Sat 8 March 2008
Well, There You Have It, I

I've decided to copy a whole lot of my other blog into this one.  It's taken ages and please don't feel you need to read it all, most of it's rubbish remblings anyway.

I'll try to keep my BE blog more up to date from now, promise ;-)

 

posted by herrchook at 07:52 | in:
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Sat 8 March 2008
Had My Wrists Slapped

I've just had my wrists kinda slapped by Moneypen for not updating this blog in ages.  I have been blogging, it's just that I've been doing it on anothersite (http://thecarraghersinoz.spaces.live.com/).

Anyway, I'll try to do an update.  But first I need to know the best way to do it.  I can bore you all to tears by copying and pasting the entire blog conents or I can just pop in some hyperlinks?  What do you think?

posted by herrchook at 06:43 | in:
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Fri 7 March 2008
Today Just Keeps Getting Better
Well, you already know about our nice financial surprise today.  On top of that someone might want to inspect the rental house on tuesday so hopefully they do, and they like it so we're off the hook.  Please keep everything crossed for us.  Paying rent and a mortgage is painful!!
 
And, well, they say it come in 3s and for us it certainly has today.  Mike had a 2nd interview today for a job which he's really excited about.  It's a PM role in a company which administers superannuation funds.  Basically, for a long time now, he's been hankering after a job which more accurately reflected the type of work he was involved with at Scotam (yeah, I know, Elaine, Izy, Sandy, Mike and Fiona I know you're screaming nnnnooooooooooo) but that's where his heart is.
 
Anyway, he's been offered the job and as they say in Oz he's stoked lol.  He is soooo excited and thinks this could the the job which he has for years to come.  They are going to put him through Prince2 certification also which is a huge bonus.
 
It's slightly less money than he's currently on, but hopefully, he'll get a whole lot more job satisfaction and there's a bonus scheme too so at the end ofthe day he might be better off.
 
Finally, it's Labour Day weekend here which means a long weekend for us and Monday off yyeeehaa.  We've not got a lot planned and we cancelled going to the Port Fairy Folkie as we didn't know what pennies we'd have which is a shame.  However, Andy and Helen have invited us round for curry on Saturday so it's not a complete washout, and we'll get to catchup with the Port Fairy Contingent next week as they're coming up so we can sll go see the Formula 1 GP together (and Mike and Campbell get to go see Ozzy play live too).  Sunday is supposed to be 35 degrees so we may go to the beach to relax - oh life is hard lol.
 
Hapy Friday :-)))))))))))))))))))))))))
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Fri 7 March 2008
Don't You Just Love A Surprise
The Australian equivalent of the child benefit is called Family Assistance and is managed by the govt organisation called Centrelink.  To be honest, we never thought we'd be entitled to it as it's means tested and Mike earns a good wage.  Anyway, we've looked at the forms many times and they always looked so complicated that they always ended up back at the bottom of the inbox.
 
Well, a couple of weeks ago, and with a new mortgage looming, I decided to procatinate no longer, and got online and on the phone and filled in all the forms.  I quickly got a letter telling me they needed to see our rental lease, visas and bith certs for the girls and I duly trotted off to the local centrelink office last Wednesday.
 
I was just this morning wondering how long it would take before I heard from them when the postie brought me a nice surprise in the mail....
 
They owe us over 6 months back family assistance payments and have paid a lump sum into our bank account.  Also, with effect from next week, we'll get regular payments which will cover about a whole weeks food bill per month so I'm really really excited.  Of course, it may well be reduced once we stop renting as I think a portion of it is what they call "rent asistance" but for the time being it's all very much appreciated.
 
Advance Australia Fair
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Thu 6 March 2008
Update on the Week So Far
Well, we've signed a notice that agrees to the extortionate charges imposed to break our lease.  They want almost $1000 but we have no choice as it's us who's breaking the lease.  Oh well.  Then, laughably, I got a call yesterday from the real estate agent asking if we'd give access for someone to come quote for air conditioning.  I actually laughed at her !!  We asked him to get this in 3 months ago and despite many many hots days and nights (some over 40 degrees) he only blinking does it now!!***~~@@!!!!!!!!!!  And some of those hot days we had no curtain or blind on a north facing patio door as he was too tight to fix the broken blind ~~@@**&&!!!!!  I HATE RENTING.
 
