Friday, January 31, 2014

The Final Straw for England?

Just had to laugh tonight, as Australia crushed England in the 2nd T20 international, at the tweet from Michael Vaughan, who by now was safely home in England and watching the carnage on TV...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

12 Years a Slave

This was quite a bit better than I imagined it was going to be. I had thought for a couple of months that I would not bother to see it, as it appeared to me to be going to be a film that would hardly be entertaining.
Based on a true story (and isn't just about every film nominated for Academy Awards this year?!?) of a free black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor was quite brilliant in the lead role, he would be my favourite for Best Actor at the moment. Other great performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson. Not the kind of film you will watch over and over, but one that everyone should probably experience.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

American Hustle

This movie has been nominated for a million Academy Awards. 
Loosely based on a true story, it focused on two con artists who are caught, and are then forced to work with the FBI to try and catch politicians and the mafia in corruption. It's well done, although it does feel as though it is going on too long, and then to stuff up proceedings further they rush the ending so that the end seems to be just cut short, when they could have spent a few more minutes to finish it well, given the amount of time they used through the middle of the story.As such, the end feels a little out of kilter. 
A good movie, but it won't win Best Picture. Christian Bale is just fantastic, once again. Is there anything he can't do? I think he's a chance at Best Actor, but he will probably have to beat the guy from 12 Years a Slave. Amy Adams is also surprisingly good, but she won't beat Cate Blanchett for Best Actress. Bradley Cooper was good in his role, playing the manic crazy FBI agent to the extreme. 


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Australia Day

With everything falling into place rather nicely, it was Australia Day at Roper Road today, with no need to travel anywhere, which to be honest was a nice idea.

Phil, Leaf, Zander and Lincoln had all slept over, so of course the kids were up at the crack of dawn meaning so were the rest of us.
We played cricket on the Peters Stadium wicket this morning, and while everyone had a good go and showed some form, there was no doubt about who should have been pulling on the green and gold that afternoon in Adelaide instead of the No Show, Glen Maxwell...

Chris and Chris came over for lunch, and we ate on the deck. I cooked and later conversed while listening to John Williamson and Rolf Harris on the stereo, getting the most of Australia that we could on Australia Day, before switching to some modern day Australian classics such as Cold Chisel, Dragon, Crowded House, Mondo Rock and the like.

The Wade's headed back for Newcastle just before 4.00pm, and the oldies headed off as well. I was then able to settle back into my chair, and watch the ODI between Australia and England.

At 7.30pm I had to start using the remote, as the Australian Open tennis final between Nadal and Wawrinka started. The tennis was great, until Nadal apparently managed to pick up an injury. As he had taken timeouts in all of his previous four matches - which mainly seemed to be a tactical move - he was roundly booed by the crowd. He was obviously hampered, but once he warmed up again he was moving pretty well, good enough to snatch the 3rd set. However, Wawrinka won in 4 sets, which was much deserved and universally popular.
Meanwhile, in the cricket, England again managed to stuff up a match that was impossible to lose, and handed Australia victory on Australia day, and a 4-1 ODI series win as well.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Old Outdoor Setting!

Phil and Leaf headed off for their walk/climb/outrig/death plummet this morning, while leaving us their two boys to look after. Well, they ain't called the Breaker Bothers for nothing! They were into it this morning, taking on all trucks and cars and train in Josh's armory, and giving them a real workout!

I spent a couple of hours heading back and forth between Kevin and Helen Moon's house, transporting their outdoor setting to our house, as we had purchased it off them on Facebook a week ago. It takes awhile when you can only fit one piece at a time into the Proton, but soon enough I had most of it at home, and Kev brought over the rest once Helen had arrived home from the shops. he then stayed and had a couple of beers on it to make sure it still worked ok.

I cooked tandoori chicken for dinner for the adults and Helen had pizza for the kids. All in all a successful Saturday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bill Collins Movie Reviews

Short reviews of a few movies we've managed to watch over the last week.

Based on the true story of the making of the movie version of 'Mary Poppins', and the relationships involved, particularly those of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and of how the story evolved from her childhood. Very enjoyable viewing and interesting throughout. Good performances all round.


Woody Allen channels Tennessee Williams. If you've seen 'A Streetcar Named Desire' then you will know the feel of this story and the characterisation involved. Cate Blanchett plays Blanche Dubois - sorry, Jasmine - to perfection. She will win the Academy Award for this role, no doubt in the world. Still, there are no likeable characters in the story, and like all Woody Allen films there is no resolution. 



