October 2010 - alvers.info

Just a place for my old thoughts

Domestic bliss
Sunday, 31 October 2010 10:49 pm
(DJ)

A fairly quiet weekend at home trying to get cleaned up from about three weeks without anything being done. The yard was getting crazy and there was enough fur rolling around the house that it could be used to build another cat.

So we went pretty hard on Saturday with me doing the usual and Deb giving the kitchen one hell of a seeing too. By mid afternoon we called it quits and went shopping for dinner. I had a craving for calamari, and by luck, the local seafood place had beautiful fresh squid. So with a kilo of that in hand and a stop at the supermarket for antipasto and the makings of a panzanella salad we headed home.

After spending so much time swimming on holidays and looking at the house reefs we had an itching to watch Finding Nemo on DVD.

Sunday was yard day with me downstairs getting the mowing done while Deb continued upstairs, plus washing, plus getting a submission to a publisher ready. Then we started weeding the front yard which was in great need of a good picking over. By about 3pm we had it looking pretty respectful and the garden bin was full to overflowing so we headed up for showers and then off to the shops.

We had Janet coming over for dinner so we picked up some nice filled pasta and more panzanella ingredients. It was also Halloween so we put few things on the house and the street to let kids know that we were open for business.

Really, I don't understand people that say that we shouldn't let kids participate in Halloween. It really has no cultural significance in Australia other than an opportunity to dress up and get chocolates and lollies. That isn't a bad thing is it? And it breeds a sense of community which also can't be a bad thing.

So with our dinner eaten and our chocolates nearly depleted it was off to bed after a good weekend.

Wayne
Tuesday, 2 November 2010 6:28 am

Completely agree about the halloween thing. Let the kids be kids for once... Danny, you might still remember the halloween night when we were growing up, I was nine or ten years old, and Jason Gammage went as Frankenstein and his dad had super glued a bolt on each side of his neck... lol ... I'm sure you went as a bed sheet ghost and I had ripped jeans like a zombie.


Maldives: Day eight and homeward bound
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 1:57 am
(DJ)

We had set enough alarms to get us up at a reasonable hour to pack before heading down for our last breakfast. The pastries were as good as the first day.

We then went down to reception to hand in our keys and pick-up the key for the day room. As it turns out it was actually a full villa room, probably a bit small and away from the water so it isn't normally rented out. It did have an outdoor shower which was a nice finish.

We then spent the morning with one final snorkelling swim and then laying around on the lounges until Deb decided it was beer o'clock. Up at the bar we ordered some lunch and I finally gave in and had the Aussie steak burger. It was good.

We then relaxed and swam for the last couple of hours before heading up to the day room to shower and finalised our packing and carry-on bags.

It was pretty sad leaving the island as the boat took us out to the floating platform that the planes dock against. We were the first passengers to be picked up and had two other stops on the way back to Male' to collect other passengers.

At the airport we were offered a trip into Male' to have a look around. As it turns out it was a guided trip which was pretty interesting. Male' itself is this mad frantic hive of activity with people going every which way on motor bikes and cars. Given the island is so small it is amazing that people would need a car.

The trip took us past some of the major items that I had read about in the guide book including the guy who introduced Islam into the Maldives. It was pretty hot and the sun was starting to set so we made our way back to the airport. There we found that 'checking your bags' actually meant leaving them on trolley in the middle of the arrivals hall under the supervision of some guy. But in typical Maldivian style it was all good. The bags were fine so we settled in for a bite to eat and to await our flight opening.

At about 8:30pm they opened the gate so we checked in and then wandered through the duty free shops. I have never seen so much tourist crap in my entire life. And I mean the really bad stuff like poorly made see-through plastic dolphins filled with water, glitter and some plastic shells. I don't know who was stocking these shops but they need to be stopped.

We finally got the call to the gate and shortly after headed out to the plane. The food back to Singapore wasn't as good as on the way over but we were so tired it didn't matter too much. We landed at dawn in Singapore with an hour and a half to kill which went quite quickly as we grabbed a few duty free items and had a drink.

Then back on the plane for the 7 hour flight back to Australia. Deb poked me a couple of times because I just put on my headphones and started watching movies. Had I just annoyed her for the entire trip she probably would have popped the emergency exit and tried to parachute out with her lap blanket. You can't win really.

We finally landed in Australia and had a pretty quick travel through customs to be met by Serena on the other side. It was weird being back and the Maldives just seemed like a long way away.

