Saturday, 24 July 2010

Happy Birthday Dad! Surprise!!

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Dad rocking the demin shorts in the early 80's.  Despite this, I still love him :-)

It's my Dad's 60th birthday day!!  Party time I say. I've said all I need to say about him - I love him and wish him the happiest and best birthday ever.


A 60th birthday that he's celebrating with a black tie dinner thingy all the way over in Ballarat, Australia.  Any idea how far that is from London? More than 10,000 miles. So I'm sending my love to my Dad as he celebrate's his birthday.

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Farmer dad, dressed and ready to show cattle

And let's be honest, I'm not just sending my love to Dad.  I'm showing him too.  To celebrate his birthday, Simon has flown in from NZ and I'VE FLOWN IN FROM LONDON to suprise him at his party.  Please pray he doesn't have a heart attack!!  


Dad resting on a park bench in Toronto
Here's to looking at you, Dad! 

I went straight to the aiport from work on Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Melbourne on Friday night s please be patient as I unplug for the next week to enjoy being in Australia with my friends and family!!!


.  By the time you will have read this, I'll have:
  • Sat on a plane for about 24 hours
  • Hung out with a bestie in Sydney during a 10 hour layover (slightly deliberately longer than the normal 90 minutes)
  • Cuddled and piggy backed and played with my niece and nephew
  • Had breakfast with the girls from school (there's a group of us and we like to roll en masse
  • Raised a glass with my brothers
  • Had my hair done (yep, I'm getting it styled - although really, I think I'll just go a blow dry)
  • Dolled myself up and given Dad what I think is the best birthday present for a man that has all he wants and needs - a huge hug.
I've known for so long about this trip and trying to keep it a secret was the hardest thing! I'll be sharing pics and a recap of how the surprise went down* when I return to London the week after next.

*I've scheduled this post to go live 30 mins after we're due to surprise him.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

London through an iphone Lens

So I mentioned a little while ago I got on board the iphone wagon and asked for some suggestions.  Thanks loads - I'm still playing with some and working them all out but I'm enjoying the ride.  One that I've been really enjoying, and was well worth the £1.19 I paid for it was Hipstamatic.   It came recommended by a few and I've been having a lot of fun playing with it.

It basically recreates an old Hipstamatic camera on your iphone, meaning you can snap away with cool effects. The base pack comes with three lenses (The John S, the Jimmy and the Kaimal Mark II) and some different films. The lenses affect the glow/colour/feel of the pics whilst the film affects the frames of the pic. There are addon packs you can get that give you more lenses, flashes and films too. In the UK they're £0.59 so I've just got some more but haven't had a chance to play with them.

It took me a little while to realise I could change the lens/flash etc (I'm a bit slow) but I've had a lot of fun with it. As well as being able to change the lens/flash/film - you can set it to random so each time you shake the phone whilst you have the app open, it randomly selects the variables.

Here are some shots I've snapped about town in the last week using this app.   (Obviously I need to work on holding the phone still when I take the pic - no app is going to do that for me).  I'm having a lot of fun with this one and happilly give it the thumbs up.
 
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Lens: John S.  Film: Blanko.  Flash:  Off.
 
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Lens: Kaimal Mark II. Film: Kodo Verichrome. Flash: Off.
 
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Lens: Jimmy. Film: Blanko. Flash: Off.
 
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Lens: Kaimal Mark II. Film: Kodo Verichrome. Flash: Off.
 
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Lens: Jimmy. Film: Blanko. Flash: Off.
 
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Lens: Kaimal Mark II. Film: Kodo Verichrome. Flash: Off.
 
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Lens: Jimmy. Film: Blanko. Flash: Off.

So many more combinations I can play with - you will be seeing pics from this app in my Project 365 - of that, I have no doubt!!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ten on a Tuesday – 39 – the late edition

A slightly different structure to the questions this week, but fret not – there is still 10!  These are from Sarah via Chelsea

For each of the following 10 categories, tell us which brand/product you use and why.

