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A Glimpse of Sydney

Sydney, Australia

This is a photo of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, taken from the Botanical gardens. Hubby and I spent a day in Sydney at the end of our cruise in December last year. It’s an interesting city to walk around, and we had a beautiful sunny day for our sightseeing.

A Birthday Surprise

My husband pulled off a wonderful surprise for my recent birthday. I knew we were going away but I thought hubby had organized a quick trip to the South Island of New Zealand. On the day we were meant to leave, he woke me up at a very early hour with a cup of tea. When I went to check my email there was a note attached to the computer along with a flashdrive.

The note said, “Good morning, Shelley. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to insert this flashdrive. It will not self destruct in five seconds, but you may!!”

Curious, I inserted the flashdrive and a movie started. Hubby had booked us a cruise on the Volendam and the movie showed all the ports of call. Honestly, I had no idea. He really pulled a swifty on me :grin:
Luckily I had a few hours to pack and organize/reschedule the few things I needed to sort out before we traveled up to Auckland to board the cruise ship.

Volendam

The cruise started in Auckland and stopped in Mt Maunganui, Napier, Wellington, Picton, Akaroa, Dunedin (Port Chalmers), cruised the Milford Sound before crossing the Tasman Sea to Hobart in Tasmainia, Eden on mainland Australia and ending in Sydney. The surprises kept coming with some fun tours booked and a new bracelet for my birthday. We went dolphin watching to see the rare Hector dolphins, wine tasting, hiking, swimming and sightseeing. We even visited the real Middlemarch where I took loads of photos. I half expected one of the Mitchells to round the corner and say hello. In fact, the Mitchells are so real to me, I was a bit disappointed when they didn’t!

We both had a fun time and arrived home rested and ready for Christmas. It was the best birthday ever.

The Big Red was a Winner

Camera Critters

Phar Lap

This is the skeleton of the champion racehorse, Phar Lap. Phar Lap, which is Thai for lightning in the sky, was a chestnut. He was born near Timaru, New Zealand in 1926 and died in Menlo Park, California in 1932 after eating poisoned grass. He was poisoned on purpose, and rumor states the mob was responsible, carrying out the poisoning to protect their financial interests. Shortly before his death, he won the world’s richest race, the Agua Caliente Handicap in California. He did most of his racing in Australia and loved to run at the front of the field. Nicknamed Big Red, he won 36 of his last 41 races.

Phar Lap’s skeleton is in the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand.
His heart is in a bottle in Canberra, Australia.
His hide is in the Museum of Victoria, Australia.

Currently, his skeleton is in Melbourne, Australia (on loan) to celebrate the running of the 150th Melbourne cup, a race that Phar Lap won in 1930.

To visit more animal photos go to Camera Critters.

Waiting…waiting…

Camera Critters

There’s a lot of waiting around at a show. Waiting for the judges to come by…waiting for dinner…waiting…

Cattle

This photo was taken at the 2010 Sydney Royal Easter Show. To visit more animal photos please go to Camera Critters.

The Australian Outback – Feel the Heat!

My special guest today is Australian, Suzanne Brandyn. She is visiting today to tell us about her new release Heat in the Outback as well as a little bit about outback Australia. Over to Suzanne…

Suzanne BrandynHi Shelley,

The Australian Outback intrigues many. It is a land of vast red plains, miles and miles of dry heat, and little or few faces. I call it the red dust country. The outback begins and ends in different places according to many people. It is the remote and semi-arid interior of Australia. The term outback can cover any land outside of the main urban areas, but it generally refers to places that are more remote than what one calls the bush. Some people even say it starts at Nyngan in NSW. I believe if it is beyond large cities and if you travel long stretches of land with endless flat terrain, and it takes some time to get there then you’re definitely in the outback.

I lived on a wheat, sheep and cattle station in the outback for some time. The summers were scorching hot, the winters freezing cold. Red dust got into everything, even tinting our white clothes. I soon learned not to wear white. A windmill, missing a tooth pumped up bore water, although not drinkable, it kept a few flowering plants alive. I had to use rainwater for washing my hair (that’s when we had some) as the bore water was so hard, and it’s a problem for lathering any type of soap or shampoo.

