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

Southern Gateway Centre & Gelato Emporium

View from behind the Southern Gateway Centre & Gelato Emporium

It is nearly the time of year where many Sydney residents pack their families into the car and drive to the South Coast for a holiday. If you are planning to do this there are several different routes you can take to get here. The simplest and easiest looks like this –


If you choose this route, my recommended stop is Gelato Emporium and the Southern Gateway Centre. You can’t tell as you approach it on the highway but there is one heck of a view from out the back. There are more parks than you can see at first, just keep going.


They have clean toilets, a visitor centre where you can pick up information on things to do on the coast and most importantly, very good gelato. Almost Gelato Messina levels of good. My apologies, it was so great I did not take a photo of it! I had the salted butterscotch.


Also in Gelato Emporium, you will find coffee, a selection of cakes and treats..


..a wall filled with treats some local some from far away..


..a large range of make your own gelato..


with instructions so simple even a child could manage it, providing they had a freezer or an ice cream machine of some kind.


If you don’t have time to stop and enjoy a gelato cone or cup, you can choose two flavours of gelato and have them made into a shake for the excellent price of $8. It will be very large, and it will be extremely delicious, and if the weather is hot it will cool you down perfectly.


The views are excellent. There are some tables out the back where you can sit and enjoy your treats while watching the view.

food, travel



The list of things to prepare for Sephyroth to visit is LONG. Here is what we have achieved so far.

House Preparations –

– Move office of The Other Half out of spare bedroom
– Order new mattress
– Put bed together
– Set up bedroom
– Move all my shoes into another spare bedroom
– Move all my scarves onto another door
– Get alarm system serviced
– Purchase and install new HD security cameras
– Install new lighting in kitchen
– Wash bedclothes and towels

So the top photo was my shoe cupboard before. Here it is after!


Upcoming house preparations –
– Clean & tidy spare bathroom so it is ready
– Clean, clean, CLEAN.
– Clean chook pen


Packing has begun – I have picked out the shoes, begun to pick out the outfits, begun to put the items into ziploc bags. As our apartment has a kitchen with dishwasher, I have packed dishwasher tablets. As we have a washing machine, I have packed washing powder. As we have a LONG drive, I have packed sugary treats.

This week I will be working on scheduling some posts for while I am away. I am going to share with you some of my parents Canada and Alaska photos from their trip in July. They took a lot of photos, some excellent, some very bad. :) I will be sharing some of my favourite travel photos from my own trips as well, with some memories of those times.

I also am trying to get back in the habit of taking photos of things on my phone. At some point in the past year I managed to get out of the habit. Here is a photo of my scarf bar, moved.


Of course, I will be sharing all about our trip here once we return!


Back On The Horse


I’ve had a lovely little blog holiday, part of which was spent planning our upcoming actual holiday to the Gold Coast, Tamworth, Bathurst, the Blue Mountains and Canberra.

I’m the kind of person who wants to research everything very thoroughly before leaving. If we are going somewhere to eat, I will have already read the menu. For places to stay or visit, I will read the reviews on Tripadvisor and various other places.

I have many stories to type up, for you! SOON!

blog housekeeping, travel

Travel Mania

The travel matrix booking system @ GCHR

Back in the days when Wotif was the main, big travel website here in Australia, I found booking things online was so easy. It looked a little like the matrix photo above, except with a lot of green instead of orange and yellow.

Wotif had this great matrix where you could easily compare prices at various hotels for a fortnight, a simple click of the arrows gave you the next fortnight, and you could see with one glance which were the cheapest days to travel and which hotels had the best deals for your dates.

I had been booking via Wotif for the past 12-14 years anytime we needed to travel within Australia purely because it was so easy. I did not mind the booking fee because HEY, finding what I was looking for was simple and easy. I actually used to enjoy doing the research and finding the best dates and the best price for when we were travelling.

All this changed in early 2015, when Wotif kicked the matrix to the kerb and replaced it with this shyte.


I was blissfully unaware of this until now, because we have not been travelling a lot lately. However the parents have now gone to Canada and Alaska for a summer holiday and we needed to book a night up in Sydney to pick them up, so I typed in my go-to site Wotif and was stunned to find the awesome matrix is gone.

I don’t even know what the heck that is, up there. What do I care how many people booked the hotel in the past X hours? Or how long it has been since someone made a booking there? Why is there an identical phone number on all of the listings? Oh, it is your phone number, Wotif? If I wanted to know your number, I would find it. I would expect the number on the listing to be for the hotel itself. WTF, WOTIF?

Then I discovered our the prices at our go-to place to stay, Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport, had risen to a somewhat terrifying level – up by $80 a night for the room we usually stay in – and yet the hotel has not had any kind of refurbishment or upgrades that I can see. The last time we stayed there it was looking very tired. Plus now they want what seems like an outrageous sum of money ($30) to park our car overnight. In fact, all Sydney hotels do!

I faffed about for two days across the various hotel booking websites trying to find a better deal for that hotel and I epically failed. In the end, I gave up on all the booking sites and booked with the hotel directly because the prices were identical and I get free wifi booking with the hotel. Considering they want about $25 for that, it is a decent saving.. even so, the amount I am paying for one night is too much.


Sydney Airport Stamford, we might be breaking up soon. This next stay would have to be *exceptional* for us to keep going back. There are multiple new hotels opening near you, and we’re ready to give them a try.

In October, Sephyroth is flying out to visit. He arrives at 6:05am, so we needed to book another night at an airport hotel to collect him. I found and booked the new Meriton Mascot Serviced Apartments which does not open until August. Meriton consistently gets good reviews across their current apartments so we will give them a try, who knows, it might turn out to be our new Sydney Airport go-to hotel.

