#6 Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

When I was around 10 years old I saw a hot air balloon setting off from the local park, Ecclesall Park, in Sheffield. I thought it looked so glamorous and like the sort of thing that only super fancy rich people got to do…

Well today I joined the ranks of my childhood fancy rich-type people and went on a hot air balloon ride!

This post is mainly photographs of the morning, which was astoundingly beautiful, interspersed with ballooning facts about the day. If you’re tempted to try it, it’s worth every cent!

Esther joined me on a crisp, clear morning. The tour bus picked us up at 4:35am… yes we chose to get up at that time of our own volition.

We then drove down to Sandy Creek, at the Gold Coast Scenic Rim,where the balloons were waiting. We left in the dark and as we arrived the sun was just starting to come up, it was as if the world was changing from black and white to colour.

As we drove up to the launch site the last balloon was just rising majestically into the air.

IMG_2620We flew with “Hot Air” the largest hot air ballooning company in the world. These balloons are referred to as “450’s”, which means that when full they contain 450,000 cubic feet of gas. The gas burns at over 100 degrees.

IMG_2626We all clambered into the baskets of our balloons and practiced our landing positions, which was basically a group spooning session…. when you come in to land the basket can tip over on it’s side, so you have to practice ‘bracing’.

IMG_2629The basket is split into 5 parts, a central area were the pilot stands (and wear a seat belt!!) and then four other sections in which 6 passengers stood. It was pretty cosy!

Our pilot Paco filled up the balloon with gas. When the burners are on it’s really hot, which was much appreciated on such a cold day!

IMG_2633 We gassed up the balloon and were ready to go. We were the second balloon to take off. The first balloon took off just as the sun was coming up.

IMG_2639It was beautiful watching the mist rising up from the fields, the sky turning pink, orange and yellow until it became a clear, bright blue.

IMG_2640Because we were the middle of the 3 balloons we had a great view of the ones either side, with the mountains and sunrise behind them.

IMG_2644The ‘balloon’ section of a hot air balloon is actually called the ‘envelope’ and it’s made out of the same fabric as parachutes. The weight of the baskets is distributed through the straps that runs down the sides of the balloons.

IMG_2648I love the water rising from the lake.

The pilot changes the height of the balloon using the burner, this allows them to control the speed as the wind will be different at different levels.

We were flying on an extremely clear and still day, so we had a lovely calm journey, although we didn’t travel a huge distance.

IMG_2653We could see all the way over to Brisbane city and the Gold Coast, with the tall, angular city buildings just visible on the skyline (not really visible in any of photos though).

IMG_2654Balloon pilots have to be licensed, in the same way as airline pilots. The balloons all have to be registered with the civil aviation authority.

Australia is the world No. 2 location for hot air ballooning, with an average 320 ‘flyable’ days per year! Although they can still only fit one flight in per day before it get’s too hot. The world No. 1 location for ballooning is actually Turkey!

IMG_2656The colours of the ground because brilliant oranges and reds, contrasting against the yellow and blue skies.

IMG_2657Soon it was time for the balloons to descend and we headed down into a nearby field. As we came in to land we came right over the top of the trees and landed, with only a small bounce, in a farmer’s field.

IMG_2667The support vehicle met us in the field and they attached the balloon to the truck. We all adopted the ‘brace’ position and they used the truck to pull the balloon down to the ground. The pilot drew the top of the balloon in, so that the gas would escape and the balloon empties.

IMG_2674All the passengers then helped to roll up the balloon and stash it away in a big blue bag, which was then loaded onto a trailer with the basket. We all hopped onto the sides of the trailers and headed across the field back to the bus.

IMG_2684We then headed over to O’Reily’s vineyard for a champagne breakfast. I was so stuffed by the end! We also fitted in a spot of wine tasting and ended up coming home with a bottle of verdelho and a bottle of port :-).

IMG_2687After getting home I spent the rest of the day running errands before heading for a spot of retail therapy. H&M opened in Queensland earlier this year and after years of missing it from the UK I was excited to check it out. Shockingly, I thought it was terrible and don’t reckon I’ll bother going back any time soon… And now I know I’m really getting old 🙂

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August Inspirations

Why hello there August…. I appear to be super mega organised this month so am starting out having written this up at the start of the month, rather than needing to play catch-up as I usually do!

Quote of the month

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver, taken from “The Summer Day”

 Life is precious and oh so very short. As my 30th year enters its autumn I am beginning to think about what’s next… Too soon? Well I am a professional planner after all!

I’ve spent much of the last year working away from home, doing something really quite different form my “day job” and I won’t lie when I say that the job is challenging, but in a good way. I am therefore struggling to determine which path to take. Working away from home is becoming tiresome and the incentives of the short-term gain don’t balance out over the long-term.

Therefore, I am spending August investing in identifying the key areas that I get professional fulfilment in and identifying what I might like to do that involves these aspects, but also allows me the work-life balance and personal fulfilment that is so difficult when one is so absent.

Recipe of the month

This month I made a super quick and super delicious Chocolate Tart.

I actually couldn’t believe how quick this was to make – although to be honest I also made this after an afternoon of drinking cocktails in the sun, so time may have been operating at an apparently different scale to usual…

But this point also illustrates just how simple this recipe is!

The base is essential processed nuts with a bit of honey. My oven is quite powerful and I left it in ever so slightly too long (12 minutes, maybe should have been 10).

The instructions say to leave the shell to cool completely before filling. I had initially thought this would require leaving for several hours, but it actually cooled down extremely quickly… when a girl wants post-cocktail chocolate tart she doesn’t want to wait!

The filling is extremely simple to make too, just mix it all up and pour it on it.

Initially I had a tad concerned that my shell wasn’t high enough on the sides, but it worked out fine.

The filling has cinnamon to add a slightly spiced flavour. However, I wasn’t too keen on this actually.

This definitely went down a treat – after several slices each and several more saved in the freezer for another time I was a winner. It went really well with both strawberries and also with coffee ice cream.

The pecan shell/crust is lovely and slightly crumbly, providing a great textural contrast. I am a big lover of pastry but would really recommend using this for other tarts too.

I would say that it needs to be refrigerated for long enough as the consistency improves a lot. I thought it was best after being left overnight. IMG_2603I am going to make this again for sure. Next time I won’t cook the shell for as long as I won’t include the cinnamon. I’d like to try a chilli version and also a version where the filling is cooked with orange rind for a Terry’s chocolate orange flavour, with some candied orange peel on the top.

