Saturday, 25 February 2006

final words for Austria..for the moment

We will be back! We had an awesome holiday, and one with lots of great memories! We will be back same time next year when the boys have 1/2 term holidays. We might try and drag the Ramsay family along with us. Alexander would like to try and convince Emily's family to come along with us....he thinks our Austrian mountain is better than the Austrian mountain her family went to! Here is a photo of all of us taken at the top of the mountain by some snowboarders....mmm...that looks like fun, maybe we will try snowboarding next year!

Friday, 24 February 2006

Alexander skiing down the jump on the 2nd beginner slope
the boys on the T-Bar ski lift
Cameron skiing to the 2nd beginners slope.
I was having trouble adding photos to the blog entry thought I would just create a new entry...

Friday, free skiing with the kids

Thursday was our last day of lessons. Friday was a day we could ski on the beginner slopes with the kids and see what they had learnt. WOW, we were impressed with the boys. They managed the ski lifts all by themselves, and skiied down the slopes really well. Nicole was having trouble keeping up with them. Cameron, our daredevil, liked to go off the slope onto the rough stuff, and then actually jump back onto the slope and continue! Both boys did a slalom course....Cameron decided to go through the flags instead of around them...and fell down really well on the last flag, when he just clipped it with his ski!

After an hour and a half of skiing on the beginner slope, we packed up our skis and headed up the chairlift to the top of the mountain.. The boys were dying to get up there all week, and wanted to ski down with Dad, but they were not really ready. We went up, had a look around, had some yummy hot chocolates in the cafe at the top of the mountain and then came back down again (by chairlift!).

Phil and the boys then spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon skiing on the second level slope - lots of fun and the boys looked fantastic in matching suits. Phil had them taking it in turns playing 'follow the leader' so they would at least stick together on the slope. Phil would watch them from the top until they got half way down, and would then catch up to them and ski with them to the bottom.

The boys found a secret 'bush track' which went through the trees - it was only suitable if you are under 1 metre tall (not Phil) - he followed the boys in there once, and after ending up tangled up in his skis and branches on his backside, decided that he would thereafter ski around this little 'track' the boys had discovered.

The boys all skied until well into the afternoon, when they stopped we went for a drink with Cookie. This was great, and time flew so fast that by the time we had returned our skis and boots to the hire shop, we had missed the last shuttle bus and had to walk 1.5km back to our hotel! At least it was down hill!

This was a super day, skiing with the boys and enjoying their excitement and enthusiasm for skiing. After them being in ski school all week, it was amazing to see how good (and fast!) they were. Phil can't wait until they get a bit older and they can all ski together up on the harder runs.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Race Day

Every Thursday is Race Day for the Kids Ski Clubs. The kids have to do a slalom course down the 1st beginners mountain and are timed. All the kids were amazing, and it was great to see how well they had all learnt to ski in a matter of days. The kids did their races in the morning, and after 3pm we had an awards ceremony. Alexander came 4th and Cameron came 6th, complete with medals and certificates. They were both thrilled!! BoBo the penguin the mascot came out to celebrate too! The winner stood on the 1st podium while the national anthem was played. Cookie was really hoping one of our boys would win....she really wanted to hear the Aussie anthem! Maybe next year Cookie! :)

Phil and Nicole's Ski lessons

Phil began his lessons with in the intermediate group. He skied a few times in Australia many years ago (over 20, but who's counting??). When he got shorter skis and told the techniques had changed, he knew it was going to be an interesting week!

Starting off with Harry, after one day on the lower slopes he was 'cut from the herd' and sent with the very advanced group (with Hubsi, the instructor sitting at the front of his group in the photo at the cross at the top of the mountain). They took the Chairlift to the top and Phil quickly found that he really didn't have the 'new technique' for slopes of this standard. He skied with the group for 2 days, had a great time but found the difficult slopes a bit challenging (and hard on the backside!). After hurting his knee on day 3, Cookie (our new Aussie friend in the ski school) advised him to drop back a group and just ski for fun. The instructor of this new group (now Ron) also had had knee problems, and quickly fixed up Phils technique - with some massive outcomes: No more knee pain, an ability to ski and confidence to tackle all of the runs on the mountain. [And then all the things that Hubsie was trying to get him to do made sense!!!!] Ron even dragged him down some of the Black runs (super steep and hard) and Phil was exhilerated that he was able to cope (and conquer!) these. Phil is hooked, and I think he would have stayed for another week if he was given the chance...

