Sunday, February 26, 2006


We always knew when we emigrated that we were likely to have some friends and family visit us over the next few years. What we didn't bank on was them actually booking airline tickets so soon!

We will be breaking ourselves in gently over the coming months. My Uncle Colm and Maggie are joining us next weekend for two nights before they carry on to Sydney and then back to my cousin Nick in Melborne. Byron's Mum and Dad have booked to fly over for three weeks in April, his friend Nashy is due for a couple of days in June, and just this morning our friends Josie and Stef confirmed that they are joining us for the month of August! Looks like we better go bed shopping!!!

We definitely aren't complaining; the more the merrier, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone come over to visit us sometime. There's plenty of room! Get your bookings in early to avoid disappointment....

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Open air cinema

We had a real treat this weekend when we went to a free open air cinema in nearby Newcastle. There is a lovely grassy park on the shores of Throsby Creek. The local council sponsor lots of open air activities over the summer and have set up temporary cinema screens every Saturday night this month. They then use a laptop to project a family film onto the screen when the sun sets. Everyone turns up with blankets and eskys of food and drink and finds a spot to have their picnic. It was great fun and although Gareth crashed out half way through the film Rhiannon sat mesmerised right through till the ending at 11pm! Luckily we had a torch to find our way back to the car. Unfortunately that was the last film of the summer but we will definitely be going back when they start up again next year!

Sunday, February 19, 2006


We've had some feedback from family and friends regarding this blog. A few have remarked on the fabulous lifestyle that we seem to be living and have asked is it 'really' that good or are we being selective about what we show.

Well...let's be honest we are having a fabulous time. The whole point of this blog is to show everyone and anyone that we are settling in well. The honeymoon period for us is definitely over, but we don't have any regrets about our move and are only looking forward to bigger and better things.

What you won't see in the blog here though is bad news. We don't think that you'd like to read news about Gina pranging our new car, the fact that we're bleeding money or the grief we've had from some neighbours.

For those in need of a reality check, here you are:

1. The bins still need emptying
2. I didn't marry Gina for her housekeeping skills
3. Mosquitoes are a complete nuisance and we're always covered in bites
4. You never, ever get used to cockroaches
5. Air-conditioning bills costs as much as our heating bills used to
6. I get called a pom everyday
7. Australian TV is lousy
8. Australian beer is god awful
9. It's still a stressful time every morning getting the kids to school on time
10. No matter how fancy the bbq, it's still bloody sore when you singe all the hairs off your arm.

Anyway, enough whinging, I'm off to sit on my deck to watch the sunset over beautiful Lake Macquarie while Kookaburras and Cockatoos settle in to the top of the gum trees for the night. Pass me another beer Gina, this one's empty....

Saxophone !

I've always loved the sound of a saxophone, and today I decided to take the plunge and hire one for 3 months and try to learn how to play it. I'm booked in for 1 lesson a week, starting tomorrow!

It really is a thing of beauty and sounds just fantastic - I've been practising like mad all evening much to the kids delight and my lips are now throbbing. Not sure how happy the neighbours are going to be though....

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bush Walking

We had an early start today as a neighbour of ours had recommended a drive to Mt. Sugarloaf. It's only about a 30 minutes drive but it was a roasting hot day so we decided to make the most of the morning.

It was a good ol' steep drive up a windy road, and the kids were a little worried as they looked out of the side windows at the steep drop, but it was worth the drive as the views from the top were amazing.

We had a very small picnic surrounded by bushland, with plenty of kookaburras and big magpies sizing up our feast. We set off on our very first bush walk, although we weren't that prepared for it. We were all wearing sandals for a start (called thongs over here), and Rhiannon spent most of her time knocking sand and dirt out of hers. When it got a bit too tricky underfoot we turned around and headed for cooler climes.

Gina's getting a dabhand at setting the camera timer because we were in the middle of nowhere in the picture below!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Botanical Gardens

We spent the weekend in Sydney as our friends Charles and Sue have moved house and invited us to come down and trash their place. They've moved to a fantastic new location, with very relaxing views over the tennis courts, a cricket oval and the sea.

