Lava Chaos

You are probably aware that Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii has been erupting once again – though you may not be anywhere near as fascinated by it as we are in this house. On our visit to the Big Island in 2013 we visited Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and visited Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.

I also stood on lava while on this island, and that was a story in itself.

There was a live feed of lava on Youtube for a while.. you can still view those live feeds though they are no longer live.

I’ve been keeping an eye on a few different Facebook groups like Puna lava updates. Some of the footage there has been incredible.

Some bright spark took some pieces of lava from this present eruption and was selling them on Ebay. There is a large superstition around Pele’s Curse – Pele’s Curse is the belief that anything natively Hawaiian, such as sand, rock, or pumice, will effect bad luck on whoever takes it away from Hawaii. In 2017, over 1200 lava rocks were returned to Haleakala National Park which is located on the island of Maui.

I did not take the sparkly lava rock home with me for a different reason – we have a life rule. Take only photographs, leave only footprints. But even so, on the way home from Hawaii I gained a life threatening illness – on the plane I developed a deep vein thrombosis and two weeks later that landed in my lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism which tried to kill me.

It was not until I told The Other Half the story of this bright spark trying to sell the rocks that I realised – perhaps my DVT and pulmonary embolism were a curse from even just standing on the lava and touching it. That blew my mind a little bit.

Would I want to undo it, given the chance to go back in time? I think probably not. That moment of holding the lava rock, then turning it over to expose a sparkly interior was incredible. I will never forget it and I can go back there in my mind anytime that I like. But I am very thankful I did not bring it home with me.

In the midst of all of this, I saw these bracelets for sale on a local buy and sell group. There is no way I could ever wear one. :) That concept scares me deeply. Perhaps I am quite superstitious about this kind of thing.

I am sad to see so many people losing their homes. I am angry that people were ever allowed to build there in the first place. The volcano is active and has been for many years. It is not a safe place to live and insurance is far too costly for many of the people who do live there, so many of them have lost everything they have been working to build for many years.

You can view live cameras of Kīlauea Volcano here. There is a live stream of the caldera here. If you want to keep an eye on the map seen at the top of this post, you can view it here, it is updated regularly.


Musical Monday – Amsterdam


Somewhere nearby in a parallel universe, there is a version of me sitting in Starclass on a Jetstar flight to Hawaii, listening to “Amsterdam” by Coldplay, over and over again.

As we were taxi-ing out to take off, I was loading up songs onto my playlist. There were several different Coldplay albums on my iPhone and somehow I put Amsterdam on the playlist multiple times. There were a couple of live versions, a couple of album versions, and I think somehow I loaded them on more than once each.

I tried to sleep on that flight. Every time I woke up, Amsterdam was playing. It felt like maybe this night went on forever but time was passing without me knowing it. I was managing naps, but because every time I woke up I heard the same song, I felt like I was getting no sleep at all.

Now, anytime I hear that song, I am immediately back on that plane, flying to Hawaii. But I never, ever actually get there. I just keep flying hearing that same song.

I am secretly a bit of a Coldplay fan. Sometimes one of their songs is exactly what you need to sing along to. And while we are talking about them, I really loved one of their filmclips many years ago – for The Scientist. I loved the concept of it, going backwards instead of forwards.

It is interesting to me that particular song was the one that played over and over. My first ever trip overseas by myself was on KLM which is based in Amsterdam, and I did a quick stop over there on my way back from the Isle of Man.

music, travel

Take That Live


Regular readers of the blog may recall that I am a huge Take That fan. After booking the tickets for Take That back in April, I made a Take That CD for the car which contains nearly 50 of their songs including my 5 favourite Take That songs. That is the only music I have listened to in my car ever since.

A good friend of mine who is originally from the UK wanted to go to the concert and of course so did I, so we made plans. I booked the tickets something like 5 days earlier than everyone else could buy them via a Telstra offer, I forget the exact details. Because the concert was in Sydney which is a couple of hours drive from here, we booked a hotel in Parramatta.