Suffice to say, we can't wait to get out now and finally be in our own place after over a year of effectively living in someone else's house.
 
Katie, I have actually taken a leaf out of your book and penned a letter to you.  I haven't written a letter in years - hope you like it :-)
 
This week I'm mostly trying to keep the house immaculate for and possible inspections.  Keep your fingers crossed for us please that they find a new tennant quickly as we don't want to be paying rent on an empty house.
 
We've had some very pleasant weather this week so far.  It's been hovering around the high 20s low 30s with glorious blue skies.  It was a tad warm last night but the fan by the bed was enough to sort that out.
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Mon 3 March 2008
Happy UK Mother's Day
After a few cool days to end the summer, Autumn offically started yesterday and the temperatures rose again !!!  Today it was 28 degrees and tomorrow it's to be 32 !!
 
We've had Lynn and Campbell and Ahren and Brody here this weekend.  We managed to polish off 5 bottles of wine with them on Friday night so that might explain the sore head yesterday lol.
 
We called the real estate agent for the rental on Saturday and she has confirmed our landlord has agreed to us terminating our lease and they've written out with the details and costs involved.  Assuming that's all in order, we can get this place advertised and hopefully, re let quickly.
 
No movement on the new house yet but the conveyencer says all hre stuff's in the post so hopefully the postie will have a bulging bag when he puttles up on his wee motor bike tomorrow.
 
Swimming lessons went well today.  Becca had her first "big kid" class and she had us and er teacher in stiches with her enthusiasm.  She was beaming ear to ear and wouldn't stand still, even swimming when it wasnt her turn.  At the end she even got a merit for her torpedo with a float (torpedo is the way they teach the kids to hold their hands outstretched with hands together while they learn to kick).  I suspect we may have a budding Olympic swimming champ on our hands lol.  We also asked Ellie's teacher how she was doing as she seems to have been in the same class for months.  They did a test on her and told us she will probably get moved up next week or the next which she's delighted with.
 
After swimming we popped over to Helen and Jonathans so Mike could fix their wonky pc and then home to clean the manky windows.  Sadly, it was a bit too hot for that today and it wasn't an easy job (poor Mike even burnt his neck) but they're pretty much all done now.  The only one's not done are those which have fixed fly screens on and we need to actually take the windows out to do those so that's a job for a cooler day.
 
Well, it's Mothers Day in the UK today so Mike's currently trying unsuccessfully to top up our international calling card.  Just in case it really is not working we might not be able to call so apologies.  I'm hoping to call Nicola tonight too as I've not had a decent chat in ages so hopefully we can get the kids down sharp.
 
Happy Mother's Day everyone.
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Thu 28 February 2008
Life Jim But Not As We Know It
Not much to report this week as we've been laying low trying to get the mortgage paperwork etc all sorted.  Everything is now with the lenders awaiting approval so keep everything crossed they give us the green light soon.
 
Over the weekend we had a visit from Jim and Sandra and the girls, it was great to catch up with them and hear all their news.
Still haven't heard anything from the landlord as to whether or not he's prepared to allow us out of the lease.  We're hoping to hear soon as each day it's empty when we move is a day we're paying rent and a mortgage and that's not a cheap option.
 
I've also been busy getting quotes for removalists, as they're called here.  They seem to typically charge by the hour here and we've about 6 quotes so it's just a case of deciding how long we'll need them and making the booking.  Then begins the fun of packing, again.  Seems like that's all we've done for the past year sometimes.
 
It's Mother's Day in the UK this week so we've been scouring the shops for a card, which, of course there are none of as it's not Mother's Day here.  Must remember to buy extra when it comes around here so we've got some for next year.
 
I've got a meeting with Ellie's teacher this afternoon and then tomorrow after school, Helen and Ellie are coming over for a cuppa.  Then on Friday night, Lynn and Campbell and the boys are coming up for the night as they have a wedding in Melbourne on Saturday.  Haven't seen them since Xmas so it'll be nice to catch up.  Once they leave though, I plan to go full steam ahead with packing so I need to start finding boxes and bubble wrap.
 
Oh yeah, and did I mention I've now had a headache/migraine for 5 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Stressed - no, not me :-)
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Sun 24 February 2008
Breaking News
Just back from swimming lessons and Becca just swam a complete length of the pool unaided - not just to the flag and back Mum and Dad - a complete length !!!!!
 
