Busy organizing, packing and socializing day!…Baggage fees for Delta…Two days and counting..

St. James Train Station in downtown (known as the CBD, Central Business District) in Sydney.

This morning I began packing the third and smaller of our three checked bags. With no concerns with over-weight restrictions, since we’re boarding a ship, not a plane, I still felt committed to lightening the load and reorganizing the contents. 

A night view of a few of the buildings in Circular Quay, Sydney, taken from the Manly Ferry.

We won’t have to be concerned about the weight until the end of the upcoming Alaska cruise when we fly from Seattle to Minneapolis on May 26th. Somehow, I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that we’ll be preparing for that flight in only 36 days.

Sydney Opera House at night taken from the Manly Ferry.

During that 36 days, we’ll be packing and unpacking a total of eight times which includes:
1.  Packing for the cruise – now
2.  Unpacking in our cabin for the cruise to Seattle – April 22nd
3.  Packing to disembark the ship in Seattle – May 15th
4.  Unpacking at hotel in Vancouver for two-night stay – May 15th
5.  Packing to depart hotel – May 17th
6.  Unpacking in our cabin for the Alaskan cruise – May 17th
7.  Packing to disembark the ship in Seattle – May 26th
8.  Unpacking at the hotel in Minneapolis where we’ll stay for six weeks – May 26th

A night skyline view of a small portion of downtown Sydney.

It’s this tight schedule that prompted me to be diligent in organizing our stuff and packing neatly. As a result, upon repacking and unpacking, we’ll do so with the same diligence as on each prior occasion. 

Luckily, as stated above, we’ll only be concerned with the weight of our bags on one occasion…when we fly to Minnesota. In the interim, I’ll certainly consider what items we can toss along the way to lighten that load.

Historic building in Circular Quay area. 

After checking Delta Airlines baggage fees, it appears it will be AU 33.35, US $25 for the first bag for each traveler, and an additional AU 46.69, US $35 for any other bag as shown below:


The most common fees for traveling in a domestic, Main Cabin seat are:

The maximum weight, as shown above, is 23 kg, 50 lbs.  In the past, we’ve had no problem keeping the three bags within this weight range. But recently, we each added some new clothing and supplies.  

Office buildings along the Sydney Opera House Walkway including many shops, offices, restaurants, and condos.
This added weight will leave us committed to lightening our load of older items along the way before May 26th. However, one can never become complacent when it comes to baggage weight.
A portion of the Sydney skyline on a cloudy day.

As for today at 2:00 pm, Bob will drive us to the Manly Wharf, where we’ll walk across the road to walk the Corso to a pharmacy for a few more items we’ll need for the upcoming 36 days. 

Clock Tower in Sydney.

At 3:30 pm, we’ll return to the wharf where we’ll meet Christine and Colin, who’ll be arriving from Sydney on the Manly Ferry. We’ll head to a restaurant and relax for what indeed will be a pleasant get-together with the lovely couple, originally from the UK, having lived in Australia for the past 23 years.

One of our favorite Kookaburras.

In the evening we’ll return by bus to our holiday home as we spend one of the last two nights in Fairlight. It has been a great location, but we’re excited to be moving on.

Have a lovely day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, April 20, 2016:

There was no photo posted one year ago. We were sailing on Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas and the WiFi.

It was so slow we couldn’t post any photos. Ironically, last night when we happened to look outdoors, we saw Voyager of the Seas heading out to sea from Sydney Harbour. Here’s that photo!

Last night’s photo of Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas leaving Sydney Harbour. Here’s the link to the post (without images). 

Cozi family calendar…What a find!…Four days and counting…

Manly Scenic Walkway weaves through the park.

We’re impressed with the online Cozi Calendar app, which may be found at this link. As the time approached us to visit our three adult children, significant others, and six grandchildren in Minnesota, we wondered how we’d possibly keep track of upcoming events.

We’ll also be getting together with Tom’s siblings, their extended families, plus the many friends we hope to see during the six-week visit.

A walkway along the side of the house to Reef Beach Bay.

Sure, Microsoft Office/Outlook has a network applicable online calendar for employees within a company. However, on my laptop, I use a Windows calendar that requires a tremendous amount of work to acquire access for other users.

But, the reality is that not everyone in our family has access to Outlook or Windows, nor would they care to install a somewhat cumbersome app, not necessarily easy to learn.

Old tree with unusual bark.

After looking online for other options, preferably at little to no cost, I discovered the Cozi app, which includes a calendar and grocery lists, shopping lists, to-do lists, meal planning, and more. 

The magic of this app is that every family member can access the calendar (the only significant feature we need for a visit) by using my email and our designated password, established upon setting up the calendar. 

A large home was bordering the park with a guest house further down this paved driveway.