Then life went on but with the added bonus of knowing November 17th 2017 would be Take That Day. I last saw Take That live in concert on the 25th of September 1995, so it has been a long wait for me. My friend lived in the UK until 6 years ago. She was lucky enough to go to a lot of their concerts there. On Thursday I prepared with a manicure –


We headed up to Sydney around midday on Friday, planning an early burger at Grill’d and a stop at Gelato Messina which was very close to the hotel. So close I could see it from our hotel room window. I feel like this was a secret message to me. ;)

For anyone who is not living in Sydney, the transport system can be terrifying. I grew up in Adelaide where things were relatively simple, there were only 4 train lines and all you had to worry about is what platform your train is leaving from and does it stop at your station.


I did some research beforehand and all my research told me we had to go to Lidcombe but when we checked in we asked to make sure and we were told it was Strathfield we needed to change trains at. When we got to the train station we could not see anyone to ask, so we went with the information we’d been given at the hotel but it was wrong. Lucky we had gone early, even with this diversion we made it to Qudos Bank Area with miles of time to spare and plenty of time to purchase merchandise.


I saw this hoodie on Twitter some months ago, a fan had posted a photo of it. I loved it and asked how much it had been – 70 pounds was the answer. Currently that should make it around $122AUD – I was expecting it to be somewhere around $150. But it was $100, so I bought it. And they had a lovely sparkly diamante band logo tee shirt which I bought and immediately went to the bathroom and changed into it. Because I love sparkly things and I love that logo.


Then we headed to our seats, which were super duper excellent. It was the weirdest thing, because I had an aisle seat and there were maybe 6 seats on our side of the aisle, then it went into a large section of people on the other side. Exactly like you see at the right hand side of the above photo, people, then a large dark space which is the aisle.

Our side was all people who booked early the same as we did, so I guess you would call us the “super fans”. On the other side of the aisle were people who were not super fans like we were. Some of them remained in their seats for the entire show and did not appear to sing along at all.

On our side of the aisle, there was a LOT of dancing, singing, and even occasional screaming when our favourite band member ventured over to our side of the stage. I did not sit down in my seat once after the band took to the stage, nor did my friend.


Fitbit was not quite sure what to make of all this. I would dearly love to know what songs were playing when I did 12 minutes of outdoor biking.


There’s my favourite, Mark Owen. Not only were we close to the boys themselves but also to the video screen so we had a great view of everything. One thing I love about these lads, they are not scared to sparkle and sequin it up.


I believe Sam from The Annoyed Thyroid was somewhere in the above photo. She was meant to see Take That in Newcastle, only that concert was cancelled. I hope you had just as great a time as we did!


And we did have a most excellent time both at the concert, back at the hotel where we indulged in some pink champagne before bedtime to celebrate our happy evening and then a lovely buffet breakfast the next morning. We then dropped into Costco and IKEA on our way home, because that is how we roll.

Take That, travel

A Quick Canberra Trip


A small interruption to the Movie Catch Up files – it has been nearly a month since our Canberra visit and I have not managed to tell you about it yet! We left home super early on a Sunday morning to make it over to Canberra before lunchtime. canb2a
Canberra put on some gorgeous weather for us but it was very cold. Our plan was to visit the Old Bus Depot Markets, IKEA, Costco and the Canberra Outlet Centre. When we arrived at the markets it was 11:30am which is peak market time and the carparks were absolutely packed. We decided to head to the outlet centre instead of driving in circles trying to find a park and drop back into the markets later if we had time.

TK Maxx has opened at Canberra Outlet Centre and that happened to be the first shop we visited. I’d gone to the American version of this store on Oahu and loved it. However this is not a place you can just quickly drop in and visit. You need to allocate some time to flick through the racks and find the bargains.

