A Travellerspoint blog

Was this a trip of a life time?

or a trip to build a life time on? The 2009/10 Adventure ends!

So many people have asked us what was the best bit? – how on earth can we decide?

• Having the courage to go in the first place?
• Following our hearts and making the most of every opportunity that presented itself?
• Having the wonderful opportunity to spend a whole year, 24 hours a day with our kids – discovering so much about them that we don’t see day in day out and enjoying their company, giggling together, experiencing so much together?
• Making new friends, renewing old ones and meeting our very special friends from the UK along the way…..

Add to that mix all the wonderful unique experiences we have enjoyed:

• Watching whales swim right underneath us at Kalbari.
• Swimming with Hectar Dolphins in the wild.
• Watching pods of 100s of Dolphins first thing in the morning.
• Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef and seeing thousands of beautiful beach just steps from the beach.
• Camping at Cape Range National Park with its primitive facilities and no water.
• Skiing – Sun Peaks, Jasper, Banff, Kimberly, Kicking Horse, Whistler.
• Cycling – Ayers Rock, Golden Gate Bridge, Slick Rock and Otago Railway Trail.
• Climbing – Ayers Rock, Dave Evans Centenial Tree, Angels Landing – Zion.
• Wineries at Margaret River – Clairault being the favourite!
• Feeding fish by hand at full tide in Darwin.
• Feeding wild dolphins at Tin Can Bay.
• The wonderfully sandy Fraser Island.
• Star Gazing at Huenden, Bryce Canyon, Cape Range NP and Big Island Hawaii.
• Dressing up for the Emporers Banquet at Hue, Vietnam.
• Riding camels at sunset in Broome.
• Diving the Great Barrier Reef – not once but twice – 6 dives in total.
• Watching a performance at Sidney Opera House.
• Climbing the Sydney Bridge.
• Riding the Cable Cars in San Francisco.
• Spotting the deadly blue octopus in rock pools at Port Samson.
• The Wangaratta Blues Festival.
• Hire van breaking down in the Yarra Valley with the Phelans.
• Christmas in Napier with the Wrights.
• New Year in Rotorua with the Browns.
• Cycling the Queen Charlotte Track – despite the broken ribs and finger!
• Kayaking in the Abel Tasman.
• Climbing the Franz Joseph Glacier.
• Spotting kiwis followed by dinner with Beth.
• Meeting Gary and Rosie in Noosa.
• Having lots of wonderful days with the Curryers in Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
• Ed gaining his ski teaching qualification.
• Seeing baby Sophia, our granddaughter within 24 hours of her birth!
• Riding elephants in Lao and swimming in waterfalls.
• The Junk Boats at Halong Bay.
• Crazy motor bike antics in Vietnam.
• Designing our own clothes in Hoi An.
• Meeting the Wrights, Phelans and Browers and keeping the friendship going.
• Cyclo tour of Hanoi.
• Kayaking with Job in Halong Bay into the Paradise lagoon through the cave.
• Train journey from Hanoi to Hue.
• Evening walk through Phnom Penn Central Park.
• The Golden Palace – Phnom Penn.
• Bus ride to Siem Reap.
• The very moving Tuol Sleng genoside museum and killing fields.
• Temples of Angkor Thom and Wat.
• Eclipse over Siem Reap.
• Fire flies at Kuala Selangor.
• The Evening in KL Airport.
• A bucket of beer at Sunset over Penang with the Curryers.
• Orangutan babies at Bukit Meran.
• Petronas Towers.
• Colonial buildings of Singapore.
• Spotting kangaroos for the first time in the Glass House Mountains.
• Camping at the Charlie Morland – Kenilworth.
• Waking up to the sound of the Cuckaburahs.
• The beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets massed in the trees at sun set.
• .Walking Rainbow Beach.
• Platypus in Eungella National Park.
• Feeding wild rock wallabies on Magnetic.
• Spotting sharks when snorkeling.
• Bulls fighting on the road up to the highest waterfall.
• Cairns sky rail over the Rain Forest.
• Bush fires near Undara.
• Sharing a bottle of wine with Alex and Rob – Undara Lava Tubes.
• Avoiding Road Trains.
• Wycliffe Wells Caravan Park and meeting Domi Dave.
• The beautiful Alura and The Olgas.
• Walking Kings Canyon.
• The Daley Waters Pub.
• Kathryn Gorge.
• Retrieving our stolen bags.
• Driving the North West Territories.
• Microbrewery at Broome.
• Watching whales from the light house cliff at Exmouth.
• Snorkelling Oyster stacks and Turquoise Bay.
• Night Tour of Freemantle Prison.
• Little Creatures Brewery.
• Horse Riding along the Murchisson River.
• The dolphins surfing at Kalbarri.
• Sea Horses.
• Natures Window.
• Pinnacles at Cevantees.
• Koalas in Yanchep National Park and Ottway National Park.
• Going on board the submarine at Freemantle.
• Eagle Bay Olive Farm.
• Cape Lewin Lighthouse tour.
• Albany.
• The Tree Tops Walk.
• Decending into a real working gold mine at Kalgoorlie.
• The Highest Revolving buffet with Margaret, Ian, Billy and Jack.
• The Wave Rock at Hyden.
• Skiing the steep black race runs at Jasper.
• Whale factory at Albany.
• Kalgoorlie Super Pit.
• The Nullabor Plain.
• Oysters and white wine at Streaky Bay.
• Ned Kelly Museum.
• Wangaratta Races.
• The apostles on the Great Ocean Road.
• Canberra.
• Mallacoota.
• Meeting up with Pete and family in St. Kits.
• Meeting up with Tori in Sydney.
• Cycling the Blue Mountains.
• The Powerhouse Museum.
• Cessnock Winery Cottage – Lobsters and Deer!
• Staying with Bruce and Kayleen at Port Macquarie.
• Meeting up with the Browns again – Wellington.
• Bikes episode at Brisbane followed by the flight losing them!
• Waitano Caves glow worms.
• Te Matua – King of the Forest.
• Waitangi.
• Keri Keri Kaleidescopes.
• Rotorua Bike Park with the Brownies.
• Green lipped muscles in Havelock.