Rush: One season and the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Terrifically directed by Ron Howard, and both actors fantastic in their roles, extremely believable. I was surprised how good Chris Hemsworth was. You don't have to like racing to enjoy this film, and marvel at the drive of these guys. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Qld Holiday Day 15 - Kempsey to Albion Park

Another early start beckoned for us this morning from Kempsey, as we had a full day ahead of us.

First stop was Beresfield, where we called in to say hello to Nan. We arrived at 11.00am, just in time for tea and biscuits. Nan is 99 - 100 in late September - and still going strong. She enjoys seeing the kids, and they love seeing her.

We also had to pick up our three bantam chickens, that Mum had given to each of the kids for their Christmas present. After much trouble running some down, Mum found some just up the road from Nan's, and so my uncle John had gone and got them and brought them to Nan's for us to pick up on our way through. We really didn't have any idea how we were going to fit them in, but eventually we were able to get the box in a stable position on Maddi's lap, and that's how they made the next three and a half hours.

We also planned to drop in to Toronto to see Flynn play cricket. He had been selected in the Southern Zone Under 14's team, and they were playing their carnival in Newcastle. Unfortunately when I called him at 11.30am to see how he was going, he said that Newcastle had already bowled Southern Zone out of 67 and they were about to head out onto the field. Of course, once we got going we actually got to Toronto just after 12.30pm, but the game had finished five minutes previous to that. Typical really. Flynn had taken the only wicket to fall, which at least was one positive from the whole shambolic episode.

We finally arrived home at 3.30pm - the first time I'd been home since the morning of December 26th some 19 days ago. Murray had dropped over the chicken's new home, which we set up in the backyard and then let the chooks check out their new home.

We had an early dinner of KFC, before Helen had to prepare herself for her return to work tomorrow, and I had to prepare myself for the work that lay ahead of me tomorrow in regards to washing and cleaning.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Qld Holiday Day 14 - The Gap to Kempsey

And so, as we reached the two week mark of our amazing holiday in Queensland, today it was time to turn our noses southward, and begin the long journey back to reality. Despite the frivolities of the previous evening, Helen and I dragged ourselves up at 7.00am (well, Helen took a little longer), and got the kids up and fed and packed. Then it was time to stuff everything back into the car, say our goodbyes to the Crotty/Wade/Sinnott's, and leave them to their day-after-wedding festivities.

We got out of The Gap at 8.30am, which was pretty well done, but was necessary, as when we crossed the border back into New South Wales, we lost an hour of the clocks.
The road south is a lot different from the last time Helen and I drove along it. It is now all by-passes, with so many towns that we used to drive through now just names on a roadsign with an arrow to show which sideroad to take. No Coolangatta or Tweed Heads, no Lismore, no Byron Bay. Of course, for us, who were now just in a hurry to get as far down the coast as we could as quickly as we could, the new road is terrific, but it must certainly impact on these towns, and really change the way a family travels now.

We finally pulled into Coffs Harbour, and met up with our final Big Thing, the Big Banana, to get our customary photo, and also a (very) late lunch.

From here we headed on down to Kempsey, to stay overnight with my cousin Carlos and Deanna and their family. It was the first time we have been to their property (even though they have been there for six years...), and we were very impressed. Carlos took us all over to check out his bees and their hives, and gave us a crash course in honey making.

The kids all went for a swim in the pool, along with various pool toys and even the slide, keeping them all amused. After dinner we watched Australia put England to the sword in the first ODI after the Ashes, which produced an excellent way to finish a great evening in Kempsey.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Qld Holiday Day 13 - The Gap - Martin & Linda's Wedding

Weather-wise, the day could not have been more perfect. It probably sat somewhere around 30 degrees all day, while the sun did not overplay its welcome by burning too hot.

Isn't it good luck to be visited by a bush turkey on the wedding day?
Of course there had to be more craziness ensuing today, as the girls all headed off to the hairdressers together to get their hair done for the day, while Martin and Fraser headed over to see his parents. That left you-know-who to remain at the house, the venue of the wedding, and start preparing the settings. Good job Bill, you really know how to get yourself roped in.

Jess and Katie with their hair stylist creations.

