Monday, 16 January 2017

Travels around Tassie—Derby to Tullah

On new year's eve we reluctantly left the trails of Blue Derby to continue on our journey. Our destination: George Town, located north from Launceston on the bank of the Tamar River. It was a picturesque setting to see in 2017, and unexpectedly had a great firework display! 

The last sunset for 2016
We spent two nights in George Town and used it as our base to explore Pipers Brook, where many of the best Tasmanian vineyards are. My favourite was Janz... we learnt heaps about the traditional method of making sparkling wine and came away with a pretty special bottle (we have a couple of special birthdays this year, including my own next week!).

We were really keen to do some mountain biking at Hollybank Reserve near Lilydale, however the sign pointing to whiskey tasting at the Leaning Church Vineyard (also in Lilydale) distracted us... this enticing option seemed like far less effort given our legs were a bit weary from Derby!

View at Leaning Church Vineyard, Lilydale
From George Town we set the GPS to Tullah (to the west of Cradle Mountain), via Launceston. We stopped at Cataract Gorge, where it seems the peacocks know how to put on a show to distract tourists from the gorge itself.

We finally pulled away from their beautiful display of feathers to find the best spot to get a photo of the gorge... and then I fell. All the bike riding and I'd been fine, yet walking around (mind you, in heels) and I manage to draw blood. Can't take me anywhere! So back to the car, and off the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm (near Deloraine)... I needed cheering up ;) After lunch, ice-cream and the purchase of an obligatory purchase of some fresh raspberries, we continued on our journey. We were determined to get to Montezuma Falls—Tasmania's highest waterfall and not far from Tullah, where we were staying overnight.

The lake behind our accommodation at Tullah
From Tullah, it's about a half-hour drive to the Montezuma Falls car-park and then a three-hour return walk to the falls themselves... but as they allow bikes, we jumped on ours and managed it in a lot less. We did get pretty muddy doing it this way though! The walk (or ride) is quite flat and gentle, following an old tramway through rainforest—or 'wet sclerophyll forest' as Al was trying to teach me, then proceeding to laugh at my pronunciation!

Arriving at the falls, we left the bikes to one side to take in the view from the suspension bridge. Then, walking up to a platform closer to the falls, the view of this natural wonder was just magical. I have to say, Tasmania has some wonderful, albeit often hidden, treasures.

Until next time x

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Travels around Tassie—Hobart to Derby

A couple of days after Christmas, some friends of our from Canberra joined Al and I in Hobart. The weather was miserable but with Sydney-to-Hobart yachts already arriving and the Taste of Tasmania having just started, there was still plenty of buzz in the city. The next day, after a pancake breakfast with mum, we said goodbye to the kids (who stayed with grandparents for the school holidays) and started our drive towards a small town called Derby, in the north-east of Tasmania.

Pancakes with the kids and Mum before leaving Hobart
The quickest way to Derby from Hobart is via the Midlands Highway up the centre of Tassie, however as it was our friends' (Esther and Tony) first trip to Tasmania, we decided it would be more interesting to go up the coastline... first stop: Devil's Corner winery to stretch the legs, taste some wine-tasting, and grab some lunch. This winery, apart from great wines, has a great view and is well set up for a light lunch. A great place to stretch the legs!

From there we soon turned off the road north to take a detour to Freycinet with the hope of seeing Wineglass Bay. Unfortunately the weather still wasn't clearing up meaning the view was somewhat hindered by fog and mist! However we enjoyed the walk to the lookout, and Freycinet itself certainly shows off Tasmania well.

We still had a couple of hours to travel to get to our overnight destination, so after a few happy snaps we clambered back in the cars to continue on our journey. We made a quick fuel and groceries stop in St Helens before then turning to go inland a bit towards Derby. This small-town with a population of just over 200 people was once a mining town with a population of 3,000... and is now home to Blue Derby, some of the best mountain biking trails in the world. In fact, it will host an international mountain bike event later this year! Needless to say, a visit to Derby has been on our wish-list since building of the trails commenced in 2015.