As my main shopping task for Canberra was to find a pair of winter boots, I did not have the kind of time needed for TK Maxx today so we just had a quick look around. These sneakers were $600 or so and as much as I would love some crystals on my feet, I said heck no to that! ;) They have such a range of items at all kinds of prices. I took a leisurely trip to the Warrawong store the following weekend where I spent 2.5 hours browsing, but that is a story for another blog post.
There is now a Coffee Club at the Canberra Outlet Centre – we find the food to be reliable and tasty and the coffee is very good here. I had the smashed avo with feta just like a proper hipster doofus.

The official population of Canberra is less than 400,000 people and these lucky people have access to some of the best and least crowded shopping in Australia. They also have access to a lot of other great things – museums, a great zoo, gardens and nature reserves, and some of the best roads with decent speed limits in the country. It is a fairly short drive for us – around two and a half hours – and we have often gone for a day trip before but this time we chose to stay overnight.
We chose Grill’d for dinner as it was a short but very cold walk from our hotel. Grill’d, what are you doing to me? It was because of you I had to create zucchini fries at home, now you want me to create avocado fries at home? If you have a Grill’d nearby the zucchini & avocado fries are worth trying.
I will have to consider this carefully before attempting my own version. I was served deep fried avocado once at a wedding in the early 90’s, in the days before I ate avocado. Who knew avocado fries would become a thing and that I would love them? Who knows what vegetable will be next!
If and when you visit Canberra, do not waste your money on an expensive hotel breakfast. Head out to IKEA and grab their cheap offering (presently just under $6) which includes a hash brown and a sausage not seen here as I swapped it for the tomato on The Other Half’s plate, swedish meatballs, bacon and scrambled egg. They also have warm danish, if you are into that kind of thing, and the cafe serves excellent coffee as well as the cheap or free stuff you get if you are an IKEA member.
The restaurant opens half an hour before the store itself which is almost exactly the perfect amount of time to eat, caffeinate, and make a quick bathroom stop. Then you can do a quick run or a leisurely wander through the store without the crowds you might find at one of their Sydney locations. We went with leisurely wander and were still through the checkout before 11am. We picked up a couple of LAIVA bookcases for $29.99 along with some other regular items and our HODDE rug..
Just across the road from IKEA is Costco, we always make this our last stop before leaving Canberra because we like to purchase cold items like cheese and milk. They have 3 litre A2 milk for about a dollar more than 2 litres cost us at home. I grabbed a new rug for my chair, too.
Winter boot achievement unlocked! Very reasonable at $159 from the clearance outlet. These are Diana Ferrari Supersoft and they are the most comfortable boots I have ever put on my feet. In fact it feels like I have no shoes on at all, and yet it is like walking on air. They are also a size and a half smaller than my other shoes – I used to be size 11 but these are 9.5 – I think my feet have lost weight along with the rest of me.
Canberra may well be the best city in Australia especially when parliament is not sitting and therefore the accommodation is reasonably priced. We’ve stayed at a lot of different places over the years and my first choice here would be The Avenue however that is Up Money at the best of times. If you can get it at a good price I highly recommend it.

The second favourite is Vibe but that is out at the airport so you would need a car to get around if you stay here and parking can be a bit of an issue at this hotel if it is busy. I think Canberra is a place where a car is recommended and very useful.

We tried a new hotel this time – Rydges Capital Hill – and while it was mostly ok, we would not stay there again due to the shower going super hot and cold as a surprise while showering. So the hunt is still on for our perfect reasonably priced Canberra hotel. Aria is next on the list for us to try. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for it.

It was super cold when we visited. Summer is the perfect time to visit Canberra weather wise in my opinion, any other time of year it has been my experience that you can expect the weather to be on the cold side especially at night, so BYO layers, gloves and hats are recommended too. We have been to visit so many times and yet we still have so much more to see. Canberra is a much under-rated destination and it has become one of our favourites.

