Taking a break

05:12, Wednesday 11 June 2008 | Posted in Living in Oz
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As you may or may not have noticed i have been very lax in my blogging of late.
I have found myself spending more time on the forums and less time doing the things that are actually productive - like the blogging - but also the activities that normally make up my hobby time.

Having taking stock of where my time is going i have decided that i am going to cut ALL my internet use for at least a while.  Hopefully by focusing on other things i can get back some that sense of achievement that my days are currently lacking.

I have signed off all the web boards that i usually use and i am going to take a break from the blog for a while too.  If and when the writing becomes 'fun' again i come back and resurrect the blog.

Until then if anyone wants to be in touch i will still be using my email and then there is always the old fashioned method of using a telephone :)

Love you all
hugs Adele x

Shameless Plugging

12:00, Wednesday 14 May 2008 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Can a married couple have a date.

These things are rare, having kids and then going to the other side of the world means that me and tiggs get no time for us.

Last time we tried to go out somewhere i got stuck with the 24x7 mobile at work meaning I had to be ready to fly into action if it rang.

So last night we managed to get out.  At the end of the road is a restaurant...called The Pepper Leaf

It is advertised as Asian/Vietnam and it was delicious.  We shared a bottle of wine, starters, a noodle dish, two main courses and a coffee each between us for $80.  Neither of us could move afterwards we were so full.

So if you are passing the North East head to the Pepper Leaf and enjoy a meal...we will be going back


p.s. I am not on commision but probaly should be

Tiggs - soon to be patented - migrating to Oz diet.

12:59, Saturday 3 May 2008 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Are you worried about your wasteline?
Are you always trying the latest fad diet but not loosing any weight?

Then you need to try Tiggs' - soon to be patented - migrating to Oz diet.
This is the new easy to follow diet that will have the pounds dropping off you.

No calorie counting!
No points to add up!
No strenuous exercising!

All you need is an Oz PR visa and a one way flight to Oz.!

It also helps to have a family who settle into Oz life very quickly leaving you the only one wondering what you have done (this ensures that you cant cheat on the diet and  head 'home')
A farily hefty dose of stress also speeds up the dieting process and if you can include getting over emotional about daft little things and crying for a week when your OH starts their new job because you are now 'on your own' then you will be laughing (metaphorically speaking of course)

For the advanced dieter (including those who need to shift those extra few pounds) you can supplement your diet with the additional Tiggs' house buyers diet PLUS.  This is guaranteed to dramatically increase your stress levels, especially during the week when 'the bank tell you they are not going  to release the funds in time for the settlement date'.

With proven results you too can drop two (yes that does say TWO) dress sizes in just four months ...

... well it worked for me anyway

The now considerably thinner - Tiggs x

The Axe Man

12:50, Saturday 3 May 2008 | Posted in Living in Oz
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The weather is turning (so they tell us, although today I got sunburnt on the roof clearing more moss off).  As a result Tiggs has got organised and ordered in the firewood...and an axe.

Now I have been known to slice my own hand cutting turnip and am banned from using most power tools due to the danger of me, the environment and any wildlife in close proximity to me while attacking something with one of these things...but apparently I can be trusted with an axe..I suppose I  have not managed to bludgeon myself with the pickaxe yet and this is the same principle (although she does keep going on about my life insurance )

Anyway one tonne of red gum wood turned up when I was at work on Friday.

I was presented with my new self maiming device and pointed to the pile of wood.  Pure stress relief.  Problem is having selected a piece of wood that resembled some granite for my cutting block and hitting half a dozen pieces I realised I had cracked a paving block.

I gave up for the night.  Today I got the axe out again but moved my chopping area to the hard standing next to the wood shed and put down a couple of old wardrobe doors to hit onto reasoning that these would disperse some of the shock.  This plan did not work.

I have now cracked 4 bricks, the area I was working on this morning is now 2 inches lower than the surrounding area, and due to a richochet from one of the pieces of wood her large pot is now so much mosaic .  On top of that there are already 6 pieces where the axe goes in about 2mm then gets stuck so I have to heave on it and lever the blade back out but the wood is like concrete and refuses to break, split or even chip into smaller pieces.  Might have to come back to those.  Having done about 1/4 of the pile and giving up due to being absolutley knackered the friendly neighbour over the back started cutting his...with a band saw .

I am now typing this with my one working arm due to the muscle bruising from chopping the wood but i am lovely and warm :-D


Up on The Roof...And in it!!

02:10, Monday 28 April 2008 | Posted in Living in Oz
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As we have seen, Tiggs has recountered waking up to a drip (no not me ...water)

I will now recount the story from a blokes point of view.

Friday morning, Dripping sound in the bedroom.  Can't blame it on the dog but there is a suspicious mark on the carpet...This gets larger with each drip...We have a leak.  Put a tub under it (actually a spare potty) and head back to bed...I am on call and need to be connected to work at 6AM anyway.  Days starts with taking the in-laws to the airport for their Melbourne trip and then we went bathroom shopping.  The drip was ignored...It had stopped raining and it had stopped dripping. 

Saturday I find the old wardrobe that i dismantled when we moved in...brush spiders off a door and take it in and lift it into the loft.  Place this along the ceiling beams and I can now slide on my stomach under the aircon and heating vents and get to the leaks.  Emerge on the other side of the vents with my plastic tub to find 3 tubs already there...Me thinks this has been a common occurence.  Rearrange the tubs under the drips i can see and head downstairs. 

I then head back into the loft and send Tiggs out to the roof to determine if we can find the problem.  Tiggs locates two cracked tiles and one loose one.  These are repaired with margerine tub lids slid under the tiles.  While we are up there we realise the roof is greener than the garden and has a healthier plant life.  Moss everywhere.  I spend Saturday afternoon up on the roof picking 3 bucket fulls of moss from between under and around the tiles.

I then fashion some internal guttering from a cat litter tray found in the loft, an old margerine tub from the garden, and the tube and funnel from the dogs flying crate when she was shipped across.  Place this ingenious bit of DIY, blue peter style contraption on top of the wall under the leaks and head downstairs

Sunday morning...

Torrential rain outside and in.  Tiggs was getting wet due to a second leak on her side of the bed. 
I am dressed and have the ladder, torch, gloves and dust mask and am making my way into the loft.
Locate a leak, about a metre to the left of the one fixed yesterday.  on the plus side all my tubs from yesterday are dry, obviously we managed to sort those tiles.
Rearrange tubs under the leak to catch all drips and head into the house.   I am starting to resemble an Indiana Jones set with huge spiders webs dragging from my head and jumper.  Get some breakfast and determine the plan of action...
Our sunday is then spent up and down ladders, into the loft or out on the roof.  Locate out final leak (we hope) above Andrews bedroom and dripping onto the beam that runs over our bed.  One problem.  There are aircon tubes, heating tubes, hanging insulation and it is all covered in webs...most fresh... I kid you not,  Our loft looks like this lives in it So back for the Morton,  A good dousing of all the cobwebs...To be fair in all the time in the loft I only saw one spider.  Then into the abyss.  I have moved my litter tray gutter and rig this up under the new leak.  I then head out on the loft to look for the missing tile that is letting this much water in...Problem is it is dark and raining.  This is not the time to be walking around on the roof.  i can find nothing, but a lot of moss.  Decide that it must be the moss again causing the water to back up so clear another bucket off in the dark.  Just as I am coming off the roof the tile I am working on falls a bit and a piece drops out from underneath. 

Turns out the cracked tile is under another one.  One red plastic binder wedged under the broken tiles later and we seem to have a water tight house again...Problem is it has not rained since.

We are now awaiting more rain so we can run around again .

Right I am off to dry out.


For those back in England

01:00, Sunday 27 April 2008 | Posted in Living in Oz
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I know I have been giving you a hard time, pointing out the warm weather and lack of rain.  Well this has all changed.  Our garden has a ditch, the plans call it a creek, but in my book a creek contains water and this never has...until yesterday.

We woke up in the morning to torrential rain...and a drip in the house (see other blog entries) and our creek has water in it...So there...it does rain in Oz

Drip drip drop little April showers

11:48, Saturday 26 April 2008 | Posted in Living in Oz
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I now live in Australia ... and more to the point i live in Adelaide ... therefore i have accepted the fact that i must view rain as a good thing (which I have to say this seems a bit of an alien concept for a girl from the NE of England who has always viewed rain as a nuisance!)
Anyway here we are in April and hardly a drop of rain has been seen for months so there was general celebration throughout our local aquaintance when the nice weather forcaster on the telly said we should expect showers for the long weekend. (rain on a bank holiday?! ... almost like being back in England )
Friday evening arrives and lo and behold rain!  Of course this is Oz rain so a shower is not just a few spots of water falling from the sky ... if you get caught outside in on Oz shower you are wet to the skin in about 20 seconds - as A found out when he decided to go outside to 'look at the rain' !?! you'd think he would have had enough of it in the UK! go figure!
Anyway my garden gasps a sigh of relief as i still havent managed to work out when i am allowed to water and when i am not so it hasnt been happening much ... plus there is the small point that i am a lazy so and so and generally cant be bothered getting the watering can out!  When we head off to bed for the night it is still coming down in short sharp shower bursts.
6 am
... drip ... drip ... drip ...
Me: What is that noise?
G: Is that dog chewing her claws again?
Me: No it is a dripping noise .... oh no ....
We shoot out of bed and hunt around until we find the drip running down one of the beams - place bowl underneath ... and go back to bed!!! Priorities here
Turns out (on closer inspection much later in the morning) that we have one cracked tile and another not sitting flush and the rain is running in between them.  A slightly apprehensive inspection of the rest of the loft space turns up no more drips - well that we could find anway!  The trouble is that in the UK when buying a house you look for evidence of damp on ceilings and walls - after all it is virtually impossible for a seller to hide the fact that they have a leaking roof.  Here in Oz, where it can quite happily not rain for months, these sorts of things are much easier to miss.  Another lesson learned!
At least this potential crisis turned out to only be a small repair job - fingers crossed all future surprises our house decides to spring on us will go the same way.

Tiggs x

The woefully neglected blog!

11:10, Saturday 26 April 2008 | Posted in Living in Oz
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OMG i new it was a long time since i blogged but i have just checked ... 128 days!!! ... or to put it another way 5 months 21 days!!!!

My excuse? Well i think moving to the other side of the world is a pretty good excuse ... and not having an internet connection for over 4 months ... oh and maybe taking a while to settle and not really knowing what to blog about might come into it too - if we are dealing in home truths .

I do have a paper based diary that i kept from when we left the uk at the start of December until about the beginning of March.  Some of it makes for good reading, some of it not so - but i have no idea if i will ever find the time to type it up as blog entries ... i might compromise and put up some of the better posts ...

As for the update post that i have had loads of people asking for ... well i have to admit that i havent even started it.  However with my new found motivation i will get cracking on it straight away (and i might even get it finished before i get sidetracked again ... possibly )

So never fear ... here we are again with a new look blog (the stunning sunset is Graz and youngest at Henley Beach) a new enthusiam for blogging and a new more optomistic outlook on life in Oz!  Now i just have to get back into the habit of actually writing and we will be fine!

Tiggs x
(feels good to be back )

Graz´s Update - Hitting home

05:10, Thursday 20 December 2007
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Well we have been here nearly a week, we have changed the car to another unimpressive subaru (this time an imprezza that does not want to go anywhere, ever at more than 25 miles an hour, making me a target for every v8 muscle car in Adelaide)
The house is clean and is gradually feeling like ours (although it is still just a base and can never be more than that), we spent last night playing dowse the ants trying to get rid of some of the infestation that had started to make it's way into the house.
Our first visitor was a small huntsman that lived in the living room, then the kitchen.  he then got adventurous and started scuttling while we could see him so I chased him out the door with a large stick (he would not fit in any of the glasses), we have also seen a white tip spider (although this was outside) but at least we could ID him.
Sunday was the hardest day, the driving was over and we both felt in limbo, this was not our house, we had a mountain of paperwork and organising to get through and the slightest thing seemed to upset and disturb, if flights home had been offered....well who knows.  It brings home how much we do not know, even down to the currency and paying for things, what does that sign mean by the side of the road etc etc.  This seems to be easing as we explore the city looking for houses to make a permanent base as we become familiar with the areas, our christmas tree is up (thanks to Big-W stores) and decorated and the kids have unpacked their toys so we are getting some familirarity around us.
We have got our Aussie bank account sorted out and see a mortgage advisor tomorrow so we can find how much money we can afford to outlay on a house (if we choose to go this route).  We are still cut off from the internet (which feels like missing a limb in the evenings) but have managed to use the library to good effect (i.e. This blog and emailling family).  Our phones are connected so we can at least be contacted.  On Sunday night we went to Glenelg beach and sat for an hour in the evening paddling and watching the kids play, this helped the stresses ease away a little.  We have looked at Henley beach (where we think we are going on Xmas day) and Seacliff which looked very nice but was not enjoyable (lots of flys, bitty sand and a force 9 gale), we have also been up into the hills to Cleland Wildlife park, we have driven just over 1000 miles through Australia and only had two rather dead kangaroos to add to our Ozzie wildlife spots so we decided to cheat.  As such we went in with the Kangaroos, feeding them by hand and stroked the koalas and made friends with an Enchilada.........I mean Echidna, Adele will explain!!  Other than that it has been exploration and then time with the kids trying to settle ourselves into a new life.

Graz´s Update - On the Road

05:09, Thursday 13 December 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Yesterday was spent driving from Mornington down to Sorento to catch the ferry and the start of our Oz adventure as a family without any guides.  We would now be fending for ourselves in this wilderness.
I think the first thing that struck me and Adele were the colours.  The sky is so blue and seems higher, the trees are bright green, the earth itself is always the deep red and yellow tones.  It makes everything seem cheerful and puts a lift on your day.  From Sorrento we caught the ferry over to Queenscliff allowing the boys to see the ferry.  We stopped in Queenscliff to try our hand in the supermarket and then were overawed by the fish 'n' chips shop...there was a choice and not just white mush in batter.  The downside was the picnic.  This quickly got out of hand with the flies hounding us and a selection of gulls waiting nearby forcing us to enjoy our picnic in the car...the hire car that needs to be handed back in reasonable condition was going to experience my children and fish and chips...anyway.
From Queenscliff we went to find the Great Ocean Road and the start of our trip.  As a drive it is outstanding and on a motorbike would have been bliss...i think this may be a trip out next year.  The car was ok except for a physcotic automatic gear box that dropped one if not two gears each time you touched the accelerator :-?  Still we cruised through small towns and parkland always in view of the ocean with deep clear blue seas and breakers.
Photos colour will be uploaded and added.  First stop was Apollo Bay, a pleasant motel with our own kitchenette with two rooms, meant we could lock the boys in one and relax together with a bit of tv and a book.  The next day bought an early start and postcards and shopping (we all needed hats and sunglasses to protect against the aussie cancer lamp (sun).  The days driving took us winding along to Port Fairy with a small detour through to the Otaway fly treetop walk, a chance to get to the top of the gum tree forests on metal gangways,  an enjoyable hour detour although the hill back up was hard work with two tired children.  Back on the ocean road but this time through gum tree forests and rain forest gave a different persepective.  All the other traffic seemed content to cruise along as well so there was no rush and no sense of always being pressured to go that little bit faster, I was enjoying driving in Oz.
We saw some nice seaside towns with Lorne standing out for both of us,  The night ended in Port Fairy, almost Crocodile Dundee meets coast with wide emtpty dusty streets and the pub on the corner,  I could get used to this,  The motel was clean and fitted our needs although for the second night running they had put us upstairs (with 3 cases and two kids to lug around, we had repacked the car so 4 cases could stay in the boot overnight).
The half way point over we had a longer drive today especially given there was more to see on the roads,  First we had the 12 (or however many are left) apostles, sandstone crags that have been left from the mainland through erosion,  again it was the colours that struck first, striped red and yellow cliffs, green grasses and mosses and a deep blue to turquoise sea with cream breakers.  The boys enjoyed this stop, not because of the view but because of all the helicopter sightseeing tours going over the top.  We then got back on the road with some time to make up meaning we missed the bay of islands and other outcrops as we sped past trying to make Mt Baker for lunch.  Mt Baker has a old volcano with a lake, the lake is deep cobalt blue (or was when we arrived, apparently it changes to grey through the seasons in a matter of hours before reverting later in the year),  lunch was had on the grass overlooking the lake.  These two parts alone would have covered a couple of days sightseeing but it was back in the car with two children to make the next leg and our final stop Narracorte as we were hoping to take the boys on the minature railway.
Naracoorte did not work for us,  maybe it was the industrial sprawl but the town did not stand out the same (and we saw enough of it trying to find the motel, thanks GoogleMaps).  The mini train was closed but we found a disused steam train in a shaded hut by one of the parks that the kids played on for 30 minutes so they were happy anyway and we got to sit down.  The last motel was the one we were looking forward to, we had managed to get a spa room and the website pointed and something special...it wasn't, it was tired and run down with a funny smell in the bathroom which meant the spa was not something to sit in and enjoy, once you had got past the ants, the boys were on fold out beds and not there own as we expected and everything looked in need of some renovation, but the food was top notch, the beer was cold and the owner/barman was a good laugh and very friendly to us and the kids.  After the good meal the bed was comfy enough and before we knew it we were back on the road for the final slog into Adelaide.
The last day was just driving, firstly through the end of Victoria and then into the barren dry south of South Australia.  The change was incredibly fast.  Then through the managed pine forests avoiding the huge road trains full of timber (I will give the aussies that, they like their big trucks) then into the wine regions of the deep south were we happened upon Penola,  a picturesque town surrounded by grape vines with an olde worlde main street with all the shops,  we could quiet fancy living there but given the 3 hours plus still to go to Adelaide decided it was a bit far, maybe some other day.  Then we were in Adelaide, well it's suburbs, and finding our way to our new home (at least for a little bit)

Graz´s Update - We salute you

05:05, Tuesday 11 December 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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We have been here 4 days now and i think we have all perfected the aussie salute, the flies are insane!
2 days in Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula was very pleasant and a nice intro to the aussie weather and landscapes.  JetLag is taking it's toll on all four of us leaving us all cranky and tired although by today we are all brighter.
We have wondered down into Bittern to the weekly market and generally sat around enjoying the warm sunny weather, the cool verandas and our hosts cooking and hospitality.  Fairly soon we would be let loose on Oz but for now it was nice to recharge the batteries and not think about anything.

