16 April, 2011

A couple of days in Ghent...

Well, after a couple of days in London, I am now in Ghent, Belgium- but its BOUND to be busy! Busy indeed it was! But I wanted to leave the last post for Louise an extra couple of days...

I arrived in Belgium via the Eurostar via Brussels. The transfer time in Brussels was quite good, no rush! Once I arrived in Ghent, I thought it simplest to just get a cab to the hotel. WHAT I should have done was just got the tram at 1.20 Euro instead of the 8 Euro the cabbie charged! But it was the easiest!

Suburban Train, Brussels
ROWS of bikes at Brussels Station
Ghent Bike... racks?

Monday morning, it was an early start with breakfast, and as I had to get to the 'official' hotel to get the bus, I had a walk to do. but it wasn't far at all in fact, enjoyable!

Ghent Square
Ghent Shopping
Ghent Shopping
Ghent Canal

The day of presentations, went down very well, there really is some great stuff happening! After the technical side was done and dusted, that afternoon we were treated to a guided walk around the City of Ghent and an official welcoming at the City Hall by one of the Councillors. The history of the City is just amazing, as it is something we just don't have here in Sydney being just a tad over 200 years old! I will add THESE pics of the tour of the city in its own post later in the week...

On the Tuesday though, we had a little extra time to sleep in as we didn't need to be at the other hotel for the field day until 9.30. So I still left early, and got some early morning photos of Ghent along the way. We arrived at the research facility which was also a soccer (OK, in Europe its FOOTBALL) pitch. There was a lot of machinery there and a lot to see.

At the Ghent University's research facility, we were treated to a lot of different machinery applications, some I had not seen before, whilst some are changes in technology. There was just SO much to see it was great! And after the morning exhibition, we then headed across to K.A.A. Ghent's home ground.

ETS Trade Show
ETS Trade Show
ETS Trade Show
ETS Trade Show
ETS Trade Show
ETS Trade Show
ETS Trade Show
K.A.A. Ghent
K.A.A. Ghent
K.A.A. Ghent (Light Booms)
K.A.A. Ghent (Light Booms)

I had a great time in Ghent, and its certainly a city I would love to go back to...

Hoo roo for now...


15 April, 2011

Two years on - its still so unfair... Rembering Louise

7.36am, 15th April 2009, my world came crashing down around me...


At first, I thoght all was ok, and then I felt as though I didn't know what to do...


You're now at peace, with our angle babies...

Louise 14

2 years ago today, Missing you more than ever, and loving you still today


Hoo roo for now...


11 April, 2011

London to Ghent, via Brussels!

It was an early day today, only because I woke RATHER early (to early to own up too) but suffice to say, I am now very tired... I washed and made myself respectable before heading down for breakfast. After breakfast, I put my bag into the baggage holding room, and then headed over to London Heathrow for some spotting.

This mornings runway operations were 09L for arrivals and 09R for the occasional arrival but mainly for departures. I caught the bus, and when I arrived, although it was rather fresh and crisp, I found more than a few 'Bobbies' patrolling. Not wanting to get on the wrong side of anyone, I asked it would be OK if I was to spot for a little while, and explained where I was from, and it was accepted that if HE was to get a call, he would explain. So cool, it was all good to go! I was located on the departures entrance ramp on Terminal 5. Here are a couple of shots of the morning.




I then headed back to the hotel to collect my bag, then a bus to Hounslow Central to catch the Tube to St Pancras to get the train to Brussels Midi to catch the train to Ghent to catch a cab and here I am in my hotel... As I said, I am tired, so I will close off here, have a shower and get some rest! After all, tomorrow IS the conference!

Good night all!!!

Hoo roo for now...


10 April, 2011

A day in London... A Garden, a Park and a Palace

This morning, I woke sort of early, 6.30am, which sort of blew me away a little as I was tired, especially after a couple of beers with H&P last night!