Canberra, shopping

Edward Parry Motel, Tamworth.


I was pleasantly surprised to receive an SMS confirmation from the motel about 2:30pm as we were driving from the Gold Coast to Tamworth. What a genius idea, to check in with your guests via SMS. I have noticed in Australia we are way ahead of the rest of the world with things like SMS appointment confirmation and SMS reminders. The SMS mentioned what time reception closed and to call if we would arrive after that time. I replied with our GPS ETA and received a reply wishing us safe travels. It was a lovely welcome before we even arrived.

I knew from the previous reviews to expect excellence and the team at Edward Parry did not disappoint. The owner was welcoming and helpful. The room was spotlessly clean though on first glance I did not realise just how clean it was.

That surprise awaited me when we returned back to the motel after dinner and I took my bare feet into the bathroom – after 6 nights of dirty tiles on the Gold Coast, the perfectly clean floors in the bathroom here made me incredibly happy. The cleaning staff here clearly know what they are doing and they are very good at doing it. The carpets were also spotlessly clean, as was every surface in the room.

There was another surprise of a small pool which I had not seen mentioned in the reviews. It looked gorgeous and I wish we’d had enough time to be able to experience it.

After an excellent dinner at the Longyard, we returned back to those great beds. There were 3 of us travelling together and this was the first time we shared a room on the trip, which meant for a slightly less good sleep than usual. That was not at all the fault of the beds, just due to people unused to sharing a room together. The beds were great and the pillows very comfortable.

The one tiny negative moment was the green soaps leave a rather scary looking splodge in the sink when dropped. Someone else managed to drop the soap in the sink before me and I saw this green substance and wondered if someone in our group was getting a cold. I carefully removed the substance with a tissue and then proceeded to wash my hands, and then I managed to drop the soap myself and make an identical stain in the sink. This was good news re nobody getting a cold! But I wonder if perhaps a different colour soap might be a better choice for the future?

The morning shower was great, perfect water pressure for me, and again everything was so clean. You do not realise how much that matters until you experience unclean, which we unfortunately just had experienced at our previous accommodation.

We were not here for long enough, is all I can say. We would have loved to spend more time in Tamworth – we had family who lived there for several years and visited the town many times. However we had to keep going and this was just a short overnight stop. Next time, we will return for a longer stay and a swim in that inviting pool!

Snoskred Travels 2016

Gold Coast To Tamworth

Having spent much of the previous evening packing, organising and cleaning, and once again waking at the crack of dawn, we were on the road by 7am. This actually broke part of my plan. I had wanted to stop at the Thursday Plantation near Ballina on our way down the coast, but it was Sunday and they did not open early enough for us to visit. We had 635km to drive today so we were glad to be on the road early.


We did not stop until we got to Grafton around 10:30am. We went to the information centre just for a quick bathroom break. This turned out to be a great choice because there was an artist there painting Jacaranda trees onto magnets and they were selling them as well, so Sephyroth grabbed one of those to take back to the US with him.

We planned to have lunch in Coffs Harbour. I had a few great local options but in the end we decided on Mcdonalds. Sephyroth wanted to try the create your taste menu and I had not ever made one of these myself in the several years they have been doing this.


When we arrived we all went to separate screens to order our orders. Somehow mine – with loaded fries and no drink at all – ended up at nearly $17AUD. I forgot to take a photo of my burger – the one you are seeing belongs to Sephyroth. I’ll be honest – after eating Grill’d twice in the past week this burger was very average and I would not create my own burger a second time. I’d much rather have a Quarter Pounder with cheese, or a Big Mac.


Our next stop was the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. We did the free skywalk and part of the walk down into the forest as well.


Dorrigo was gorgeous and we spent about an hour here but it could easily have been a day trip by itself.