Graz´s Update - Arriving Down Under

05:04, Sunday 9 December 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Leaving the UK at 13:10 and arriving at the equivilent of 16:00 the next morning was always going to be a slog.  Adding in numerous time zones and a distinct lack of sleep and our first impressions of Oz were probaly not what we expected.

Things did not start well, on check in we found that we had been split up for the second flight, Adele and Rhys were in their original seats near the front of economy, me and Callum were 12 rows further back we were passed around between the Emirates desks with each on telling us someone else needed to sort it out, not a good start but something we could not sort until Dubai.

The take off was smooth, the boys excited especially with the built in screens showing forward and below cameras for them to watch everything go by.  As soon as we were over Sheffield the food came out,  It was edible but I would not recommend it for any Michelin stars :-p,  Once food was cleared Callum sat and watched the cartoons (he loved the Jungle Book and laughed his way through it at least 4 times throughout the whole trip),  We had bags full of colouring, stickers and books for the boys to keep entertained and they did entertain themselves wonderfully.  I was surprised by the leg room, I had some although my adjustable head rest did not adjust and my lumber support was set for Quasimodo, but the first 7 hours to Dubai went without incident.

Dubai was humid,  it smelt like a old laundrette and the terminal is still being built so it was onto a bus to the airport.  Our plan was to get to the desk and sort the seats, then find some food, then clean up and change the boys (all in the 2.5 hours given).  The man on the desk was sympathetic but the check in was not open yet and he would need his supervisor to do any rearrangment.  Task 1 failed then, there were no sandwich shops that we could find on the top level and the boys were too tired to do a sit down restaurant (they thought it was 21:00) so task 2 failed,  we got them changed and headed back to check in where somebody moved around people and got all four of us together (actually in the seats we had booked ???) at last something had worked.  The second plane was a Boeing (we had started on the Airbus) and the size difference showed, more space, more legroom.  We had the middle section with the children between us, as soon as the seatbelt light came on Callum was asleep and Rhys had gone as soon as the light went out.  Me and Adele were not so lucky,  Rhys was laid on me, this meant that everytime he moved he woke me, if I tried to move he shuffled and woke me,  and then as I was on the aisle side anytime anyone came past with a trolley or to the toilet they cracked my arm.  To top it off the idiot sat beside us kept binging his little light and chime for service (why it had to bing on an overnight flight I do not know but I would have happily helped him from his seat after an hour of bing, bing, bing).  I gave up and watched the films being shown and played games,  Adele catnapped at the other end but she could not move for Callums head,  the outcome, around 2 hours sleep split between the two of us over the trip to Singapore.  On the plus side I was awake for breakfast (and hungry).  Rhys slept the whole leg and Callum had four hours straight watched the Jungle Book again and then fell asleep as we landed (typical). 

Landing in Singapore a rain storm had hit,  Very hot, very Humid, no sleep and and turbulent landing meant we came off the plane with skin the colour of tripe.  We were not healthy,  Rhys felt sick, I looked like I was going to pass out under 3 lots of handluggage and Callum was asleep on Adele, and we had an hour to pass!  Luckily we all survived and got back onto the plane for the final leg.  Sitting at Singapore we seemed to drive up and down each runway in turn (evidentally the pilot needed some directions) before informing us the weather front would delay us for 10 minutes.  Finally we were up again and heading for Oz.

The final leg started better, both boys went back to sleep and we both managed to nap to freshen up a little, then it was a case of watching the miles to go count down and looking for our first glance of the land Down Under!  It was dark before we crossed the Indian Ocean so the cameras were useless then out of the cabin window we started to notice that  the sea had become the most fabulous colours,  it was a sunset on the top end, a vertiable rainbow from black, thorough purple and then through the reds and oranges,  and the backdrop of the land silhouetted below.  It was a wonderful first impression.  We still had 4 hours to go to Melbourne so it was back on trying to keep the kids occupied who were starting to show the strain, Callum was bored, Rhys was grumpy and we were in no state to be sympathetic parents full of understanding.  Landing at Melbourne we were already to stop but with the prospect of customs and the baggage carousel our spirits were flagging.  Customs was wonderfully quick then it was a case of finding out how many cases had survived and got to Melbourne with us,  The answer all eight.  The pushchair was the last thing off the plane putting us at the back of the baggage scans but these went without a hitch (even though we had forgotten to declare the wooden toys).  We had arrived and our Visa's were stamped!

We left the airport and walked over to the Holiday Inn, (we could see it and we had signs but on getting there we should have cut across the car park rather than doing a massive loop over 3 main junctions that we were directed around.  The rooms was basic, two double beds and a bathroom but it was bliss.  We washed the boys and put them to bed with a DVD to calm down and then peeled ourselves out of stinking sweaty clothes,  10 minutes later with hot drinks and clean underwear we all felt slightly better,  A quick text to parents to tell them we had arrived and it was time for sleep.  It was 04:00. 

The next morning we were awake at 07:30,  it was only 3:30 of sleep but we all felt better and ready to start, opening the curtains gave a view of the airport so the boys sat in the window watching planes taking off and landing, yellow taxis (much to Callums delight) swept by underneath and every so often a shout of "A Ute a Ute" was to be heard as we tried to organise some of the cases a bit better.  Looking over the vista of gum trees and rolling greenary past the airport it suddenly dawned that we had made it, after 2 years of planning and waiting.  We had been so focused and tired the night before our arrival had been an anticlimax to the point of a complete non-event.  We sat and watched for a bit taking in the sight before rumbling tummy's took the better of us and breakfast called.

Following breakfast and the arrival of Eric (Adele can give the relations - Her mam's cousin (I am led to believe) we collected out hire car after a bit of bartering (I do not think they expected us to check the car over so carefully our make so many notes to be signed off but we were loaded and following Eric orange SUV to the Mornington Peninsula an hours drive away.  The drive was fabulous, warm sun (23 degrees) wide roads, gum trees and skyscrapers in the same view and classic gold on the radio, we even coped with cars overtaking on both sides and crossing junctions on solid white lines but we arrived in Bittern.

The rest of the day was spent unpacking and resorting, trying to stay awake, fending off the dogs and having our first antipodean bar-b-q before sleep overcame and we retired early only.

We have arrived in Oz and we can now start to work out where that is.


Please hold and we will connect you, Your call is important!

10:51, Tuesday 27 November 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Right things around ours are fairly stressful at the minute with the move and everything. 

As part of this we need to close down accounts.  This usually means dialling a premium rate number.  working your way through a dozen "menus" and then trying to explain to someone in a call centre where English is not even the second language.

They will invariably ask for as many details as they can about you in order to prove who you are, name, address, DoB, bra size and left nostril capacity....

You try asking them to prove who they are...or prove they are working for who they say they are....the answers you get defy belief.

Then try explaining to them that you can phone premium rate numbers from abroad...Where I am working some numbers are blocked as we actually dial through Germany
"but sir.... put 44 ahead of the number"
"No you can no do this. I need the international number"
"I am sorry sir, we do not have a phone number here, please dial 0870 $$$ ££££"

These are UK companies, I am a UK citizen (at the moment)  why the hell should i pay for the privilege of complaining, checking or cancelling an account through my phone call and then have to spell out every last detail to some muppet who, for all I know is jotting the details down on a piece of paper next to his desk (although why he does not just look to HRMC for a copy they are bound to send another one soon).

Anyway last night after a particularly gruelling phone call to our Broadband provider last night I was sent to my room by the wife for being in such a bad mood....hence the rant....

Anyone else want to join in

Running fast to get nowhere

06:41, Friday 23 November 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Graz here,  thought i would do a quick catch up post because I am bored at work.  Bouncing off the walls here with anticipation and excitement that we are only 10 days to lift off.

We are tearing around trying to close off accounts and sort paperwork but without a date on the house yet we can not actually do anything so we are super prepared without being able to do anything and having probaly lost everything we can do :-p

What is to tell

House is moving on and we are expecting a date next week.

My last day at work is the 30th Nov and everything is completed prior to them shifting all my accounts to Oz (I am staying with the same company).

Car is sold and being collected on the 29th Nov from a the first response to the website advert.

Shippers are booked for the 3rd and 4th of December - went with Robinsons asI worked with one of the former managers/directors (It is who you know !!)

Flights are booked for the 6th for four of us Newcastle to Dubai to Singapore to Melbourne with Emirates,  Stepson is flying out on his own hopefully arriving around the 17th Jan (although there could be a phone call yet....help there are a lot of camels, where am I).

From Melbourne airport hotel we drive to stop with some distant relation of Tiggs on the Mornington Peninsula for a couple of nights to recover.  Then it is load the hire car from Melbourne to Adelaide along the Ocean Road.

I for one am really looking forward to this.  It has been 5 years since a holiday and 2 since we had any time off, so we are taking 3 days to cover the distance stopping in Apollo Bay, Port Fairy and Naracoorte.

We then have the SA Accomadation on Arrival for 12 weeks to get settled.  Although we have no address yet.

We then need to find somewhere to live,  the stepson is over on 17th Jan and the Dog flies over on the 21st Jan for her 30 day holiday in quarantine.

Then i start work in Adelaide on the 7th Jan sunned, relaxed and ready for the new life.

Broadband goes off on the 3rd/4th so updates may be down until we get to the land Down Under .

I am sure there will be plenty to tell!!

32 days and counting

10:15, Monday 5 November 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
Comments 2 comments
Have you seen how long it is since i last blogged?!
My only excuse is that i have been so stressed over this blasted house sale that i havent even been able to think of anything else.
I am not going to even go into the whole saga - i really dont want to relive the last fortnight (it was bed enough the first time) suffice it to say that we accepted an offer on the house a week past Saturday!
Apparently our buyers want to be in before christmas  and today we had a visit from the surveyor plus at some point this afternoon our For Sale board became a Sold board ... Yay!

So what have i missed telling you about? ... let me think ...
Graham has sorted his start date for work for the beginning of January, we booked our flights for the 6th December (this could make a whole blog entry in itself as we are STILL waiting for the refund to the credit card after Emirates charged us twice for the tickets) and last wednesday was Graham's birthday!!  So he is now another whole year older .

So what is coming up? ... although the question should really be what is not coming up!
Somehow, in the next 32 days we have to organise moving everything we own to the other side of the world and try and sort out what we are going to do when we get there ... at the moment i really dont know where to start with either of these problems .

Tiggs x

Whatever happened to .... smarties.

02:07, Thursday 25 October 2007 | Posted in Whatever happened to ...
Comments 3 comments
Have you tried them recently?  Smarties?
Firstly you notice that the good old tube is no more - smarties now arrive in a cylindrical packet.  Then you realise that ... !!!Shock Horror!!! ... there is no plastic lid .  Smarties, i am afraid, have become the latest casulty of environmentally friendly packaging (well 'friendlier' anyway).  I am sure that the easier to recycle packet makes a lot of sense - but i used to love those plastic lids!!  The idea to emboss a letter on each one was a stroke of genius by someone in the marketing department.  I can remember as a kid trying to collect the whole alphabet - but of course there was always the one letter that you couldnt find so you had to keep buying more packs in the hope of finding the missing one!

Unfortunatly though the Smartie changes do not stop with the packaging ...
The third thing you notice is the colours.  Think smarties - i am sure that your memory conjures up images of bright green, dazzling yellow, gaudy purple and of course the slightly later addition of that fabulous blue!  But alas that is all no more ... Smarties have gone 'natural' with their ingredients .  No more artifical colours to send the kiddies into hyperactive frenzies in the middle of the supermarket.  The resulting colours now are all sort of ... well dull.  Dull green, muddy brown, dusty red ... it is all very sad to see especially for a girl who used to love sorting her bright smarties into piles of the same colour before eating them .

Ah and now we come to the final point ... eating them ...
Have you tasted the new, environmentally firendly, natural smarties?  They taste horrid!!!  You put one in your mouth and the first sensation is sort of a powdery texture ... distinctly lacking in flavour of any sort  ... and then you get to the chocolate part the taste of which reminds me of those really cheap chocolate advent calendars that you get - eugh .

I have to admit that the 'tube' of smarties that i opened ended up being fed to my children!  (now just for the record i have to reiterate - this was ME ... TIGGS ... and i VOLUNTARILY stopped eating something involving chocolate!!!!  I do realise the shock you are now probably feeling ... ).  The biggest surprise to me however was that my kids were perfectly happy to eat these icky smarties!!  Suddenly i realised that our children, fed on a diet of 'natural ingerdients' dont realise the difference - they have no idea what they are missing - poor things .

Are these changes really necessary i ask myself - i suppose if your children live on a diet of chocolate and crisps then maybe the answer is yes.  On the other hand my kids eat a healthy balanced diet - with chocolate and sweets only featuring as special treats so i am pretty sure that the occasional original smartie wouldnt have hurt them.  So do you think it would work if we tried lobbying nestle to change them back?  ... well i guess only smarties have the answer ...

Tiggs x
(sorry about that but i had to include the smartie tag line somewhere didnt i?!)

Mince pies from now to December

02:45, Wednesday 24 October 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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The cupboard clearout has now started in earnest with the kitchen and utiltiy room being tackled first.
Anything worn or broken is going in the bin and all those 'extra' food stuffs are being sorted into 'things to use up' and 'things to put into a big box and give to someone who will use them as it is daft to throw perfectly good food out'!

So there i am today sorting through the accumulated clutter ... and there, in the back of the fruit juice cupboard (of all places?!), i found FOUR jars of sweet mince meat that i made last Christmas and didnt get around to using up!  It was one of Delia Smith's recipes and it made a HUGE batch of mincemeat - far more than i needed for christmas eve mince pies - and the rest had sat forgotten in the back of the cupboard until now.  So guess what the kids and i did this afternoon - yup that is right we made mince pies!!

Trouble is that the batch we made today only used up about half of a jar - meaning we have at least another 5 batches to go to finish it all off.  So you have been warned - if you decide to pop round to ours for tea anytime in the near future expect to be fed mince pies from now until we fly!

Tiggs x

A new look ... the blog not me! :)

02:45, Sunday 21 October 2007 | Posted in Musings
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So how do you like my super duper new look blog?!

It has only taken the best part of a year nagging Graz to get him to do me my very own page layout!!
But finally it is here - i am rather pleased .

Tiggs x

The rollercoaster just got steeper ...

08:58, Saturday 20 October 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
Comments 1 comments
OMG - what a week!
we started the week with a house buyer ...
on thursday morning Graham got a job offer in Adelaide (hurray!!!!) ...
on thursday afternoon our EA had phoned to say that our buyers had pulled out of our house sale ...

... so we are ending the week with a job offer and a crisis.  We need to be in Adelaide asap but we cant go until we sell the house!

To steal an appropriate quote: This is a crisis. A large crisis ... it's a twelve-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour porterage and an enormous sign on the roof, saying 'This Is a Large Crisis'.

What would you do?!
There have been so many ups and downs this week that i feel like an emotional wreck.  I have gone from feeling like everything was coming together to being in tears in the space of one phone call.  I have gone from being philisophical about things outside of my control to working myself into a state about what i could have done differently.  I have made myself feel ill by letting things get to me that i should have let wash over me.
So it now time it sort myself out again.  Graham has a job offer(!!!) which it would be stupid to turn down.  This means that we need to be in OZ by the middle of December at the latest.  We have a house that HAS to sell before we can go.  So there it is - in back and white (or whatever colour you have your screen set too!).  So the plan is - get rid of the house at all costs and get on a plane for Oz.  Quite simple when you look at it like that.  Just got to actually work out how to accomplish it now!

Tiggs x


04:04, Saturday 13 October 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Phew what an exhausting day!
From 10 this morining until 4 this afternoon i was trekking around the metro centre looking at luggage - i never would have believed that cases could be so complicated

As i see it the problem initially stems from the airlines.  I just cant figure out why their rules for luggage have to be so complicated!  You can have two pieces of hold luggage, but the combined dimensions cant be bigger than a certain size, then each piece individually cant be bigger than another size, then you have an overall weight limit plus a different individual bag limit
On top of all that there is your hand luggage that can have maximum length, width and depth but you cant 'take' a bit off the length allowance to offset the fact that your depth is over.

Plus there is the luggage itself - apart from the ridiculous prices - you just think you have found somrthing that looks right for all of your sizes and then you pick it up and discover that it weighs a tonne!
Then you find a piece that has an extra zippy bit that opens to give you more capacity - great! you think - only when you measure the case with the added sticky-out bit it turns out that it now means that you exceed the combined luggage dimensions so your second case needs to be smaller, thus you have in effect negated the point of the 'expanding' case in the first place.
The final problem of course is when you ask the nice lady on the counter how many of a particular case they have in stock.  The incredulous surprise on her face is a picture to behold when you tell her that you need 10 of them .

Anyway with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing (with very tired bored kids in tow) we finally found cheap (reduced twice in the sale sort of cheap) reasonable quality cases that will fit our baggage allowaces, Callum was thrilled with his 'trunki' ride on hand luggage, Rhys decided on a back-pack so he could be like daddy, the blokes went for maximum capacity rucksacks - which left me ...

... well all i really wanted was a nice girly flight case in some sort of chintzy fabric (maybe in pink?!).  Could i find one?  Could i heck.  So after all that i am still not finished - but then again i have a good excuse to go hand bag shopping so that is ok!  (as long as i can leave the kids at home next time!)

Tiggs x

The big clearout - Episode I - The Loft

10:12, Thursday 11 October 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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I have to admit that the loft is the not somewhere that i venture very often ...
When i need something storing i box or bag it, leave it in a strategic position (usually directly under the loft hatch) and drop some not very subtle hints to Graham.  When i next go past the item has magically disappeared .

So when Graham said he was going to start bringing boxes down from the loft to sort i didnt think too much more about it.  As you can imagine it came as a bit of a shock to me at the shear number of boxes and bags that had accumulated in the last 10 years.

