Thursday, June 29, 2006

Carey Bay Pre-School disco

Gareths Pre-school had a disco last night. He was so excited about going and spent ages thinking about what to wear before finally deciding to wear the standard pre-school uniform t-shirt. Very adventurous! Must take after his Dad....

After an hour Gareth and Rhiannon had had enough and looked exhausted but Sian had to be dragged reluctantly off the dance floor. Over all I think they had a very exciting evening of loud music, party food and E-numbers on what should have been a normal boring Wednesday night.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The "old-fashioned" suitcase.

Rhiannon looked a little nervous after she came home from school today. Sitting by the front door was an old, battered, dusty wooden case. She came into the kitchen looking for me and asked if we had a visitor? I told her that we didn't and then she whispered "But who owns the old-fashioned suitcase?" She looked pretty relieved when we opened it up to find a Saxaphone inside!

Byrons new (or should I say, very old) saxaphone finally arrived from the US today. It took over two months to get here and he was starting to get a bit nervous about it having got lost in transit. He is over the moon and spent hours last night polishing it and practising playing it. It is a 1960's King Cleveland and has been well used/loved. It has lots of scuff marks and small dents but is full of character and sounds smooth as silk.

For as much as we tease him about not giving up the day job he really is getting a lot better.

...Almost good enough to put away the earplugs!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Trivia Night

Each year, the local school (St. Josephs) has a fund-raising trivia night. It is usually a themed evening with teams encouraged to participate by dressing up in the theme. This year's theme was 'Back to School', and most, if not all teams made a superb effort at wearing school uniforms in different states of undress....

What a fabulous evening we had. Our team of 8 was called Rydell High Rollers and we were dressed appropriately in Grease attire. So good in fact, that our team won the "best dressed" award for the evening!

Much alcohol and food was consumed, and with so much friendly rivalry between us and the other 23 teams, that both Gina and I have sore heads and throats today. The trivia competition was superbly organised and hosted, and all the teams certainly took it seriously (with unconfirmed reports of rampant cheating completely unfounded).

Overall, our team finished a respectable 5th place - roll on next year!

Gorgeous Mrs B.

As a surprise for our Wedding Anniversary, our good friend and local professional photographer Annette, took some brilliant pictures of Gina. Here's one of my favourites:

Over the next few weeks, more photographs of Gina will be appearing on Annette's own website. See if you can spot them at

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our 10th Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was our 10th wedding anniversary.

It is amazing to think we have been married so long. From one perspective the time has flown, I don't know where the years have gone. From another perspective it is all I have ever known. We met in Rhodes when I was 20 and so I really have spent all of my adult life with Mr B.

We decided to mark the occasion with some retail therapy!
There is a list of anniversaries and what gifts should traditionally be given for them. When I looked up this "Traditional" list the gift was tin??? TIN??? No chance!
I kept on searching and luckily there is also a "Modern" list and it says that on the 10th anniversary the gift should be diamond!!! Unluckily for Mr B I consider myself to be a modern girl! I choose a really beautiful pair of diamond earrings and Byron got a fantastic Tag Heuer watch.

We exchanged presents in the morning. The kids piled into our bed and helped to open all the lovely cards and gave us a few home-made ones of their own. Byron has been pretty busy in work recently so we had a pretty normal day with Byron making a quick appearance into the kitchen at lunch time.
Anne and Kel offered to baby sit so we made a restaurant booking for 7.30pm at Awaba House. We actually went out an hour earlier than that so that we could have a glass of champagne on our way to the Restaurant. We had a fantastic meal. It was fun to sit back and re-live all the memories of our wedding day and talk about all our hopes and dreams for the future. Here's to all the happiness of the last ten years and all the happiness yet to come.
As my Dad always says.... "Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo ari­s agus go mberrimis beo ag and tam seo deit mbliana o thoin"

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ode to Red Dragon

The following superb poem was written by Paul Connelly, who overheard our attempts to attach the boat to the trailer at the local jetty yesterday. Gina let out a yelp when the boat slid back into the water because the ratchet wasn't locked on to the winch....

Once upon a Sunday afternoon one wintertime
A man dids't go out walking with his brood, six short of nine.
And Lo did stroll this wise but youthful gent
with the perambulator to set the pace, lest too soon, all energy be spent.

