Hong Kong 🇭🇰

After a flight and fitful sleep we arrived in Hong Kong. After getting our luggage we sourced a taxi to get us to Kowloon where our hotel was.

Our rooms would not be ready until 2pm so we just had 4 hours to kill. There was a shuttle bus and we had a map, so off we went into Kowloon centre to familiarise ourselves.

After coffee and a delightful cake, we read the map to decide what we wanted to do on Monday. Colin asked a few people for assistance and Kevin looked for the trusty tourist information booth!

We knew we would have to get the star ferry over to HKI that evening so wandered along to the terminal. We decided that a Big Bus tour would provide us with a whistle stop tour of everything, with the opportunity to get off, if we saw something we particularly liked.

Tickets purchased we walked back to the hotel ( over 2 miles!).

Colin was particularly amused at the bamboo scaffolding!

Back at the hotel Kevin kindly run a bath for me to ease my feet and weary legs.

All freshened up we got the shuttle bus to the ferry, and off we went to meet Richard, the son of family friends that lives here.

We met Richard and exchanged hellos, kisses and handshakes. At the central terminal we caught a cab up to the Peak. I’m not great with heights, and a twisty, turny journey up was a bit white knuckle for me. Once we arrived we saw the funicular railway and took in some views.

We braved the escalators up to the observation deck. Another few ‘legs turn to jelly’ moments, but the views as the sun set were spectacular!

I borrowed a pen to write a wish on a paper heart and the woman I borrowed the pen from was just so excited as she had just heard her daughter had got engaged. It was so lovely and I appreciated fully just how she felt. We exchanged a few photos of our beautiful daughters and their fiancés. I then tied my wish to one of the lines 💕💕

We went down the escalators and came out and went to the Peak Lookout for something to eat. Great selection of Chinese, Thai, Italian and a Grill option so we all could enjoy something.

I opted to have a Singapore Sling to drink-delicious! 🍸

We hoped to take the funicular railway back down, but the waiting time was 2/3 hours so we opted for a taxi back, which is a lot less scary in the dark!

We said our goodbyes to Richard, thanking him for his time and company. Such a delightful young man, obviously very happy living here, and we will see him again next time he is over in the UK.

Ferry back to pick up the shuttle bus and we enjoyed the cityscape all lit up.

I still can’t quite get my head round that Christmas is 4 weeks away!

On the return to our room a final shot of HKI before bed.

I check Facebook and see this wonderful photo of Joseph and Freddie, and to see that smile of Joe’s makes me so happy!

A couple of stoaters!

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Ashes to Ashes, Gabba to Hong Kong…..

To see a day of Ashes test cricket, in Australia, was one of the reasons for the timing and destinations of this holiday.

We both love cricket, Kevin a very competent bat back in the day! Colin and him met at school, with Colin a demon fast bowler (well he is Jamaican)

So tickets were purchased and today was the day!

We had to pack, check out of our apartment, leave our bags to pick up later then a short walk to the RBWH bus station to catch the 340 to Woolloongabba.

We arrived in plenty of time and found our seats, which were excellent (Thank you to Andrew for picking these!)

The weather forecast over the last fortnight has ranged from rain, cloudy,partly sunny to thunderstorms! So this could’ve been interesting.

Play started promptly and there were the strains of Jerusalem resounding through the ground. Magical!

To witness one of the greatest contests in sport is spine tingling for me. We soaked up the sun, and let the story unfold. We saw Steve Smith, the Aussie captain, complete a patient 100, Pat Cummins get a credible 40+, wickets fell, albeit slowly and then Australia were all out.

Now for England to start there 2nd innings…

Cook and Stoneman came to the crease with hopes high. The atmosphere became very tense, with not only the field pressure, but the 30,000 Aussie fans, clapping and shouting for an England batsman to be out.

Alistair Cook went cheaply again, I would say that he hadn’t taken on board Steve Smith’s patient stance, but certainly early calls for him to be dropped are hasty.

Vince came to the crease and all too soon he was gone, replaced by Root, the captain, we hoped no more wickets would fall.

We left just before close of play, to ensure we picked up our bags before 7pm.

It was such an occasion, Kevin wearing the Australia vest Andrew and Lis bought him last year, much to Debbie’s mortification!

The crowd was noisy, and the drinking that can change how people behave, excessive. The profanities that we’re heard made me uncomfortable, the comments about ‘pommies’, unnecessary but I understand that this is all part of it.

Beer snakes aplenty with staff battling hard with limited staffing.

These latter mentioned observations take nothing away from a memorable, awesome day. Kevin and I even made it onto the big screen and Bruce managed to get a picture!!