Of course the majority of it is junk - i cant even imagine why i have kept some of the stuff up there ... the highlights so far have been a pink tassled lamp shade and a box of lace curtain .
Come to think of it I am fairly sure that i have NEVER used a pink tassled lamp shade at any point in my life - so why i have one stored in my loft has left me somewhat puzzled, and as for the lace curtain ... well even assuming by some strange chain of events lace curtain actually came back into fashion, who in their right mind would use old lace curtain that had been stored in a loft for years and years?!  The stuff has a horrible tendancy to turn yellow even when it is hanging at a window and no amount of nylene (or whatever it is called) will ever actually make it white again.  The only solution to yellowed lace curtain is to buy some new - hence my puzzlement at the reasoning that made me keep a box full of it in the loft.

So after two trips to the tip and two trips to local charity shops (car bulging at the seams each time) how do you think our loft is looking?  Well actually is it still looking just as full as it did before ... so now that i have managed to offended everyone who has lace curtain in their house i think i had better get back to the clearing out.

Tiggs x

Who needs Sigmund Freud anyway

10:57, Wednesday 10 October 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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I know that everyone has dreams but it is unusual for me to remember mine.  Even if i wake up and think 'oh that was an odd dream' if i wait 10 mins and then try and recall it i cant remember what i was dreaming about at all.

This morning I managed to doze back off to sleep after the alarm had gone off (always a bad idea) and i actually did remember the dream that i had ...

... For some reason the five of us are all about to set off to WALK a marathon - but this is not a road marathon the 'course' is all hills and valleys and forests and things.  There are a large group of other people (who i dont know) all ready to go too.
We have the kids in the buggy/on the buggy board and everything we need for camping (obvioulsy i am expecting this to take us some time) is packed in bags on the buggy or being carried.
Just as everyone sets off it starts to rain so i nip back into our house (only it is not quite our house the furniture is ours but the house itself (both inside and out) is my Grandma's house) and i grap all of the waterproof anoraks from the chest of drawers in the hall.
We are about to set of again (by this time everyone else doing this marathon are only just visible down the road) and i realise that the window frame in the back upstairs bedroom is broken and we have to fix it before we go ... because apparently there is a hurricane coming!  (why we would be setting off to walk a marathon when there was a hurricane on its way i have no idea!)
Anyway miraculously a workman arrives to fix the window and but then i have to explain to him what all the house keys do so he can lock up when he is finished (this is not really surprising as my grandma has so many keys in her house that when i go along i can never find the right one for the door i am trying to open!)
Needless to say the kids are getting bored and want to get moving and all the other marathon walkers are well out of sight!
We are just about to set off again (the wind and rain are really getting up by this point) and eldest son decides he has got to go to an interview instead and he needs me to take him there ...

... at which point it dawns on me that my eldest really does have an interview today and i must be dreaming so i opem my eyes and realise that it is about 20 past 8 and i have to have kids ready for school in 20 minutes!!  Aarrgghh!!

I couldnt help but laugh at myself (while racing around trying to get children ready!) - some people have deeply symbolic dreams that need an interpretation - i certainly cant class this dream as one of those.  It cant really be clearer can it?!  I have set of on a hugh emotional rollercoaster of a journey by choosing to emigrate to the other side of the world ... i am all geared up to go ... but things completely out of my control are stopping us from getting on and doing it.  Only yesterday i was telling the girls on the webboard WPHS thread that i felt i was in some sort of limbo land and just wanted to be able to get going.

So my apologies to Sigmund and the worlds other psychiatrists.  If you were reliant upon me you would all be out of a job!  Deep and meaningfull my dreams may be but they dont take a genius to work out what they mean.

Tiggs x

Boys with Toys (or It´s for the kids....really)

10:55, Sunday 7 October 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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With the middle son running a temperature through the night and the weather turning to mush indoor activities were the order of the day.

But what to play, a board game, colouring in?  Hang on this is a house full of boys.  Then answer


So by 10:00 this morning the ill child feels fine (cos otherwise he can not play ) and we have a full track laid out around the extension, perhaps we should put that on the house advert, kitchen/diner big enough for decent scalextric.

Right I am off, a lap record needs breaking.


To buy or not to buy - the cornflour dilema

09:00, Saturday 6 October 2007 | Posted in Musings
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How often does a person buy cornflour?
Once every 6 months?  No probably not even that much.  Once every 9 months?  i'd say that was more like it ...
and here i am, potentially just a few weeks away from emigrating, and my packet of cornflour chooses now to decide to run out.

So what do i do?
Do i buy a new packet knowing that i am going to end up throwing most of it in the bin?  Or do i decide to do without cornflour for the next two months?  Hmm let me look into the future ... i see runny chicken korma ... i see soggy chicken and leek pie ... i see thin gravey ... maybe not then.

Trouble is it is not just the cornflour ... i am getting worryingly low on all sorts of things that seem silly to start replacing ... pudding rice, black pepper, worcester sauce - the list goes on.

Maybe i can find someone to donate all my leftover supplied to before i go?!  I am sure there must be a charity dedicated to providing mustard powder for the needy - after all there is a charity for just about everything else.

Or i suppose i could say pants to that and not replace any of these things.  I could limit my culinary efforts to what i can find in the cupboard - lentil casserole all round it is then.
I can just see it now ......... 'boys its time for tea', 'what are we having?', 'barley and sardine pie', 'oh no not AGAIN!'

Tiggs x

A fortnight later ...

04:24, Saturday 6 October 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
Comments 1 comments
Nearly a fortnight after the offer on our house we have had not further contact from our buyers.  Beginning to get concenrned with the lack of ... well anything ... we called into the EA this morning to ask what was going on.  To cut a long story short it turns out that our buyers have not yet even signed their mortgage paperwork - so in effect we are still where we were two weeks ago .

No paperwork means no mortgage company involvement yet, which means no surveyor booked, which means no go ahead from the mortgage company, which means they could still have their mortgage application refused ...  and all the while we are sitting here and other potential buyers are putting in offers and buying other properties.

As you can probably tell i am a little cheesed off to say the least ... message to my buyers - if you want to buy my house then just get on with it .

Told the EA today that i am NOT moving in december (what a nightmare that would be trying to explain to our kids why santa has put all of their presents into a container which is currently somehere in the indian ocean!!!) so our buyers are going to have to pull out their finger and get sorted or they can just wait until January (god i hope it doesnt come to that ).  EA have promised to chase them on Monday, said they would phone us when the paperwork was signed and hopefully things would move much quicker from now on.

Well they really cant go any slower can they?!

Tiggs x

Ouch Ouch Ouch

07:43, Monday 1 October 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
Comments 2 comments
I did it.    The Great North Run

13.1 miles

Race Number Time 10 Mile Time Race Position
34731 01:57:12 02:43:31 30897

And now my legs hurt

I am getting no sympathy of the wife cos I did no training and I am now suffering for it.
Coming over the Tyne Bridge with 50000 other people.
Watching the Red Arrows blating around South Shields below the roof level.

Next year, city to surf?  with training!!

Whatever happened to ... supermarket trolleys?

09:45, Thursday 27 September 2007 | Posted in Whatever happened to ...
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I know that for years people have complained about supermarket trolleys.  They always had wonkey wheels, never went in the direction you pushed them and generally you needed to take Geoff Capes with you to actually make them move at all!

Then came that new breed of trolleys, where the supermarkets seemed to be in competition so see who could have the largest selection of different designs going around their store at one time.  They came in the types: normal; supersized; those little half depth ones; ones with a baby carrier on them; ones with two baby carriers on them; the ones with basket for putting the baby car seat in; the ones that attach to the front of a wheelchair; and any combination of the above!

After all of these incarnations of a fairly standard design you would think that someone would have come up with the perfect trolley by now ...

... well i have to admit that they HAVE managed to add a brake (the one on the top of the wheel that you have to stamp on to get to go on and off).  This is indeed a huge improvement for those of us who regularly find ourselves in a windy carpark trying to hang onto a heavy trolley full of shopping with one foot while using both hands to strap a wriggling toddler into a car seat.

... however i am going to take exception with whoever it was who decided that a supermarket trolley should only have ONE toddler seat in the front!?!    Which daft person thought that one up?!  Do these stores really want my four year old running about loose - or even worse when he starts to complain that his legs are tired and i switch him into the seat - that leaves my three year old 'helping' by removing as many things from the shelves as he can ... and all i can say is that is it a brave person who takes a loose toddler along the 'wine & spirits' aisle .

This 'one seat' phenomonon seemed to begin in the odd store but the plague has spread like wildfire and now it is virtually impossible to find anywhere to do my shopping without it ending in me having some sort of nervous breakdown at the checkouts as i attempt to pack bags while my children see if they can 'hide from Mammy'!

I sincerely hope that this daft trend has not extended to the other side of the world - i have high hopes of being able to return to the good old days of shopping with TWO safely confined children - preferably held in place by sturdy seatbelts.  While i am sure that i will hate supermarket shopping as much as ever (now that is a whole different blog entry!) at least i should be able to exit the store without leaving a trail of carnage and distruction behind me.

Tiggs x

Dog shippers compared (does this count as "Lab" testing?!)

07:54, Wednesday 26 September 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Lab testing - comparing dog shippers - labrador retriever - get it?!
I'll get my coat ....

Seriously though I can honestly say i am more worried about putting my dog in a crate on her own and sending her off for 30 days without me than i am about moving my family to the other side of the world.   But it must be done so having done a little research i though i would share it with you all.

Background info - 'Daisy' a black labrador/staffie cross of small-to-medium size, age 8, affectionately known at home as 'thicky' due to being a dog of very little brain (but still very cute!).  Quotes are to go to Sydney approx around May 2008 (might need to change both the location and the date when we actually decide where/when we are going!)

I decided to get quotes from 3 companies - doing a search for pet shippers on BE and (discounting those who several people had said were not good) came up with AirPets, Golden Arrow, and Par Air.  I will list what the quotes included and what i personally though of the company and the info they sent out:

AirPets - www.airpets.co.uk
Filled in the online quote form which asked for dog measurements.
Simple and easy to follow instructions and filled in form Friday quote arrived in post Monday.
Paperwork fairly comprehensive and reasonably easy to understand.  Letter friendly and assuring 'caring hands' which i quite liked :)
Close to airport so no additional transfer time which i thought was a plus.
Quote included import permit and worming/defleaing etc.
Quote £2351 + £510 to collect from home.
This was all looking good to me until i got to the price!!!!

Golden Arrow - 0158 868 0240
No website had to phone (Friday) and they posted out forms which arrived on Monday.
Paperwork comprehensive and easy to understand (i liked the questions and answers format) and they included a sae for sending back info.
Sent back form (which asked for dog measurements) on Wednesday quote back on Friday.
Letter friendly and reassuring and (proving i am a rather sad person ) i loved the booklet they included in the literature which was all letters from happy animal owners who had previously used their services.
They are in Shropshire so i was a little worried about the additional traveling of approx 3 hours transfer time to airport.
Quote includes import permit and worming/defleaing etc.
Quote £1826 (oops i forgot to ask about cost of uk pickup)
I was unsure about doing everything 'snail mail' - seems a bit daft when the internet and email are easier and quicker.  Extra transfer time to the airport worried me a little too - more time in the crate.  I did like the suggestion that you drop the dog at least the day before the flight (the price included up to 3 nights boarding) as they like to have time to get the dog used to the crate before they load them up.

Par Air - www.ParAir.co.uk
Filled in the online quote form which asked for dog measurements, microchip number, owners flight dates ... and lots of other stuff that i didnt know so i didnt fill in!
Filled in form Friday quote arrived in post Wednesday.
Paperwork fairly confusing and i didnt really follow what it was saying (and i already knew what we needed to do!).
They are in Colchester so again there is an additional transfer time of about 1 1/2 hours to airport.
Quote did not included import permit (additional A$280) which we would have to apply for ourselves (!?!)
Did not include and worming/defleaing and Export Health Certificate (additional £57).
Quote £1617 + £236 to collect from home.
Do i need to say anything about this?  I bet you can already guess which company i am NOT using!

All things considered we are going to go with Golden Arrow.  i feel more comfortable with the idea of handing my dog over to them than the others and the price/service seems the best too.  There is that transfer time but Daisy is used to traveling on roads so i think she will be fine.  My Mam and Dad have volunteered to take Daisy to the kennels so she wont need crating for that time and it is also a darned sight cheaper to cover their costs than it is to have her picked up!

Phew glad i got through that lot!
Going to do furniture shipping next!!!

Tiggs x

Subject to Contract

12:30, Tuesday 25 September 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
Comments 1 comments
Yay! After much deliberation and debate we decided today to accept the offer on our house!
It was not quite as much as we would have liked but it is a reasonable offer and with the current state of the housing market we have decided to take it and run!  Our buyers are chain free, already have a mortgage in principle and are local and want to stay local.  All in all the few grand less that we will end up with seem worth it to be chain free (huge nightmare avoided!) and to be able to move reasonably quickly.

We added a couple of conditions to our acceptance (for one we have stated that under NO circumstances will we drop the price any lower) but they buyers were happy with everything so we are officially SOLD - Subject to Contract.

I am sure that i should be feeling happier about this - the trouble is that selling a house in the UK is such a hit or miss affair that until you get to the end of the selling process you dont actually know that you ARE going to get to the end - if you see what i mean.  With both buyers and sellers able to pull out right up to the final moment it just seems far too early yet to celebrate.

So instead i am going to try not to think about it - at least for the next couple of weeks when i cant do anything to move things along anyway.  i have loads of other stuff to organise for our move so there is plenty to keep me occupied - i think i will start with the shipping quotes, although i am not looking forward to finding out how expensive it is to transport things to the other side of the planet.

Tiggs x

Its only Monday ... but could this be our lucky week?!

01:10, Monday 24 September 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Ok it is only Monday but already this week we have a potential offer on our house (bit less than we were hoping for but still worth considering) AND Graham has an interview on Wednesday for a job in Adelaide!

Is everything going to fall into place this week ... ??!! ... or am i going to get all overexcited only for the whole lot to fall through?!

Most of the time i would not be happy if someone tried to tell me what my future held (i like a surprise!) but today i would be very very glad to get my hands on a crystal ball.

Tiggs x

I'm a little teapot ...

08:47, Friday 21 September 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Apologies if you are a regular reader of my blog - i have been feeling so stressed out with my house sale (or rather my house NOT sale) that i just havent been able to get motivated and have shamefully neglected writing in my blog.  I will make sure i try harder in the future ...

Anyway i was inspired to add a little note today.

After school today R and C were invited to a birthday party.  As i have mentioned (ranted about?!) before, turning 5 in this part of the world can no longer be celebrated with just jelly and ice-cream.  No that sort of thing is soooo last generation.  These days no self respecting 5 year old would have a party that didnt involve a full disco with DJ and of course a party host.
So off we trotted this afternoon to the obligitory disco, as usual around here hosted by Gillian.  Now Cal decided that he really wanted to join in 'pass the monkey' but he wasnt going on his own - and his big brother was doing his usual thing and refusing to join in - so the task of sitting in the circle and 'passing the monkey' with cal fell to Graham (actually he jumped at the chance - he was dying to play and just needed an excuse!)
Unfortunately Graham managed to be holding the monkey when the music stopped and Gillian (ably assisted by all the kids!) decided that Graham had done it on purpose.  So she said he had to stand in the middle of the floor and do a dance ... and the music she chose was ... (yes you guessed it!) ... i'm a little teapot!  Well all i can say is that Graham makes a very good little teapot.  Just to top it off the birtuday boys father managed to get the whole thing on video - and has promised me a copy - so Graham will be able to relive his 5 minutes of fame whenever he feels like it!

Tiggs x

Young McCallum had a farm EIEIO ...

10:13, Friday 31 August 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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...  and on that farm he had a ...

sheep ... and a ...

goat ... and a ...

donkey ... and a ...

pig ... and a ...

stick insect ... and a ...

giant hissing cockroach!!!  EIEIO

In case you hadnt realised we spent the day at the farm (Whitehouse farm in Northumberland to be precise).  There were too many animals to add all of the phots to the blog but both Rhys and Callum got involved with feeding the sheep, grooming the goats and bathing the pigs as well as meeting lots of other animals.  Callum is a HUGE fan of creepy crawlies so he had a fab time at the beastie show.  Rhys on the other hand was happy to sit back and let his little brother do all of the holding!

We did have a small crisis when a goat ate Callums bag of feed (the feed AND the bag itself!)  so Callum spent the whole of the journey home telling us that when we go back to the farm we are not going to feed that naughty brown and black goat!

Tiggs x

A relaxing day out at the water.

09:02, Monday 27 August 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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That is what i was promised ... a relaxing day out.
Graz had this great idea that we load the car and spend the only sunny bank holiday monday we have had this year at Kielder Reservoir.  He proposed a picnic lunch and a quiet ride along the banks of the water on our bikes.  It sounded a very nice idea.

However what i hadnt really thought through was that this is a large body of water artificially dammed up in a steep valley.  A valley, by its very definition, is a low point in the landscape with higher land on either side.  In practice the problem with this (at least for a person riding a peddle powered vehicle) is that you dont ride along the low bits or along the high bits but you do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time (and effort) moving up and down between the two.

What i am trying to say, in a slighlty longwinded way is that it was VERY hilly and some of the steep uphills were real killers!  By the time we stopped for lunch my thighs were killing me and i wasnt entirely sure that i was going to manage cycling all of the way back!  In total we managed somewhere around the 6 mile mark which, in normal cycling terms, is just a little tootle out.  But with all of those climbs it felt like we had been at least twice that distance.

It did occur to me at one point that that there seemed to be a lot more uphills than there were downhills which, considering we started and finished in the same place, doesnt make a lot of sense - but sense is not always evident when you are trying to get up yet another hill and your legs dont want to go!

Anyway i survived and managed to take some nice snaps along the way.

Tiggs x

Party photos as promised ...

12:39, Monday 27 August 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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As promised here are a selection of piccies of Callum's 3rd birthday party!