I must admit that it was nice to have the cats around again, I did miss them quite a lot. I am sure that Furrg would have loved curling up at the end of my sun lounge and snoozing the days away.

Time to unpack and think about putting our new av receiver together as well.



Maldives: Day seven
Sunday, 24 October 2010 5:58 am
(DJ)

Our last full day on Mirihi was spent taking it very easy. We wandered down to breakfast where Deb finally succumbed to the chocolate croissants she had been eyeing off for two days.

We then found a lovely spot on the beach with lounges and a hammock and settled in for the day. Lunch beers ensued and Deb tried the local fish and chips. Very good.

Then back to the sun lounges for more relaxing, swimming, sleeping and swaying in the hammock.

Eventually the day started to close so we headed up to the villa to shower. They provide robes in the room with both marked as "L" which I assumed meant "little". So there I was clean and happy trying to keep my robe wrapped around me, with a glass of wine in my hand. I walked out onto the deck to find a Japanese girl standing on the edge of the reef in mask and fins, the tide rapidly going out, calling "Help!" To anyone that she saw.

She started a couple of times to try to walk further across the coral but kept loosing her balance and falling. This chick was going home with more to remember the reefs by than a photo, that's for sure.

Her partner had probably told her to stay put and was himself trying to scramble over the reef back to the beach. Possibly to raise his own alarm.

People from other villas had by this stage put on various combinations of fins, masks and booties and had gone out to try and help. Unfortunately the young girl was getting pretty freaked out by this stage. I had called reception by this point but no one had turned up. Bugger, nothing left to do but actually do something.

I switched back into board shorts and ran around to the watersports area, grabbed an oar and a two person ski and paddled my guts out back around to the other side of the island that she was trapped on. All the time hoping that the tide was still high enough to get a loaded double ski out and back across the coral.

As I came around I saw other guests trying to encourage her via hand gestures to try and swim back out to sea but with no success.

On my first approach I felt the coral scrape under the ski so I backed up and tried a different approach, guided by a guy who had gone out to assist the girl. Now beside her she was able to just sit straight into the front of the ski before I backed up, turned around and headed for the shore.

There she was met by her partner and hotel staff with a first aid kit. I then headed back around to drop the ski back to water sports.

Back in the villa it took about 30 minutes just to cool down before taking another shower. (Did I mention how many showers we have taken on the holiday?)

As expected being our last full day there was a knock at the door and a letter explaining our checkout process. We had to settle the main bill that night but could transfer to a day room after breakfast the next morning and then spend the remainder on the beach before showering and changing for our flight back to Male'. Not too bad a deal really.

At dinner we caught up with Tim the exec chef again who is great fun to talk with. He is so passionate about his craft. We then had a nice dinner and were the last to clear our table.

While we were sitting there a guest came over and asked If I was the one who had helped the girl. Apparently she wanted to thank me so I wandered over to say hi. With no real common language it was basically bows, nods and smiles but I got the idea across.

Back to the villa and I discovered a half bottle of bubbles on the bed with a card from the resort to thank me for assisting a guest. A very nice gesture and one that leaves me with a big smile on my face.

Ah, then nothing left but to set alarms for the next morning to ensure we could get packed before breakfast.

Superman out.


Maldives: Day six
Saturday, 23 October 2010 8:24 am
(DJ)

A very nice quiet day returning to the original theme of not doing much. We headed down for breakfast where Deb continued her love affair with the local pastries which the chef explained are all made on site.

Actually I should mention Tim Hill the executive chef here. He's Australian and, with aussies making up less than 4% of the total tourism to the Maldives he has been great to talk with and share his insights into the local industry. It's funny that when I arrived I kept telling myself that I wanted to eat local foods but the truth is that except for fish and a few watermelons most of the food in the Maldives is imported.

Anyway, we headed back to the room to grab our stuff and then took over two very nice sun lounges right outside the dive centre. This gave us easy access to a freshwater shower, gear washing station and a loo. The snorkeling is very good and after drenching ourselves in sun screen we swam around most of the island. Parrot fish, rass, squid...you name it we saw it. Then we just dozed on the lounges until we went up to the bar for beers and a snack. Then back for a swim and a quick paddle around on a twin ski. The island seems to have a resident Herron which had taken up a perch on someones villa sun deck, right on their towel which was drapped over the sun lounge. We cruised past as the owners came home and persuaded the Herron to to least get off the lounge if not leave the deck.