We also had talked about staying in Sydney for a few days – as we did on his last visit in 2011. I started the hunt on the travel booking sites and found 3 nights in a 2 bedroom apartment would be around AUD 1,000 to 1,500 ***PLUS*** carparking fees starting at $25 per night and going right up to $60 per night. For self parking, not valet!

I said to The Other Half, maybe we should think about other destinations. What about the Gold Coast? We have not been up there for a while. We can drive up so we’ll have a car, we can find a place with a kitchen so we can cook a little to save $$ if we like, there is loads to do up there, parking is usually included, and Sephyroth will get to see a bit more of Australia this way.

I checked in with Sephyroth. He thought this was an awesome idea. And thus began a journey of my nightmares, using these travel sites to try and find pricing, some of which are purely there to give you the prices on a multitude of OTHER travel booking sites.

Whenever we have travelled as a family to the Gold Coast, we usually stay at the Breakfree Peninsula and we have done for a long time now, since the late 80’s. The building was built in 1982, so when I read reviews that some of the units were looking tired, I was not too surprised. They are almost as old as I am, and I am pretty tired myself! ;)

Despite possible tired-ness of the units, the grounds are beautiful and they have several pools on site, we like the place, we know the location and love the view, so that was number one on the list. Mantra Circle on Cavill was another – much more expensive – contender. I also liked the look of Artique.

Broadbeach was also considered, there were two locations there I found interesting – the Phoenician which I have liked the look of on previous visits and Belle Maison.

I remembered that Andrew had been to the Gold Coast recently – they stayed at the Chateau Beachside Resort. The location is fantastic. Sadly this was not an option for us because we need two separate bedrooms with at least a single bed in the second bedroom. Chateau does offer a sofa bed option, but I would not inflict that upon Sephyroth for 6 nights in a row. Nor one night. I’m wacky (nice?) like that!

After checking all the travel websites I gave Flight Centre a call, and they gave me a price for the Peninsula which was $100 cheaper than any of the booking sites had done – including the Breakfree site itself. BOOK IT, I said!

I said to the lovely girl at Flight Centre that she had taken a great weight from my shoulders, however the nightmare was not quite over yet, as I still had to book nights for the journey home in Tamworth and Bathurst – the boys want to see the car museum there. She said oh, let me look at that for you, I’ll give you a call tomorrow with the prices.

The next day, there was the rarest of experiences here in the Shoalhaven – the lovely girl at Flight Centre actually called me back! I’d done some research in the meantime and picked out a few options. Unfortunately her wholesaler did not have those options available, so I just booked the Peninsula with her and got back on the discount website search for the other locations.

I’d already picked out good options for both of those locations and it did not take very long to make final decisions and book those last two places to stay.

I tell you something, if you are ever in Tamworth you will be spoilt for choice of great motels to stay in. The reviews for at least 4 of them are consistently excellent. Bathurst is a different story, I struggled a bit to find a decent place there and we even considered staying elsewhere. Of course I will give you a full review of these places once we have been on our trip.

Thank the deities that particular travel booking nightmare is over.


Jervis Bay and KKW


By this time I am sure you’ve all heard that Kim Kardashian West visited Jervis Bay in November 2014 for a photo shoot.

What you do not know is the beach she visited is the one I chose for the new header image. It is Green Patch at Booderee National Park and you can camp there if you like.

The photos for Vogue Australia were pretty disappointing in my opinion. They were at a beach that is absolutely stunning. The beach is super white, and the water is a gorgeous shade of green, and if you look at the photos they could have been any old where.

One of the local video guys filmed some footage while they were shooting and you can see the white sand and the gorgeous shade of blue water..

What a pity they failed to capture any of that, at least in the photos I have seen. Why bother going to a location at all? This could have been done in a hotel swimming pool or a studio.

Australia, celebrities, Jervis Bay, New South Wales, travel

Shoe Sunday – Pearl Harbor


Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It is not my intention to tell the story of the attack, or the leadup to it, or the aftermath. If you don’t already know the story there are loads of places you can find out – starting here with Wikipedia – and more than likely your local history channel will air a documentary about the attack at some point today..

I could not do justice to the story of what happened, nor could I do justice to my own personal feelings about Pearl Harbor. I cannot tell you the story of my meeting survivors of the attack during our visit to Oahu in 2011. I will simply state that Pearl Harbor is an incredibly special place for so many reasons – and so is Hawaii overall.

What I *will* talk about today is the shoes I wore to visit Pearl Harbor, and a special map moment that happened while Sephyroth, The Other Half, and I were at Pearl Harbor in November 2013.


These Adidas Climacool shoes were the first pair I bought last trip and the photo above is me trying them on in the store. I got them at Ala Moana on Friday the 1st of November. You may recall, I also own Adidas Climacool in green.


The green and pink Climacool shoes saw a lot of wear while on Oahu because they are super perfect for a hot environment – most of the other shoes remained unworn until they arrived back home.


At Pearl Harbor there is a large map drawn on the ground near the entrance. You can see in the image above my feet standing near Sydney.


At the same time, the feet of Sephyroth were standing around abouts where he hails from in North America.


And there you see our feet together near the map in Hawaii. Oahu is around 10 hours flying time from home for both of us, so it is a perfect meet in he middle location. This is the second time our feet have been together in one place – first was when Sephyroth travelled to Australia in 2011, second together in Hawaii in 2013, where will the third time be? :)

Please to note –

this will be the last Shoe Sunday for 2014 – we will be taking a break over Christmas and the New Year. Shoe Sunday will be back mid to late January 2015. :)

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About Snoskred, Sephyroth, Shoe Linkup, travel