Weekend at Footie and Hanging Around

We started this past weekend back up in Subiaco / Perth at the footie match between Fremantle and St. Kilda on Friday evening. This time we were with the exchange teacher group. That’s a bunch of us at left here along the row we are seated in. One of the locals (Darelle) had arranged fantastic tickets for us in the second row – even closer than the 9th row tickets Mike had experienced. We had to be careful, especially during warm-ups of the stray footballs which kept coming our way.

We met there separately – Patrick was dropped off from Gingin, I took the bus up, and Mike came straight from school with the girl who has so kindly provided us with her season tickets when not using them. Kyle is not a big Freo fan and so decided to stay back and socialize/study – he has mid-terms coming up next week. Some of the best fun is watching the goal line judges. They take their job very seriously – even doing warm ups and stretches along the side line before the intense job of watching for balls coming through the posts and waving the appropriate flags as scores are made. This poor fellow actually blocked a goal by Freo in the second quarter, and then did not score it, but rather ruled it as a tipped ball, so only worth 1 point not 6 (the replay was not clear, but from our angle it just looked like he blocked it). He spent the rest of the game listening to the rather tispy fellow next to us yelling at him. Which was entertaining for all of us in the vicinity as the drunk had a very elaborate set of insults regarding the colour yellow (the line judge uniform). Luckily Fremantle won convincingly, so the controversial call was irrelevant.

Saturday we spent just lazing around and doing chores – Kyle studying, Mike school work, getting Pat’s laundry done – while partly being entertained by the cat next door who has taken a liking to us. She/he will get quite a surprise when Trees comes back. Her dog has been living with her brother and I’m sure the cat will not be too thrilled. But in the meantime, we are becoming good friends with ‘Mooch’ as we have named her/him.

Sunday started with rain, and it pretty much kept up all day. We all wanted to see Pirates of the Caribbean part III, so headed to the local cinema to catch that. The show we were hoping for was sold out over an hour ahead of time, so we bought tickets for a later show and had a nice lunch, caught the next showing then had a tasty treat at the ice cream shop.

While waiting for our show to start, we wandered around the waterfront area. There was a trio of players outside the Arts Centre playing Brazilian music – and they just happened to be playing the only song Michael remembers his mother singing to him as a child. So he went up and joined in the song with them – they were quite surprised to hear a local singing a Brazilian childrens song!!! From a google search, we think it is ‘Atirei o pau no gato’. (let us know if that is correct please Marucia)

All in all a good early winter day and a relaxing weekend.

It’s Birthday Time!

Mid May through early June brings many birthdays in the Wotherspoon/Montgomery households. Starting mid May through to the start of June we have 5 in our ‘immediate’ family. Michael (17th), J (24th), Dad (27th), Kyle (30th) and Mum (June 1) all get to celebrate. Believe me – that’s a lot of candles.

Normally we have a family get-together to celebrate. This year will see our family miss the annual event, but our hearts and best wishes are with all the birthday folks. We’ll do our best to eat our share of cake on your behalf – please do the same for us.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you all!



To Perth and back, to Perth and back, to Perth and back

This past weekend consisted of several trips into Perth. Friday evening was local – Kyle had a friend over for the evening and Mike went out with a group of teachers for his birthday and to help keep the local pub in business. They did a worthy job, and Saturday morning consisted of lots of R&R for Michael :-). The boys and I headed to the forum to do some shopping – Kyle picked up a birthday present (game for his Nintendo – no surprise) for himself with the monies kindly sent from family.

Saturday evening Mike & I headed into Perth to help Ted celebrate his 65th birthday. Ted is one of the key organizers of exchange teacher activities (along with Lindsay – you’ll have seen their names mentioned under earlier events). There was lots of fantastic food, as well as an assortment of wines and beers along with about 200 of his family and friends including several of us exchange folks. It was a fun time and we were pleased to help him mark the event. And it worked out well for me that Mike was happy to be the designated driver this evening, given that he was not quite up to drinking !

On Sunday the four of us headed into Perth to the Western Australia Museum. Lots of classic museum content of course. Outside the building there is lots of interesting stuff also. There were many meteorites and interesting geological rocks. At right is a granite rock with crystalline structures inside – they looked more like fossils. There was a grape vine which is possibly the oldest in WA (Western Australia) at least 150 years old. As you can see, it is holding up better than the wall it stands beside!