I also loved the simplicity of the nut shell, as opposed to using pastry. I reckon this would work really well with cashews for a lemon tart, or even trying a mix of nuts, adding a few Pistachios would work well.

I have a feeling another version of this will be appearing before the end of the year!

This month I am thankful for…

It is now the depth of winter in Queensland and it’s been getting down to zero, which in this kind of climate is slightly soul-destroying.

Between the months of June to August I live in big woolly socks and snuggled up under blankets– usually homemade ones. I do like making funky looking socks (although 2nd sock syndrome is a very real thing) and I find making blankets very cathartic – even if they do end up giving you repetitive strain injury!

Therefore, this month I am thankful to both my mother and my grandmother for passing down their expansive knowledge of traditional crafts to me.

I was never particularly into making socks myself until one Christmas I went home and mum was going through a manic sock making phase, I think this must have been about 2007 and I decided to get stuck in.IMG_2607

Over the years having the knowledge from half a century’s worth of knitting at the end of the phone was an invaluable resource and I still go to automatically ask mum when I need help, even though she’s been gone for 3 years already, it’s like a reflex.

Knitting, crocheting and sewing are my favourite hobbies and the ones that have stayed with me from childhood. I really wish I’d pursued something in this area more seriously, but maybe that would have taken away from my enjoyment of it. However, traditional crafts are the one area of my life that I’ve maintained  solid level of passion and interest in for my entire life.

I have very clear memories of sitting in front of my grandma’s fireplace being shown how to set out quilt blocks and how to choose what you need for knitting patterns.

I remember before my sister was born deciding to make an overly ambitious outfit for her and the number of times I had to get mum to pick up the errors sat on the couch in our old front room. It always seemed so clever how she would work it out and fix it.

Nowadays I’m lucky to have been doing this for over 20 years and would say I’m pretty advanced. I’m actually hoping to publish a couple of patterns I’ve been working on over the next few months or so, so watch this space!

 

 

 

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#4 See a new musical act/group live

2015 has been a great year to date for seeing live music. I saw the year in under the sweltering Byron sun at The Falls Festival.

Favourites included seeing The Kite String Tangle (again… 4th time in a year, but keen I know!), Kim Churchill and Spiderbait.

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It was unbelievably hot and we had to escape the fiery campgrounds out to the beach to cool down in the mornings. 290

This was closely followed by the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival at the end of January. Where TK Maizda was a revelation.

I had wanted to go to see Royal Blood – who killed it despite a tropical hail storm setting in mid-set! We stuck it out though and it was so worth it.

Banks and Flight Facilities wrapped up the night. Flight Facilities are just truly brilliant live, I loved them, even though we were almost catatonic from fatigue we propped each up and stayed until the end… and again it was so worth it. I would happily go and see them over and over again.

I also managed to get out to a few concerts too, in particular seeing Kasabian and then London Grammar again at the Brisbane Riverstage back in March. I think the LG singer’s voice is a bit like Annie Lennox’s. Something about it reaches into your soul, spine tingling. Kasabian

Splendour in the Grass is the annual “big one” though, it probably the most equivalent Australian festival to Glastonbury. It’s a 3 day (5 with camping) festival also held down at the Byron Parklands.

This year it had rained solidly for several days prior and so we were expecting mud… gum boots at the ready… at least it was more similar to the UK festivals I’m used too!

Whilst driving down the rain was so heavy we couldn’t see through the windscreen properly, which was ominous. However, we were extremely lucky once we arrived. We set up camp during mild drizzle and missed all the big downpours! We also got a pretty good camping spot way-away from the actual festival grounds. This might not sound great initially; however, overall was a huge win. It meant we had a fairly clean and non-muddy camp area without any through-traffic and generally OK toilets!294

Thursday afternoon was mainly spent hanging out with the neighbours and checking out the main site and stalls. I love the random art around the site, like this giant inflatable bouncy castle of Nicolas Cage in a Cage!304

 Or this psychedelic foam landscape inside a greenhouse!303

Friday was a pretty cruisy day, after an awesome fancy camp breakfast we checked out Tired Lion – Triple J Unearthed winners, opening at the Amphitheatre and the only time we got to sit down in the sun on the grass and chill out.

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I also had a wander around the craft tent, but had unfortunately missed the community quilt session…

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Harts – crazy that this band is only 2 guys, you would think it was a 4-5 piece group from the sound – I definitely want to see these guys live again.

A bit of George Maple, who was just brilliant, followed by Japanese Wallpaper.

I then headed over to Dustin Tebutt, who also featured Eves the Behaviour, who was fairly chilled out and continued the general vibe of the day.

In the evening I caught the end of No.1 Dad’s last ever set, The Rubens (awesome), Death Cab for Cutie (definitely not appreciated enough by the audience given how infrequently they tour).

Peking Duck were fairy mental, the crowd was as insane as the 8 inch-thick mud. Halfway through their set the heavens opened… It was a shame in a way that so much of their set was other people’s music and not their own and so although it was fun, I wasn’t hugely impressed.

We decided to skip Mark Ronson (open air amphitheatre) and go and eat… Where we randomly met a guy who works with a former colleague – small world. It was then time to head off to bed like old timers. 311

Saturday started out with a huge downpour, but quickly brightened up into the sunniest day of the festival.

My day kicked off with Eves the Behaviour, who knocked it out of the park. That girl was an amazing voice, she’s just brilliant. I would honestly say the unexpected highlight of the entire festival!

As it was such a lovely day it was perfect weather to hang out at the “Amish Bar” watching hipsters pretend to be Amish, drinking cider and being offered carrot snacks….312

I did have a carrot – gotta get some vitamins in there whilst you can… but also enjoyed this giant double smoked bratwurst! I love all the food stands at festivals and this year had some pretty wicked options.315

Art of Sleeping, Safia and Meg Mac followed – all of which were great. I am a huge fan of Meg Mac her cover of Bill Withers “Grandma’s Hands” was my favourite song of last year. I enjoyed being able to watch from the vantage point of a giant pirate ship bar overlooking the stage too!333

Purity Ring was one of the groups I was most excited to see, but was my biggest disappointment. They had a stunningly beautiful stage set with streams of hanging lights and ethereal globe-like drums. However, this couldn’t mask the bad sound balancing. The singer’s vocals were barely audible and just lost, which was a real shame as she has a lovely voice. I’d be keen to see them again, but maybe in an in-door environment.

