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Published: January 31st 2016
Robbing the beehive I
Scott and his neighbour Nat all dressed up and ready to go, Katha not quite yet.
After more than five years I finally got to travel to Australia again! My friends Scott and Virpi from Newcastle had spent the weeks around Christmas with Virpi’s family in Finland and travelled back to Australia via Berlin on 30 December. This meant we could fly to Australia together! I had not seen them since their wedding in June 2013, way too long, and I had not met their little girl Lily yet, who is 18 months old.
We met at the departure gate in Berlin and it was so good to see them, and it was nice to meet little Lily. Our journey took us to Sydney via Abu Dhabi. We had tried to get seats next to each other, which proved to be impossible Our first flight was an AirBerlin flight, where you can only reserve seats for an extra fee, which we did not want to do. Our second flight was an Etihad flight, on which we had reserved seats next to each other, but then without being told in advance Scott and Virpi were moved to other seats. There was not much that we could do about it, at least we could visit each other during
Robbing the beehive II
Scott and Nat taking the honeycombs out of the beehive after having smoked the bees.
Our plan was to watch the fireworks in Sydney, spend the night in a hotel there, and then catch the train to Newcastle on the next day. We arrived in Sydney at 7 pm on the 31st, and by the time we had gone through immigration, picked up our luggage, caught a train to Killara, checked into our hotel, got changed, and fed Lily it was already 10:45. Not much time left to get to a good spot to see the fireworks. We caught a taxi and went to Quiberie Park, a small park on Lavender Bay north of Harbour Bridge. We arrived just about in time to find a nice spot and then the fireworks started. They were magnificent, the entire Harbour Bridge was part of it, with at times all of the metal construction being illuminated. Also there were two other spots on the other side of the bay from where they set off the fireworks. There were a lot of ohs and ahs, and the good thing about our spot was that we could move around because it was not so crowded. The downside was that in some spots there were trees blocking the
Robbing the beehive III
The honeycombs. Full of sweet and 100% natural honey :-)
view, but still, I really enjoyed the event. However, it took me by surprise when the fireworks were over after only ten minutes. Well, I can imagine that it is impossible to keep up such a spectacle for a long time because they must have set off tons of firework rockets, but still, when it was over I thought, ‘What, was that it’. So in summary: great event, magnificent fireworks, but surprisingly short.
We caught a train back to Killara. There was a huge crowd moving now, and the organisers had done a great job channeling the flow of people into the train stations close by. There were rails, detours, signs, and people yelling which way to go in order to get to one’s train. I don’t like big crowds, but I did not feel unsafe for a single moment. So we got back to our hotel safely.
Scott got up very early the next morning because Lily was jetlagged and could not go back to sleep. When he came back he brought breakfast for Virpi and me. After breakfast we caught a train to Newcastle. When we arrived at Scott and Virpi’s house I saw that a
Lakes Entrance I
The bridge leading from the promenade to 90 Mile Beach.
lot had changed. They had done some work on the house, but also there was now a big vegetable garden and a bee hive. Molly and Wakka, the two dogs, have grown old, but they are still happy dogs and I think they even recognized me. There is a new dog now as well, Skipper. A few things were unchanged, for example the shed with all of Scott’s toys, including, well, a few hanggliders. Quite a few 😉.
Our days in Newcastle were quite relaxed. We spent a lot of time talking and it was great to catch up with both Scott and Virpi. Also I got to know little Lily a bit better. Those of you who know me know that I am not exactly fond of little children, but Lily I really took into my heart. So I spent quite some time babysitting the happy, friendly, and active little lady who is absolutely fond of dogs. I also tried to help a little bit with the housework by doing the cooking and washing up. And discovered a totally new aspect of my personality 😊.
On Saturday and Sunday after New Year the weather was great, warm
and sunny, so I could go for a run, and we could go outside for walks. On Sunday we robbed the bee hive, something I had never done before. We smoked the bees, meaning that we put a source of smoke next to the bee hive so that the bees thought there was a fire somewhere close by, and escaped from the bee hive. This gave us time to take the honeycombs. There is a wooden frame around the honeycombs, and there is honey on both sides that we cut off with a knife. The challenge is to cut deep enough so that you get all the honey, but not too deep so that you cut the grid of honeycombs in the middle. After cutting the honey from the honeycombs we used a piece of cloth to filter the honey, or to separate honey and wax. There were bug traps in the bee hive that we cleaned out and refilled before putting the honeycombs back into the beehive. The whole process took a few hours and of course involved some honey licking from fingers and hands. What a sweet job!
From Monday onwards the weather turned horrible: It was
Lakes Entrance III
View of the islands in the bay.
just pouring down with rain and it was very windy. Newcastle in the rain can be extremely nasty because it does really rain cats and dogs and additionally everything becomes damp. On Monday I also fell really sick. I had been struggling with a recurring cold since early December, but had figured that I had been over it after a relaxing Christmas week with my family in Stuttgart. Apparently this was not the case: I spent all of Monday morning on the couch. In the afternoon we went for a massage, and on the way back I decided that I wanted to take some medication. Usually my approach is that I let my body deal with the cold and I just try to give it some good food, a lot to drink, and some rest. But this time obviously my body needed some support. Shortly after taking the medication I started feeling better, which was good because we had invited Adriaan and Donny over for dinner.
It was so nice to catch up with the two guys. They had come to see me in Hamburg almost four years ago, and the two of them had taken such good care
Lakes Entrance IV
More islands in the bay.
of me after my crash on Broken Back in 2009. Donny has just had a pretty bad crash himself and was on crutches because of a broken heel. But he was cheerful and positive as always. Adriaan and his wife are currently fostering some children from difficult families, which must be anything but easy. What a great thing to do! Way too soon I had the feeling I was falling asleep, and the two had to go home because I was useless. But in any case it was great seeing them. And Virpi and I saw Adriaan again only two days later when we were at a medical centre where Lily got her vaccination. So we had more time to talk while we were waiting. What a nice coincidence!
On Wednesday night we escaped from the horrible weather and drove down to Lakes Entrance to spend some time with Scott’s parents. It is a ten hour drive from Newcastle to Lakes Entrance and we drove through the night because this is easiest with Lily. So three adults, one child, and three dogs headed off in a car loaded with luggage and hanggliding equipment. Scott and Virpi were going to
Lakes Entrance V
... and another island in the bay.
go to Corryong for the Corryong Cup after visiting Scott’s parents. We took turns in driving and sleeping and arrived in Lakes Entrance shortly before 8 on Thursday morning. The weather was beautiful, but not too hot, and we got a warm welcome by Scott’s parents. After breakfast we went to visit Scott’s granddad who lives just down the hill from his parents. Then Scott took me for a bike ride around Lakes Entrance. There is a nice promenade along the marina. From there a bridge leads to 90 Mile Beach, a very long and beautiful beach. I don’t know whether it is really 90 miles long, but it is definitely very long. On the other side of the promenade the road goes up a hill and leads to a nice viewpoint from where you can see the Gippsland Islands, some islands just off the coast that could easily serve as a filming spot for a pirate movie. Scott’s parents spoiled us with good food, including home grown veggies, homemade cake and muesli bars, and even home-brewed beer! After dinner Scott took me into town again to see the carnival that opens up in Lakes Entrance during the holiday season once it gets dark.
The next day it was time for me to say goodbye because I was going to travel to Melbourne to spend ten days with my friend Mizzi. So I caught a coach from Lakes Entrance to Bairnsdale and there I took the train to Melbourne. Mizzi picked me up at Flinders Street Station – but that’s another post!
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