Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Back to School

Summer Holidays are over! Poor Gina has had to keep the sproggs entertained for 6 weeks, and now she only has to keep me happy...(not an easy task)

It was Gareth's first day at pre-school in Australia today and was he looking forward to it. He's only going for two days a week, but two whole days! The girls also started back into their new classes too, and were a bit more apprehensive - they look much less pale-skinned than when they started school back in October 2005.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New home

We have arrived in our new home. It has been a hard few days packing, multiple car trips back and forth bringing our more treasured possessions and leaving the main stuff to the removal firm. We had a huge clean up of the vacated house on Sunday with me inside and Byron in the garden mowing and clipping in very hot conditions. The kids were excellent and amused themselves with a few Barbies and a packet of biscuits!

The new house is fabulous. Air con throughout makes a huge difference. The back garden is 1 1/2 acres of bushland and we have had to set limits as to how far the kids can wander if we are not with them. Kel helped out by telling them there were dangerous snakes if they went past the washing line! It has worked a treat!!! We will post some more indoor shots soon but here are the outdoor ones for now!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kels Commonwealth torch run

Joes father in law Kel was given the honour of carrying the Commonwealth torch as it makes its way to Melbourne. We all took time off work to cheer him on! It was very exciting and there was a strong police presence with patrol cars and motorbikes clearing the way. The kids loved it.

Sian made a sign to cheer Kel on and was delighted when he took it from her after passing the torch to the next runner.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another move......

Most of you know by now that the owners of this house want us to vacate it well ahead of our contract (end of April) We are doing the big move on Sat and are packing our lives away in cardboard boxes (AGAIN) It is a very unsettling time for us as a family as we were just feeling at home here but the kids have been brilliant. They are "helping" to pack in their own little ways, which usually means us unpacking and repacking all over! We will have no broadband for about a week after the move so updates of the new house etc may be a little slow to be posted but will be a priority as soon as we get reconnected.....

Australia day!

Today was our first Australia day down under. Byron had to work flat out for the morning but took a couple of hours off for a roast lamb lunch at Anne and Kels. We had a lovely meal with them and Joe, Rhonda, Tenelle (Rhondas sister) and a couple of their friends. When we came back to our house in the afternoon the kids had probably their final splash in the swimming pool.

In the evening we packed up our big Esky (Ice box) and met some friends at a lovely park by the waters edge to have a shared picnic tea and watch the fireworks. We had a fantastic spread of food and some fancy homemade ice cold Marguerites- yum!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fashion Show

The Summer holidays are nearly over and Gina is great and keeping the kids busy. Today was a fashion show, complete with a makeover, catwalk and dressing up. Gareth kept well away...

What with Gina's camera skills and the girls showing off, what do you think?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Eviction Party

Well, hardly an eviction, but a party all the same. The landlord has finally agreed to pay our moving costs and as we've already found new rental accommodation we decided to have a knees-up to celebrate our moving house again!

The new house is much larger than our current one, it has 4 bedrooms, is fully air-conditioned and sits on over an acre of land - looking forward to mowing the lawn anyone? The only downside is that there is no pool for the kids so we're making the most of it over the next week.

Down to the party.... Parties here are a little different to what we're used to. Essentially, the host is responsible for cooking all the food on the bbq, and each guest brings their own meat, be it steaks, chickens, prawns, kebabs, chops or sausages. Guests also bring all their own alcohol, all we had to provide was the bbq, salads and the pool (and wit of course). There were 12 adults, what seemed like a zillion kids, and at one point the pool looked like a soup!

Music was blared, sausages were cremated by yours truly, too much booze was quaffed and everyone's skin went wrinkly in the water. Champagne, strawberries, thai salads, melons, mangos, home-brew and all rounded off with a game of cricket in the garden. We had an excellent time, and although it all got a little blurry towards the end of the evening, the obligatory mother of all hangovers today is testament to my staying power.....

Now we have to plan for a House Warming party !

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Exchange of contracts!

It was only this time last week that we got the phone call about the land in Balmoral opposite the lakeside reserve. Today we signed and exchanged contracts on the sale of the land so now we officially have a water tight and binding agreement! We are so excited and have paid a deposit to our builder who is drawing up plans to submit to council asap. We are hoping that maybe only 12 weeks from now they will start the building!!! When we studied a map of the area in more detail we saw that the small inlet of water we are across the road from is called "Secret Bay" We went up to the plot this evening when Byron finished work and popped a bottle of bubbly for us (Fanta for the kids!) and toasted to a happy future! Watch this space for updates!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gina's going to the dogs

This Aussie lifestyle is taking it's toll on Gina.

Too tired to move, and too skint to pop down the hairdressers, she sleeps all day in the sun lounger, and lets the girls sort her hair out.

Let me know what you think, any comments warmly welcomed.....

Working from Home

At first, I found the prospect of working from home on a full-time basis pretty daunting. It's hard to have to go downstairs "into the office", especially when the kids are on their Summer Holidays. I was feeling guilty about leaving the rest of the family upstairs.

What made it worse was the fantastic view of the garden and pool that I have through the window. The pool gets more and more inviting as the day goes on...

The kids have been great though, and fully accept the fact that when Dad has his glasses on he is in work-mode and isn't to be interrupted. Shame Gina hasn't quite cottoned on to this yet !

The downside of working from home is the lack of interaction with other people.