Our bikes in the store room at our accommodation in Derby
Blue Derby certainly didn't disappoint! We got up nice and early the next day to start exploring. Due to the expansive network and distances between trails, we organised shuttles (we used Vertigo MTB) that would take us to the start of each trail. There were a few sections requiring a climb—which worked in our favour as it slowed us down to be able to take in the incredible wilderness around us. It wasn't long before Al and I had reached capacity on our phone cameras! With all the trails it didn't take long before we were on the descent—and between the quality of the trails and the surrounding environment, it had to be the best gravity riding I've experienced.

The trails were so well-built and absolutely amazing... enough technical sections to keep things interesting, a few particularly technical sections to keep it challenging, and enough smooth, flowing sections to keep things incredibly fun! There were sections we chose to walk through, and other challenges that I couldn't believe I was able to do.

I think I had a ridiculous grin on my face for the entire time we were at Derby... which was only a day and a half, and no where near enough time to do the place justice. I think three days would have been perfect, however our schedule was too tight on this occasion... but we'll definitely be visiting Blue Derby again!

Until next time x

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year!

And yet again we find ourselves here... the first day of a new year. I posted at the beginning of 2016 that I hoped the year would see a transition into new routines and then finding some stability... and in reflection of the year that has passed, that was exactly what the year was focussed around. Alex moved from childcare/pre-school to 'big school' and soon settled in—it's been amazing watching his learning journey. Mid-year Al and I took the next step to bringing together our blended family, with Alex, Sofia and I moving in with him and his boys. It took a month or so, but we finally found our groove—everyone has their own space to retreat to when need be and we've found a sense of stability in our home life.

Father's Day 2016
In 2016 Al and I were fortunate enough to have ample opportunity to travel—overseas to Spain, interstate to Townsville and Tasmania, and more locally to the Hunter Valley and to Thredbo. I took Alex and Sofia to see Disney on Ice in Sydney, and we've taken them on day trips to the beach. We've celebrated with friends at five weddings, done heaps of mountain biking, and I've even found time to do a bit of stitching. What a year!!

Road trip with my munchkins to see Disney on Ice! (July 2016)
Having now established those routines and stability I was craving after so much upheaval in previous years, I'm now ready to focus on what comes next. So I've decided my motto for 2017 is 'onwards and upwards'... Time to discover what my next role at work will be and start pushing to the next level, time to get the kids into new activities now that they're getting a bit older, and time try new challenges in life. And maybe finish some stitching projects?? We'll see ;)

With my beautiful mother, Christmas Day 2016
Al and I are currently journeying around Tasmania with some friends—exploring some areas I've never been to (despite it being my home state!), tasting local produce and wine, and doing some mountain biking. I'll post more on that later though!

Mountain biking in Derby, Tasmania (30 December 2016)
Hope your new year has kicked off to a good start.

Until next time xx

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Christmas gifts

I can't believe I've let it go a bit over two months since my last post! It feels like so much has happened... much of it is just life (work, kids, etc) and not much else mind you. But I did get some time in to stitch in the lead up to Christmas!! This year I decided to go with Melly&Me plush toys for the kids—'Clucky' for Sofia, and Dougal the Dragon from the Melly&Me book Sew Fantasy Toys. 

I find making softie/plush toys a bit fiddly at times to make, although these patterns were really easy to follow—particularly the one from the book.

And the finished products... I just love!! So happy with how these turned out :)

Unfortunately the photos of the kids opening their 'mummy-made' presents were all quite dark, but you can just make out Sofia's glee when she saw hers. That face certainly makes all the fiddly bits worth it!

Hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas, we certainly have. Our time has been spent with family in Tasmania and I hope to post more of it soon.

Until next time xx

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Ready for quilting!

Last weekend, as per my last blog post, I headed to the fabric store and after much deliberation settled on a backing fabric for Sofia's quilt. Today I found some time to pin together the backing, wadding and quilt top... so this project is now ready for quilting.

My Market Folk quilt (designed by Cinderberry Stitches) ready for quilting
I've been pulling out my hand-stitching over the last couple of weeks too... even though my Mermaiden Tales block-of-the-month is way behind, it's been the first block of my Simply-Blessed quilt capturing my attention. And now, the stitching is done!

