Please note: you can find a more up to date version of this blog at http://blog.neilennis.com

Monday, December 31, 2007

What a great year!



2007 has been a fantastic year for our family.

As I sat up on the deck this afternoon, drinking some whisky and watching the last afternoon of the year, I thought about how lucky we are.

I'm married to the most amazing woman in the world, and between us, we have 10 wonderful kids who we like being around.

I work with some brilliant people. I work with some fantastic guys, and we all enjoy what we do.

It's great to be alive.

To everyone who takes the time to read this - family, friends, partners, clients... thanks so much for helping to make this year a memorable one.

I hope you and your family have a safe, enjoyable, and prosperous 2008!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Carols, Sydney Style

I was waiting for a flight at Sydney Airport this morning when a spotted a Turkey and a Christmas pudding playing Christmas Carols.

Well, to be more accurate, a couple of musicians dressed up as Christmas Dinner.

They were fantastic, and I managed to capture them quickly on my mobile phone so you could enjoy them too.

Sorry about all my laughing in the background. These guys had me in stitches and it took all my effort to hold the camera relatively still. The Turkey has excellent sax style, and that Pud makes a great clown.

If anyone knows who they really are, please let me know and I'll give them the credit they deserve.

Update 26 December 2007. These guys are from Wacky Entertainment (http://www.wacky.com.au/). The Turkey's name is Tom Bastian, and the Pudding's name is Adam Arnold. They've got some great footage on their website if you want to see more. How good would it be to get these guys at your office Xmas party?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fun with Glowsticks at Christmas

Christmas Glowstick Fun #1 Christmas Glowstick Fun #2 Christmas Glowstick Fun #3 Christmas Glowstick Fun #4
Tonight we gave the kids some glowsticks, turned on the christmas lights, got out the camera, and, like magic, these fearsome aliens appeared!

Friday, December 14, 2007

An Oriana Original

















My Dad, Bruce, was a crew member on the maiden voyage of the original SS Oriana in December 1960.

She held the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a P&O Ocean Liner, earning her the "Golden Cockerel" trophy.

When I turned up in 1962, Dad had to quit his life on the sea, and start life as a young father.

SS Oriana sailed her last voyage in 1986, and was eventually replaced by MV Oriana in 1995.

MV Oriana is visiting Brisbane in February 2008, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to check her out with Dad, and Mum, and my brother Kevin.
We're going on a pretty short cruise from Brisbane to Sydney. I don't really care where she goes, whether it rains, or how rough it is. For me, the fun thing will be experiencing Oriana with Dad, Mum and Kev.
The last time I was on a ship with Mum and Dad was in 1965. So that's a long time between drinks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lean on Me

Why am I uploading this? I must be crazy.

Here's a copy of a video that my mate, Simon, took of me singing at the "Pop Stars" Karaoke competion aboard Pacific Star last October.

Simon moves the camera around alot, and even turns it on its side, so the editing was a bit of an ordeal, and I made a massive blooper in the first line of the song. But apart from that it was a hoot.

Thanks, Simon, for doing the recording for me.

Would I do it again? Maybe!


video

Sunday, December 09, 2007

We love Andy


We love Andy #4
Originally uploaded by MagicTyger

We had a great time when we visited the Gallery of Modern to see the Andy Warhol exhibition.

This set of photos was taken in a booth they had at the exhibtion.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fleeting glimpses of childhood

A fleeting moment

I spent most of my Sunday playing around on my computer.

It was almost over when I came to my senses and asked the kids of they'd like to go for a walk to the creek.

It was great watching them splash around in the water and listen to their impish laughter.

How beautiful to be there.

How sad that childhood quickly passes.

Please may I have more afternoons like this!

Click here to see the complete set of photos.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lachlans Senior Formal






That's my boy, and I'm proud of him :)

The Immaculate Fantasies of Belladonna


The War on Junk Mail

That's my daughter and I'm proud of her :) (Click on the link above to read her article).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lazing on a Saturday Afternoon

Wine and cheese

Saturday afternoon was magic. I wished it would never end. Here's a few photos we took while having a very relaxing afternoon out on our deck.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sun Princess in drydock at Brisbane

Sun Princess
After we arrived back at Portside in Brisbane, we had a great view of Sun Princess in the drydock on the opposite side of the river.

Unfortunately I was sound asleep when we sailed past her before sunrise, so this was as close as I got.