The upside is seeing and hearing the kids play outside, getting coffees and chilled lattes delivered by Gina and having breakfast, lunch and tea as one family. We have a laugh at lunchtime because they nag me to go into the pool, but they generally know that we always have a dip as soon as I finish.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Blackbutt Reserve

We spent a lovely afternoon in a local reserve today. We have been told by loads of people that it is a great place to bring the kids and see Koalas and Kangaroos. It was overcast and cool when we got up, not a beach day, so we packed our Esky with a picnic and headed off. Only 20mins later we arrived and were pleasantly surprised to find there was no admission cost - bonus!

It was amazing! We saw wombats being fed their sweet potatoes and corn and saw a reserve keeper weighing the Koalas and feeding fresh eucalyptus leaves to them. The picture of the Koala here made us all laugh as he was fast asleep in the heighest part of the tree...comfy or what?

After the demonstration we were allowed one family at a time into the enclosure to see a Koala up close and have a stroke. We had our picnic in a lovely open grassy area where peacocks were walking around us.

There was even a park lake, a-la Northampton/Abingdon park style. We fed some ducks with bread but stopped when Gareth mentioned that there were turtles in the lake too. There were dozens of them stealing the bread off the ducks. After closer inspection we even spotted a huge eel thrashing about in the water - not a great place for a swim !

A walk around the emu and kangaroo enclosures finished the day off and we drove home with 3 very tired but happy kids in the back of the car!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Our new house update!

This has been an exciting week. We were on the verge of signing the contract for the plot of land on Buttaba hills (see "Real Estate" blog in December) when another plot in the area went on the market. It is a large plot opposite a waterfront reserve on lake macquarie. It is in a very sought after area and is significantly over budget! We have often driven past it and wondered who owned it and if it would ever be for sale. After much discussion (over many glasses of wine!) we decided to go for it and put in an offer. After a bit of haggling back and forth we had our absolute maximum bid accepted this morning!!! We are holding our breath for our builder to give it the thumbs up. He has seen all the contour levels on paper but officially needs to do his own laser level site inspection. We should know his answer on Tuesday....

It is a beautiful, flat 841 sqm plot 18.2 meters wide and 45.8 meters long. It faces onto a quiet road that follows the lakeside around to a really pretty town called Rathmines (Anyone from Ireland will recognize that name!)

Just across the road is a large flat area of natural reserve, grass and eucalyptus trees which meets the lake edge. There are two picnic benches where we will probably bring our picnic lunches on the weekend. The kids will be able to fish from the edge of the lake! A short way further down the road is a lovely public jetty and boat ramp where Mr B is already daydreaming about launching his speed boat! We should have a good view from the upstairs of the house where there will be an extra living area and small balcony. Lucky Sian will also have a front facing bedroom and balcony! Unfortunately our bedroom is at the back of the house.

Good news for anyone planning a visit, your double bedroom and shower room is downstairs and also at the front looking out at the reserve!!! Bookings can be made any time from now! First come first served!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Watermelon smiles!

It's fruit season here and the fruit is fresh, cheap and juicy!!!

The kids are tucking in as fast as we can buy it, we are certainly managing our 5 a day!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fancy a cappuccino?

Anne and Kel (Joes in-laws) have a lovely coffee machine in their kitchen that makes amazing cappuccinos. I called in the other day and hung around long enough to be offered one. Gar decided he wanted one too and Kel humoured him with a cup of milk froth (commonly served to kids here in cafes and called babycinos!) He was tickled pink as you can see from the picture!!!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


The new year is with us, and it reached us here first!

New Year's Eve was great this year but we struggled on New Year's Day. Not because of hangovers, although they were more than warranted, but because of the heat.

49.4 degrees celsius.

In old days that was 12o degrees fahrenheit.

However you look at it, it wasn't funny. It was the second hottest day on record in New South Wales, and we were lucky that one of our rooms had built-in air conditioning because that's where we spent all day.... our portable air-conditioner won't operate in temperatures over 34 degrees (what's the point in that?!) so it's been relegated to the garage. 49.4 degrees! Needless to say we were all cranky as hell before we went upstairs to oven, er bed.

Since then, it's been much cooler and we've been developing our webbed feet again by staying in the pool. All the kids have become so much more confident in the water, even Gareth is wearing flippers now.

We're dreading our next water bill.....because of the heat our pool was evaporating fast and that meant that it needed filling with fresh water. I dragged the hosepipe from the garden and starting re-filling the pool. Except I forgot about it until about 3 hours later when I noticed that the pool looked larger than normal. Ouch, I must have poured over 1000 litres of water into it !

It also seems that we may me moving out of this house sooner than we'd like. We've a six month rental agreement that takes us up until the end of April, and we were hoping to extend for another six months. The family that rented this property to us have recently moved north to Queensland to start afresh. Unfortunately, after just 2 months away they're homesick and have asked us to move out as soon as possible. Legally, we are allowed to stay until the end of April, but as their family have children in both Sian and Rhiannon's class it may make things a little awkward if we stand our ground. It's a real shame because all of our furniture has recently been delivered here and we love it so much, but it's back to house-hunting again. Who knows, if we find a big enough pad, you're all welcome and you can bring your mates too!!

Happy 2006 everyone!

By the way, thanks to all those who leave comments on the site - it's good to know that our blog is being read.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Years Eve!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!
We have just had a wonderful night drinking champagne in a candlelit swimming pool!
Here's to a wonderful 2006- the beginning of a new chapter of our lives...