Block 1 of Simply Blessed (design by Rosalie Quinlan)

I love the detail in this pattern. The bees are so cute :)

I've prepared the next block of Mermaiden Tales, and Simply-Blessed... which one to pick up first though?! Hmmmm...

Until next time x

Monday, 3 October 2016

I need to go fabric shopping...

Al was working on his car this afternoon when I walked in and said just that. "I need to go fabric shopping next weekend," with a big smile on my face. He just laughed. Any excuse! But this time I have a pretty good one... I've finished the quilt-top of the quilt I started for Sofia a while ago and now I need backing fabric :)

I'm enjoying these long weekends... can we have them every week? With the housework done and the kids with their dad, my sewing machine was just calling out to be used. So happy to get this project to this point, and I'm really looking forward to quilting it and finishing it off.

So next weekend you'll find me at the fabric shop... my fat quarters in my stash just won't do ;) Today I even got time for some hand-stitching so hopefully something to share in that space soon too.

Until next time x

Friday, 30 September 2016

A weekend away: Hunter Valley

Al and I made the most of the long weekend here in Canberra, and headed to the Hunter Valley. It was nice to visit a part of Australia I hadn't been before, and it also meant my kids got to spend some quality time with their dad, grandad and great-grandad while we were gone. Given the Hunter is known for its wine and food, I made sure I did plenty of research ahead of the trip to line up the best itinerary I could!

We left Canberra around midday on Friday, stopping at Bendooley Estate in Berrima for a light lunch. It was a great way to start our weekend of wining and dining!

We finally got to our accommodation at about 8pm, after navigating through peak hour Sydney traffic, and then finding a spot for dinner further up the coast. We stayed at Bimbadeen Mountain Retreat, which greeted us with an unexpectedly steep driveway! The cottage however was great, and in the light of the morning we were able to really appreciate the tranquility of the location. It was the perfect, relaxing base for us to explore the region from... well, when we weren't battling the driveway.

With the sun shining on the Saturday morning we decided to visit the Hunter Valley Gardens. I read about it in my research but everything I had read under-sold the place. The gardens were absolutely spectacular and well looked after. Each section followed different themes, including one corner focused around nursery rhymes! We spent longer than we anticipated at the gardens, but it was well worth it.

By the time we left the gardens we were ready to explore what the region is known for... its wines. On our itinerary for the day: Audrey Wilkinson, De iuliis (including a quick bite to eat at Two Fat Blokes Gourmet Kitchen), Tyrrell's and then Brokenwood on the way back to the accommodation. The highlights were definitely the first two, although we did consider we were simply getting wine-tasting fatigue by the time we got to the latter two! A degustation dinner at Esca Bimbadgen topped off a great day.

On the Sunday we woke up to a much wetter day, although the sun was making it's best attempts. After a late breakfast our tour of the vineyards continued... starting with Scarborough. If you can only visit one vineyard in the Hunter Valley, this is the one to stop at. The views were amazing, the service was excellent, the wine-tasting experience memorable, and the wines possibly the best we tried all weekend.

From Scarborough we went up to Bimbadgen (where we had had dinner the evening before), then lunch at Enzo cafe (highly recommended!) before visiting David Hook Winery where David Hook himself took us through his wines. The car a little heavier with a few more bottles to bring home, we headed back to our accommodation via McGuigan Wines.

Al and David Hook
After a good nights rest, we packed our bags, checked out of the accommodation and then went in search for some final vineyards to visit before it was home time. Lake's Folly came up a lot in my research so off we went... the wine was great, but the pricing not so much. Morning tea with some delicious fudge from Hunter Valley Chocolate Factory before visiting one last vineyard.

We finished our trip with lunch at Circa 1876—and wow, what a meal. This Hatted restaurant is beautifully set on the grounds of Convent Pokolbin, and between the service, the food, and the setting, it was a perfect end to our weekend away.  

My dessert... the Circa's version of strawberries and cream. 
Now back to normal routine, although we do have another long weekend here in Canberra so I'm hoping once the housework is done there might be time for some sewing!

Until next time x