• Milford and Doubtful Sounds.
• Milly feeding alpacas at Clyde.
• Sea Lions and yellow eye penguins at Sandfly Bay, Dunedin.
• Hundreds of Kangaroos at dusk – W.A.
• Christchurch art gallery and the Buskers Festival.
• Albatros.
• Chased by monkeys at KL Bird Park.
• Cross country skiing at Kamloops.
• Olympics.
• Watching the beautiful Ice Dance Competition.
• Ice Hockey.
• Molly playing Bach’s Minuet 1 so beautifully.
• The Canadian Rockies and the Ice Fields Parkway.
• The Aurora Boureilis – Whitehouse, Yukon.
• Spotting Orcas off Vancouver Island.
• Dog Sledding in the Yukon.
• Skiing with the Grahams.
• The Peak to Peak gondola.
• Highway 1 through Washington, Oregan to the Big Sur, California.
• Depoe Bay, Whales.
• Oysters and Clam lunch watching seals at the Point.
• Redwood State Park – Bear and Elk
• Hitchcock’s The Birds – Bodega Bay.
• Meeting up with Karen and Ian in Carmel.
• Ian surfing with his old school mate – Mick Adams.
• Ed’s face when he was presented with his suprise birthday cake!
• Ian’s birthday supper with Mick, Lizzie and Mi mi.
• Milly’s cycling accident and her courage to get through.
• Stairway to the moon – Capitola.
• San Francisco – Painted Ladies, Mark Hotel, Pier 39, Boats and Nob Hill.
• Mono Lake and Craters.
• Lake Tahoe.
• Lone Pine – movie road and realistic rocks also snakes, wildflowers and John Wayne.
• Mount Whitney.
• Death Valley – 80 m below sea level – creating the humerous photo with so many viewers!
• Red Rock National Park, scenic drive.
• Zion National Park – Hidden Canyon, Angels, Observation Point and Emerald Pools.
• Hoodoos at Bryce National Park.
• Ed’s Bungey Jump.
• Milly diving to 16m.
• Bear watching at Tofino.
• Ian and Ed getting up early to surf in Hawaii.
• Climbing Cradle Mountain.
• Petting Tassy Devils.
• Bandacoot nibbling Milly’s toes.
• Joining the Adams’ Family at the amazing beach house.
• Ian nearly cycling over a huge snake.
• Ed sleeping on the balcony in Brisbane.
• Schoolies!
• Connor and cricket mates dressing up as ballerinas.
• Rugby 7s welcome ceremony at Wellington.
• Fuel incident at Wellington.
• Ian – Losing important items!
• Catching up with Mick and Chris after 20 years and going down the pub again!
• Ed driving Lotti on the air strip.
• Whale watching boat – Scarborough.
• Surfing amongst Sea Otters.
• Horse on Porch in New Zealand.
• Coming face to face with a turtles on the barrier reef.
• Huge turtles coming up on the beach – Oahu.
• Twin Falls amazing water fall.
• Live Volcanos spitting our red hot fire.
• Snow boarding down the whole mountain – Jasper.
• Ian enjoying his childhood dream of seeing the Bonneville salt flats.
• Veg tali on a banana leaf for $1.
• Spotting President Obama at the White House.
• 33 downhill ski days and 2 cross country ski days, 42 cycling days, 8 snorkelling days, 2 diving days, 1 football game (Pauline – does this count?) 15 hiking days, 1 horse riding day, 10 surfing days and 9 kayaking days making 123 full on active days in all.
• Our wonderful leaving party and amazing returning home surprise!
• We have traveled some 26,000 miles in Lotti and another 9,000 or more in hire cars. A further 34,000 (Helen did nearly 50,000) or so miles by plane and 100s of miles on our bikes! Plus all those miles on coaches, boat trips, ferries and trains – oh dear, our carbon footprint needs reconsidering!!!
• Writing our blogg which has received over 30,000 hits – goodness!
• Analysing what we got right!:
o Taking Lotti with us.
o Buying the National Parks memberships – W.A., Canada, USA.
o Purchasing thermals in New Zealand!
o Our stainless steel coffee pot.
o New CD play, Tom Tom and Skype.
o Travelling the WHOLE circumference of Australia.
o Pre-Booking our around the world flights and trips throughout Asia.
o Making the decision to ONLY see animals in the wild – no Zoos.
o Individual cameras and journals to gain each persons perspective.
o Blog – as they say in school – its value added!
o Keeping in touch with friends along the way – looking up old ones and building on new ones.
o Choosing proper campsites and not free camping!
o H – not going to hospital with broken ribs and finger as it would have compromised all those amazing activities in N.Z – South Island.
o Being friendly to neighbours on camp sites.
o Using our instincts and being flexible with the plan.
o Reading between the lines of guide books.
o Having a policy of heading for the Tourist Information whenever we arrived in a new area.
o Money – forfeited the opportunity to pay off mortgages early in favour of an amazing adventure!
o Being able to view the USA much more positively as a result of going to Australia first.
o Going to the Third World first.
o Bringing our own bikes – cost us nothing! At times it was a bit of a drag taking them around the place but we have cycled so many wonderful places that this would have been a great loss and couldn’t have happened if we didn’t have our own kit.
o Great planning at the outset, especially around the seasons which has enabled us to maximize the activities and opportunities available.
o Injections and Malaria tablets – not nice BUT definitely worth it.
o Car Bra! And Roof rack cover – invaluable for the preservation of Lotti’s paintwork!
o Hand Gell in Asia – great idea Granny…
o Buying a cheapie gas burner and not using the van to cook.
o Good balance of time in places, although in so many places we could ideally have had more time but hey, we left some room to go back!
o No Theme Parks!
o Ed’s medical for diving!
o Investing in an Australian toaster and kettle! You simply cant beat tea and toast and marmite!
o Reading books and listening to our wonderful music – an absolute luxury!