Charles did his usual superb job on the barby, and had even invented his own barby-cooked dessert since the last time we saw him. I wish I had a photo to show you, but imagine a large glass dish have filled with semi-frozen fruits-of-the-forest. Then imagine the top half completely covered with marshmallows. So far so good...then he put it into the barby with the hood down for 10 minutes until the marshmallow melted. Must have gained about half a stone by inhaling the fumes. Good work Charles!

We've never been to the Botanical Gardens before, and as they only live a short walk from a ferry connection, we had a great mini-cruise under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House for a very enjoyable stroll.

The wildlife there was amazing, and probably the best were the hundreds of flying foxes asleep on the top of the gum trees. Once the kids were packed with E-numbers they ran wild in the huge open spaces and were completely exhausted by the time we walked back from the ferry.

The evening went on longer than it should have, and although Gina had the good sense to go to bed at a reasonable time (lightweight...), Charles and I made the mistake of opening more wine...they're great hosts and it would have been rude not to.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Anyone for tennis?

Sian and Rhiannon started tennis lessons today. They are booked into a class every Friday from 4-5pm in the local town club. It is a real sociable thing for the whole family. The kids enjoy the class and all the Mums and Dads bring loads of food to share. It's like a big picnic.

Oh, did I mention the champagne?...... Well another tradition is that there are a few bottles of bubbly popped open during the afternoon. Now I know why some of them share lifts! I will have to try bringing Byron next week to be the designated driver!!!

Gareths farm visit

Gareths playgroup spent this morning at a local farm to see a 3 week old baby foal. The farm belonged to the grandmother of one of the little boys at playgroup. She let the kids prepare the horses food and let them help with the feeding.

Afterwards they had a picnic lunch and a play on the tree swings and hammock.
Gareth is now crashed out asleep on the living room floor with black feet and a contented face!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sians Swimming Carnival

Sians school did a swimming carnival today which was basically a day of swimming races at a local indoor pool.
It was good fun and Gareth and myself were cheering her on. Poor Rhiannon had to have a normal day in school so she missed out on the ice pops and treats. Sian came 3rd place in her race so she was delighted. We went out for a celebration milkshake before heading back to collect Rhiannon from school.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Blacksmiths beach

We had a lovely beach day on Sunday with some friends and their kids. Their little boy is going to pre-school with Gareth and their girl is in Rhiannons year in school. Sian happily bossed them all around and they spent time building castles, swimming and body boarding.

We had a lovely picnic and came home tired but happy. The kids were trying to dose off in the car coming home but we kept them talking and made them have an early night ready for another week of school.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Call that a BBQ Derek???

Now this is a real Barby!!!

It only required a small mortgage, took 17 hours to assemble and uses 6 gas canisters per night!

Burnt sausages never tasted so good!!!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Settling In

We've quickly settled in to the new house, although there will be semi-unpacked boxes and suitcases around for sometime. We're here for 9 months, minimum and there's no way we'll be leaving here early - we feel like nomads sometimes...

It's very relaxing here, we've a large balcony at the back with great views over bushland and the smallest glimpses of the lake in the distance. The wildlife at the back of the garden is just amazing, we've never seen so many parrots. The noise they make wakes us up in the morning, who needs cockerels ?

Other not-so-welcome wildlife is the huge increase in spiders that we've seen since we arrived in this house. We've already found 2 redback spiders in the garden which are supposedly very nasty. Their black body is about the size of a Smartie with a large zig-zag red stripe down their back. Luckily we've got some great spray poison that kills all known bugs and is very satisfying. I think we need a bug man to come around though to give the garden a once over.

The kids have been great as usual, and are delighted to have their own huge play room, complete with drum set, keyboard, tele and piano.

My office is taking shape, and although I don't have a view of the pool anymore, Gareth comes in regularly to keep me company.