Rhys helps Callum open his presents.

Callum has a lot of puff.

Callum's 'brooch' says 'Busy Being 3'

Tiggs x

A happy birthday morning!

08:45, Sunday 26 August 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Happy Birthday Callum
3 today!
I was woken up this morning by a grinning face telling me 'mammy it is morning' *grin*  *grin*.  'What sort of morning is it?' I asked.  'A happy birthday morning' was the reply!
By quarter past 8 all the presents and cards were opened and Callum is now happy to report that he is the proud owner of a brand new 'Iggle Piggle'.

More photos to follow after the party!

Tiggs x

So near and yet so far

09:46, Tuesday 21 August 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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4:30pm We have a full asking price offer on our house!
Second viewers from last night have come back with a no nonsense straight off full asking price offer - fantastic!

4.40pm Dont book the flights yet.
EA has been back on the phone - they have confirmed that our 'buyers' have accepted an offer on their property ... but ... their buyers have not yet sold their flat.  So we are really no further forward.

Actually i think we may have taken another step back.  I was all set to change estate agents this week in the hope of actually getting this sale moving - that is going to be more of a problem now.  Plus i have a feeling that our useless EA is going to do even less work now (if that is actually possible) and we are going to be unlikely to see another viewer in the near future.  We havent got the time, or the inclination, to sit and wait for someone somewhere down a chain to try and sell a property - that may or may not EVER sell!

Just feeling jammed in a corner at the moment -  i have no idea where we go from here.

Tiggs x

You wait for a viewing for ages - then two come along together

09:00, Monday 20 August 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Well for numerous reasons (that i may or may not get around to blogging at a later date) we have recently confirmed that our estate agent is currently holding the title of Worst Estate Agent in the World.

However having told him last week that i would rather take my house off the market than pay him he has finally got off his backside and sorted us not just one house viewing for today but two!  Plus i am amazed at the level of common sense shown in arranging the two viewings straight after each other so i only have to clean the once!

Somehow though i get the feeling this is only going to be a temporary improvement in the EAs level of service - i just hope that one of these viewers turns into a buyer then i wont need to worry about it anymore!

Tiggs x

Faster than a speeding cheetah

07:55, Sunday 19 August 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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It is a common miscomprehension that the fastest creature on land is the cheetah.
Any parent will tell you that the fasted animal on land is actually the teenager ...  when someone starts running a tap to wash dishes.

In addition to lightening speed the agile teenager also displays the sudden ability to open and close a front door without making a noise (a phenomenon all the more surprising seeing as normally they can only manage to close a door by making the whole house shake) and the equally unexpected skill of being able to come up with the most eloquent and inventive of excuses to ensure that they are somewhere else as soon as possible (even though ten minutes ago the best they could mange in reply to your questions was an indistint grunt).

Camouflage is another interesting aspect in the life of the teenager.  With a tendancy to flock together in large groups they attempt to confuse potential predators by dressing alike (preferably all in black with 'spikey' and 'studdy' silver coloured bits sticking out) thereby appearing to be much larger than they actually are.

... and dont get me started on mating rituals .

I think i had better go and wash my dishes!!!

Tiggs x

Well there it is ...

06:39, Thursday 16 August 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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... just sitting there in my passport ... my visa that is!

Our passports arrived this morning, back from their little jaunt to the Australian High Commission in London.  Somehow the whole moving to the other side of the world thing seems a little more real when you see the words 'Holder(s) permitted to remain in Australia indefinitely'. 

I do have to admit that i have looked at it about a dozen times during today.  Yes i have just looked again - and yes IT IS actually there!   lol

Tiggs x

The very naughty blogger

09:18, Tuesday 14 August 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Two of the most important traits that make a blog what it is are regular updates and up to the minute information ...

...so with this in mind i am starting this entry with an apology - not only has it been 10 days since i last wrote a blog entry but a whole week has gone past since we ...

got our visas!

and i havent been on my blog to let you all know!
On Tuesday 7 August 2007 at 7:15am Graham telephoned me from work and said 'we have a visa' and i replied ... 'are you having me on?'
Well he wasnt and we had and we are actually going to live in Australia!

Now just a couple of hundred things left to do before we go ... we will be there in no time .

Tiggs x

You know you are getting old when ...

10:19, Saturday 4 August 2007 | Posted in Musings
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You go out to the pub and the lad behind the bar looks younger than your eldest son .

I nipped out last night for a drink (and a natter!) with my mate Peter and i would have sworn that the lad at the bar wasnt even 16.   Suddenly i feel rather old.
Well i'm not having it!  I refuse to admit that i am getting older - I am going to have to find a pub where they employ barstaff of a more sensible age .

Tiggs x
(only slighlty in denial!)

Toddlers from Mars

09:27, Tuesday 24 July 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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As part of my plan for occupying the boys over the summer holidays i have signed them up for crafting sessions on Tuesday afternoons.
Today's theme was 'Outer Space' and in the space of a single afternoon they were transformed into astronauts!

            Rhys and Callum model their spaceman helmets

Since they got home this afternoon they have gone 'planet crazy' asking Andrew which planet they should visit next and getting him to google for a picture.  They managed Earth, Saturn and Mars before Andrew got bored and started looking at nebulae - much to the disgust of the boys who decided in that case they may as well head back to earth.  lol

Tiggs x

Its a sign - the update

09:10, Friday 20 July 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Thought i would do a quick update on my house viewing this morning.

Bit of background first ... one of the houses at the bottom of our street has recently sold and the new owners have spent the last few weeks literally ripping everything out from inside.  New kitchen has gone in, new bathroom, decorated all through, new flooring etc etc etc ...

Anyway it turns out that my 'viewer' this morning is the mother of the new owners from down the street.  She is professing to be looking to downsize her home and buy something near her daughter.

Do we believe this?  Not on your life!  It doesnt take a genius to realise that she is only here to have a snoop around and see what we have done.
So much for that viewer then.  Onto the next.  I just wish i hadnt bothered spending all day yesterday cleaning.

This did remind of an email one of my friends sent me when i told him that i was writing the advert for selling my house - he had suggesed:
For sale 'house'.
Complete with doors and windows. Suitable for people. Time wasters please bring a bottle or small gift.
I can see where he was coming from now.

Tiggs x

It's a sign!

08:38, Thursday 19 July 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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A 'for sale' sign. 
On my house this morning!

Actually when i saw it going up i felt quite queasy!  Bit of a 'what the heck are we doing?' feeling.  But it only lasted a few minutes - especially when i looked out and it had started to rain again!

The estate agent has really been trying hard today - i have had three phone calls, a revised copy of the house details (still a couple of daft typos but it is about a squillion times better than their first attempt) and an appointment for a viewing tomorrow!
See i told all of you doubters that i should give him a second chance!

Tiggs x

Have i done the right thing?

08:36, Wednesday 18 July 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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When i got up this morning i was fully intending telling the estate agent that we no longer required his services.  It would probably have been something of a world record - sacking him after just 6 days!
However after talking on the phone i have to admit that i was bribed into giving him another chance.  His apologies for the problems, assurances of the highest quality service from this point forwards, and promises of continuous newspaper advertising for the first few weeks as a 'feature property' had me convinced.  I suppose i am a bit of a pushover really .

What would you have done?
He had originally promised that we would have the house details to look at on Friday (they never appeared).  We got a phone call Saturday to say he needed to take more photos could he pop round? (he never showed up).  We phoned on Monday - he wasnt in the office but would definitely phone us back Tuesday. (he didnt but we did get the house details through the door).  Then the house details turned out to be the biggest load of [email protected]* i have ever seen from any estate agent EVER!!

Graz thinks that i should have told him to bog off and phoned one of the other agents.   But I like to think the best of people and I would like to think that he is going to put in extra effort and get everything just right in order to keep our business (and his %).

Hmmm ... maybe i am being rather naive?

I did tell him that there was no way i was signing a 12 week sole agency agreement with him (he dropped it to 8 weeks) which i am quite proud of myself for doing - usually i just agree to stuff in order to avoid any sort of confrontation but i had decided to be calm and stand my ground about what i wanted, which i did.

So have i done the right thing?  I guess only time will tell - about 8 weeks should do it.

Tiggs x

Compulsive Obsessive

11:11, Sunday 15 July 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Someone make me stop!

Having finally called in the Estate Agent last week the diy was supposedly finished ... so i cant help but wonder why i found myself painting the kitchen today?
This isnt even a small kitchen - this is an 18 foot long kitchen! - and it wasnt even like it was a rainy day and i needed something to do - it was a glorious Sunday with beautiful sunshine!  I could have been outside doing something a lot more fun.

The trouble is that i have been decorating for so long now that i cant seem to call a halt!  It has become some sort of compulsive behaviour 'have day at home = must find a diy job to do'.

I really really need to stop!
Maybe somewhere out there there is a DA group - that is a DIYers Anonymous!

Hello my name is Tiggs and i am a compulsive DIYer!

Tiggs x

An English sense of humour ... and an Ozzie

02:22, Saturday 14 July 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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It is now officially 6 weeks since our police checks went to Oz.
By all accounts we should have our visas by now.

Getting all impatient Graham emailed our agent and managed to hassle her into agreeing to email oz immigration for us.  She said she would but warned us that there was a good chance that we would not even get a reply.  She said that there had been very few grants coming through for the last month and she had not seen any since 1st July.
Graham emailed her back and being in a slightly daft mood he asked her 'does that mean that Oz is full?!' 

We were both more than a little surprised when the email back with what we can only assume was a serious answer!  She started it with an 'Oh no it doesnt mean that' and then gave us a whole list of reasons that things are slow!
We both sort of looked at each other.  'Do you think she got the joke?' i asked.  'I think maybe not' replied Graham.
Graham did email her back and tell her he had been joking - but she didnt reply - i hope we didnt upset her!

So we are taking this as the first major discrepancy between our English sense of humour and that of an Ozzie!  No doubt there will be many more.  I wonder who will get the biggest laugh?!

Tiggs x

This is the week that was ...

09:58, Friday 13 July 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Sorry its a long one!
Where do i start?
Firstly an apology to all those of you who have emailed, texted and/or pm'ed me over the last week.  I just havent been in the right frame of mind to reply but i am starting to get through the backlog now and i promise i will reply to you all.

A week past Tuesday
When i started the day all i was really thinking about was getting the house sorted for the viewers who were coming in the afternoon.
But the phone call i got at half 9 put a stop to all of that.  For those of you who dont know, my Grandad has been completely bed-bound for the last 2 years suffering from Parkinsons Disease.  His condition has been compounded by dementia which has gradually worsened and for the last 6 months he has lost all comprehension for the world around him.
The phone call i got on that Tuesday morning was from my grandma telling me that she couldnt get Grandad to respond and she couldnt hear him breathing.  My uncle was there with her but she couldnt get hold of my Mam.
I thought at the time that i was quite calm - i know i sounded calm when i told Grandma not to worry about that as i would find her.  However when i realised that i was phoning Mam's mobile about every 30 seconds i decided that i wasnt quite as calm as i had thought.
Cutting a very long story short my Grandad had simply stopped breathing and died peacefully in his sleep.  A very gentle way to go after such a long and debilitating illness.

A week past Tuesday afternoon
The house viewers, for whom i had spent a whole day cleaning my house, never showed up.  I thought about phoning them and asking them if they would like to view again at another time (good salesperson in me) but then i decided that i really couldnt be bothered anyway.

Intervening bit of the week
Had two more estate agents in to value the house - one 10 grand less than the first, one ten grand more.  How can they be so different?

A week ago (Friday) - Heard it on the grape vine
My eldest came home with a puzzled look on his face.  'Mam?', 'Yes?', 'You know the people who live in the end house?', 'Martin and Kerry, yes' (lol - he is not very good with names!), 'Well Martin just stopped me in the street and asked us when we were moving out because someone had told him that we had sold our house'
I have to admit i laughed - how in the world do these rumours get started?!
You get a couple of estate agents in to value your house and low and behold everyone 'knows' that you have sold your house to a couple of chavs and are moving to Outer Mongolia to raise wild Llamas for a living .  Actually that doesnt sound like too bad a plan - maybe i will suggest it to Graz.

A week ago (Friday) - Teatime
Mam had phoned earlier in the day - could she bring my Grandma round for tea (trying to get her out of the house for a bit).  Maybe i could cook mince and dumplings?
I have no idea why they wanted mince and dumplings but i duly obliged.
When i told Rhys and Callum that Grandma, Grandad and Great Grandma were coming for tea Rhys wanted to know if Great Grandad was coming too.  So how exactly do you explain death to a rather sensitive 4 year old who is prone to worrying?  I know that my cousin had told her 4 year old that Great Grandad had died and gone to live with Jesus in heaven - but what if i dont believe that myself?  It seems rather unfair of me to tell my 4 year old something that i dont believe is true.
Now dont get me wrong.  I believe that we all have a soul and that soul lives on after our bodies are gone - the part i dont believe is the Jesus in heaven bit.
I am slightly ashamed to admit that i didnt give Rhys an answer at all.  I avoided the question and moved the conversation on in the sure and certain knowledge that at 4 years old he wasnt really that bothered anyway.  I know that i should have a better strategy for dealing with things like this - i just have no idea what.  Answers on a postcard please.

Sunday was my sister Claire's 30th birthday.  Happy Birthday Claire!!!
This had been a bit of a milestone for her as she has been sorting out the paperwork for her visa to oz and needed to lodge before she turned 30 and as she would have lost 5 points (those 5 points made the difference between an independent visa and needing a sponsor).  I am really really please to say that she lodged in time and got the confirmation through before her birthday!  Yay my master plan to move all of my family to oz with me is working! (only kidding - although they do all seem to have decided come too!)

Monday morning - The funeral
Running late as usual!
Remarkably eldest son appeared out of his bedroom having dressed HIMSELF in a pair of dress trousers and a shirt (!?!) plus he had arranged for his Grandma to get him a black tie.  All sorted - nice one Andrew.
Slightly late in the day i realised that i had put on far too much weight lately and there was no way i was getting into my black suit - so had to dig around in my wardrobe to try and find something black that was reasonably dressy (black jeans and a t-shirt NOT going to work).
Ended up in a pair of black trousers that made my bum look HUGE - and a posh long length black cardigan that was far too warm for the weather but it was the best i could do.  No-one was going to be looking at me anyway (i hope).
Dropped youngest two off at playgroup (had arranged with a friend to pick them up if we were not back in time).
Got to Grandma's house and hugged and then chatted to loads of family who i hadnt seen since the last family funeral - nearly 2 years ago.  I wonder why extended families only ever get together for funerals?  i suppose we are all so busy with our own lives we have very little time for other peoples - even those we are related to.
The funeral service was typically religious with the usual bit added about what Grandad did in his life.  (note to self - must find an alternative to the church funeral)
Definitely the most moving part of the service was when Claire stood up and talked about our Grandad.  I dont think there was a dry eye in the house.  I will get her to send me a copy and add it to a blog entry.

Monday afternoon - The party
Grandad always said that it was not a proper party unless there were balloons, so Mam turned up after the funeral with loads of purple helium filled balloons!  The kids thought it was great!
Loads of people kept asking us about going to Australia.  I had been trying not to mention it as i know that Grandma is not particularly happy about us going but nearly everyone i spoke to wanted to talk about our plans!   She did actually join in with the conversations though and she seemed ok about it.  Ages ago I had said that we would pay for Grandma to come over and see us once we move - but she had refused to even contemplate the idea.  Apparently she is too old!?!  Anyway everyone seemed to have a story about how they know someone in their 80s who has kids in Australia and they are flying back and forward all the time and she actually seemed to come around to the idea.  We will get her out there yet .

Monday night - Contemplation
It has been the strangest week.  I have sort of felt very odd.  I know i should be upset about losing my Grandad but to be honest i am not.  What i realise now of course is that i didnt lose him last Tuesday - he had already gone.  The Grandad that i grew up with - the one who always had loads of time to spend with his grand-daughters, so much love and affection for his family - he left us a long time ago.  This week we may have been saying goodbye to his body but i wasnt saying goodbye to my Grandad.  I had already done that.
I am crying more as i write this than i have done all week.  I love you Grandad and i miss you. x

Last bit of the week
Chaired playgroup AGM on Tuesday.  Only got around to writing the agenda and chairman's report on Monday night.  Susan, the committee secretary, was worse though - she only wrote her report on the Tuesday morning!
Thursday finally 'got rid' of Parents & Toddlers - will write a blog entry about this anyway as it included a Summer Show and i have loads to say about Callum and the animals!
Thursday afternoon.  Chosen estate agent was back in today to do the photos etc.  He said that they would get the details to us to check asap.  So at least something is still progressing - unlike our visa!

Well ... Congratulations if you have made it to the end of all of that!!
I would normally have had half a dozen entries to cover that lot.  I will try and keep it shorter in future!  I did try and start writing a few times but the words just didnt want to come.  Anyway normal service is now resumed.

Tiggs x

OMG - house selling panic!!!

08:31, Sunday 1 July 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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A few weeks ago i got all organised and found a house selling website that gave free listings.  I wrote the advert and took the photos but i never quite got round to actually posting the listing.

So i was sitting this afternoon having a cuppa and i thought i might as well upload everything and then i could at least say we were officially on the market.
The whole thing (including a couple of small edits) took about 15 minutes - just enough time to add a choccy biscuit to go with my cuppa - then i closed down the computer and went off to paint the cabinets in my bathroom.

Less than three hours later i was rather surprised when the mobile rang - i couldnt think why anyone would be phoning my work mobile on a sunday.  I was absolutely astounded when it turned out to be someone who had seen the house advert online and was wanting to come around to view on Tuesday afternoon!!!

So this is where the panic comes in.  The house is fairly tidy - i had spent most of last week tiding and sorting for the estate agent on Friday - but it is nowhere near the super clean, tidy and staged home that i was intending showing to potential buyers!  For a start my bathroom cabinets are now half way through being painted (i never would have started if i had thought for one moment that i would have viewings this week!)
I just keep looking around me and thinking - i havent done that yet, or that, or that even, or .....

Ok ... trying to stay calm ... everything is all right - i just need to clean the WHOLE house tomorrow ... .