I’d never really heard of Best Coast before but checked them out early evening as the sun was going down. Thy were good, but as I didn’t know any of their music they did sound a bit “samey” after a while.

They were followed by Boy and Bear, who I saw the first half of and were really good.

I ended up missing Flight Facilities due to wine drinking, but as I had seen them earlier in the year at Laneway I wasn’t too disappointed.

Florence and the Machine headlined the Amphitheatre on the Saturday and the crowd was insane. The combination of a really badly manned one way system, a mud-rink amphitheatre and almost everyone at the festival heading over there it was actually a bit scary. I get a bit claustrophobic and panicky when I’m surrounded by crowds, it stressed me out. That being said we ended up with a clear view of the stage, so it worked out OK.

Florence was absolutely crazy insane brilliant. Her energy on stage was incredible and her voice is so clear it’s unbelievable. She’s really one of the voices of our age.

I loved seeing her but was happy to call it a night afterwards and fall into bed… when I eventually managed to get my suctioned-on gumboots off! 330

Sunday was our anniversary – I cannot believe a year has gone by already! Time flies and all that jazz… We actually wanted to see most of the same bands and so had a lovely day roaming around together, checking out bands and chatting to random people over tasty food and wine.

We started the day with the Delta Riggs & Wolf Alice. Bands that were on early I the day in the amphitheatre but ultimately would have been better suited to after-dark tent time-slots, but I know they have to play in the hierarchy of fame order…

Last dinosaurs were a new band for me and I enjoyed them a lot, I’ll have to check out more of their music.

We spent most of the afternoon chilling out at the Moet and Chandon Wine bar, which has great views overlooking the festival site. It’s just a nice spot to kick back and meet people.

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MSMR was another group that was high of my list of people to see and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. The lead singer has totally wicked fire-engine red hair, like I would love to have, but am too shared to go for.

Royal Blood got through their set without a storm setting in this time! But again were in the amphitheatre but would have been better later on in a tent I reckon.

Alison Wonderland was a bit disappointing. The crowd were going mad for it, but it just seemed like she pressed play and then didn’t do very much… Even just wandering around on stage… I missed her at The Falls in January when they said she was one of the stand out acts, so I had quite high hopes, but it just wasn’t to be.

We left Alison Wonderland early and headed back to the Amphitheatre catching the end of Tame Impala, who I am not a fan of, but thought were good.

Blur were the Sunday headliners and I am going to make a shocking statement here and say they were a massive huge shocking disappointment. They started out very low tempo and just didn’t seem to get going for ages, it was just dragging on. It was cold, the venue was half empty and the sound quality just wasn’t that great. Blue were one of the biggest bands of my youth and I was so excited to hear them play Park Life, but it was not to be. They were so Blah that we gave up and went to bed instead… It was a pretty low moment, especially as this had been the second festival I had tried to see them at – the first was Big Day Out 2014 which they pulled out of.

 I slept like an absolute dream every night we were away, which is surprising given how light a sleeper I usually am. I won’t lie, I was worried about camping in the dead of winter. Our combination of huge 4WD camp mat, Queen airbed, fleece rug, full bedding and thermals made for a pretty toasty tent though.

There was also a minor panic moment when it appeared we had sprung a leak – but it all worked out ok and we stayed nice and dry.

 On Monday we awoke to clear blue skies and generally took our time chilling out and packing up. People seem in such a hurry to go and sit in their cars for hours queuing! Why not sit it out at the camp site and then get in the car one it’s all moving…

After a half-hearted attempt at unpacking it was time for TV, a curry and then bedtime…

Now back to the real world I go – for a few weeks at least!

 

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July Inspirations

Another one bites the dust – where is 2015 going… anyone…?

July has been great so far and it’s set to get even better – as I’m about to head out to see the month out at the Splendour in the Grass music festival down at Byron Bay. And yes, yes it is raining, I know… And yes we are camping… Yes I already said I know that it’s raining ok… Oh and it’s the middle of winter and we’re in the middle of an antarctic cold snap…

Quote of the Month

“If you think your life is about DOINGNESS, you do not understand what you are about. Your soul doesn’t care what you do for a living and when your life is over, neither will you. Your soul cares only about what you’re BEING while you’re doing whatever you’re doing. It is a state of BEINGNESS the soul is after, not a state of doingness.”

Neale Donald Walsh

I think it is interesting to consider. As an individual seeking to maximize the potential of my year by DOING things I can honestly say that I am a firm believer in doing… The things you do define your choices, actions speak louder than words after all. It is also the doing that helps us to define our being…

That being said (see what I did there!) it’s good to step back and just be, just be yourself, let your gut lead you, based on your primal gut feelings of what’s best for you and those around.

It;s also good to just stop and observe the world around you and examine how you feel that you fit into it. Is this how you want to be? For me the purpose of the last few years has been to ensure that I get what I want from my life from a purely personally perspective, regardless of career, as society so largely defines us by. I have been achieving my sense of “beingness” pretty successfully of late, although recognize that it takes effort and practice and is an on-going journey… how about you?

Recipe(s) of the Month

June’s recipe – blueberry, almond pancakes.

This month I am yet again catching up with writing up June’s cooking too.

I made the most wonderful dreamy blueberry and almond pancakes – they’re to die for!

I’ve made them more than once and also tried them with raspberrys and nutella in them – Om Nom Nom Nom Nom… Who ate all the pancakes – I did!

We enjoyed them so much Mark is whipping up another batch as I type this for us to take camping this weekend.

Recipe can be found here… I didn’t use almond milk, as the supermarket had sold out, I used rice milk instead.

pancakes

July Recipe(s)

So July has been a good old month for cooking – I think it’s the cold making you want to hunker on down and make delicious treats…

With that in mind I decided to make a tasty cheese and chive “tear and share” bread. Everyone seems to be going on about tear and share breads these days – they seem to now be a thing. Honestly this isn’t something that requires a recipe – just buy a nice loaf from the bakery, cut a grid into it and stuff it full of whatever you fancy. I used mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, garlic and a bit of Parmesan cheese.

I then baked it in the oven until the cheese was hot and gooey. I don’t remember making the plate – I essentially just ate bits of it off the baking tray… It lasted a few days and reheated well too… If you want to see how stunning it looked when it pulled it out of the oven check out my instagram @rockyrobyn84.

imageI also decided that I was craving full on comfort food but didn’t want to go too heavy on the pasta etc. So with my old faithful lasagne out of the window I decided to try making eggplant parmigiana.