From there it was back to the villa to freshen up and get ready for dinner. We'd booked a table around to the fine dining restaurant right over the water which was lovely. The food was good although the Sav Blanc (NZ) was a tad too sharp for Deb's taste.

On the way back to our room we came across the moonlight cinema where they were projecting a movie onto a screen strung between two palm trees. It was a lovely way to end the day.


Maldives: Day five
Friday, 22 October 2010 9:24 am
(DJ)

It was up early to board the dive boat for my double dive. Deb had finally reached the rich food event horizon and just stayed in bed, had a lazy day and was feeling much better by the I got back at 3pm.

The dive trip was probably the best I have ever been on. The other guests were all Germanic so there was a bit of banter which I couldn't get but on the whole they stuck to english which made my life easier.

Its a 90 min motor down to the dive site on the bottom of the atoll in which Baros is located. New dive gear, different weight belt type so I spent the first part of the first dive trying to get my bouncy under control. I was buddied with Hussan who runs the dive operation on Mirihi. He is a great guy and a very good guide. On the first dive we were in a current that just flew us down along a reef. Probably the strongest sustained current I have ever dived it.

Once I got my gear under control we set out and saw a shark, moray eels and yellow fin tuna. The vis was down a little but it was still a very cool dive. At the safety stop I had to do a check dive by reomving my mask under water and buddy breathing from Hassan's tank. Now I hate having my eyes open under water and believe that the mask serves a very important purpose but it went ok and we were quickly back on the surface and being picked up by the boat.

After we got everyone back on board we motored to the second dive location. On the way the crew sighted a school of manta ray swimming on the edge of a reef so we quickly put on snorkles and fins and swam over to swim with them. Amazing, truly amazing. These things are as big as a king sized bed and just fly about an arms length below the surface. Up to 6 would just swim under you within a few feet and then bank around to fly past again. Truly an incredible experience.

Back on board everyone was buzzing after the great fortune of see manta rays. The resort offers a special trip just to try and find rays so to get it effectively for free is outstanding.

Little did I guess what was to come.

With everyone calming down and settling for the trip to the next site Hassan suddenly yells 'Whale Shark!'. The crew went nuts and everyone jammed on fins and snorkles and just jumped off the boat via any available gap.

The whale shark just cruised along about 3 mtrs below the surface with barely a flick of its tail. They're about 10-15 mtrs long and have pilot fish clinging to the fins. A awesome spectacle by any measure. Unfortunately one of the numyucks in the group decided it would be a great idea to touch the shark. With a bunch of us screaming through our snorkles to back off someone swam down and touch the shark and it just sank into the depths out of sight. Bugger.

Back at the surface and onto the boat Hassan reminded everyone about the zero touch policy.

Finally we headed onto our final dive location. Hassan assured us it would be a peaceful dive and it certainly was. We dove down to about 18 mtrs and sat on the sand beside a bommy. Suddenly 5 huge manta rays came into view and just swam back and forth over the bommy getting the little fish to swim out and clean them off. Apparently this is a know cleaning station for mantas. So we literally sat on the bottom for 45 minutes just watching this amazing spectacle.

Finally, with my bottom time limit being reached and my air running low I made my way back to the surface. It was an amazing dive to finish on.

We then motored back to the resort with a banquet lunch being served. I met Deb in the bar for a beer and then back for a shower and then more beer. I finally got gazumped because Deb had brought me these stunning cuff links and I hadn't got her anything.

We then finally went into dinner. Being our real anniversary they gave us this amazing chocolate Sacher torte with Happy Anniversary written on the top. Feeling very full and satisfied we went back to our room to find the bed had been decorated with rose petals and leaves and the words 'Happy Anniversary' were spelled out in bits of palm frond.

Happy Anniversary to Us!


Maldives: Day four - sea plane to Mirihi
Thursday, 21 October 2010 11:21 am
(DJ)

Well the guy we were waiting on did finally arrive and the sea plane did finally depart. The plane was a twin otter and seated about 16 passengers with out luggage stuffed in behind us. It actually stops at three different islands with ours being second.

The sea planes actually land and pull up at a floating pontoon about 80 mtrs off short. From there a boat comes out tot collect the guests. Each island has its own airport code which is really cute. And on the 10x10 floating platform they have written 'Welcome to Mirihi International Airport'. Each island in the maldives can pick their own time zone which Mirihi does by winding the clock forward so that the sun rises and sets at a far more resort time of the day.