Tiggs x

The Australian way of life....does not work in the UK

08:45, Saturday 30 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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We are doing our best.

Last weekend our day on the beach was a washout ... we persevered for the morning but went home damp and defeated.  The surfing lesson never happened.

This weekend.  A Bar-B-Q...  The rain is still falling.

The Bar-b-q happened,  I stood in the rain with the FiL providing cover with a brolly until everything was cooked.  Somehow it did not quiet give quite the same level of satisfaction that i expect to have and the eating was done indoors.

I am not expecting miracles in Oz with the weather but it would be nice  to at least do something outside without the rain interfering.

Never mind...I am going back to email watching waiting for a Visa.


Happy Birthday!

07:14, Saturday 30 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Happy Birthday Andrew!!!

17 today!

My eldest baby is 17 today (at 12.20 pm to be precise )
Cant believe the he is 17 already - cant believe how tall he has got - cant believe we are going to be daft enough to let him drive on the public roads!

Happy Birthday sweetie!
love Mammy xx

Tiggs x

EA ... eta ... today

10:09, Friday 29 June 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Today was estate agent number one.
Having spent ALL day yesterday (until about half ten at night) tidying up the house i finally stopped just 10 mins before the estate agent was due to arrive this morning.  As she was 5 mins early i didnt even have time to sit down!
Never mind.  She looked around, took all the room measurements, we had a discussion about fees and charges (one and a quarter percent, free advertising, no sale no fee, no fee if you take the house off the market - all looked good to me).
I had debated for quite some time about what i was going to say when asked why we were moving but in the end i decided to go with the truth.  I was worried that if potential buyers knew we were going to oz then they would make a stupid offer or try to drop the price at the last moment.  On consideration though i decided just to make it clear that we are not intending to move to oz until next year and that we will be renting until then so we are in no particular hurry to sell.  Just for good measure i also mentioned that if we had any problems selling we would probably just rent the house instead - not what we really want to do but it is a last option and hopefully it will make the ea realise that we would not be accepting a daft offer.

i have started with our local independant estate agent (i actually bought through them 10 years ago) but they have a bit of a reputation locally for undervaluing property.  That meant I was pleasantly surprised when she valued it at about price we were thinking of marketing at.  I had expected her valuation to be at least 5k less.  Of course now i cant help speculating that we might get more than we thought!  The danger always is though that you start to get greedy and end up with a higher asking price and no viewers.  Need to remember to keep it realistic.
Anyway we have two more estate agents coming in next week so we will see what they say.

Tiggs x

...oh we do like to be beside the sea

09:34, Saturday 23 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Today was our long anticipated day out at the seaside!  The weather didnt start off to well but it was dry by the time we set out.
Geordie Mandy and her boys had travelled up on the train and we all headed off to Cullercoates beach - not surprisingly we had it all to ourselves.
We managed to munch our way through at least some of our picnic before the first rain shower.  Oh well we thought, that wasnt too heavy a shower we can cope with this.
The second rain shower was more rather worse and i have to admit that i was beginning to wonder what we were doing out in this weather!  But i tried to stay positive.  The rain had stopped again and it was looking a lot brighter (and feeling considerably warmer).

The sandcastle building now began in earnest.  Graham and our mate Vicki marked out the moat and all the kids got involved with the digging.
All was going well until the rain started again ... and then it got heavier .... and then there was thunder! ... and more rain ...
We gave it our best shot but i am afraid that we just got too wet and throwing our stuff together we headed off to my parents house.

After getting dry, hanging clothes and shoes over every radiator, depositing large amounts of water and sand all over the house, we finally finished our picnic camped out in my parents living room!

Although things didnt go quite as planned it was still great to see mandy and her boys - and the next time we do this we should be in oz and hopefully the weather will be a bit sunnier!

Callum looking very soggy.

The building of the sandcastle.

David and Craig are employed as flag poles!

Tiggs x
(p.s. dont forget to check out Geordie Mandy's blog too!)

First deadline ... did we make it?

01:35, Friday 22 June 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Those of you who read my blog regularly may remember that way back at the start of May we set ourselves a deadline date to get the house on the market.  Well that date is today.
So did we do it?  Are we on the market?
Well actually no.  The house is not on the market, is not quite finished and is definitely not tidy/clean enough for selling.  However i am not too upset or worried.  I knew when we set the date that we were on a near impossible task but it was more way of pushing ourselves to get done than anything else ... and it has certainly done that.
One hell of a lot of work later and the house is looking really good.  There are still odds and ends to sort out - but when are there not?
The advert for selling the house on the internet is done (just need to add a selling price!) and we will get the estate agents in next week.
Those little odd jobs that still need doing will gradually get done over the next few weeks - but my priority for the next week is cleaning.  We need to be spick and span for all of those lovely viewers!

Tiggs x

Australia - It keeps cropping up everywhere

10:06, Thursday 21 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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As usual for a Thursday morning i headed off to toddlers but was rather unusually surprised to be met at the door by one of the local SureStart workers (SureStart are a pre-school support group - no idea if they have them elsewhere in the country but they seem to be popping up everywhere round here at the mo).  She had with her our local community artist which was even more surprising seeing as i had no idea that we even had a local community artist!

Anyway it turns out that Eddie (the artist) was supposed to be in the first school all day but when he had arrived they told him they were not ready for him and it was suggested by someone that he dropped in to see us in toddlers instead.
Well i am always happy to have extra activities going on to keep the kids entertained (especially activities that someone else is organising and more to the point someone else is clearing up afterwards!) so we got out the tables and i gave him a hand setting up.  I have to admit that i couldnt help smiling when he told me that todays art activity was finger painting, based on australian aboriginal art and using little dots to make simple pictures and maps (perfect for little fingers - not so perfect for keeping my mind of the wait for this visa!)
Just to complete the australian theme Eddie had a cd player with him so we all sat and listened to some nice didgeridoo music while we did our paintings!

Callum really got into the finger painting and did several pictures - one of which Eddie pointed out as being a particularly good example of working with paint (it looked a bit like a green smear to me but apparently it was artistically excellent!)
i will make sure that i bring the paintings home next week (they were still wet so i left them hanging on the church hall wall to dry) so i can add some pictures to the blog so you can all see how talented my youngest is.

Tiggs x

Plenty of firsts

04:22, Thursday 21 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Tis not often I get on this blog,  my darling wife does all the talking but I thought I would make an effort.

The reason for breaking my blogging absence?  I am in for my first Oz sensation (if you discount copious amounts of alcohol and the odd bar-b-q).

On Saturday Adele and the kids are going to the beach with fellow expat forum members for a fun day of sun , sea, sandcastles and family fun,  I am going into the next bay and I am going to Surfing lessons.

No we are not talking surfers paradise, golden sands sharks and 10 ft waves.  We are talking Tynemouth longsands, a grey sea, the odd toilet roll and a wetsuit. 

I am assured however by the instructors of Tynemouth Surf Co (blatant advertisment) that if the weather is good they can teach me the basics of getting onto the board and not falling in instantly. 

Pictures and a review will be entered at the weekend assuming all goes ahead.


One rainy afternoon, two children and a pack of biscuits

05:05, Friday 15 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Its raining AGAIN!
Our back garden is beginning to look like a lake.  As i type there is a rather soggy blackbird sitting in the middle of the lawn trying to decide if he should change career and become a duck.

The kids are fed up being stuck in the house and i am fed up trying to think up things to keep them occupied.
This afternoons plan involved some butter icing, mini choc buttons, assorted sprinkles and a large pack of ikea vanilla biscuits (that i am not very keen on but Rhys insisted on buying when we were in ikea on wednesday (i much prefer the ones with chocolate ))
Now, an hour later we have two entertained children and lots of iced biscuits that taste much better than they did when they were plain!  Well at least i am happier!

Tiggs x
(oh bother i just dropped a load of rainbow sprinkles into my keyboard I suppose that is what i get for eating biscuits while i am blogging! (no-one tell Graz! ))

Went to the hairdressers and came out 20 years younger

09:22, Thursday 14 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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I really am not a big fan of having my hair cut.
I worry that i am not going to like a new style, i know that i am never again going to be able to make it look like it does when i leave the salon and i am not altogether fussed that it is going to cost me a small fortune (well it seems like a small fortune to someone on a small budget).
On the plus side i have been going to the same hairdresser for years and she is lovely - and i know that if she thought that a particular 'do' would be a disaster on me she would simply refuse to cut my hair!

Well for at least 6 weeks i have been saying that i need to go and have a haircut, but being me i simply hadnt got around to actually making the appointment.  A couple of weeks back Andrew (eldest son, currently doing the 'goth' thing) said that he wanted his hair dyed black again and after the last 'dye' experience (he got me to do it with one of those semi permanent dyes ) he decided that it would be safer to go to the professionals.

So last week he got super organised and made up both appointments at the hairdressers (and just for the record he didnt really need his mammy to go with him he just thought it would be easier to go at the same time )

Well we pottered off to the hairdressers this afternoon, him to his dye at one end of the salon and me to my cut at the other.  We had been in about 15 minutes when the girl doing his hair came over looking rather embarrassed. She said you will never guess what i just said ... i just asked andrew if you where his girlfriend!

Now i know that i have always been blessed with not looking quite my age and i was not that old when i had Andrew but under no stretch of the imagination am i looking like i am 16!   Even allowing for Andrew looking a little older than he is that still leaves quite an age gap - so maybe she thought that it was more of a cradle snatcher situation!  Either way it did make for rather a giggle and even Andrew thought it was rather funny.  i was sort of expecting him to be rather embarrassed but to give him full credit he just laughed.

Anyway i now have a nice new haircut, sort of bobbed with layers, and shorter than it has been in years.  I will let you know how much i like it when i have washed it and have to style it myself.
Andrew has shiny black hair which he is very impressed with (he is currently out showing his mates!) and while i admit that i have not have quite managed to be 20 years younger than when i started the day i am perfectly willing to be mistaken for my eldest sons oh rather than his mam!

Tiggs x

4 year olds cant keep secrets

10:08, Wednesday 13 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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We have all heard the house selling horror story where you get to contract exchange and the buyer  (knowing you are off to Oz and cant really pull out) suddenly decides to drop their offer price by ten grand.

Having decided to learn from other peoples mistakes we decided a while back to keep the going to Oz thing a bit quiet - at least as far as the estate agents and neighbours were concerned. 
The trouble is that we have a four year old.

Now i know that most 4 year olds like to go over things a few times to get them straight in their heads but i have to say that Rhys is particularly bad.  Once he gets hold of an idea it is impossible to get him to let go again (even for a while).

After he announced at the weekend that he didnt think that he wanted to go australia anymore (turns out that he was worried that he would have to leave his things behind) he is now doing his best to get his head around moving all of our things to somewhere else (actually he would probably be just as worried if we were moving down the street seeing as he thinks his Grandma lives a long way away and she is actually about 6 miles)
Anyway the trouble is that he wants to talk about it all of the time, at the top of his voice, including when we are in the garden.
Yesterday he announced that we would need a very big box for all of our things when we moved to australia.
Today he spent a good deal of time informing Callum that we would need a lorry when we moved to australia and the lorry would need to go on a boat because it was too big for an aeroplane (but when we move to australia we will go in an aeroplane because a boat takes too long)

Personally i cant wait for Rhys' next installment - it should be especially good when he starts to think about taking the dog!

Anyway I dont suppose that our neighbours are going to be in the dark for very long (and then we have to take into consideration the local grapevine!) so there goes that theory.

So my new plan is simpler - if a buyer turns up at the last mo and drops the price i will be telling them to s*d off - besides hanging about for a while longer will give Rhys more time to get all of our transport plans figured out.

Tiggs x

Visiting school

09:49, Tuesday 12 June 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Rhys (aged four and a half) currently has a lot on his mind.  Not least is that 'after the big holidays' (aka in september) he starts 'big' school.

I have been really expecting him to worry about this - he is one of lifes natural worriers and it took quite a while to get him to settle properly at his pre-school - but he has really embraced the idea of 'big' school.  I know that his friends have been talking about it and he seems really keen to get started!

So today was the first of two visits that Rhys is making to school before the end of term.  Yesterday he was really looking forward to it but but by this morning the reality had sort of occurred to him and he wasnt going! - lol.
Nevertheless he and I headed off to school this afternoon leaving a rather grumpy Callum to be looked after by Andrew (or was that supposed to be Cal looking after Andrew?! ) anyway...

At school we (the mums) were asked to settle the children into the classroom with the current class and then head out to another room and leave them (the kids) to it.  I was sure that this was going to be a problem for Rhys - but after he asked me if i was going home (i said no i definitely would not be leaving school without him) he went off perfectly happily. 

By all accounts the kids had a great time while, slightly in contrast , the other mums and i had a thrilling afternoon of looking at slides of 'school life' and form filling.

Now that this first visit is over Rhys is even more eager to get to school.  As we walked home this afternoon he was determined that he was going back tomorrow and i had to persuade him that he needed to wait until his next visit next week!
When he got home he spent a good half an hour telling his little brother all about 'big school' - and Cal spent equally as long telling rhys that he and Andrew had had a really fun afternoon at home and Andrew had let cal play on his guitar (a big treat when you are two years old!).  I dont think that either actually listened to the other at all - but they never let that sort of thing bother them when telling a good story.

Tiggs x

What did you do at the weekend?

10:53, Sunday 3 June 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Hmmm let me see - What did i do this weekend? ...

well on Friday i wallpapered ...
saturday wallpapered ...
and today (sunday) - yes you guessed it - wallpapering again.

so what do i have to look forward to tomorrow?
well actually no - not wallpaperig - tomorrow i am painting the wallpaper that i have spent all weekend putting up.

isnt my life just full of fun

Tiggs x

... and on to Adelaide.

11:10, Friday 1 June 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Email this morning from Wendy to say that our police checks have been emailed to Adelaide.

That is it then.
I updated our timeline and all we have to do now is wait.
My best guess from looking at other people timelines is anything up to about 6 weeks.

Dont know what to do now .... i guess i just get on with the diy.

Tiggs x
(feeling slightly lost ??!?)

We have police checks!

11:07, Thursday 31 May 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Yay - we have three police checks all saying 'nothing on file'

There they were in the post first thing this morning and by lunch time they were back in the post on their way to our agent.  Didnt even get a chance to look at them properly!!!!

Tiggs x

Rainy bank holiday - isnt that a surprise :(

09:39, Monday 28 May 2007 | Posted in Musings
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After rain and wind cancelled our Mayday bank holiday outing we confidently decided that we could move our plans to the next bank holiday - after all it would be the end of May by then and we will definitely be having better weather.

Well here we are, at the end of May, and we got up this morning to .... RAIN!!  Again.

So no meeting up with friends, no picnic on the grass, no playing silly ball games with adults old enough to know better, no walking in the trees, no playing pooh sticks on the bridge ...

Just to make myself feel better i checked the local weather forecast - rain showers with a max. temp of 10 degrees.  Then i checked Canberra - cloudy with a max. temp of 17 degrees!
It is warmer in winter Canberra than summer Whitley Bay!!  Somehow i dont feel any better .

Never mind - i suppose that i will be able to find something else to do instead ... after all i should be used to rainy bank holidays by now.

Tiggs x

Getting all over Emotional

09:36, Thursday 24 May 2007 | Posted in Musings
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It all started as a perfectly normal email to my best mate.
I was apologising for how long it had taken me to email back to him - when all of a sudden i got all over emotional about going to oz and started on how much i would miss him and how much he means to me!!!

Then i suggested that he should apply for his visa and come with me!!  Well i suppose if i can persuade everyone that i care about to come with us i wont have any reason to be homesick!  Not sure what his girlfriend would think of this idea.

So what did my best mate make of this email? - he emailed back to ask if i had been drinking!! - lol

Tiggs x

Lost and Found

09:00, Monday 21 May 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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I have been doing my best to stay calm and not get panicky about our visa application but after hearing nothing more about Andrews missing xray i finally cracked this morning and got Graham to phone the panel doctor to find out what was happening.

Turns out they had found the missing xray and our medicals were collected by courier on Thurs 17th and are probably in Sydney by now.
So much for the doctor keeping us informed. 

Never mind, I am determined not to get stresses and at least that is another thing done.  I just hope that the medicals are fine and we dont get asked for any more info.  At this rate my blood pressure is going to be off the scale!

Just sitting here now waiting for the police checks to come back ..... 26 days and counting!

Tiggs x

The jam explosion!

02:29, Thursday 17 May 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Blackcurrant jam to be precise.
Big blobs of it on the kitchen wall.
How did it get there?
No-one seems to know (or at least no-one is admitting anything)
I do have one suspect though, a certain blonde haired boy with suspiciously sticky marks around his mouth.
How am i going to get it off?
I have no idea - if i try to wash it off it is going to, at best, leave a smear.  Anything like scrubbing is going to remove the paint as well as the jam.

Here i am - desperately trying to get the house ready to sell - only to be out-done by a jam wielding 4 year old hell-bent on maintaining a toddler embellished environment.

Oh well i guess it it back out with the paint tin.  Maybe a nice blackcurrant colour would be worth considering...

Tiggs x

Our gingerbread family ...

04:08, Friday 11 May 2007 | Posted in Rhys and Callums stuff
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By Rhys and Callum

Having a bit of a free afternoon today we set to work 'talking' mammy into making gingerbread mans.  When it came to the decorating we excelled ourselves and made gingerbread models of our family!

Can you find yourself?!

If you look closely you will see: Daddy, Mammy, Mama, two Grandads, great Mama, great Grandad, Rhys, Callum, Andrew, Grandad Aidy, Nana, two snowmans and santa.

... and they are super yummy too!!

Rhys and Cal xx

X-ray cant make it across town - nevermind across the world!

03:45, Friday 11 May 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Just had the panel doc on the phone saying that he has everything EXCEPT Andrews x-ray which hasnt turned up from the clinic!

We had all three x-rays done at the same time but my best guess is that the different surname has them confused!  (obviously doesnt take much!)