The list is endless and John, you were right, we do look smug in the photos – no wonder eh!

We have had the most amazing time and have learned so much along the way – we are confident that the kids have learned so much more than a formal education this year and have developed into two very confident, talented, caring individuals who have a real passion for adventure. This has been an invaluable experience for them both and has certainly broadened their perceptions of people. We know that they will take with them, all their experiences into an amazing future.

We have read lots of quotes and signs along the way which have had so much meaning at the time and will inspire us always and have included these in the blog but some others that I kept for last were;

A lack of preparation is a prescription for mishaps!!!” - ferry to Orcas.

If Mother Nature don't get you, Father Time will." - Evel Kenievel

“If you have friends, you have a full life, you can’t buy friends” - Larry King CNN.

“Love Life and it will love you back!” And “Life is good!” - t.shirts.

To all our friends and family who have supported us throughout this adventure, for the loving words, the amazing emails, the telephone calls, the letters, cards and presents, we thank you – you have kept us going when we have felt homesick and encouraged us when our energies were low but more importantly, you have been there for us to share our wonderful stories with – we will value those relationships for ever. Some people thought we were crazy leaving all we have worked so hard for behind and others have told us they wish they could do it! All we will say is; in life, there are no boundaries, anyone can follow their dreams – big or small – hopefully others will be inspired by what we have done.

So; “was this a trip of a life time or a trip to build a life time on”? – What do you think…..

Posted by ludds 00:19 Comments (0)

Our adventure comes to an end!

Saturday 26th June, 2010.

Our flights were at 6pm which meant that we needed to leave the hotel by around 2pm so that still gives us a bit of time….

We head off for a quick explore of Central Park and the American Museum of National History – the kids wanted to experience the setting from ‘Night in the Museum’ and to spot some of the animals that came to life in the middle of the night! This is the largest such museum in the world and has a strange architectural mélange of heavy Neoclassical and rustic Romanesque styles covering four city blocks. The museum boasts superb nature dioramas and anthropological collections, interactive and multimedia displays, lively signage and an awesome assemblage of bones, fossils and models.

A quick visit to Central Park gave us a taste of this huge mass of greenery. Opened in 1876 its just about smack in the middle of Manhattan extending from 59th to 110th streets and there is no question that the Park makes New York a much better place to live. We will have to explore more on our next trip.

Back at the hotel, we decided to be organized this time – so much chaos at airports!!! We organized a car to get us there, booked in on line and had our bags all neatly put together and off we set. We arrived at the airport feeling very settled and ready to go. Just as we turned into the cues a guy from Virgin came over and asked us if we were a big group? There were another 4 people just next to us.. He then explained that he was looking for volunteers to take the BA flight instead of Virgin and would give them flight vouchers if we were willing to go. It didn’t take more than a second to decide so we caught the BA flight which left 5 minutes after Virgin to Heathrow so no worries there and £ 1000 of voucher in our pockets!!!! A fantastic end to a wonderful experience! Just need to decide where to go next!!!!

We arrived back at Heathrow early in the morning and bless them – there was Carol and Hannah to meet us. Such amazingly good friends – we really appreciate them so much. We arrived back home and it was such a strange feeling coming into our little house after such a long time – It was so lovely though as Becky and Josh had put up big banners over the house to welcome us back and Becks came running out as soon as we pulled up. Later in the afternoon we joined up with Ian’s family and lots of friends for a lovely party – what a lovely surprise to see everyone. Karen, Ian and co had made their way up from London especially which was really fantastic and Granny, Sis Clare and the kids had come over from Stratford – We really appreciate the effort that you made, thank you so much and thanks to all our lovely friends: Jo and Dave, Fiona, Simon and the very special Nat, my dear Spanish friends; Iona, Patsy and Shelagh, Our fab accountant; David, Kathleen and William, The super duper Curryers, our amazing special work friends; Tasha, Lou, Carol, Hannah, Sally, Andrew and his girlfriend, Angelo and Rob, our fantastic neighbours Ian and Michele, Becky and Josh and to Ed’s delight Christian and his dad with a last minute excitement in the very last hour with Georgie and Liam arriving alongside Phil and Steve – Milly was delighted that her best three friends; Nat, Becky and Georgie were there and Ed was thrilled that his two best mates; Christian and Billy were too. Thanks everyone!

Posted by ludds 00:17 Comments (0)

Our last full day!!!

Friday 25th June, 2010.

Well this is it, our last full day and we are going to get the most out of it that we can. We are after all in New York City – the most beguiling city in the world. New York City is an adrenaline charged, history-laden place that holds immense romantic appeal for visitors. There’s no place quite like it.

The first European to see Manhattan Island, then inhabited by the Alqonquin Indians, was the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazano, in 1524/ Dutch colonists established the settlement of New Amsterdam exactly one hundred years later. The first governor, Peter Minuit was the man who famously “bought” the whole island for a handful of trinkets. Considering that the Indians he actually paid were not locals, but only passing through, it might be said that they received a fine deal too. A strong defensive wall – today’s Wall street follows it course – surrounded the colony. By the time the British laid claim to the area in 1664, the heavy handed rule of governor Peter Stuyvesant had so alienated its inhabitants that the Dutch handed over control without a fight.

Renamed New York, the city prospered and grew, its population reaching 33,000 by the time of the American Revolution. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 facilitated trade farther inland, spurring the city to become the economic powerhouse of the nation, the base later in the century of financiers such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Pierpont Morgan. The Statue of Liberty arrived from France in 1886, a symbol of the city’s role as the gateway for generations of immigrants, and the early 20th C saw the sudden proliferation of Manhattan’s extraordinary skyscrapers which cast New York as the city of the future in the eyes of an astonished world.

Almost a century later, the events of September 11, 2001 which destroyed the World Trade Center shook New York to its core….

We started off at the heart of glamour. Having walked down 5th avenue, the street of wealth and opulence – didn’t even consider venturing into any shops though! The architecture however was beautiful and we enjoyed admiring that instead. We have taken lots of friends’ advice and head to the Rockefeller Center, built between 1932 and 1940 by John D. Rockerfeller Jr, son of the oil magnate. One of the finest pieces of urban planning anywhere, the Center balances office space with cafes, a theatre, underground conceourses, rooftop gardens which all work together really well. In winter the little outdoor café that was today full of people enjoying breakfast becomes an ice rink. From the Observation floors 45-47, there is an amazing view over the City and in the far distance you could even see the Statue of Liberty. It was a clear day so fantastic views. After an hour or so we head from the heady heights of the Rockerfeller to the underground and made our way to the bottom of the Island to catch a ferry around Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty.

On route we checked out the financial areas and saw the stock brokers etc on Wall Street. Whilst admiring Washington’s statue on the steps of the Federal Hall National Memorial we watched a lady being interviewed for the tv and stood and smiled sweetly for the cameras!!!! We then head up to where the World Trade Center once stood – now a building site but there was an incredibly interesting and moving exhibition about that dreadful day in 2001 and the new design of the Freedom Tower that is being built. We have looked at tons of historic events and situations over our adventure throughout different countries but this was move moving that all of those put together – this is recent history and even Milly remembered it so it meant something to each of us.

