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The ups and downs of our planned new life to NZ, warts and all!

It's been a while!Thu 19 October 2017

Well, Ive been a bit busy.....

a brief recap of the last few years would be I have loved living in New Zealand.  Just last week I went along the escarpment track from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay (find it on I did that then ran back along SH1 to my car and I was grinning as I ran - just the being here still enthuses me. 

I gave up smoking over 3 years ago and then spent 2 years moaning about getting fat.  So I started doing a bit of walking, then running, then added a bit of cycling and swimming and lo and behold, I transformed into the wonder I am today.....I've done several sprint distance Triathlons including one in Scotland when I was home in August and I'm signed up for a duathlon in Wellington next month and the Kapiti triathlon in February.

Talking of running, the first day I decided to run, it was on a bit of a whim: I was down the beach, doing some beachcombing {as you do} and I had picked up a left-footed flip-flop.  I'll have to digress a moment {bet you didn't see that coming}  I have collected numerous flip-flops off the beach and the vast majority are lefties.....why is that?....Aha - my theory then. I reckon that if you are right handed - as the majority of people are - you grip better with your right hand.  So the same goes for feet eh?  The left footed flip-flop won't be gripped as hard and it floats off out into the blue briny with nary a wave goodbye.  So, off I went, a wee gentle jog, just becaue it was a lovely day and I could.  That was great, haven't run in years.  All was going well, so I broke into a lumbering run - flippin epic.  So enthused was I that I thought dune running would be just the best thing ever so a tout vitesse I ran onto the dune track.  Except it wasn't.  Some miserable bastard had moved the upright piece of driftwood that ought to mark the start of the track so I was running like a headless chicken up the side of the dune.  Meh.  Using all my Bear Grylls survival skills  I thought  just keep the sound of the sea on you right and you can't go wrong.  What utter bollox.  On getting home I checked Map my Walk and I had run in a complete circle in the dunes.  Not only that, on cresting a rise, I caught my foot in a clump of seagrass and desrcibed a cartwheel in the air as I fell down the hill. Landed in the splits and just about made myself into twins and hurt my back all in one fell swoop.  Aye and still clutching the left-footed flip-flop, staring up at the sky wondering what the hell happened there?  Then I had to walk 2k home - wasn't my finest hour.

I'm single and very content to be so, I enjoy being able to suit myself and spend my money on what I want and eating in bed and reading until 2 in the morning and drinking the milk out of the bottle and eating an entire family bar of chocolate to myself and all sorts of things that I didn't realise I had given away.  And if I want to sit in bed and pick toe jam out from the piggies, that's what I'll do. Yes, indeed, it suits very well. And I've come to realise I have an inner strangth and resilience I should be proud of, I can manage perfectly well on my own and relish my independence.

Oh, I've got so many stories to tell you,

Speak soon

(Posted by karonious)
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Finally moving from DarwinTue 3 December 2013
After a difficult year with hubby on deployment from Oct 2012 to June 2013 and eldest son being accepted in a boarding school down in NSW , a 4 hour flight and 3 hour train and 1 hour bus trip away from me. It was certainly a challenge. However we came through it and we are stronger for it. We had a trip to the UK when hubby came back and spend July and a bit of August visiting family and all our favourite people and places. had a week in Durham in a farm cottage, then 2 weeks in Scotland with hubbies family followed by a week and a bit in the lakes district. Having endured such a stressful time during the deployment it was great to have quality family time together. That visit back to the UK also confirmed that we had done the right thing moving to oz. On our arrival back to Darwin hubby was surprised to hear he had been selected to go to a teaching unit on the NSW/VIC border (an hour or so away from eldest son) So we were delighted at that news. We leave on the 20th of Dec for the road trip of a life time, we will be traveling through Katherine to Alice Springs staying near Alice for 2 nights and will be having an Uluru and kings canyon trip. From there spending Christmas eve and Christmas day in Coober pedy in an under ground motel. From there a quick visit for lunch in Port Augusta before staying in Adelaide for 2 nights. Driving the great ocean road staying in Waranambool (sp) and finally arriving in the Dandenong rangers for 4 nights over new year. Our last journey will be driving the forest road through healsville, Alexandria and Benalla to Wangaratta to temporary accommodation in Wodonga before we move into our new home. Certainly will be an interesting Christmas this year. With a new year and new start in a new place.
(Posted by geordie mandy)
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Never say FinalMonday 1 July 2013
When my move to Calgary fell through back in '08, I pretty much fell in with the idea the I would spend the rest of my life living in the UK. But my latest job is now in jeopardy and out of the blue I got a call from an agent with a job in Abu Dhabi! Hmmmm how do I feel about that? How would my wife feel and then there are the kids. The boy is one 16 and yes he's a stroppy teenager and the girl is 10 going on 18! Well no harm in sending them my CV and see what happens. That went down well and a video interview has been set up for next week 8-o And so it all begins again. Research in to a foreign country, reading blogs and wikis and generally getting to to speed on life in the UAE. it's still far too soon to be assuming the job is mine but there is the possibility which need planning for. I suppose I enjoy the excitement of the possibility of a move and a fresh start. The pain comes when this turns into reality and decisions have to be made. We'll see how it goes. SM
(Posted by scousemartin)
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Another year over and no escape yetFri 6 July 2012
Our move from Darwin is not going to happen due to cut backs at OH's work. He is being moved to another postion with in Darwin. To say he is gutted is an understatement. With that happening and the fact our eldest son is concerned for his senior years schooling we have elected for him to go to boarding school for year 10 till he finishes year 12. He has an interview for a boarding scholarship once hubby has organised holidays. Luckily the school is near to where our only family in oz live, so they will act as guardians in emergencies.
Not an ideal situation but got to do what is best for our son and being up here with the added stress of our younger son with aspergers preventing him being able to study or concentrate out of school has been a major factor in our decision. Our middle son has also asked if he can go to boarding school but he will have to wait till he is in year 10 as we can not afford to send both of them straight away.
Still having a lot of issues with the support for our younger son in school. It may come to the stage that i move down to be nearer to family living the OH to finish his new role up here which could be another 3 years.
I know life is never easy but sometimes we feel as though we keep getting extra challenges thrown in the mix. the olny good thing about being up here longer is i get to keep my good job.

