Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A fitting end.

Well folks the human contingent of the mighty Patou herd has returned to the motherland having had a thoroughly splendid, if too short, trip to Australia. 18 days have flown by and when we get over the 'what the hells going on, jet lag' we will look back on a terrific holiday.

We started in Sydney for two nights, (where we could have stayed a week, at least) before heading off down the beautiful south east coast towards Melbourne. Three nights in Jervis Bay (where we could have stayed a week, at least) and then on to Eden for three nights and two fantastic days of whale watching, (again where we could have stayed a week, at least). We then had a brief one night stopover at Lakes Entrance (where all the worlds mosquitos were on holiday, in the woods, where our cottage was situated!) before a couple of nights in Melbourne.
Melbourne is a nice city but we had itchy feet there as we looked forward to flying across the Bass Straights to Hey Headquarters on Tasmania. We only had a three night stay with Bob and Diane (we could have stayed a week, at least) but it was lovely. We were treated like royalty and the home cooked roast chicken dinner on arrival was the meal of the trip, just what was required. Thank you Diane! It was good to catch up with Ben too and great to to be shown round the estate, especially the late night possum hunting! (no guns involved folks just watching).
As this is essentially an alpaca blog I ought to mention the alpacas and what alpacas they were! We were particularly impressed with three young boys two of whom had recently won championship ribbons. A young brown boy named Cory (officially I think there is a Q in his name) and a grey male called Storm looked fantastic. Fleeced (2nd) between 15 and 17 microns and with tremendous coverage they really looked the part and if I could have stuff-packed them into my bag I would have done. Bob and Diane have been breeding alpacas for a long time and know a thing or two about them so I wouldn't have expected anything less!
Above, Cory (or Quorry?), Storm and Inti at home at Van Diemen Alpacas.

Ben, Cory, Diane, Storm and Bob and a shed!

And to prove that we were there Angus and I miraculoulsy rise from the long grass. Sue was on camera duties!
We were also taken to a superb Wildlife park where the requisite photographs of the local wildlife could be canned. Here, after wrestling it to the floor, Angus poses with a Kangaroo.
It was sad to leave Australia and sad for the holiday to come to an end but also nice to get home and see our own little wildlife park. The kittens have seemingly grown into cats, the mad labs are still mad and the alpacas look in fine fettle. The chickens however, seem to have gone completely doollally and have started 'oven-readying' themselves. Further investigations will take place this morning!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Alpaca shots as requested

I mentioned in an earlier blog that this Australia trip was truly a trip of a lifetime and was only possible with the help of others. Australia is massive and we have only visited a small part of it.
Part of the brief when we were planning the holiday was to see how the Australian Alpaca industry was doing and how the quality differed, if at all, from the best alpacas in the UK.
As as result from landing we have been scouring the countryside for sightings of Australian alpacas. Here are our initial findings.

These two brown alpacas we saw on a rocky harbour wall at a place called Eden. As you can see they have recently been sheared and conformationally leave a little to be desired. Their legs are far too short, their necks are too short and their ears are just so wrong. I don't think these would get anywhere near a showring and certainly shouldn't be used as breeding animals. I made sure I told the captain of the boat that before the trip was over. I also pointed out to him that they were trifle overweight.....he didn't like that but what can you do? You have to call it as you see it.

This next alpaca is a dwarf pygmy midget alpaca that we saw at a place called Tura beach. The little thing was actually able to fly and was still fully fleeced in magnificent green and red. Some sort of fancy I suppose? Again conformation was a massive problem for me. I pointed out the conformational defects to the owner of the property that the tiny alpaca was living on and she looked at me as if I was mad. I didn't press the matter and left her shouting something at me as I walked away. These Australian alpaca owners are very very touchy about their animals!

This next little female was in a large herd of about 50 alpacas off the coast of Jervis Bay. The whole herd had been very recently sheared, a bit too closely for my liking there was hardly any fleece left on any of them. Again (I'm afraid it is a common theme when talking about the australian alpaca scene) I had to comment on the terrible conformation. This poor female, like most in the herd had some sort of abnormal back line. Almost looked like some sort of distorted hump. It was difficult to make an informed comment on the fleece as there was none to be seen. Once again when I gave my opinion to the apparent owner all I got was a stare and a "You're off you're rocker mate", they just can't take an 'outsider making negative comments.
So there we have it for this installment. Not very serious I know but a serious point to be made. This trip of a lifetime is a family holiday and as a result the most important decisions have been made with the whole family in mind. We have seen alpacas in fields as we have driven past and sure at another time I would love to get stuck in and have a good look at what is in Australia.
However, the family always comes first, besides we have been having so much fun we literally couldn't have squeezed any alpaca farm visits in anyway. C'est la vie. We'll see some beauties in Tasmania tomorrow. No doubt about that!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A whale!