It took only a few minutes to set everything up. Our adult family members can now see and edit the calendar around events we’ve already entered and see what dates and times we’ll be available for more entries.

Stop and Go light with a mailbox on a cement wall at a private home.

Wow! This is working out well, and surprisingly, bless the hearts of our kids, filling in quickly. By the time we arrive in Minnesota on May 26th, we expect the calendar may be filled with plans with our kids, grandkids, other family members, and friends.

Undoubtedly, Tom and I, as a blended family, will occasionally have to separate to engage in activities with our biological kids and grandkids. But, at other times, we’ll all hang out together.

Boat in Reef Beach Bay always creates a lovely scene.

This free app is ideal for the busy family. Each family member can access the calendar (and other features such as adding or changing grocery lists) to see what activities are planned. The app may be used on various devices, including iPads, PCs, iPhones, Android phones, and most other WiFi-enabled smartphones and devices. 

Another pretty view between houses.

Both Tom and I have it on our phones and laptops for easy reference from anywhere. However, it requires an Internet connection to view, update and edit. If you have questions, feel free to ask me for help or their very responsive customer support. 

Now, as we’re winding down to a mere four days until we sail from Sydney, the busy work has begun.  Yesterday, I re-folded most of my clothes and packed my suitcase, leaving a little space for the few items I’ll be wearing during these next few days. 

Metal roof on a local house.

Today, I’ll scan all of our receipts, tossing the paper. Tomorrow, I’ll put together the final expenses for departure day’s post. Thursday, we’re heading to Manly to meet friends for dinner. Friday, we’ll complete the packing to be well prepared for Saturday morning when we’ll head to the cruise terminal. 

Vegetation in the local park.

This morning we prepared our final three-day meal for the last cooking we’ll be doing over the next almost three months. That’s nice. That’s really nice!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 18, 2016:

Walkway dining along the way to the Sydney Opera House, the East Circular Quay Sydney Opera House promenade Opera Bar. For more photos from one year ago after boarding Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas for a 14-night cruise, please click here.

Happy Easter and Passover for those who celebrate…We’re having guests for Easter dinner!…One week and counting…

Surfers took advantage of the excellent surf.
A long time ago, we decided that making a fuss over holidays wouldn’t make sense while living this nomadic lifestyle. This caused a particular meaning when many holidays revolve around food, which doesn’t fit our eating habits, especially during Easter.

As a result, there are no more long days spent baking and cooking in the kitchen. We no longer decorate the house, make Easter baskets, decorate and hide Easter eggs or take the time to bake and decorate our former annual bunny rabbit cake. All of that seems like a lifetime ago.

Sunbathers and swimmers are enjoying a sunny day at Manly Beach.

Oddly, we don’t miss any of the work associated with holidays, but of course, we miss the interaction with family, the playfulness, and the laughter. Soon, we’ll be in the midst of all of that!

A day at the beach for school kids.

Over these years of world travel, I’ve lost interest in cooking other than coming up with tasty recipes Tom and I can enjoy in our daily lives. Even so, I usually only cook two or three times a week when typically I’ll purchase enough of any item to last for three dinners, cooking a fresh batch each day. It works for us.

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. See details here for this wildlife-protected area known for snorkeling and hiking.

Besides, most of our meals are appealing enough that we quickly look forward to repeats. However, we also have to consider that most holiday homes have tiny refrigerators and freezers, leaving us with little space for storing much food or for freezing leftovers. 

With no rental cars in some locations, such as here in Fairlight, for 40 nights, we’ve attempted to avoid returning to the market any more often than necessary. Also, we’ve found that cooking for three days saves money in the long run.

The sun on the sea created a crystal-like appearance.

Groceries costs are not as low in Australia as in many other parts of the world but, they’re certainly less than we spent in the US five years ago. So it will be exciting and perhaps be shocking when we see food prices when we soon return to the US.

The sea is blue in this part of Australia. However, when we lived in Trinity Beach in 2015, near Cairns (pronounced “cans”), the sea was brown and murky in most areas.

Tom and I realized that we wouldn’t be cooking from April 22nd when we board the cruise to North America until sometime in July when we arrive in Nevada, where we’ll stay at son Richard‘s home in Henderson. 

Staying with Richard for three weeks, I may cook a few meals each week since, at that point, it will have been months since I’d done any cooking. During the six weeks in Minnesota, while staying in a hotel, we won’t have cooked at all with the complimentary breakfast in the hotel and dinners out with family and friends.

Tall trees, many evergreens line the boulevard along the beach, providing plenty of shady areas for those who prefer to stay out of the sun.

On the nights when we don’t have dinner plans in Minnesota, most likely, we’ll head to Costco, which we hear carries a wide variety of low-carb, precooked meals we’ll bring back to our hotel suite. Once we arrive, we’ll see if the hotel can provide us with a small microwave during our extended stay.

