So now that we have (hopefully) found a place to live we have had some time to explore. Obviously high on my list is to check out the local crags. Sydney its littered with lots of ‘mini crags’ in some unusual places, offering a mixture of bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing and top roping.¬†The rock is all sandstone of varying quality. In general it seems a bit harder and better quality than the stuff in the south of the UK, although I am still not sure how much I will trust trad gear in it.

There are two main websites which I have been using to get information on Sydney crags, one is the Sydney Rockies online guidebook, This is written by the climbing club that we intend to join: http://routes.sydneyrockies.org.au/confluence/display/nswrock/Sydney The other is www.thecrag.com which is a collaborative climbing database and looks pretty good and used by Sydney climbers. It even does automatic grade conversion! Obviously neither is as good as www.ukclimbing.com ūüėõ

Most of my gear is stuck on a ship somewhere at the moment, so I haven’t been able to get out and do much climbing yet – but that hasn’t stopped us from exploring.

Blues Point

Blues Point is a crag on the North Shore of Sydney Harbour in a park/reserve type thing. It has a very nice atmosphere with great views across the harbour. The crag is mainly bouldering with one or two leading opportunities. The problems all look very interesting and I definitely need to get back there when my bouldering mat arrives. Another plus is that it is only 25 mins on public transport (7 mins if we had a car!) to get there from where we are going to live so this would be a good after work bouldering spot. Also it has lizards which Elly liked.

Blues Point

Blues Point

Link: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/north-shore/area/213994206

Pymont Wall

Pymont Wall consists of sand stone cut away to make a road. It is on the South shore of the harbour again with great views over the harbour. This crag has lots of bouldering potential especially for traverses, there are also some possible top roping opportunities. I will be back at some point to tick these climbs, looks like a nice spot for a picnic anyway.

Pymont

Pymont

Link: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/inner-west/area/245842962

Thin Wall

This is a 20m bit of wall behind a building close to where I am living at the moment. It mainly has bolted routes (first ring bolts and carrot bolts I have seen) most of the routes seem to have been created through chipping and the rock quality is often doubious. Not sure I will be coming back here unless I run out of other things to do.

Thin Wall

Thin Wall

Link: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/inner-west/area/12011875

To be continued…

 

View from Blues Point

View from Blues Point

We’ve just had our second weekend in Sydney and as usual we crammed a lot in!

On Saturday the weather was pretty epic. It rained a lot and was very windy too. North up the coast they had some pretty bad flooding and¬†evacuations, but we were fine in the city. Saturday we were going to go house viewing, but we managed to find a place we liked on Friday and filled in all the mountains of application paperwork for it. Fingers crossed it will all go through, and then we’ll give some more details.

Saturday AM we went to see a flat that looked OK as it was just around the corner. Luckily it wasn’t as nice as the one we applied for – phew! We got pretty soggy on the way. After that we took the train up to St Leonards, N of the Harbour where the new place hopefully is. From the station it was ten mins to the climbing wall, which we wrote about in the last post. on the way back to the station we went to a shopping centre full of places selling furniture and homeware. It was useful to have a look about and get a feel for the sort of thing you can get and the prices.

Indoor Climbing Wall

Indoor Climbing Wall

At the moment we’re seriously watching the dollars until pay day (28th). We only brought a set amount of cash over from the UK and don’t really want to get more out because of all the fees. Although the bank were very good initially we still don’t have bank cards yet and our credit card¬†application¬†only just went in. The cards had better come before pay day! ¬†So although there are a load of nice looking places to eat on our road we’re staying in for now. Saturday night we made pizza. After a slight ‘lack of a tin opener crisis’, my pineapple was released and the pizza was yummy. ūüôā

Sunday was a bit cloudy but warm again, without the epic rain. After a trip to the supermarket to get food for the week and some lunch we got the ferry over to Blues Point. There is some bouldering there, which Matt will write more about later, and we saw a lizard. No spiders, whoop.