And by the bay a whim did take our man with brood, six short of nine
"Lets alter course, North East, wheeled scouts and see the water fine".
And as the bend was rounded with speed behesting mayhem
Not that far as crows would fly, the gent did spy some Baynhams!

Upon the liquidsilver it sat poised like some aquatic demon
with its coat of red and its sting jet black it had its Mistress screamin!
"Why the scream" a young man asked his brood six short of nine.
"We'd best stay clear and well away. We'll take it as a sign."

So were left the Baynhams spied with their water monster tethered
and it be said that from whence were spied a bang up job was weathered.
Well done you welcome friends from shores far and away
You have a boat, you got it out and back again same day!

Any comments would be most welcome !

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Rhiannon on the Water

Well, the "lake report" from two sources, (Kel and Annette) this morning were great, so we were determined to make the most of the weather and to maintain our enthusiasm with the boat.

We were in the water by 11:30 and it felt great just whizzing around the local area, checking out the waterfront properties, stopping by Troy and Annette for fish and chips and generally getting splashed.

Rhiannon was determined to drive today so she spent at least ten minutes sat on my knee steering the boat. To her delight, we even spotted a yacht with her name on the side!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

On the water

It's Saturday and we woke up at 7am to blue skies and a flat calm lake!

What more could we ask for to take the boat for its first spin around Lake Maquarie. It took us 2 hours of running around dressing the kids cozy, making flasks of coffee, packing spare hats and blankets, phone calls back and forth to Anne and Kel. Then finally we were on the road!

We found a really calm deserted boat ramp in Styles Point where Byron and Kel were able to take their time working out the finer points of reversing a six metre trailer in a straight line (easier said than done!) The boat floated off the trailer without a murmur and we were afloat. There was blue sky in one direction but grey clouds in the other so we prepared ourselves for a short spin around the lake.

Byron looked so chuffed behind the wheel. The adrenaline was pumping as we spent the next couple of hours breaking the boat in. We stopped at Rathmines and got a big bag of fish and chips. Just as we were about to tuck in we saw the most unexpected and amazing site...A dolphin swimming around near the boat.

We started the engine up as we know that there is a dolphin in the area who loves to swim alongside moving boats. Sure enough the dolphin spent the next hour chasing in the wake of our boat, twisting and turning in the water so close to us we could almost touch him. Every time he jumped clear out of the water the kids squealed in excitement. It was magical. We finally slowed down and tucked in to the fish and chips washed down with coffee and beer and decided to head back to shore. Byron and Kel did a marvellous job getting the boat on the trailer almost effortlessly! What a brilliant first day on the water. Hopefully the first of many more to come!

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Red Dragon has arrived!!!

We have a boat!!!

After months of research and deliberation we finally decided to buy a SeaRay 175. When we ordered it we were told to expect delivery of it sometime in August. You can imagine our excitement when we got a phone call telling us it had arrived from the US earlier than expected.
I brought the kids off to their Friday tennis lesson and Byron went off to the marina with a big fat cheque in his pocket and a grin on his face. An hour later (and after much persuasion) he drove past the courts with the car on the back so that we could share in the excitement. After bringing it safely home and a stomach churning reverse up a steep curved driveway he came back down to collect us. I had real trouble getting Byron to come back into the house and half expected to see him heading into the garage at bedtime with his duvet and pillow under his arm!

Here's looking forward to taking it out on the lake this weekend!

Nashys visit!

We have just had a flying visit from Byrons work mate, Nashy!
Nashy and Claire are doing a whirlwind visit around New Zealand with a 3 night stay in Sydney. They got the train up to Toronto at lunchtime yesterday to stop with us for the night.

We collected them from the train with a huge picnic and drove straight to the lakeside in Toronto where we had two kid-free hours of laughing and chatting and generally catching up on the last year. Finally it was time to collect the kids, then we went back to the house to veg and catch up some more. Nashy hasn't changed a bit......well, unless you notice the super-sized side-burns and the longer hair, oh yes, I suppose the fact he had dyed it all midnight black!!!