We arrived right at lunch time – or at least according to Kyles stomach. So we headed over to the shopping area to grab some lunch before going in to the museum. En route, we passed a few interesting diversions including these buildings and this fellow playing a piano in the middle of the street (pedestrian area). Our hunger satisfied, we headed back to the museum.

The actual museum building is an old library. I enjoyed the building as much as some of the contents. As you can see in the photo, it has multiple floors with the wrap around aisles with bookcases lining the outer walls. As a museum, the bookcases are now replaced with displays of birds, animals and other antiquities.

Similar to Canada, Australia’s westernized history is fairly short, so the relics date back to the time of settlement, with aboriginal history only before that time frame. There were several exhibits to demonstrate the lifestyle of the early settlers and they also highlighted the dependency many of them had on the aboriginals to survive.

There were lots of exhibits, with drawer after drawer full of display items as well as the display cases. Several caught Mike’s eye as photo ops, some of which are included here. Naturally, the cameras were worthy of a shot!

We stopped by the Gaol (that’s a jail for you non Aussie folks) which is also part of the museum. It is not preserved as a gaol, but you can still see where the cells were and the building again is quite impressive.

On the way out, we discovered that the ‘National Treasures’ exhibit will be coming to the museum later this winter (that means July / August) – so we’ll have to come back for that. As you can see on the billboard (which could certainly have been better placed to allow you to see the beautiful building behind!), it includes Ned Kelly’s armour. We’ll have to see if it’s as authentic looking as Mike’s Hallowe’en costume was.

So having been to Perth both Saturday and Sunday, I rounded out the experience by driving Patrick (aka George) into the university on Monday morning. We hooked up with the research van which takes the group out to Gingin for the week. That was lots of fun – driving into Perth at rush hour on Monday morning, with a crash up on the bridge. Luckily we left very early and still managed to get there on time despite the normal 70 minute drive taking almost 2 hours. We are doing our part to keep the petrol stations in business also. Ah well, back to just the 3 of us for the weekdays, but at least Patrick is not quite so far away and he is thrilled to have this opportunity.

Back Yard Fun

I cleaned the BBQ on Friday. Menial task usually, but down under, not something to do without caution as I learned. I quite smartly wore gloves and shoes, and just as well. While cleaning around the base, out popped this lovely redback spider from beneath the wheel. For further details, check out this link or Vincent Prices excellent description opening Alice Cooper’s song ‘The Black Widow’.

Beautiful specimen actually, but sorry to say we did squash her shortly after Patrick fired this shot. Not that I dislike spiders especially, but as you may or may not know, the redback is a black widow whos neurotoxin can be deadly to humans. And given that we are humans, I decided not to play around.

A Fall Storm for Mike’s Birthday

Last evening Mike & Patrick headed down to the beach to watch the storm roll in when I headed off for my yoga class. Now that fall is here, the weather is only about 90% ‘fine’. Days are generally clear and sunny, but it does get cool in the evening – we have the winter ‘doonies’ (duvets) on now. If you are watching the temperature, we seem to be toggling thermometers between Barrie and Mandurah now – morning here and evening there are often the same temperature with days and nights opposite. And we are now getting occassional rains as you can see by the storm rolling in here.

At home Mike had a low key birthday other than the storm watch – the boys cooked him a nice steak dinner, and we had cake after I returned from yoga. But he did get to celebrate at school also where they had a cake along with some thoughtful gifts. Lucky guy!!!!

Patrick (aka George – seen contemplating the world above) is also a lucky guy – he has a volunteer position at the Gravity Discovery Centre / Australian International Gravitational Observatory. He will be staying at the centre from Mondays to Fridays (and perhaps some weekends, but he will join us for our July trip to Alice and Darwin) while he is here and will be producing a short film on the research being done at the centre. Patrick is very excited to have such a fantastic opportunity and have exposure to this extremely leading edge physics research.

And for anyone not too fond of spiders (Robin perhaps?) – Beware the next posting!!!

Happy Mothers Day!!! (from the Footie Game)

What a superb Mothers Day present – our whole happy family rejoined here in WA. Despite concerns, Patrick managed to catch all 3 of his connecting flights to make it to Perth for Saturday morning (for those familiar with Pat’s simultaneous genius and absent mindedness you will understand our concern). It felt awfully good to give him a big hug at the airport. And I’ve given him a few more since (I think he’s had enough now though, so I better wean off of them). Even Kyle is happy to have Pat to socialize with.