This took a fair amount of prep time (read hours…) but was definitely worth the pay off!

imageI used a recipe from Food52, a website where you can lose days of your time – you have been warned!This was so tasty and comforting – like a hug for the stomach!I was so enamored by it that I even flew a portion of it up to site for Mark to try, so that he didn’t miss out! I am definitely adding this to the list of winter favourites.The photo looks like a dogs dinner – but don’t let it fool you! It’s pure deliciousness!image

I finished this off by making something sweet… in fact I have done other baking too, but frankly this is getting excessive so am only mentioning the 3 ingredient Nutella brownies I made…

Crazy simple and oh so tasty. They have a great consistency and are actually improved by freezing and defrosting – they get more fudgy. I did use a far smaller and deeper pan than the recipe called for though, otherwise they would have turned out extremely thin…

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This month I am thankful for…

Mark!

Need I say more…

I love you, thank you for an amazing year. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

mandm

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#12 Get up early every day for a whole month i.e. by 7am

Again this is a heavily overdue post!

I actually completed this challenge way back in February, but as life became far too hectic to maintain the blog for a few months writing this up fell to the bottom of the to-do list.

The choice to do this in February was actually a bit strategic… As the shortest month of the year!

I am terrible in the mornings, I am definitely not an early morning person. That being said I am at my most productive and highest functioning brain activity first thing in the morning.

I also feel a bit gross spending hours extra just lounging around in bed too and weekends are extremely precious nowadays so I feel like I have to maximise every minute I have!

Many of you will be aware that I travel away from home for work – I am a Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) worker. I fly approximately 2 hours north of Brisbane to a small town called Moranbah then drive about 30 minutes north to my work site.

I fly out on Monday mornings and back on Friday evenings, so I have every weekend at home. It’s nice to have all my weekends free, but it is fairly draining.

The bonus for this challenge is that my work start time is 6:30, so I’m usually up at 5am, in fact 4am on Mondays to get to the airport on time.

I even have this funky sleeping mask for on the plane… always it doesn’t always work.

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Queensland is at its best first thing in the morning, before the heat and humidity winds up for the day.

Driving to work and watching the bright orange sunrises over the bush is really pretty.

So I had 4 working weeks and 4 weekends… should have been pretty easy really….

And it was!!

I was slightly dubious that I would even succeed on Day 1, as I had been to a music festival the day before and gotten to bed fairly late!

However, because of the work routine I now just wake up automatically and was wide awake by 7am and raring to go… I was also super excited as it was the SO’s 30th birthday!

The days at work don’t count so much as I was up easily anyway and they flew by.

I found myself awake by 6:30 every weekend I had free anyway… except for the final day of the challenge – the 28th.

I had had a long and tiring week and just wanted to sleep in. I had felt that as the month wore on I did need a bit of extra sleep… just 1 lie-in! But no I managed it and woke up at 6:55… Done!

The next day i.e. March 1st I also woke up at 7…. And now I almost always do…

That’s being said I really appreciate it when I do get to sleep in now, it always feel like a real treat!

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#30 High Tea & A Change of Plans…

A change of plans

#30 on my list was originally left blank so that I could add something new part way through the year. I decided that I would go to high tea as this is something I haven’t done in a really long time and is always a really nice afternoon.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to complete items #23 and #24 on my list –

23 – Walk the Larapinta Trail, a hike in central Australia through beautiful scenery

24 -Watch the sunrise/sunset over Uluru  So… This has left me with 2 more slots to fill, which I have decided to change to –

This is related to a combination of annual leave allowance and the big one… money. Heading into the red centre is really quite expensive and I just can’t work this into my work schedule, as I would really need to take 2 weeks off to fit in the Larapinta Train, or even a decent chunk of it. I think this will stay on the bucket list though for sure!

23 – Complete a 10 day meditation & yoga challenge – do at least 30 minutes of yoga and meditation for 10 consecutive days

24 – Learn to make cheese – because I have way too much love for all the cheeses…

 High tea @ Customs House

Eight of us headed to Customs House for a spot of mid afternoon tea and petit fours.

Customs House is beautiful. It’s one of the few historical buildings left on the Brisbane riverfront and has great views looking over to the Kangaroo Point cliffs and the Story Bridge.

On the way there it kept threatening to pour with rain, much to my dismay as I realised that my umbrella had broken.

However, we got away with some light drizzle, although it was a bit breezy.

We sat out on the terrace enjoying the views and drinking a LOT of tea.

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Initially we all thought they hadn’t brought enough food out – two cake stands. However, we didn’t manage to finish it we all left feeling absolutely stuffed!

On the bottom tier we had finger sandwiches with various fillings. My favourite was the smoked salmon – as usual. I’m a total sucker for anything with smoked salmon in it.

The middle tier had cute little fluffy scones with ream and strawberry jam.

The top-tier was laden with petit fours and tiny macaroons. Oh my goodness, they were so pretty it felt like a crime to eat them! Every cake was different and we shared them around so we each got to try quite a few.cake stand

My favourite to look at was the cutest pink mousse wrapped in vanilla sponge.

The tastiest was a passion fruit cheesecake… hmmmmmm salivating again. petitfourWriting this post is sending me into a full on food fantasy!

I would definitely recommend heading to Customs House if you get the chance.

High tea worked really well for us now that some people have children and others are pregnant, which makes evening outings a bit more difficult. It was really nice to be able to get everyone together and gave a good gossip. At $45 it wasn’t a cheap date but it was definitely worth it!

 

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#17 Read 3 new books – one of which has to be non-fiction

I have always loved reading. After a slow start as a young child I became a bit of a book worm.

I have early memories of trips to the local library, before it sadly shut down. The smell of all the books is extremely evocative.

I also remember really clearly hounding my mother in Sainsbury’s supermarket to get the next Enid Blyton book of whichever series I happened to be reading at that time (I’ve ream them ALL).

Happily Ecclesall library reopened several years later in a new building, located very close to the old original library.

My mother took us out to Totley library after we moved out to Dore and I remember being so frustrated that you could only take 5 books out each and week – how on earth were 5 books a week not enough on top of school works and extracurricular activities!?!?

Oh to have that much free time to read nowadays!

The last 2 years have been a bit of reading black hole and I found myself only reading when I needed information – which whilst useful is slightly sad.

Over Christmas/NY 2014/2014 I went through a phase of reading autobiographies from inspirational business people and entrepreneurs.