As for tomorrow, which is Easter Sunday, we’ve invited landlord/friend Bob and his long-time friend, Eddie. So we’re making a low carb, grain, and sugar-free meal. Tomorrow, we’ll take a few photos and post them the following day. 

The rocky shoreline in this area on our way to Shelly Beach.

We send love and best wishes for the health and well-being of all of our family, friends, and readers (whether you celebrate this holiday or not) during this time and always.  

Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2016:

As we wound down our time in New Zealand, we posted our favorite photos, including me with Miss Jessica. I was flattered that Trish and Neil named this sweet girl after Tom, and I attended her birth while they were on holiday. Please click here for more favorite NZ photos and the final expenses for the three-month stay on the alpaca farm.

How did we get so lucky?…People and wildlife…Our favorites…Eight days and counting…

A pier in Manly, busy with beach-goers and diners.

When we received an email message from Christine and Colin, whom we met on the last cruise at the two parties we attended in the two Penthouse Suites, we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Undoubtedly, Magpies are scavengers, but like all creatures in nature, they have a purpose. This one now visits with a spouse and chick who is the noisiest bird in the neighborhood. We feed them bits of raw meat. Although not adorable like the Kookaburras, we welcome their visits as well.

Their warm and friendly demeanor was hard to resist, and we discussed the possibility of getting together sometime during the 40 days we’d be in Sydney, now coming to a quick end.

With other travels behind them, they contacted us promptly to arrange a date we’ll all meet for dinner. With the suggestion that they’ll take the ferry to Manly and meet us at the Corso next Thursday, we were delighted. 

The Manly Yacht Club building.

At that point, we’ll be busy packing for the upcoming cruise on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas departing from the Port of Sydney a mere two days later. 

As we discussed our enthusiasm to see Christine and Colin once again, we giggled over the fact that people and animals bring us the greatest moments in our world travels.

Boats moored near the Manly Wharf.

Here in Fairlight, we’ve had a good dose of wildlife “hanging out” with our local favorites birds, kookaburras, and magpies who come to visit almost every day, putting big smiles on our faces. 

No, the “wildlife fix” is not as satisfying as it will be when in 10 months, we’ll return to Africa, but we’re finding birds can bring that blissful rush of emotion that we’ve cultivated over these past few years.

Boat launch area.

There’s no doubt the experiences we gained with the Albatross and Red Cardinal “Birdie” in Kauai were both highly instrumental in our interest in our aviary friends. 

Swings by the bay.

Even Kauai’s zillions of feral chickens brought us laughter and enjoyment when they were literally everywhere to be found. When we parked at the lot at the market, hundreds of feral chickens were wandering about; hens, chicks, and roosters. It was quite a sight, one we’ll never forget.

But, along with the chickens in Kauai, we were also reminded of all the friends we made on the Hawaiian Islands’ loveliest (in our humble opinion). Yesterday, we received another email from Louise and Steve, whom we originally met at a Full Moon party at their home.

The Corso, early in the day before the crowds appear.

Staying in touch since we left Kauai in May 2015, we hope to return someday to see Louise and Steve and all the wonderful friends we made and, of course, the Albatross and even the masses of feral chickens. 

Many restaurants line the foreshore.

It’s difficult to compare the joys of engaging with humans as opposed to animals. But, for us, in each case, either provide us with a great sense of joy, wonder, and fulfillment. 

Sure, we like to see historic structures, a towering mountain range, a flowing river, or an expansive sea view. Unfortunately, these are often what most tourists seek to fulfill their expectations of a holiday/vacation.

Condos and apartments with views of the bay across the street.

But, our lives are a perpetual holiday/vacation, and it’s within that framework that we’ve discovered that which provides us with the most meaning and memories…people and animals.  Bring it on…more of each is on the horizon!

Photo from one year ago today, April 14, 2016:

This photo, taken through the glass in the kitchen window in New Zealand, was the first of many times she peered inside watching me prepare dinner. We laughed each time we saw her there, loving every moment.  For more favorite NZ photos as we approached the three-month stay coming to an end, please click here.

Gentle musings on a cloudy day while living on the fascinating continent of Australia…

Peek through the vegetation to Reef Beach Bay.

A few days ago, I sat on a short stone wall at the Manly Wharf, our bags of groceries at my side. Tom left me alone with the heavy bags of groceries while he went into the nearby Aldi store to purchase pods for the coffee machine.

Ferries were coming across the bay to Manly.

The sun was shining. Busy locals and tourists were making their way through the determined crowds, each with a distinct purpose in mind to fulfill their expectations for the day. 

My lips curled in an unprovoked smile as I perused my surroundings, suddenly contemplative over the fact that I was sitting on a wall, people all around me while living in Australia. How did I get here?