The pilot arrives to bring us home

Pilot boat meets ship
Most large ships must not enter a port until a locally authorized pilot joins the ship to guide her in. The pilot's knowledge of the local conditions is essential.

This is an amazing event to watch, especially at night. The ship is travelling at about 18 knots (33 km/h) and the pilot boat pulls alongside. The pilot jumps from one vessel to the other - in the middle of the night, about 20 miles out to sea - pretty amazing.

It's pretty sad too, as we realize that the end of our cruise is getting closer.

P.S. I was really happy with this photo that I took with our new Canon EOS 400D, and the 150mm portrait lens. I used the portrait lens because it's exceptionally quick, and doesn't need much exposure time - so you don't get any blurring, even at night, without a flash - like with this photo. Downside of the portrait lens is that it's very narrow angle, but it worked here.

Midnight Drinks

Last night drinks
Around midnight on the last night of the cruise, you can see the coastal lights of the sunshine coast. It's a sad moment as you see the lights grow rapidly brighter by the second, and realize the cruise is almost over, and reality is rushing back to you.

Isaac and Anya joined us on deck to watch the lights, and wait for the pilot boat to meet us.

Poptart?

Poptart?
On the last night of the cruise, I took a deep breath, and signed up for the "Pop Star" contest. It was a hoot. A bit nerve wracking at first, but I just pretended I was a pro, and gave it everything. I missed a few notes, but had a great time.

I sang "Lean on me", and tried to make it a bit physical by incorporating a few simple movements. Choreography and singing is all double dutch to me, but it seemed to work, and the audience enjoyed it.

Congratulations to Sven, and his team of groupies, who won the comp.

Whisky on the stern

Whisky on the stern

For the last sunset of the cruise, Dad and I went out the back of the ship and shared a couple of whiskys. There's something special about that last sunset - you don't want to waste a second of it - watching the water rush by and knowing that tomorrow you'll be back on dry land again.

Kid's club concert

Kids Club Concert, Pacific Star
On our last day of the cruise, Lilly was in a concert performed by the kids club.

The staff at "Turtle Cove" and "Shark Shack" are lovely.

Here's Lilly struttin' her stuff at the concert.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bruce meets the designated driver

Captain Draper was very keen to meet Dad / Bruce when he found out he'd worked on the
original Oriana.

The captain invited us to a special cocktail party and reserved a table for us right at the front.

Bruce couldn't beleive his eyes when he saw all the free grog that the captain laid on for us.

Captain Tony Draper is a lovely man, and very hospitable. We really have enjoyed our time
under his care.

Oh - by the way, I succumbed to temptation and sang at the Karaoke Bar. Unfortunately, they
have now signed me up to perform in the "Pop Stars" competition, so I have to sing in front of the
whole cruise in the Show Lounge on Friday night.

Hmmmmm - I wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew????

More news tomorrow.

P.S. It's Thursday already and we all don't want this week to end.

Lilly kicks back with some girlfriends.

Lilly seems to make friends pretty easily. She's having fun here in the spa with some new friends.

Snorkelling in the pool

Who else but Harrison would think of snorkelling in the pool on the back deck of the ship?

Kid Soup

The pool on the back deck of the ship has a problem with child infestation.

Thank you mister security guard!

Lilly lost her bracelet in the pool. She insisted we tell a security guard, who took her name, and
cabin number. A few hours later, the bracelet turned up in her room with a nice letter. So Lilly just
had to send a thankyou note. Click on the image to enlarge it and read the exchange. Very cute!

Star Chef

I'm a legend in my own mind. I got to don a chef's cap in the galley. The cap was signed by the
executive chef, Eduardo.

Galley Tour

If you ever get a chance to tour the Galley of a cruise ship, make sure you take advantage of it!

I think Bruce is getting a bit mesmerized by all the food that's available!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A magical waiter

We have the same waiter at dinner every night.

He's very skilled, and does magic tricks for us as well.

His name is Christian and he's from the Phillipines.

He's looking after us really well and keeping us all amused.

I think Dad is trying to figure out the secret behind the trick.

Bye, Vila!

We loved the sail out of Vila.

We all sat up on the back deck, sipped on our cocktails and watched the sun go down.

It doesn't get much better than this.

A beer at Irririki

We had a really relaxing lunch by the water at Irririki Resort.

I think the local "Tusker" beer is Liz's favourite.