1. Cell Phone - Apple iPhone.  Before that (i.e.. Up to three weeks ago) I was a nokia girl through and through.  I use the iphone because I like the apps. Not because I like it as a phone (still getting use to texting on it etc) but because I can play gin rummy on it.  And that’s important, right?

2. Email - Yahoo & corporate.  Gmail wasn't around when I set my yahoo up and I was sick of the amount of rubbish my old hotmail account got.  That, and it was under a high school nickname so it wasn't always appropriate to give out my old hotmail account.  My yahoo has been with me for so long now that changing it to gmail doesn’t seem worthwhile.

3. Toothpaste - Colgate but the specific one changes all the time.  They always seem to be on special and that suits me just fine.

4. Car - n/a.  I use to have a Ford Laser though.

5. Writing Utensil - Pacer pencils or inky pens/fineliners.  Not entirely sure why but I don’t like writing with ballpoints.  At work I like using the Pilot V7 Hi Techpoint and in my purse I carry a little G2 Pixie Rollerball Pen.

 
The G2 is about half the size of the V7. (Both pics courtesy of Pilot)

6. Lotion - Currently it is Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking Body Lotion.  But it changes depending on which adds sway me and which ones are on special (normally within the Vaseline or E45 range)

7. Interior Paint - N/A - I've never painted.  But according to my landlord, my room (and the entire flat) is painted Portland Stone (greige) with a Silver Flake trim (whitish)

8. Soda/Drink - I’m a half juice and half soda water (or club soda??) girl at the moment.  When it comes to cola – I like the original Pepsi best but am not a big drinker.  I crave it about once a month or so (this seems to be related to hangovers).

9. Laundry Detergent - Surf’s Small & Mighty with Essential Oils Lavender & Oriental Blossom.  Good price, good results and I love the smell.  It doesn’t smell floral, more like “clean” (more so than anything that has the specific fragrance “clean linen” or some such description).

10. Medicine - I have a script for naproxen but aside from that, you’ll find the usual suspects in my cabinet – ibuprofen, day & night nurse (cold & flu tabs), aspirin, Imodium (a travel necessity even if just for piece of mind).

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Weekend wanderings...

I said last week that I loved London in the summertime and I couldn't agree with myself more!  I had a fantastic weekend playing tourist and enjoying the sunshine.  So fantastic in fact I didn't get a chance to load any pics until this morning!

An aunt was over from Australia and came to London for the day on Saturday (she's originally British and is staying in Norfolk with her sis, so London for a day is a feasible option).  Together we wandered the South Kennsington/Knightsbridge area:

Lunch at the V&A  (one of my favourite places in London)
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The roof of the cafe there - if  I wasn't so hungry at the time, I could have spent the entire time looking up!  I love those lights!  They were really huge.  The pic doesn't show the scale of the place - really really high ceilings and massive lights.  They had a pianist playing as well which made for some enjoyable entertainment.

Then a quick stop at Harrod's for some supplies
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True story, I'd not been here for years and years and years (like 2002).  My aunty and I travelled around England together in 1993 for a couple of months so this was a little trip down memory lane.  We wandered a bit, but who were we kidding, it is all about the food hall for us!  That place is the best sort of crazy over the top.  Given we'd just had lunch we didn't get too much, but a few things for a quick afternoon tea picnic in Hyde Park

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That would be two Pimms cupcakes (Raspberry and lemon sponge with a Pimms buttercream icing),  a red velvet & peanut butter whoopie and some sparkling water (we liked the bottles).  A great tasting afternoon tea.

Before too long, it was time to return aunt to the train - via a coffee stop of course (no pics of the coffee but if in doubt whilst in London, get coffee made from Monmouth beans!. 

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St Pancras is my favourite London station - it was refurbed back when they redirected the Eurostar to it.  It is gorgeous inside and out.  In the above pic, you can just see the gothic spire through the roof.


Next up was a pub walk/crawl through Hampstead Village in North London.  Such a pretty place and one I've bearly been to.  It feels a long way from central London and is well known for it's 800acre heath. 

Sunday was also glorious - boot camp in the morning, Shoredtich Festival in the afternoon (live music, sunshine, drinks, friends - a great blend).