We're really proud of her.  She is now officially promoted out of the kinder groups and into what she calls "the big kids lessons".  Go Becca
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Sat 23 February 2008
What A Difference a Week Makes
In a bid to overcome our homesickness this week we spent hours and hours finalising our decision about where in Oz we are going to settle.  And the winner is right here in Caroline Springs.  It was actually seeing the kids happy here that we finally made our minds up.  Ellie is really happy at school and Becca, well, she simply adores her new kinder.  In addition, we have made some really amazing friends here and add to that the decent property prices and good commute to the city and the decision was made.  At present, property here is still a good price but there's a new bypass being built which will grossly reduce the drive into the city and with that, and the completion of the suburb in around 5 years we fully expect it to be a good investment.
 
Anyway, anyone who knows us knows that once we've decided to do something, we just get on with it (think back to brief engagement, then 2 kids in two years - get the picture lol).  Anyway, we have inspected a fair few houses this week and on Tuesday, I spotted a new property come on the market which looked perfect.  I called the estate agent and asked to inspect it then heard nothing back!!  After a few chase up calls, we got in to see it on Thursday night and almost immediately fell in love with it.  I won't go into the whole story but there was another offer already in on the property and the owners had reduced the price to sell quickly as they'd already moved out (a previous buyer dropped out last minute).  So we thought about it all Thursday night and on Friday, confirmed our mortgage was Ok and made a cheeky offer which was promptly refused.  So, we went back to them with the offer the same as the other bidder (but we'd found out by now they couldn't get the finance so it was just us bidding).  We found out about 4pm yesterday that the offer was accepted so today we took the deposit cheque in and signed the official offer.
 
What can I tell you about the house?  Well, it's right in the heart of Caroline Springs which means a 10 min walk to school, shops, library, pool, pub etc.  It's about 1 year old and it was built by a company called Metricon.  Long time readers of this blog will remember that's the same builder we chose when we were thinking of buiding so we were chuffed when we heard that as we think they're a great builder.  We also discovered that the style of the house is exactly the same as the house we wanted to build with Metricon but couldn't afford (talk about fate).  Thankfully, because the seller needed to sell quickly because of the previous lost buyer, the price was amazing.  Actually, we had to go see the realtor for the place we're renting so arrange breakign the lease and she couldn't believe the price we got it for.
 
The house has everything we wanted including a nice added bonus of a proper home theatre room and a guest room upstairs right next to the bathroom.  The girls have identical rooms next to ours as well as a rumpus area on the landing for their toys.  As for our room, well, it's more of a suite than a room lol.  When you go through the door htere's a corridor which opens on the left into a walk in dressing room with mirrored robes either side and a door into the ensuite.  Follow the corridor along past the dressing area and the bed area is there with the balcony and lovely views (perfect for those early morning coffees).  The ensuite is fab, it's got a massive spa bath, double sinks, large shower and separate WC. 
 
I've added a few photos we took on our 2nd inspection today, there's also a floor plan in ther from the current model of the house.  The only difference there is the layout of the master bedroom and that ours is the flip (i.e. mirror image).   Also, here's a link to the builders site on which you can take 360 degree tours of the showhome of the same design and also see more photos and a video (bear in mind it's a showhome though so it's top of the range everything)...http://www.metricon.com.au/victoria/homes/tribeca/default.aspx
 
Right, we're off to sink a bottle of something strong.
 
BTW, we had a lovely night along at Helen and Andy's last night catching up on all their news, thanks guys.
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Mon 18 February 2008
I'm Lost
Well, I'm still feeling a bit lost since Mum and Dad left.  We got a call from them early on Saturday so at least we know they're home safe and sound.  In a bid to keep busy and make the house feel a little less empty, we moved the lounge furniture around and actually it looks pretty good.  I'll post a photo - what do you think?  Also, Mike spent some time building the new chest of drawers we bought for our bedroom, they look fab.  Of course, we needed a few new nick nacks for them so we popped out to Watergardens and got a new vase and a couple of little pink candle holders.  I think it looks really good now.  All we need now though is a nicer room to put it all in lol.
 
On Friday night I got a really bad migraine which lasted most of Saturday too (but just as a headache mostly thankfully).  Anyway, i fell asleep at 8pm last night as the kids watched Willy Wonka on TV, I think the emotion of the past few days was catching up with me.  I slept better last night too which is good.
 