Brick homes are commonly found in Australia.

Sure, there’s the “couple” aspect of our world travels; the team-person-ship, the camaraderie, the ease of sharing decisions, and the handling of unanticipated events and challenges. 

Contemporary style home.

But, over this past year, since my injury in the pool in Bali last June taking five months to heal, to the intestinal bacterial infection I acquired in Fiji over 15 months ago for which I’m still on the mend, I’m still here, aren’t I?

Life as a devoted couple isn’t always about the partnership. Tom empathized and assisted during this tough past year, but it was me who lie awake in the middle of the night worrying that my health would require a sooner-than-later end to our world travels.

White sand beach at low tide in the Clontarf Reserve area.

It was me who “bit-the-bullet day after day to attempt to live as normal a life as possible within the context of our unique lifestyle. Rarely did I complain to Tom. Most likely, I mentioned it more here than I did to him while I remained plagued with at-times negative thoughts about what life would be like if this were to end.

Boats moored near the shore.

One of the most challenging periods was the Mekong River Cruise last July, when I could not participate in every tour and participated in most, struggling more than I can say. 

One gets no “points” for being brave, toughing it out, or keeping their trap shut about the difficulty of a situation. In essence, my goal was to avoid annoying Tom and others by whining and complaining. There’s no “heroism” in that. 

Sailing is popular in the Sydney area with excellent conditions.

It was mere self-preservation to ensure that Tom and those around me would happily engage with me, which ultimately got my mind off my troubles, giving me a reprieve for a while.

And now? As my intestinal thing improves a little more each day and my recent re-test for Helicobactor Pyloris proved “negative,” I’m reveling in returning to my former sense of adventure when the future holds so much in store for us.

And you, our dear readers, who stuck with us through this long period with my occasional mumblings on these two health issues, one after the other, I thank you profoundly. Your kind email messages and comments were highly instrumental in my determination never to give up.

Unique bottlebrush plant.

As I sat on that stone wall, I contemplated the past 54 months since we left Minnesota to begin this journey.  In many ways, we’ve just started. We’ve learned so much from our mistakes, and we’ve redefined what truly matters to us.

Above all, as time marches on, we’ve accepted our limitations, finding that within that framework, we’re capable of continuing with love, hope, and joy in our hearts and minds as we live life to the fullness throughout this magical world.

Please stay beside us. Our unyielding reach for the horizon drives us on to give you more.

Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2016:

The alpaca in the middle tended to hog the food from my hand, never giving the others a chance. For more photos of our last few days in New Zealand on the alpaca farm, please click here.

Ten days and counting…Phones…contemplating technology for the USA…A kindly and thoughtful expression…

We loved this area of the Manly Scenic Walk.

This morning, we created our grocery list for meals for the remaining days until we depart on April 22nd. Unfortunately, I’d uploaded a suitable grocery app on my Android phone when I could not find the same apps I’d used in years past.

Pelican in North Harbour Reef Bay.

After the new phone arrived in the “missing” box a week ago, I’ve spent considerable time setting up apps I like to use. My last phone was a Windows device which overall I prefer over Android. 

When I ordered the new unlocked phone online, I was willing to sacrifice Windows over Android when prices for purchasing an unlocked phone were high, primarily when they’re not associated with a service contract. 
Exciting trees and vegetation line the walkway to the park.
Having paid around AU 173, US $130 for the unlocked smartphone with options for two SIM cards and suitable storage for my needs without a contract, I didn’t complain.
When it first arrived, and I began loading my “stuff,” I was concerned I’d be dissatisfied with the operating system. Now a week later, with all my preferred apps loaded, I’m pretty content. I’m one of those geeky types that obsess over learning every aspect of a device by monkeying with it for days.
The playground at the park is often busy.

The only part I’ve yet to learn is making phone calls. Ha! That’s ironic…we have phones and don’t make calls.  However, once we arrive in Minnesota on May 25th, one of the first things we’ll do is purchase US SIM cards for each of our phones to be in touch with family and each other as we plan activities with family members and friends. That’s a must!