Mirihi is part owned by a Swiss woman and run by German/Swiss admin staff. So the guests tend towards Germanic but there is still quite a mix. On that point there are 140 staff for a maximum of 72 guests, not bad huh.

Anyway, after a drink of coconut milk right from the coconut and a short intro from Christoph the manager we were told to leave everything, including our shoes, and were escorted around the island. By the time we made it to our villa our bags, cases and shoes were already there.

The drinks are cheaper than Baros so we just sat on the villa deck with a couple of beers before getting changed and heading down to the beach via the bar. We had missed lunch so just grabbed a plate of dips with flat breads. Very good.

From there we walked around the island and then settled on a spot for a swim. From there back to our room to shower and dress for welcoming cocktails with the resort team. On the way down we called into the dive centre to collect snorkling/dive kit and to look at booking a dive. Asheed is the resident dive leader and a great guy. After introductions I booked into a double boat dive for the next morning.

The cocktails were being served on the deck of the fine dining restaurant with the resort crew there to welcome all the newly arrived guests. They are very nice people. They even have a Aussie chef who sat with us for quite a while talking about how he came to be at Mirihi.

Then we just headed into the BBQ banquet for dinner. The food was very good and I have to say the deserts were a highlight. Deb got fresh pasta cooked to order and then we hit the BBQ proper. Again very good. By that point a long day was starting to take its toll and we headed off to bed.


Maldives: Day four - Baros to the seaplane
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 7:16 am
(DJ)

Leaving day from Baros, how depressing. I threatened to throw a tantrum but Deb said that probably wouldn't work. Besides we'd seen an interim bar bill and short of selling the cats to science we needed to pay up and move on.

We had set an alarm but either it failed to go off or we slept through it waking up 45min later than we had wanted too. No a big hassle really just meant we had to be a little more organised than we had planned.

We quickly showered and packed and then went down to breakfast. One last glass of champagne on the desk with my bacon and toast. Deb had a traditional Maldivian omelette with chilli and tuna and said it was great. Then back to grab our bags before settling the bill. Baros is a stunning island with superb service and great food. In terms of resorts it sets the bar pretty high.

We then sat for a few moments on the jetty before boarding our boat for the 20 min trip back to the airport for our connection to Mirihi.

I have to hand it to the locals the airport is just orchestrated chaos that just seems to work. We were led by Afaan into the airport and dropped off at another counter. In a flurry bags were tagged, tickets were issued and we were loaded onto a minibus for trip around to the seaplane port.

As we disembarked the other passangers on the bus were ticketed and told to sit in the big lounge. 5 star resort to the rescue! We were taken upstairs to a private resort lounge. After a cold drink and the ever present cold towel we sat watching dive videos until our plane boarded.

It ended up taking longer that we had hoped in the transit lounge as we waited first for another guest and then a further delay waiting for the plane to land.

Trapped on the edge of paradise. At least there is an open wifi point at the airport that I'm currently leeching off.


Maldives: Day three
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 5:39 am
(DJ)

On our arrival to Baros they had known that we were celebrating our tenth anniversary but not which day. We tried to explain that it was Thursday and that we would be gone but they insisted that we would be given breakfast in our villa and a chocolate cake. Who am I to argue with a determined 5 star resort. Tuesday, Tuesday would be our Baros anniversary. And so, after a quick swim we settled on the deck to await breakfast. Right on time two guys arrived loaded down with trays and in a carefully orchestrated union they quickly had tables and chairs assembled down on the sand under a palm tree. With a table loaded down with scrambled eggs with the works, fruit, cereal, toast and pastries. And fresh iced juice, tea, coffee and the star of the morning a half bottle of Taittinger champagne. It was heaven and considering that we were laying in bed an hour earlier swearing no more food I still managed to eat it all.

Then back out to our sun lounges to sleep off the meal and take the occasional swim. The house reef off our beach is actually better than the other side with much deeper water just past the reef. This provides better coral and big schools of reef fish. The only hassle is the inshore reef is difficult to get past at lower tides.

Then just to sit back with a couple of beers and have the day slowly drift past to the sound of the ocean, the breeze in the palm trees and the occasional yelp as Deb rolls over and pulls her sunburn off the towel.