Lizard at Blues Point

Lizard at Blues Point

From there its a short ferry hop to Luna Park. This has the level and style of ride of a cheesy fun fair, with the outdoorness of Australia thrown in so I think its open most of the year. The entrance is a scary clown – these aren’t as bad as spiders, but are on my list of things I don’t like. I convinced myself it was a funny looking person and we had a wander about. We didn’t go on any rides becasue of the aforementioned scrooge mode, but might do if we go back again.

Luna Park entrance

Luna Park entrance

Luna Park is right to the north of the bridge and opposite the opera theatre. We walked back over the bridge which had good views, although slightly obscured by all the metalwork to stop people jumping off of it! From there we wandered around the Rocks area which had a good market with cool things and a gelato stand.  Yummy.

In the evening we made fish cakes (pretty successful, even without potato in them) and watched a weird American version of Sherlock.

This week I am up in Brisbane for work for 2 days, which should be interesting although mainly we’ll be in the office this time. See you soon!

 

This weekend it was a bit damp and stormy so we decided to go and check out one of the local indoor walls, ClimbFit (http://www.climbfit.com.au/). This was our first experience of climbing indoors in Australia, and there were a few things that they do differently.

Indoor Climbing Wall

Indoor Climbing Wall

As we turned up with all the gear they didn’t check us on belaying or tell us how they wanted us to tie in, although of course we had to sign a disclaimer! Although they were pretty relaxed about checking¬†people’s¬†skills, the set ups had quite a bit more safety built in.

Firstly it appears that instead of tying in here you clip in with 2 screwgates to your belay loop. This is less faff which is good. Secondly, all top rope belays are attached to ground anchors which you attach to with a screwgate. Finally they are attached at the top with pullies which the rope is wound round 1.5 times to add some friction into the system, this makes it almost impossible to drop someone but it can be a bit of a pain! You hardly notice when someone takes a fall, and Elly didn’t get dragged off the floor at all.

A busy rainy day

A busy rainy day

The climbs at this wall were not individually graded but split between easy, moderate, intermediate, hard, very hard denoted by the colours of the holds. This worked pretty well and I has fairly happy to be able to climb a few hards especially as I haven’t climbed for a while. In addition to the usual walls there were some interesting features like a jamming crack, finger crack, chimney and also a range of fun ladders, cargo nets, ropes and even a jacobs ladder. There was also a bouldering wall, rotating wall, training wall and a gym. Elly really wanted a go on the rotating wall but there were always too many kids on it!

Rotating Wall!

Rotating Wall!

Overall it was pretty good especially as it is only 10 mins walk away from where we are hopefully going to live. It was a bit busy but I put that down to the rubbish weather outside.

ClimbFit

ClimbFit

Last Saturday we went to my boss’s house which is north of Sydney in a place called Pymble (about 30 mins on the train). We started off the visit with our first Australian ‘barbie’. We took along and ate kangeroo burgers. They were nice, quite gamey and flavoursome. I did feel a bit bad afterwards though, as kangeroos are pretty cute.

Bobbin Head - N of Sydney

Bobbin Head – N of Sydney

After lunch we drove about 10-15 minutes from Pymble to a National Park and place called Bobbin Head. We went for a walk on the board-walk and saw lots of little crabs, living in the mangrove swamps.

Crabs in a mangrove swamp

Crabs in a mangrove swamp

From there we drove up the hill to a visitor centre where you can go on a wildlife walk. We saw bright parakeet type things.

Parroty birds

Parroty birds

More excitingly, we got really close to 2 kangeroos. One was sleeping in the grass and another one was quietly minding his own business in the trees. He stood up to get a better look at us funny British people.  When they stand up they are surprisingly big, probably taller than Matt. Eventually he hoppety hopped off.

Skippy!

Skippy!

 

After the kangeroo, on the way out, I spotted something unusual. We had a look and it turned out to be a 3m-ish long diamond python! They are pretty much harmless unless you really annoy them when they will give you a bite. It was impressively long and wide. He snaked his way along the ground and eventually curled up under a tree. To think you could just wander about in the woods (on a climbing trip, say) and come across one of those is a bit crazy!