Boats are moored throughout the inlets of North Harbour Reef Bay.
Tom’s new laptop is set up, and he’s learning the nuances of Windows 10 over the previous Windows 8.1.  The differences are many, but he’s figuring it all out. I’m impressed by how little he’s asked for assistance over this past week. Perhaps, he’s becoming computer savvy after all this time.
Kookaburras are found everywhere. 
Yesterday, we paid the balance for the hotel in Minnesota, AU 4,818.60, US $3,615.88, after we’d already paid a 25% deposit almost a year ago. So the total for the six weeks is AU 6,424.25, US $4,820.76, not bad for a lovely hotel in a convenient and safe area that includes two pools, free WiFi, daily breakfast, and a free shuttle to specific regions.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has flown since we began planning the family visits to Minnesota and Nevada. We’ll arrive in Minnesota in 43 days and Nevada in 87 days.
The lush green lawn in the park.
In the interim, we’re continuing to thoroughly enjoy our time in this beautiful area, greatly enhanced by our kindly and thoughtful landlord Bob. He wrote an email to us in the past few days, which we’ve posted below.
Homes, apartments, and condos are tightly packed into hillsides to take advantage of exquisite views.
It appears that most of our readers prefer to avoid using the sign-up feature on our web page to receive a daily email containing each day’s posts (no spam, no solicitation, no ads of any type when signing up). 
All public areas we’ve visited in Australia are meticulously maintained.
As was the case with Bob when he started to post a comment at the end of a post but found he preferred to write directly to us, although we see him in person several times a day.

Please feel free to email us directly if you’d prefer not to post a comment on the site. If we post your email message in a future post, we’ll ask your permission before we do so and exclude your email address and name (if you’d prefer). However, posting a comment is easy.  We love hearing from our readers!

Locals take advantage of the sunny day.
Bob wrote the following, which he was happy to share here today:
“I am overwhelmed by your excellent website as you travel all over the world to the most fantastic destinations that most of us only dream about visiting.

The daily updates on where you are presently residing, and the exciting photos give us readers an insight into places that we can only dream of visiting one day.
Reading back over your daily blog since you first started your worldwide journey inspires us to see the place you have already visited from a much bigger perspective.

As you travel the world, may you continue to keep all those who loyally follow you informed of where you are, and may good health be your companion along the way?

Kindest regards

Bob Reed – Fairlight NSW Australia”
An exciting plant we found at the park.  Last time we saw one of these was in Kenya in 2013.
Thank you, Bob…for your kind words, for all your diligent attention in ensuring we have an exceptional experience in your property, your charming town, and the many beautiful areas of Fairlight, Manly, and Sydney.  

No doubt, it’s been more memorable than we ever expected based on the generosity and love you’ve shared with us every day. We’ll certainly miss you!

Happy day to all!
Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2016:
Ah, bull in the road. We stayed in the car while I took the photo through the windshield. For more photos, please click here.

Lovely house for auction in the neighborhood… Photos of the offered house next door…

View from the dining room balcony of the lovely house next door scheduled to be auctioned on April 22nd.

When Bob explained the house next door was scheduled for auction, we were excited at the prospect of attending the auction after having an opportunity to walk through to view its many fine features. Another story idea was born right before our eyes, and we were anxious to share it with our worldwide readers.

This second-floor veranda provides expansive views of the bay with plenty of space for entertaining and lounging.

Yesterday, when we arrived for the viewing at 11:30 am were surprised to discover the date for the auction for the house, named “Windemere,” had changed to April 22nd, the day we’ll sail away. In any case, we were thrilled to be able to participate in the open-to-the-public viewing.

View from the house for sale to Bob’s home next door. Sliding doors to our apartment are shown on ground level.
View from the veranda as shown above.

Prospective bidders must have been pre-approved by their bank or lending institution, confirming they are, in fact, qualified to make the purchase should they win the auction.

The spacious lounge/living room has rich wood finishes and a fireplace.

Auctions for real estate have been popular throughout the world for centuries. They have grown in popularity over the past several years as economic conditions have faltered, seriously impacting real estate values.

Alternate casual dining and lounge area.

During the worst of times during the real estate crash, most likely, home values in this area may have fallen, as was the case in most parts of the world. However, based on today’s pricing in Australia, values have more than fully recovered to the point where pricing is as high as we’ve seen anywhere in the world.

The formal dining room walks out to a balcony.

The listing agent, Eddy Piddington explained its expected the house will sell from AU 3,500,000, US $2,625,700 to AU 4,000,000, US $3,000,800. It will be interesting to hear the auction results should they sell on the upcoming scheduled date.

The kitchen has newer high-end appliances and sealed wood countertops.

When we entered the house with Bob and his friends, we were warmly welcomed by the attending real estate agents. Bob had prepared us for the estimated value based on the value of his home, which is of comparable size with similar views and amenities.

We wondered why the auction date had changed from yesterday to April 22nd, surmising there may not have been sufficient buyers prepared at this early date. Rescheduling for a later date would provide adequate time to roust up a few more bidders. 

The kitchen’s ample eat-in dining space.

Of course, in the interim, the property, located at 55 Upper Clifford Avenue, is listed on the market through Clarke & Humel real estate company which may be reached here at this link.  The listing agent, Eddy Piddington, may be reached via this link or contacted at 02 9977 3300 (office phone).

The master bedroom with excellent bay views has a step-down walk-in closet.