(Posted by geordie mandy)
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Hello, it's me.Saturday 3 March 2012
Hi all,

Long time, no hear......

Yes it's been a while, but I'm on a very good road right now.

So lets pick up where we left off, after the whole stupid temp company I accepted a role within a really good company as their "photocopy girl"  It was a three day contract and a low sum of $$$'s but what the hell it's a job and something to do.....right?

Just been to the toilet now and just thought, "what a crap blog entry this is going to be".   This all happened to me during the space of over a year.  I can't help the fact that I was too busy to blog and I can tell you over .........what......... a few minites. 

What a cop out that is.

So basically I've gone from photocopy girl to admin assistant to Document Control Assistant to hopefully Junior buyer of a very important and successful oil giaint of Alberta!  to which may I add, I'm very proud to be a tcontractor of this project.

I feel that at my time of life, I'm very much acheiving my goals in life, everything I've ever wanted to be.

 I seem to be getting things on a silver platter.  To be honest, he sun is shinning out of my arse very brightly!!!!!!!

My outspoken attitute has finally found its right place at work.   So what can I say, i'm happier than I've ever been in a work environment,  I'm getting the $$$'s in pay and I feel that I really love the work i'm in.

I've had the chance to shine, and they have let me shine, everything about his company is great. 

I've truely landed on  my feet and I'm so happy and busy!!!!!!!

So lets wrap up, I got a three days contract which turned into neary a year. 

I have some other good news coming and alson some better $$$'remember i'ml a "contractor/temp" at the moment.
(Posted by Cassandra Antoinette)
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Hoping for the end of the wet seasonThu 9 February 2012

Christmas over and done with, a threatend cyclone over Christmas did put a slight damper on procedings, but not enough to stop our christmas day bike ride with the 2 younger boys on their new bikes.

Still working hard which is a very sweaty process at theis time of year, not liking my shirts sticking to me when out on the road visiting clients.

Life is plodding along for us, the boys are back in school. J gets assistance in class now he has his statement of educational needs after being diagnosed with Aspergers.

Hoping to be finiding out if a move out of Darwin is on the cards by June/ July time. If so we will move during the summer hols. Hopefully to Melbourne.

The biggest news we have is my sister is coming to visit us in March, so i shall take some time off so we can have a good time showing her the sights of Darwin.

Not much else is happening just living life and putting up with the humidity as best we can.


(Posted by geordie mandy)
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Still plodding on now at 18months in sweaty DarwinFri 9 December 2011
Cant believe its December already which means been living up here for 18months now.
Its certainly getting hotter and more sweaty by the day, my washing machine is in overdrive trying to keep up with the laundry of sweaty smelly clothes.
The eldest at 13 is now taking the im playing with my mates via the computer doing minecraft as its too hot to go out and play. The 11 year old is still doing as much sport as he can possibilty endure and can often be seen around our suburb cutting peoples lawns to earn money to fund his expensive taste in x box games and trainers. Believe me one weekend he earned $180 for cutting 5 lawns with his mate (mate earned the same amount too).
The 9 year old is still finding it hard going, he does have one freind who he plays with but its now either playing at our house or at his freinds house as its been just too hot to play in the park as there is no shade.
I go on my bike rides 3x a week and have had an early christmas pressie of a spinning bike so i can go on that when its just too humid to be outdoors. Ive been on it a few times and when placed under the aircon is ace.
We have had some wicked electrical storms recently and some really bad thunder and heavy rain. Most nights last week it got bad(just as i was trying to get some sleep) but must admit once the stroms had finished it was much cooler and easier to sleep.
This will be our second christmas in oz, but our first in Darwin. Thinking of the dawn bike ride on christmas day and a bbq at the local surf club park. As for the rest of the festive season im not sure what we will do.
The OH has been offered the pay of a higher position as they have finally recognised his worth. Took them long enough.
My job is still going ok but im not happy with using my own car for seeing clients espcially when i go rural, doing that on Monday visiting 2 clients in the middle of nowhere and one in Palmy. Im not getting paid for my mileage been told to claim at tax time.This is the only real gripe i have at work. Ive earned the respect of the new area manager who allows me to work my own hours normally 25 hours but as i dont get paid over time if ever i work over i just take a day off when i fancy. Its good to finally be able to put my mark on the role i carry out. My manager is still a bit odd but just lets me get on with things although i had noticed she never comes to me directly if she has a problem instead she just writes a note in my personal file on the computer system we use. Luckily i have access to my file and if i notice any problems i speak with her. Apperatly she does the same to other collegues as well as she doesnt like confrontations .
In general still keeping my head down and getting on with life in Darwin looking forward to when we can fianlly leave to more temperate climate.