Today we had the usual swimming lessons at 9am.  We're really seeing a huge improvement in Ellie's swimming stroke week on week.  for a long time it was just the same all the time but she's really getting into it.  She's now owrking on butterfly stroke as well as developing her breathing technique further.  Last week at swimming, we were told Becca only had to swim a third of the pool and back unaided to get moved out of the kindergarten class.  Well, today, they told her and boy did she try hard to get it.  Her biggest problem was though that everytime she got halfway, she'd have a wee chat with the teacher lol.  Anyway, she very nearly made it and we expect her to get it in the next week or 2.  We'll keep you posted.
 
After swimming we came home and got a picnic ready and set off to Daylesford Lake with Helen and Ellie.  Boy was it hot today, it reached 34 so as you can imagine it was searing in the sun.  We had our lunch and the girls fed the ducks.  We then set off on a walk around the lake but got about half way when we discovered a little bit of the lake where some kids were swimming.  Well, that's all it took - 2 mins later, all 3 girls (and Mike) were in the lake fully clothed - and much cooler than Helen and I can I add lol.  They had a blast.  Goodness only knows if they'll all hae gostro tomorrow from swallowing lake water but boy did they have fun.  I couldn'thelp thinking it's a shame we hadn'y taken Mum and Dad ther eas they'd have loved it - really good old fashioned fun.  Oh well, we didn't know about this place when they were here - maybe next time.
 
I truly think Mum and Dad brought the UK weather with them when they arrived, and took it bakc when they went home.  It's been really warm and sunny ever since they left, yet they had some horrible weather when they were here.  Tonight, it's still 32 degrees and the house is really hot and horrible!!  It's to be the same tomorrow and Tuesday before cooling on Wednesday to mid 20s again - phew!   
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Fri 15 February 2008
They're Gone
Mike left to take Mum and Dad to the airport around 7.40 last night.  I personally felt worse than when we left in July.  The house feels full of ghosts.  It's weird, before they came it was just our house but now there's their bedroom, some of their stuff still in the bathroom and I can see Dad pottering in the kitchen.  After over a month of being together all day everyday it feels like someone's died.  I'm so sad.
 
I called Pam after they left last night just so I could chat to someone I know and that helped a bit.  She has her own problems right now so it kind of put things into perspective for me.
 
The girls are doing OK.  Becca had a few tears when she got up and realised they were gone and Ellie's mentioned it, but she said a proper goodbye last night so she got it out of her system then.  She was great actually.  I put her to bed just after they left and we both ha a good cry and a hug together.  She then told me she was really sad but she knew I would be sadder as it was my Mum and Dad - just when did she get so grown up?  Even this morning having breakfast we overheard her sayig to Becca "you can't talk to Mum about Gran and Grandad as it will make her sad".  How sweet?  We told her that its a nice thought but that we should talk about them even more as it'll make us happy.
 
Right, school run time, today's gona be a toughy.
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Thu 14 February 2008
Mum and Dad's Last Days
Wed 13th Feb
We had a lovely Wednesday morning today.  As Ellie's still off on Wednesdays we didn't have to get up early so we lazed around a bit and then the girls got their bikes and scooters out and we walked to the park.  However, this morning turned out to be just about the coldest day I've seen since arrivig here 6 months ago and we turned back after about 40 mins as we were all freezing in our shorts.  At lunchtime we dropped Becca off at kinder thne went to Watergardens for a little shopping and a wander.
 
Mike was home nice and early today at 5pm so the 6 of us had a lovely BBQ (the weather improved heaps in the afternoon).  The kids then did a little show for us which they really did well on and Mike was videoing some of it and right in the middle of a dance, Ellie's wobbly tooth fell out!!  We couldn't believe it, we didn't even realise it was that wobbly, and we couldn't belive we caught it on film lol.  That's 4 teeth gone now and she's such an old hand at it compared to the tears we had when the first one came out.  Actually, she's lost 3 teeth in the time since Mum and Dad have been here alone. 
 
