Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dream Tenants!

Today is a day to go down in history!

A day that has reassured us that we are in fact not just "good" tenants but "DREAM" tenants!!!

Our current rental house sold yesterday to a new family. This doesn't affect us on a day to day level. We have a lease until the end of March so will carry on living here until then. Over the last couple of months while this house was up for sale, there were open days on Saturdays for prospective buyers to wander around. We tried to leave the house looking as good as possible each time and after a month the house sold. This afternoon a car pulled up the drive and we opened the door to our landlord holding a huge bouquet of flowers, a big box of Chocolates and a Thank-You card with a lovely message thanking us for keeping the house so nicely and for being Dream Tenants!!!

We have come a long way since our bad experiences last January. The stress and hassle we went through back then with our previous landlords has been pushed to the back of our minds. But I must say it is very reassuring to know that we are doing OK this time around!!!

As Mr B would say "Happy Days!!!"

Monday, October 30, 2006

Courtesy Award

Each week, the school chooses one pupil from each class and presents them with a Courtesy Award. The child is awarded with a certificate and a badge during assembly and gets a round of applause.

This week a very chuffed Rhiannon got the award! She hasn't taken the badge off yet and gets to wear it every day to school.

Well done, Rhiannon !

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Captain Caveman

I had fun tricking the kids this weekend. They were engrossed watching cartoons on the tele, when an old favourite of mine Captain Caveman came on. They were impressed with my enthusiastic impersonation of him, and I sort of got carried away....

I somehow managed to convince Gareth and Rhiannon that when I was younger, I was in fact the actual Captain Caveman in the cartoon. I described my cape, my whiskers, how the Teen Angels used to call me 'Cavey', and so on.

Sian was much more sceptical, so much so that she tried to outsmart me by asking technical questions such as what was the cartoon bird's name that hides in Cavey's wooden club, and asking the names of the Teen Angels. Anyway, she clearly wasn't convinced and asked me to phone Nan so she could ask her herself.

"It's a fair cop" I thought as I handed Sian over to my mother, but to my amazement (and without any prompting from me), 'Nan' backed up my story completely. I was starting to win Sian around but she still wanted more proof.

"Prove it!" she said, "Show me your name on the Captain Caveman website".

Ah. That could be a little tricky....

Within 10 minutes though I had found a website and without her noticing, had managed to add my name into the HTML text using the same font and colours.

She was totally bowled over and immediately said "I believe you!". It wasn't until Rhiannon said "I knew you would never lie to us Dad" that I became guilt-ridden and had to come clean by admitting that I wasn't actually one of Hanna Barbera's creation, but just plain ol' Dad.

"But you can't be lying Dad, it says so on the website".

A lesson to be learnt there methinks. Ahhh, but I was a superhero for a few moments !

Christmas Panto.

I know it is still October but a local group of families put on a fantastic early Christmas panto this weekend.

It included many familiar characters from traditional childrens stories in a bizzare story that twisted and turned and like all good pantos had a happy ending!

It was great fun to watch especially knowing so many of the people on stage. Well done to Sian and Rhiannons friends, Gemma (Sneezy) Sophie (Happy) Harriet (Harriet) and Jasper (Bashful)

My favourite character had to be Little Red Riding Hood, otherwise known to her friends as Anne-Marie Connelly!!! Anne-Marie is a natural at many things, holding a champagne glass, talking away calories in broken biscits (they don't count because they have evaporated...?) and laughing and talking without taking a breath for almost as long as me! But now she has added another talent to the list. A natural on the stage Anne-Marie breezed through her lines and sang her heart out.

Watch out Broadway, There's a new star on the rise!!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gardener Gareth + Pirate Tom!

Gareth had a friend to play this morning. He is known as Pirate Tom because he is rarely seen without one of his many pirate hats on his head! They had great fun helping me with some planting. We are trying to grow lots of plants in pots so that we can have an "instant garden" when we get to the new house. As you can see we are not doing too badly!

While I was encouraging the boys to water the plants with the new watering can I noticed Tom carrying over our foot pump. We usually use it to pump up paddling pools and footballs.

Gar and Tom were having a very serious conversation about how plants need water to grow....... and air to breathe.

They set about very seriously watering the plants and pumping air into the soil to help the plants grow big+ strong! Time will tell if they are onto something new! Watch this space!!!

House Build week 6: windows and roof!

This week has brought yet more change to the structure of the house! The upstairs of the frame was completed early in the week.

By today all the windows and patio doors had been installed and most of the roof frame was in place!

We had a site meeting with the site supervisor this morning and he allowed us to wander around the inside to our hearts content.

The bricks have been delivered and the "brickies" start building the walls on Monday. Very exciting times! I took a video clip and have put it on the bottom of the blog for you to see.
Here's looking forward to another weeks progress....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Spring Cycle

Four weeks ago, a friend Charles invited me to join him in a big cycling event in Sydney. It was a 50km (30 miles) ride around Sydney and even included cycling over the famous Harbour Bridge.

I accepted the challenge because:

  • I'd consumed too much wine
  • It seemed like a good idea at the time
  • It was a good chance to get exercising again
  • I can't turn down any challenge

So, for the past four weeks I've been donning my shorts and t-shirt and whizzing around the local area. Not without drama I might add....after several scary moments with magpies and mynah birds attacking me I decided to stick fake large eyes on the back of my helmet, and whereas it scared the magpies away, the mynah birds still 'bounced' off my head almost daily!

