Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The front of the house, Quinn's bike and a ride em car from the dump store, partially visible in the foreground. 
Trees around the yard, it is hard to tell but this one is in bloom with lovely lilac flowers

Red hibiscus along the house and a lovely pine in the far background.
The Land Cruiser, we all fit in it, plus groceries and kites and boards. 

The Land Rover, the current project, soon to become the work  vehicle/camping  truck. 

The El Camino, the family took it for a spin the other night to pick up scrap lumber from a building site. 
Mint,  basil, tomatoes and beans in the background against the fence
There was one ripe one the other day, I can't wait to taste more. 

An existing well that Trish has added a pump to, she could raise baramundi in it, they are delicious.  
The koi that currently reside, they have had babies since Trish got here, the kids love feeding  all the fish.

Trish has become a very avid gardener, I am constantly amazed at how much she has learned.  We gave her a subscription to the gardening magazine of her choice in the store.  She built the container using scrap metal she had rescued at the local dump store and then hauled soil in and filled and planted the raised bed.  The running vines are rock melon and in the bed there are tomatoes, herbs and marigolds. 
Fruit of the vine, rock melon, otherwise known as cantaloupe.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Martin/Lange Christmas 2011
Check out the horse for June, I think Santa has arrived!

Quinn figuring out Santa left him stuff in his stocking. 
June at 2 1/2 took a long time  to come down the hall on Christmas morning, can you figure out why?
It's a Lego Christmas.

Graeme with his favourite present, a new torch and check out the hat that Thrifty Santa brought him!

Trish, Jackie (Graeme's mom) and me examining the make-up kit her father gave her.  It was almost an exact replica of the one he gave her 20 years ago!

Grannie Annie painting June's fingernails, she was so good sitting still to have it done.
Quinn observing the world in his own unique style!

Graeme and his brother David cleaning the prawns!
The carnage of the gingerbread house, Graeme figures it was acid rain!
Grandpa Barry doing "his thing" in the kitchen!

June doing her disco imitation.
The beach is definitely part of an Australian Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Making gingerbread houses in another climate has been a learning experience.  In Canada you cook the gingerbread one day and then leave it out overnight to harden.  NOT IN AUSTRALIA. I woke up the day after making it and went to check on how hard it was and it had gotten softer.  The humidity is very high here. In Canada we heat up sugar to stick the gingerbread together and it gets very brittle and works like a charm.  NOT IN AUSTRALIA We made the houses and the next day most of the roofs had slid off. The sugar had just melted.  We have put the deficits down to sub-standard Australian building practises and the weird cane sugar that they have here, good Canadian sugar beet sugar would never have  melted like that!!! We sent 3 houses home with the neighbours but did not send the houses home with the cousins, big mistake.  The roofs have fallen off and the kids don't know, we may have to try and fix them.  I was talking to my daughter Jen in Canada and she suggested toothpick and drills, I THINK NOT!

The kids were great, all of them being very patient waiting their turns to get icing piped on and they didn't fight over the kinds of candy that were close to them. The men helped a lot, Grandpa Barry supervised June house building and even managed to put on a candy or 2 himself. Graeme made a beautiful lattice roof and then drew June and Quinn in a window waving! Trish was so organized and helpful with all the kids and then decorated the only house with the chimney while Graeme and his brother took the kids out for a run around the block to work of some of the candy high. Jackie, Graeme's mother and I jointly decorated a house and the Southern Cross appeared on the roof as well as a myriad of stars.  It was a fantastic day, and the Lange gingerbread tradition moved to another continent.  Trish's neighbour said that she would like to do it again next year, another convert. Graeme and Trish have another small fridge and we are going to put the houses in their to save the ones that haven't fallen apart yet.

Substandard building materials needing to be propped up. 

Graeme claimed this looked like a suburb in Calgary!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grannie and Grandpa arriving on the train, Quinn's favourite thing in the whole wide world
We are in Australia again, at our daughter's house.  Trish, Graeme, Quinn and June live near Bundaberg in a roomy home on a very large lot. The house is built with cinder blocks, something you wouldn't use in Canada but in Aus. it is very cool and it won't get destroyed by ants and wooden houses might. Trish is busy gardening up a storm.  She has cherry tomatoes that are almost ripe and a melon has appeared on a vine.  I am very impressed with her new found knowledge of what can be grown in Australia and the techniques to be used to grow her crop.  She must have inherited her love of gardening from her Grandpa Sam and her Grandma Shanks, it certainly is in her jeans :).
Our grandchildren are marvellous little people. Quinn is a very inquisitive little boy, he had a used circuit board that he brought to show me.  He is only four and a half and he showed me the paths on the board and said cars could go on them and pointed out what I thought were batteries were definitely not. He loves trains and we have spent more than a few happy hours building tracks and making the trains go around.  He knows that bats eat the seed pods of a tree in the yard and he knows more than I ever wanted to know about ants. June, who is two and half has a delightful sense of humour, which I think is quite unusual in a child so young.  She has an astonishing vocabulary and I have found myself wondering a couple of times who is talking.  She is as cute as a button and when she smiles and says something silly I find my self grinning from ear to ear. 
Quinn with his caterpillar bridge

Barry and I are loving the break from the boat, room to move about, a queen size bed, luxury in the extreme.  I actually pruned a hedge the other day(I am not sure it is quite straight though) it has been a long time since I have done any gardening!! There are big reclining leather chairs to sit on here and a full sized fridge to put all our Christmas treats in.  

Barry with Trish's kite.