Lilly makes friends

Lilly had a lot of fun swinging in the trees with this new friend she made in Ekasup.

Tie me kangaroo down, wantok.

When we arrived at Vila this morning, the local band let Harrison play along while they played "Tie
me kangaroo down sport" on their inimitable island-style instruments.

Lots of fun.

A Vila Welcome

The sun shone in Vila today after 3 days of rain!

We visited Ekasup Village and were really impressed (scared) when we got ambushed by some
intimidating looking tribesmen from the village.

What an amazing experience.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bobbing about like a cork

Lilly looks on as one of the ships tenders ferries people back and forth to Lifou. To get ashore, we
all had to go down to a lower deck and hop into one of these tenders as it bobbed about next to the
ship. Each tender can hold about 100 people.

More pictures from Vila tomorrow.

Stay tuned!!!

Ahhhhh! For a hard earned thirst.

Coconut milk tastes great straight out of the nut. And afterwards you can chop the coconut up and
eat it :)

The Secret Grotto and Forest Tour

One of the ladies from Lifou took us for a tour of the forest, and of a secret cave.

In the forest there are lots of different plants that have wonderful medicinal properties. Some of them
are secrets that are handed down from generation to generation. Others are shared freely with
outsiders.

Hair braiding

The ladies of Lifou love braiding your hair and will do a great job for only $AUD 15.

Emma and Lilly both got their hair braided.

Quack!

Great weather for ducks.

A deluge of antideluvian proportions descended upon Lifou this morning as we disembarked.

We were all soaked.

But the locals made sure we had a good time!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cabin art

Our cabin stewards are repressed artists.

So they can't help themselves, and make these amazing sculptures out of towels for our
enjoyment.

We wish we could take one home with us, but I don't think we could get him through customs.

Tomorrow we're looking forward to Lifou, an unspoilt, tranquil, tropical island. Let's hope the rain
clears tonight!

More news tomorrow.

Neil

Whew!

Neil looks releived that Liz has recovered from her seasickness. Gee she looks good :)

Happy anniversary!

Today is Mark and Emma's first wedding anniversary.

The cabion stewards covered their stateroom door with balloons, while the waiters sang to them at
dinner tonight.

A place of our own

I think we'll leave the kids in the kids club, and settle down here. What do you think, Lizzie?

A tin bull

Harrison and Lilly thought this bull, made out of corned beef tins, was pretty impressive.

We discovered it at the Tjibaou cultural centre in Noumea.

Bonjour!

We received a wonderful welcome when we arrived in Noumea this afternoon.

Liz and Emma both had anti-seasickness injections, and were feeling alot better, which made the
tours of Noumea much more enjoyable.

In case you're wondering, the injections started working after about 30 minutes. They lasted 8
hours, but the doctor gave Liz some tablets to take as well. The total cost is about $90 which we
can claim on travel insurance.

We love kids club

One of the cool things about cruising is the kids club. Lilly loves kids club and so do we. She has
fun there during the day while we can go off and have fun ourselves :)

Isn't the face paint cute!

Do I look bald in this?

That wind would almost blow your hair off!

"Blow cruel winds"

It's howling a gale up on the top deck.

Harrison and Lilly woke up really early, so Dad took them up on deck while Liz and I slept in.
They thought it was great that the wind was almost blowing them over.

Both Liz and Emma are still feeling seasick. Emma's going to get a seasickness injection this
morning, which is supposed to work wonders.

Liz is comparing it to pregnancy: "You only remember the good bits". I think I might try and
convince her to get the injection too.

We get inside the New Caledonia reef in about 5 hours time - so the big waves should abate
then.

Dad and I almost won a "name that tune" competition in the Piano Bar last night.

And I almost sang at the Karaoke bar. Maybe next time :)

More photos and news soon!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Looking back

Here's the view over the stern looking back west towards Australia.

We're midway between Brisbane and Noumea - about 400 nautical miles from either city. We arrive
tomorrow afternoon.

I love watching the wash behind us!

Any port in a storm

The library is a great place to sit and watch the world go by as the winds rage outside.

Half way to Noumea

A few of our group are feeling a bit seasick. Emma and Mark were a feeling green this morning,
and Lilly had to come out of Kids Club early because she was crook.

Liz has been in bed most of the afternoon.

Dad and I spent the afternoon at the winetasting.

Here's a shot of the waves breaking over the bow as we head into 30 to 40 knot winds!