Doc said he would chase them so fingers crossed they can find it and send it onto him ....
I thought he was going to say the courier had collected our meds and they were on their way to oz

It the x-ray cant make it 10 miles across town what chance have the medicals in making it the 10,000 miles to Australia?!

*sigh* There is always something else to worry about ...

Tiggs x

Daffodils in Oz

08:47, Wednesday 9 May 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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On our way home from playgroup today Rhys (aged 4 years) was riding on his buggy board chatting as he normally does.  I commented that we were nearly home and he looked up the street and said, 'we are going to live in a new home in Australia'.
'Yes' i replied 'but not for a little while'.
Then he looked around and said, 'But what about the daffodils?'
'What about them?' i asked. 
He replied, 'They are passed their best now and wont have yellow flowers for a long time'.  (we always talk about the flowers and trees and birds and things when we are wandering around outside).
'They will have flowers again next spring' i said.
'But do they have daffodils in Australia?' he asked.
'I think they probably do' i replied.
'That is ok then' he said 'i wouldnt like to go if they didnt have daffodils'

... and with that he changed the subject.

I just hope that they do have daffodils in Oz otherwise i am going to be in trouble!

Tiggs x

First deadline set ... will we make it?!

09:16, Friday 4 May 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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In september it will be 10 years since i bought our house and for all of that time it has been a 'work in progress'.  Originally it had no kitchen at all (literally just a room with a sink) and the whole place needed gutting and redecorating.
Years have come and years have gone and it has gradually improved but never actually made it to finished - and now when we are just about beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel we are planning on selling up and moving on.

With work still to do we have decided that what we need is a deadline to aim at so today we sat down and set the date - our house WILL be on the market by the 22nd June.
We have agreed that even if all is not finished i will still be phoning the estate agents.  We really need to start moving forwards towards oz and the house is definitely now holding us back.  So here we go - one last big push!!

Tiggs x

A bottom a baboon would be proud of

08:42, Friday 4 May 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Graham decided a few weeks ago that he could ride his pushbike to work as there are loads of bridleways etc between us and the office.  He would get fit, save petrol and be able to leave the car at home for me and the boys (not that we need the car much but it would be nice for the summer hols).

The only flaw in this plan was that his rather ancient bike was (quite lieterally!) falling apart.  The first time he took it out the back wheel fell off!  So he started looking around for a new bike.  Somewhere along the way he decided that it would be a great plan to get the boys a 'trail buggy' (a little cart that fastens on the back of an adults bike) so he could take them out too.  Then, before i knew where i was, the plan included me on a bike as well!!

Well i never was that good on a bike anyway (doesnt really go with high heels ) plus it is 'only' about 20 years since i was last on a pushbike!  So this new plan didnt fill me with great enthusiasm!

Nevertheless yesterday i found myself cycling along the dunes at Seaton Sluice.  Well i say cycling along - it was more like wobbling with forward momentum!!  But i did it.  I didnt fall off and by the time i got home i didnt feel too tired either.

Trouble is i got up this morning to find that my bottom is REALLY sore!  I have to admit that i havent looked but i am pretty sure that 'baboons bottom' would be a good description!
I am putting this down to a 'chaffing underwear' problem so I think some experimenting with different knickers is going to be required to in order to identify a more comfortable cycling pair!!

One thing is sure the other 3 are having so much fun with this cycling thing that i am not going to get out of it anytime soon!!

Tiggs x

An easy way to spend £900!

08:43, Thursday 3 May 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Medicals day ...

2 adult medicals
3 kids medicals
3 xrays
3 blood tests
1 courier to oz
Total = £900

In less than 3 hours - done dusted and skint!!

Then just to top off the spending i went to our doctors this afternoon to get a copy of a couple of letters that the panel doctor had asked for (hospital discharge letter for Andrew being a prem baby etc) and my doctors are charging me £15 for the privilege! 

I just hope that we dont need anything else - at this rate we wont be able to afford the flights to actually go!
Tiggs x

Finding Nemo

05:18, Friday 27 April 2007 | Posted in Rhys and Callums stuff
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By Rhys and Callum

Today was our playgroup trip to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth.  We got on the bus with all of our friends and went to find the fish!

This is us touching a starfish - it was bumpy!

Rhys meets a seal

Can we find Nemo?

Yes we can!!!!

We had a great time and Auntie Maria said that next week we are going to do loads of 'fishy' things at playgroup!  We cant wait!

Love Rhys and Cal xx

The last of the paperwork (hopefully!)

08:35, Thursday 26 April 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Well our police check request forms were handed into Cramlington police station yesterday and the medicals are now booked for 3rd May.

Neither of these is going to be a problem (hopefully!) - Graham and i have both had recent police checks for work/voluntary work that were all clear and unless Andrew is guilty by association he will be fine!  I cant see a problem with the meds either - non of us have ever had anything major wrong medically (touch wood) so should be a formality (hopefully!).

This whole visa/moving to oz thing is finally starting to feel real to me.  Just the last couple of things to sort and we should finally be able to plan properly - no more 'when we (hopefully!) get to oz we can ... ' and onto 'when we are in oz next april we can ... ' !!

Tiggs x

Ladies who lunch :)

03:22, Wednesday 25 April 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Today was my Grandma's birthday (i shall maintain a lady's privilege by not revealing her age!) so mam and i took her to Jesmond Dene House for 'Afternoon Tea'.  (Mam's great idea )

Well afternoon tea at the house is served in the lounge and we took one look at the low seating and decided that if Grandma sat down on one of the sofas there was no way we would ever get her up again!!
So a quick confab with the very nice waiter and we ended up with a table on the terrace!  Lovely sunshine,
two very big pots of tea, lots of sandwiches with the crusts cut off, far too many sticky pastries, and rather a lot of giggling!

Unfortunately the sunshine didnt quite last until the end of our tea so we probably didnt linger quite as long as we normally would have but a very nice girly afternoon was had by all.  We did decided as we were leaving that we definitely need more practice at this afternoon tea idea - in order to ensure that we have the etiquette just right - and of course as a very good excuse to 'do' more lunches!

Tiggs x

Stop the clock ...

03:34, Tuesday 24 April 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Wake up this morning, look at the clock ... 8 o'clock!  Bl**dy h*ll!
Shoot out of bed...
Yell at everyone to get up and get dressed ...
I throw on some clothes and race downstairs.

I am making sandwiches for lunches, putting cereal into bowls, sorting childrens clothes for the day ...

... and no-one else is moving

i race back upstairs and into Andrews room - 'Get out of bed you have missed your bus' i yell.  Andrew peers at me from under his quilt like i have gone rather demented, 'What are you on about?' he asks.  'The time' i yell, 'it is past 8'.  Looking very puzzled he checks his watch, 'but it is only 20 past 7' he says.

... and he is right!  Slightly subdued I head back into the bedroom and check the clock - 20 past 8.  What the heck?!  Turns out that Graham (who is still in bed asleep?!) had managed to hit the wrong button on the clock whilst setting the alarm last night and has changed the time to an hour ahead!!!!

Well at least i have time for an extra cuppa now.

Tiggs x

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

11:21, Wednesday 18 April 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Graham got home from work yesterday to be informed that i had booked us in for a ballroom dancing class for the evening.  He only looked vaguely surprised!

So at half seven we dutifully headed our way down to the the church hall (i seem to be spending half of my life at the mo in the church hall - and i dont even go to church!)

Well i dont think that we have laughed so much in ages.
The quickstep was fine until we needed to turn a corner at which point we collapsed in hysterical laughter and had to move out of the way to let the next couple dance past us.  Second attempt was not much better and several attempts later we decided that the only solution to the problem was going to be finding a dance hall that was very long and thin so we could just keep going in the same direction all evening!

As for the cha-cha it turns out that Graham doesnt have two legs like the rest of the population but in fact has three - or so we guess as he was putting at least one extra step into each iteration of the dance.  By the time we got to the end he was doing at least twice as many steps as everyone else!

Somehow i dont think that Fred and Ginger are going to loose their title as the greatest dance partnership of all time but we had loads of fun and will certainly be going back to the next class - and you never know one day we might just get around that corner!

Tiggs x

Panic - we have a CO!!!!

11:21, Tuesday 17 April 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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OMG!!! we have an email from Marina saying that we have a case officer and they are requesting medicals and police checks!!!
They have not requested any other info which Marina assumes means that they are happy with the rest of the application!

Graham is rather happy (bouncing around the house like one of the kids!)
To me it suddenly it feels very real and it did occur to me that if we had frontloaded then there is a chance they would actually have gone straight to grant and we could have had our visa now .
I didnt realise that it would feel quite so scary already!  Goodness knows how i am going to be when we actually get to the moving to oz part of this!

i think that it is the speed of this that has taken me by surprise - i had spent ages looking at other peoples timelines and from what i had seen we didnt expect to have a CO until around June.  I know that oz immigration have said that they were going to try and get through some of the backlog but they really seem to have got moving lately.  At this rate we should (hopefully!) have our visa by June!

However this good news does somewhat throw a spanner in the works of my carefully planned timetable.  (yes yet another list - and this one has dates and things on it too!)
But i have decided to embrace the unknown and i am just going to get on with it with the view (hope?!) that things will work out in the end. 
And the most surprising thing?!  I havent even updated my timetable!!  Is this the beginning of the end of list making for Tiggs?!!  Somehow i dont think so

Tiggs x

Searching for the funny smell ...

11:20, Monday 16 April 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Where the heck is that funny smell coming from?!!
I have been sitting here browsing BE for the last half an hour and there is the strangest smell coming form somewhere ...
i have tried sniffing various articles of furniture, carpets, curtains (i even tried smelling the dog but she just smells rather like a stinky dog ) but i an no nearer locating the smell.

If i had a cat i would  be searching for something dead wedged under the sofa - but the good thing about having a dog is that if they find something dead they dont hide it - they just eat it!!  (come to think of it i am not sure that that is a good thing!! )

Anyway ... back to the point ... (did i actually have a point? - oh yes the smell!)
Seeing as i still cant locate the aforementioned nasty odour i think that i might spend the afternoon carrying a bottle of febreeze - a quick blast of that here and there should sort the problem.  Or even better i could just move the laptop to a smell free location then i can carry on browsing BE!

Tiggs x

In Denial. A play by Rhys aged 4

11:23, Friday 13 April 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Act I Scene I

        Morning arrives in the Smith household.
        Rhys who is always first out of bed heads off to find his parents.

Rhys            Its morning mammy!

Mammy        (rather sleepily) Good morning Rhys, did you have a good sleep?

                     (she turns over in bed)

                    Oh Rhys sweetie you are all covered in spots!

Rhys            No i'm not.

Mammy        Yes you are.  You have the chicken pox.

Rhys            No i haven't.

Mammy        Have a look at your spots in the mirror.

Rhys            I dont want to look and i havent got spots.

                    (Callum enters)

Callum        (looking at Rhys) You got spots. You got chiten pos.

Rhys            No i havent.

Callum        (looking rather confused)  Mammy Rhy got spots.

Mammy        (whispers) I know honey but Rhys doesnt want to have spots.
                    Rhys we will go and put some calomine lotion on you and you will feel better.

Rhys            I dont need calomine lotion and i dont have spots

Well we got all the way to bedtime and Rhys headed back off to his bed still covered in spots and still very much in denial!

Tiggs x

Spring is in the air - or maybe not?!?

03:59, Thursday 12 April 2007 | Posted in Musings
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What the heck is up with the weather?!

One day is is sunny, the kids are out in the garden in a t-shirt and sun block ..... and then the next day and it is literally freezing cold i am having to defrost the car and while we are out the kids are complaining that they need their gloves on because their hands are cold?!!

I cant cope with this sort of confusion.  I am just getting my hopes up that we are getting to the warmer weather (i hate being cold) and then i am back wanting to hibernate.

Do me a favour spring - make your mind up!

Tiggs x

I feel like Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

08:16, Wednesday 11 April 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Now i am no stranger to acres of clothes to be washed and mountains of ironing waiting to be done but i cant quite work out what is going on this week.
Saturday is my big wash day with a few loads normally thrown on during the week to keep things moving along - but for some reason for the last week my washing machine has not stopped once.  The tumble dryer is going constantly, half of the house has been infested with wet clothing hanging from every availably space and i am not even going to talk about the ironing (which i hate anyway )

It has been a continuous conveyor belt for days and i have just looked in the basket and there is still more!!!   i am seriously beginning to wonder if my family are trying out some strange experiment on me to see how long i can keep going before i crack under the pressure .

I now understand how Mrs Tiggy -Winkle must have felt - and no i dont mean prickly!  All of that washing, day after day ...
... maybe i should rename myself in her honour ... from this point forward please refer to me as Mrs TIGGSy-Winkle.

Tiggs x

OMG i`m never going to make it to Friday

08:39, Tuesday 10 April 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Tuesday ... less than a week of the easter holidays left!
My two youngest children are literally bouncing around the house.  They ran rampage around the co-op
while i was trying to shop, they have had one argument after another, and they are seriously bored and i have already been asked this morning when they can go back to playgroup!

They both want to play different games but they also want the other to play their game with them but then only if they are going to play it in the 'right' way!  Aarrgghh!!

The eldest is trying his best to overcome his boredom by staying in bed all day and i mean ALL day - his record so far was getting up at 2.30 in the afternoon!  Then he is complaining that he doesnt feel well - and apparently actually going outside and getting some fresh air is NOT the solution to this problem?!!!

Kids - who would have them?  Or more to the point ... School holidays - which daft (non-parent!) though those up?!!

Tiggs x

Put down the cress and step away from the kitchen

08:33, Tuesday 3 April 2007 | Posted in Musings
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What has happened to the weather?!
About six weeks ago i had this great idea to get the kids planting seeds.  They had a great time planting and watering and have been avidly watching their seedlings rapidly grow.  However about a fortnight we had a problem.  The seedlings (newly replanted into rather a lot of pots) were ready to go outside, but rather than the weather getting better it actually got colder!!  A couple of days we actually had snow ... in March!!

So here we are in April - and the seedlings (rapidly getting past seedling size and into full grown plant size) are still in my kitchen.  In fact there is not a lot of kitchen that isnt covered in plants.  We have sunflowers, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies and calendula in big terracotta pots, small plastic pots and seed trays.  They all need re-potting again and i dont have the time, space (or pots!) to do it.

In addition to all of that lot the boys came home from playgroup a week ago with a pot of cress seeds each - which have grown into the into lovely sprigs of the hottest, peppery cress i have ever tasted.  It is so spicy that the boys will only eat one piece at a time so at that rate they are going to be eating it until sometime around Christmas!!!

In desperation i started hardening off the seedlings on Sunday - putting them all outside in the morning and bringing them back in at night! - but to be honest it is still a bit cold and the sunflowers especially are not happy about being outside.  Today it is blowing a gale and they are all lying down instead of standing up!  If they make it to the weekend it will be a small miracle and i have just checked the weather forecast and it looks like much the same for the next week.  Oh well.

I think that next year i will stick to something a bit simpler - i hear grass is nice.

Tiggs x

Seeing Spots!

10:18, Saturday 31 March 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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This morning i got the kids dressed and all was well.
By this afternoon Callum was covered in spots - he has the chicken pox!

I was actually out this afternoon when the spots made their appearance - Daddy was in charge.  The story goes that Graham thought Cal was upstairs playing with Rhys, Rhys thought that Cal was downstairs with Daddy and when the confusion came to light there ensued a small panic (apparently Graham was imagining the headlines; Toddler found miles from home, father did not realise he was missing!!) until a very spotty Callum was discovered asleep on his Mammy and Daddys bed ....
.... I dont know, i cant even go out for a few hours without a crisis occuring!

It is about time Cal caught it really.  This is the third batch of chicken pox to do the rounds since last September and i couldnt believe that he had not already caught it.  I did try to put calamine lotion on him before bedtime but to be honest it would have been easier just to dip him in a bath full as the spots are everywhere.  He even has one inside his ear which actually is the only one he is bothering about.  He hasnt been scratching or complaining (and apart from sneaking off for a nap) he has been just like his usual self.  I guess this means that he is not feeling too bad.

The only question that now remains is when is Rhys going to come out in spots?!

Tiggs x

Tom Cruise delivered my shopping

02:12, Thursday 22 March 2007 | Posted in Musings
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I dont know about you but i hate supermarket shopping.
You trek around a large overheated store trying to decide what to buy, stopping the kids from emptying the shelves and listening to really bad music only to discover when you get back to your car that you seem to have just lost 2 hours of your life, you have spent a small fortune and you have still forgotten to buy eggs.

I discovered the solution to my problem a couple of years ago ... shopping on-line.
It is great - you log onto your computer (or in my case you are probably already on it anyway) you spend half an hour filling your shopping trolley (with only the things on your list so you spend far less as well) and two days later a nice man delivers your shopping right to your door!

My usual delivery guy is a really nice bloke.  He is always really friendly and chatty and asks after the kids but i do have to admit that i am always secretly a little please when he says that he is going to be on holiday next week - and not just because he is a nice person and i am hoping that he will have a lovely time.  The truth of the matter is that our occasional delivery man looks uncannily like a young Tom Cruise and as nice as Mr Usual Delivery Man is he is just not quite the same!

I have to admit to feeling slightly guilty about this, after all Mr Usual actually takes time to give a little personal feel to my shopping experience (not that Tom is un-friendly but i am pretty sure he has no idea what my dog is called) but somehow Mr Usual just cant compete.
So when Tom arrived this week i was being secretly pleased with myself while i sorted my shopping.  Tom hands over last of the bags, says bye and heads off down the drive ... and then just as he gets to the gate he looks back my way and winks ... now what more could a girl possibly want with her shopping?!

Tiggs x

Kids come with instructions...

05:24, Thursday 15 March 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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The Smith Family Grandchild Kit - please note this pack contains models 1.1 and 1.2

Congratulations on becoming the temporary owner of grandchild 1.1 and grandchild 1.2.
Please ensure you read the enclosed instructions BEFORE you unpack your grandchild(ren).
We hope that you enjoy your stay and that your grandchild(ren) give you a world of memories, a plethora of anecdotes and enough psychological disorders to last you a lifetime.