This was actually really inspiring and motivating and I loved it – I would honestly say that Steve Job’s biography is one of the most gripping reads I’ve read in a long time – definitely check it out if you haven’t already. Although, I don’t think I would have liked him at all…

I also loved Richard Branson’s autobiography – I believe he has several now, he’s such a likeable guys. Although I find the fact that he sells himself as the successful everyman a bit misleading as comes from what sound like a privileged background. However, loved that one too….

I was however, totally scarred after what can only be described as a hard won battle – which put me off reading altogether for months – I almost wanted to throw a party when I finished it! I am very much one of those people that will always finish a book, no matter what -I will not be defeated by literature! But this was serious struggle.

This particular book was “Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry and made himself the richest man in America” authored by Stephen Manes & Paul Andrews. This may be a great, thrilling read for others, but my god it was not for me!

However, I survived and was therefore inspired to get back in to reading this year with my challenge #17 Read 3 new books – one of which had to be non-fiction.

I am quite firmly back on the reading bandwagon and have smashed this one out of the park.. I have been putting off writing this post as keep reading more and more and more…

However, it will get to be too long and ridiculous if I don’t cover it off now… I may just comment on great reads on my monthly (ha ha yes I know they’re supposed to be) update posts…

So far this year I have read 10 books – yes that’s right 10, a pretty decent number I reckon…  Below I have rated each book and provided minor comments on each, but not exhaustive – you can follow the amazon links if you want more info or to buy a copy…

Or maybe you might want to go and check out your local library even!

This is actually the order I read the books in too…

  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak 4/5                                                                                                                                                                                      I had been wanting to read this for a few years as it had been recommended by several people. It’s interesting to see the war through the eyes of a child and the perceptions and understandings grow as you see her grow up.                                                                                                                                                         I found the end rather predictable, but an enjoyable easy read non the less.  I still don’t think I want to see the film though…
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez            5/5                                                                                                                                            This book combines the historical novel with the fantasy and spectacle. I genuinely never knew what was coming next or why, but I was completely and utterly absorbed!   I have to admit I was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did, I truly loved it.         I had previously read “Love in a time of Cholera” and hated it, so was unsure how I’d get on with this, also the fantastical content isn’t really my usual cup of tea.          Something a bit different for me and I reckon I would happily return to this book in the future.
  • Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman tells you what she’s “learned”, Lena Dunham 4/5                                                                                                                                                I find Lena Dunham to be a very interesting woman. She seems so free and liberated, so confident and assured in her self-expression and her freedom to express it all.    I think the content of this book is fairly brave and she even seems pretty unlikeable at times.                                                                                                                                             Again this is a book about someone I outwardly find extremely interesting, but ultimately if I was left alone in a room with wouldn’t feel a close affinity to.               There are one or two sections of this book that really hit home with similar experiences I had as a young adult and seen as I read this book in a single weekend I would say it’s extremely readable.
  • My Mother, My Father: On losing a parent, Susan Wyndham             5/5                                                                                                                                          This was a great and dreadful book both at the same time. I really struggled at time due to the close nature of the content.                                                                                            This book is essentially a collection of essays about how different people have coped with the death of a parent.                                                                                                         One Friday on the flight home from work I just had to put it down to stop myself from openly bawling on the plane.                                                                                                     This book really touched a few nerves, but it was good, it was both confronting and comforting in that it made me feels things I didn’t want to and also provided the relief of knowing others feel the same way at difficult times.
  • Guns Germs & Steel, Jared Diamond                                                                      3/5                                                                                                                                                     Technically I’m still reading this… I keep dipping in and out of it for about 20 minutes on each flight home on Friday. The topic requires a bit of concentration so it’s not exactly a sensible choice for light end-of-the-week relaxation, but it’s extremely interesting.                                                                                                                                    This books discusses how human societies developed in different ways and in different rates in differing continents/locations and therefore, the stages they were at by the time European colonisation started in earnest.                                                                      For anyone with an interest in understanding how and why our societies’ wealth and power is distributed globally then this is a good book to check out.
  • The best of Miranda: Favourite Episodes, Miranda Hart                                   6/5 – yes I know                                                                                                                      Such Fun !!! I do love Miranda hart. I have read all her books and seen all of her shows, except her stand-up comedy, which I am waiting to get my hands on.                                                                                                                                                        I just love her, she’s so true and honest and simply just so like us all really.                                                                                                                                             After reading this I had to go back and watch all 3 seasons again back-to-back and cried when they were finished because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend – or at least a fruit friend (if you don’t know the reference then get on it).                                                                                                                                                  What more can I say but… “What have you done today to make you feeeeeeeeeeeeeell prooooooooooooouuud”.
  • 12 Years a Slave                                                                                                                 4/5                                                                                                                                                   Yet another book on my list that was turned in to a film – seems to be a terrible coincidence as I had downloading this one about 2 years ago and it’s just sat there since.                                                                                                                                              This was surprisingly more readable than I thought and is really rather heart breaking.                                                                                                                                        Coming from a liberal background and given the on-going racial tensions in the USA at the moment, it is interesting to read about the historical relationships.                                                                                                                                     I just find it completely inconceivable some of the things that people can believe, really truly it’s just crazy and that’s putting it politely.                                                                        I actually might go and watch the film after reading this book – but maybe next year so it’s not too fresh in my memory and I won’t draw direct comparisons.
  • The Longest Ride, Nicholas Sparks            3/5                                                                                                                                             Ah yes Nicholas Sparks, never fails for a bit of romance.. predictable and cheesy but not vomit worthy…                                                                                                                                   I see this is coming out as a movie this year with a highly modified plot. I will likely watch it one night when I’m on my own in my PJs with a bottle of wine and a take away… Classing it up Bridget Jones style of course.                                                          Every now and again I just want to get lost in something romantic, I think I am a bit of die-hard romantic, even if not many get to see me be really open about it.                      Embrace the naff, take a strong whiff of Emmental strength cheese and throw yourself into it knowing fully what it is and you’ll enjoy it… otherwise stay away I reckon. Good beach read.
  • Tracks, Robyn Davidson                                                                                         5/5                                                                                                                                                I really enjoy books about expeditions and have read quite a lot over the years.      Robyn Davidson crossed from Alice Springs to the Western coast of Australia with 3 camels, largely unsupported.                                                                                                     Her trip was, rather reluctantly, funded by National Geographic, who sent out a photographer to record certain points of her journey.                                                              I enjoyed this book, the scenery and the wildness and remoteness of what she did has a strong draw                                                                                                                                       In books like this there’s always the need for the writer to justify and try and explain why they made the choice to undertake the trip that they did. I feel that when this information is offered it is interesting but almost superfluous as I think you’re either a person who gets it or doesn’t with respect to ‘adventuring’.                                                    I feel like I am constantly fighting the urge to run off and spend my life wandering, travelling, exploring, experiencing. It’s not because I want to run away from my life in anyway, it’s just this feeling, this niggle in the pit of the stomach that can only be satiated for so long…                                                                                                               Whenever I read books about people making long painful journeys, climbing mountains etc, I never think why, I always think – how and when can I do that… I only wish I got to do more of it.
  • Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found – Cheryl Strayed                   4/5                                                                                                                                           Like the books above this is another expedition by a woman through remote terrain – this time along the PCT in North America.                                                                         Again like many of the books above I don’t feel that I could ever be friends with the author; however, I enjoyed her book and could mainly identify with her struggle.    Cheryl undertook her journey after being devastated by the loss of her mother, which resulted in her “going off the rails” as you might call it.                                                           I think after huge events in our lives some people can stop take and breathe and carry on, which is very admirable. Others need to draw a line, take a giant leap and go and re-set.                                                                                                                                                This book is almost like a story of personal redemption and given the meagre means she achieved it with is very admirable.                                                                                          I also now want to go and do another big trek…