(Posted by geordie mandy)
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6 Years and 1 Day....Sunday 6 November 2011

Well it doesnt seem that long ago since we rushed through immigration in St John's (unexpected stop) and after a brief stop at Halifax landed at Fredericton Airport without any luggage other than our hand luggage Shame I had booked a huge GMC Van with the capacity to carry 8 suitcases plus hand luggage

For us it was almost text book emigration, landed on Saturday Nov 5th, two interviews scheduled for Tuesday 8th Nov, one job offer 11th (with a 24 hour limit within which to accept it) and a second offer the following week). Started working on the 21st of Nov, brought a house and moved in on the 17th December .. One mad rush to say the least. If you are interested in more details of the past see the archives on this blog (it goes back to the early days).


We had the usual wobbles and homesickness and I am not sure everyone is out of it yet. The pangs still seem to well up when watching something on BBC Canada. For me I am a total convert, my life here is far better than it was in the UK. I have a 15-20 minute commute to work, I really enjoy my job, and I have a chainsaw .


We are now Canadian Citizens, (since october 2010) and have had the opportunity to vote in the last general election and the provincial election. My daughters first experience of exercising their civic duty (as I told them ) and after they were pleased that they had voted.


We have volunteered at several local charities (something we didn't do in the UK. I believe purely down to more free time here), we own and use chainsaw, axe, gas powered lawn mower, snowblower, snowshoes, cross country skis you have to get out an embrace the winter otherwise you turn into a hermit.


  • Most of our friends are from away, our neighbours are friendly enough but they have lots of friends and dont need any more LOL
  • We have become use to all the adverts on TV (muting and unmuting and having a conversation while the ads are on)
  • We celebrate our Britishness probably more than we ever did in England, and try to make sure our daughters know their UK history.
  • We have developed a liking for BBQ ribs
  • We like walking in the wilderness and not hearing any traffic noise or aeroplanes flying over head
  • We love the house and the space it offers, the size of the garden etc...
  • I like the woodstove and the changing of the seasons, each one needs preparing for and it gives me a sense of ease as we move through them.
  • Because I have more time I find I do more DIY fixing (not necessarily the things Jules wants me to do) I have learnt how to repair car body work, re-polish headlights, repair basic problems on the cooker (stove) and grow our own vegetables.
  • Teenagers/young adults, university, college etc is expensive regardless of where you live.

Every year we have held a huge bonfire party on our Canniversary, we have had up to 75 guests, but this year it was a small family affair (I am sure we will regret it ). Nice and cosy just the four of us, some hot dogs and a burger. Next year I expect it will be back to the Whelbourn Canniversary Bonfire party with a real crowd of people.


Anyway I have to dash, must put the finishing touches on winter preparations. The garden furniture is safely stored away for the winter,  I have winterised the lawn mower and brought the snowblower out of the shed for it's annual pre-winter service. I need to get the woodstove stoked up for this chilly evening (-2c), it has been colder but today the temperature hit 13c (well above seasonal).

(Posted by David )
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Reasons to be Cheerful - Part 1Sunday 9 October 2011

No this isn't the start of Ian Drury and Blockheads song (thats part 3 ), but if you want to listen click here


Nearly a month has passed since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. In September I did my now annual(4th year running) volunteering as an MC at the Fredericton Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. This year I was promoted to the HooDoo tent  where I opened up Thursday night show, great night had by all. Friday I was back on the Queen Street Acoustic stage introducing a band 'Freisia and the Offsprings' a Father and son and daughter band. I am not sure if you remember but I introduced them about 3 years ago and my observation is that most of the show I open the stars are older, greyer and shorter than last year, but this group are taller, hairer and still young. Very impressive performances by all.


I am not sure if you are aware but the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival (a 5 day event) is manned by volunteers. Over 1200 in total and they do everything from security, driving, stage managing, bar tenders, door / ticket sales, sound dudes and MCing. The performers love to come because of the volunteerism makes it very different.  This year a couple of UK bands came over and BBC Suffolk also attended and put together a report broadcast a week after the event.


Family are busy as bees, the big news is that Kathryn was given a place on the Nursing Programme and now she is busy studying to become a Licence Practical Nurse  Julie and I are so happy! (putting it mildly), we had kicked up quite a fuss when she was turned down AGAIN. I thought 'sod this' and called our MLA (similar to MP) and complained. He intervened and I made lots of noise about complaining to the Population Growth Secretariat (truly it does exist) regarding how can they encourage immigrants and then their children not get the educational opportunities. Any she started and life is much more settled.