Snaaaaaaaaaaaake!

Snaaaaaaaaaaaake!

What animals will we see next? How long before I get to see a penguin? Stay tuned!

Now that we have settled into our new flat a bit, we thought that we would give you a video tour.

If we do more videos in future you can check if our accents change too! Enjoy.

15. February 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:

G’day folks!

Day 1

We made it to Sydney and they let us in! The immigration people didn’t even ask any questions at all, which I found a bit surprising. We had a long gap between when our flight landed and when we could get to our apartment, so we checked our bags in at the airport baggage store and get the bus to Bondi Junction. There we managed to resist the familiarity of Subway, and have an excellent bacon and egg roll for second breakfast (first breakfast was on the plane).

Bondi was a bit smaller than I expected, and pretty busy, even on a weekday. It was pretty full of stereotypical surfing types who clearly spend more time at the gym than the average person! We even saw a man riding a motorbike holding a surfboard. Even though it was cloudy it was hot!

 

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

We got into the apartment which is nice and open plan. Its modern, has a dishwasher (woo), bid fridge, air con (handy as its hot), washing machine, dryer, big wardrobe (but not enough coat hangers) and a terrace bit. If I feel brave enough later I’ll do a video tour. We are staying an an area called Glebe which is one of Sydneys oldest suburbs. Its a nice place, not too city like, with a very large amount of restaurants.

We adventured into the shopping centre nearby yesterday afternoon and got some bits at Coles supermarket. Lots of the food is much more expensive than it is in the UK, which will take a bit of getting used to. There is an across the board inflation, and then some things are just weirdly some things. 3 peppers (or capsicums as they are called here) were $7! (¬£4.69!) I don’t think we’ll be getting as many of them as we did at home. We could have got Tetley, PG Tips and Marmite (in the special ‘foreign food’ section) but resisted. They had kangeroo steaks too, but I wasn’t sure how to cook those.

Verdict on the food so far:

  • Peppers – damn expensive!¬†
  • Tasty cheese – Ummm, tasty
  • Mighty mite (Matt doesn’t like vegemite) – Not as strong as our stuff
  • Tea – OK¬†

Last night we had a nap, watched some telly then went to bed early to sleep off the jetlag.

Day 2

This morning we managed to get onto the free wi-fi from the Health Centre next door. Win!

We went to my new office and picked up my iPhone 5. Double win! We’re setting it all up now.

After that we had an appointment at the bank to activate our account.  We got a pretty good personal service, although the bank cards will take a bit longer and we need to make a decision about credit cards.

We went and looked at Freedom Furniture which looks pretty good, but there’s no point getting any until we know where we are living and how big it will be. Again, it all seems pretty expensive.

 

Sydney Monorail

Sydney Monorail

After that we went for a ride on the Monorail. This was pretty cool, but mainly becasue there aren’t many of them about and its a bit of a novelty. It was busier than I thought, mainly with tourists. The view wasn’t a good as I expected as everything is quite closed in around the monorail. I’d¬†recommend¬†it for novelty, but it is closing down at the end of June so not long left. Overall, 5/10, probably 6/10 from me as I am a transport geek.

Best view from the Monorail - over Darling Harbour to the city

Best view from the Monorail – over Darling Harbour to the city

We rode the tram back to the apartment and did a bit more walking around Glebe, cooked some dinner, set up the iphone and looked for some houses.

Day 3 

Tomorrow we are¬†going¬†to visit my new boss who lives in a suburb called Pymble. We might have a barbie if the weather is good and are going to drive into the countryside which I’m looking forward to seeing. Apparently he has redbacks in his garden¬†though, which I am NOT happy about. Spiders terrify me. On the upside we may get to see kangeroos. ūüôā

Counts

I am going to keep a count of important things we have seen:

  • Penguins: 0
  • Deadly spiders seen: 0 (I’d like it to stay that way)
  • Kangeroos: 0
  • Penguins: 0
  • Koalas: 0
  • Wombats:0

I have made a list of fun things we would like to do, which I’ll post another day.