At about 3pm we went in for a shower and then down to the gift shop. I scored on that count with a pair of linen resort pants and a silver bracelet. We also picked up one of the ubiquitous oil lamps that we see on all the tables. We then sat out on the big beach lounges with a cold drink and watched the other guests emerging from the lagoon, critiquing the womens swim suits.

Then back to the villa to freshen up and change for dinner. It was strange to find our departure details for the next day had been slipped under the door. I didn't want to go damn it! I honestly could stay on Baros for a very long time. If someone was to pickup the bar bill that is.

We had booked into the Lighthouse restaurant for our 'Baros Anniversary' dinner so went back to the bar upstairs to watch the sun set and have a cocktail. Our waitress Ayun was on duty again so by this, our third afternoon, we were greeted like old friends.

Dinner itself was stunning with Deb's first course cooked at the table. I had oysters which are flown in from France and the most delicious snapper. All washed down with a bottle of champagne. We finished with a cheese plate and then the chocolate cake arrived in the shape of a heart, smothered in ganache. Even having finished a whole meal we still managed to eat half of the little cake.

As we walked back there was a live band playing at the beach bar so we sat and had a final drink and tried to stretch the day out as long as possible.




Maldives: Day two (Cont)
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 9:36 am
(DJ)

Getting a little more accustomed to the time zone we didn't get down to breakfast until 8:30am. Deb had spied the French Champagne, which sits in an ice bucket at the juice station, the day before. We weren't sure if they charged for it or not but after my bloody mary the day before Deb went to get some and was quickly assisted by one of the staff who fill two glasses and put them at our table. Who cares if they charge given the breakfast on offer. Scrambled eggs for Deb, with the works, and more bacon and the works for me. Then fruit & pastries. Then to find that the champagne at breakfast is complimentary. Does it get any better than that.

Heading back past the beach bar we saw that the big lounge beds were unoccupied so we ducked back to the villa, loaded up with sunscreen, books, water, hats etc and made our way down. Being the first there we snaffled the best one of all and spent the entire day, until nearly sunset just snoozing, eating, drinking and snorkling on the house reef.

The snorking is outstanding. Tropical reef down to about 15 mtrs with a massive abundance of fish and even a house turtle that we found twice. It was so used to tourists that it was completely unperturbed by our presence. Lunch was a mixed satay grill plate with an icy mocktail for Deb and a pint of beer for me. The day was truly perfect except for Deb getting the backs of her legs quite badly sun burnt during snorkling.

Back to the villa for showers (did I mention the outdoor shower) and getting changed for dinner. Then up to the Lighthouse bar for cocktails again as the sun set. I should mention that we have been eating way too much food on this trip. But it is hard to resist when your sunset cocktails come with a little tapas plate prepared from the islands best restaurant. Personally I blame the endless rounds of nuts, pretzels and lethal wasabi potato chips that come with every drink. Yes, snacks are to blame for my sudden and inexplicable weight gain.

Anyway, we had booked into the Cayenne Grill for dinner and Deb was worried they might have had a theme night happening so it was a little worrying when we walked in and they showed us an entire rib of Australia black angus beef. We said we were looking for something lighter for dinner. "No worries", they replied and recommended their fish courses.

We ended up ordering a whole fish BBQ'ed in a Maldivian style with chilli, marsala and coconut. That will be pretty light right? Well, they then told us to help ourselves at the salad bar that also had the most beautiful salmon sashimi and when we got back to the table there were fresh breads and dips waiting.

Then Moby Dick arrived on a plater. This fish was huge and could have served four people with the salads and sides. But Deb and I did it justice leaving almost none. And I have to say it was possibly one of the best fish meals I have ever ever ever (you get the idea) eaten in my life. Absolutely perfect firm white flesh with the Maldivian spices and a bottle of Rose.

Then alas home to bed feeling very full and contented at the end
of a beautiful day.

Maldives: Day two (Cont)
Wednesday, 31 December 1969 11:59 pm

Getting a little more accustomed to the time zone we didn't get down to breakfast until 8:30am. Deb had spied the French Champagne, which sits in an ice bucket at the juice station, the day before. We weren't sure if they charged for it or not but after my bloody mary the day before Deb went to get some and was quickly assisted by one of the staff who fill two glasses and put them at our table. Who cares if they charge given the breakfast on offer. Scrambled eggs for Deb, with the works, and more bacon and the works for me. Then fruit & pastries. Then to find that the champagne at breakfast is complimentary. Does it get any better than that.