I’m definitely going to keep up with my reading streak, so if you’ve got any good suggestions let me know!

If you decide to check out any of the above I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Right, now I’m off to plan more adventures…

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#22 Kokoda challenge

Due to a weird fit of madness I decided that I would agree to participate in the Kokoda Brisbane 30km Challenge this year…

I reckon I agreed because back in December it seemed so very very very far far away!

But oh no, it came round extremely quickly and on May 31st I found myself trekking through the d’Aguilar range.

The Kokoda Challenge is run by the Kokoda foundation and raises money for youth programs.

There’s a real great video here that explains the work of the foundation, which I recommend you check out.

OUR TEAM

I entered the challenge as part of a team of 3 the “GeoGals”, with my colleagues Ester and Silvia.

Together we did various amount of training… although I definitely didn’t do enough.

Silvia is a natural born mountain goat though!

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TRAINING

To get hill-ready I did a mixture of 10km to 18km walks around the Brisbane area.

We started off gently with a nice morning 10km around Mount Cootha, finishing with ice creams at the café at the end (how every hike should finish).

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Esther and I had a lovely walk around Brighton where we can across an awesome Mid-Century furniture warehouse, which rather slowed out pace down!

We also had a fun trip out in the sunnie coast hinterland; although we were so hungry by the end of it we might have ended up in KFC in Caboolture!

I blame that on it being a public holiday and there not being any other options open… We did look for a café… really we did I promise!

The last group training walk we did was around the Lamington National Park and was guided by Silvia’s friend Rodney, who is actually a former park ranger.

It was such an interesting hike, as he talked about all the plants and trees and knew a few bushwhacking “short-cuts”.

One side jolly took us off to a perfect picnic spot on the edge of an 80m cliff overlooking the rest of the range. You could see out across the valley all the way to the coast.

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I also tried to get to the gym and out running too, but unfortunately work has rather taken over recently and I didn’t get out half as often as I should.

THE ROUTE

The Kokoda challenge is the shorter version of the replication of the Kokoda track, which people complete both in the original location in PNG and also in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

For those who aren’t familiar with the back story, Aussie Diggers had to cross 96km of PNG bush tracks in the Owen Stanley Ranges in a period of 36 hours and then go to battle. Amazing.

The setting within the d’Aguilar range is reckoned to be fairly similar terrain to PNG, albeit less tropical.

The walk starts at Brookfield showground and winds up to McAfee’s Lookout and back.

The course is hilly. Really rather hilly. Understatement – it is ONLY hills! In fact one section is actually referred to as the “hell hole”…

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MONIES

The challenge is run to raise money for the Kokoda Foundation and we had a minimum fundraising requirement, which we smashed.

I believe that the fundraising page is actually still open and that you can still donate to sponsor our great effort here!

My contribution to fundraising was largely raised from bake sales…

Overall we raised about $500!

THE BIG DAY

The walk started as the sun was coming up, with all 1000 participants setting off under a large banner. The runner disappeared fairly quickly, but most of the walking group stayed fairly close together almost until the first check point.

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I wasn’t feeling all that good on the morning of the walk unfortunately. I was struggling with pretty bad nausea for most of the morning, which didn’t help climbing hills.

I had lots of great snacks to keep me going though, so I kept on.

I also struggled with the hills a bit more than the others.

It turned out to be one of the hottest days in a long time – 29 degrees, which for autumn is not cool man!

Combined with the 100% humidity I was pretty much (or rather not pretty at all) a human puddle all day.

Once we reached the first check point I think we all relaxed a bit. There was a really great vibe with all the people around and it was pretty fun.

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The second leg had quite a lot of uphill sections and the mid-point break was much appreciated. I think my quads might have spasmed off my legs otherwise…

After fuelling up on jam sandwiches, dried apricots and a good drink of water we were off again.

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The third section was the most testing I reckon. The groups had seriously thinned out by then and there were some seriously steep sections.

This included the “hell hole” which was really very steep – although Silvia almost bounded up it!

Between the 15-20km mark we were walking at a similar pace to one of the Kokoda foundation youth groups, who do the 30km walk, the Gold Coast 96km walk and then the PNG walk too!

We were all so impressed with how motivated, polite and generally great all the kids were. It was very impressive.

In fact there were a lot of extremely impressive groups of kids participating that day that completely put us to shame.

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It felt like the final check point was going to be around every corner.

By this point the endless feeling of walking uphill was starting to grind us all down a little bit.  It felt like the last few kilometres in this section took a lifetime and I think we might have gone a bit mad in the last 50m when we spotted it!

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Reaching the road and knowing we were walking the last 2-3km at the end really helped to motivate us through the pain towards the end.

It was really great to cross the finish line all together.

I think we made a great effort and I’m super proud of us all.

That night I sat in the bath for over an hour and was fast asleep by 7pm!

The next day was walking a bit like a granny, but I surprised myself and recovered pretty quickly.

I did make myself go walking, do yoga and bodypump to get rid of all the lactic acid build up though, which I reckon definitely helped.

I’m really proud to have ticked this one-off, but am glad to say it’s done and that I won’t be doing this again.

That being said I just paid my entry fee to the Bridge to Brisbane run in August…

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STATS

So the fastest team completed the challenge in 3 hours and 28 minutes… crazy people – but what an amazing achievement!