A quick freshen up and we were at Brisbane Airport for our flight to Hong Kong, the last leg of our holiday. Check in and bag drop I found frustrating, farcical and time consuming. But I was tired, hungry and thirsty by that point. It had been a long, fantastic, memorable, awesome and did I say awesome, day!

Shopping, and Rugby League

Today we went into the city to have on last amble round, Colin went off gift shopping, whilst Kevin and I browsed.

Kevin, unusually bought something, a tie, whilst I bought gifts for my friend’s, Debbie, new grandsons, born the day previously.

It is so strange to see the Christmas decorations around whilst walking in this heat.

I did visit a nail salon as I have ‘lost’ 3 nails!

We all met for lunch and went to Jimmy’s on the Mall, which coincidentally was where we saw Jonny Bairstow the other evening. We enjoyed a lovely late lunch/early dinner whilst watching the cricket!

Opposite the restaurant there was a bridal shop, and also another shop name that reminded me of recent events!

Once back at the apartment we got ready for the evening’s sojourn at the Suncorp Stadium.

We had high hopes for a real contest, but Australia were just too good. Fiji had chances, but could rarely punch a hole in the defence, and were obviously tired out from all the defending they had to do.

Great that their supporters were so vociferous!

A slow walk back to Roma Street and then home. An usually ‘late’ night for us!

Gold Coast

Today the Magellan Ashes were to start, but our tickets are for Saturday, so what to do?

We have decided on a trip to the Gold Coast. A mere 1 1/2 hours on the train to Varsity Lakes, then 1/2 an hour on a bus to Burleigh Heads.

Is this a syrup?

We arrived just about 11:30 and went for an amble.

We found a drinking establishment and watched a little bit of cricket, but timed it badly as we only saw 3 overs then it was lunch! We watched Michael Slater and KP and his not so erudite comments!

We were enjoying full sunshine, but it was raining back in Brisbane, so as play was delayed we walked further along the coast.

My feet are so sore, blisters on my toes, and pain on my shin, so we walked by the sea. I hope salty water will help!

Walking in the other direction, after another coffee, cake and cricket stop, we found the park with an easy coastal path walk. So beautiful!

It was all I could do to limp back to the bus stop! I watched the sun set as we journeyed home on the train 🚂.

We didn’t much feel like eating, but purchased a cooked half chicken and some mushrooms 🍄, which we had on toast. Delightful!

England score 196-4 for day 1, so here’s hoping that with the early start to make up for time lost today, they will increase that score and we see Australia bat on Saturday!

A trip to lone pine

Today we took the bus 🚌 to travel to fig pocket lane to visit the lone pine koala sanctuary.

They have a variety of koala areas where you can find them sleeping or doing their day jobs of being photographed with humans. They can only work 30 minutes a day and this is broken into 10 minute sections.

We also had the opportunity to see birds, reptiles, bats, Roos and even a glimpse of a platypus.

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There were rangers on hand and interesting talks and facts that were shared, the need to plant eucalyptus trees to help with the koala population. There is also a huge chlamydia problem that leads to blindness and infertility. They are working with universities to find a vaccine to help this problem. Very sad to see the pictures of the impact of this.

We made the return journey home and got ready to head back into town, where we met up with Bruce, an ex business manager that I have known for over 10 years. He is fulfilling a life long dream of seeing every Ashes game this series and is also documenting this with a blog of his own ‘cricket 51 days’. A real raconteur, this will provide an amusing angle to both cricket and his travels!

We enjoyed food and drink at Doo-Bop jazz bar with cricketing, travelling and family anecdotes shared!

Thoroughly enjoyable and tomorrow the cricket commences!

Come on England! 🏏🏏🏏🏏

Phoenix feathers and ashes

This morning we enjoyed a simple breakfast of toast, availed ourselves of the shower and arranged to meet Colin.

We travelled by train to the CBD and walked to one of the Quays to pick up the free river hopper.

We got off at eagle street and stopped for refreshments and an all too indulgent cake for me!

We made our way to the Queen street mall, and I saw a Pandora shop. I popped in and found a charm. It’s Phoenix feathers, which as a Phoenix rises from the Ashes, I just had to have it, as we are to attend a day at the first Ashes series on Saturday. As Nina would say, ‘ it’s a sign’

We walked across the river, in the pouring rain and made our way to the Southbank parklands.

Next stop, a real favourite of Kevin’s was the tourist information!

We are now armed with train timetables, bus info and plan to visit the Gold Coast later this week.

We came across the epicurious garden, where plants, fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown and shared.

Another coffee break required and a chance to reflect, reminisce on our journey as parents. So touching to hear Kevin and Colin speak about their children, and their hopes and dreams for them. The challenges faced and how the bigger they grow, the less you can do to help, except to be there.

We looked at the map to decide where to eat and strolled around a gift shop or two.

We settled for the Beer garden and chose burgers.

This was the best burger I have ever had!

