Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Darren and Elaine.

Byrons friends Darren and Elaine got married in July and had their honeymoon in Australia.

They travelled around for three weeks and stopped with us for a couple of nights in between their visits to Sydney and Uluru. We had fun showing them around the local area and managed to squeeze in both beach and Hunter Valley vineyards in their short stay.

Being childfree I think spending time in our busy family of five must have been a little noisy and overwhelming at times. What better contraception for a newly-wed couple than waking up early to the noise of Sian, Rhiannon and Gareth!

At the time I didn't get a chance to blog their visit or any of the photos we took so here goes, better late than never!

Kindy Orientation day

Gareth starts school in January. He will be going to Kinder in St Josephs along with lots of his friends from Pre-School.

Today there was an orientation day for the kids to go along and meet each other. Each new child gets assigned a "buddy" This is a student from next years Year 6. The buddy helps them to settle in over the first few weeks and sits with them at lunch time etc. In the post a couple of weeks ago we got a letter from Gareth's buddy Travis. It had a photo of Travis and Gareth was very excited about meeting him today.

The orientation went really well. Gareth had fun and is looking forward to January and going to "Big School"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mr B, Saxophonist extraordinaire!

Mr B has been putting in the hours on the Saxaphone and they are paying off. He can belt out a powerful stream of Jazz when he sets his mind to it.

Generally when he practises he is dressed in his casual clothes. When he got all dressed up in his formal Black Tie suit this weekend we begged him to blast his horn!......and did he look the part!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Joe's Mo!

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a charity event held during November each year. At the start of Movember guys register with a clean shaven face. The Movember participants known as Mo Bros then have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their moustache and along the way raise as much money and awareness about male health issues as possible.

The aim of Movember is to change mens attitudes and to make male health fun by putting the Mo back on the face of fashion and in the process raise some serious funds for key male health issues, including:

Prostate Cancer: because every year in Australia 2,900 men die of prostate cancer - equivalent to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually.

Male Depression: because one in six men experience depression at any given time but most don't seek help.

This year my brother Joe is growing a "Mo" and getting sponsorship along the way. Although I knew he was doing it I was unable to stop staring at the thick black handlebar Mo on his face when he turned up at Gareths Birthday Party. We certainly had a laugh and took lots of photos. This one has to be my favourite!

For anyone who knows Joe and wants to sponsor his Mo here is the link....

You will need to enter his registration number which is 66377 and your credit card details.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday Gareth!

This morning we woke with well deserved hangovers to a very excited 5 year old! (See the next blog if you are wondering why!)

Sian and Rhiannon had managed to keep Gareth occupied until about 7am but then the excitement was too much and he burst into our room. He has gone "Ben 10" mad. This is a cartoon character who can change into many different aliens with super powers.

All he wanted for his birthday from us was a Ben 10 character toy. As he unwrapped his presents he yelled with excitement as he discovered that Granny+Grandad Joe in Dublin and Nanny and Grandad in Wales had also got him some characters.

He was in no rush to open his gifts and wanted to have a good look at each toy and figure out which super powers it had before finally moving on to the next one.

He had his Birthday Party booked in Blackbutt Reserve. I knew we would be feeling a little seedy after last nights party at Maree and Johns so I had everything packed in boxes ready to go in the car. If I couldn't prepare it in advance (of the hangover) it wasn't happening! The only thing left to do was brew up a couple of flasks of fresh hot coffee and go.

When we arrived at Blackbutt it was a beautiful sunny day and we were lucky enough to get a picnic table in the shade.
As we unpacked all the boxes my heart sank. I had left the box with the coffee, Neurofen and sun hats at home... We would just have to muddle through without our hangover kit!
The day was a great success. The ranger walked Gareth and his friends around the animal enclosures.
The kids got to pet a Koala and a blue tongue lizard, go into the Wombat enclosure and feed the Emus.

They loved it and we finished off the party with the Super Hero cake.

Thank you to everyone for the cards, presents and phone calls on the day. You helped make it really special.

Party of the year!

We have just been to the most amazing party. Our friends Maree and John decided to throw a cocktail party for no particular reason, just for the sheer fun of it!

.....And do they know how to throw a party!!! It was black tie formal. Off we went and bought a dress suit for Byron. I got out my best dress and high heels, we booked a babysitter and we counted down the days.

The party was on Saturday night. We got a cab as neither of us had any intention of staying sober! We felt like we were walking onto a film set as we walked down the spiral staircase and took in the sight of all of our friends dressed up like royalty, decadent flower arrangements and candles burning everywhere!

We started with glasses of Champagne (the real thing, not just the cheap plonk we bring to tennis!) Then moved on to our first cocktail, "Sea-Breeze" After that the first tray of food was offered to us, fresh oysters with lime wedges. Next it was time for a "White-lady" followed by the biggest juiciest prawns I have ever tasted, served with juicy slices of mango.