Nicole started in the beginners group with Ronnie. The group were all quick learners, and we learnt to snow plough, stop, and turn down a small hill quite quickly. Then we moved onto the first beginners slope in the afternoon. That wasn't too bad. It was a gentle hill, and we learnt to go from side to side without too many great falls (well, maybe a couple of spectacular falls!) I leant heaps on the first day, and really enjoyed myself. I was exhausted by 3pm, and ready to hit the swimming pool to ease the muscles that I haven't used in a long time! The second day we began on the 1st beginners slope again. It was a bit harader, as there was no new snow, and the snow was icy, so it sounded really rough as you skied over it, and it felt more slippery than the day before. I lost a bit of nerve, and felt myself being more cautious, and slower. The beginners slope was quite busy, and it was a long wait for the chairlifts, so Ronnie took us to the 3rd beginners slope....where I lost all my nerve and got really scared when I looked down the slope. The more I thought about how steep this slope was, the more I forgot the techniques I should be using, and the more I fell. The second day was exhausting and I can honestly say I really didn't enjoy myself (only because of my fear of heights). The following day, I went into the office to speak to Cookie, and ask her if I could drop into another beginners group. no problem, she put me with Gunter. (the "Dude" at the beginning of the line in my ski photo.) Things were a bit slower, I felt more confident. We skiied on the 1st beginners slope and progressed to the 2nd beginners slope. The following day I attempted the 3rd slope again (the one I lost my nerve on previously) and I managed it really well. I skiied down it 3 times, without falling once! The next day (my final day of lessons) we went up the mountain and skiied down some really big slopes....where I managed to totally freak out over the steep slopes, forget everything Gunter and Ronnie had taught me, and fall over heaps. but I wasn't the only one to be a bit scared, and fall over a lot! We all had a good laugh about it (well, I think you needed to laugh about it, otherwise I think I would have just cried). Even though I have not overcome my fear of steep slopes, I had a great time, and I am quite comfortable skiing on the beginner slopes! Maybe next year I will try the steep slopes.....after a couple of barcardi and lemonades perhaps!

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Pro Ski School

We all booked in for ski lessons on Saturday night. A great guy, Philip, booked it all for us at the hotel. Then told us we must go to the office once we are up on the mountain, as the lady who runs the ski school with her Austrian husband is Australian! (YIPPEE...we get to hear an Aussie accent for a week!!! :) Cookie comes from the Central Coast, she met Alois at Threadbo, and moved over here, got married, and now they have 2 adorable little girls. We got along really well, and hope to keep in touch!
The kids instructor was Babsi. A really great teacher, and we were amazed at how quick the boys picked up the skiing. Of course, Cameron wanted to go really really fast, Babsi had to keep him from racing off on his own down the slope, and staying with the group. They teach the kids without the sticks, and have great ways of making sure they know how to snow plough and how to use the different lifts etc. We loved watching the boys ski down the slopes..we were amazed. Here are some photos of the boys with Babsi, and their kids club group.
Click on the heading of this blog entry, for a direct link to the ski school website...there is a button on the left hand side to translate the pages into English!

In the Pool while it is -5 degrees!

After a long day of skiing, each afternoon we got back to the hotel, had a hot chocolate and a piece of cake in the lounge, then headed for the pool. There was an inside pool, and a heated outdoor pool. We chose the outdoor pool. It was kind of surreal to be in a pool in -5 degrees tempretures surrounded by snow, but great fun and really relaxing!

