Category Archives: Travel

Kingscliff Short Break

Hugo Lattimore splashing his feet in the water at Kingscliff beachClaire, Hugo and I recently had a weekend escape to Kingscliff on the Tweed Coast in Northern New South Wales. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to get to Salt Village from the Gold Coast. Claire and I had been to Salt Village outside Kingscliff previously, however it’d been quite some time ago. We figured we could find our way there by nose, which mostly worked but we weren’t sure which road to take out of Kingscliff to get back to Salt Village.

We were booked into stay at Mantra on Salt Beach, one of three accommodation options available at Salt Village – the other two being Peppers Salt Resort & Spa and Peppers Bale Salt. When we arrived at the reception, we were also greeted by a friendly porter. I don’t recall a porter when we stayed at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa last time, however it was great to have one available at Mantra on Salt Beach on this stay. The best thing was he took care of the luggage, which meant it was no hassle for Claire & Hugo. The other benefit I liked was he was able to direct me where to park in the secure underground car park to be close to the lifts that were servicing the section of Mantra on Salt Beach we’d be staying in – nothing worst than going up a lift into the wrong section of a building.

Hugo Lattimore crawling toward the surf at Kingscliff beachThe room we had booked was a two bedroom ocean view apartment and we’d requested a portable cot for Hugo to sleep in as well. I was happy to find out when we arrived that the cot was already set up and it even came with a complete set of toiletries and linen – not bad for a little fella! It was setup in the master bedroom but Claire and I thought we’d move it into the second room. That proved a little harder than first thought as it didn’t fit through the doorways easily and I couldn’t manage to unpack it. A call to the reception and another staff member came up, unpacked, moved and set it up again in the other room in about 2 minutes flat – very efficient!

Hugo had his first real encounter with the beach, which was fantastic to watch unfold. Claire took Hugo down to the water to let the small waves roll over his legs and feet, which he took delight in – kicking and stamping in the water. It would have been great if the beach water wasn’t quite so cool, I think he would have really enjoyed the waves. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do in all the sand, so we put him down onto the firm sand to start with – which went without a hiccup and proceeded to move him into the soft, loose sand. He was fascinated by it, waving his hands furiously over the sand, hitting and knocking it everywhere and had an all round great time. After he had finished playing with the sand, he realised there was a big blue thing in front of him and took off towards it!

Hugo Lattimore enjoying playing in the soft sand at Kingscliff beachWhen Claire and I stayed at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa last time, we ventured into Kingscliff to have a mooch around and were happy to discover some great cafes and shops. The cafe we remembered had changed hands in that time, I tried a barramundi burger but I now realise that the error of my ways and will remember not to betray the beef gods next time. One shop we were excited to see was still operating was Boardwalk Books, a small book shop with good mix of mainstream reading and a fabulous range of eclectic books that you don’t see in other book shops. We couldn’t help ourselves and picked up a children’s book named Everybody Poos and a book by Ben Mezrich named Bringing Down The House – the true story behind the recent “21” movie featuring Kevin Spacey.

You can’t help but fall in love with Kingscliff, its small, quaint and is absolute beachside living. I think the Kingscliff Beach & Lawn Bowls Club must have the single greatest location of any bowls club in Australia – their backyard is the pristine Kingscliff beach. I imagine Kingscliff now is what the Gold Coast must have felt like back when it was still a tiny town growing up. Salt Village is also a really relaxing place to be, with the majority of the shops you’ll need to simply remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to unwind.

I don’t know when we’ll be back to Kingscliff & Salt Village again next but I’m quite sure I’m going to enjoy it.

Gold Coast Beach Weddings Are Spectacular

Phil & Fiona Paraskevas Gold Coast beach wedding on the 29th May 2009Last Friday Claire, Hugo & I attended our first beach wedding. Not having attended a beach wedding before, we were quite excited to see how it all turned out and it didn’t disappoint. After experiencing a Gold Coast beach wedding, I’m quite sure that Gold Coast beaches would rival any in the world for a spectactular venue with kilometers of golden sand and clear water.

We arrived at Currumbin Beach at about 10:00AM, found a park and walked briskly down to where the wedding venue was – as it took a little longer to get there than expected compounded by a wrong turn! I haven’t taken the pram onto loose sand before but with hard tyres it didn’t fair all that well so I parked the pram at the top of the beach. The entrance to the beach itself was down a relatively steep section of sand to get to the flatter section where the wedding ceremony as going to be held. While walking down it, I was actually thinking to myself that I hope noone slipped in the sand – good fortune prevailed and there were no accidents.

Gold Coast beach wedding view from Coolangatta on the 29th May 2009A couple things that were fantastic about the beach wedding, was that it had a magnificent outlook over the beautiful beaches on the Gold Coast and it was very intimate with about 20 guests. I always associated weddings with men in black suits dressed up to the nines and the women in beautiful gowns. It came as a small but funny surprise when the groom arrived in a slightly casual suit, with classy looking black thongs in place of black leather dress shoes! Likewise, instead of the bride wearing a flowing gown that would have dragged over the sand, it was ankle length and wore fancy sandles in leiu of high heels.