Right now we are winging our way over to Australia, stuck on a plane somewhere, totally confused about what time and day it is! I didn’t want to leave you dedicated followers without an update for a while.I like baking (and importantly I also like eating cake). So here is one about my recent Australia themed cake and how to make it.

Things you will need:

  • Ingredients and equipment for making a round cake of our choice
  • A large swiss roll
  • Icing sugar
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Black food colouring
  • 2 minstrels
  • White glitter sugar or dessicated coconut
  • Silver balls or a black icing pen
  • A big cake board or something similar

1. Bake a round cake of your choice. It can be one or two layers. I chose a chocolate cake. It was going to be two layers, but the new recipe didn’t make as much as I thought, and I had packed my small cake tins, so it ended up being a one layer.

 

My chocolate cake ingredients

My chocolate cake ingredients

2. Cool the cake.

3. Cut three slices of swiss roll. Two need to be the same height as your cake when put on their ends. The third can be a bit smaller. Lay them out on the cake roughly where you want them (see below). Then pop the middle one to one side.

*Rolf Harris voice* ‚ÄúCan you tell what it is yet?‚ÄĚ

Cut and arrange the swiss roll

Cut and arrange the swiss roll

4. Use the icing sugar, butter and milk to make up a standard buttercream icing, depending on the size and number of layers in your cake ‚Äď and of course how much you like icing! Add in some black food colouring, to make a light grey colour.

5. Set aside enough of the icing to cover the small bit of swiss roll.

6. Cover the cake and the two swiss roll bits in the grey icing, joining it all together. Finish it with a fork, to create a ‚Äúfurry‚ÄĚ effect.

*Rolf Harris voice* ‚ÄúCan you tell what it is yet?‚ÄĚ

 

Ice the cake with grey icing

Ice the cake with grey icing

 

7. Add more food colouring to the set aside icing, to make it black. Carefully cover the third piece of swiss roll in the black food colouring, making it nice and round. Pop it in the centre of the cake as shown. This is a nose!

Add the black nose

Add the black nose

*Rolf Harris voice* ‚ÄúCan you tell what it is yet?‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs a koala!

8. Open the minstrels. Put two of them on the cake above the nose, to make the cute little koala eyes. I’m sure you can think of something to do with the rest of the packet!

Add the Minstrel eyes

Add the Minstrel eyes

9. Koalas are quite furry, so the next stage is adding them some fur. Sprinkle the white sugar glitter / desiccated coconut under the nose to make a beard and in the centre of the ears too.

Add the white and grey fur

Add the white and grey fur

10. Take some more glitter / coconut. Put it in a plastic bag and shake up with some black food colouring to make it grey. this is messy! Add this to the edges of the ears. Feel free to get creative and pop it other places on the head too.

11. Make a mouth ‚Äď I used silver balls, but you could use a black icing pen too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Completed cake! Awww!

12. Admire and then get someone brave to cut open its head!

I made this cake as my leaving cake for work and again for our leaving party, and got very good feedback! I have to say I took inspiration from the internet, here

So just a very quick update as we still have lots to do.

Its the final night. The car has just gone and so has all of the¬†furniture.¬†We did 4 trips to the tip! All bar 3 boxes have been re-homed with the new custodians (thank you everyone who is looking after them!) Its been good to have a really¬†thorough¬†sort out and disposal of a lot of our stuff – I’ll try and collect less things in future! I even fitted in a quick trip to the Doc to get some medicine as it turns out I have bronchitis!¬†Our good friends (and new custodians of many boxes) the Paul’s down the road are having us over for dinner so we don’t need to sit on the floor.

I had a bit of a panic earlier when cancelling the car insurance. The very helpful refund-giving lady said by law we have to send them back our insurance certificate. It is in a box somewhere, in someone’s attic. Somewhere. She let me off!

In the morning we have some final cleaning to do, and then its off to Heathrow! I am still finding it all pretty surreal that we’re actually going to go and live somewhere different, for quite a long time. I’ve decided to start calling it “extended working holiday” so it seems less serious!