When I first started training, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to complete 50km so I set myself a target of 3.5 hours. Before this weekend, my training had improved and was hoping to finish within 3 hours. Of course, no self-inflicted training regime would have been complete without the usual requirement to buy more gadgets....so once the cobweb-covered bike was cleaned down, I purchased a bicycle computer, new road tyres, a gel filled saddle and a bladder-bag (!) that contains water in a rucksack with a tube that you can constantly drink from draped over my shoulder.

Race day was this Sunday and after more drama in Charles' garage (my bike burst a tyre overnight) we were off racing by 8am - thanks to Mrs B for driving us to the start.

It really was a great course, passing some spectacular sights and finishing up at the huge Sydney Olympic Park. Charles and I whizzed around with 10,000 other cyclists stopping at rest stages for comfort breaks and chocolate...

I don't know if it was adrenaline or because the course was flatter than I expected, but my finishing time was a surprising 2 hours 23 minutes.

Am I:

- Fitter? Probably
- Satisfied? Yes
- Saddle sore? Definitely!

Friday, October 20, 2006

House Build week 5: Frame takes shape!

Another exciting week again!

The frame is taking shape with the ground floor having been constructed over the last few days.

It is amazing how quickly we are watching it come together. The first photo is of the front of the house from the road and the second photo is of the back of the house from the road above ours!

Friday, October 13, 2006

House Build week 4: Frame arrives!

Well the slab has dried and the wood has been delivered for the next stage.

On Monday they will start to build a timber frame that is a skeleton of the final house. The brickwork will then be built up and around this frame.

It usually takes 1-2 weeks to assemble and then we really will have a good idea of the size and shape of all the rooms.

This next month should be very exciting as we will see the house "grow" out of the ground. I hope you will enjoy the updates!

Monday, October 09, 2006

House Build week 3: Slab gets poured!

It's another exciting week on Lot 179! Today our concrete "Slab" got poured. It is effectively a large concrete base that the house gets built on. It acts as a foundation and is the exact shape and size of the ground floor of our finished house. We are finally getting an idea of what rooms will be where etc.

Pipes are sticking out of the concrete where the bathrooms will be and we are trying to imagine ourselves lying in the spa bath. I think we should wait until a few walls go up before we get too carrried away!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Anchors Away

Sunday was a perfect day for whizzing across the lake in the boat. It was a scorcher, over 30C with not much wind.

The kids stayed at the front of the boat and enjoyed getting splashed by the odd wave. Normally, we tie up to a local jetty for some food, but today we decided to drop anchor in a quiet cove so we could have a picnic on the boat in private.

Mrs B certainly was in her element, she makes an excellent ship's mate!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Welcome Wall

Today we all jumped on a very early train to Sydney. It only takes a couple of hours to get to Sydney and the train journey travels through some great scenery.

Our task for the day was to mark our anniversary of our arrival in Australia by registering our family name to be engraved on a huge bronze wall in Sydney. It's called the Welcome Wall and includes thousands of names of immigrants that have arrived on these shores. More sections of it are released each year with new names engraved upon it. There is also a searchable database that can be accessed via the web.

Apparently, our name will appear late next year (we hoped it would be ready within a week !).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

One Year On...

We find it hard to believe it, but today we celebrated the anniversary of our arrival to Australia. We actually left on the 3rd October 2006 but arrived on the 5th.

We landed in Sydney at 7:30pm with:

  • 8 suitcases
  • 5 visas
  • 3 kids
  • zero house
  • zero car
  • zero mobile phone, credit cards, accommodation, etc !

Update - found a photo of us arriving at Sydney airport:

We also arrived with a tremendous amount of excitement, expectation and a desire to put down roots in this new hemisphere.

12 months on and:

  • 3 kids with Aussie accents
  • 2 rental houses
  • 1 car
  • 1 house being built
  • new schools
  • some new friendships
  • plenty of grey hair on Byron
  • suntans
  • 1 speedboat

If you've followed our adventure over the past year, you know that it hasn't been a complete bed of roses (generally, only the good stuff makes it to this blog...). Just letting you know that we're happy, feeling very settled and totally accepted into the local community - we don't regret making our decision to emigrate, but of course miss our family and friends more than anything in the world.

So, how did we celebrate the anniversary of our arrival?

First up, as it's the school holidays we took the little ones to The Wizard of Oz play at a young people's theatre in Newcastle that they thoroughly enjoyed. We then spent a few hours at a great local beach where Sian collected shells, and Gareth and Rhiannon made a home for 'Hermie' the hermit crab...

The night was rounded off by a great meal in a local restaurant while the children were looked after by babysitters.

Tomorrow we plan on catching a train to Sydney. There is a wall called the Welcome Wall in Darling Harbour where anyone who has emigrated from another country can pay for their name to be carved into the wall for future generations to remember. We think this is a fitting way to mark our arrival.

Thanks to everyone who has read our blog so far and for all comments that have been left! Here's to another 12 months of blogging.

Byron and Gina xxx