We caught the Staten Island Ferry – a freebie trip on the water which put us close to Ellis Island. Standing tall and proud in the middle of New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty has for more than a century served as a symbol of the American Dream. Depicting Liberty throwing off her shackles and holding a beacon to light the world, the monument was the creation of the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, crafted a hundred years after the American Revolution in recognition of fraternity between the French and American people. The statue designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame, was built in Paris between 1874 and 1884.

Just across the water, Ellis Island was the first stop for more than twelve million prospective immigrants. Originally called Gibbet Island by the English it became an immigration station in 1892, mainly to handle the massive influx from southern and eastern Europe. It remained open until 1954 when it was left to fall into atmospheric ruin – we wanted to have a good look around the Island but with such a short amount of time here, have decided to save this for the next trip!

Feeling tired and hungry after a full days pacing the streets in the hot sun, we stopped at the pier to enjoy a long drink before heading towards Little Italy for supper. Originally settled by the huge 19th Century influx of Italian immigrants, the neighborhood of Little Italy has far fewer Italians living here than restaurants! So there is a real touristy feel to the place – but when you are hungry, anywhere decent looking selling nice food works for us!

Full of pizza and pasta, we caught a yellow taxi back to Rockerfeller Plaza to enjoy the sun set and the view over the city by night.

Walking back to the hotel we stopped for a few minutes and viewed Times Square. Our hotel was pretty much on the square where 42nd street meets Broadway. Here, countless monolithic advertisements for Coke, Budweiser, Mobile Phones etc all jostle brightly for attention from the crowds of gawking visitors. It wasn’t always this way though and traditionally a melting pot of debauchery, depravity and fun, Times Square was cleaned up in the 1990s and turned into a largely sanitized universe of popular consumption with refurbished theatres and blinking signage. It was very easy to understand all the worries about the recent car bomb here though – its an incredibly busy place…..

Posted by ludds 00:14 Comments (0)

Washington to New York.

Thursday 24th June, 2010.

On the road today we have hit 7 States – that’s the same as we have done through the two months that we traveled down the East coast and inland. Starting in Virginia, we crossed DC, through Maryland (where Milly wanted to buy cookies!), Pennsylvania (where Milly wanted to buy pencils!), Delaware (where Milly wanted to buy some plastic boxes!) and New Jersey ( a new jumper!) and through the tunnel into New York.

It was very exciting driving in with the amazing view of the skyscrapers ahead of us and then getting nearer and nearer…. Boy the traffic just got crazier and crazier as we got down town and it was completely mad as we got to Times Square and turned off to our hotel.

Ian has picked up an amazing deal at the Muse with a very trendy room and hey Mick – having seen so many Adams ‘things’ in Hawaii – Adams Real Estate, Adams Bank, Adams Peanut butter, Samuel Adams Beer, we looked out of the window to see a humungous sign saying “The Addams Family” (a new musical) – guess you got here first!!!!!!!! Can’t work out which one of you is the Uke player though!

Posted by ludds 04:13 Comments (0)

Washington D.C.

Wednesday 23rd June, 2010.

We got a relatively early night in last night which meant we were up and having breakfast at 6.15am ready for an action packed day in Washington. The hotel were offering a complimentary shuttle to the Pentagon which we took advantage of and caught the underground in from there. The Pentagon is huge! Very boring looking block of concrete though but I guess safe buildings are better than pretty ones for the military!

We started the day by heading over to 14th and C to get some free tickets for a tour of the Engraving and Printing Bureau. Having got these we then decided to check out the National Mall area:

The elegant, two-mile-long National Mall, stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and is DC’s most popular green space, using for summer softball games and concerts. Yet its central role in a planned capital city also places it at the very heart of the country’s political and social life. What the Mall is perhaps best known for, however, is its quartet of presidential monuments along with the White House and the powerful memorials to veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars and the World War II.

Starting at the Mall’s most prominent feature, the Washington Monument, is an unadorned marble obelisk built in memory of George Washington. At 555ft, it’s the tallest all-masonry structure in the world, towering over the city from its hilltop perch. There is an elevator that takes you to the top but we were too late to get the freebie tickets so couldn’t do that!

We walked down to the National World War II Memorial which opened in 2004 to much acclaim and the memorial stands as a moving statement of duty and sacrifice. Two arcs on each side of a central fountain have a combined total of 56 stone pillars (representing the number of US states and territories at the time of the war) that are decorated with bronze wreaths. In the middle of each arc stands a short tower, one called “Atlantic” and the other “Pacific” and within each tower are four interlinked bronze eagles and a sculptured wreath, which, despite its bulk, seems to float above you in mid-air. Beyond the carefully considered architecture and the FDR and Eisenhower quotes chiseled on the walls, a concave wall of 4000 golden stars reminds you of the 400,000 fallen US soldiers – a number matched only by the colossal carnage of the Civil War.

We stood at the end of the Tidal Basin, a huge expanse of water and looked over to the reflection of Lincoln Memorial – a very calming sight on a boiling hot day! We stopped for drinks half way down and watched the little red squirrels playing on the path and trees! And then stopped for more water at the Lincoln Memorial – boy what a hot day!

The Lincoln Memorial, remodeled after the Parthenon, with its stately Doric columns, anchors the west end of the Mall. As one of America’s most emblematic sights, the memorial is a fitting tribute to the 16th US president, who preserved the Union after Southern States seceded and took up arms during the Civil War and ended slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Although blacks were shamefully not allowed access to the site when it was dedicated in 1922, the memorial would later fulfill its appropriate role as an icon of liberty and peaceful protest. During the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his epic “I Have a Dream” speech here; the on-site protests against the Vietnam War in the 60s fueled the growing antiwar feeling in the country; and since then, all manner of activists, mourners, celebrants and zealots have given speeches here.

Inside the monument, an enormous, craggy likeness of Lincoln sits firmly grasping the arms of his throne-like chair, deep in thought. Inscriptions of his two most celebrated speeches – the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address are carved on the south and north walls.

Off next to the Korean War Veterans Memorial which has its centerpiece a Field of Remembrance, featuring 19 life-sized, armed combat troops sculptured from stainless steel. The troops advance across a triangular plot with alternating rows of stones and plant life and head toward the Stars and Stripes positioned at the vertex. A reflecting black granite wall, with the inspiration “Freedom is not free” and an etched mural, depicting military support crew and medical staff (including a dog?) flank the ensemble.