We had a brilliant BBQ after the kids went to bed. It was freezing outside but Byron was determined to get us out on the deck to admire the stars. After 20mins of trying to light our outside citronella oil torches they finally burst into wonderful flames only for Mr B to announce he was chilly and we should move back indoors.....?!

A reasonable volume of alcohol was consumed..... Beer, wine, and Irish coffees. By 10 o'clock Nashy and Claire were struggling to keep their eyes open and Byron couldn't persuade them to try some of his favourite Wolfblass port. Probably not such a bad thing as we were all up at 6.30am trying to make the most of a short morning before the 10 o'clock train back to Sydney. We had a BBQ breakfast before doing the school run. There was just time for a quick drive around Rathmines to show them where we will be building the new house before dashing across town to the train station and saying goodbye.

Hopefully we will have tempted him with an idea of the Aussie lifestyle and we will be hearing about a return visit sometime soon.....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mount Watagan

Today we went bush walking! It was the first day of good weather after a long week of rain and we were all needing to get out of the house for some fresh air. We followed friends along a small road up the side of the mountain and thanked God for the 4 wheel drive as we bumped and weaved along the narrow dirt track! It felt a bit like a rally driving race trying to keep up with Peters car. As we went around a twist in the road we often just got a glimpse of him disappearing around the next one!
It was well worth the drive as we arrived at a deserted picnic area miles from anywhere. The trees were so huge and tall that we felt dwarfed by them. Even the car looked tiny underneath them.

The kids had a ball exploring and clambering over rocks while we tucked in to our picnic.

We went on a 1 hour hike with the kids down some really narrow paths that were a bit hair raising to say the least! We finally got to what we were looking for: A beautiful water fall and rock pool.

After a rest we started the steep climb back up the path past all the huge trees and jungle vines. The kids thought it was such an amazing adventure! Surprisingly none of them got whingy or asked to be carried. Lucky for them because we were so out of breath we could barely walk ourselves!

The morning after the night before...

Well, it is Sunday night
and I am just about ready to hit the sack.

We had a good day once Mr B's hangover tablets kicked in!

As Charles and Sue will be returning to live in England before our new house is built we decided to bring them to see the show house.

The kids all jumped into the bath and I had to stop Sue going to turn on the taps to see if they worked. We already know they do and could have had 5 very wet children!

We enjoyed showing off and got a bit carried away acting like it was our real house so that we almost wondered why other members of the public were allowed to wander around it too!

World cup fever

My ploy failed... I thought travelling to the other side of the world might make Byron forget about the existance of the World Cup. No chance! Last night was the England V Paraguay match. Our friends Charles and Sue are just about the most English people you have ever met and also fanatical about footie. It didn't surprise me that we ended up getting together this weekend in the name of sport. I started to get an inkling about how seriously they were taking their patriotism when they got out of their car dressed in red and white, including baby Hannah. The next clue was the wine they brought...One bottle of red, one bottle of white. I think the penny finally dropped when they got out a cake tin. Yes, you've guessed it, a lovely cake with white icing and the now familiar red cross. Being a very patriotic Welshman Byron was starting to feel a bit nauseated as you can see from the photo....

A good night was had by all. I fell asleep during the first half and dragged myself off to bed (a respectable midnight I might add) unfortunately the TV is only on the other side of my bedroom wall so I got most of the second half in a fuzzy muffled attempt at sleep. There were some sore heads this morning and Byron had the difficult task of cooking a big BBQ breakfast outside in the chilly, damp back garden while trying to ignore his thumping head and queasy stomach. The kids waking up at 6.30am probably didn't help much either! How many more matches to go?......

Friday, June 09, 2006

Belly Dancing

It was Monicas 40th Birthday last week and we arranged a girls night out last night to celebrate. As Monica has recently started belly dancing classes we booked a table in a nearby Turkish restaurant. There was a real belly dancer there to entertain and one by one a few of us were dragged up to join her. It was great fun and judging from the quality of the improptu belly dances I think a few people have been having secret lessons!

After the meal we headed back to Monicas for some more champagne & dancing. It was well past midnight before I managed to drag the merrymakers out into the Baynham Taxi to head home.