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Werfenweng Mountain

Click on this blog entry title for a link to the webcam at the top of the mountain. Hopefully for the Aussies you do this in the evening, otherwise, the mountain will be covered in darkness! It was beautiful up in the mountains. The snow looked great on the slopes., and apart from the swishing of skis, it was so quiet. Above is a photo taken from the 8 cable car going up the top of the mountain (1834 metres above sea level)
One of the slopes under the 4 seater chairlift.
Each day our lessons began at 10am, we stopped for an hour for lunch and then skiing until 3pm. It was a strange family holiday. The boys were in Kids Ski Club, Phil in an intermediate group, and me in beginners. So we didn't see each other for most of the day (some people would say this was an ideal holiday). We all dined in different restaurants or cafes, depending on which restaurant was closest to the slop we were skiing on closest to lunchtime! By 3pm we were pretty exhausted and it was back to the hotel to relax, and get those ski boots off our feet!
A view from the beginners slope

Saturday, 18 February 2006

Skiing in Austria

AWESOME! What a great week! We will definitely do this again same time next year!
We had to get up early and be at the main train station for 6.30am. The bags were packed the night before and the taxi was booked. We caught the same train as Alexander's best friend, Emily and her family (although they were skiing at a different mountain in Austria. We were in connecting carriages, so the kids were able to walk up and down a bit and not stuck in their seats for the 6 hour journey. The train ride was pretty good. It was nice to see the snow get thicker and thicker the further south we travelled. We had a tight change in Munich (7 minutes to get to the other platform). Thank goodness we had booked seats for the next 2 hour train ride, people had to stand in the aisles the train was so full. We got to Bischofshofen station, and had a 15 minute bus transfer to our hotel in Werfengweng. The hotel was very nice. A large room with bunk beds for the kids, a spare bed, and 2 single beds pushed together for Phil and I, with 2 single size doona covers. We are getting used to this set up in is very common, even in family homes!

Here is the view of the mountain from our hotel room, part of the hotel and Phil and the kids on the balcony. Benny Bear (teddy in Cameron's hand) is his class bear, and each week someone gets to take Benny home and they have to write in Benny's diary what they did together. So, Benny appears in quite a few photos for his diary!

Friday, 17 February 2006

Finished January X Stitch

This afternoon I put in the last stitches of the January Cross Stitches that I had been working on. I will work on the March designs next, in the hope that I can finish them before March actually begins! The first 3 are Lizzie Kate designs. The last 2 are Rainbow Gallery designs. I used the same colours in the Rainbow Gallery design as I did for the Lizzie Kate designs for continuity, rather than use the colours suggested. These will eventually be sewn up into bell pulls to change over each month. I am waiting for a couple of Bent Creek designs to complete the bell pull. Now onto the March designs. To be continued...

Alexander's thoughts on his 7th birthday

I thought it might be fun to go bowling for my birthday or I could have a home party. At the party I will do some sums with my friends (that's because I am planning to have a sum party) and I will have all kinds of sums (easy 5+5= medium 1008+43568= hard 25425462538647 + 385483653776623957368= ).That was what I was thinking about doing for my home party. Now for the bowling party. I think we could go bowling at Spandau, because they have a super bowling place. I could have fun playing with my friends bowling. After bowling we will eat ice cream. I think I will invite Emily, Isaiah, Kei, Vivian, Ju-Ahn, Yasmina, Hassan, Martin, and Bradley. That's all. I think the bowling party would be good, but I will have to talk to Mum.

Friday, 10 February 2006

10th Wedding Anniversary

10 Years ago, we got married. It doesn't seem that long ago....
Off to dinner tonight, and we have a babysitter!
Should be fun

The family of 5 snowmen

Here are the snowmen we made this afternoon after school. We had a good fall of snow last night ,and the snow was perfect for snowman making. You can roll a ball of snow and collect more snow as it rolls you a good idea how an avalanche begins!
No carrots for dinner tonight. We used them for the snowmen's noses!
We are hoping for lots more snow over the next few days to add extra snowmen to our collection. The lady who lives in the apartment underneath us enjoyed watching us make them.
Now to make some hot chocolate to warm us up!
Currently 1 degree celcius!