A striking wedge of black granite, slashed into the green lawn of the Mall serves as a somber and powerful reminder of the 58,000 US soldiers who died in Vietnam. The pathway that slopes down from the grass forms a gash in the earth, its increasing depth symbolizing the increasing involvement of US forces in the war. The polished surface is carved with the names of every soldier who died, in chronological order from 1959 to 1975 and we saw school parties there taking paper rubbings of the names of the departed.

Feeling a bit jaded and in need of water we decided to have a break on the way up to the White House and then to head either for an air conditioned museum or bus tour.

For nearly two hundred years, the White House has been the residence and office of the president of the United States. Standing at the edge of the Mall, this grand Neoclassical edifice was completed in 1800 by Irish immigrant James Hoban, who modeled it on the Georgian manors of Dublin. Apparently there are; 135 rooms, 28 fire places, 35 bathrooms, 3 escalators, a swimming pool and indoor bowling and each new President re-decorates and changes anything they wish!

As we walked up the grassy eclipse frontage to the road in front of the White House, the building looked really lovely. The grass was being watered which was an ideal way of keeping cool by running through it!!!

We crossed the road outside of the White House so that we could take a photo right up at the metal railings but a Police Man coming the other way told us the road was closed – we were a bit confused as there were other people further up the road but then we realized that they were coming our way – um what’s going on? We crossed back and as everyone went through the gate to the pavement, the Police Man closed the gate and stood by it. In the distance we could hear sirens. Earlier in the morning we had heard sirens too and realized that it must be a police convoy so we waited excitedly. Michael had after all said ‘say hello to Mr Obama’. We noticed that the road at both ends had been closed off too. The sirens got nearer and the gates to the right of us were opened as a group of 5 cars including 2 marked police cars came through and into the White House grounds. They pulled up outside the front door and The President got out – it was hugely exciting and another of our ‘wouldn’t it be great if we saw the President in person’ dreams were fulfilled!! Wow!!!!! Shame he didn’t come over and invite us for supper though! We noticed that on the roof there were three marksmen up there and wondered if they were keeping an eye on us watching them!!

A few minutes later we saw other people coming along the front of the building and it looked as if Mr. O. was with them too and noted that it looked as if something exciting was going on. Later in the news, The President was talking with the press about his acceptance of the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. So how exciting was all of that?

Feeling the need for a sit down! We head down past the Treasury to where the tour buses stop and bought on and off passes for the rest of the day. Jumping on board we headed up to the top – the kids wanted to sit at the very front but BIG mistake – there was no air coming over the screen and the sun was beating down on us so Milly and I went inside and Ed and Ian moved to the back for a much more enjoyable ride!

The tour was really good and took us to many places that we would not have got to otherwise. We saw St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Dupont Circle, Woodley Park where the zoo is, National Cathedral, Embassy Row, Arlington National Cemetery, The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Washington Monument again before getting off at the Smithsonian. The commentary was really interesting and gave us a real insight into Washington D.C.

We head for the National Museum of the American Indian to complete our history lessons about Native Americans. This is the newest of the Smithsonian Museums and is an unusual building with a curvaceous modern look with undulating walls the colour of yellow earth – designed to represent the natural American landscape plus a terraced façade and surrounding replica of forest and wetland landscapes. The museum is intended to recognize and honor the many tribes who occupied the continent before the arrival of white settlers in the 16th and 17th Century, including the Iroquois, Sioux, Navajo, Cherokee and countless others. The collection – which reaches back thousands of years and incorporates nearly a million objects from nations spread out from Canada to Mexico – features fascinating ceramics, textiles and other artifacts from civilizations such as the Olmec, Maya and Inca in addition to totem poles, kachina dolls, canoes and ceremonial masks, headdresses and outfits. It was very interesting. There were some good written information about situations that had happened to the Indian tribes where the Europeans had demanded that they move on – such a shame that the kids haven’t covered this element of history for their GCSEs but perhaps Milly might be able to – its absolutely fascinating and we feel that having been to some fifteen states on this trip the kids definitely have a real insight into the history as well as modern times of the United States of America.

I was busy reading some information with Milly when Ian tapped us on the back and said ‘come on, we have to go’. He head for the stairs so we followed and realized that they were evacuating the floor – but not the whole building? On our way out, Milly and I nipped to the loo (yes I know – too much information!) and Ian was looking at the emergency fire information in the foyer. The security guard came up and asked him what he was doing to which he explained that he had a passing interest of such things having set up the system at work – the security guard basically told him he wasn’t allowed to – it wasn’t for the public to look at! Even though it was a huge screen behind the reception desk – who knows what was going on? As we left a huge policeman came in with an even bigger dog!!

Next door was another museum that we had fancied and having got about an hour or so to spare we thought we would pop into to see ‘the apostles and landing on the moon’ that the lady in the hotel had advised us to see!!! Yes we think she meant the Apollos but didn’t have the heart to correct her as she was trying to be really helpful. Also she had just given us four free breakfast tokens for our stay!

The National Air and Space Museum is by far D.C.s most popular attraction, drawing nearly ten million people every year. The entry hall known as ‘Milestones of Flight’ is a huge atrium filled with all kinds of flying machines, rockets, satellites and assorted gizmos that are bolted to the floor, hung from the rafters and couched in cylindrical holes. Knowing we hadn’t much time, we made a beeline for “Apollo to the Moon”. The main gallery centres on the Apollo 11 (1969) and 17 (1972) missions, the first and last US flights to the moon. There are Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s spacesuits, a Lunar Roving Vehicle (basically a golf cart with a garden seat) Apollo 17’s flight-control deck, tools, navigation aids, space food, clothes and charts and an astronaut’s survival kit (complete with shark repellent!).

Back on the street, we made our way back to where we started the day and our tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This is the federal agency for designing and printing all US currency, government securities and postage stamps and it hosts some half a million visitors per day, all who will have got up early for their timed ticket that morning! US currency (the presses here crank out millions of dollars every day) has changed a lot since the Bureau was established in 1862; today it’s much more colorful and uses high-tech features – colour-changing inks, hidden security stamps, watermarks and microprinting to deter counterfeiters. Staff claim that the US dollar is the safest note and is unable to be copied… It was insightful! There were huge bundles of $100 dollar bills that totaled $30 million a bundle – coo wee!!!! And a height chart that you could measure yourself in $ 100 dollar notes – 233 notes to an inch. Milly clocked in at $1,444,600, I am $1,537,800, Ian is $ 1,584,400 and Ed reached the dizzy heights of $ 1,650,000 – just about the size of our overdraft by the time we are back!!!!