How were your weekends?  Full of love and light?

Friday, 16 July 2010

My Goals - Progress report...

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The year is well more than half over so I figured now was as good a time as any to recap on my goals. Back on the 1st, I posted a lot of them that covered Health and Fitness, Travel, Blogging and Random Personal Indulgences. As I said back in January when I posted them, they are all goals, not deadlines so whilst I want to meet them, I'm not going to berate myself if I don't.

Stopping to see how I'm going has been an interesting experience. Personally, I've had a really good first six months of the year in terms of what I've done and seen (some things I never thought I would be able to) but it's also been a harrowing and emotional and stressful time for the extended family and at times a lonely experience over here. A strange six months really, but not one I'd trade for anything.

The most important goal for me this year was to improve my health and fitness. After being a fit and sporty kid, I became a fat and lazy adult. Not great. I wasn't happy and was incredibly self concious, so this was of paramount importance to me - for vanity, but more for how I felt about myself and my appraoch to life.

I'm proud of how I've done in this category. The below (specific goals) doesn’t really show my success I don't think. Things like walking 25 miles over 3 mountains with friends does, and finally ditching the boardshorts on a beach holiday does (and posting a pic of me in my bathers on the interwebs does), and wearing more skirts and dresses does, and losing weight and dress sizes does. But really, just knowing I'm healthier and fitter and feeling better about myself does. So, despite the 2 sucesses, 3 fails I've listed below, this is certainly a success story, so far…
  
The specific goals I listed were:

  • Dry January. - FAIL!! I did so well, until Australia Day (26 January) when we all went out to celebrate our national day. How could I not? A few others going dry in January also were on it that night. Regardless of this "fail", it wasn’t bad. Something like less than 5 drinks for a month is a real improvement on my December and even just being more aware and concsious of what I drink is a good thing.
  • Eat in more than I eat out. SUCCESS. This one is hard to quantify. When I wrote this goal, I didn't realise what the food situation would be at my "new" job (that I started 4th Jan). Turns out we have a restaurant with healthy meals available at good prices (like cheaper, or as cheap as if I was to buy the ingredients). So mostly now, I have my hot meal for lunch and a smaller dinner. This works well for me as I often have stuff on after work and don't get home until late. Cooking a healthy meal then wasn't always the top of my list. I am certainly eating a lot lot better than I did last year so I would say this is a success.
  • Try a new savoury (healthy) recipe each month. FAIL. This remains a goal for the second half of the year. I've tried lots of new dishes but none from recipes. Often I will see things on a menu and then try and recreate at home based on how I think it should work. I'm not sure why I don't use recipes, but I just tend not to.
  • Work through the 200 squats challenge. FAIL - Haven't done a single thing about it. Maybe I will in the second half of the year but maybe I won't. I'm doing other things so I'm not too worried.
  • Complete the London Moonwalk. SUCCESS - read all about it here...
I'm long way from where I want to be but I'm certainly heading in the right direction and have a lot of supportive people around me.

How are you going with your goals? Did you set any and do you revisit them?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Last Song - Seen it or read it?

A little while ago a friend lent me a copy of the Last Song.  She’d read it on a Caribbean break and seemed engrossed in it in the pictures of her holiday.  I’ve documented before that I like to read but have hit a bit of a wall getting through some books I’ve got.  Well, that’s still the case but I’ve been reading some others.

I’m not really going to provide a review other than to say it was sweet enough, predictable enough, formulaic enough, about what you’d expect from Nicholas Sparks.  These aren’t bad things – this is the kind of book I can read easily and enjoy, then more or less just leave behind.  Normally.


The copy I borrowed had a black and white of the movie poster on it with young Miley and Liam embracing.  More or less a b&w of the above pic.  Does it look familiar?

Have you read or seen any of Nicholas Sparks’ other books, or movies based on his books? 
 
Nights in Rodanthe and the Notebook particularly…  But maybe even Message in a Bottle.
 