Thursday 14th feb - Mum and Dad's Last Day
Well, today was always going to be a hard day but we decided to make the most of it and kept Ellie off school so we could do something special.  We went to Melbourne Zoo for the day and really had a ball.  We lucked out in terms of seeing animal feedings etc.  We saw the lions and the tigers being fed, the elephants getting their play time and also an elephant having a manicure.  We also saw a realyl interesting talk about the wombats and caught the tale end of a chat about the zebras and giraffes.
Also, Ellie and I had a chance to feed a group of kangaroos which was quite an experience.
We really have had a lovely time, not just today but for the whole month they've been with us.  Mum and Dad are packing as I'm typing this and I think we're all just trying to keep busy and not think about tonight too much.  I think we all wondered how it would be living together for such a long time but honestly, it's been fine (for us anyway lol) and boy have the kids loved getting spoiled rotten.  I've not done too badly either mind you as Mum and Dad have cooked and ironed and generally been a great help around the house which I really appreciate loads.  Gosh, no one even came and cooked or cleaned for me when I had 2 babies to look after so this has been such a lovely treat.  Mum says Dad has enjoyed doing so much cooking to as she never lets him near her cooker at home lol.
Right, we're off to have mince and tatties for our last dinner together then we're getting the kids ready for bed before Mum and Dad head to the airport around 8pm.
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Wed 13 February 2008
Groundhog Day
We tried getting to the market again today and it was open - huurraaahhhh.  I got some fruit and veg while Dad got the meat.  We then had a wander and I got a few things for Granny Clark's birthday.  Mum also got a lovely opal bacelet for Valentine's Day from my Dad.
 
Mum did a huge favour for me yesterday afternoon.  I had opened the big bag off Ellie's old winter clothes and most of it mow fits Becca so we sorted it all out and washed and ironed it all - a huge job.  Mind you, it was well worth doing as the weather seems to be getting cooler now and at least I now know I don't need to buy Becca a thing for winter.
 
Mike came home with some interesting news tonight.  His employers have decided to pull all their employees off the job that Mike's currently working on at Telstra (the Aus version of BT) due to them all complaining about how bad it is.  That was good news for everyone, then at the pub later on, Mike's boss at Telstra asked him if he'd consider staying there (with a big wage rise) on a 2 year contract.  This will need a lot of thinking about as contractually it might not be possible, but it's too good an offer to refuse outright.  Will keep you posted on developments on this one.  Either way though it's a winner.  He either stays with DWS on a different contract that's better than Telstra or he stays at Telstra and gets paid lots more (albeit it's not a permanent job).
 
So with his head buzzing, Mike and Dad set about butchering the meat Dad got at the market and now our freezer is full again :-).
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Wed 13 February 2008
Doh!!!
Our plan today was to go to the Queen Vic market and get some meat so Dad could show Mike how to butcher it into steaks etc.  We dropeed Becca at kinder, then Ellie at school and drove into the city - to find it shut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 
Oh well, we still got some retail therapy though as when Ellie came home, we went to Brimbank shopping centre and I picked up a Hannah Montana outfit for Ellie and I also got Bethany's birthday present for Mum to take home.
 
We're working hard at making sure the girls know Gran and Grandad are going home this week.  It's going to be hard to say goodbye, especially for the girls but there's no point in us pretending it's not happening. 
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Tue 12 February 2008
Don't You Love Babysitters
Last Monday, Mike and I took a trip on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant (http://www.tramrestaurant.com.au/) which is a genuine old Melbourne Tram which has been converted into a restaurant.  We boarded at 5.45 and it meandered around the city and out to St Kilda as we were fed and watered in high style.  It was charming and we had a lovely time enjoying the food and the scenery.
 
Next day, Mum and Dad went into the city with Mike for a day out sight seeing and as part of that they also had a meal on the tramcar restaurant. 
 
Then the next night, Mike and I had another night off and this time we went to the cinem to see I Am Legend.
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Tue 12 February 2008
More Fun with Mum and Dad
Last weekend, we had BBQ for some of the friends we've made here.  We thought it would be great for Mum and Dad to be able t oput faces to the names they've heard so often on the phone andI think everyone enjoyed it.  We had around 25 adults and maybe 8 or 9 kids and Dad and Mike did us proud with their steaks, kebabs and burgers on the barbie.
 