Feeling incredibly poor after seeing so much money, we put our credit cards back deep into our pockets and head off to the east end of the National Mall to the US Capitol. George Washington laid the building’s cornerstone in 1793 in a ceremony rich with Masonic symbolism and though the Capitol was torched by the Brits during the War of 1812, it was later rebuilt and repeatedly expanded over the ensuing centuries. Ten presidents – most recently Gerald Ford – have lain in state in the impressive Rotunda, which capped by a massive cast-iron dome 180 ft high and 96 ft across, links the two halves of the Capitol – the Senate in the north wing and the House Of Representatives in the south. We sat on the steps of the main building and watched activity around us – most people were obviously tourists taking their photos but there were tons of police and security guards hanging around.

From the Capitol we walked our weary legs over to the Union Station which when it was built was the largest Station in the world and admired the exquisite building. We checked out the Liberty Bell and the enormous monument built to the memory of Christopher Columbus who discovered America and called it the New World. He got there before Walter Raleigh – Ian believes that this was because he went by boat whereas Walter would have gone on his bike!!! Oh dear – I am coming home!!!

Having spent 14 hours pacing the streets of Washington, we got ourselves onto the bus and back to the hotel and off to bed exhausted!! Need to get up and off tomorrow as apparently it’s a 5 hour drive to New York – ugh, had planned to have the morning in Washington but not able to now – oh well, next time eh!!! Think we have done a pretty good job getting around all the sights though as well as the museums.

Posted by ludds 04:11 Comments (0)

Head in the clouds!

Tuesday 22nd June, 2010.

Our flight with Hawaiian Airlines went well with us all catching some sleep. I had insisted that as it was an overnight flight and we had further to go, that the screens were switched off and the reading lights and everyone should try and get some sleep – we all still felt yuk though when we arrived at Los Angeles Airport….

We then hung around the airport for 3 ½ hours having a bit of breakfast, reading and blogg catching up before boarding our American Airlines flight to Washington. As we got on board there was a real feeling of ‘will this plane get that far’ – It was ancient! It smelt! It felt dirty! Oh well, might just feel that way because we have just got off a brand new plane! It was a long flight across the country from one side to the other but it was a clear day so the scenery was really interesting below – I am sure we crossed death valley and also the canyons and then over lots of pasture land all carved up into squares and circles. It did give me a chance to plan out our time in Washington and New York as there is so much we want to do but so little time – this is the bonus bit of our trip which seemed unlikely when we stayed over on the West for so long… It has been really useful to have input from Karen/Ian, Phill/Belinda and Ian/Michelle with all their recommendations of places to go in New York – it was so funny getting their emails through as they all recommended exactly the same things!

Whilst Milly and Ian snoozed their way across America, Ed sat in the seat behind me giggling away at the movie – I couldn’t get into it! Mind you, couldn’t really see the old tv screens anyway. I did manage to catch an interview with Michele Obama talking about the President and family life in the White House which was very interesting. She explained that they were no different to many other working couples in America, facing very similar challenges – it’s just that they are in the limelight! She sounded really normal and practical! Let’s hope her inspirational outlook is taken on board by others eh…

Posted by ludds 04:08 Comments (0)

Up, up and away.....

Monday 21st June, 2010.

It was a very quiet morning as all the adults were nursing head aches for some reason! The boys managed their last surfing for a while – they have all enjoyed surfing in shorts and tops rather than full wet suits. I wonder if the Luddie boys will ever get boards out on the North Sea? Doubt it! The Adams’ packed and headed off for brunch popping back for a short time to say goodbyes. We on the other hand made the most of a last morning on the beach and a bit of snorkeling before packing – definitely wanted to make the last of our time here count. Ian had some computer time as a re-think was necessary for the Washington-New York journey as the train fares seem to have shot up! Should we catch the bus? In the end he settled for a one-way car hire which will give us a bit of flexibility in Washington too as we are staying 5 miles out of town!

Saying goodbye to the Adams’ was very sad but just like with the Browns (NZ), Wrights (NZ), and Phelans (Australia) we know we will see them again very soon – infact things are coming together very nicely there! The Sladens (Canada) arrive in the UK for 3 months a matter of days after us and the Wrights (NZ) arrive in July so looking forward to seeing them. Elaine is keeping us posted on her ‘special’ birthday celebrations so there’s another get together in the pipeline and Pauline has emailed to say she is in the UK next June so within a short time we will see everyone again – just need Michael to whisk Lizzie away for a UK break and that will make our friendships around the world complete! Our B&B is available at any time guys and we look forward to seeing you xx As for our wonderful UK friends who we have met up with, I am sure it wont be long til we see you all – with a good old British summer on its way, let’s get the barbeque going!

We took the long way back to the airport, traveling around the north and then down the east coast which was nice to have time to explore. The beaches all around the Island are gorgeous but the sea definitely had a much greater swell on the north side. In winter they get up to 40 feet and the pipeline is very popular with competitive surfers looking for the best waves. Through the middle run huge volcanic mountains. Compared to the ‘big island’ though the scenery is very different - this is a much older island and has lots of greenery covering the lava tubes. Some areas looked really tatty sadly. We passed a beautiful bay with island in the bay (Kualoa Ranch and Mokilu Island) both of which were really beautiful and lush – tropical… This is where Jurassic Park, Godzilla and Pearl Harbour were filmed as well as the TV programme ‘Lost’.

The contrast of the upper and lower parts of the island couldn’t be greater. As we approached Honolulu the roads were extremely busy and several lanes wide. We headed down to the coast and looked around the various piers stopping at the Aloha tower for supper at the Gordon Beerish Brewery whilst watching the sun go down – not nearly as nice as the last week!

Arriving at the airport, we thought we had enough time to wave goodbye to Michael and Co so checked which gate they were flying out of – they were at one end of the airport and we were at the other! We got the bus to our gate and then checked the map to see whether it was walkable? Not really and anyway, we have gone through check-in and passport control etc really nicely today but oh no, where’s Ian’s spare bag????

