Hi sorry Im slow, had an awful lot going on, Ive written up the trip, it was up and down at the start but then up and happy all the way.............
Friday, got there ok, laura loved the plane flight and had a window seat, we flew right alongside the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge she got the most perfect view of them both, it was awesome. On the drive to Canberra which is 3hrs from Sydney we stopped in a town and I got to go to a quilt store I have read about for 16yrs now, holy schmoley she had so much fabric! Beautiful historic town, from there we continued onto Canberra. The motel we booked into was foul, brown throw pillows on bed covered in what looked like dried crusted semen, (not wanting to offend anyone, no other word for it),the manager came up and removed them and replaced all the pillow cases etc. Woke in the morning and in the better light we see there is what looks like snot smeared and dried all over the wall around laura's bed, the bathroom tiles have stuff crusted on them, the cutlery is all dirty, we nearly puked. We checked out and she gave us all our money back.
So we booked into a caravan park, we got a really nice cabin only 4mnths old, two bedrooms, clean bathroom, full kitchen, couch dining table oh it was clean and divine after the flea bag filth motel. So we dumped our stuff there and took Laura to the hotel to meet up with the other winners for dinner. Get there and an elderly teacher meets us and says hi, tells us what room laura is staying in, we said "umm, she is staying with us, tonight at least, we spoke to state organiser about it" no big deal Moments later a shaggy headed guy bursts through garage door into the hotel lobby, the teacher calls to him and says "this is one of our winners" so he comes over, looks harried. He was the national organiser, he told Laura he would take her to her room and she said she wasnt staying the night, just here for dinner, well he went beserk. Totally
beserk, started abusing me, yelling at me, at one stage he tensed up and I thought he was actually going to strike me, he called me stupid multiple times and ignored Bob just focused on me. I remained polite and calm, tried to be nice and level, he was all but foaming at the mouth, the last time I got abused by someone like that was by my ex-husband. Laura was shaking and pale, simply shocked and getting angry too. She told us later she was just about to step in and tell the guy to 'BACK OFF" she was so angry and frightened. Bob stepped in front of me as he too thought the guy was going to strike me I found out later, he told the guy to back down and said he needed to restart the whole conversation, the loony just stepped to the side of Bob and kept yelling at me, saying stuff like "you are undermining my whole program, people like you just cause me trouble' etc etc, just going beserk. We did leave Laura for dinner and picked her up 2hrs later, she was under watch of the state organiser, a woman. We left and returned to our cabin and I called a friend who is an assistant principal and told her what happened, got her advice which was to pull Laura from the program (our thoughts too) also called our school assistant principal who said same thing, we were in shock, I was in tears at one stage. When we went back to collect Laura the rental mini bus the guy had been driving was parked in front of the motel and it was scratched and banged up from one end to the other, we think he must have hung it up in the garage (he drove past us when we were walking into the hotel at the beginning) and we think he was fritzing over that and came into the lobby and just took it out on us, who knows but he never made any more contact, never apologised, nothing. We are writing complaint letters to all the sponsors and his bosses. Our state organiser was in shock too, she heard about it, doesnt know the guy, doenst know why he did what he did, we dont blame her, the concierge had the phone in hand and were on the verge of calling security and about 10 people waiting to get on the lift for a function were in shock watching what was going on. It was surreal, Bob has heard back from the organisers saying they have started an investigation into the 'very serious issues reported' I have to write my letter this weekend. To abuse us like that in front of a child, a student you expect to spend time with you, what a nut job.
So we pulled Laura from the program, she didnt do any of the group activities and day trips, she was glad, said the girls she met, one from an exclusive private school in Canberra looked her up and down like she was slime and called her a Tasmanian two head (derogatry term used for Tasmanians, they say they are so inbred they have two heads) the other two girls from private schools she was supposed to share the room with were on about thier brothers selling drugs at school, sneaking out to parties, how drunk they get and sexting - so not suitable for Laura to share a room with. When we told the state organiser we were sorry but as parents we need to ensure Laura's safety etc adn were pulling her from the program Laura didnt react at all, I sent her and Bob ahead out to the car and spoke to the state organiser a little more, woman to woman, was almost in tears again, felt so bad for Laura. When I got out to the car I hugged Laura and burst into tears and said we were so, so sorry and Laura said "Dont be, OMG you just saved me from the most awful girls' LOL so it all worked out in the end.
We got to have an unexpected family holiday, we got to spend the whole time with our Laura, it was wonderful. We went to the National Museum and toured the British Museums exhibit on loan "History of The World in 100 objects" and spent 3hrs there, the most amazing stuff on display. Laura fell in love with a little Incan gold Llama statue made in 1400-1500BC. I fell in love with the Flood Tablet & the woodblock print of Durers Rhino made in 1515, I got a linen tea towel printed with it to make a quilt or cushion cover. Bob fell in love with the Viking Chess set pieces made from walrus tusk in the 1100's. It was amazing to see the objects on display, there was a beautiful Canadian Indian moose skin jacket, all beaded and quilled, artifacts from all over the world, fantastic.