Ok, I can't help it just look at this big boy. About 7 miles off the coast of a on old whaling station called Eden in New South Wales I was on a whale spotting vessel when this 40 foot Humpback Whale 'breached' right in front of the boat. Luckily I was ready with the camera and got a half decent shot.

Alright it's not an alpaca but look at this whale, what a beauty!

Wow....where to start!

Hello everyone! We have been internet free for the past eight days and to be honest we have been having too much fun to give two hoots!

We are now in Melbourne for a couple of days prior to hopping across to Tasmania.

Two things have struck me since I have been in Australia which I hadn't full grasped, firstly, Australia is a bloody long way from anywhere and anywhere in Australia is a bloody long way from anywhere else in Australia!
Secondly, why on earth would anyone born and raised here ever want to leave! It is a truly amazing country! What is wrong with you overseas Aussies? Why did you leave and why haven't you come back?

As you may gather we are having an extraordinarily good time. I have so much to write and so many photographs (on one whale watching trip I took 278 pictures.......I know but it was AWESOME!)

First up was Sydney and our apartment was fanbloodytastic! Sue had carefully selected it but it exceeded our expectations.

From our veranda we looked out onto not only the Opera house but also the bridge! Needless to say we photographed them both from every possible angle and in every possible light.

I am tempted to carry on writing about the trip but Sue is prowling and Angus wants to go for a swim so for now, thats your lot!

I will be posting again soon

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Getting ready for the big trip!

Well folks we have almost come to the time when the management (me, Sue and Angus) of the Mighty Patou herd must head south to the land of Oz.

On Saturday night we will board a British Airways Jumbo jet bound for Sydney. We have never been before and bloody hell it's a long way. We don't get there until breakfast time on Monday!
I know they are 9 hours ahead, but even so it's like it's on the other side of the world!

Early on we had to decide whether this trip was going to be a holiday or an alpaca trip. The vote came out in favour of a holiday. I am sneakily trying to squeeze in a visit to at least one alpaca farm on the way............... "well we go right past it dear "......... that sort of thing.

The trip is a holiday of a lifetime for us and it is a trip that we have to thank others for. My father in particular coughed up about 50 million Airmiles to get us flying Club class both ways. Club class folks, with a bed and everything! Not to mention all the free food and drink. Fill your boots time I believe!
The problem is we will no doubt never want to travel any other way in the future. Mum and Dad are also moving into Patou HQ while we are away to look after the alpacas, mad labs, kittens and choocks.

From the flights onwards we have to thank alpacas for everything. The accommodation, car hire and spending money is all down to the lovely fluffy pacaroonios. Results of a good year for us.

Anyway we have a couple of nights in Sydney then a weeks whale watching and flapping around in the sea split between Jervis Bay and Eden. A quick drive round the bottom right hand corner of Australia and we are then in to Melbourne for a couple of nights.

Then we board another plane to cross the Tasman Sea to the land of Tasmania. I expect by then that we will be speaking fluent Oz so hopefully we will be able to converse with the natives without too much difficulty.

Tasmania is the homeland of the Earl of Inca and we will be staying with Tim's parents on their alpaca farm. We are looking forward to seeing them again.

I will be taking the laptop and the camera and hopefully if the Aussies have electricity we should be able to power up and blog from down under! I am assured that my laptop will be able to 'hook up' to wi-fi sites easily. Yeah, well I've heard that sort of guff before. Nothing involving computers is ever easy, especially for a technophobic numpty like me, let alone on the road and on the other side of the world!

So hopefully folks if you are interested you will be able to follow our progress around a small part of a big country a long way away. If it doesn't work? Well then the blog will be silent until the end of October.

All very quiet on the alpaca front here so nothing to report, it's raining which seems like a new experience down here!

I may post before we leave but if not you may be hearing from this Dag faced Dingo's donger when we land down under!