Thursday, 9 February 2006

-14 degree days

While Phil was in St Petersburg, we experienced the coldest week we have had since being here a year! The days were -10 to -15 every day. It was so cold that your nose hairs crystalised, and it was a very odd feeling. the boys were not allowed out to play during the week, it was too cold for them, and the ground was quite slippery with ice.
In our garden we have a tap that has a slow leak, a drip every 10-20 seconds. Over the week, the drops froze as they hit the ground, and we ended up with an icicle under the tap. It was pretty amazing. As it melted there was a hole in the top that Cameron was able to put his finger through.

Off to Bollywood!

Phil here.

This week I went to India to disucuss the business with out agent there. The economy is growing fast, there are 1.2 billion people, and many social, cultural and economic challenges to marketing products there!

Do you know what a Lakh is? It is hard discussing business when they use different terms for amounts than I was used to (although by the end of day one, I was using Lakhs like a local!)

We arrived in Mumbai and it was HOT (I suppose like Brisbane in summer). We made our way to the hotel and Mumbai looks very interesting at night. The traffic is chaos, Tuk-tuks (those infamous three wheelers) are everywhere. Car horns bleeping all the time. I'm sure that you need to be able to press your horn 100 times in a minute to get your license here - there certainly seems to be no emphasis on following the road rules!
Each day it was one hour in traffic to and from the office.

Excellent hospitality from our hosts - lots of fantastic Indian food, and one night we went to a Bollywood movie! 'Rand a Basanti' - very interesting, but about as subtle as Les Patterson (typical of Bollywood movies!). I even had a chat with a Bollywood actor who was in the hotel gym at the same time as me - it seems like the hotel we stayed in was the place to be seen in Mumbai. I think he was a bit surprised when I asked him 'so what do you do?' - maybe I was supposed to recognise him! Nice bloke, though.

Didn't take any photos (we didn't see any of the major sites, and I saw nothing I thought was worth photographing on our long car trips!) So nothing for the Blog.

I flew out at 1.40 am after 3 full days of meetings, and was glad to get back home (to snowstorms!)

India is a remarkable place, full of amazing contrasts. I would love to get out of the big cities and really see the place - maybe next time!

In case you are wondering, a Lakh is 100,000. a Krohn (no idea of the spelling of this one!) is 10 million. Go figure!

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Cameron's visit to the hospital

mmm......Phil left for India at 7am.
I took Alexander and Cameron ice skating. We met Sonia, Alan and Bradley there. Skated for about an hour, before I fell flat on my face, and Cameron did as well. Unfortunately Cameron came off worse than me! He managed to split his chin open, and off to the hospital we went. Sonia took Alexander to her place. Alan came with me, as his German is better than mine.
Thankfully both admin and staff all spoke English, and it was OK. Cameron is very brave with stitches (he has had his chin stitched up twice previously). At the end, the nurse told him he was very brave. The nurse gave him a certificate and also a syringe to play with in the bath (minus the needle). The nurse said "You can squirt water at your daddy" pointing to Alan.
Cameron replies "That's not my Daddy, my Daddy is in India"
The 2 nurses raised their eyebrows at each other....there was no point in explaining any further.
As we left, Alan was laughing and saying "well, that will give them something to talk about for the rest of the afternoon"
Hope not to go back there too soon!

Saturday, 4 February 2006

A quick trip to Budapest

Phil had a meeting in Budapest:

It was my second visit to Budapest, although this time there was no chance to look around. I flew in with a colleague in the evening and we went straight to the hotel. On the way we drove along the Danube, past the famous chain bridge and the sites of central Budapest - very beautifully lit in the winter's night. Looking out the window of the taxi was the extent of our sight-seeing! We had a good meeting, then raced to the airport. Time for one can of Beer with my colleague at the airport then onto the plane home.

Next time I might get time to take some photos to stick in the blog..