Day Three

Buffet breakfast is definitely the best way to start a day.

Moderation was shelved in favour of a breakxcess (breakfast excess) of Bacon eggs, sausages, mushrooms, smoked salmon, smoked haddock, seasonal fruit, croissants and whatever else I could get my hands on!

Having let that digest a little, we decided that we ought to take a ride on a ferry. Since we had our Zoo Passes we decided that this might be our destination!

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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The Giraffes were a bit of a highlight for us. Both lovely and unlikely in shape…

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This is the view that the Giraffes get to look at every day. I could think of worse ways to spend my time.

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This was as close as the Pumpkin got to having a birthday cake over her holiday.

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It’s fun to see the people staring out of the scenic flyer as their ferried to the top of the zoo & over all the animals.

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I have to say that the shows they put on are very professional. Well worth the wait & lots of fun.

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I figure we need at least one Australian animal in the photos. Like any true Aussie he appears to be lazing on the job…

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An obligatory picture of Mr. Shuffles is also to be expected.

So that was our time at the Zoo. We caught another ferry back before heading up for a little R&R

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Views on the harbour really are magic. I ought to head out there more often.

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A lovely wife & gorgeous daughter makes a pretty good view too.

That night Shona & the Bub were both a bit crook, so they decided to rest up in the hotel (Possibly a ruse on Shona’s part to enjoy room service & cable TV) while I went out to enjoy some night photography. I was out there for ages & took a fair few shots, but since my posts are getting longer & longer, I will leave it with just a few.

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The cruise ship parked in the harbour was huge! Of course this photo makes it look a little bigger than it really was… It wasn’t quite Harbour Bridge height.

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It’s not easy to take an original picture of the Opera House. This is my take…

So, having skimpped on dinner (Thank you Mr. Mcdonald) I decided that I could let loose a little with dessert. We’d noticed in our travells the night before, a Guylian cafe in the rocks. I noticed that night, that I could save 30% of the price by getting take away instead of eating there.
Why, when we have one of the prettiest harbours in the world, would you want to sit on a crowded street & pay top dollar for the privilege?

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Guylian’s “100% pleasure,” made of Panna Cotta, surrounded by chocolate mousse, enrobed in a rich chocolate glaze with gold flecks, and finally finished with some shards of rich chocolate and a chocolate orange square on top!

The lion’s share of photos had been taken for the weekend. The vast majority of food had been eaten. All we had left was a swim or two to enjoy in the pool & then a mornign at church in the city to come on Sunday….

Day Two!

It’s great to start the day hanging out with the inlaws (I am a lucky man to be able to say that!).

It takes your morning up that extra notch when you then get to have a full hot breakfast!

And another notch when said breakfast costs you the princely sum of $2.95!!!!

Oh the joys of Ikea!

We sauntered around in the store for a little bit, then we showed the depths of our restraint by only buying the mini table & chairs for the bub that we had come for.

At this point we were at a bit of a loss. It was still fairly early in the morning & the room we’d booked at the Intercontinental (a little present to the wife) wasn’t supposed to be ready till 2pm.

A call to the hotel, an assurance that they could look after our bags in the mean time, and off we went! When we got there we even got the lovely news that we could head straight up to our room!

The good news: We had a view of the Harbour Bridge.

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The bad news: We were in a room set up for disability. It was the only room with a King sized bed left, and at first it was really attractive, because we knew we’d have a wide door, perfect for prams. Of course, we hadn’t considered that we would also have one of those showers that has no lip at the bottom, so any shower puts water on the whole bathroom floor! A problem when you intend to let your kid sleep in there!

Still, if that is the worst problem you have, you’re doing well! I dealt with it by having showers in the well appointed change rooms near the rooftop pool & gym!

So, back to our day.

We headed off to a local food court where I got to have an all time favourite lunch, [Beef Bibimbap](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibimbap)

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Lerle, Shona’s mum, had headed into town to go to the [Art Gallery of NSW](http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/) with a friend, so we met up with her after they were done & spent a lovely hour or two getting a free tour (Lerle’s an art teacher) and having a coffee.

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Our afternoon was punctuated by a nice walk through the city to drop Lerle at the train station, and when we passed a cupcake shop on the way home, we were duty-bound to sample their wears (A birthday cupcake for the bub… but of course she needed help eating it!).

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We needed a little while after that to unwind. We did that with a bit of relaxation in the room, but it was completed by going down & enjoying a complimentary cocktail down at “The Cortile,” in the hotel’s foyer.