Gemma is busy starting the third year of her applied arts degree and participating fully in the autumn flu season!


Jules is designing like crazy, perfecting her own designs, pattern and dressmaking skills.


Final reason to be Cheerful - we had a backed up sewer problem, i.e. flush toilet and it goes nowhere infact fills with water. After investigation and some calls to Steve at "Ready John" (honestly that is the septic cleaning service name) we came to the conclusion the pipe between the house and septic tank was blocked! so I remembered my UK drain rods  (I knew I brought them over for a reason). I waited overnight to let as much as possible drain away before using a rubbermaid plastic storage bin as a collecting container and slowly undoing the inspection hatch on the septic pipe. The challenge is that all other drainage pipes are higher than the inspection hatch (see below). This means once you unscrew the hatch all the waste water empties out

Anyway to cut a long story short, I successfully dealt with the spill (without too much mess), and cleared the blockage! So saving a couple of hundred dollars and proving that drain cleaning is the same in the UK and Canada .

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we have a Turkey dinner with all the trimmings and I'm (yes me) making a pumpkin pie. I will be taking a list of things to be thankful for and getting the others to contribute theirs.


One final note on the veggies front. We had a -6c Frost on wednesday night which finished off the cucumbers, peppers and squash plants. I will be sure to position the peppers and tomatoes in a better place next year, and start cucumbers early. On the bright side we will be eating our own cabbage with Thanksgiving dinner (must be saving us a couple of dollars ). Like the UK we are having a bit of a heat wave, today is wall to wall sunshine and 27c feeling like 29c and the forecast tomorrow is sunny 21c.

(Posted by David )
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Tomato Disaster in Atlantic CanadaSaturday 10 September 2011

After Irene smashed the Tomato plants and the Squah plant about we have suffered another downfall. Woe is me, all of my tomato plants have bit the dust (so to speak). Tomato Blight struck a week ago and the plants quickly went down hill (as plants can do). I think we had tasted about three ripe ones, before the plague struck. Apparently there is a lot of it about this year (dampness and splashing dirt up while watering keeps the lower leaves moist giving ideal conditions for Blight!


Oh well the cucumbers are growing like crazy (no flowers yet I was very late planting them). I have three Spaghetti Squashes which look like this:

and apparently when cooked taste like...... Yes you guessed it Spaghetti, here is a recipe we will be sampling from. The Leeks are nearly ready to harvest and the brussel sprouts probably won't reach maturity (they need more sunlight) because we are getting our first frost tonight and they are very small.


We are recovering from watching England just beat Argentina in the Rugby World Cup 2011 (phew it was a close call). For those of you here in Canada TSN2 (channel 105 on Rogers) look like it is showing most of the games (unlike Setanta which have none). So enjoy and I suggest you get some sort of recording device unless you dont mind getting up at 3 or 4am to watch your rugby.


(Posted by David )
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Irene, Earwigs and Back to SchoolSaturday 27 August 2011

Hurricane Irene is bearing down on New Brunswick (well technically, up if you are looking at the world and North is at the top) but the forecast is showing a couple of inches of rain plus moderate winds. I am not sure what a moderate tropical storm wind is? Oh well, I will be taking precautions, lashing down the chairs and BBQ, covering the woodpile (which has been drying nicely).  The USA seems to be evacuating all the low lying areas near the coast.


It is official, there is a New Year in the Whelbourn / Chinese Year Calendar. The Year of the Earwig .. and it started in 2011. I have never seen so many Earwigs, and Jules has developed a new skill "Earwig Whispering", she can spot them from 400 yards and they seem to love to be around her  (only to be killed)

 For those of you who love Earwigs here is a photo.

This year has also seen the extended Mosquito Season, it normally ends in the middle of August, But probably due to the wet summer they are still very active and we are still fully participating in Mosquito feeding. I think I have said before that there is a difference in Mosquito feeding habits later in the season, They come up and bite immediately, in the early season they seem to know they have plenty of time to waste and fly around you to annoy you and tease you (a bit like a cat with a mouse). Early season biting is a game between you and the Mosquito, involving lots of high pitched buzzing and waving of arms. Late in the season it is all stealth and slapping after they have bit you , all we can do is spray on lots of 'Off' to keep them Off! (I have ran out of pickling vinegar - which works too)


Gemma had her registration day yesterday at the New Brunswick College of Art and Design. She is in the middle of an Applied Arts degree, and having completed the two years of University study into classics and literature, anthropology etc.... she is moving to two years at the College to complete her degree. She is all excited (like a kid going to school) hence the title back to school. Apparently she is taking sculpture the first semester, move over Micheal-Angelo.


Work has been intense the last couple of weeks and I am now on holiday (vacation). We are just pottering around the house, harvesting the veggies (the Beets were excellent), the brussels are starting to sprout and I have created a support for the Squash (an sort of netting bra type affair to stop it drooping too much  and breaking its stem).  I am already planning the next years upgrades and I have started to build a raised bed 8'x 4' in a sunnier spot. The late cucumbers and carrots are growing quickly in the green house (I may put in a kerosene heater to extend the growing season) and my tomatoes are just starting to ripen. .