Next day, Dad and Mike went sea fishingwith Neil and his son James and although they didn't catch anything, I think they had a thoroughly good time.  While the men were off fishing, Mum and I took the girls to Sovereign Hill (http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/?id=sovhill) which is an outdoor museum which has recreated what it was like in victoria around the time of the goldrush.  We had a go at panning for gold and the girls got all dressed up and had an olde worlde photo taken.  We had loads of fun looking in all the old shops and watched gold being smelted.  All in all it was a really great day out and we were shattered when we got back at tea time.
 
Incidentally, because Mike was taking Dad and Neil and his son and friend to the fishing, they took my car so I had to take his.  Fair enough, but I haven't ever driven Mike's car and it's a manual, and it's been 6 months since I drove a manual.  I did Ok in it once I remembered that the pedal I thought was the clutch was actually the brake !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sssh, don't tell Mike lol.
posted by herrchook at 07:42 | in:
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Mon 11 February 2008
Chinese New Year in Melbourne
On Sunday we started the day with the girls' lessons at State Swim.  I haven't seen them swim for a few weeks now and boy are they doing well.  Ellie's stroke technique is amazing and she's rally getting the hang of breathing correctly in the water too.  Becca's come on leaps and bounds and is now swiming withher head under the water while all the other little ones in her class are still way behind her.  Her teacher says she's only a few weeks off being put up a class.
 
After the swim, we drove through the city and down the east coast so Mum and Dad could see the other side of Melbourne.  We stopped off at Carrum and Parkdale and then at the beach in Brighton with its famous beach huts. 
 
On the way back up, we were all in awe at the fabulous homes lining the road, now, all we need to do it win the jackpot on the lottery.  Talking of which, Dad won nearly £2000 on the UK lottery this week - he had 5 numbers and is kicking himself for being so close to the big win.  Because of that, and Mike's relative success at the casino the other night, he and Dad decided to have a go at the aussie lotto and they actually won that too - $140.
 
Back to Sunday, and after our drive, we popped in to the city to enjoy the Shinese New Year celebrations on Southbank.  It was packed full and lovely and warm.  We enjoyed the atmosphere, and a few drinks and the kids made chinese hats.  Sadly, there was a lady there who had lost her little boy.  Mike helped look for him briefly but he still wasn't found by the time we left.  There was no mention on the news that night, so hopefully they got him back safe and sound.
 
To top off our lovely day out, we had dinner in our local asian restaurant Coco Chine, and due to our lotto win the day before it was nice and cheap :-)
 
I think Mum and Dad really enjoyed today, it's given them another perspectine on Melbourne.  There's a good chance we may end up buying a house on the east side of town so at least now they know why as it's much prettier than the west.
 
Just before bed time we had some more excitement Ellie lost another tooth!! That's 3 now and boy does her smile look funny. 
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Mon 11 February 2008
On Hols in Sydney Jan 08
We arrived at the airport for our flight to Sydney nice and early and had a lovely smooth flight with just a brief delay.  The descent into Sydney was spectacular, we flew over the harbour with amazing ariel views of the bridge and opera house and the miles and miles of water.  Just stunning. 
 
Our hotel was the Marriott in Circular Quay and it was just a perfect location.  It was just 5 mins stroll to the ferrys etc and was top notch quality inside too.  We'd paid extra for harbour views and weren't disapointed.  Both our rooms had amazing views of the opera house.
 
After checking in, we had a bit of a wander around circular quay and over to the Opera House.  It was pretty windy that day - as you will see from the photos, but it wasn't cold at all.  After a bite to eat, Mike took the girls back to the hotel for a swim and Mum and Dad and I popped out to the tourist info and picked up a load of brochures to help us plan our week.  We also bought weekly passes that covered us for use of all the buses, trains and ferrys.  Becuase we were staying so centrally, there just didn't seem any point in paying to use tourist buses etc.  As they say - when in Sydney - take the ferry :-).
 
Our first evening was planned for us already, we had arranged to meet up with Lynsey and Kenny who moved here 7 years ago.  Lynsey is the daughter of Alan and Irene (Mum and Dad's friends).  We met them at Darling Harbour in the Pontoon Bar and then went on to have a lovely meal with them.  Poor Becca fell asleep on my lap part way through the night, but it was lovely to catch up with Lynsey as I hadn't seen her for years and years (although Mum and Dad were at her and Kenny's wedding in Thailand 2 years ago).
 