We walked across the goodwill bridge to make our way back to central station.

Just as we are walking up the Mall again, Kevin and I both see who we believe to be an England Cricketer, and we are not wrong. I cheekily ask for a photo, which Jonny Bairstow, England wicket keeper and prolific batsman, agrees to.

He was absolutely charming and we wished him well for the series. Here’s hoping my good luck charm will run off on him and he is successful!

We arrived back at our apartment having walked almost 20,000 steps, but after our chance meeting, the hugest smiles on our faces! 😁😁🏏🏏🏏

Brisbane and sport

Next up was our journey to Brisbane. We had breakfast at the apartment, had a drive round the 🌴 one last time, soaked up the views, the memories and said our goodbyes. We had emergency exit seats on the plane, so more leg room!

The flight with Virgin Australia was short and sweet and we picked up our luggage and made our way to the taxi pick up. We said our goodbyes to Nina and Jay, and I can’t lie, wiped away a tear or two. They had an eight hour wait for their flight to HK.

A short taxi ride and we were at the Annexe Apartments our home for the next 5 days. It has all we need, but not a patch on where we came from, but we are here for a different experience.

We noticed that the Rugby League World Cup semis were on Friday and Saturday-we are occupied at the Gabba on Saturday, so we opted to buy tickets for Friday. The Suncorp stadium is only a couple of miles from where we are staying. So that is two sporting clashes to attend 🤗

We wondered around in the twilight to find the supermarket but no joy, so ended up at the BP garage fie a couple of ready meals 😞but came across these

😂 has to send this to Andrew and Jay!

Hopefully we can do better today!

Last full day on HI

Our last full day before Four become just two ( three actually as we meet up with Colin).

We go into town to buy breakfast essentials and enjoy the views.

Kevin and I have a drive around and then walk the other side of the marina and also Bommie Deck, where we hope to go for drinks tonight.

One last drive up to one tree hill, then down the scary bit!

Over lunch there are a few tears and reflection on our time here, the memories made and for me the realisation that we are embarking on a new stage of our lives. Kevin is fantastic in how pragmatic he is, not to fight against these changes, but to embrace and enjoy!

Nina and Jay hired a boat for the afternoon and returned after 4pm to regale us with stories of doughnuts and beaching! They certainly had fun!

We all dressed up for our final night and headed to Bommie Deck, and we saw a wedding party there: what a wonderful venue.

To think that below the Deck last week, Jay proposed and Nina accepted, it seems a lot longer. Whilst sipping cocktails 🍸 there was wedding talk. No doubt there will be much more over the coming months.

We returned to Romanos for our last meal with more reflections and returned for our final night in the apartment.

This certainly has been a holiday to remember, with so many stand out memories and HI is a fabulous place and I hope we can all return, and I mean all!

Six become four

Today Andrew and Lis were to leave us to go home, but before that, Andrew and I completed the HI parkrun.

We were cheered around the 2 lap route by the rest of the family. It was my first as a ‘tourist’ and what a place to do it.

We went for breakfast after our efforts and I probably undid all my good work!

My time came through and it was sub 50, which as I walked the whole route and with the heat, I was very happy with, and to see Andrew’s name there too was fantastic!

All too soon was the time I least like -saying goodbye. My intention to be brave and not cry never quite happens. I thought as we see them again relatively soon it would be ok, but no. In my head I can rationalise to be happy with having seen them, not dwell on not, but my heart seems to have a life of its own! ❤️

Returning to the apartment it was a bit quieter, and the remaining four made plans for the remaining few days.

Trip to the beach, walk around and watch some RLWC2017 was itinerary for the remainder of today.

Nina and Jay went back to one tree hill to watch the sunset, whilst Kevin and I ordered dinner.

I managed a few sunset shots whilst waiting.

Andrew and Lis returned home safely and were met by Bella their cat with meows of delight!

Sunrise to Sunset

An early start to catch the sunrise, another stunner.

We made our way to the beach 🏖 to kayak! Me , Kevin and Georgina went in one, and with a little help we were off. Have to say not terribly comfortable so we went back to the shoreline to move seats. This proved hilarious as Kevin ended a over t and in the water!

We tried again more successfully, but this time when we returned to shore it was my turn to end up in the water, as I fell over when a wave crashed in!

We shopped for dinner and lunch and the girls went for a massage, and the boys to play pool

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Refreshed, we all relaxed on the verandah, we showered and got ready to go to one tree hill for the sunset 🌅

It was quite emotional and with live music being played, it was a great experience.

We returned home for a BBQ and a toast for our week together!

Andrew and Lis go home today, but not before a Park 🏃. It has been wonderful to be together and I just hang out, as well as do stuff! There will be tears no doubt, but they will be over in April , so not too long🤗💕