(Posted by David )
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Cauliflowers, Cabbage Soup and Volunteering!Saturday 13 August 2011

Veggie Patch Update:

Today I harvested six cauliflowers from the veggie patch. There was a variety of sizes and a range of whiteness  I did tie the leaves together over the top to stop the sun from turning the cauliflower green (apparently they change colour and one or two of mine had started). All in all a good harvest. 10 minutes ago I had finished preparing them for freezing and popped them in the freezer! We are looking forward to eating our own cauliflowers through the winter.


The Cabbages look about ready too (4 of them), the Squash is growing like the Beanstalk in the fairy tale, the leeks are progressing slowly and I think I can get another harvest of beans from the 4 bean bushes. I have started to trim off the leaves on the two brussel sprouts hoping to encourage the buds to grow (giving brussels as we know them). I have some Beets that are ready for harvest as well! Looks like we will be getting into preserving there isnt enough freezer space to store it all. Jules wants me to give some away (which I will --- who can eat six cabbages?).

Final comment, the tomatoes are still green (note to self, plant them in full sun) and I have 6 cucumber plants (very late starters) from seeds which I plan to try and raise them in the green house.


I am sure you are aware I am not the slightest person in the world, well I have been testing out the Cabbage Soup diet (pure coincidence that I have lots of cabbages). Basically you are on the diet for a week then have at least two weeks off. The outcome is I have lost about 14lbs (just finishing the second week now) and I'm impressed with it and plan to run 1 week a month until christmas to see where I get to (weight wise).


oh yes it is Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival time (Sept 13th - 18th)  again and I have volunteered to MC on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I will be at the outdoor stage on Queen Street ( I enjoyed being close to audience) also I have moved up a level to MC the Friday evening HooDoo House!!! Wow either they are desperate or I am getting better .

Well thats me done for this entry, I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

(Posted by David )
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Federal Skilled Worker Class, Category 2 - On-going Timeline - nearly completedFriday 5 August 2011

My husband is a Chartered Structural Engineer currently on a renewed One Year Work Permit


Sent completed forms off 21st May 2009


Forms Successfully delivered on 25th May 2009


Forms sent back due to incorrect payment meathod, by personal cheque on 23rd June 2009


Forms posted off again with Bankers Draft 24th June 2009


Forms Successfully delivered on 29th June 2009


E-mail reply from Centralized Intake Office 17th September 2009 telling us we can't apply for PR this way  Silly me forgot to send in the LMO.    Begging e-mail from me sent the same day saying that I was going to send the LMO asap and asked them not to send everything back.


Cheque for refund received 6th October 2009 but no forms, now I have to fill them all out again!!!  Lucky I took copies of the last ones, hey.


Resent application 18th November 2009

Receieved the 120 day e-mail on 26th January 2010.  Woo Hoo!


Collected all the information and posted it off to London, UK.  In time for the 25th May 2010 deadline.


Received File Number from London 6th June 2010 by post


Medical requests received 12th May 2011 by post after we had sent an e-mail because our eight months were well and truely up.  I think we helped to push them along, don't just wait!


Passports requested then sent off 6th July 2011


Shiny VISA's in our passports 5th August 2011


Just need to land and get the PR card

(Posted by Cassandra Antoinette)
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Big Surprise and sweltering hereSaturday 23 July 2011

Beautiful weather here in New Brunswick +30c at 10am today, lots of sun. This last week has comprised of hot sunny days punctuated by big thunderstorms with lashings of rain (sounds like an ice cream). Anyway it is very good for the Veggie's they are all growing and I can see a glut of tomatoes and lettuces.


I spend a week on the cabbage soup diet and lost about 8lb (about because I didnt weigh myself first) and it wasnt too hard, even though I was sick to death of cabbage soup by day 5. I am planning to run a cabbage soup diet week once a month to help reduce my weight.


Our winter fuel (wood) arrived today. We use about 2 cord a year (1 cord = 128 cubic feet of wood). However this last winter we probably only used 1.5 cord. I still ordered 2 cord this year from Rob the wood man ($260 per cord). There I was stacking wood after he dropped it off .... sweating like a pig. Thank god for the pool


The big surprise this past weekend was Chris (Kathryns UK boyfriend) asking me if he could marry Kathryn...... Five years we have been here and they have been (virtually) going out for about 4.5 years, although they met in college in the UK. So I said yes (and thought "at last") and then I took them all out for a meal at the Mandarin Palace (the best chinese restuarant in Fredericton). Then on Sunday we combined an "out of the blue BBQ" with champagne (Moet no less) and celebrated the engagement with friends.


I worked all week fixing up Kathryn's car, that had failed the Motor Vehicle Inspection test. Fixing up the exhaust and both sills (lots of pop riveting and filler). Any way it passed yesterday so she is mobile again. I can hear Jules saying "Thank God"


Life is good, I feel accomplished, a veggie grower, car fixer, Ace Greek Salad lunch maker, and holding down a day job too!. What more could a woman want


Jules has spent the week doing double duty also, single handedly decorating Kathryns house before they arrived (Chris and Kathryn spent a week in Montreal together before coming to Fredericton). As usual she has done an outstanding job. She has also managed to complete another dress design and the result is outstanding (I am hopeful that one day I will be the kept man while she makes dresses for the rich people).