Day 2 in Sydney and the sun was shining.  We took the ferry to Manly and wandered down the main stret (The Corso) and along to the beach where we watched the sand sculptures, surfers and beach volleyball.  We also took a wander to find the hostel I'd stayed in when in Manly 14 years ago and was shocked to find it about to be demolished - another few days and we'd have missed it!  Next stop was lunch then a walk to the neighbouring suburb of Fairlight where I lived in a flat once.  It was a much longer walk than I remembered it and it was a hot afternoon so half way along, Dad stopped for s seat withthe girls and Mum, Mike and I continued on.  I had told them that one of the things I remembered of that street were the numbers of spiders in the gardens and it hadn't changed a bit - we must have seen hundred and hundreds - and that's just the obvious ones !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
That evening, we had dinner in the posh Rocks area overlooking the Opera House.  It's gotta be done :-)))
 
Next day we took the ferry to Luna Park which is a fairground which sits almost under the Harbour Bridge and which is a Sydney institution which dates back to about 1935 (that's a long time in Australian history).  We rode the big wheel and the carousel and Mike and I went on a crazy ride which almost made us sick (another thing which needs to be done).  Dad then took Becca on the Wild Mouse ride!!!!!!!!!!!!  We took the official photo of it in which she looks terrified but in fact, she came off it screaming at how much fun it was - I suspect we've a budding adrenaline junkie on our hands there lol.  To round the trip off Mike and I were scared wittless on the Prison Break ride lol.  That night we met up with Josie for a meal after which Mum and Dad took the girls home and we went off for a few drinks with Jo.  We hadn't planned on a late night as it was midweek but the lure of the champagne cocktails was too much and I think it was about 1.30 when we got in.  I don't know about Josie, but I certainly didn't feel too great the next morning.  It was great catching up with Josie, but I forgot to get a photo :-(.
 
Well, you can't go to Sydney and not visit Bondi Beach so that's what we did next.  We used the local bus and enjoyed the sights enroute.  Arriving at the beach, Mike and Ellie walked along the shore line and the rest of us followedthe promenade.  At the other end, the girls both went swimming in the open air pool and thouroughly enjoyed it.  That night, we had a trip booked on the Sydney Showboat.  What a great night we had.  The boat toured the harbour for around 2 and a half hours while we ate a lovely meal and were then entertained by a troupe of dancing girls and a singer.  We all had a fantastic night that night.  Well worth every cent.
 
Next morning was another glorous day and we visited Sydney Wildlife World.  We saw all manner of Australian wildlife and Mum and Ellie cuddled (well, stroked) a koala :-).  That evening we took the ferry across the harbour to meet up with Andy and Paula and had a few drinks at Andy's place followed by dinner at the Oaks.
 
Our last day in Sydney was a beauty - Australia Day.  Sydney Harbour was packed solid for the ferry and tall ship races and we thoroughly enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere (and the sun lol).  Sadly we had to come home though and we caught our flight around 9pm.  What an excellent holiday.
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Sun 10 February 2008
Meeting The aussie Rellies
On Sat we met up with our Australian relatives.  Bob is my Mum's first cousin.  His Mum and my Grandad Clark were twins.  We also met Bob's wife Norma and their son Robert with his wife Robyn and their sons Liam and Rory.  They cooked us a fab barbie and we had a lovely time meeting them all.
 
Bob and Norma live on the other side of Melbourne but Robert and Robyn live quite near where we are right now so we'll hopefully have the chance to meet them again.
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Sat 9 February 2008
Luxury
On Friday, Mum and Dad gave us a special gift and paid for us to spend a night o nthe town staying at the Crown Promenade hotel in the city.  What a fab hotel.  We had a double view of the city as we had ceiing to floor windows on 2 sides of the room.
 
In preparation for the night out, Mum and I had spend the day at DFO and I'd bought myself a new dress (as well as a fwe other bits and pieces).  Ellie was at school while we did it and Dad kept Becca at home with him so it was great to get peace to shop properly and actually get to try things on for a change.
 
Anyway, after meeting Mike after work, we had a few drinks on Southbank just watching the world pass by in the sunshine and then we had dinner followed by a trip to the casino where we paid the pokies (slot machines) and then roulette for a while.  I think we came out about $20 up o nthe night so that's not too bad for our first attempt in a casino.
 
This weekend past was the Chinese New Year so we also enjoyed the night time Chinese market o nour stroll back to the hotel and bought the girls each a little chinese lantern.
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