Despite our family reunion here, we do miss our own Mothers and the ability to give them a big hug for Mother’s Day. So across the miles, love to you both. And also to our friends and family who are Mums too – hope you have a great day with your families.

Unfortunately, our family pet was not here for Patricks arrival. Our spider, which met everyone (George and Marucia included) at the front door since our arrival here, disappeared a week or so ago. You may remember our spider (golden orb – one of the safe kind) from one of the early postings. We’re hoping she went off to have her babies (or else a bird found her too big and juicy to resist – but we’re assuming she’s relocated πŸ™‚ Here is a recent portrait of her just prior to her ‘relocation’.

We started Mother’s Day with a lovely family breakfast out. Michael was lucky enough to again receive footie tickets from one of the teachers. We will be joining the teacher exchange group as a whole family in a couple of weeks, so I was quite happy to let Pat join Mike for the day since he’s recovering quite well from jetlag. I think that university practise of late hours has helped.

Freemantle played Hawthorne Hawks today at Subiaco in Perth. It was an exciting game with Freemantle going down early, battling back by the half, back and forth in the 3rd quarter. Mike took his ‘good’ camera this time and captured some great action shots. Even you don’t know the rules, hopefully you can sense the excitement!


And in the end, Freemantle won, so the hometown fans were very happy!

Greening of Dwellingup and Forest Wood Centre

After a day at the zoo, Mike and I spent Sunday by taking a trip to Dwellingup. We had passed through just after the fires (link to original posting here), and we wanted to return now that the rains have come to check out the changes to the forest.

Where Mike had photos that were taken from similar spots first visit, I have posted the largest size and made the link to the image the original shot so you can see the difference. It is more dramatic in person since not only is the visual refreshed, but also the smell. Mike distinctly remembered the smell of the newly burnt forest, which has now been replaced with a fresh smell of new growth. If you look closely you will see sprouts of grass and leaves on trees in both photos.

Also in Dwellingup is the Forest Heritage Centre. One of the teachers at Pinjarra does wood working at the centre, and Mike was quite interested to check out the centre. They focus on wood from both a forest and a wood working perspective. The quality of work was very impressive, and the designs very unique and interesting. There were lots of nice pieces – tempting if we didn’t have to ship them so far! They run some wood working workshops – Mike will hopefully attend one for a weekend (I’m really hoping he can make me a carving knife – we just have to figure out the transport home ! πŸ™‚

The centre is surrounded by forest with marked trails and a forest top lookout. This is not it
however – this is just a fire lookout tower (off limits for climbers).

Perth Zoo at a Tortoise Pace

A trip to the local zoo is always a pleasurable way to spend a day (at least for us it is). So that was our destination this past Saturday. Despite his grumblings of having homework to do, we ‘forced’ Kyle to join us. We originally had hopes of visiting both the zoo and the museum, but alas we took too long at the zoo – guess we took too long watching the Koala and Orangutan….

The best surprise of the day was how active all the animals were. I expect the cooler weather arriving has renewed their energy levels. Animals which are normally quite docile during the day were out and about. Even the tortoise above was doing laps around the area collecting food and keeping busy.

It is interesting to see the variation from the Toronto Zoo. The biggest difference in Perth, as you would expect, was the broader selection of Australian animals. Since we have wild photos of many of the animals, we did not post zoo shots – except for the Koala which does not live in W.A. These little guys were awake and eating – surprising since they sleep 23 hours a day. We spent a lot of time at the koala exhibit!

The nocturnal exhibit was fairly extensive also. There was also a quite large netted in area with a large selection of birds.

The African exhibit was similar to Toronto – all the typical star attractions. Again, there was lots of activity by the rhinos, which is not very common in my experience. At left is a juvenile with it’s mother.

The reptile exhibit was another favourite for us. There was a wide selection of snakes, lizards, skinks and such. Many behind glass of course as there are MANY poisonous snakes out here!

The crocodile was certainly the least active animal we saw. When Kyle and I first approached, we were certain that it was a plastic model under the water as there was absolutely no movement or signs of life. We were quite surprised when he (or she) very slowly surfaced for a breath. It is incredible how still they can sit – no wonder they can catch their prey off guard so easily.

And of course, the monkeys and meerkats are always fun to watch, and we did our share of that.

