As I crunch on the last of my Arnott's Tim Tam Balls, my brain is buzzing and my fingers itching to blog about my big trip to the other side of the world.
First of all, God did hear my prayer for window seats - I had window seats the whole way! One million thank yous!
My flights to Oz were as anticipated; very long! Total journey time - door to door - 39 hours ONE WAY. Does that sound long? HELL YES! I was glad to stumble into bed following that delightful journey!
My sister in law, Theresa, and my two nieces, Karlia and Jaycee [a lovely welcoming committee bearing small gifts] greeted me at Brisbane airport, and I knew I was home to the lucky land.
The above photo is of my brother, Ralph, together with Karlia on the left and Jaycee on the right.
My vacation with Ralph and his family, began the next day - 10 glorious days at Kirra Beach on the lovely Gold Coast (Queensland)Australia. We stayed at Worldmark Wyndham Vacation Resorts on the 14th floor!
This above photo was the view from our balcony. Waking up to this every morning was totally awesome!
My days were filled with swimming (both at the beach and in the resort pool), shopping at nearyby Tweed Heads, trips to theme parks (White Water World and Seaworld), a cinema visit (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa), lots of great dining and entertainment, and of course fantastic summer weather!
This above photo was taken at Seaworld (left to right): me, Jaycee and Karlia.
What vacation would be complete without some late night knitting? I promised each of my nieces an Alligator Scarf. The scarves were a fun knit.
Pictured above is Karlia with her turquoise alligator scarf, and Jaycee with her stretchy banana alligator scarf!
We also enjoyed a wonderful visit from my Aunt and cousins from Brisbane (Queensland).
Pictured (left to right): Theresa, Karlia, Sue (cousin), Jaycee (front), Aunt Petra, Dianna (cousin), and me on the end.
Following the Gold Coast vacation, Sonia (sister), Tony (parnter) and Emily (niece) drove to Kirra Beach to pick me up and take me to Lismore (northern NSW) for Christmas.
Photo above: Emily had prepared my bed and my room for my "sleep over". Hmm...where will Aunty Isa sleep?
Christmas lunch was held on Christmas Eve. Sonia outdid herself again and prepared a wonderful feast consisting of ham, Asian noodle salad, rice salad, potatoe bake, carrots and peas, bread rolls and strawberry surprise for dessert!
Pictured above (left to right): me, Mum, Emily, Tony, Norm (Tony's Dad) and my Dad.
From Lismore, it was on to Grafton (northern NSW) to Mum and Dad's. The Weiss and Bale clans arrived on Boxing Day and stayed until 29th December.
Boxing Day is of special significance to our family because it is also Dad's birthday!
Pictured above (left to right): Emily, Karlia, me, Dad, Sonia and Jaycee.
I managed to complete another knitting project - the last alligator scarf for Emily. I gave this to her on 27th December; the day we reserved for Christmas gift giving from brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles.
Here is a photo of Emily with her Pumpkin Alligator Scarf.
Everyone loved their knitted items - the hoodies, the hats, and the scarves.
Whilst in Grafton, I saw my best school friend Ann and her hubby Don, went to The Nymboida Coaching Station Inn (tour around a historic museum and a lovely lunch), and did some shopping.
A highlight of my Grafton holiday was a trip to Landruk's Gunyah Alpaca and Olive Farm at Carrs Creek Peninsula, Grafton, northern NSW.
Don and Dorothy do an amazing job managing the farm, providing excellent quality produce for the local markets as well as opening their pride and joy to the public.
Pictured above: I'm reassuring Emily that the alpaca won't hurt her and just wants to say "hello".
I bought some nice bare silk and alpaca hand spun from their store.
Theresa celebrated her birthday on 29th December, so we had reason to eat even more cake!
New Year's Eve was spent quietly with my Mum. We watched the Military Tattoo on TV, followed by the fabulous movie The Full Monty, followed by one of the most awesome Sydney fireworks display ever! Mum and I brought 2009 in with a couple of Bailey's on ice and a couple of Tia Maria's on ice.
The last part of my vacation was spent back with my sister and her family in Lismore.
Sonia and I enjoyed a lovely brekkie at Shelley's on the Beach, Ballina (northern NSW) - bit of a brekkie tradition of ours for years.
We spent quite a bit of time at Evans Head (northern NSW) where Tony's family live. Evans Head offers fabulous beach and river swimming.
Pictured (left to right): Sonia, Tony and Emily under their new beach umbrella.
While at Evans we all went out to dinner at the Services Club, and then went on to the Bowling Club for a few drinks and a dance.
Emily is an awesome dancer!
Pictured (left to right): Sonia, Emily and me.
Back in Lismore we did lots of shopping, went to the pool, cooked a couple of BBQs on Sonia and Tony's new BBQ, and generally enjoyed our short time together.
During the evenings we watched TV, and this gave me lots of opportunity to knit of course!
Pictured: Gull Stitch Beanie.
All too soon, my vacation was over. Sonia drove me back to Brisbane where I spent my last couple of days with my brother's family.
I visited a great yarn store - Threads n More in Brisbane where I bought some beautiful 4 ply alpaca yarn by Eki Riva. Theresa, Karlia, Jaycee and I went to the cinema and saw The Tale of Despereaux. Then I went to Skinny's Sheepskin and Wool products to buy another pair of Ugg boots.
Lastly I stocked up on Cadbury's chocolate of course, and bought a packet of Tim Tams for Kata [as promised].