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A walk around the harbour afterwards was a lovely way to go, followed by a beer & dinner at the [Belgian Beer Cafe](http://www.belgian-beer-cafe.com.au/heritage.html)

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By this time it was all we could do to stare in the windows of potential dessert places. Not another morsel was going to pass our mouths, but that was just fine. We’d certainly had a full & entertaining day, and to think we had two more to enjoy!!!

Birthday Girl

You should have seen the size of the post I wrote last night.

You should have seen the effort I put into well crafted words.

You should have seen the disappointment when we had a blackout, literally a minute before finshing!
I still have lots of photos & I still have several words to say, so you still get to see how the Pumpkin’s Birthday Long Weekend played itself out. We’ll start with birthday day, Thursday…

Books

Bub got heaps of lovely presents, all of which she appreciates, but I’ll show you two here. The first (above) is some books. Pumpkin loves books. Pumpkin even pretends to read books! Occasionally Pumpkin even eats books!

Radio Flyer

This present is one that is not a great deal of use at the moment, given that 1 year olds don’t understand how to pedal! She’ll grow into it though, it will last a long time & most importantly, I couldn’t not buy it! So retro, so solidly made, so red!!!

The big part of the day for the bub, however, was heading to the [Zoo](http://www.taronga.org.au/)! We gave her a “Zoo Friends” pass for her birthday, so I expect she’ll spend a lot more time there over the next little while!

Thoughtful Sydney

Here we are waiting for the bird show. The view was fantastic, the weather was exceptional & Pumpkin was well behaved. If only she cared about the birds. Feet, cameras & people were far more interesting, at least until the Andean Condor with it’s 3 meter wing span turned up…

He kind of demanded attention!

Cheeky Penguin

I’m committed to spending more time with the penguins & seals when I go next. So cheeky, so friendly & so cool!

Calipo-crazy!

Pumpkin is more committed to spending time with Calippos in the future. It was a minor tactical error to give her a suck to begin with. We awakened an animal who LOVES to eat ice blocks & HATES to share anything!

Sky Ride!

[Taronga](http://www.taronga.org.au/) is on a fairly steep hill, so we were happy to take the sky ride back up. Pumpkin was certainly happy with the view & the chance to stand up & shout!

But our day didn’t end there! That night we spent time at Nanny & Grandad’s house. I didn’t get pictures of that.

More importantly, I got to spend time at my [new favourite chocolate store](http://www.cocochocolate.com.au/) (tied with Adora) [Coco Chocolate](http://www.cocochocolate.com.au/)!

A selection of purchases

There are lovely block chocolates with flavours such as “Organic Coconut, Lime & Dark Chocolate,” “Caramel, Pinenut & Sea Salt,” “Orange, Lemon & Geranium” & “Cardamom & Cinnamon Dark.” This place if flavour central!

Organic Rose & Peppercorn Hot Chocolate

The “Organic Rose & Black Peppercorn” hot chocolate was awesome (as is the bar chocolate of the same name) & you can rest assured I took home a bunch of chocolates to trial & savour over the coming weeks!

SO that was day 1. Good food. Good times. Can you believe that there are 3 days to go!

4 Day

Pumpkin's Easter

The Bub loved her first Easter & her first chocolate.

There is much more to tell (as Amy has requested) but it will have to wait till after pumpkin’s Birthday 4-day weekend! We’ll fit in a zoo, a trip to Ikea, visit with grandparents, some art galleries, a ferry ride & a bunch of other fun bits & pieces!
Back soon!

Poetry Tuesday-2

Having published my poem last week, I was listening to a Church History lecture the very next day while I jogged & it mentioned the 9th Century theologian, Predestinationist & poet, [Gottschalk of Orbais](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottschalk_of_Orbais).
I was all excited to track down some of Gottschalk’s poems, but am yet to be successful.

That’s just fine for me, because I thought I would take you to a little [C.S. Lewis](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis) first. Jack (says Tim, faking some kind of personal connection by using the nickname Lewis had from childhood) really was a multi-talented man. His essays are still my favourites, but the Narnia Series is a classic & the Perelandria series pretty stellar (no pun intended) also!

His Poetry catches you by surprise when you realise how good it is too. I have read a fair bit of Fantasy in my life, and inevitably ever author has an Elf, Dwarf, Human or some other being break out into verse or song. Usually, fantasy authors ought to stick to prose, but Lewis is a different matter.