Maddi enjoyed getting a wave in her hair too.
Throughout the morning, and into the afternoon, it was time to pretty up the palace to ensure it had a party atmosphere around, while not taking away from the already-tranquil outdoor setting of the garden.

The garden and staging area

The food and beverage area

The outdoor seating and drinking area

Maddi in her party wedding dress

Thanks for the message Bono.
Though the ceremony was to start at 3.30pm, all of the guests had arrived well before, with most of the Wade's there by 3.00pm (an extraordinary occurrence in the Wade family at least).
The ceremony went off without a hitch - that I noticed at least - and everyone seemed reasonably pleased with the outcome.

Katie sings "Love Me Tender" with her accompaniment

The new parents-in-law

The afternoon moved into the evening, with differing levels of drunkenness being achieved. later in the evening there was a Christmas present opening ceremony from all the kids who had yet to received theirs from various uncles and aunties, which livened the evening up for the kids. Then there was a large procession of taxis ordered, often one straight after the other, in order to ferry off all the guests to their various locations. By just after midnight, the party had concluded.

And I should go on the record here by saying that, although there were a couple of tiffs and noses put out of joint at different stages on a very minor scale, this was an event where every member of the extended Wade family attended that didn't end up in a blowout of some proportion. In fact, the first actual full get-together in three years, and the first without an "event" in probably 12 or 13 years. Amazing stuff. Can it be repeated in the future?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Qld Holiday Day 12 - The Gap and South Bank

More craziness ensued today, as preparations and ideas continued to be floated for the "Joining of the Two" tomorrow. Amongst it all of course were the kids, who all decided it was more fun to either be playing the Xbox or playing on their Nintendo DS or playing on their iPod or playing on their iPad. Madness. The electronics have taken over the world. Anyway, I finally tired of seeing it, so I got them all off their devices, and got them all to play Skip-Bo and Uno with me instead. This at least filled in an hour or so before lunch with all the kids actually interacting with each other rather than with a screen.

After several hours of cleaning and organising, it was mid-afternoon, at which point we all headed down to Brisbane's South Bank, where the entire culmination of the Wade and Crotty families were to meet, ostensibly for an afternoon together and a meal.
We headed down earlier than the others, to meet up with Phil, Leaf, Zander and Lincoln so the kids could have some fun in the waterplay area.

Where could they be?

(At back) Maddi, Josh, Jess. (At front) Zander, Lincoln

Two sides of the new family begin to meet up
Soon is was time for the "rehearsal dinner" (as so often happens in America at least). We all headed own to the QPac, where a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was taking place, giving the kids an interesting insight into how these fanatics tend to dress up as the characters of the show. A little eye-opening, perhaps.
As a result, the meals were a little slow to come out, but the kids all passed the time running around like it was Lord of the Flies.

Jess, Katie, Maddi, Josh, Fraser and Veronica

Afterwards, it was time for everyone to head off to bed, to ensure they had enough energy to get through the following day.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Qld Holiday Day 11 - Broadbeach to Dreamworld to The Gap

It was up early again this morning - well, maybe not as early as we hoped - and back to Dreamworld for our second full day. Funnily enough, we arrived at almost the same time as we did on Tuesday, even though we knew the park now opened at 9.00am.
The first thing we did was go on the same first two rides as we did on Tuesday, the water rapids and the log ride. Because of the wet weather, you were only allowed two people on the log ride, so I (unfortunately) had to miss out. Damn.

We also had the following three photos taken in Goldrush World as we walked through.

From here Helen and Jess went on the Mick Doohan Motorcycle roller coaster, before we all headed next door to the adjoining White Water World.

The kids had a ball. The middle section with lots of water play and water slide and the like was good. The wave pool also drew their attention. Of the Big Kids slides, I took Jess and Maddi on the Green Room, which peobably scared the crap out of me more than the other two - as I was going down backwards, and had no idea what was about to happen. Helen also took all three kids up on the bigger water slides which they all enjoyed. We had a good four hours or so in the park, and the kids were tired out completely by the time we got in the car, and headed back to The Gap.

On our arrival back in the Brisbane suburb, we found Martin's parents had arrived, and not long after also his brother Phillip and his four kids. Everyone was over for dinner, which again involved me at the hub with the BBQ tools, along with Martin's father Frank.
After a long few days, it was soon time to catch a few hours solid sleep, with the wedding just two days away.