We spent a whole day at the botanical gardens, Laura was excited to see the desert central australian garden section, as soon as we got to it she knelt and picked up a handful of the desert sand, they have trucked it in from central australia and she was fascinated touching real desert red sand. More than anything else she wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens, she chose our route, we toured the rainforest section, the mallee forest, the rock garden was wonderful, full of bearded dragons and water dragon lizards, laura was captivated. We walked and walked and walked, so much was in flower, it was magical. We had lunch at the cafe there and had problems sitting down as two male water dragons were having a fight under our table and chairs LOL.
We drove an hour out to the historic town that was having an airing of the quilts festival but no quilts were hanging on display, they only did it on the saturday not the sunday apparently. It was advertised so that was a little dissapointing but there were awesome fabric sales. We went into one store, it had like stalagmites make from fabric bolts rising from the floor all over the place. They were stacked high, we were afraid to touch one in case it caused a fabric land slide LOL I found fabric with raccoons printed on it, had to get some, I loved watching the pair of raccoons that lived in my inlaws yard when I was bedridden. The drive out there was so beautiful, we had a lovely morning then we went to the war memorial museum.
We spent almost 5hrs at the War Memorial Museum, we didnt get to see it all but most of it. Laura was telling a Shemoos last night that it was very confronting to see the walls of poppies and all the names of those lost to wars stretching and stretching out before you and all the photographs of the soldiers killed on a death march, to see a whole wall covered in faces and know they were literally marched to death. They have a lot of planes and some tanks, a german tank taken by our troops, a japanese submarine hit with a depth charge in Sydney Harbour during WW2. They had a big old bomber and it was neat because it hangs and you can look up from below and see the tiny chamber where the bomber lay beneath the pilots directing the bombs and I could tell her that her Great uncle did that job. We saw a display on the Air Force security forces who guarded the radar installations and told her that thats what her great grandad did for some time up there in the Arafura Sea. We saw the Changi quilts
which was amazing. A friend of mine in high school, her mother was born in Changi POW camp, so as I looked at it I knew that one of those quilt blocks had been made by my friends grandmother and that was amazing to realize that someone I had met had been part of the making of this historic quilt. Prior to leaving at closing time we were able to watch the laying of the wreath ceremony which was a special one as the Navy were on guard duty that day as it was the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of the HMAS Paramatta in which 130 Australians died. One of the war widows was there to receive a wreath. We had a wonderful and moving day.
We went to the Telstra Tower another day, its a big tall communications tower, 640ft tall we went a couple of times during the day and at night, Laura didnt really like it, once you are up there in it you become aware of the fact that it is actually swaying, it has a 'sway diameter' of 5ft (1.5m) so its kind of yukky. When we were there the first night we saw wee little sugar glider possums feeding on moths attracted to the lights in the bush around the tower, that was so cool. Laura got to see them grabbing the moths and gliding from tree to tree, we went back 2 more nights to see them. We saw big old fruit bats in the hundreds flying across the Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, we walked along the shores during the night and sat on some steps looking across to old Parliment House and the new one rising behind it ont he hill as the bats slowly flew by. laura has never seen fruit bats in the wild so she was so excited, just so you know, they have a wingspan of just under 6ft, they are big
bats! She also got to swim in the caravan park pool and go to a reptile park and pat a big goanna and snakes.
On the big day we arrived at Parliment House and signed in with security then were escorted behind the scenes through beautiful halls and big open courtyards, we passed a cafe and mini mart. I laughed my head off on the inside at the mini mart, there on the shelf was boxes of breakfast cereal and prominently displayed in large numbers were boxes of cocoa puffs and fruity loops, kids cereals and I thought "Yup, now I know for sure, our country is being run by big kids eating fruit loops"
There was a Tasmanian MP who specifically requested that he get to meet Laura, he was wonderful and another state senator, an independant who talked her/our heads off, they both did and everyone was fascinated with her museum exhibit. The best thing was that the Director of the Australian National Museum attended, just to meet Laura. Usually he just has the CEO attend, she gives the award but this time apparently hee wanted to meet Laura and talk to her about her exhibit that was going to be put on display in his museum. The organisers were thrilled at having him show up. It was wonderful for Laura, truly wonderful. We found out at one stage that most people thought she was a 9th grader and were shocked to find out she was a 6th grader so that was a real compliment to her and how she conducts herself. It was a wonderful experience she will never forget.
After Parliment House we went back to the museum and then headed to Sydney where we stayed the night then flew out the followng morning. I got hit with a bad migrane on the way to the airport, thankfully I had migrane/anti nausea medication with me as I needed it, flight home was fine, Laura got such a thrill out of flying, hasnt flown since she was 2yr old so like the first time for her. Now they are at school and Im sorting out all the detrius and things Bob wasnt able to take care off while I went to bed and he unpacked. its a lovely day here and windy so I better get the washing hung out. It was hot but not too bad in Canberra, we revelled in the summery days, no temps like that here and none in the distant future either to my knowledge. I havent downloaded any photos yet but will dong shortly as I jsut had the local newspaper on the phone wanting to do an interview with Laura and asking for any photos of her at Parliment. I will share pics later, I promise