It’s seems his poster maker bucked the trend and went out on a limb with Dear John.  Look – they’re not even looking at each other longingly…

So yeah, the book was ok, but the cover and its likeness to its predecessors is what really stood out…

*In a side note – one of my little “things” is that if I’m buying a book that has been turned into a movie, I don’t want the movie cover.  I want the book cover, as it was before.  Not always easy to find but certainly my preference.  Do you guys have a preference?

Project 365 – Week 19

Remember that project I thought about doing?  Well it's still going.  The "hard goal" was to take a photo a day.  The "soft goal" was to post them weekly.  Clearly, there has been a fail on the soft front.  I'll try and get it up to date over the next few weeks and then return to once a week posting.  I'll also take some pics of the dresses I've purchased recently as asked, but I think I'll wait to the weekend when there will be some daylight around.

Week 19 was way back in May, starting on 9th May (yup, more than 2 months ago!).

09.05.2010
9.05.2010 We stopped in Licoln for lunch on the way back from the Yorkshire Dales and then had a gander around the Cathedral.  It was well impressive, but as always, it's the stained glass windows that get me.  Parts of it date from the 1000's but most of it is 13th centruy.  
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10.05.2010. Needing to stretch my legs out after walking 25miles on the weekend, I walked part home from Westminster.  Here is a view south over the Thames and one of the many many bridges that span it.

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11.05.2010.  I caught my street just as the sun rays were heading behind the houses.  My street is lined with matchy matchy houses, fairly typical of a suburban London street.  Normally, it's a leafy street but they've lopped the trees.  There are many more leaves around now.

12.05.2010
12.05.2010 - Yeah yeah, I had my head in the clouds again.  Another walk home, this time I was captivated by the sky.  Rather than the usual story book clouds I love, these reminded me of some of the impressionist paintings.

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13.05.2010.  Park bench in Canary Wharf. There is a lot of public art around the Wharf, I should get out at capture more of it.

14.05.2010
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Park benches and fountain near Lambeth Palace on my walk home.  I like the hydrangea like colour they were painted, rather than the typical bottle green.

15.05.2010
15.05.2010.  Pretty sure I've share this one with you before - Pink City. The huge pink marquee in Hyde Park ahead of the London Moonwalk.  

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Ten on a Tuesady - 38

Questions this week from Lisa via Chelsea

1. What is the worst movie you have ever seen?
Recently I would say the Single Man. Someone was snoring during it and that made me jealous of them. In all, maybe the Frighteners - did anyone see that? Bad. Bad bad bad.

2. Do you have a favorite Disney/Pixar film?
The Fox and the Hound is my favourite from childhood. I haven't seen all the recent Pixar ones but I do like Wall-E.

3. Do you have a favorite movie from the 80's?
Pippi Longstocking. That movie rocked, and made me want to clean floors by wearing scrubbing brushes on my feet.

4. Are there any movies you saw more than once in the theater?
Quite a few. I worked at cinema during high school and so I got 2 free tickets a week (it later changed to a day - not that you can use them all and they don't carry over). But it mean seeing lots of movies lots of times. Some that I can think of include (don't judge people...) Romeo + Juliet, Face Off, Con Air, Devils Advocate, Evita (once was more than enough though), The Rainmaker, Beavis and Butthead, Good Will Hunting, You've Got Mail, There's Something About Mary, Titanic, As Good as it Gets, In and Out, The Full Monty, Men In Black, MIB II, Southpark, My Best Friend's Wedding, Pleasantville, Election, Antz...The list goes on and on and on and I'm not sure I can remember them all. So yeah, a lot of time optentially wasted but at least not a lot of money!

5. What is one city/area of the US (or country you live if you do not live in the US) that you have not seen but would like to see?
After seeing a friend's pics of the Kimberley and Broome, I'd love to explore North Western Australia (and North Eastern, and the North generally and the West...). I've sadly not seen a lot of my great country, always heading off overseas in stead. Reasons being I always though it would be there...I just have to do it at some point.

6. What are your favorite toppings on an Ice Cream Sundae?
Hot fudgey chocolate sauce and some single cream will do nicely thanks.