Heading back past the beach bar we saw that the big lounge beds were unoccupied so we ducked back to the villa, loaded up with sunscreen, books, water, hats etc and made our way down. Being the first there we snaffled the best one of all and spent the entire day, until nearly sunset just snoozing, eating, drinking and snorkling on the house reef.

The snorking is outstanding. Tropical reef down to about 15 mtrs with a massive abundance of fish and even a house turtle that we found twice. It was so used to tourists that it was completely unperturbed by our presence. Lunch was a mixed satay grill plate with an icy mocktail for Deb and a pint of beer for me. The day was truly perfect except for Deb getting the backs of her legs quite badly sun burnt during snorkling.

Back to the villa for showers (did I mention the outdoor shower) and getting changed for dinner. Then up to the Lighthouse bar for cocktails again as the sun set. I should mention that we have been eating way too much food on this trip. But it is hard to resist when your sunset cocktails come with a little tapas plate prepared from the islands best restaurant. Personally I blame the endless rounds of nuts, pretzels and lethal wasabi potato chips that come with every drink. Yes, snacks are to blame for my sudden and inexplicable weight gain.

Anyway, we had booked into the Cayenne Grill for dinner and Deb was worried they might have had a theme night happening so it was a little worrying when we walked in and they showed us an entire rib of Australia black angus beef. We said we were looking for something lighter for dinner. "No worries", they replied and recommended their fish courses.

We ended up ordering a whole fish BBQ'ed in a Maldivian style with chilli, marsala and coconut. That will be pretty light right? Well, they then told us to help ourselves at the salad bar that also had the most beautiful salmon sashimi and when we got back to the table there were fresh breads and dips waiting.

Then Moby Dick arrived on a plater. This fish was huge and could have served four people with the salads and sides. But Deb and I did it justice leaving almost none. And I have to say it was possibly one of the best fish meals I have ever ever ever (you get the idea) eaten in my life. Absolutely perfect firm white flesh with the Maldivian spices and a bottle of Rose.

Then alas home to bed feeling very full and contented at the end
of a beautiful day.


Maldives: Day two
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 2:23 am
(DJ)

The days don't get much better than this. I'll post a more detailed entry after breakfast is delivered. Untik then you can content yourself with a little resort porn.





Maldives: Day one
Monday, 18 October 2010 2:08 pm
(DJ)

With the jetlag and time zones I was up at about 5:30am local time. From our villa outside still seemed a little dark until I stepped outside and found the sunrise had set the sands to orange and the sky to pink-blue.

While Deb still snoozed I stole a few moments to walk along the beach followed by a little stingray at the waters edge. I jast sat on our deck watching the day start and marvelling at the fact that I we were really here. Then back into the room to annoy Deb until she woke up enough to pay me some attention.

We had a swim and then went down to Limes restaurant for breakfast. Deb had wisely arranged breakfast in out tariff so there's no guilt in just enjoying everything on offer. They have a full selection of hot foods plus eggs cooked to order, pastries, cold meats and cheese as well as a guy who's job is to slice your fresh fruit for you. I was having a moment and ordered a bloody mary as well. You know when someone asks if you want it spicy you really need to provide some type of context before just saying 'Yeah, sure!'. It was yummy though and really made the breakfast seem even more decadent than it already was.

We then went back to the villa via the dive center to borrow some snorkling fins. The house reef outside our villa is quiet nice although a bit too shallow to make it past the protective sea walls and out to deeper water. So we just contented ourselves with looking at the small coral crops inside our lagoon. The rest of day was spent like that really, swim, sun lounge, snooze. At some point we grabbed some fresh fruit from our villa and a bottle of Rose but that was the most energetic thing we did all day. It was truly awesome to be in such a beautiful location with absolutely nothing that needs to be done and no where that needs to be gone too. Just relax.

As the day started to set we showered and headed down to the bar for an afternoon cocktail. Thanks to the aussie dollar the prices are actually not that outrageous. And they don't scrimp on the shots. We had two drinks at one bar (coveting the big lounge beds that other couples had already scored) then went up to the Lighthouse bar for two more and to watch the sun set. They served these tapas style snacks with your drinks and we score a lounge bed out on the deck, so we were pretty happy. Dpeaking of snacks I need to mention the potato chips. I put one in my mouth while in mid sentence and had to stop speaking. Who the hell thought that wasabi was a suitable flavour for a chip. Having said that we're now hooked on the little suckers.