After leaving Dorrigo we got stuck behind a Blue Holden Cruze whose speed was all over the place and they were often driving partly on the wrong side of the road. I can’t remember exactly but it was one of two things – either there was nowhere to overtake legally for over an hour though vehicles behind us did get impatient and overtake illegally – OR anytime we would get to a place where you could overtake, they would suddenly find the accelerator as a surprise to themselves. I believe it was the first one.


We passengers did not mind so much because the scenery was beautiful, but I know The Other Half was getting annoyed with the inconsistent speeds. Finally at 3:31pm we managed to get past them, at long last.

I’m going to do a separate post for our Tamworth Motel, next week. Spoiler alert – the floors were SO CLEAN! After 6 nights of unclean floors it was sheer bliss.

Snoskred Travels 2016

Gold Coast Day 5


On our final full day on the Gold Coast, we mainly wanted to go for a walk around the Grand Prix track, and get ready to leave early the next day.


In the morning, we saw whales from our apartment balcony. That was pretty cool. ;)


We also ended up doing a beach walk. The weather was gorgeous as always, and we had a lovely few hours out and about, wandering.


At some point this morning while we were getting ready, I said maybe we should try to organise a helicopter flight for today, as it was one of the “things you do” when you are on the Gold Coast, and it was something Sephyroth had never done before.


I called Seaworld Helicopters and managed to organise a flight for 4pm that afternoon. We very nearly missed out entirely, though. This was the only opening they had for the day.


It was fantastic. Those folks over there have everything running like clockwork, they know what they are doing and they are excellent at it. You can take as many photos as you want while in the helicopter, and they even have a spot where they get you to stand for a picture of yourself with the helicopter just behind you.


You do not have to pay for theme park entry – they have an office at the side of Seaworld, and a staff member comes and gets you and takes you to the helicopter area.


Here we are, coming back in to land. It felt like a great end to our Gold Coast holiday. But our trip was not over yet – we still had a night in Tamworth and two nights in Bathurst on the way home, plus almost two weeks more of time with Sephyroth before he flew back to the USA, during which we had a Canberra overnight trip planned to see the Doug Anthony AllStars, and my aunts and uncles were coming in from Adelaide for a local concert.

Next week – Gold Coast to Tamworth, with the most expensive hamburger lunch ever known to man, and a very annoying blue car with no place to overtake it, for over an hour.

Gold Coast, Snoskred Travels 2016

Gold Coast Day 4


Sometimes you have an experience that you will forever remember, and today at Currumbin Sanctuary was one of those times. I will never, ever forget one particular moment from this day. But more about that shortly.

Our original plan for today was to go to Dreamworld, but they were closed still and would in fact remain closed for over a month. So we decided to go to Currumbin Sanctuary instead – not a place I would have chosen myself but we did have an American Tourist with us, and I thought maybe he should get to experience some of those classic Australian experiences that you never forget. Like holding a koala, and/or a snake, even though said American tourist was a little afraid of snakes.

There you have a water dragon sitting on top of a freshwater crocodile.

Me, I completely am not scared of snakes. Once upon a time I was, but then I became a zoo volunteer and somewhere along the way grew to absolutely love them.


As always, getting up at 5am tends to get the day started very early and we were in the car by 7:40am on our way to the place, whch opened at 8am. The place was already chock full of students from places like Japan and China, who had arrived early for the bird feeding which happens just at the entrance to the park, and they were now queuing to get into the park. Luckily this was a quick process.


We wandered around the park mostly trying to avoid the other people while still getting to see the animals. That photo above is two male kangaroos having a bit of a fight. That is pretty normal behaviour for them – the volunteer nearby was a bit worried about the tourists getting too close.


In trying to avoid the other people we actually stumbled upon my favourite experience of the day, the one moment I will never forget. We had found a place to sit slightly up hill near the crocodiles and were relaxing when two Eastern Water Dragons decided to have a bit of a territory fight right in front of us. Nobody got hurt but the posturing and circling was Quite A Thing To See.