Tonight we will be eating Chicken and Moroccan Rice with healthy brown rice option(yum). Then if the thunderstorms hold off we will light a fire in the fire pit and sit toasting some marshmallows and perhaps hotdogs too. Tomorrow is forecasted to be 24c (cooler) and I will be mowing ALL the grass (all 1/2 acre of it).

(Posted by David )
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Summer is here! Thursday 14 July 2011

Well it is now July and we are experiencing sunshine and hot temperatures (at last). The black fly season has passed (just) and we are in the middle of Mosquito blood donation month.


The Veggie patch is growing like the clappers! Below are a couple of photos.

Veggie Patch growing like crazy.

Three Pepper plants with lots of flowers (hopefully later peppers).

The following are growing:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Beans
  • Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Beets

We have already been harvesting the lettuce which seems to be encouraging them to grow even more. We are looking forward to more harvest and I am planning to double the output next year. I have been using the Dig for Victory guidelines to help plan the veggie patch and I want to get up about half the 90x30 size they recommend.  It is all about learning how to grow your own food (and getting another hobby besides blogging and working .


The family are all well and I believe the sunny weather makes people happier.


The above ground Pool is up and we have been enjoying it when the water temperature hits 24c (or when I convince them that the temperature is really 24c

(Posted by David )
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The Joys of ESTA (ie American Paranoia gone too far)Wednesday 29 June 2011

Well hello............ yes I'm back again.  I know I say it won't be too long and I promise I'll write more often but to be honest I don't think I can keep my promises any more.  I'm just going to be honest with you and honesty is certainly the best policy in life............lets be



So whats Cassie been doing, well we've been on holiday to Las Vegas and that is its own blog entry, so hey here it is, the whole story about our fantastic holiday!  We have been to Vegas before back in 2004 but this is Vegas and it changes a hell of a lot.   My whole entry could really start at the airport, at the end of the day this is Cassie and if it didn't involve an ounce of "drama" there would be something wrong.


So we get to the airport with plenty of time, because as as a traveller I want to be there well before the check in desk even opens!  We walk up to the desk and she checks the passport then asks us for the ESTA.   Both Neil and I look at each other rather puzzeled,  I look at the clerk and say "Sorry what's an ESTA"  The only words I heard the poor girl come out with is "I'm sorry but you can't fly today without it!"  Yes WTF very nearly came out of my mouth but it wasn't this persons fault.  We had booked our holiday with Sell off Vacations, we went in one of there stores as both Neil and I hate booking 'important" things over the internet.



Lets just flash back to that moment for a second.  It was one bright Saturday sunny day and we decided to go and enquire about booking a holiday in Las Vegas.  We had gone to enquire at West Ed Mall on the Thursday but Sugar Daddy didn't have his credit card with him to book (don't worry I used the term Sugar Daddy for comedy effect, he doesn't acually play that role very well) So lets get right back to sell off Vacations where we are greated by I think a seven year old sales assistant.............. no mistake that was her daughter.  So as you can imgaine the lady wasn't quite paying attention to our "British Accents" which should in theory set some sort of alarm bells that we would need a ESTA so lets give her another chance.  So we are asking about hotels and I stress.............I mean totally stressed that I didn't want to be in a crappy hotel.   She suggested Bally's, so not having Trip Advisor on hand or any other means I put my trust in this sales lady.  We show her our passports when we book, erm yes we show her our passports.  cough cough.   No.......I don't think she has noticed the colour.   The next part is just great she hands us a print out of our holiday details and the toner has nearly run out, some parts you can't even read.  I should have known this holiday was going to be fun.



So fastforward........................have I got you.  Great.  So we are stood at the check in with the desk clerk telling us that it's ok there are machines that we can get these ESTA's from it can take a few mins or 72 hrs..... Hang on, what did      she     just    say.    SEVENTY TWO HOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I mean that would mean we were not going to go anywhere.  I nearly started crying. 



If you're bored and want to know more about these ESTA's that set you back $15 here you go




So, me at this point is panicing like a good Drama Queen, trying to punch my details in this stupid touch screen, will it or won't it let me travel today.  If I give it a kick, will it work faster?  Hey lady please don't walk away I need you to help me, which button do I press......oh crap 72hrs, as tears start falling down my face.  My helpful lady pipes up and insists that I complain to Sell off Vacations as they should have informed us.  At this moment in time I could have very easily have wrapped my hands around that sales persons neck (the sell off Vatation one).  Neil presses enter on his and not moments after he gets his ESTA I press enter on mine and nope I have to bloody wait WTF.      For the record, mister machine now waving my right hand at it! I don't do waiting at the best of times and to be honest now is not the greatest time to ask me to bleeping WAIT.