When I was almost home I finally worked out what the annoying beeping sound from the car dash was, I had about 10km of fuel left. I thought it might be a good idea to top up the tank before Mr B saw it and flipped the lid. Being very close to pay day and feeling a bit skint I decided to put in $20 maximum. We were in a bit of a giggly mood and Anne Marie and myself found ourselves singing a duet next to the pump while Jane and Annette joined in the chorus from the open doors of the car. We were getting some very suspicious looks from the security guard at the door and before you know it we had put $87 in the tank, OUCH!!!!

It was a great night and I think we will have to arrange another one soon. Roll on the 22nd Julie!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Pure Decadence!

What a weekend. I think my poor liver is in need of a holiday.

Friday was the usual glass of bubbly at tennis (although the way the weather is cooling down I think that we will be having to swap over to mulled wine soon)

Saturday was just the funniest night in ages. We put the kids to bed and had Peter and Julie over to watch a daft film- Bad Santa. Not for the kids, this film is all about a crook with a liking for whiskey and a dislike of kids and all things festive. It is peppered with some of the worst language ever and is all the better to watch if you have had a few drinks yourself! Fast forward through the red wine, multiple beers, Irish coffees and some of Byrons treasured single malt collection. By now you should be getting a feel for the type of evening it was.
Now picture this... It's gone midnight and Byron disappears for a few minutes. Finally he returns, staggering into the living room in a Santa suit, beard falling off, clutching a bottle of Laphroig! We could hardly breathe from laughing so hard!
Luckily we remembered the glass of rehydration salts before falling into bed and woke up feeling we had got off lightly!

On to Sunday... We had what was going to be a simple afternoon dinner with some other friends John and Tracy. I had decided not to drink much after Sat night but then Tracy got out the most decadent and trendy jar of hibiscus flowers and a bottle of chilled bubbly!
If you haven't seen these before they are fabulous syruped flower heads that you sit in the bottom of your glass then pour your bubbly on top and watch the flower slowly unfurl with the help of the bubbles....mmmmmm.

I promise to try harder this week!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sailing in High Wind

I was invited to go sailing today and was really looking forward to it; it's only my third time and I learn so much each time I go. The yacht is a fairly old 30 footer, and enters a race most Sundays on Lake Macquarie with about 20 others in the same class.

Having checked the weather forecast in the morning though, the signs were ominous...gale force southerly gusts predicted - up to 40 knots. Now that's what I call windy, and suddenly sailing didn't appeal to me one little bit.

I called Peter to check if the race was still on (not wanting to pull out myself as I may not get asked in the future!). I should have guessed that his answer would have been "yes", after all he's a professional sailor, and wind is what these guys like the most. Of course the race was still on.

"Are you still coming?" he asked.

"Sure thing" I said, trying my best to sound convincing and nonchalant at the same time.

Another look out of the window confirmed my fears though....

  • The large gum trees in the garden blowing horizontally? Check.
  • Threatening, dark clouds? Check.
  • Leaves and branches scattered all over the road? Check.
  • Gina looking more worried than I was? Check.

Okaaayyyy, with my bravest smile I said farewell to Gina and the kids and wandered off to meet Peter at the jetty. Within an hour of arriving, the race had begun with five of us on the boat.

It was exhilarating to put it mildly.

I only play a bit part in the race (pulling the odd rope, letting go of a clip here and there and passing the beer around during a lull), but it's amazing to see the other four jumping madly all over the boat in a superb show of coordination, especially in high wind. At times, the high gusts meant the yacht was right up on its side and we had to lean over (hang on for dear life, in my case) to make sure we made best use of the wind.

The race normally lasts over 2 hours, but we finished in less than 1 hour 20 minutes...

And, even better, we finished in 2nd place !!

This could get addictive...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nice one Siân

Every two weeks, Siân's school presents something called the Principal's Award to two pupils picked from the entire school.

Today, Siân received this award and was called up on to stage during morning assembly (held outside because of the fantastic weather). While up on stage, the headmaster explained to the whole school why Siân had been chosen to receive this award (her good manners, excellent academic ability and enthusiasm).

He also reminded everyone that she has only been attending the school for less than six months, and complimented her on how well she has become integrated into the school community. After a large applause, a chuffed and shy looking Siân returned to her seat.

Well done Siân!

Monday update:

Sian is just home from school and has shown me this weeks newsletter. She is very proud because it mentions her award....