We decided to take in a couple of the shows – the free bird flight show was great, and the snake show even better. While waiting for these shows we decided to purchase some photo opportunities – The Other Half got a photo with an owl, and Sephyroth and I got a photo with a snake, plus koala holding photos for everyone. You get to hold a koala, and you get to hold a koala, everyone gets to hold a koala for a very reasonable price which I cannot recall but it was all packaged together for us very nicely.


And there you see our new koala friend just about to be handed to Sephyroth. I have to tell you, I had a special moment with that koala. We talked. It was a thing of beauty.


All up we spent about 4 hours at Currumbin. We were not sure what to have for lunch, nothing there appealed to us. We threw around a few options, then those zucchini chips called us and we decided to visit Grill’d at Pacific Fair again on the way back to the apartment. On the way back to the car, we visited HoneyWorld and bought some honey – which I have been mixing into my Greek Yoghurt for a good couple of months now.. There was also SurfWorld but that did not tempt us. Everything is a world, on the Gold Coast.

If we had gone to Dreamworld this day, we had planned to stop at NightQuarter on the way back. This was our one and only planned eat out at dinner time meal, so we decided to head out to Helensvale and keep our appointment with some Cronuts, which I had read about in advance. Cronuts are a cross between a croissant and a donut. They are awesome.


But before one ate the sweets, one had to eat the dinner. That is a thing, apparently. There were samples of various things given out – Sephyroth and I ended up with two things we sampled, calamari and juice which happened to be right next to each other, while The Other Half went for a curly sausage of some kind.


Both of these things were extremely delicious but so filling we did not have space for the cronuts. So we bought them and took them back to the apartment, where we cut them in half and shared different flavours.

Salted Caramel with Chocolate

All in all, this was probably my favourite Gold Coast day. Though tomorrow, we did something pretty cool, which I will tell you about next Wednesday!

Snoskred Travels 2016

Gold Coast Day 3

The colourful feet of Snoskred and Sephyroth.

The Thursday plan was – Tambourine Mountain – Skywalk – Tea and Niceties Lunch – Gallery Walk


Again we were awake at 5am. By 9am we were breakfasted, showered, dressed, and out the door. We headed up to Tambourine Mountain which is just over a 40km drive from the Gold Coast – probably the last 25km of that drive is quite windy and curvy.


I had done some research into bushwalks we could do here, there were quite a lot of free options. In the end given that Dreamworld was cancelled for us and unlikely to be reopened during our stay we decided to go for the “up money” option at just under $20 per adult which is Rainforest Skywalk.


We spent nearly an hour and a half walking, taking photos, and checking out the small but perfectly formed gift shop.


Lunch was at Tea and Niceties which I had also researched. For food I chose the BLT and added egg and cheese. Om nom nom!


For drinks the boys had an iced coffee. I forget what I chose – probably a cappucino – because their iced coffees were super memorable.


The gardens here were gorgeous and some lizards surprised us during our lunch.



Lunch was super delicious however there was a bit of an ordering drama which meant only one pie was delivered to the boys who had ordered one each. We had to wait a little longer for the second pie.


After lunch we took a walk along Gallery Walk. For me personally there were only two shops here that were worth the effort but I am super spoiled having Berry within a short drive of home. There was a glass studio which had gorgeous jellyfish paperweights sitting on top of LED spinners – and I still wish I had bought one.


I did buy a lovely bracelet from Crystal Mountain. It is the one with the round beads you can see in between my watch and my Swarovski bracelet. You can’t see it in the photo but it has gorgeous gold flecks in it.

With the boys having had enough of shops, we headed back to the Peninsula around 2pm, where we tried to come up with a plan for the next day. We decided on Currumbin Sanctuary – a place none of us had ever been before. It turned out to be one of the best days of the trip.

You will have to wait two weeks to know more about Currumbin, though, as I am taking a Christmas break next week. :)

Gold Coast, Snoskred Travels 2016