Every second drags, I think after 10 mins I get the all clear.  As they feel sorry for us they give us the extra leg room seats which is great, right at the front and my 6 foot 7 husband is very happy.  Now we are waiting to go throught security clearance.  I get to the screen and there is this big fat mean guy staring at me.  What are you going to America for?   I kind of looked shocked......... for     for   a vacation I reply.  How much have you got?    erm      $800  I think, yeah $800.  Put your four left fingers on the panel in front of you.     Now I don't know why.......I really don't know why but I put my god damn four Right fingers down........ yes I did.  "YOUR LEFT FINGERS" he states firmly.   I could have dropped a dump in my pants, he scared the crap out of me.  then we moved to the thumb  I swear if he asked me if I was English I would have replied I think so, he made me that nervous.  So my holiday or vacation if you want to be Canadian about it, started with a bit of a bang.



The flight was fine, we got picked up at the airport and taken to the hotel and we walk through the doors.  Immediately we get grab by this old lady, well you can't be impolite to the ederly can you.  She says that the line up is far too long at check in right now and we should come speak to her about some free show tickets.  Well we're in Vegas, this kind of thing that happens.   We are shown a selection of shows and trips that we could have for "free"  and yes I'm started to giggle..... no one ever gives things for free what's the catch.  No catch she insists, all free.   After a while I can't be bothered and want her to cut the crap and ask her to spit it out.  She proceeds to tell us that all we need to do is watch a 120 min video and all is good.  We get to say no and have our free tickets.  I was getting bored and just gave my details along with Neils $40 for transport and walked off.    We check in but don't get our room key, so we hand in our luggage to the bell hop and walk out the hotel having to come back again in a couple of hours for our trip out to see this presentation.   I'm getting increasingly upset about this now, getting a really bad feeling it's making me sick.  We get approached by another freak saying the same thing to us.  He holds us up another half hour.......we are surposed to be on holiday and everyone wants to suck up our time on these presentations that yes if you haven't guessed already are timeshares.  I nearly have to get rude with this idiot before he stops and gets the message.




We head back to the hotel and now I'm feeling terrible, there is something that's now saying DON'T DO IT.  It's really overwelming that as i'm walking even closer to the lobby I feel so sick it's intense.   Something is telling me not to do this, and I feel such an urge to listen.  Now how the hell do I get out of it, as we are being frog marched to the mini bus.   Come on Cassie think!   



I look at Neil, "I don't want to do this"  all have in my head right now is that this mini bus is going to pick us up and take us $40 worth of mileage away from town.  They could do anything, who would report us missing we have no family in Canada, would our work collegues miss us...... oh god I feel sick again.




The man is talking to us, it's going in one ear and out of the other he was talking crap anyway so who the hell cares.  A mini bus pulls up with other suckers on it, I don't want to be another sucker.  I'm going to stand up.   I walks up to one of the suckers and asks them what they had just had to endure.   The guy didn't seem too bothered.  He said that they start off nice and towards the end they are really mean.  They treat you like crap and say you are cheap.  I'm on holiday I thought........I'm not having someone bully me when I'm on MY holiday.   I turns to the guy and tells him that I'm getting a bad feeling about it and I'm not going to go on his minibus.  I hand in all my vouchers to the silly old woman with the most stupid job in America and we get our $40 back but to be honest I feel annoyed we got "roped" in so to speak.  Thinking about it I should write and complain to Ballys, I thought it was a part of the hotel, the way it was first handled.




Moving on,I managed to win money probally over $100 but not too much over.  There was a slot machine called the Godfather and he loved me.




Would I go back to Las Vegas, to be honest no.  The whole place seems to smell of cigerette smoke even outside.  It's really quite bad.  It wasn't as good as what it was back in 2004 but I think that was before the celebrity scene got into full swing.  Would I ever stay at Ballys again......No the place is horrible and noisy.



So here I wrap up my blog entry.  There is more but I'm getting tired and I'm not as witty when I'm sleepy, so see you.



 x o x o

(Posted by Cassandra Antoinette)
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Been living in Darwin a yearWed 15 June 2011

That has flown over, cant believe how quickly it has gone.

I did put the boys into private school the best thing ive ever done. Life has been plodding on. I started work in November first as a home and community care coordinator on 25 hours and im currently working as a case manager for the elderly on community care packages in their own homes. Love the role im only covering for matrnity leave on 30 hours a week but secretly hoping the girl doesnt come back and i get to keep this role. The company is known in a few states around oz but our Darwin office is certainly not the best and has a big retention issue with staff.

We enjoyed our holiday in cairns and meeting up with some expats up there.

V and the boys are now oz citizens but i still have around 3 years to wait. I still get frustrated with Darwin especially with the health care. J has been waiting for formal assessments since we arrived and we are now having to go private to get this done as it is stalling how much he help he gets in school.

Ive had my own health issues and had a few addmissions into hospital and the expereince has not been then best. Although im fine with living in Darwin for now, i know it is not the place i want to put down roots. I look forward to eventually moving on .

The eldest is on a school camp at Kakadu, C goes next month after the half term hols.

V goes on exercise for most of the school holidays which stopped our plans for a holiday in Melbourne. Was looking forward to that as well. We are now planning on a short holiday in the gold coast in the october school hols and then in the summer going to melly. Certainly need to escape from Darwin.