We finished in the respectable time of 8 hours and 31 minutes.

The slowest team took 9 hours and 22 minutes, which was technically after the cut-off time.

200 teams finished, 50 dropped out.

Over 1000 people participated in all categories.

Team GeoGals came in 87-89th out of the 3 person category.

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Quarterly catch-up extravaganza

April & May have come and gone in the blink of an eye. It rather seems I am failing at monthly updates – but when you have 8 days a month to function like a normal person it’s actually quite hard to keep up with this blog – I won’t lie, it’s felt like a struggle.

I know I said the same thing last month but it really does feel like this year is happening in fast forward!

I have to get on with posting my extra blog posts too – as I have completed a whole bunch of fun things!

I’ve also actually written them – so am going to set them all to auto-post weekly over the next few weeks each Friday afternoon so keep your eyes peeled and feel free to share the love.

This post is bit of a behemoth – as usual and is playing catch-up covered April and May and looking forwards into March… so I’ll keep it as snappy as I can…

Quotes

April – let’s pretend it wasn’t so long ago…

This month though I have been feeling pretty inspired by the work of the much loved Michael Leunig.

IMG_2206I have been following his work for a while and as a member of the Michael Leunig Appreciation society on Facebook I get to see his lovely pictures, poems and thoughts most days. 

I find many of them gently amusing, other more politically charged posts generally align with my world views.

Life has been treating me pretty well this year, apart from work-related stress, which is really just a given.

I saw this is about a week ago and it really amused me – just trying to enjoy the little pleasures of everyday life and not let things get on top of me.Being away from hope Monday to Friday, I really find I enjoy small moments at home when I’m having a quiet weekend (rare).

IMG_2246May

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” James J.Lachard

Mark shared this with me after a conversation we had the other night when I was expressing how I currently feel towards my career (or lack thereof) and how I have reached a point where the potential for higher financial rewards are just not worth the associated stress. It just perfectly summed up how I had been feeling about life and the rat race and starting me thinking about longer term change.

I’m not good with stress and struggle with anxiety, which I have to actively manage – somewhat successfully it would seem, as I was then asked in a surprised voice whether I got anxious!

As I don’t have a vocational career there’s no end goal, no attainable stage of enlightenment or ability to reach, just continued layering of pressure and volume of deliverables. I have been feeling increasingly that I just want to work for myself, to be answerable to myself and reasonable for my own decisions. I would love to have a small business… I think I’m still a way off taking the plunge though.

June

IMG_2165The main point of this year’s challenges was to inspire myself to achieve goals and get out here and live life to the full. Recently I have gotten bogged down in the day-today and work-life struggle and fallen off the bandwagon a bit.

Therefore, this month I going to get on with organising the things important to myself, be more proactive and not put things off… It’s so easy to say “oh next time, next weekend” or “I’ll tell them next time” so in June I’m going to try and be more in the today.

Recipe(s) of the month(s)

April

This month my cooking has been super basic and uninspired… I have been trying to work through leftovers in the freezer.

I didn’t include my March baking in my last post, so I have to include even more fun food items…

They’re both super simple and both baking related… used as bake sale items for Kokoda fundraising – more about that later!

So first up I have super mega chocolate cupcakes.

I made a basic Victoria sponge mix base and then topped these with the best chocolate frosting ever…

Cake mixture:

Ratio of 2:2:2:1 of flour:sugar:butter:eggs

i.e. I use 6 oz of flour etc and 3 eggs to make about 12 cupcakes or a small double layered Victoria sponge.

Beat your sugar and butter then fold in the flour and eggs, alternating small volumes.

Then give a good old fix – carefully to fold, rather than beat so you make your sponge all nice and light.

Funnily enough I have made this cake using the whisk on my mixer and actually think it works out better in texture when hand mixed…IMG_1845

Frosting:

Ratio of 1 cup sugar to 1 egg white

Whip sugar and egg white over bain-marie consistently until it reaches 60 degrees (so you don’t give everyone salmonella).

Then transfer to mixer and whip on high setting until smooth, glossy and soft peaks.

Then add in small amounts of butter until you think it’s reached the rich butter cream consistency – this should be like a whipped mousse texture.

I then added cocoa – quite a lot of cocoa, good quality cocoa…

This frosting is super intense in flavour and like velvet mousse in texture – wonderful!

You need a plain or light cake base though, at the chocolate is so potent! Although orange or mint might work really well too.

They then got packaged up in my trusty cupcake carrier and taken to work – airport security threatened to confiscate them as a “tasty-tax”.

In the name of Easter I also put little mini eggs on the tops of them – although I forgot to take a photo pf the end product L

IMG_1842I also made Easter nest cakes – i.e. chocolate covered shredded wheat with mini eggs in the centre.

They went down a treat and I raised almost $50!

I tried making these with shredded wheat to give a better nest-like texture, as opposed to other cereals like corn flakes you see other people using.

IMG_1844May

This month I made one of my favourites – “Everything Bars” which I found on a blog that I’ve been following for several years…

This is technically not a new recipe so I guess it’s kind of cheating, but I had only made s tiny test batch before and made a huge tray this time.

Essentially they have everything you could want out of a sweet treat bar… salty, sweet, hard, chewy.

Everyone at work loved these – although I had to stop eating them all myself.

Seriously give them a go! I’m just a bit nervous when I make caramel as I am SO accident prone and sugar gives the worst burns –but I got it perfected!

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I also tried making chocolate mud mug cakes with Sam. This involves mixing flour, oil, sugar, cocoa and milk and microwaving.

We tried various lengths of time, but it they still came out too dry, even with ice cream. But they were quite fun none the less.

IMG_2198June

I’ve definitely been cooking a lot more recently but seen as it’s the start of the month I have yet to try anything new…

Therefore, June cooking will star in July’s post – which will be rather better organised than this one! :-O

This month I am thankful for…

April

My colleague Sam… for generally lightening the mood, having a good chat, tea appreciation skills, sending me endless silly gifs and feeding me chocolate (#thanksbutnotthanks).

And also – this is a big one…. Letting me come over to watch new episodes of Game of Thrones on his big TV….

Sam has also been my biggest sponsor to date for the Kokoda challenge – paying $7 for a cupcake and another $50 donation!

