Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Cruise Cobbers

It's a fact that you meet some people on cruises that stay your friends forever after. The two in these pictures are Dianna and Michael. We met them because Michael came to the first of Dad's lectures and we clicked. All through the cruise we enjoyed their company, evidently it was mutual. The top photo was taken on the pier at Bora Bora. A bit embarrassing for a small bear. Note the size of our ship anchored in the lagoon. This was another port where the ship was too big to tie up at the wharf and we used lifeboats to shuttle between ship and shore. Dianna and Michael live in Wollongong, about 3 hours away from us, but sometimes we meet up down on the south coast somewhere. The bottom photo was at Ulladulla and we are waiting for our fish and chips to arrive. It really is true, cruising shows you new places and makes you new friends.

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Noumea, New Caledonia

One of the ports that we visited on our cruise in "Celebrity Millenium" last November is Noumea, the capital city of New Caledonia. It is a city that is growing rapidly and is really like a little Paris in the Pacific. The city is built around a large harbour, much of which is a commercial port exporting Nickel ore. In fact, the hills of New Caledonia contain about 25% of the Earth's nickel. Many of the plants and animals of New Caledonia are found nowhere else on Earth. The one that I would like to know more about is the local species of crow; it makes the most complex tools of any animal (other than people and small bears). Noumea has a history something like Australia. It was a penal colony in the late 1800s, a major base for Allied forces during WW2, and is still in the process of integrating the French and the original Kanak inhabitants. When you sail into the harbour, one of the first things you notice is the huge stockpile of ore being loaded onto bulk carriers. Then you see the pretty town hugging the rest of the bay. Noumea is very different from Papeete; it is clean, cared for and friendly. There are some very pretty beaches around town and a famous lighthouse out in the huge lagoon. That's enough reasons for the Oldies and I to go back for a longer stay sometime soon.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Melbourne Star

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you have probably noticed that I love Ferris Wheels. I have been on the really big ones in London and Singapore, and on the smaller ones at Brisbane and Perth, not counting the small ones at various shows. Now Melbourne has a big wheel, the Melbourne Star. It is 120m tall, not quite as big as the Singapore Flyer (165m) or the London Eye (135m) but still the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. The reason for the Star's name is obvious, it has seven spokes representing the seven-pointed Federal Star on the Aussie flag. The Star had a rather bad start. It started operation in December 2008 but had to be stripped down and rebuilt because the structure started to crack. It re-opened in December 2013. Despite these early problems, I just had to ride it. The view is not as spectacular as you see from the other wheels, but you do get a good look over part of the city. I really like the view away from the city because on one side you see the complicated network of train tracks and on the other you see the container port. Trains, ships and cranes are much more interesting than ordinary buildings to this small bear. Now to talk the Oldies into visiting Vegas so I can ride on the High Roller, and by the time I get back to Dubai they may have an even bigger one ready for me.



Melbourne Mini-break

Last weekend we went down to Melbourne for a mini-break. You know, just to get away from cold Canberra for a while. Guess what? Melbourne was cold and blowy as well. At least it was different and we got to check out some of the shops that we don't have in Canberra. One that I like is Haigh's Chocolates. These guys have shops in most of the state capitals, but not in the national one yet, so we tend to stock up whenever we can. I managed to get away from the Oldies and clamber among the shelves looking for the best choccies. There were actually some smaller bears on the shelves, tied to bundles of chocolate. They are hoping that somebody will buy them for someone special. I hope they get to go to good homes. On Saturday night we met up with Mum's work friend, who looks after the reception for the Melbourne branch of the department that Mum looks after the Canberra reception for. Do you think that they look a little bit the same?? Anyhow, I now have two new friends, Lesley and Andy. Flying home on Sunday we went over the ski fields. Australia doesn't have any really high mountains, so the snow fields are small compared to other countries. It has been a good snow season so far and that snow would have had lots of skiers and boarders on it. I don't think that I would like snow, but am game to give it a try. The blurry photo is because the aircraft window had fine ice crystals over it.

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Friday, July 18, 2014


Build-a-Bear Canberra Is Open!

At last! Build-a-Bear has opened a shop in Canberra. I love their shops because you can get so many things for small bears there. Naturally, I was there soon after opening day, looking for bargains. Not that I buy anything, I just point out to the Oldies how great the things I like would be if somebody gave them to me for birthday or Christmas or something. It works. Most of the things eventually turn up. Occasionally there are silly clothes as well; I suspect Mum has a lot to do with that. So here I am climbing the display racks to check out the stock. Also trying out the bear spa. I was not allowed to try the shower, but the blow-dryer that I am sitting under was fun. Anybody with a small bear should take them to Build-a-Bear.


Thursday, July 10, 2014


Weekend With Unka Mark & Aunty Vicki

Wondering where I've been for the last couple of weeks? Well, winter has hit Canberra in a big way. It's sub-zero Celcius when we get up to take Mum to work and it hasn't got above 10 degrees C for weeks. What do bears do when the temperature drops that far? Big bears hibernate and that's what I've been trying to do too. However, when the Oldies decided to visit Unka Mark and Aunty Vicki ( M and V) to see how work on their block down near Eden was progressing I had to go too. No small bear would ever pass up the chance of a road trip. You can see that there has been a bulldozer at work, getting the foundation for a big shed ready. Actually, the concrete floor was poured on Tuesday so there should be a barn there when we next visit. The night sky is really dark there because the nearest towns are around 30 kilometers away. We tried out our new telescope and it worked fine. On Saturday Unka Mark drove us all out to Green Cape lighthouse, one of my favourites. The last time the Oldies drove there the road was an absolute nightmare but this time M and V's big 4-wheel drive had no problem with it. We spent some time looking for seals and whales but they were somewhere else. And it was almost as cold down there as it is here. I'm not sure that I like winter.

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