Step one - Getting to know your grandchild..........


Graham and i are off to Edinburgh tomorrow for a whole weekend without any kids!!
Graham's mum has drawn the short straw and will be here looking after the the kids (well actually she volunteered ) so my task this evening is to draw up a set of instructions on feeding, sleeping and general cleanliness.
I have to admit that my list is not going to be quite as comprehensive as the one started above but i do hope that i can at least alleviate some of the problems she will face when Rhys rebels because 'nana, that is not the way that it is supposed to be done!!!! - you should be doing it like this ...'

Actually I am sure that she could manage perfectly well without the instructions - but i cant pass up an excuse as good as this for writing a list.  It is these sort of small pleasures that keep me happy .

Kids come with instructions ... well mine do anyway.

Tiggs x

Fried potato and beetroot

02:25, Tuesday 13 March 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Oops - just realised that i managed to post this as a blog entry yesterday without any text in it.
That means that is has been sitting there for everyone to see and realise how daft i am since this time yesterday.

Oh well i have probably just confirmed to everyone that i really am as forgetful as i make out!!!

Anyway I was going to write about my very odd lunch of fried potato and beetroot - but i think i have made enough of a fool of myself for one day so i am going to go and do something more constructive with my time .... and hopefully a little less embarrassing.

Tiggs x

Five have a Mystery to Solve

02:32, Monday 12 March 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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The Not So Famous Five...
What a jolly morning.  The sun was pouring in at the windows and we jumped(*) out of our beds(+) with a hearty "good morning".  It was another Monday and the five were back together again for the summer(&).  What adventures would be awaiting them today?!

Graz threw open the curtains and jumped back in surpise ... "Golly gosh!" he said "there is a bicycle lying on our drive ... "
"Really Graham" said Tiggs "you do talk the most terrible waffle at times"
"No really" he cried.
Everyone rushed to see the excitement.  There it was the mystery bicycle parked on the drive.  It had definitely not been there the night before.
So how did it get here? Who did it belong to? Why is it sitting on our drive?
It was a Mystery!

The five tucked into a scrumptious breakfast (^) and excitedly discussed this turn of events.  What should they do now?  Rhys suggested packing a bag with provisions in case they all got lost on the way to Playgroup but Tiggs did not think that a green beanie frog would be much help even if they were stranded on a windy moor($).

With a cheery wave they set off for Playgroup.  Tiggs cried a hearty "hullo" to the jolly neighbours(>) but when she asked them they did not know anything about the bicycle either............
OK that is enough - i cant keep that up any longer!  There are only so many times you can use the words gosh and hearty in one blog entry!

The upshot of all of this is that i sill have a bike on my drive and i dont know what to do with it!  I would have more idea if something had been nicked from the garden but i am just not used to people turning up in the night and leaving me things!!!
If it is still there tomorrow i suppose i had better phone the police - just in case it has been nicked from somewhere - the last thing that i need is to get arrested for handling stolen goods .

Maybe my mystery benefactor can leave me something more useful tonight - a visa would be handy!
Hurrah, what a jolly good show...

Tiggs x

(apologies for all of the footnotes! )

(*)this is obviously pure fiction as with possibly the exception of Rhys non of my family would ever jump out of bed or be hearty in the morning.
(+)i am aware that if this really was a famous five book then we really should have been asleep under a gorse bush - but i never did like camping!
(&)tad early for summer but i am trying to keep in character.
(^)well four of us did, Andrew only gets up in time to put on some clothes and go straight out for his bus.
($)i am sure there should be lashings of ginger beer in this story somewhere but i cant seem to work out where...

6 years ago today...

01:31, Saturday 10 March 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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6 years ago today Graham and i got married.

Just wanted to say to Graham that i love you and heres to the next 6 years, and the 6 after that, and the 6 after that .... ad infinitum! 

Tiggs x
(either i am getting all soppy or it could just be that you are stuck with me )

Things you hear around the house ...

08:40, Monday 5 March 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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The other day i was having a bit of a giggle listening to some of the things my kids said while chatting between themselves ... and then i thought about how over time you forget the really cute things that your toddlers said.  So i decided to make a little record and dedicate todays blog page to 'Things you hear around the house - a toddlers comments'.
(please note that spelling and grammar are included as intended by contributing toddlers...)

  • i can do it all by my own"     (said by Callum in reference to making a sandwich)
  • "stop crying Cally i not hit you that hard"       (said by Rhys to his little brother)
  • "i need to blow up this tent"     (said by Rhys - ??!!)
  • i can use a hammer"       (said by Callum while he rummaged in his Daddys tool box )
  • "dont do that you will get us into trouble"       (said by Rhys to Callum - i never did find out what they were doing!)
  • "sorry mammy i not mean to do that"     (said by Rhys while he held onto a curtain pole that was no longer attached to a wall)
  • "we like making a mess"     (said by Rhys to his Grandma whos reply was "yes i can see that")
  • "mammy, Cally hit me lots and lots"        (said by Rhys about his little brother)
  • "i love this broccoli-flower"    (said by Rhys about his broccoli)
  • "i going in the lilly-room"    (said by Callum on his way to the living room)
... and the winner of the cutest quote of the week goes to ... (drum roll) ... (opening golden envelope) ... Callum for his "i wove you mammy" used repeatedly throughout the week every time it looked as if there was a chance he was going to get wrong!

Toddlers - dont you just love `em

Tiggs x


01:28, Wednesday 28 February 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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I have always been under the impression that vertigo was a fear of heights.  Well apparently it isnt, and apparently this is what i have been suffering from for the last 3 days .

It turns out that vertigo is actually a form of dizziness - dizziness being when you feel as if your head is spinning, vertigo being when you feel as if the room is spinning.  That old saying is right - you learn something new everyday (well i do anyway ).

At least i now have an explanation for the spinning room, the nausea and the walking into door frames (having problems getting through the gap in the middle!).  It is a most bizarre feeling!

So what has caused my vertigo?  Well (apparently) vertigo can be migraine related (i havent had a full blown migraine for about 5 years but i have had a niggling headache while i have been having these dizzy spells so this is a possibility) or it can also be caused by a viral inner-ear infection, generally after just having a cold (seeing as i had a cold all of last week then this could be a possibility as well).    Not really bothered which of these is the cause for me - just as long as it sorts itself out sooner rather than later.

I have to say that this is not a good affliction for a person currently spending half of her day up a ladder trying to wallpaper a bedroom, but i am not going to let it stop me from getting this decorating done.  I want the diy finished so i can sell my house and go to oz!!  So if the vertigo gets any worse i intend to lash myself to the ladder!!!

Tiggs x

One small step for a toddler ...

01:10, Monday 26 February 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Today we reached another of those milestones in the life of a toddler ... Callums first day at pre-school playgroup.  He has been absolutely desperate to go since Christmas so much so that when dropping Rhys off in the mornings i have had to hunt around the playgroup to find Cal in order to take him home with me again!

So in he went this morning ... leaving a trail of coat, hat and scarf on the floor behind him as he went through the door.  By the time i had put  his things on his peg Cal and Rhys have already worked out that Callums name card has a picture of Jake (from the Tweenies) on it and he had collected it and put it in the box.  So i gave them a kiss, said see you later, and headed out of the door leaving the two of them oblivious to the fact that i had gone.

So that is that.  My two youngest are now officially out there in the big wide world ... and that just leaves me in the house, i am already starting to talk to the dog ... apparently she thinks we ought to stop for a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Tiggs x

Rhys` blog page - well he couldnt be left out could he?!

07:43, Wednesday 21 February 2007 | Posted in Rhys and Callums stuff
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Rhys has been complaining that on Sunday Callum got to write a blog page and that he (Rhys) should be able to do one as well.  I did ask him what he wanted me to type for him but apparently he is perfectly capable of typing his own entry so here it is .....

rhys `cv=gtrnfe=`1234567889101112=` drt5et53 ft7rwdy6hg1de42ereqr43uyyttfccxzzdet653y2fqhh28grwawlll             
fgdgthfgfgrtryg4frbcbc f nfgb                         
fftetrtt fhfhgrrtty      
yutiyiuyutuutghgfgfrtryrytggghhyyythbnbnn nbb                               
ttyhfhgvbcbvcbvvbvtugtyty676teetw21`1111233343345778900cgdtet fhfew2`1hhhjhjjityghnbhgbbrrtyyujuijmj
gtjfujgjghhgmj;kjljkjkkjjj54teyrtthgjgghg vnn564gwew``1eegtrghutuy7766rtyefxvxzghghhjhhyuy7y42134hh

rhys x

Trouble with a frying pan

07:21, Tuesday 20 February 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Tuesday 20 Feb 2007 - Shrove Tuesday ...
... or if you are my kids then PANCAKE DAY!

For years i used to have a really old battered frying pan that made the nicest pancakes.  They never stuck to the bottom, they were always crispy at the edges and they were always just a that nice `bubbly` golden brown when you got them out of the pan.

The trouble started 18 months ago when we fitted our all new spangly kitchen.  Graham talked me into buying an electric induction hob and i have to admit it looks just the job.  Black, shiny and with touch controls it fits really well with my very modern kitchen (although actually cooking on it is a different story for another day!).
Well being an induction hob i had to buy a whole new set of steel based pans to go with it (otherwise it doesnt actually heat up) so out into the bin went my tatty old frying pan and in came a lovely new sleek silver one, super non-stick.
The problem is that this super new frying pan just cant manage pancakes.  You pour in the batter, it looks like it is cooking nicely and then you flip the pancake (which is a problem in itself seeing as they pan weighs an absolute tonne!) and you realise that rather than a nicely patterned golden colour you have ended up with something that more resembles a scotch pancake??!!!  I have an incline that this is something to do with the super-dooper non-stick surface but that doesnt really help.  I have three children all waiting, not very patiently, for pancakes and it is just not happening.

Maybe i could persuade them that it is really `drop scone` day?!

Tiggs x

Callums Blog Page - My family and other `aminals`

11:38, Sunday 18 February 2007 | Posted in Rhys and Callums stuff
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Hello i am Callum and i am 2.
Mammy said i could write todays blog so i am going to tell you all about my toy `aminals`.

I have lots and lots of `aminals` and they go away in a big red box.
I have a really big `aminal` play mat that is so big it wont fit in my bedroom so i have to put it in mammys `lilling` room.
i have a cow and a baby cow, a pig and a baby pig, a kangaroo (but i dont have a joey) and a really big dragon that is green and its wings go like that (insert picture of Callum flapping his arms).

I have `aminals` that go in a zoo and `aminals` that go in a farm and i have dinosaurs and a `pingu` but i dont have a `cocodile`.

I have two snakes and lots and lots and lots of bugs and spiders that i like to leave on the floor .

Of course there are better places to leave my bugs than on the floor - the best places are under things and behind things.
I even managed to leave a large black ant down the back of my bed on Saturday - when mammy was changing my bed covers she put her hand down to tuck in my sheet and got hold of a couple of legs!!  It was really funny and i laughed .

Callum x

One day the decorating will be finished.

07:58, Saturday 17 February 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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I dont feel very well today.
I have this cold that the kids have all had.  Runny nose, sore throat, tickly cough and generally feeling icky and a bit shaky.
So what have i done to make myself feel better?  I have painted the bathroom ceiling  .....  twice!

I did tell Graham a little bit of a fib.  He thought that i probably shouldnt be up a ladder if i wasnt feeling too well and i told him that i was ok and i would stop if i felt funny - but the queasy feeling didnt really start until i was about half way across the ceiling and i wasnt stopping then!!  (maybe he knows me too well )
Anyway it is now finished, the lights are all back up and it looks really good - so that is another job done and i feel happier that it is out of the way.

Got to get started on the bedroom next - for some strange reason i decided that we should get it done BEFORE we go to Scotland in the middle of March (this means that if we dont get it finished before we go we will be leaving Grahams mam in a chaotic house with a half decoated bedroom and 3 kids!!!)  I know it would make more sense to leave it until we get back but i just feel desperate to get on with it.  Until we are decorated we cant get the estate agents in to value and i just want to get the house on the market .  At least then i would feel as if we are moving forward again rather than standing still which we seem to have been doing for ages now.

I know that one day the decorating WILL be finished, we will have sold the house and i will be able to have a whole day off when i am feeling ill (of course that is as long as it is a weekend day and nobody else desperately needs me do to anything!) and of course there is always the problem that when we get moved to oz and buy a new house the whole decorating thing will start again .

Tiggs x

Sometimes forum threads really make you stop and think ...

02:55, Sunday 11 February 2007 | Posted in Musings
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I have found myself over the last few weeks spending less and less time on the BE forums - not necessarily a bad thing as it does have a tendency to swallow up all of my `spare` time. 

But this last week or so i have come across two threads that made me really stop and think.

The first is probably the most obvious.  I dont suppose there is a regular poster on BE who was not shocked by the thread that Wendy started (here) letting us know that one of BEs regular posters had lost her husband in a swimming incident.
That my heart went out to this lady and her children is an understatement and while i know that there is nothing i could say to ease their loss i am sure that together, as a family, they will get through a very difficult time.  (follow up thread here).

This result of this for me was a timely reminder that non of us know how long we have.  I seem to spend so much of my time trying to fit in all of the daily chores - cooking, cleaning, running about getting the kids to school, tidying, decorating etc etc etc - that sometimes i get to the end of the day and i realise that i have hardly seen anything of anyone else in the house.  It seems such a waste of what could be quality time with my kids and my husband.  I know that i spend far too much time on what are in effect trivial things but on the other hand someone has to do them!
Anyway my point is that I am going to try much harder to remember what is really important to me and make sure that i spend at least a little quality time each day with those that i love the most.  While i dont think that you can 'live each day as if it is your last' you can and should at least try to live each day to its fullest and never miss an opportunity to tell those that you love how much they mean to you. 

The second post was by WholeWorldWindow in the `updates` forum (probably my favourite forum )
Wwwindow had posted to tell people the story of emigrating to Oz with OH, 2 kids and practically no money.  (thread here)  Her wonderfully emotional post told of getting down to their last few cents, the struggle (then and now) of paying their bills and the real ups and downs of finding work .  This thread was just so upbeat.  Rather than letting the negatives get her down wwwindow revels in her surroundings, her lovely home and being with her family ....  there always seem to be so many posts where those who are unhappy blame everything around them for their troubles, and for once it was wonderful to hear someone say - yes this is hard but i love and appreciate what i have.

This thread really confirmed for me what i have long believed - that it is not how much money you have but how you approach your life that makes you a happy person.

Personally our plan for Oz has always been partly an attempt to remove ourselves from what we feel has become a society where `you have to have the right things to be someone`.  We have always planned that we would downsize all the material things in our lives (house, car etc) in order to remove ourselves from debts (small but always there) and, hopefully, replace these things with a far better quality of life based around our family and being together.
Both of the above threads, each in different way, reminded me of things that are important to me, plus in a roundabout way they also reminded me the value of spending time on the forums and talking to other people.

Tiggs x

`Callum` and Hobbes

02:52, Friday 9 February 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Graham and i have an ongoing joke that the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon series should be renamed `Callum` and Hobbes in honour of our youngest (either that or we picked the wrong name for our son and he really should have been Calvin!).  Calvins antics could quite easily be mistaken for a daily diary of Callums goings-on!

I have to say that todays cartoon strip made me literally fall about laughing - just take a look at Calvins expression on the third frame

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
©2007 Universal Press Syndicate

Hope i dont get into trouble for posting this (i have included the copyright info and the link is http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes) but i couldnt resist!!

Although we have never had nails in our table we do have rather a lot of hammer marks on various pieces of furniture in testament to Callum's ability with a plastic toy hammer and for matter of comparison check out the hairstyle ...

Callum trying to look innocent

The only difference that i can figure out is that if Callum was Calvin then Hobbes would not be a Tiger - he would have to be a blankey instead!

Tiggs x

Bloggers Block

01:31, Thursday 8 February 2007 | Posted in Musings
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I have had a serious case of writers block this last week.  I must have tried to start about half a dozen different blog entries - but somehow my heart has just not been in it.

Too much other stuff on my mind i guess .... but normal service is due to be resumed 

Tiggs x

I have promised to snail mail ... can i even remember how it works?!

09:05, Wednesday 31 January 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Last saturday night saw us saying au revoir to Vik one of our best mates who is off to further her career in Gloucester.  I am sure that we will still see her fairly regularly as she has left Pat (her fiance) up here in Newcastle.  I have promised to keep an eye on him and make sure that he is eating properly - and seeing as i already have four 'kids' (3 actual and one husband!) to look after adding one more shouldnt be a problem .

I also promised Vik that i would write to her and let her know all of the juicy gossip - not that we get a lot in our little circle of friends but i will pass on what does come my way.  The only problem is that she is going to be without internet access so i am going to have to resort to old fashioned snail mail.
It is so long since i actually wrote a letter that i am not even sure that i have any writing paper (I think that Andrew may have some Harry Potter paper somewhere but i think that maybe i need to go for something a little more ... erm, sophisticated?).  I think a trip out for supplies might be in order - plus it gives me an excuse to go shopping!!

oooh, just had a thought, can i remember which corner of the envelope the stamp goes on?  (only kidding ). 

I wonder if it would count at cheating if i printed out my blog and send that to her instead?!

Tiggs x

Ok this diet is not working.

09:27, Monday 29 January 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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I knew before i started that this diet was going to be tricky - and after 2 weeks of dieting i have discovered today that i have so far not lost any weight at all.    On the plus side i have not put any more weight on but that is a small consolation when faced with another week of going without all the 'nice' stuff with very little hope of actually getting anywhere.
I have actually been really good.  I have cut out all of the biscuits, cake, chocolate, crisps and snacks.  I have not been eating between meals (apart from fruit) and i have cut down my mealtime portions by about a quarter.  I have even added an extra session of exercise each week but i am still not getting anywhere.

So onto more drastic measures.  As of today (Monday) i am cutting out my lunch and will be having a bowl of cereal or soup instead.  Dinners will be reduced portions and when the family meal has a high calorie count i will have a salad instead.  Suppers are out altogther and i am going to drink an extra litre of water a day.
I am absolutely determined this time to get this diet moving - preferably so i can get off it again as quickly as possible!!! 