So I got ready for the day, had breakfast and headed out... I was planning to head up to Stamford, but the plan changed a little so I headed for London instead. First stop was to get phone sorted a little so as I can do International calls/SMS. I headed down into Bayswater, which is where L & I stayed with R when we came over in 2004. It is a fantastic, vibrant, colourful, dynamic little strip with lots of restaurants (cheap) along the way. It is on the District/Circle line, and about 50m up the road is Queensway which is on the Central line! So its easily accessable.

After getting the phone fixed, I headed across into Hyde Park, Kensington, which is next door to Kensington Palace, home of Diana Princess of Wales before she was tragically killed in Paris. I walked around the Park a little, around the Round Lake which had some Swans and ducks swimming, before heading past some deck chairs and over to the Palace Gates. Unfortunately, the was some major renovations underway... I then headed around to the rear entrance, which is to get access into the Palace itself, and there was the most amazing little garden which was full of colour.

Hyde Park (Kensington Gardens)

Diana Princess Of Wales Memorial Walk

Round Lake

Chairs in Hyde Park

Kensington Palace Gates


Tulips Lobelia and Marigolds

Kensington Palace Gardens

Kensington Palace Gardens Pond

And yes, it is SPRING here and within 24 hours of arriving, I had to visit a local Boots (Bayswater) for some Hayfever relief!

I caught the Tube back up to Marble Arch, and went into a highly recomended department store ?? and it was SO chaotic, I think there was a sale going on! However, it was SO bad, I could not get to where I wanted, shorts, due to the sheer number pf people there, so I headed out to get some lunch and head back to the hotel for a recharge (phone batt nearly dead)....

So that was my day!

Hoo roo for now...


06 April, 2011

Sydney to London - via Bangkok and Dubai

Ok, it goes without saying that YES, I am an Emirates fan... It doesn't seem THAT obvious... Does it?

Thursday was an early start, as BF was leaving for Auckland, I took them out to the airport. So it was 3.30am when I woke up... I arrived at L&R's place and we soon headed over to the airport. Getting TO the airport was no hassle, and we parked our cars and headed for the check-in counters. They were checked-in, in no time at all and given the time, were through security and on their way. L&R and I, on the other hand, had a coffee and then we went our separate ways... I went to the Dentist!

The Dentist was an uneventful visit, all was good, so it was then off to have a morning tea with A, and Miss 4 E. Although we normally have lunch at work as Miss 4 is enrolled in a program at work, we met mid-way between my dentist and her place, Forsyth's Coffee & Tea.

After lunch, it was home to pack, via Woolies, where M came over to collect me and take me to the airport. It was a quieter than normal drive to the airport, I think someone was going to miss me going, but it is only for a short time! We arrived, I said my good-byes (not wanting to line Macquarie Banks pockets anymore as parking is expensive here, and I went and checked in; all the way to London.

After sitting in the Emirates Lounge for a while, I soon heard my boarding call and headed up to the aircraft, a Boeing 777-300ER. I normally take the A380 flight direct, but this flight has a stop in Bangkok! This flight, being a night flight of 8hrs and 26mins was uneventful once we got airborne! There was a little bit of taxi traffic, and whilst sitting on the taxiway, I did see my mate J sitting on one of the tugs, flashing his lights! See ya J!

Transiting through Bangkok was also uneventful, this time at least the immigration people were lighter in nature than last time I was here! I headed for the Lounge to relax for the 90 min we were here before heading back to re-board. Again, this flight (being a night flight) was all good and the crew again, were fantastic!

However, due to our late departure from Sydney and Bangkok, sitting in a holding pattern near Muscat and then over Dubai itself for around 40mins, it became a tight transit in Dubai. So much so, I was in a long line for the transit security, and a 'Granny Buggy' was calling for flights for an emergency access through security. I eventually got into the holding bay area for my flight just as they were about to close the flight, and when scanning my boarding pass (issued in Sydney), an alarm went off. I was re-ticketed and I boarded the aircraft. Only to find though, a Kiwi lad sitting in what should have been my seat! We exchanged "Can I have my seat please" statements before I spoke to a Hostess... She took both boarding passes to the Purser, and then then Purser came to me and invited my upstairs... UPGRADE!!!