WE have explored litchfield national park over the easter and public holidays and really enjoyed ourselves.

Ive not really had any homesickness, although on occasion ive missed certain people.

My life is in Australia now and i feel happy to call it home

(Posted by geordie mandy)
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It has been a whileMonday 13 June 2011

My last post was April 2nd and full of snow, and here we are at the beginning of June and everything is green, the veggie patch has been planted, the grass is growing so fast you can almost see it and it is Blackfly and Mosquito season (AGAIN).


You can always rely on the regular rythmn of nature to take you through the year.


List of things we have done since April 2nd

  • Re-surfaced the biggest hardwood floor in the house. Julie stripped the old varnish, I sanded it down, we applied 3-4 layers of varnish using squeegee type pads, and then I sanded it again (fine sandpaper) to get rid of the imperfections and Jules put down the last layer by hand with a brush.... She is a hero! - Looks great too
  • Submitted tax return, and received a refund (again)
  • Set up Kathryn's old Green House, dug, prepared and planted a veggie patch. Roll on the harvest!

  • Road trip to Collingwood and back (heck of a long drive)
    • Visited Toronto and went up the CN Tower
    • Visited Niagra on the Lake and Niagra Falls
    • Drove through the USA and re-entered Canada at Gananoque (pronounced Gan-a-nock-wee), took the 1000 Island Tour (where 1000 island dressing was invented).
  • Mowed the lawn 5 times (feels like 10, and it needs doing again)
  • Went fishing  from a Canoe on the Meductic River for Smallmouthed Bass (yesterday). My observation is that Small mouthed Bass have a very big mouth! Yes and I received the obligatory sun burn

beached for a break on an Island to Fish a pool so I snapped this

Jaws 3 -  Good Job I have an armour-plated thumb

  • Gemma's new boyfriend called David (Canadian from Saint John), came round for dinner, he seems like a nice lad (good name after all), albeit quiet, but it is hard to get a word in at our dinner table when the Whelbourn's are in full debating flow (no it isnt arguing it is reasoned debate).
  • Kathryn has added to her menagerie with another dog (Buster). Another SPCA special (apparently from Bathurst and understands French, so she has a bilingual mutt). He might be bilingual but he is as thick as a plank, loves to chew and dig. Kathryn brought him as a companion for super intelligent Millie .....

  • Also anyone who received Jule's Christmas letter would have known that Kathryn has a couple of cats! I found out this weekend, and threw the predictable grumpy response, which is why I wasnt told. I was heard muttering something about stupidity and crazy cat woman.  


Happy Birthday Dad!

(Posted by David )
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April FOOL - you thought it was Spring!!Sunday 3 April 2011

So there I was last week watching the snow disappear from the roof, snowdrops and crocus's flowering, the grass even looked like it was getting ready to turn green!..... Then yesterday we received a snowstorm that deposited 20-25cm of fresh wet heavy snow.


Thank god for my trusty snowblower  I am sure it saved me from a heart attack this morning.

I was just getting use to walking around the garden looking at the snowdrops and crocus's in flower and now there is a blanket of snow 20-25cm deep.


Oh well it will all be gone in a couple of weeks (hopefully).


This year we have decided to plant more vegetables, but to speed things up (because of the short growing cycle) we will be buying seedlings rather than growing from seed ourselves.

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, 29 years and I am sure there were a few who said it wouldn't last.  We will be hitting the Mandarin Palace (again) to see if the quality of the food is the same as last time.


Who knows maybe this time next week I will be bringing out the lawn mower for a service.

(Posted by David )
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Brrrr windchill makes even a +3c day feel freezingSunday 27 March 2011

Today is chill day in more ways than one. I am resting after working on the basement yesterday morning (I boxed in some ventilation pipes (it has only taken me 3 years ) and the weather is bright and sunny, blue sky and bloody cold in the wind!


Everyone is moving along fine, Gemma has a relatively new Boyfriend (David) and she seems smitten(ish). She has told me to be nice to him.... as if I am anything else but nice . She is still working hard putting in 30 hours at MacDonalds, studying full time at UNB and looking after a horse... I dont know where she finds all the time from.


Kathryn is still studying Chemistry and recently received a B- in a mid term paper (much to the surprise of everyone in the house - even Kathryn). She is also still busy working, studying, looking after two dogs and generally managing a life on her own.


Jules is designing new dresses like it was going out of fashion (no pun intended). She put together her latest creation and I was VERY impressed. My new ambition is to be a kept man.


Me .... I'm as busy as ever, working hard, not playing much , and I have just started to study for certification in Programme Management. No rest for the wicked.


Well we have an election in May and as citizens we are all eligible to vote. I don't think the election will change much here in the terms of seats. One thing about minority government, not alot can be changed. I have come to the conclusion that this is a relatively good thing if things are pretty stable. I believe Canada has only fared well in the global recession because it wasnt able to change the rules for the national banks etc...


Well have to go, time to get back to my studying, and tax-returns this afternoon. One thing I have to admit, I love the Canadian Revenue Agency, every year since being here I have had a tax refund!

(Posted by David )
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