Tiggs x

Well that visa application is finally on its way.

01:24, Friday 26 January 2007 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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January 26th 2007 - the 219th Australia Day ...
... and by sheer coincidence also the day that our visa application finally set off on its trip to Oz. .

Way back in July 2005 Graham had this daft idea that we should pack up all our wordly possessions, our kids, the dog and move it all to Australia - a place that we have never been and are not likely to visit until we arrive as new immigrants!
It has already taken us 18 months just to get to this stage.  So will we ever actually get there?  At the moment it doesnt really feel like it - we know that we are on a long wait to just recieve our a confirmation and the idea of a visa grant is a distant point on a far horizon.

I am sure as we work our way through 2007 the prospect will become more real (and proabably a lot scarier ) but for the time being i am just going to relax about it, after all it is a national holiday, at least it is in Australia ... no worries .

Tiggs x

I have found the house i want in oz ... trouble is i dont have my visa :(

02:27, Thursday 25 January 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Call it gut instinct, call it female intuition, call it slightly too much to drink ... when i saw this house i just wanted to live there.

I, like so many other wannabe ozzies, spend rather a lot of time browsing the internet looking at potential homes for my family (hmmm probably should get a hobby) ... and there it was ... and i wasnt even looking for myself.  I was actually searching for a city apartment for my parents (yes i know they are in the uk and do not have a visa .... long story that i will no doubt get back to at a later date).  But anyway: two bedroom house, right in the centre of melbourne, back yard, needs loads of work doing to it:

Now just so you understand the bizarre nature of this 'gut feeling' of mine, the house we have always said we want in oz is semi-rural, has 4 bedrooms, a pool and a couple of acres of land (big plans for kitchen garden and mini-orchard etc etc ... ).  Dont mind a bit of updating but didnt want major renovations (done that, got the t-shirt ).

So why in the world have i picked this house?  Short answer - i have no idea ..... come to think of it long answer - i have no idea .
All i know is that the more i looked at this house the more i could imagine living there.  I was even planning how we could work the sleeping arrangements until we could extend and add a third bedroom ...  and then i looked again at the details ... and my stomach actually sank.  This house goes to auction on the 10th Feb.  I actually felt quite gutted .  Someone else is going to buy it and 'do it up' and then it wont be the same house anymore.

Feeling quite depressed about it now - i think it is time to stop looking at houses in Oz and spend more time sorting out the house i have yet to sell .... at least for a few days anyway .

Tiggs x

Happy Birthday ... four today!

07:17, Tuesday 23 January 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Happy Birthday Rhys
!!!  4 Today !!!

  Rhys gets rid of that wrapping paper!

    Callum gets started on Rhys' presents
Approval all round!

Tiggs x

The party ...

07:16, Saturday 20 January 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Although Rhys will not be 4 until Tuesday he celebrated with his party today (Saturday) so that his Nana could join in too!
The birthday party was a great success.  Great fun was had by all and as promised we had jelly and ice cream, balloons and lots of cake (Rhys' favourite bit! ).

        Rhys blows out his candles

Tiggs x

Men at work - Diversion in operation

09:26, Friday 19 January 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Wandering out of the kitchen this afternoon i was confronted by what could only be described as a road block - a whole heap of toys including car playmat, cuddly toys, musical instruments, books, jigsaws, trains (not to mention 'cranky the crane') and all sorts of other carefully selected stuff.  In short a whole toybox of goodies had been piled up so as to stop anyone getting from one room to another.  On enquiry i was informed that i should stay on my side and they (the workmen) would stay on the other side.  I questioned this by pointing out that i could no longer get out of the kitchen into the rest of the house ... Rhys (obviously the foreman) considered this for a moment, head slightly tipped to one side, then grinned and ran off towards the living room.  A moment later he exited through the utility door and stood triumphantly next to me in the kitchen, 'You can go this way Mammy' he said pointing through the utility to the hall - he had gone the long way around.
It was obvious really, if you have a 'road block' you also need a route for your 'diversion'. 

Tiggs x

Whatever happend to ..... jelly and ice-cream and pass the parcel?

08:16, Thursday 18 January 2007 | Posted in Whatever happened to ...
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Last weekend Rhys was invited to a birthday party - so off we went expecting pin the tail on the donkey, balloons, jelly and icecream - you know the sort of stuff i mean.
What did we actually get?  30 + kids, a full blown disco (including entertainer), party games included an x-factor dance competition and huge buffet lunch that could easily have fed a small third world country ...
... and this child is ONLY 4!
God knows how much this all cost (i didnt dare ask the birthday boys mam) but i'm thinking that if she had change from £500 she was probably doing well.

Just to top it all off when i got talking to some of the parents with older kids it turns out that this particular party is THE one to have at the mo.  Apparently 'everyone is doing it'.    OMG these are small children!!  What are they going to want/expect when they get to be teenagers?!!

Well next Tuesday Rhys is 4.  We are not having a big disco, and we are not spending a fortune.  We are having pass the parcel, blue-tac the tail on the donkey (pins and 4 year olds are not a good combination), jelly and ice-cream and homemade birthday cake with candles.  Do we think that Rhys is notice the difference?  Of course not - he is only 4 - all he wants is a bit of fun and some presents to unwrap.
I hope to goodness that kids in Oz prefer good old fashioned parties - i know i do.

Tiggs x

Another Monday - another diet (not to mention the spider)

08:16, Monday 15 January 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Yes once again i have started another diet. 
It is to be another few weeks of looking mornfully into the biscuit tin and drooling over the kids as they eat their chocolate buttons (sad i know!).
I only have about 12 lbs to shift but i always think that the last half stone before you reach your target weight is the hardest to achieve so i am really not looking forward to this at all.
Never mind - with a bit of will power and ...

OMG - just looked across the table as i am typing and there is a spider running towards me .... hang on a mo .....Ok it is now sitting under a glass looking very unhappy!  It is going to be more unhappy in a moment when i chuck it outside in the cold (i just checked and the outside temperature this morning and it is 1 degree - that should sort the spider!).  I can just imagine it sat out there with its little legs stuck out at the sides frozen solid! Cruel to spiders? Moi?!   Well i could have squashed it ...

Anyway havent got time to finish my post about dieting now - have to get Rhys to playgroup!

Tiggs x

The dog and the Christmas cake - A cautionary tale.

08:10, Sunday 14 January 2007 | Posted in My family and other animals
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I am pretty sure that, just from the title alone, all you lovely readers of my blog have already guessed the sight that met me when returning from shopping this morning.

Cake all over kitchen floor, smashed plate, very pathetic cowering dog (and i hadnt even told her off yet!)... so how exactly did this happen?

Well i think a combination of factors led to this unfortunate incident...
  • Firstly we had gone out BEFORE the dog was walked...
always a mistake.  Daisy only ever does naughty things when she has been left without being walked.  Just lazyness really.
  • Secondly the cake had not been put away...
Lazyness again - when you have finished with something then you ought to put it away.
  • Thirdly she had led me into a false sense of security...
The cake has been hanging around the kitchen since Christmas Eve.  Not a sign had she shown of even a passing interest in it.  No checking out the bench for interesting smells, no trying to sneak a piece from soft touch visitors.  In short i thought all was safe.  Shows how wrong i was she was just biding her time. 

And was it worth it? .... this cake stealing? ... well not really.  Daisy had not actually eaten any of the cake itself.  I am guessing that the plate hitting the floor and smashing was enough to scare the wits (those that she has) completely out of her and left her a quivering wreck in the living room!

So is this intended as a cautionary tale for humans? - dont be so lazy and walk your dog.
Is it intended as a cautionary tale (or tail?!) for dogs? - it is not worth stealing the cake anyway (or else find a way to do it without smashing the plate (a cushion maybe?!))
No.  Personally i think that it is a cautionary tale for the cake - after all, however it ends up you are going to get eaten .

Tiggs x

Where did it go?! The week that vanished.

05:38, Sunday 14 January 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Wherever did this week go?  A minute ago it was Monday and here i am on Sunday, the week is almost over and i have got NOTHING done!  Not that i haven't been busy, in fact i dont seem to have stopped for a second, but all the things that i had to do at the start of the week are still sitting there waiting to be done.
I am sure that i am not the only one who plans the jobs to be done for the week ahead (those who know me know that i have a little thing about making lists!) - and i always seem to be fine on Monday, not to bad on Tuesday, getting a bit behind on Wednesday and have given up by Thursday ... !!  Maybe i am just trying too fit too much into a week - or maybe if i didn't spend so much time on BE i might get more done!  Anyway i am again filled with remorse and pledge - as i do every Sunday - to get on with the jobs next week ... only time will tell how it goes.

On the good points this week the new year resolutions are holding up well - and the dog is exhausted from all of her exercise and i am getting better at getting out of bed in the morning (altought there is still room for improvement!).  Not so sure that everyone else in the household is sticking to the rules but then i didnt really expect them too!

Must rush now ... got to go walk the dog...

Tiggs x

The disappearing, re-appearing blog entires (oops!)

08:00, Saturday 13 January 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Just a quick note for those that follow my blog.  Due to problems with spam 'comments' on my entires (several hundred in all (took ages to delete them! )) i had kind of got carried away and locked down all blog options so only those who are logged into BE could read new pages.  I have now sorted this out so there should be no more spam and everyone can again view.

However this has left me with the pages i have added since the new year only being visible if you are logged in - just to confuse those that are not particuarly IT minded (and a few of those who are ).  I could go back and copy the content into new pages and re-post (and i may get around to this at a later date) but i am just feeling too lazy at the mo.  Sorry!

Tiggs x

This place is going to the ...... birds (?!).

02:55, Wednesday 3 January 2007 | Posted in Musings
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Well for another year the Christmas decorations have been packed away.  The battle to get the tree back in its box has been fought and won (with minimal casualties), the lights have been carefully wrapped around cardboard so hopefully they will still work next Christmas, the tinsel has been boxed to stop it getting squashed (we all know how it will really look when i unpack it but that will just make a good excuse to go out and buy new!) and the whole lot has been stashed in the loft.

For a moment there my dining room looked tidy and you could actually walk around the table without having to climb over a chair to get to the other side ... but we all know that sort of thing can't last for long.
In lasted, in fact, for all of about 2 1/2 hours ... until my parents arrived with two rather large bird cages (complete with resident birds).  So for the next week, while we are 'bird sitting', we are back to climbing over the furniture to get around -  but then if we didn't have to do that we would just feel like we had accidentally ended up in someone elses house!

On the plus side i now have 2 zebra finches and a budgie in my house and if i turn up the heating and close my eyes to listen to the singing i can almost imagine i am in Oz.  Lol

Tiggs x

The dreaded 'New Year Resolutions'

08:10, Sunday 31 December 2006 | Posted in Musings
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Actually I don't dread them at all.  I am quite happy to make a whole set of resolutions into a list* entitled 'really useful things that we are all going to start to do' and I actually have evey intention of keeping them all.  It is the rest of the family that are living in fear at the thought.  The problem is that I am so filled with the joys of a new year and a fresh start, its a kind of lets get things moving sort of feeling and I sort of like to draw eveyone else into my plans too!
So just for the record this year we are looking at:
  1. Finally get those Visa application forms filled in and sent away (must do this in JANUARY!!!) no more excuses!!
  2. Everyone must designate a time to be out of bed each morning - and must actually be up by this time!!
  3. Someone MUST walk the dog eveyday - this means that even if it is now 11.30 at night if Daisy has not yet been out someone HAS to get off their bottom and take her out. 
  4. Everyone in the household must exercise at least twice a week (and walking the dog does not count!!)
  5. Before starting DIY jobs you must have made a (realistic (please check with me )) schedule and the job MUST be finished on time (no more 'the utility will take a month' (5 months later...) or the bathroom will take a week (4 years later...))
  6. and finally ... We are going to make time for at least one family trip out each month - it might be only be a morning trip to a landmark or it could be an all weekend adventure to somewhere further afield - the point is to get out and do more as a family! 
...and one little extra resolution just for me - Blog at least once a week!

Happy New Year
Tiggs x

*those of you who know me will already be aware that I can use any excuse to make a 'really useful' list (come to think of it I can happily manage without an excuse at all!)

The oddness of rain .... and soft boiled eggs.

09:44, Saturday 30 December 2006 | Posted in My family and other animals
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... not that rain and boiled eggs have anything to do with each other .... apart from being two things that stuck in my mind about today... (i really must try to get out more !!)

Quite obvioulsy rain doesn't fall everywhere at the same time - but it still amazes me that you can be sitting in your kitchen looking out at the rain pouring down in your neighbours garden and then you turn and look into your own garden there is bright sunshine and NOT A DROP of rain!!! You could actually make out the 'edge' of the rain just on the other side of the fence.  Maybe I am just easily pleased but for some reason I kind of liked it!!!
On the plus side we did get a lovely bright rainbow - one so obvious that even Callum managed to spot it.  He usually can't make them out at all - even with me holding his chin in the right direction and pointing directly along his line of vision and Rhys shouting 'look there it is' and jumping up and down (although this last part may actually be a hinderance rather than a help ).

As for the soft boiled eggs... well let me just say that eating 'eggs in an egg cup' (Rhys' name for them) with a 2 year old and a 3 year old is an experience that I could happily live without - and may well cause me to give up life altogether if i ever have to do it again!!
Suffice it to say that by the time Rhys had finished his egg I am sure that there was actually more egg on him, the table and the floor than had been in the whole egg in the first place (must be like a Tardis inside the shell!!).  However this experience was easily surpassed by Cal, whos over enthusiastic solider dipping caused his egg cup to over-balance sending his egg shooting off the kitchen table and heading most of the way into the dining room.  I managed to locate it again by following the trail of yoke it had conveniently left behind it as it had rolled merrily on its way!!
By the time I cleaned up the mess my eggs had gone all hard in the middle - - next time i think i will talk them into having 'eggy bread' instead!

Tiggs x

Why oh why do we diy?!

10:21, Saturday 4 November 2006 | Posted in Musings
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Why do we do it to ourselves?
We spend all week working and when we get to the weekend and we could actually have some well earned time off - but what do we actually do?
Do we put our feet up?
Do we pack up the kids in the car and spend the days out in the fresh air?
What we actually do is decide to wallpaper the utility room (well we don't actually all do this EVERY weekend otherwise the world would be full of very over-decorated utility rooms - but you get what i am on about) ... so this is how i have spent my Saturday.
The result is that i am now exhausted and have the lovely prospect of getting up in the morning and painting the ceiling of aforementioned utility room in a very nice shade of blue/green. *Sigh*

The question I suppose is why do we do this to ourselves?
I can only assume that at some period of pre-history some human somewhere decided that cave paintings were all very well and good but what their cave really needed was some Laura Ashley flock wallpaper and a flowery chais longue.
If you think about it diy must be the most bizarre idea any species of creature has every come up with - and for some reason we all keep doing it .....

Tiggs x

11 weeks and 6 days later...............

09:56, Wednesday 1 November 2006 | Posted in Migration to Oz
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Well it has only taken 11 weeks and 6 days but today we finally got Graz's skills assessment result from the ACS with a big ...


... so it is onto the visa application for us!! 
After all that waiting around for a reply we should be well practiced for waiting for our visas!!

If I had been a little more on the ball then we could be sending off our main application right now - but when am i ever that organised?!!  With a bit of luck (and rather more effort that i have been putting in lately ) we will be sorted before the end of November and you never know we might have actually gave a visa before the end of next year!! (good job we are not in a hurry!)

Tiggs x

Happy Birthday!!

10:15, Tuesday 31 October 2006 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Happy Birthday Graham!!!

Have some birthday balloons!!!

Another year older!! You will be catching up to me soon

Tiggs xx

A day out with Thomas...

10:17, Saturday 26 August 2006 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Happy Birthday Callum... 2 Today!!

My baby is getting so big so fast!!  I can't believe that Callum is 2 already - it only seems like two minutes since he was a tiny baby ....... but then again when i think about it i can't actually remember before he was here.  Surely he as been around forever?! (or maybe it just feels like that because of sleep deprivation! !)

Rather than a birtuday party we took a family trip to the railway and went for a ride on...

Thomas the Tank Engine (and friends!)
When i say 'a' ride what i actually mean is that we spent over 5 hours (yes that is right FIVE hours ) riding up and down the line on every single different steam train (and a couple of diesels!) that we could and taking loads of photos of all of our favourite engines and generally having a fab time.

See for yourself...

Callum and Daddy meet Thomas

Rhys and Mammy meet Thomas' driver

Callum and Grandad Aidy ride on Daisy the Diesel Tram

Rhys takes yet another ride on a train!!!

Callums highlight of the day was meeting Harold the Helicopter

Big thank yous to Grandad Aidy and Nana for organising our big trip out - and of course to Thomas and his friends!

Smarty pants!!

09:53, Thursday 24 August 2006 | Posted in My family and other animals
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Congratulations Andrew!!

With a fab set of GCSE results you are now officially a smarty pants ...

Off to college now
(couldn't find a kangaroo in pants - will a platypus do instead?!!)

My first foray into the world of the escribitionist ...

08:26, Thursday 24 August 2006 | Posted in Musings
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Escribitionist [e-scribe-bish-uh-nist] - noun - a person who keeps a diary or journal via electronic means.

Hello and welcome to my very first blog entry!
Finally, after much due consideration, i am taking the plunge and starting our very own family on-line diary.  With the long road towards our visa stretching out ahead of us we should have loads to write about so ...

...In the beginning when Graz suggested the place to go was OZ, the path to our visa was a formless void and darkness covered the forms.  Then someone said, "Let there be Expats"; and there was Expats and Tiggs saw that the Expats was good;   ......

..... hmmm much to biblical methinks!!   But pretty accurate!

I am not going to start by giving loads of background info on us and our current progress towards our visa - those that do not know us already will be able to catch up as they read and i am determined that this is not going to be one of those blogs about what i bought at the supermarket today and arn't bananas expensive at the mo ...

Please feel free to call back anytime you like to catch up on our latest exploits in words and pictures.
Tiggs x

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