Now, in the end, I sat, got comfy and set up a total of 3 Business Class seats! Long story, but the last one was a curl one! I was asked b the hostess that would I mind moving as an Arabic lady has made a request to sit alone (Arabic custom not to sit next to a man) and could I swap... I was like sure, expecting to see a lady in a Burqu/Burka or something, but NO, here she was in a singlet top and tight jeans so if she was an extremist in Arabic Cultures, where is the coverings? Anyways, I moved and got set up and we were soon underway...

Here are some pics from the flight...

Drink Service commencing
Somewhere, over the desert...
Lunch Appetiser - TUNA TARTARE

I got some sleep on the flight, now I am not sure if it was a result of the lie-flat bed or the Jack Daniels I had drunk, but we eventually landed in London. Clearing Immigration was a breeze thanks to being a British Citizen, and I was soon at my hotel opposite the airport. A quick shower and I was on my way into London's Oxford St, as I know of a phone shop where I got a new SIM for my phone so as I can still have data access. I then got a call from H&P, B's sister, and headed up to Mayfair for a beer, or three, and dinner. I was beginning to get a bit sleepy,so I said my good-byes and headed for the Tube and homeward bound...

Hoo roo for now...


05 April, 2011

A weekend in Auckland PART III of III

Auckland - Sydney Emirates EK413 A6-EDM

Ok, I know it has been MORE than a little while since posting parts I and II, but here is the third enstallment of a weekend away in Auckland.

The day started early, VERY early. A wake up call wasn't needed, but a coffee certainly was! We packed our things, checked out and loaded the car (Toyota Hilux 4WD) and were on our way to Rotorua. It was an uneventful drive down, memory directed mostly where we needed to go, but the occassional look (for reassurance) at the GPS on the phone, always helped!

We arrived somewhat early, so we had a quick look around the city. Once we got to the visitor center where I had to collect some tickets, we then headed back to Skyliner for the morning adventures!

Rotorua Oval
Rotorua Overview (Gondola) from Chairlift
Half way

We had booked the 'Skyswing and Luge package; what fun! Now, you can ONLY ride IF you're over the sign!

Skyswing Height Board

After this, we then jumped back into the car, and headed back to Auckland Airport for our flight home. Check in was painless, being Gold on a dedicated line (thankfully) and there as also pre-immigration screening at the counter as well! Cleared immigration and got through security easily and then headed for the Emirates Lounge to relax...

Boarding was also great, but this time, we were heading upstairs on the A380 into Business Class; a suitable reward for my flights and for my birthday! Again, I was greeted personally by the Cabin Manager by name, no-one else up there, and was asked if I needed anything, to contact her. I like being a Gold Status holder! Pre-departure drinks was served as with menus, and we soon taxied out for our departure to the north...

Entrees were soon served, where I had the Smoked Salmon, a main of Prawns in a Lemongrass Sauce with rice and veges and a dessert of White Chocolate Mousse. We also had a visit to the bar in the rear of the upper deck!

AKL Spoters Park
AKL Overview
Smoked Salmon Entree
Prawns Lemongrass Sauce with Rice Veges
White Chocolate Mousse
EK A380 Business Bar

All to soon we arrived back into Sydney, where after coming through rain and crosswinds, we made a very hard landing... Clearing of immigration was of course painless, and we were collected on the outside...

Coming up next, is a trip to Belgium, and for a couple of days before and after, in London!

Hoo roo for now...


01 April, 2011

Blue for Autism Awareness Day

Tonight, the Opera house turned blue (Light It Up Blue) as part of the World Autism Awareness Day. I went in to get a couple of shots, and to practice my night photography skills as well...


I started, whilst waiting for M to arrive from Uni, to get a shot of OLIVETO Restaurant.

We then head into Harry's Cafe De Wheels, for a quick bite to eat before heading over to Dawes Point which is under the Harbour Bridge, opposite the Opera House as well, so makes a great vantage point!

Blue Opera House

I finished up getting a couple of extra shots, of course the Harbour Bridge but also opposite at Nth Sydney, is Luna Park

Harbour Bridge
Luna Park

There was even some ghastly ghoulies about the Rocks area as well!!

Ghostly Ghouls

Hoo roo for now...