For your enjoyment today, I have two poems. One incredibly short, the other of middle size. The first about the natural beauty of women, the second about the heart wrenching way that loss affects all of your life.
They’re two favourites, and I suspect that many more of Lewis’ poems will come in later weeks.

(I still, for the life of me, can’t get the formatting that is clear on my screen to translate when I publish…)

**Unnamed poem.**

> Lady, a better sculptor far
> Chiselled those curves you smudge and mar,
> And God did more than lipstick can
> To justify your mouth to man.
>

**Joys that Sting**

> *Oh doe not die*, says Donne, *for I shall hate
> All women so*. How false the sentence rings.
> Women? But in a life made desolate
> It is the joys once shared that have the stings.
>
> To take the old walks alone, o not at all,
> To order one pint where I ordered two,
> To think of, and then not to make, the small
> Time-honoured joke (senseless to all but you);
>
> To laugh (oh, one’ll laught), to talk upon
> Themes that we talked upon when you were there,
> To make some poor pretence of going on,
> Be kind to one’s old friends, and seem to care,
>
> While no one (O God) through the years will say
> The simplest, common word in just your way.

——————-

I’ll not sully them by trying to explain or exegete…

Poetry Tuesday

I’m not the most poetic individual on earth, but I have always agreed with the proverb that “[a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver](http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2025:11&version=NIV)(1).”
I always feel that I should write poetry, but rarely ever get around to it. Likewise, I feel I ought to read it more often, but don’t usually stray beyond the shorter works of C.S. Lewis, or Robert Frost.

Last week at “priestly formation” a guest speaker brought in some of his favourite poems and he convinced me that I ought to chase down more aptly spoken words. So maybe on tuesdays, or maybe just this tuesday, I’ll share one with you. (Can any lawyers tell me if I am doing something illegal here?)

**”FIve Ways to Kill a Man” by [Edwin Brock](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Brock)**

(apologies for the lack of formatting. It’s formatted where I enter it, but not coming up on the site…)

>There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.

> You can make him carry a plank of wood to the top of a hill and nail him to it.

> To do this properly you require a crowd of people wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one man to hammer the nails home.

> Or you can take a length of steel, shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.

> But for this you need white horses, English trees, men with bows and arrows, at least two flags, a prince, and a castle to hold your banquet in.

> Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind allows, blow gas at him. But then you need a mile of mud sliced through with ditches, not to mention black boots, bomb craters, more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs and some round hats made of steel.

> In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly miles above your victim and dispose of him by pressing one small switch. All you then require is an ocean to separate you, two systems of government, a nation’s scientists, several factories, a psychopath and land that no-one needs for several years.

> These are, as I began, cumbersome ways to kill a man.

> Simpler, direct, and much more neat is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

What do you think? What’s in the last stanza? Is it implying that we have the freedom & opportunity to look back at 2000+ years of brutal history & yet we don’t learn? Or is it pointing to unparalleled dangers in a modern society?

Either way, it’s a beautifully written poem!

(1) I Digress: I have a bit of a thing for bookmarks. Much to my beloved wife’s consternation, I had to track down a bookmark from just about every place we visited on our honeymoon. Many of them just sit in a box. Occasionally I remember to leave them in a book. I think part of my my little addiction came from the first time I ever read “[Lord of the Rings](http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Rings-50th-Anniversary-Vol/dp/0618640150/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268716981&sr=1-3)” as a primary school kid of 11. I remember borrowing “the Fellowship of the Ring” and finding a textured card bookmark inside, with a beautiful picture of a golden apple on a silver trellis. I used that bookmark from 6th grade till I lost in in about year 10. It guided me through maybe hundreds of books during my literary golden age. I tasted and digested (and now, unfortunately, have mostly forgotten) many aptly spoken words, and that little icon came with me… What I’d give to find that book mark again! Every other bookmarks since, valuable though it maybe, laden with memories of Scottish summer days, or eating fresh bread under the Eiffel tower, are still just a poor cousin to my constant reading companion. Is it odd for me to have such a powerful connection to a piece of cardboard?

Gingerbread

Gingerbread

I made this fella and a bunch of his mates because I was struggling without any sweetness in my life. You see, I gave up chocolate for lent. Usually I don’t go a day without chocolate, so this new endeavour (now just a day shy of being a MONTH!) has kicked me for a bit of a loop!
There has been a part of me that felt like I was cheating by having Gingerbread men. After all, if I were at an addicts meeting, they’d probably just tell me that I was swapping one addiction for another. There has been an even bigger part of me, however, that felt that this was a silly exercise all together. That “Capital “R” Reformed” part of me that says that occasions like lent are purely for Catholics & I ought not be involved in an activity that appears to promote the role of works in my salvation!