The other day we headed off to the beach and Trish and Graeme went kite boarding.  Graeme went zooming off and Trish headed off after getting us and the kids settled.  I am hoping I will get a chance to try it    the next time we go.  Quinn, June and I hung out on the beach and made a bridge for a caterpillar to cross.  Trish and I have been planning to make gingerbread houses.  We are going to have seven kids over and they will each have their own house to decorate, mayhem!! We went into town today and had a marathon shopping expedition, everyone survived, even Grandpa Barry.  The best buy in his opinion were the shorts he got at the thrift store. 
We made a huge paper chain to decorate the house. First we got the kids to paint pictures and then we cut them into strips and glued them into a 5 meter chain.  Trish and Graeme are non-traditionalist so our Christmas tree is the outline of a tree stuck on to the cinder brick wall.  The tree is outlined in tinsel and lights, it has decorations.  Trish and I spent about 2 hours last night very carefully taping this tree together.  This morning we woke up and everything had fallen down.  We bought some sticky tack today and very quickly stuck it back together.  Trish is sure it will stay up this time!!!!!!!!!
I had better go, I am hoping to make some shortbread this afternoon. No luck, the afternoon has gone and supper is on the go, perhaps after supper. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Royal Langkawi Yacht Club

This is a pretty flash place we are staying.  There was a big party of the upper deck the other night. We are about as far away from the clubhouse as you can get, but that is okay because there is ferry wash that hits the other end of the dock but does not affect us too badly.  Cat's-Paw IV is second from the end on the finger that is the furthest away from the camera, the dinghy is on deck and has a blue cover over it.  
There is a big aeronautics and marine show on in town this week.  Apparently it is not just a show but they are selling the jets.  This boat that docked at the opposite end to us name is Anna.  One of the other cruisers googled it and it is only number 90 on the list of top 100 mega yachts.  The sign at the end of the gangway says "Attention, this is a private yacht and you are being monitored on CCTV".  I always made sure I smiled at the camera as I went by.  The crew were working on the helicopter, attaching the forward rotors.  Just before it sailed we walked by and they were loading some things in heavy long thin rectangular containers.  Our buddy who was with us said he figured they were getting ready for a crossing to the Red Sea and the containers were magazines for big guns and the chopper was ready to do recon duties to keep those nasty pirates at bay.  I wish them luck.  

Langkawi is a duty free island, so a big part of the economy is based on selling duty free goods.  There are whole stores dedicated to selling chocolate.  I have never seen so much chocolate for sale in my whole life.  The Cadbury and the Toblerone sections were particularly hard to resist.  

It seems that Corning Ware, Corelle as well as the all time favourites perfume and liquor are particularly well liked. I must tell you about dining out in SE Asia.  You are never sure what will appear to join you at the dinner table  At one spot in Penang I took a look at the food at the one end of the restaurant and it looked fresh and clean.  We walked into the store and had to wade through about 2 cm of water that was coming from the tanks in the middle, I think.  (That should have been the first clue) The tables were pretty grubby, sand the floor was pretty filthy, our food came, it was mediocre and then a mangy old dog wandered in.  He had no hair left on his hind quarters and he flopped down on the floor one table away from us and patiently waited for a tidbit.  The other night we were in a much more respectable looking place.  It had marble looking table tops and it was nice and clean. A cockroach skittered up the wall beside to see what was happening, I told Barry to wave his menu at him and away he went.  The food was delicious there, Thai chicken, spicy prawns and great mixed vegetables.  
This is totally unrelated to anything but I have to tell you.  The other night I was going to have a shower. We had rented a car for the day to do some sight seeing and we wanted to fill up our cans with diesel since we had the car. I asked Barry if he thought it would look too weird if I walked into the shower building with two 20 litre cans in my hands.  He said it would not matter as long whatever I was wearing matched the cans!!! It paid off in the long run because the diesel on the dock was 3.00 ringat a litre and it was only 1.80 at the pump, we bought 80 litres so we saved the price of the car by filling up the cans that way. 

I love the shape of the hills in Langkawi
We toured around the island with the car.  Langkawi is a real tourist destination for Malaysia and SE Asia.  It is a school holiday at the moment so there are lots of families visiting the island.  We went up the cable car which went up 700m.  There were wonderful views.  The hanging bridge made me realize my vertigo has gotten worse over the years.  I had to hold on pretty tight when I was looking over the edge.  

I could feel the bridge moving as I held on. 
An anchorage at the bottom of the hill, Cat's-Paw IV is about  20 km from here. 

There is a 12m high statue of a  Brahminy Kite perched on the shore fairly close to the yacht club.  Langkawi apparently got its name from the eagle, in old Malay kawi denotes the reddish brown colour. I have seen quite a few of these majestic birds soaring around. Fishing for a living is very popular on this island and their colourful boats caught my eye the other day as we drove by.  
Barry has been busy trying to resolve our electricity problems.  We have not been able to plug in at the marinas because our boat is only wired for 110 power, it is 220 or 240 here.  The other day he bought a universal charger which will take power from 90 to 240 and it will charge our batteries.  We have been having to run our generator every day in order for the fridge to work.  The water is so hot and the air temp is so hot that the fridge had been working almost continually to keep cold.  It kept defrosting and we didn't know why but it was because our batteries were too low.  No longer, Barry managed to replace our old battery charger with the new one and the boat has not blown up yet.  He was very reluctant to do anything with the electricity but after consulting with others on the dock he figured it out and we are good to go. The only smoke that appeared was the stuff coming out of his ears.