We were surprised to find as many “lookers” as individuals and groups large and small wandered through the property. As we always said in real estate, there was never a shortage of “lookie-loos” with no intention of bidding or making an offer.  They may consist of neighbors, curious tourists, and locals.

View from second of four-bedroom windows.

For us, we may fall into the category of all of the above, but our real intent was to share this information with our readers.  Who knows?  Perhaps, there’s a buyer out there in cyberspace who may discover this is their dream home.  

The house includes four bedrooms; this is shown as the smallest.

From time to time, we include real estate information for those of our readers who may be curious about markets in other parts of the world or, in some cases, in their neighborhoods.  

Pretty antique style chandelier, one of several throughout the home.

We found this excellent video for the property, which tells the story in more detail than we can illustrate here. Please click this link to see the well-presented video.

Guest bathroom.

As time quickly winds down toward our departure date, we enjoy every moment in this lovely area and part of the world. Australia has so much to offer, and we feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience many aspects of this fine country.

Have a fabulous weekend day, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, April 9, 2016:

Not our photo, but not unlike the experience we hope to have on our booked cruise to Antarctica in only nine months. The cruise was booked up so fast on the day it was posted, we decided to book this far ahead one year ago today. For more details, please click here.

Coffee, cakes, and camaraderie… A special visit to a quaint local cafe… A perfect day and evening in Fairlight…

We walked quite a distance to reach the Forty Beans cafe, Bob’s daily coffee spot for a coffee, muffin, and local chatter. The cafe is located in Balgowlah, a nearby town. It was fun to meet his friends and meet the owners.

Since we arrived in Fairlight on March 13th, Bob has encouraged us to join him on his daily walk to the park and Forty Beans cafe. For years, he’s made this walk to meet with friends and their dogs when they too stop daily for coffee, cakes, and camaraderie. 

The shop is well appointed with an array of beverages and baked goods along with an ample breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu.

Having been under the weather for so long, I hesitated over the prospect of the long walk up and down many hills native to the area.  But determined to rebuild my strength and agility, we embarked on the journey at 2:00 pm.

A variety of books and local products are offered for sale in Forty Beans.

The post was done. I’d ordered a birthday gift for grandson Jayden’s birthday and began working on Easter gifts for the six grandchildren. And above all, I’d chopped and diced everything we needed to make pizza and salad for our dinner guests arriving at 5:30 pm.

The simple, uncluttered decor is pleasant and inviting.

We had plenty of time for the walk. Little did either of us realize how impressive the walk would be to Forty Beans through grassy knolls, the lush green local park often passing by expansive ocean views and the marina.  

Bob’s coffee and oatmeal cookie. All baked items are made fresh on-site each day.

It was impossible not to stop frequently to take photos gasping over the beautiful scenery along the way. We’ll share the photos over the next several days. At this point, we have enough photos we’ve yet to post to last over our remaining 15 days in Fairlight.

Dogs aren’t allowed inside the cafe but welcome at the outdoor seating. These two types of dog biscuits are for sale for AU $1.00, US $.75.  

We enjoyed the time at Forty Beans, located at 2/11 Lower Beach St, Balgowlah NSW 2093, Australia, meeting the staff and owner and reveling in the pleasant surroundings in a cafe that wasn’t an overly familiar chain or franchise establishment. The smells sent my taste buds into a frenzy, and I ogled the baked items in the case, well aware there was nothing there for me.

The exterior wall is hand-painted with these adorable scenes.

Even Tom resisted ordering anything. Finally, with pizza upcoming for dinner, he decided to hold off. Now that I’m avoiding coffee, tea, and iced tea for a while, ordering water wasn’t appealing. 

Forty Beans has its own painted bicycle advertising the business.  (Bob is holding the bike).

Instead, we focused on pleasant sounds, smells, and ambiance, which explains why customers frequent this popular establishment regularly.

Tom, Forty Bean’s owner Rebecca and Bob.

As Forty Bean’s 3 pm closing time approached, the three of us said our goodbyes and were on our way back to Bob’s lovely property in Fairlight. The return walk was mostly uphill. 

A dog water bowl is located in the outdoor seating area.

I surprised myself how well I did on the hilly roads after being relatively inactive for many months except for one or two long walks a week. It felt so good, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Comfy banquette in Forty Beans

Now, I’m determined to get out more and walk as much as possible. Back at our place before 4 pm, we sat outside waiting for Ben to finish cleaning the apartment. He did a flawless job, and I appreciated not having to do the dreaded cleaning necessary before dinner guests arrive.

Bob and Tom were listening attentively to Rebecca’s mom, who was seated to their right.

The delightful day easily extended into the evening when Bev, Colin, and Bob arrived promptly at 5:30 pm. The lively conversation and laughter flowed with ease, and before we knew it, it was 9:30 pm.  