The sunset itself was spectacular and we were pretty wasted by the time we headed off to dinner. A light meal starting with the local yellowfin tuna sashimi then of reef fish for me and a locally caught tuna curry for Deb.

By then it was definitely bedtime at the end of a truly wonderful day.

JT
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 1:14 am

Enjoy your break guys. Sounds like absolute heavan! Can't wait to see the photos. JT xo


Maldives: Getting there
Monday, 18 October 2010 1:55 pm
(DJ)

We had taken Friday off work so that we could get ourselves packed and ready to go. As it turned out JB HiFi were also having a sale on AV receivers which was now a required item after the recent purchase of my Xbox and running out of connections on the existing receiver.

So we headed out and never actually made it to JB HiFi because I called in to check out the competition and ended up buying a Denon amp. And its a nice one. True to my promise to Deb it is still sitting in its box beside the dining table.

After getting home we started the packing process and had it well under control when Serena arrived to babysit the cats and take us out to dinner. The original plan had been David's Off Oxford but alas they were closed so we settled on C'est Bon which was French, rich, salty and very good. Washed down with two bottle of Burgundy it was quite lovely. Home and off to bed for a very early start the next morning.

Saturday Serena dropped us at the airport at 7am for a pain free check-in and a couple of breakfast beers ahead of our flight with Singapore Airline to Singapore. It took 7 hours but was actually pretty smooth. The seats were particularly comfortable, the entertainment system had a pretty good selection and the food wasn't too bad either. We arrived in Singapore feeling pretty good with a 5 hour stop over ahead of us. The timezones did eventually take its toll with the last 40 odd minutes seeming to take forever. By that stage it was about 10pm in Australia and we still had 6 odd hours more before we would see our beds.

Arrival and customs in Male was simple enough and we were met outside the arrivals gate by a rep from Baros Island who whisked away our bags and escorted us out to the waiting boat. The trip across to Baros was pretty choppy which resulted in a fellow passenger looking decidedly green. The crew though were so very welcoming with juices and water as we headed over.

Our first site of the Lighthouse pavilion of Baros was awesome and made the fact we had been travelling for almost 24hrs seem much less important.

On arrival they seated us in the reception pavilion with a glass of welcoming bubbles and told us a little about the island. After a few formalities of check-in we were escorted to our villa. As we were taken in the door I couldn't get a sense of its position on the island so I thought we may not have ocean views. I was a little disappointed but too tired to really process it. Our guide gave us a detailed intro to the room which really leaves no expense spared. She then opened the back doors into the bathroom and I have to say, OMFG!, it was stunning. A five star bathroom with every luxury feature leading straight into a garden with an outdoor shower, heaven.

Then we were shown the other doors that lead out onto our own private deck, looking across the sand of about 5 metres to our private sun lounges under a thatched umbrella and then the beach just in front of that...OMFGx5!!!

Finally left to our own devices we spent some time just exploring the room and getting a well deserved shower. Then after a snack provided due to our late arrival we finally got off to sleep after 24hrs and 10,000 odd kms.

We were actually in the Maldives.


Food of the Black Pearl (Cont)
Monday, 11 October 2010 6:02 am
(DJ)

Just posting a couple of pics from my Birthday month cooking class that have been waiting on the camera to be downloaded.

To recap: Serena brought her and I a cooking school lession at Black Pearl in the Valley. We got a tour of China Town first and great info on the right shops to buy groceries from and then got to cook up what we had seen.

A really great day and the food was wonderful!




Food of the Black Pearl
Monday, 11 October 2010 6:00 am
(DJ)




Ok, now I am really going on holidays
Monday, 11 October 2010 5:51 am
(DJ)

You know, I've looked at the website, brought new clothes and even watched a webcam from a Maldivian resort but nothing gives me the 'I'm going on holidays!' rush like actually holding foreign currency.

We're going to spend a few hours in Singapore airport on the way over and possibly an afternoon in Male so we picked up a little US currency for drinks and transport.

It's not until I am holding the greenbacks that I really know that I'm going on holidays. And to add to the overall effect the weather truely SUCKS here in Brisbane at the moment.

Think of me, laying on the white sands, icy drink in one hand as the gentle ocean breeze sways the palms. Oh bring it on.


A tropical island is looking pretty good right about now.
Monday, 11 October 2010 4:00 am
(DJ)

It's been raining lately around here. Really, really, raining. On the upside it has allowed me to finally figure out why the back deck guttering is leaking. We've tried to get in touch with the builder but he seems to have vanished off the face of the world. I'll have to keep trying.

