Monday, 26 August 2013

Mountain Ducks!

Until now we had not explored the area of Victoria north of Melbourne. Often known as the high country for obvious reasons, The Grampians appealed.

What was more appealing was the fact that we were able to find dog friendly accommodation and it was very exciting for us to be able to take our "boys" on their first trip away together.

However, given the size of our 8 paws, the journey was now a 2 car operation.

I went on ahead with the boys and Hubster followed up the rear a few hours later with all our supplies for the weekend.

After almost a 4 hour drive. I arrived at Mountain Duck cottage.

The sat nav directions seemed endless, turn onto Ballarat Road for 87km, turn right onto Glenelg Highway for 153km!!! We passed through many sleepy, outback townships with nothing more than a small grocers, (maybe a bar) and a rundown petrol station with one pump.

The cottage was beautiful, a cosy retreat set amongst giant Red Gum Trees and totally enclosed with grounds large enough for our two boys to run amok.

Radders - born to be an Aussie porch dog!

It was a real home from home and when I got the call from Hubster that he was just 20 minutes away, I lit the wood fire and opened the wine.

Our few days here were very simple.

We enjoyed lazy lie-ins listening to the birds. They were incredible; Kookaburra, Blue Wrens, Rosellas, Cockatoos, Gallas and Parakeets and of course the beautiful Mountain Ducks.

Tucked into delicious cooked breakfasts expertly prepared by the Hubster.

Chilled on the porch reading and/or playing with the boys.

Sorry Kale, looks like I am garrotting the poor lad.


Boys in play

....and at rest.
Strolled through the heathland, by the river or drove out to the hills mid morning.


Paid a visit to the local outback pub, the Bunyip Hotel, rude not to and such a step back in time, we loved it.

Hunkered down in the afternoon with a wood fire, some old films on TV, snoozes and snuggles.

Relaxed on the porch early evening listening to the more gentle warble of the bird evening song.

I am proud I got my stick.....

...keeping guard of my stick

Kale on sentry duty like a giant Meerkat

Prepared and polished off some simple, home fare for dinner and snuggled down some more.

And where was I in this cosy picture of domestic bliss?

Draw your own conclusions but I was perfectly content.

Absolutely everything we hoped it would be and our boys were a joy.

Again, again, again! Thank you Mountain Duck Cottage. We hope to get back in the Summer when we can swap the wood fire for BBQ's on the porch.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Kale - the dog named after a leafy, green vegetable!

The time felt right to rescue another.

Besides, we've always had two.

I worried that our life with Radders would be irrevocably disrupted. Lets face it, we 3, were very happy just as we were.

But one day I had the calling and I couldn't ignore it. I got onto the rescue websites and was instantly catapulted into that world where, the only way out was with a waggy tailed, four legged friend in tow.

"This time I will be sensible"

Hubster gave me one of his smiles.

"This time lets have a medium dog or a little dog, so much more practical"

Hubster's enigmatic smile once more.

Then up popped "Bruce" and my heart pounded in my chest and all previous rationale went out of the window.

Well who am I kidding? We are just big dog, sight hound people. Love em, have always loved em, we know how they tick. Here was a 6 month old baby with a hard luck story, the gentlest and loving of ways, soppy, forlorn eyes and .............bang the hammer came down.

Bruce came home with us.

On the journey home Bruce became Kale. Bruce sounded too much like an Aussie cliché and it actually didn't suit him. (in our humble opinion)

He's underweight, he is constantly hungry but that is easily sorted. He is a total cuddle monster, so big and yet still very much a baby.

Radish embraced him like a long lost brother and the connection was instant.

Hey I think we have done the right thing here.

Our love is instant, full flowing and unconditional and it comes right back to us.

First night done, no whimpering, crying. No messes, no chewing. No anxiety.

I reckon Radders had a word. "Stick with these pair mate and you'll be right"



When we come home, a true Aussie will be on the plane back with us.

He is beautiful and I know we did the right thing and who could ask for a better "souvenir" from our amazing experience Down Under.

Welcome to family TJ Kale.

Kale would like to thank his foster mummy Lynda and family and all at Starting Over Dog Rescue for giving him the chance to land on his paws.

We thank you too.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

The best place we'd never heard of - Part Three

Niue is not about gastronomy or fine dining. There are a few cafĂ© style places to eat but they open when they feel like it and the menu is limited. Catering for tourism is a new concept and one they have yet to grapple, we hope they take their time!

We went to one place, it had Fish Salad, Fish burger and Fish n Chips on the menu. The waitress came out and said we have everything on the menu but no fish! ha ha we laughed our socks off. I had the fish salad (minus fish), hubster had the fish n chips.... yep you guessed it. We shared.

That is Niue, the fishermen didn't catch anything and even if they did, the islanders would have had first dibs. Quite right.

Annoyed? Not at all, utterly charmed.

There is a little supermarket which has all the basics and oddly enough Marmite!!

Our Niue Afternoons

Anyway after whatever makeshift lunch we could muster our sights were set on exploring the surrounding waters.

We were greeted with crystal clear pools that have etched themselves into open mouthed caves teeming with infant fish, baby crabs and shrimps. A wonderful spot to chill.

We wondered at beautiful coral formations, yellow, purple, pink, blue and living amongst it all the incredibly healthy tropical marine life.

Sea snakes, octopus, huge moray eels, giant centipedes and of course nemo and all his fishy mates including the white tipped reef shark.

Hours dissolved and only the rising tide alerted us to the fact that we should try and pull ourselves away from our own personal aquarium.

En route back to Restoration Reef, it became routine to stop by Sails Bar. Sails is run by a New Zealander who married a Niuean lady, who set up a bar some 25 years ago and has many a story to tell about island life. Stafford Guest genuinely seemed happy to see us each day and we him. The free nibbles after hours in the water were always welcome. The stories we will never forget, thank you Stafford.

So what about the WHALES and what about the DOLPHINS?

Well we were blessed. We snorkelled with the spinner dolphins and we got up close and personal with the humpback whales.

What about the pictures?

Well you know, you have to make a choice when you are one on one with wildlife.

A. Spend all your time with a camera stuck in your face, trying to capture the perfect moment

B. Be totally present in the fleeting and wonderful moment that Mother Nature presents.

B obviously.

However, thanks to this chap, we can share with you what we saw.

 It was a beautiful sight, we had many like this. Lone males like the one above breaching, diving and singing at the bottom and pods of mums and aunties with calves. No words just pure awe.

With the Spinner dolphins we donned a dive glove each, snorkel and mask. We then launched ourselves off backward off the skiff and frantically held to the gunwale whilst bodysurfing the chop with our faces down in the water following the Spinners. With our free hand we signalled the direction the dolphins were heading.

It was exhilarating and exciting and thank god we had custom masks that fitted and snorkels with splash guards!

Wow that was sooooo exciting, beautiful and emotional.

You know when you've had a great holiday when 2 hours before you need to catch the plane you are still out on the water looking for whales and dolphins!

God bless you Niue, your people, your wonderful lack of tourism, your big heart, your bush chickens, your fresh paw paws that we could pick every day and everything else and more...........


you can keep your Vomit Fruit (Noni) however this wonderful lady can be on my team anyday!

Go Grandma and your CND glasses.

Niue - miss you already. xxx

The bush chickens have the final say. They far out numbered the humans and roam the island as free as, well as a bird! Islanders gather eggs wherever they find them and they happened to be the finest and healthiest free range we've ever seen.