Last night, we had a wonderful evening with Bob, Bev, and Colin, renters in his bed and breakfast located upstairs from our apartment.  Sadly, they left this morning to continue on their holiday.  

We’d all had a busy day and were ready to unwind. But, it was hard to say goodbye to our new friends with whom we hope to stay in touch from time to time. We never stop appreciating the opportunity to make wonderful new friends along the way.

Tom did the dishes, and in no time, we were both plopped down on the sofa to watch a documentary on TV. By 10:30, I started fading and headed to bed with my new smartphone in hand. Read a little, snooze a lot. Life is good.

Happy day, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2016:

While visiting the Taranaki Pioneer Village in NZ, I told Tom this could come in handy on “overly grumpy” days!  For final photos of our visit to the popular tourist spot, please click here.

New hobby…Obsessive package tracking…Is today the day?…Sightseeing…Arabanoo…

The shoreline is packed tight with pricey apartments and condos.

As creatures of habit with a few obsessive behaviors interspersed, Tom and I are a perfect match. He tends to be more ritualistic than I, but most certainly, I can easily get sucked into copying his behavior. I suppose this happens when a couple is together around the clock.

Recently, while awaiting the package from the US, sent on February 10th, we both began obsessively watching the tracking information for the US Postal Service based on a tracking number provided us by our mailing service in Nevada. Unfortunately, the package never seemed to move much after that date.

Property prices are outrageous in Australia, especially close to the larger cities such as Sydney. with hilly terrain; many have oceanfront and ocean views.

Until we requested our shipper conduct a search for the package and the requisite 12-day process passed, the package finally was in motion again. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see it on the move again, especially when the contents include all of our tax records for 2016, the renewal of both of our driver’s licenses, my new smartphone, and other items.

Finally, it arrived in Tasmania last Wednesday, and our prior landlord, Anne, shipped it to our address here in Fairlight. For over 72 hours, it never moved from Hobart. Finally, this morning, we noted it was shipped to a processing station near Sydney. If all goes well, it will arrive tomorrow. We’re both tentatively excited about its arrival.

A peek through the trees.

Secondly, last Monday, we ordered Tom a new laptop from the US, having shipped to our mailing service (free shipping from Amazon) since none of the companies that had that particular item would ship via international express. It made it to our mailing service on Wednesday.

After paying AU 528, US $400 for Fed Ex international express shipping plus the cost of the laptop at AU 956, US $730 (including sales tax), our total cost for the laptop is AU 1,480 US $1,130. 

Apartments, condos, and small coop-type properties are the main focus for rentals with high rents in most areas.

After checking for a similar product in Australia, we’d never have been able to purchase that particular item, brand, and features Tom preferred for anywhere near the price we paid. Based on what we found, it would have been higher priced at 30% to 40%.

Rooftops in Australia decades ago were all red clay tiles. Now that homes have been rebuilt to include second stories, spotting a red roof is less common.

Need I say that every hour (or more often), we’ve obsessively checked the tracking information on these two packages, with a tile on my laptop (which we’ve been sharing for 10 days) and links on Tom’s phone (which we’ve been sharing for months).

Today, with bated breath, we wait with a note encased in plastic taped to the mailbox, hoping sometime in the next several hours the laptop with arrive.  Tomorrow, perhaps the other package will arrive as well. 

A few areas along the coast are undeveloped or included private homes nestled in the trees.

In the interim, we’re sharing more photos from our recent outing with Bob. We’re grateful we’d gone out on a sunny day. Unfortunately, it’s been cloudy and raining every day since. This morning, on the news, we heard this had been the third most rainy season in history in New South Wales (NSW). Go figure…while we’re here. 

Views of bays and the open sea create a breathtaking backdrop.

But, no complaints here. We’re happy to be dry, safe, and immigration-ready for our cruise in 19 days. So, let’s see how the next few days roll out, which we’ll happily report here.

As for today’s photos…they were all taken from this popular tourist spot in the nearby hills. The below photo includes a portion of the story of the origin of Arabanoo, an Aboriginal man kidnapped by marines in 1788, with more below.

Interesting story. More may be found here or below.

From this site, the story of Arabanoo…

“Arabanoo (1759–1789)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Arabanoo (d.1789), the Aboriginal man, was captured at Manly on 31 December 1788 by order of Governor Arthur Phillip, who wished to learn more about the natives. Arabanoo was taken to the settlement where a convict was appointed to guard him; he was at first pleased by a handcuff on his wrist, believing it to be an ornament, but became enraged when he discovered its purpose.

Then a severe epidemic of smallpox broke out among the Aboriginals in April 1789; several who had been found in great distress were brought to Sydney where Arabanoo helped to care for them; he caught the disease himself and died on or about 18 May. He was buried in the governor’s garden.