Then came "Tequila Sunrise" with a huge platter of tender fillet beef sliced and served with a tangy horseradish sauce. The final Cocktail was a vivid blue drink invented by John. I hope I have the name right. It is called after his gorgeous wife Maree and uses his nickname which has always been "Blue" If I remember right (Things had got a little swimmy by now!) This signature drink was called "Marine Blue"

We had booked a cab to bring us home at 1am and we were the first to leave. We were so torn leaving when the party was still in full swing. The stories that we are hearing from friends have us jealous. The last guests got nudged towards the door close to 5am!

However we knew that we were waking to Gareth's 5th Birthday only a few hours later and needed to minimise our hangovers. Minimise is the word. I still have a stonking headache and am grateful we stopped when we did! I didn't bring my camera with me but our friend Annette brought her proper one and took all the great photos that you can see on this blog.

A huge Thank You to you John and Maree. We will be talking about this party for years to come!

Do you think it might be an annual event!


Friday, November 23, 2007

Gareths early Birthday celebrations!

It is Gareths Birthday this weekend.

To start the celebrations early we brought a tray of cupcakes to Playgroup with us. Pink icing for the girls and Shrek green for the boys!

Gareth wanted a candle on each one... We put as many as we could on and he had fun getting the other kids helping him blow them out. With all those candles I was hoping we might set off the smoke alarm and get a return visit from the friendly Firemen who had only just finished their visit!!!


We went along to our Friday morning playgroup today. There was a very special treat instore...

The local Fire Brigade were coming to visit!
There were a lot of very excited kids (and Mums!) The firemen gave a really informative talk to the kids about good fire/ bad fire and what to do in an emergency. They took it all in with big eyes. Then we went outside and had a go at using the fire hoses. The kids really enjoyed themselves and Gareth has come home full of important info.

"Drop down low and GO, GO, GO!!!!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guitar party!


After all the hard work over the last couple of weeks the guitar is finished!

By six O'clock on Saturday evening it was fully strung and ready for its first play.

We had a babysitter so the kids stayed at home and Byron and myself went out to the party. As we arrived the guitars were on display at the back of the workshop in their various stages of completion. People were standing around admiring them and playing a few simple chords. It felt very strange seeing my guitar being played, especially by people I didn't know.

Over the next couple of hours there were speeches and the workshop was officially opened.

Strato sat down with my guitar and played a couple of pieces and it sounded great. Other guitar players played their own instruments and the next couple of hours passed in a blur of music and talking. We went on for a meal at a local cafe "Double Take" Some of Stratos Chilean friends turned up and they played an impromptu set of Chilean traditional music.

It was a great night and I came away with a great feeling of having achieved something very tangible

All I need to do now is learn to play...!

The Herald

Since The Herald interview earlier in the week I have been buying the newspaper every morning in the hope of seeing the article about Stratos workshop. As the days have passed by without any sign of the article I began to think it had been shelved.

At 8am this morning the phone rang. It was a very excited Strato telling me that The Herald had finally published the story in their chunky weekend edition! He had found out when a reader had rung him as soon as he had read the story and was expressing an interest in joining up. Over the next hour he had 6 more calls and by this evening he had lost count! Here is the story....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stringing the guitar

The last 48 hours have been a blur of last minute adjustments to the guitar. I have been back and forth to the workshop making a bridge from Tasmanian Myrtle and carving a saddle and nut from bone.

The kids came into the workshop last night and "helped" Strato to put a coat of shellac on the back and sides. It was amazing watching the wood come to life as the shellac soaked in.

At 2pm today I was in the workshop with Byron and the kids and had Strato and two of his friends helping me to get the guitar ready to put the strings on. Hopefully it will be ready for tonights party and may even get played for the first time! Watch this space....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Guitar Countdown continued....

Less than a week to go and I have been working flat out trying to get my guitar ready for the launch party on Saturday night. I have been busy sanding the sides and making tiny repairs to some areas of the binding.

Strato contacted all the local papers in the hope that one of them might run an article on his workshop opening. One of the bigger papers The Herald sent a photographer around to the workshop yesterday morning and Strato and myself spent the next couple of hours bending wood over the blow torch and sanding and planing as the photographer clicked away.

Later that day I was interviewed about why I was on the course and how much was I enjoying it. It will be great if he article makes it into the paper this week as it will be free advertising for Strato and should help him to get in a new set of students to carry on when our group is finished.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trip to the Dentist

Now that we have been in Australia for two years and have done all the big things (getting a house, finding a good school etc) we have worked our way down to the slightly more normal things on the list, like finding a dentist.

I booked a family appointment a couple of weeks ago and we all had a scrape and polish. I expected the kids to be nervous but they were excellent.
The dentist was lovely and helped put the kids at ease. They particularly enjoyed wearing the super cool shades! I took a few small shots on my phone and finally worked out how to download them onto the pc today.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A blog for Nashy...

Hi Nashy,

I could get all soppy and say how much I miss you... but I won't!

Let's just say that occasionally as I go about my normal day-to-day life I find myself thinking of you.....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Australian Citizenship Test

Byron and myself are swotting for our Citizenship exam later this month. A friend , Cameron, managed to get his hands on a copy of the test from Sydney...

To read the questions just move the mouse over each page and click for a larger image