I was driving back to the property late at night, and I had to go through at least four gates. These gates had to be closed otherwise stock would get out. I opened the fourth gate and heard a noise behind me. When I turned around, I got the fright of my life. Through the darkness, a red kangaroo stood probably two metres away. I moved my head up slowly, and kept moving it up. He was so tall and so big, talk about almost die. Lol. I bolted to my car and slammed the door. I never closed the gate. Kangaroos can grow very big, and they have been known to attack. Their long toenails are sharp weapons. They say the red Kangaroo is adapted the big open plains covering the dry interior. The one that silhouetted against the darkness behind me seemed to like a few trees.

Apart from running into red, belly black snakes, foxes, and kangaroos, I had many experiences with the wildlife. The outback holds a quiet beauty, a glorious place on earth where nature is truly remarkable. After a few years of excellent wheat crops, we left when the first big drought hit the area.

‘Heat in the Outback ‘is based in the area I used to live. I’ve used the homestead, the river and surrounding areas to make it authentic.

If your readers would like to find out more about my novels, or where to purchase them you can find it at, http://www.suzannebrandyn.com or http://suzanne-brandyn.blogpsot.com I’m also on face book, Suzanne Brandyn.

Thank you for having me Shelley. You’re very welcome, Suzanne!

:grin: Suzanne

Heat in the OutbackBlurb: Heat in the Outback

The soaring temperature in the Outback is not the only heat Sarah Munro faces when she returns home for her father’s funeral. She wants to settle his affairs, sell the family’s homestead, Munro Cattle Station, and return to Sydney, and her fiancé, as quickly as possible. Sarah doesn’t want anyone to find out what she’d done in the past. She wants to close this chapter of her life for good. Then there will never be a reason to return to this dusty one horse town. She is wrong!

Ethan Wade, her first love is at the homestead. Ethan claims he owns half of Munro Station. Sarah wants him out! As they try to settle their differences, a raging attraction ignites.

Will Sarah and Ethan find each other again as their past explodes before them?

Excerpt: Heat in the Outback

“Red alert, red alert! Hot babe soon to materialize on Main Street.”

Almost the entire town’s population of hot-blooded males received the text message on their mobile phones. They dashed for closer observation of the strange silver convertible crawling through town.

Jack was at the bowser. Pete strummed a spanner in his hand, as his mechanic Dylan peered over his shoulder. Dan from the bakery took an admiring glimpse through his window and Sam leant on the edge of the architrave of the local real estate agent. Many more enthusiasts partook of the pleasurable sight.

Summer sun reflected off honey blonde hair, swaying in the breeze of the open top convertible.

“Sure is a hot one. Where in the hell did she come from?” Pete said, his mouth easing into a grin.

“The text message was from Bill,” Dylan stated. “Guess he’s hallin’ hay to Tamworth. Sure has city written all over her.”

The convertible disappeared, leaving mouths gaping, and eyes widening with disbelief.

“What’s everyone so hell-bent about? Looks like you’re all in overload.”

“That’s right Ethan, you wouldn’t have got one.”

“Got one what?” Ethan came to a standstill and leant on the bowser.

“A text from Bill alerting us of the major babe attack.”

“Where, what?”

“Too late; she’s already gone. You know you should invest in a mobile phone. It’ll keep you up to date.”

“Waste of time, talkin’ and textin’. I like the good old-fashioned telephone, one anchored to a wall…was the woman alone?”

“Yeah, she looked like that Sarah Munro girl. You know the one that got engaged to that actor guy, the big time model on the television. She was all polished up like one of those gals on our calendars. You wouldn’t understand, Ethan.” He let out a roar. “She gave us a smile that had our hearts stoppin’, I can tell you that.”

Ethan understood all right, more than he was willing to admit.

Visit Suzanne Brandyn’s website.
Purchase Heat in the Outback from Eternal Press

Dinner Time at the Goat Pen

Camera Critters

I took this photo at the Royal Sydney Easter Show at the start of our cruise holiday. I can’t remember the name of the breed, but they were very cute.

Goats, Sydney Easter Show

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters.