7. How many proms did you go to? What color was your prom dress? If you went to multiple proms, what color was your favorite prom dress?
We don't have Proms back home so none. We have socials, debs and formals. All of which I went to (so yeah, pretty ("horrendous") frocks each year. My favourite, and by that I mean least ugliest was probably the purple ensemble worn as a guest at the deb ball.

8. Is there a sport or extra-curricular activity that you didn’t get to try as a child that you wish you would have? (e.g. gymnastics, piano lessons, ballet, etc.)
No - we did loads. Netball, football, ballet, gymnastics, Japanese, Brownies, Violin. I now wish I'd stuck with violin (if only to be better at readin the music, not to play it) or learnt Piano but I didn't have any interest in it at the time.

9. How many siblings do you have? Are you the oldest, middle, or youngest?
Two brothers. Older bro and younger step bro. So, I was the youngest for the first 16 years but now the middle. But being the only girl, middle child syndrome passed me by in favour of being the only princess :-)

10. Do you feel like you fit in with your age group? Or do you feel younger/older than your age group?
Yeah, in some ways I feel oldish and others young/inexperienced. I would guess this is normal, right?

London Love

This is meant to be the Monday post, you know, the weekend recap?  Then I got all busy at work and afterwork and time escaped me.  So here it is, late (and possible not better than never!)

I love London in the Summertime.  It’s a happy buzzy place to be with so much going on.  So much of the fun kick back type of things.  I didn’t do anything particularly standout or what not last weekend but it was fun.

Saturday night we helped warm a friends’ new apartment with a mad hat party.  Have you ever been to one before?  So much fun.  I love dress ups but they’re not for everyone.  Everyone can get on board for a hat party though.  We had flat caps, joker caps, gangster (20's style) hats, pirates hats, mini hats and many more.  Of course they all get swapped around throughout the night and the photos are quite hilarious.
Sunday was another sunny day, spent at a pub on the banks of the Thames with friends (ok, a few hours was – most was spent at home feeling sorry for myself after Saturday night). From the mad hat party on Saturday and a slow Sunday lunch by the Thames on Sunday, here are some things I learnt:

  • Strawberry daiquiris are delicious
  • Do not substitute ice cubes with frozen peas and corn when making said strawberry daiquiris.  No one is ever drunk enough for that to fly.  If you have run out of ice cubes, put the blender away and move on from daquiris.
  • If you run a restaurant, don’t wait 50 minutes for a customer to ask where their food is before telling them you don’t have it (yes, that happened on Sunday – after 50 minutes of waiting, we found out they didn’t have brownies, and only when we asked…why not just say??)
  • Soccer is for pansies.  Seriously…their reaction to the slightest of tackles?  Buck up ponies, seriously.  Buck up.
  • Sleep is wonderful.  After a picking up a bug in Greece that I haven’t quite recovered from and having a cold for the last week or so, I’ve become the Queen of sleep, and I think it is exactly what I needed.
  • The birds are freakin loud at 4am (and the sky is light...I'm too old for this!)
  • Standing at a bus stop waiting for a bus is not the same as a prostitute standing on a street corner waiting for her next client (despite me insisting it was on Saturday night…)
  • Buying dresses is fun and addictive.  I'm more a jeans & tee girl or work pants, but in the space of a few days, I bought 6 dresses.  Yeah, I needed one for a particular occaision (the 6th and final purchase) but the other 5?  Well, I just liked them.  The not necessary ones were mostly cheapish though so I don't feel too bad.  That, and I've already worn three of them.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Greece Recap 4 - The Islands - Ios

{yep, more pics.  Nearly done.  Sorry}


After cheering on the Socceroos (their first and only win in the tournament), we all got in the spirit and enjoyed the nightlife and refreshments that Parikia had to offer.  Strawberry daiquiris - good.  Long Island Ice Teas - not so good.  Free pour LIITs were nearly the end of quite a few of us.]

We woke the Thursday to find we were sailing for Ios.  After a few days on Paros, this was welcome news.  The slightly choppy seas were not so much.  The power failure (meaning no aircon in our cabins) was not so much.  I took my hat, ipod and sunscreen to the topdeck where I napped for a few hours.  Now if I just cure every hangover on a banana lounge, life would be sweet.