So Milly and Ian re-traced their steps to find it right back at the x-ray machines!! What is he like????

Posted by ludds 04:07 Comments (0)

The Artis Family.

Sunday 20th June, 2010.

Happy Father’s Day!!!

We woke up this morning and not only thought that it was our last full day here on Oahu but we only have six days left of our amazing adventure…

The boys were up and out long before us girls had ventured into the land of the living! and George and Ed had been surfing with their dads – what a wonderful way to start your Father’s Day eh. When they came back Milly and Ed gave Ian their pressies – more t.shirts to add to the collection and homemade cards even though we had said that his Ukulele was for Father’s day! With George and Mick around who are both incredibly musical the Uke has definitely been used and they have worked out the cord patterns for Ian for ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ in reggae style who is really getting it together now – watch out Phill, he will be wanting to join your band next!

We head into Haleiwa for a late breakfast with the two dads – we had promised the kids that we would eat out tonight but to their disappointment we have changed our minds! There is no restaurant that will compare with the fantastic view of the sun setting that we have and the amazing food we have been enjoying! Its all worked so well with everyone just getting up and making supper or washing up etc – there have been no long discussions about food purchases – just lots of tacit taking in turns between Luddies and Adams.

We split up after breakfast and went in our own directions. We visited the Haleiwa museum with a little old guy running the show. We got chatting to him and worked out that he had been stationed in the forces as a hurrican hunter on Bermuda when granny was there on holiday all those years ago! Shame she didn’t meet him as that would have been an amazing experience after her role as a meteorologist in the Wrens. He was 74 years old and still went out on his surf board every day! Having said that he told us he preferred it in the winter when the waves are enormous – Ian and Ed pulled faces, they thought the swell was big enough now!!! Not sure I could cope watching them in the huge Hawaiian waves – 4 storeys high that happen!

We went over to enjoy some smoothies when Mick came over and said to get over to the Surf Museum where the band were playing. We had checked this out the other day but it was the base ball finals so all was quiet so we jumped at the chance of listening to the Artis Family Band in action having chatted to Stefan as we found them entirely intriguing. They seem to live and work out of a wooden building about the size of our studio with a counter across one side to sell their music and on the other side a whole range of instruments – guitars, drums, keyboards and so on. We talked with Stefan who said that his dad Ron moved them from performing on one instrument to another to help them learn how to play a range of music and instruments. His mother and grandmother were both called Helen and he was clearly very proud of them both. We talked about our adventure and he was very interested in Ed and Milly’s home schooling – turns out that Dad and Mum teach him and his siblings – they have eleven kids – wow!!!

Ron Artis is a United States of America Disabled Veteran and has the view that his family will always serve God and Country with all their love, loyalty, strength and honor. On his website he explains that he is a world class artist who is always coming up with a new way to artistically express himself - painter,author,composer, teacher,preacher, Husband and Father – sounds like a real Luddie eh!.

Ron's life is full and rich with artistic concepts that he shares with the world such as murals aboard Billion Dollar Submarines and Ships for the U.S. Navy, Portraits for the Rich and Famous, Composing Music with Michael Jackson and other top recording artists, Music Director and Composer for HBO and Films, Ron Artis Studio Gallery of Beverly Hills and now Ron Artis of Hawaii. A strongly religious man he says “I have dedicated my entire life to the arts, hoping to help people to stay with God and understand His love for us” and on the concept of home schooling believes; "Build strong families and help restore the goodness in the world. Don't let your children fall into darkness. Teach the talented ones to stay with God and use their gifts to bring people together in love, not hate.With MP3s, CD Burners, Recordable DVDs, and other wonderful tools,our talented children can now share their gifts with the entire world. Godhas made it easy for us. We just have to do our part. Share the Love”. Now there are some interesting feelings in there….

Meanwhile, we have been advised that our application for Milly’s school has been declined so we are going to have to go to appeal – she has learned so much from our adventure though that it is questionable what the best thing is for her?

The band played wonderful music – all in sync with each other and dad on the drums also doing lots of chat about his family – he is such a proud man! We listened throughout their whole set. Apparently they play a set 5 times a day around their schooling! With all that practice its no wonder they play so amazingly. We bought one of their cds with a selection of different types of music on it as a momento of our time in Hawaii.

We then looked around the garden where there were lots of painted surf boards which Ron had created and were lovely along with other creative items including a very jazzy VW and other items. Hey a very interesting morning…..

Back at the house, it’s our last night with the Adam’s family. We have had such an amazing time and are so pleased that Ian got in touch with Michael when we knew we would have our adventure. Everyone has got on so well and it’s weird how similar we all are. George and Ed almost look alike and have similar personalities and as for the girls, well anyone who can spend an evening showing Milly how to put on make up with no where to go to, what can I say!!! Mi.Mi and Milly (both Amelia’s) have loved each other’s company, chatting, watching tv, making jewellery, playing ball and swimming together in the sea – its been lovely to watch. Lizzie and I had very similar view points in life and she too is really creative and we shared some very interesting stories about our mothers who were so alike we could each have been chatting about the same person! How weird is that. Finally Ian and Mick – well you would not believe that 20 years have gone by! It’s such a shame that there are some 5,000 or so miles between Capitola and home but I am very very sure that it will not be long before they see each other again.

A brilliant evening was spent with far too much wine and loud singing and Uke playing on the beach – hope the locals had gone out for the evening!!!!!

Posted by ludds 04:03 Comments (0)

The Rainbow State.....

Saturday 19th June, 2010.

Our day started with a beautiful rainbow across the bay to look at offer coffee! I have lost count over how many beautiful rainbows we have seen here on Oahu – the weather is so lovely and sunny but there is moisture in the air which creates the rainbows.

A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines onto droplets of moisture in the Earth's atmosphere. They take the form of a multicoloured arc, with red on the outer part of the arch and violet on the inner section of the arch.

A rainbow spans a continuous spectrum of colours; the distinct bands are an artifact of human colour vision. The sequence of colours, is Newton's sevenfold: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Although that’s not how the song goes? Rainbows can be caused by other forms of water than rain, including mist, spray, and dew.
Rainbows can be observed whenever there are water drops in the air and sunlight shining from behind at a low altitude angle. The most spectacular rainbow displays happen when half of the sky is still dark with raining clouds and the observer is at a spot with clear sky in the direction of the Sun. The result is a luminous rainbow that contrasts with the darkened background.