Saturday we braved the weather and headed into Oktoberfest for lunch and a few beers. JT and Deb put away 8 steins of beer between them which is no small trick. And we got to eat hotdogs and pretzels and pork hocks so we went pretty hard.

Apparently it was come dressed as a 'Slutty Fraulein' day when we went. The skirts were so very very short that it really was silly. And the shoes? Stiletto heals and shiny leather for a paddock of mud and water. Our plan of heading in early actually worked out really well with everyone being very well behaved and good natured.

Sunday was a wonderfully quiet day just giving the house the slightest of cleans and then cooking in the afternoon for Janet who was going over for dinner. Deb made two types of vegitarian potato tagine and apple danish from scratch. I ate way too much but enjoyed every bit.

After dinner I even managed to find our old wedding video which has been lurking hidden on a shelf somewhere. At least now I have a backup so that I can't loose it.

And today, the rain is still falling...and I have to walk up to the city for a dental appointment. Yuk!

JT
Tuesday, 12 October 2010 9:25 am

I don't see any mention of the 21+ steins you, Jason and Bryan put away! You make us sounds like alcoholics! Seriously though. A fabulous day. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. :)


Furrgus <3's Chicken
Wednesday, 6 October 2010 10:32 pm
(DJ)

Last night we had BBQ roast chicken cooked on the Weber with roast potatoes, corn and asparagus.

Now Mr Furrgus does like his roast chicken quite a bit but last night he went nuts. We often eat down at the coffee table while watching TV. This allowed Furrg to go completely mental, meowing, crying and running around the room doing everything he could to get his head into someone's plate.

We did give him scraps at the end but had to literally beat him back while we were eating. (Yes, I know what your thinking, but we are cat people which makes this situation vaguely acceptable.)

I did give him some of the scraps before wrapping the leftovers on a plate and putting them in the fridge. This Furrg saw happen so every time we opened the fridge for the rest of the night Furrg was there, paws on the freezer door looking longingly into the bottom shelf. (Luckily we have an upside down fridge that prevents kittehs from being able to climb in when the door is open.)

Anyway, off to bed and at some point Deb locked Furrg into the spare bedroom to quiet him down. Again he was just making a general rukus.

This morning we let him out and feed them their usual of raw chicken and cat crunchies. Furrg grudgingly eats the offering and then tather than heading out at the end of his breakfast he instead turns his attention to the fridge.

He knows there's roast chicken in there, darn it, and he wants some. It's like he somehow has a higher level of reasoning when it comes to chicken because he knows that leftovers mean sandwiches and sandwiches mean a second chance to beg food.

So I spent my morning trying to make sandwiches for lunch while fending off the swinging paws of a rather determined little cat who really really really loves chicken.

I'd say if he is good he can have some for dinner but I know that a) He won't be good and b) He will probably get some for dinner anyway.


October
Tuesday, 5 October 2010 4:06 am
(DJ)

We're into the month of October and I am getting pretty excited about our holiday at the end of this month. Deb has always wanted to visit the Maldives so that is where we are headed for 10 days of tropic islands and hopefully sunshine.

We had a very quite weekend which was wonderful. Friday we just went out for a quick bite of indian that then played Xbox.

Saturday we had a very lazy day taking ages to get the house clean. Then out for some groceries and home to make proper, 3 hour simmered, pork ragu. I found a recipe, which I will post, that comes from a commercial kitchen. The disclaimer basically states that because they took a commercial recipe and reduced down the quantities they make no statements that the recipe will work at all. Hell, they should have just posted the original bloody recipe and let people take their chances with 10kg of wild boar.

Anyways, we modified it the recipe anyway and then slow cooked it for hours until the pork had fallen into the awesome silken tomato'y sauce. Deb then made fresh pasta which was absolutely awesome with sauce. We have a little left in the freezer and then I am absolutely going to have to make another batch. We then watched Kick-Ass the movie, which was pretty good, and the special features. Before we knew it it was 1:30am. I think the making of must have been in real-time it took so long.

Sunday again was a late start and then over to DFO for me to stock up on new clothes or the holiday. Deb has now forced me to throw out all my old t-shirts as well. Even the good ones for gardening.

Sunday night we made a batch of Chilli con Carne and got a nice early night in bed.

We're now on the count down to the holiday and I cannot wait.