Travel Ready Packing

Travel-Ready Packing: Pack Light, Dress Right—Anytime, Anywhere
by Julie Ann Martin
Publisher: Argo & Cole Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-9791186-1-6
Publication Date: 1 Jan, 2010
Website: www.travelreadypacking.com
Amazon link: Travel-Ready Packing: Pack Light, Dress Right – Anytime, Anywhere

Any of my friends or family or people who visit my website knows how much I enjoy traveling and exploring different parts of the world. Since my marriage, my husband and I have spent months in Africa, America, Europe, Central America, India, Asia and Australia. Sometimes we traveled with our backpacks, and at other times, we went more up market. You’d think with all my experience in traveling that packing would be a breeze. Not so. It’s one thing that remains a bit of a trial for me, so when I saw that Ms. Martin’s publisher was offering Travel-Ready Packing for review, I grabbed the chance to learn from an expert.

Travel-Ready Packing has an intro which discusses things such as culture in different countries, fabric types and types of climate. The next part of the book is split into sections for each country or region of the world. Each of these sections gives the temperatures for different months of the year, a list of recommended clothing for both males and females, the risk of danger at the destination, recommended colors to wear and how casual or formal the dress-code is in the country being visited. There are also sections for business travelers and those who travel to adventure destinations, multi-climate packing and also a list for expatriate packing. At the rear of the book there’s a world map, which makes it a simple matter to find the country you’re visiting and look up the corresponding page reference. In fact the book covers everything I could think of from clothes to bags to accessories.

When I decided to “test” the book and relive my trip to Africa, the packing list was spot-on—exactly what I should have taken for my trip. It was also very accurate for my recent trips to Samoa and Phuket, Thailand. The only gap I could see was for a cruising holiday, but I think the lists for the South Pacific, which is where my cruise holiday is taking place, will do the trick nicely. I found the book easy to use, very readable, and as I mentioned very accurate with the suggested packing lists. No more back-breaking suitcases for me!

I recommend this book for anyone who intends to travel for work or pleasure. And romance writers, if you’re heading to a conference and you’re not sure what to pack, this is the book for you.

Shelley Munro

You can see from above that I’m all sorted with my packing now since I have this book to refer to. How do you approach packing for a trip or a holiday? Are you a good packer or do you forget half the things you need?

I’m doing a guest spot at The Rainbow Studio (part of the Romance Studio) and talking about reality shows and Fallen Idol. Here’s the link to my post at The Rainbow Studio.

Where Do You Hide Yours?

FYI – I hide mine in the fridge. :grin:

When was your last?

Um…I have to think about that…

What More Could I Wish For?

Ooh yes…I’ll take one now… :mrgreen:

Timtams are an Australian invention–one of their best, I have to say. And I don’t think we can take credit for the clever ads either. Hmm, I think it’s time. I’m going to add a packet of Timtams to my shopping basket this weekend.

What are your favorite store-bought biscuits?

A Reason to Diet

Last week I taped a travel show because hubby and I are considering where we might visit next and some of the destinations looked interesting.

Singleton in Australia is one of the places they visited. It’s in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and is known for the wife carrying competition.

Wife carrying originated in Finland. The sport is thought to originate from two historic tales. The first is a 19th century legend has it that men stole wives from neighboring villages. In a second tale, an outlaw named Rosvo-Ronkainen made potential soldiers prove themselves in a race where they carried heavy sacks. The result is the wife carrying contest.

The rules are fairly simple: everyone involved must have fun. Competitors don’t have to carry their own wives. Rules state that a part­icipant may carry his own wife, his neighbor’s wife or someone he found “farther afield.” The onl­y stipulation is that the wife must be more than 17 years of age and weigh a minimum o­f 108 pounds (49 kg). If the wife weighs less than that, she must carry a weighted rucksack to make up the difference. The official length of the track is 831 feet (253.5 meters). The surface of the track includes sections of sand, grass and gravel. There are two obstacles to climb over, as well as a 1-meter- (3.2-feet-) deep water obstacle to wade through.

Last year, Anthony Partridge and Angela Moore, both from Singleton, came fifth in the World Championship with a time of 70 seconds. The world record stands at 55.5 seconds and is held by a couple from Tallinn in Estonia.

There are three methods of carrying a wife – the traditional piggy back, the fireman’s lift and the Estonia lift, which is shown in the video.

Hubby took one took at the screen, he looked at me and then said, “I hope you realize I’d never lift you.”
I said, “I’d never let you carry me around like that.” We looked at each other, grinned and settled back to watch TV. Neither of us have any desire to try the sport.

Would you like to try wife carrying?



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