I’d say now that I need to repent for that mindset.

I was chatting to my boss when I first thought about the whole exercise & she challenged me to look at things again…

Are there things that are in my life that actually create some kind of barrier between me & God? Are there things that I have a greater sense of loyalty to than God? I have to say that I was probably more consistent over the passage of a year eating chocolate than I am reading my Bible! The boss challenged me that maybe lent isn’t a time for “Showing God that I can suffer too,” but rather, a chance to try & break down some of those barriers.

Is there time eating chocolate (or fast food, the other one to go) that might be spent in prayer or contemplation? Or maybe can I just gain some balance in my life again. Remember what things in my life are the rare pleasures & what aspects are really supposed to be part of my every day?

So my little ginger friend gets to stay. He reminds me that I’m not chasing after a physical proof of some kind of extra-human commitment… and he certainly helps cure the craving!

Cinematic Intention

When I logged into my web application thingy, I had no idea what I wanted to write about?

I had been thinking about blogging on [“Up in the Air”](http://www.theupintheairmovie.com/) which I enjoyed a great deal (not surprising, since it was created by the same man who did two other favourites, [“Thank you for Smoking”](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427944/) and [“Juno”](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0467406/)). There’s lots of great themes in the movie: the nature of relationships, our reason for being, the question of what is happiness & can it ever exist consistently?

Instead I decided I wanted to ask a question.

This is possibly a very stupid idea, given that my readership is maybe 5ish…

My question, for all 5 of you is “Why do you go and see movies? To turn your brain on or to turn it off?”

I know a number of people who only want to go to movies if they can guarantee at least one explosion every 10 minutes. They need action, adventure & possibly some gratuitous violence.

I on the other hand love a movie that causes me to think. I want to know what I would do in any given situation, or whether or not I agree with the philosophical presuppositions that the main character holds. Is their moral viewpoint logically consistent? Even better, does some activity in the movie cause me to ask whether I am morally or ethically consistent?

Even something like Avatar has levels to consider. Are we a culture that is getting caught up in nature worship? Is a technological societie’s ability to dominate a weaker (if more ecologically friendly) society just reflect the same kind of relationship we see in nature between, say, the Lion and its prey?

Even when a movie doesn’t ask a deep moral question, I still prefer the “Brain turned on” movies. Something that is dialogue driven, that keeps you thinking, that distorts one’s perception of time or space… It’s nice to inhabit a reality that is profoundly not mine, yet stretches my understanding of my own reality.

What gets you going in a good movie?

Baptising Babies

It seems to garner more controversy in the US, though I have had some interesting chats with baptists here in Australia too.
For mine, there are two reasons why I happily baptised my baby (actually, there are lots, but these are two big ones)
Firstly, I would say I am an advocate of the normative principle over the regulative principle. That is to say, if the Bible doesn’t prohibit something, generally I might be comfortable in doing it. The Bible doesn’t cover what it means to baptise children, and I think it is a reasonable thing to do, so away I go.

Secondly, I think there is a sense of community that we see in the Bible that we have lost in the modern day world. In the first instance you have the patriarchs of families declaring their whole family Christian & then being baptised in the Bible. Secondly, there is an expectation that the children of a person will be brought up in the tradition of their parents. Baptism for me is an expression that the child is mine, will be brought up as a Christian. Pumpkin may make a decision to go another way when she is an adult, but that is no different than any other adult who has been baptised who then choose another path.

Of course, it is also a tradition of the Anglican church & has been a traditional practice of the church as a whole for at least a millenium & most likely a fair bit more!

Anyway, I know most of my readers are more interested in the pictures (if you haven’t already seen them on facebook) so here they are!

Preparation

Here we are making promises about our faith & how we intend to bring up our bub. From left to right it is Matty, Simone, Rosemary, Me, Shona & the Pumpkin.

Splash and Dash?

Splash and Dash? I’d be just as happy with full emersion. Happy to baptise this way too!

Anticipation

Here is the pumpkin about to open a present from her Aunty Bec.

The gift

I was really happy with this pic, but have to admit that it was a fluke to have her face reflected in the bowl.

Contemplating cake

Pumpkin’s concentration on her very first sugary delight is topped only by her enthusiasm in the following picture.

A passion is born

A passion is born! I hope she follows in her father’s footsteps, falling in love with photography. I’ll be happy if she doesn’t inherit my sweet tooth though…