One contemporary account gives his age as about 30 and another as about 24. He was not tall but ‘robustly made,’ with a thoughtful face and a soft, musical voice; his disposition was mild and gentle, but ‘the independence of his mind never forsook him. During his brief sojourn among the colonists, he became a general favorite, and Phillip records that he gave them much information about the language and customs of his people.”

May your day meet all of your expectations!

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2016:

Tom stood on the witness stand in the old courthouse at the Taranaki Pioneer Village, a style that may be seen in more modern-day courthouses throughout the world. See the story and more photos here.

Sightseeing in the exquisite surroundings…Welcoming the sunshine…Clontarf Reserve…

Moreton Bay Fig Tree highlights the entrance to Clontarf Reserve. Click here for details on this type of tree.

Yesterday afternoon, Bob popped down to see us, as he does several times each day, asking if we’d like to venture out on some sightseeing to the North Beaches area, which we can see from our veranda, which appears difficult to get to from across the bay based on our view.

Zoom in for hours of operation at Clontarf Reserve.

As it turned out, the access to the area was easy and, although hilly, was a pleasant ride in Bob’s comfortable newer car. So please leave it to Bob to ensure we had another great experience.

In no time at all, we were out of the car enthralled with some of the best scenery Sydney has to offer with expansive views and photos ops we could hardly believe.

Lots of fluffy clouds enhanced our photos.

The area we’re highlighting today is Clontarf Reserve and Beach, one of the many areas we visited during yesterday’s outing. In fact, upon returning, we found numerous great reviews online including these following comments at TripAdvisor.

Clontarf Reserve and Beach include the following amenities that many visitors and tourists may find pleasing for a day at the park and beach, including these comments below from this site for both individual and group use for such events as weddings, reunions, and parties:


  • Toilets: Amenities Block with disabled access and toilet
  • BBQs: 4 double electric & 2 single electric
  • Playground: Yes undercover, shaded suitably for 0-12 age group
  • Carparking: Carpark and street parking
  • Carpark entry fees – Metered parking – charges apply, Ratepayers / Residents with designated car stickers have free entry; disabled parking:   2 spaces.
  • Applicable: Monday to Sunday 8.00am to 6.00pm
  • Lighting: Park lighting only
  • Power: Upon request.
  • Seating/Tables: Both
  • Shelter: 2 gazebo type shelters/ seating for 16 and shade trees
  • Water/Taps: Taps and bubbler near swimming pool and at amenities block & 1 outdoor shower
  • Passive/Active Recreation: Passive (continued below)
There are hundreds of sailboats and motorboats in the marina. Construction is in process as shown on the left but doesn’t seem to impede any of the activities.
Availability (for group events, only)
  • Anytime up to 10:00 pm
  • Tentative bookings must be confirmed within 1 week.
  • Community Facilities Co-ordinator will email confirmation of your booking.
  • Fees must be paid within two weeks of request of booking.

Bookings are required for group events, and fees are applicable.


For information (including fees) about booking Council venues for a wedding ceremony function, please see the page:

Other facilities

  • Clonny’s Restaurant: (02) 9948 2373
  • Kiosk, enclosed swimming baths, sailing, boat access ramp.
  • Manly Scenic Walkway Access.”
We can only imagine the cost of the one of these boat slips.

Clonny’s Restaurant is located on the premises, with information found here including pricing and menu options.  Nearby, as mentioned above, is the Manly Scenic Walkway, a 3 hour, 30 minute 10 km walk (one way) with information located at this site.  

Not only did we enjoy visiting Clontarf Reserve and Beach on the sunny, albeit windy day, Bob drove us to several choice locations which had us dashing out of the car to seeing yet another gorgeous expanse in the horizon.

Hills surrounding the bay.

Please check back over the next several days as we’ll continue to post breathtaking scenery photos we’re excited to share.  Soon, we’re off to catch the Hop, Skip, Jump bus to Manly where we’ll embark on a long walk and to grocery shopping for a few items we’ll need to last until after our packages arrive.

Hopefully both packages will arrive on Monday and/or Tuesday, as per the online tracking for Tom’s new laptop and our formerly missing box from the US.

This reminds us both of our boating days in Minnesota many moons ago.

We plan to “stay put” on Monday and Tuesday (or longer, if necessary) until we have those two packages in hand. We’ve made a sign for both Fed Ex and Australia Post which Bob will post by the mailbox early Monday morning to ensure the delivery personnel know to walk down the side of the house to bring the packages down to us. Our fingers are crossed.

Have a beautiful weekend! 

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2016:

The Fonterra Cheese Factory with a retail store across the street in Eltham, New Zealand.  For more details on this quaint town, please click here.