But the most memorable experience of the day was with the orangutans. Apparently their name in Indonesian means ‘people of the forest’ – and I can certainly understand why. The zoo has built a very elaborate area for them with segregated accommodation, but so that they can all climb up to platforms and see each other. They have successfully bred 25 orangutans in captivity at the zoo, and have recently released one into the wild – so far she is doing fine. They hope to release more based on a success. This little guy was keeping mom busy as she tried to stay near by while he was constantly on the move.

Each animal had its personality described, and there was one fellow who was described as being very social with humans and his favourite past time was to sit and people watch. And that is exactly what he did. He even came right up to the glass and sheltered the sun from his eyes so that he could peer through better. As I opened my back pack to pull out my water bottle, he peered in to check what was in there and what I was up to. I could have spent hours just sitting with him – he was extremely intelligent I suspect.

And on our way out, we passed the omnipresent pelicans – not part of the zoo exhibit, but entertaining to watch never the less.

By the time we headed out of the zoo, it was after 3pm – past lunch time and too early for dinner. We tried many restaurants, but with no luck as they all shut down between meals. So we hit the local pub instead – they don’t stop the beer flowing between meals after all, and ordered some not so healthy potato wedges and a cool one (beers for Mike & I, a pop for Kyle :-). They hit the spot enough to get us home for a real meal.

Life’s a Ball – a Masquarade Ball that is

We are now into week 3 of this term, and I’m still catching up on postings – almost there.

Well it is now fall, and the weather has certainly switched from summer. It has finally rained for several days – we actually had more than double the rain in April over last year. So things are now green, and the nights can get cool (down to single digits even!!), but the days are still pleasant hitting the high teens or low 20’s – and later this week the high is 29 – so NO complaints!

With the ‘cooler’ weather, the school uniform for Kyle has switched over. As you can see from the photo it is quite formal. At least he knows how to tie a tie, even though he really does despise wearing the uniform. But being one of many makes it easier. I’m hoping he can keep it in reasonable condition so that we can recoup some of the cost at least.

Back on the weekend of April 28, Pinjarra had their school ball. We attended and Mike even presented the award for the ‘beau’ of the ball. We didn’t bring overly formal clothes – but at least Mike had a quality white shirt and tie, so we didn’t stick out too much.

The kids here attend the ball in both year 11 and year 12 – unlike Canada where the prom is for grade 12 only. Given the elaborate costumes, I can’t imagine what the cost is to attend 2 years in a row!!

The music was very much a flash back to our youthful days – right out of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. But as you can see, this is the music the kids enjoyed dancing to!

Break 1 – Day 12/13 The End, Eh Daddy?

And then it was time to go home. We all felt that we had our fill of travel for the time being, so decided just to drive home with no further tourist sites. Given the distance, we had one overnight to do. We left Coral Bay early for the longest day of driving. Since both Mike and I have bad backs, we stop about every 90 minutes to stretch and swap drivers which has worked well. Drivers passing by must wonder what we are up to as we do our yoga sun stretches :-). We made a short stop in Carnarvon to book a room in Geraldton for the night (very helpful info staff) and had an early lunch at Chicken Treet (first time trying a chicken shop). Then back on the road. Did not make any further meal stops – just swaps till we got to Geraldton.

Despite having booked and paid for our room ahead, when we arrived they told us there no rooms available due to a mix up. After some shuffling around, we did eventually get settled. But only after we had to move rooms after having poured a glass of wine and unpacking the eskie (that’s a cooler mate). That evening we were lucky to catch an interview with Bill Bryson on TV which was timely given we were just finishing his book on tape β€˜The Thunderbolt Kid’. As I mentioned previously the books on tape are a great success and something we will definitely repeat for our July trip in the camper van drive from Alice Springs to Darwin.

The next day we were at last homeward bound – just one stop in Gingin at the honey farm for more honey, honey ice cream & pollen. En route Mike stopped and captured some of the sights which have been typical on the drive – the windmills and roadside fruit/veggie stands.

We also stopped by the Leaning Trees of Greenough. They are quite fascinating – this is just one of them, there are many. The tree trunks grow horizontally due to the salt winds off the Indian Ocean.

And so we arrived back home with a couple of days to spare in the break to give Mike and Kyle time to catch up on school work and get organized.

As for me, I’m pretty much like the trees of Greenough and continue to take life in a relaxed pose.