Cheers Sam…

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May

This month I am thankful to my old roomie and one of my besties Meghan. I always love catching up with Meghan, even though it doesn’t happen often enough and I sure miss her experimental cooking. I used to love going to home to see about a dozen new recipes on the go all at once – meaning I didn’t need to cook J

I think we’re two people that are able to communicate on a really open level and provide the right support and inspiration for one another.

I never feel like there’s something I can’t say, good or bad and we always have so much fun.

Meghan is always into something new, whether it’s new recipes or places to hang out, networking, doing all of the Stadium stomps around the entire of Australia (deranged) it’s always so exciting and motivating to hear about.

To my ultimate foodie friend, you always inspire me and lift me up. I love you and am so proud and excited that you’ve got such an awesome shiny new job and new adventures on the horizon.

IMG_2092June

Having used my thankfulness up on people over the last 2 month’s I’m going to get materialistic and get thankful for stuff… Namely cheap flat pack stuff!

I have been working really hard to transform my apartment into somewhere that feels like a home rather than living out of boxes (I had a mass clear out of any furniture associated with my old life when I moved). Despite working silly hours and constantly being away from home I haven’t had a heap of spare cash and so I am thankful to IKEA for yet again providing me with a way to make my house (well unit) a home.

IMG_2126I’ve gone a bit mad with the homes wares over the last month as it had started to get to me feeling like I was living in limbo… And this month I can say it’s finished J. Or least I have all the furniture I need and have unpacked all the boxes…

Although that did leave 1 more thing to sort out, which is rather special and will be revealed another month when’s it’s finished… intrigued? You so should be…

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#11 Do the Storey Bridge Climb

I love the Story Bridge, it is my favourite bridge in Brisbane. I especially love Riverfire, a big event as pert of the annual Brisbane festival where they have a big firework display along the river and shoot fireworks off the bridge!

It’s also my local bridge, the one I travel over when I’m close to home, or off to the motorway to head down to the coast for fun times.

I roped in Esther to climb the bridge with me – it didn’t take much convincing though, which was good.

The Story Bridge Adventure Experience company runs trips climbing the bridge, abseiling of it etc. all through the day and into the night.

We chose to do a twilight climb, which worked out perfectly.

The evening was the perfect temperature, the skies were clear and spirits were high.

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A Brief History Lesson…

The Story Bridge is a steel cantilevered bridge that opened in 1940 and runs in a North-South orientation, connecting Kangaroo Point to Fortitude Valley and the City.

The bridge was named the Jubilee Bridge during construction, but was renamed on opening to the Story Bridge after John Douglas Story, a public servant.

Almost 97,000 cars cross the 6 lanes of the bridge every day, with it being one of the main commuter bridges into the city.

The Story Bridge Climb is one of only 3 bridge climbs in the world – the others being the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The summit is approximately 80m above sea level and higher that the Gateway Bridge – which I was surprised by as it certainly feels a lot higher when you go over it.

Amazingly only 3 men died in the construction of the bridge. Given the time and the hazardous work/location that is pretty good going.

The bridge was constructed using 1.25 million nuts and bolts; however, as so many were dropped from the bridge or were damaged they actually had to manufacture 1.5 million! That’s a whole lotta bolts! The foundations also run to 40m depth on the southern side, which required the use of pneumatic caissons under 4 atmospheres of pressure, which in the 1930s was highly risky work.

The bridge also has to be repainted for protection and it takes 7 years to paint the bridge – so it’s almost constantly being painted!

The Climb

Everyone has to be bretho’d before they can start – which seems pretty sensible. Including a 14 year old girl, which amused her father.

We then got kitted out in our climbing gear –I’ve never felt more like Anika Rice in my life!

You wear super funky jump suits, then you have your “utility belt” that fixes onto the rails to secure you on to the bridge.

You get a radio headset – very star trek style, as it doesn’t cover your ears, just sits on the bone in front of your ears instead.

You’re not allowed to take any loose items, so glasses have to be strapped on and even my bobby pins were removed!

You also get a wet weather jacket strapped onto your belt – it had everything.

By the time you’re ready to go you’re quite laden down, and raring to go!

To get from the activity centre up on to the bridge you first climb a spiral staircase, which takes you up about 3 stories. There’s then a horizontal platform that runs directly under the road – at this point you clip on to the guidelines.

The stairs and walk ways are all grated, I assume to deal with water runoff. However, for a person that isn’t great with heights I was a bit nervous about looking down.

Through the walkway section you can see straight down to the ground below and can feel the vibration of the road traffic overhead, it’s a little bit shaky, but not too bad.

We walked up the south-eastern stairs and emerged above the road. The first set of steps, which takes you up through the road section, is fairly dark, so it’s quite impressive when you emerge and can see the view. I felt like a meerkat sticking my head up out of a hole.

We climbed to the top of the bridge whilst it was still light. From the top the views are brilliant. You can see out east to the airport and the islands. I could almost see my apartment building! To the west you are looking straight at the CBD with Mt Coo-tha behind. To the north all you really see is the valley (less exciting) but you can actually see some of the glasshouse mountains! We were lucky it was so clear! To the south the suburbs just open up before you and you see all the way out to Mt Gravatt and across to Lamington National Park.

Many of the others in the group were tourists and so the guide pointed out landmarks. I loved doing this a local as I think you get more out of identifying all the places you know and love. Also as I fly in and out every week I know where most things are aerially so it was pretty easy to pick everything out.

You pose for cheesy photos and then head down the stairs towards the centre of the bridge. By this point you’re actually over the water, which feels slightly strange.

Although I was initially super nervous about the height it didn’t bother me at all. You feel really secure and it just doesn’t seem all that high. I also think it helps that this is a bridge I’m used to driving or jogging over and that you get distracted by the views.

At the centre point of the bridge you cross over to the northern side, walking across a central support, right above the cars. I stopped in the middle to look down and watch the cars zipping by underneath, which was very cool. By the time the sun was setting behind the CBD and the sky was a wonderful orange colour.

We then walked back up to the top and stopped to admire the twilight views. The lights of the city had turned on and the sun was low and red in the background. The bridge itself is lit with lights that can change colour. They’re set different colours for events or festivals, such as green and gold for Australian sports matches. That day was the Greek festival, so the lights were blue and white.

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We got another cheesy photo and started to head down back towards the climb centre.

The whole experience was around 2 ½ hours and I think we picked the perfect time of day and the perfect time of year to do it.

All in all we climbed over 1000 stairs over approximately 1km! Go us! We then celebrated with tapas and cocktails at a wonderful local restaurant with a friendly possum named Patricia… a great Saturday night out.

I’m so glad I did this!

 

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