Ceremonies at weddings tend to vary wildly, some are short and to the point while others are long winded and drawn out. This particular beach wedding was the former, taking about 15 minutes from start to finish. It was incredible to have the ocean literally 20 meters away from where everyone was standing, with the waves crashing in the background. The only downside, if you can call it that, was that there was just enough noise from the ocean that it made it difficult to hear the celebrant in a few points but it didn’t last long.

I now know what the fuss is about regarding beach weddings, they aren’t for everyone but if they are – they are spectacular.


Maori tribal necklace pendant made of jadeIn the mid 1990’s, a group of the Lattimore and Morrison family whom live in Australia made our way back to New Zealand to relax and catch up with our extended family. While in the South Island of New Zealand, the weather was perfect for snow skiing and we made our way to one of the most well known New Zealand skiing holiday destinations of Queenstown.

During that trip, my older brother Cameron and I were exploring the Queenstown shops and found our way into a tourist style gift shop – full of the obligatory items such as stuffed Kiwi plush toys. One of the things that caught my attention while looking around were necklace pendants made from jade in the shapes of traditional Maori tribal markings. I was quite taken by them and on a subsequent visit to the shop, picked one up to bring home to Australia.

Once putting on the necklace, I didn’t take it off for months and it turns out, for good reason. As summer approached that year, I was around at a friends place to cool off in the pool. No wanting to damage the leather necklace strap, I took it off and sat it on a near by seat. You can imagine how horrified I was when some friends were fooling around beside the pool, knocked the chair and the jade pendant hit the bricks and broke in half! I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, so I thought I’d see if I could repair it and thanks for some an unknown super-esque glue available at the time – it worked a treat.

Since fixing it that afternoon, I have literally taken it off a handful of times in over 10 years. When I say handful, I mean literally, I could count the times on my fingers – so few in fact that Claire hasn’t seen me without it in over 10 years. It has survived football, soccer, karate, tennis, swimming, water skiing, wake boarding, motorbikes, BMX, rollerblading and every other thing I can imagine and it made it through completely unscathed.

Triangular jade locking clasp for a Maori tribal necklaceEnter our beautiful son Hugo in September 2008, positively gorgeous and has little fiddle fingers. He takes great delight in touching, grabbing, fiddling, smooshing, yanking or banging on anything he can get his hands or feet on to. For the last month or so, he has loved fiddling with my necklace and it has stood up to the test – until last week when, after years of wear and tear – is finally undone by an eight month old baby boy!

The question on my mind now is – after it being with me for such a long time – should I replace the worn leather strap and return it to its rightful place around my neck or simply move on?

Red Means Go

Earlier in the week I was on my way home from work, driving through the tale end of peak hour traffic when I very nearly smashed into the back of the car in front of me.

The traffic was moving at about 80Km/h in this section of road and it was predicably smooth, as opposed to fast then slow. As I came over the crest of a hill and for reasons unknown, the traffic 10 cars in front of me decided to suddenly break. The heavy breaking rippled through the lane of traffic as per normal, however the two or three cars directly in front of me were caught out by the crest of the hill. To compound matters, the car directly in front of me had some issues which their break lights – specifically, breaking caused his break lights to turn off instead of on!

Night fall was upon us and everyone already had their driving lights on. With the free flowing traffic through this section of road, there wasn’t a reason for the driver in front of me to break – so I didn’t notice the reversal of his break lights earlier. Unfortunately for me, that meant I first realised something was wrong after he stomped on the break pedal to respond to the heavy breaking 10 cars in front.

As you can imagine, I was very happy that there was adequate breaking distance for my heavy little tank of a car to slow down or I’d be catching a lift to work for a while.

Road Trip A Non-Screaming Success

Last night I mentioned that Claire, Hugo & I were taking a road trip from the Gold Coast to Chinchilla this morning and that it could be quite eventful.

We got away from the Gold Coast at about 9:15AM and topped up on fuel on the way to the motorway. To my surprise, the traffic was flowing smoothly over the M1 and the Logan Motorway – which was further improved by a lack of any crazy driving from other motorists. We pulled into the Parkhouse Cafe on Margret Street in Toowoomba 11:15AM to feed Hugo and have a driver reviver. As an aside, the cafe has been refurbished and had a slight change in name since I proposed to Claire there in 2004. I really like what they’ve done with interior of the cafe – much more comfortable, modern and fresh. Back on the road by lunchtime and we arrived in Chinchilla at about 2:15PM – more than enough time to unpack a few things from the car and prepare a 3:00PM snack for Hugo.

Claire and I really weren’t sure what to expect with the long drive, as it meant that Hugo was going to miss out on his normal play time between 11:00AM and 12:30PM-1:00PM. Instead of going completely bonkers, screaming and crying – he just cruised along with what we were doing. I suppose we shouldn’t have been so surprised, to date he has been fantastically flexible with us carting him around the traps and tolerating us breaking his rhythm from time to time.