to know the new, extended family a bit better. I had a blast!!!


Christmas is a time for family

Christmas is a time of year when we often think more about our family and what they mean to us.

I’m obviously biased, but I think I have the worlds best and most amazing family.

I was raised in a very loving and supportive home environment, I am the baby of the family, which of course makes me the center of attention a lot of the time, and I certainly loved the attention my family gave me.

Every big decision I have made in my life has been supported by my family. A pretty amazing example was when I finished school at age 18 I said I wanted to move to The Netherlands, so my parents bought me a (return) ticket, and two weeks later waved goodbye to me at the airport.

As a family we spent a great deal of time together, travelling around the world, camping, going boating, working on building projects together and chilling out at home.

We have always been very close, and have continued to be a tight-knit unit, even when the world seemed to be against us. In July 2008 my Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Unfortunately for us, it was diagnosed way too late. A week before Dad lost his hair, in April 2009, we had our last family photo. At 12:15pm on July 29th, 2009 I lost my favourite person in the whole wide world.

While nothing can prepare you for such a loss I think I am very lucky to have such a supportive family and amazing group of friends. I am also amazingly lucky and thankful to have had the worlds best dad. To have been close to him, to be able to share my thoughts, feelings and dreams with him. To have known that even when I did stupid stuff, I still made my dad proud to have me as a daughter.

So this year I want you all to be thankful for your family, spend a bit more time with them and appreciate what they mean to you. But also consider donating to cancer research, to help others keep their dads (mums, brothers and sisters) a bit longer.

I’m not sure which organisation is the best and most effective at passing donations onto cancer research, but some organisations that are all fighting for the same thing are: the Fight Cancer Foundation and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation


The Kindle Saga

So we all know I have been obsessing over Kindles for the last little while, and I decided that I totally wanted the Kindle Touch…

I heard/watched/read some reviews and it wasn’t all amazing, and at the end of the day I was thinking: What am I going to do with this kindle? and the answer is: read.
So why exactly should I spend more money on a touch interface (and have to order it via a third party, also costing me more money, since they aren’t available in the US,) when all I am really going to do is select a book and turn pages.

My impatience finally caught up with me and I went ahead and ordered the base model.

Now I am waiting for it to arrive… (it may even arrive while I am at work today!!!)