Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Road Trip! Townsville to Cairns

This is another long post, so I'm splitting it up... Here's part 1!

Before Christmas, we made our first road trip, heading northwards up the coast to Cairns in Far North Queensland. Cairns is a bit smaller in population than Townsville, but it has an international airport and the Great Barrier Reef is closer to the mainland here, so that puts it firmly on the backpacker trail and makes it much more well-known than Townsville.

Heading north, we passed so many signs for various national parks, swimming holes and small beach communities. So much to see if only there was time! We made our first stop at the small beachside town of Cardwell. Stopping for coffee from a mobile van at a waterside stopping place, we had a spectacular view to accompany our drink.

No sharing with the crocs though!

Along the road, we saw these signs a few times. We didn’t make use of them on this trip as the first one came when we had already had coffee, and the later ones were closed… but what a great idea to offer a free caffeine hit to weary drivers! A good incentive to stop and take a break if you’re tired :)

Our first planned stop was in Tully. Australia loves its ‘Big Things’, and we planned to stop for lunch and visit the Golden Gumboot at Tully. This is a monument to the most rainy place in Australia, which is an ‘honour’ usually shared between Tully and another nearby town, Babinda.  

You can climb to the top inside the boot.

The town was pretty small, although it would be a good place to visit again and explore the countryside nearby. This sign caught my eye though!

Driving north, we noticed the scenery getting greener and lusher along the way. Townsville is much drier and correspondingly browner. It was beautiful to see such great scenery, although no photos came out too well while we were driving… Our next stop was at a tiny place (less than 500 people!) called El Arish, where we turned off to visit the heritage-listed tavern for a cold drink:

Back on the road, we passed Walsh’s Pyramid, the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world, apparently. You can hike up it, and there’s even a race up it if you’re feeling crazy! So this also went on the list for things to do in the future…

Then we arrived in Cairns, via the Big Captain Cook,

and continued a bit further north to Trinity Beach, where we were staying. As the name suggests, Trinity Beach is on a beach, 

but in typical Queensland style, the water seems a little uninviting!

The next day was a lazy day, a late start followed by a quiet mooch around Cairns itself, including realisation that we couldn’t afford a trip out to the reef on this occasion – gutted! Instead, we enjoyed the livelier atmosphere here in cafes and bars. We went for a swim in the esplanade’s pool. I didn’t remember to get a very good photo of this, but it was gorgeous. You can just about see it in the background of this picture.

I love the decorations up in the trees on the esplanade:

And this pavement art, a little faded but still very good!

Then we went to a bar for a little while, before heading to night markets when they opened. As well as touristy tat, the night market has a few foody stalls and plenty of massage places. My favourite shop was a gemstone jewellers called Silver Gem, with the most beautiful semi-precious gemstone pieces (I looooove semi-precious gemstone jewellery! Even more than diamonds and things!)  There was also a glass sculpting stall from which I got a glass tree frog for my mum – she loves glass sculptures and frogs, so win-win :)  This stall was great as you could watch the chap making the sculptures. Very impressive to see simple sticks of glass getting stretched and squished, and then suddenly become little sculptures.

Cairns looked like a fun place for a night out, but we had the car with us and were staying a bit of a drive away from the city itself, so after this we had to call it a night in Cairns. We drove back to Trinity Beach - where there was no such fun happening! - and looked forward to the next day's plans :)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cotton Hexagons

I had pinned this image a little while ago, from Happy in Red

I thought the pattern would make a good simple doily or an interesting blanket patch, so I worked it out from the picture and made a couple of practice ones.

Then recently I was feeling restless – better enough to want do stuff, but not better enough to do much…

I decided on having a go at something new – a top for myself made out of cotton that I had bought for this purpose quite a while ago.

Digging out the cotton and scouring the internet for ideas, it soon became apparent that I hadn’t bought enough of any one colour to make a top (back then I had no idea how much yarn it takes to make anything!). I was frustrated! But I was determined to do something new.

A bit of fussing later, and I had decided to make a cotton blanket. Here in north Queensland at the moment we barely even need a sheet to sleep under, but in the tropical winter it might be a bit cooler at night. Plus we should be moving away from the tropics at some point so we will definitely have cooler nights then.

So a cotton blanket seemed to me to be a reasonable thing to own…

My cotton yarn was Patons 100% cotton DK, 2 balls each of Jade, Nectarine and Cream, so I was thinking of coloured patches with a cream edging.

I made a patch in each of the Jade and Nectarine, using a 5mm hook as I wanted the crochet to be a bit looser than my usual work. Cotton being a bit of a stiffer yarn, I wanted looser stitches so that the finished thing would be more drapey. And I loved how they turned out! This pattern is clearly meant to go with cotton :)

It is such an easy pattern to hook up, so simple and quick yet quite intricate. Keeping the same colour for each patch = less ends to sew in too, adding to the relaxed smooth hooking. So smooth in fact that I had soon used up an entire ball of each colour!

I returned to the stash and found part balls of a light blue (Denim I think) and a pink (pretty sure it’s Candy). I hooked up these until they were all gone too. 

Then I found a scrap of orange (Neroli I think) and had just enough for two patches.

I tried to ration myself with my remaining ball of Jade and Nectarine. Not very successfully! This pattern proved very addictive, and I had soon used up all of the Jade yarn.

I now have just one ball of Nectarine to see me through until I have enough money to place an order back to the UK – I can only find Patons Cotton Blend here, none of the 100% cotton, so I need to make a whole order to reduce shipping rather than being able to stock up a little at a time… And I might add some new colours into the mix too… Oh the possibilities!! 

*** I have since found out that the pattern comes from a Dutch Marie Claire book. If you fancy having a go though, I found a very similar pattern here. It's a Spanish blog, but it includes a chart. The only thing I did differently (apart from only using one colour) is to miss out the 1-chain from in between the trebles on the final round.


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Belated Happy New Year!!!

I’m a bit late with this, but I hope you all had a great New Year!!

I still wasn’t feeling 100%, and still wasn’t allowed to drink because of my medication (all over now though and am feeling much better!) so the local Mango Champagne had to stay in the fridge, and we headed out for the family-friendly free option that Townsville Council had put on: pictures in the park and fireworks displays! 

Waiting for it to get dark enough for the film

One of Townsville’s favourite places is the redeveloped seafront area, called The Strand. As well as a promenade, it has lots of other things going on, such as swimming pools, watersports clubs, fitness clubs, free to use barbeque areas and a really fun water park. It also has a park area that gets used for various events, and for NYE this park was used for films and then the fireworks.

The film has started!

It was a very tame but very nice evening, and I loved seeing the fireworks – I looooove fireworks!!!  It was really well organised for families too, as after the first film (Disney’s Planes) the first firework display was at 8.45pm. This meant that people with kids could get away earlier without missing out. It also meant that I got to see two firework displays!!

Fireworks 1: slightly obscured by the trees!

I don’t know if you guys like to make New Year’s Resolutions, I tend not to as I like to reassess whenever it seems appropriate to me anyway. I do, however, have a few goals set for 2015. More about those in another post though, as words are not flowing easily right now! 

A better view for fireworks 2 - although not a better photo!

I still have lots more posts to write properly too, from crochet to crocodiles! So I will try harder to carve out time for doing this – it’s tricky at the moment as the other half is off work for a big chunk of time right now, and he is not very compatible with me getting my own stuff done! I will try harder though, and for now I will leave you with all the best wishes for the year ahead! xx