Ios is the party island and it didn't disappoint.  Whilst I was soft, many of the crew pulled all nighters. Our visit coincided with midsummer.  When thousands of young Swedes descend on the island for a day long party.  Let's just say the boys amongst us were in heaven.

Aside from the partying, there was swimming to be done, see kayaking and some more water sports...

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Check out my jacket - this is what happens when you try and dress yourself whilst hangover.  Clips are just way too hard!

The jacket was for these
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I'm in the middle on the left.  If I thought the single biscuits were fun, well these were more fun.  We were still all pretty green from the night before and morning sail, sore from the day before and in generally not that good a shape at this point.  But still, I just couldn't stop laughing...

Here's me hanging on as our worlds collide (I'd already seen the boys off)
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After some lunch and some more swimming, we took a hike back into town - up and over loads of stairs, but worth it for the views we had along the way

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So far from home but the eucalyptus trees were a pleasant reminder of where I'm from.

Local church and the marina by night
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A really cool Island and home to my favourite bar of the trip (of which there are no photos - but it was an open air by high up the hillside with a simple asethic and tasty cold red wine).

Greece Recap 3 - The Islands - Naxos, Paros & Antiparos

{warning - another long picture heavy post.  I'm home sick with a summer cold and looking these pics is making me happy though}

The islands we were heading for were the Cyclades Islands.  Our actual itinery went a little something like this:

Mykonos - Naxos - Paros (3) - Ios (2) - Santorini - Mykonos.  The boat had the issues on Paros and Ios hence a lot more time than planned and less at Santorini.  We didn't get a chance to go to Heraklia but not to worry.

Our time sailing was spent lounging on the upper (sunny) and mid (shaded) decks, reading, napping, listening to music and generally just being.  It took a little while for me to be able to relax and just sit but it was good to do it.

Our time on the islands was spent wondering the towns, getting about on quads, swimming, watersports and drinking.  There really are so too many pics from this trip but I'll try and sum it up using only a few:

Our boat, the Viking Star

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Sunset the first night as we left Mykonos for Naxos

Naxos was a cute place - we ventured high up through the alleyways for an outdoor meal with amazing views.   If only I'd taken my camera ;-(

Then onto Paros.  Paros (and it's neighbouring Antiparos) is where we spent the most time.

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Church near the dock on Paros

I had swam two to three times a day throughout the trip - it was bliss.  This was the first place on Paros I swam at:
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Before we continued walking around to the next beach
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Where there were lots of fishies in the water with us
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Then we got the water taxi back to town (Parikia)
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Back in town, we wandered for a bit before lunch...taking it all in (I'm sure you've all seen Greek Islands in the movies - my pics won't do them justice)

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Then after discovering we weren't setting sail that afternoon, we hired some quad bikes and ventured further afield...

To Santa Maria (maybe my favourite beach of them all?  maybe to hard to choose but I did love the mountan backdrop this one had)
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With more quads the next day (better faster ones) we took the ferry to Antiparos and checked out some caves (the dark and cool was a welcome relief)
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We did some offroad quadding that took us down to a mostly secluded cove.  By mostly, I mean it was just us (6 of us that day) and a middle aged naked couple.  For your viewing pleasure, there are NO pics of this ;-)

A stop for lunch
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And then on to more beaches...
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Where we were able to do this
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And this
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I've not been biscuiting since I was about 15 and I'd forgotten how much I laugh during it.  Getting on those things brings on a fit of giggles like nothing else.  Going flying off them does to.  If only I could do it more often!

Back to Paros on the ferry
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A quick ice-cream
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and cartwheel stop
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before heading back to the boat to watch the sun go down and prepare to go out and cheer on the Socceroos in their game against Serbia

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{The day on Antiparos was a day we weren't mean to have had, in the sense we should have sailed elsewhere.  Whilst following the itinery would have been great, see what I mean that it's all good?  It was one of the best days in recent memory!  Caves, coves, cartwheels, sun, sand and swimming}