It is difficult to photograph the complete semicircle of a rainbow in one frame, as this would require an angle of view of 84°.

At good visibility conditions (for example, a dark cloud behind the rainbow), the second arc can be seen, with inverse order of colours. At the background of the blue sky, the second arc is barely visible.

Our rainbow seemed to last forever. With one end reaching into the sea and the other on the beach, we did try to encourage the kids to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but they just wouldn’t go!!! Apparently though rainbows are actually circular we just see them on land as a double rainbow but from an airplane it’s a different story as they are a big circle – now that would be something amazing to see.

As it got hot in the afternoon we decided to pop into Haleiwa for a nice chilled ginger and honey drink that Mick had discovered yesterday. As yet we had not really explored the little town so today was the day!!! We drove passed the surf board hiring shops and the little market and then pulled in to the little square of shops. There were a few bars, a couple of real estates and most of the rest of the shops were selling local jewellery and artwork.

Other Hawaiian artistic traditions are alive and well, thanks in large part to respected artisans from varying backgrounds with last names such as Gomes, McDonald and Omura. By studying the techniques of the pre-European Hawaiians who, calling on nature for their inspiration, fashioned wood, bone, plants, flowers, shells, stones and fibers into artifacts which are now considered world-class in their refined beauty, today’s gifted Islanders are bringing back these arts with their true spirit, or mana.

Some of the traditional treasures that are available from locals include hula instruments such as ipu gourds; woven lauhala mats and baskets; and various sculptures and woodcrafts such as Hawaiian calabashes, which are exquisitely-made bowls that were once used in daily life.

Another cultural treasure which is a piece of Hawaii visitors can take home with them are the hand-made quilts, or kapa lau, which Island women have been fashioning for over 150 years. Said to have been first introduced by American missionary women, Hawaiians quickly employed their own techniques, adapting their basic knowledge of using the olona fiber as thread in attaching traditional kapa barkcloth to the new activity.

Legendary for the love and craftsmanship put into them, each quilt pattern is given a name by the maker, who is readily identifiable by her trademark design. These modern heirlooms are said to tell stories and hold hidden meanings.

Probably no symbol of Hawaiian artistry is as readily identifiable – and loved – as the lei. Used to mark special arrivals, departures, occasions and achievements, the lei arrived with Hawaii’s first inhabitants and continues to have special significance for both locals and visitors. Reflecting Hawaii’s eclectic nature, lei come in many colors, materials and designs. Lei can be made of fragrant blossoms, leaves, vines, seeds, feathers and shells.

In fact, each island has its traditional favorite, which is associated with her people. For example, Oahu is known for leis made of the orange ‘ilima; Hawaii’s Big Island for red lehua; Maui for the pink lokelani; and Ni‘ihau not for flower lei at all, but ones made of tiny shells.

Milly and I really enjoyed looking at all the different creative pieces and photographed some of the ideas to develop ourselves for this years Christmas pressies! We discovered where Lizzie had gained her inspiration from – she has been so busy all week (with Milly and Ed joining her from time to time) making little pieces of jewellery out of sea glass. She made me a lovely piece that I will treasure forever and so did Milly – lucky me eh! We lost the boys but later caught up with them to find that a realtor had been trying to encourage them to buy a property here! Um, not exactly a quick flight for the weekend is it?

Posted by ludds 04:00 Comments (0)

Waikiki Beach.

Friday 18th June, 2010.

The boys went off surfing first thing and then we all grouped up for a big breakfast on their return. It really feels as if we are on holiday now – lots of lazing around, reading books and computer time! With only one week until we return, have now switched off a bit from work and not checking all the emails every day – could regret this though as there are bound to be 100s of emails when I go back on!!

In the afternoon, we decided to check out Waikiki Beach in Honolulu – the big famous beach. The drive was about 45 minutes to the south of the island and we checked out Pearl Harbour on route – huge war ships lined the bay and it makes you realize why the Japanese saw that as a good target during the war to stop America, however all they did was ‘wake the sleeping giant’ and look what happened next!

Waikiki beach is huge with several life guards watching the waters and surrounded by the huge tower block hotels that we saw from the plane. Two television programmes from our younger days came to mind – good old Magnum P.I. and Hawaii 5-0 as as we saw a cop car we wanted to shout out ‘book him Danno’!!! Those were the days of good television – might have to see if we can get some dvds of those programmes! The bright flowery shirts of Tom Selek as Magnum and his mate Higgins still remain though and instead of a Ferrari we had a red ford to get the surf boards on top – How come Magnum never surfed though?

The beach was absolutely packed and certainly made us realize how lucky we were with our gorgeous beach house and little private beach with only an occasional visitor, most of which were huge turtles. Out on the sea the waters were full with snorkellers, swimmers, boogie boards and surfers – it was absolutely crazy and looked like a real recipe for disaster. There weren’t many waves so of course everyone was going for a wave when it came – at one point I counted 12 surfers on a wave which is bonkers and then people swimming through the waves too. As we walked away we could hear the sirens of ambulances – not surprised!

We just missed the sun set on our return but Lizzie had made some yummy supper and Mick had opened the bottle of wine so we had some cancellation! Another night chatting under the stars too – now this is the life!

As the sun sets and even before it goes dark the bright light of Venus is shining. It is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows. Because Venus is an inferior planet from Earth, it never appears to venture far from the Sun: its elongation reaches a maximum of 47.8°. Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it is often called the Morning Star or the Evening Star. It has been really noticeable that Venus appears and sets in the same place each evening with the gemini twins just beneath and to the right whereas the moon appears in a different place each evening as it moves at a different speed around the earth.

Classified as a terrestrial planet, Venus is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because they are similar in size, gravity, and bulk composition.

The Solar System consists of the Sun and those celestial objects bound to it by gravity, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. Of the retinue of objects that orbit the Sun, most of the mass is contained within eight relatively solitary planets whose orbits are almost circular and lie within a nearly flat disc called the ecliptic plane. The four smaller inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, also called the terrestrial planets, are primarily composed of rock and metal. The four outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, also called the gas giants, are composed largely of hydrogen and helium and are far more massive than the terrestrials. Hey this solar stuff is well interesting!!!! Having bought Ian a telescope years ago, it will definitely come out of its box again on our return…..

Posted by ludds 03:58 Comments (0)

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