Here’s the view from our window this morning. I’ll do a new one when we get our new place for comparison.

Snowy garden!

Snowy garden!

Thank you all for your help so far, encouragement, support and all that jazz. See you when we’re down under!¬†

 

How time flies. On the one hand the time since we got back from delayed honeymoon has just flown by, on the other it seems like our holiday was an age ago and all the time since has been filled with endless box packing and sorting!

So how are we getting on?

Well, the spreadsheet says we are 82.3% done. We’re a bit behind where I ideally wanted to be by now. I was hoping we could have Monday off doing something terribly British. No time for that, although the rainy weather will be pretty British. We have a lot of stuff for the tip and storing still, but it should be managable. The car is being sold at 5pm – nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.

Stuff for the tip

Stuff for the tip

The house is pretty empty of all the essential things now. No bed, no TV, no sofas, no table, no wardrobes. Luckily the cooker and kettle are still here!

I’ve actually fiddled the sheet now, as there are at least 4 things we wont be bothering to do. So really we are 86.4% done! ūüôā I crossed off: get medical records (turns out this takes ages); get jabs (I¬†couldn’t¬†get to my¬†appointment¬†when we only had one car and it doesn’t matter too much); no new bath panel (its fine really) and no gardening before we go (too soggy!)

How was your party?

Last night we had an Australian themed leaving party over in Guildford. I’m the sociable type, and had a really good time. Its nice getting together with friends, and the fancy dress theme added a bot of silliness which is always fun. The “bring a plate” worked well, with some excellent yummy culinary efforts. There’s never enough time to speak to all the different people though – so sorry if we didn’t speak to you very long.

I made a koala cake. Awww!

Koala cake!

Koala cake!

I’m going to miss all of our friends a lot. (That’s you, readers!) We’ve got a really good set of friends that we enjoy spending time with, and are lucky enough to have lots of them living really close by too. Going overseas for work is something I totally want to do, and have wanted to do for a long time. So I am really excited about the¬†opportunity, but I want to take lots of other people with us too! So I don’t get all sad about this, you all have to stay in touch, post lots of comments on the blog so I know you’re you there reading it, and of course arrange to come and visit! That means all of you!¬†

When are you actually off?

We fly on Tuesday afternoon. We’ll be leaving the house about 11 so there is plenty of time for checking in etc.

I’ll try and do another update tomorrow or Tuesday AM.

Got any questions?

Today is Thursday 7th February, my last day at work in the UK. We had leaving drinks and pizza last night which was good, but today I am knackered and think i’m getting a cold again – boo.

Our stff all got shipped on Tuesday, in official Crown boxes Рsee below. 

Re-packed boxes

Re-packed boxes

¬†Recently I’ve been getting two comments quite a lot.

Firstly, “You must be very excited now its getting so close.”

Yes, we are both excited. At the moment there is such a pile of stuff to sort out, things to pack, re-home, forms to fill in and so on, that its hard to see past all that and get properly excited! The move has such an amount of momentum now, I’m not sure ther fact we are actually going to go and work in another country for a fairly long space of time has properly sunk in! On the one hand it seems to have been taking aaages to get everything sorted, but on the other it has flown by.

A couple of weeks¬†ago I had a cold and was just totally fed up with all the packing and sorting. But then I thought back to the reasons I applied for the job I got in the first place, why I want to go and work abroad and how excited I was when I got offered it, and I remeber how exciting it is! The reality of leaving our friends and family and all the things we are familiar with is turning out to be a bit hard, but ther’s no going back now, and¬†I’m sure it will be a brilliant massive adventure!

And the second comment – “I’m so jealous!”

This was the one I really wanted to write about because I can 100% identify with it. You see, for ages I wanted to go and work overseas but never really thought about it enough to do anything about it. I suppose I thought one day something would magically land on my lap. Every time someone I knew went and did it I was envious¬†of them, but there always seemed to be some reason or other why I couldn’t go myself.

Then last year, we¬†had a bit of a proper think about it and decided if this was something we truly wanted to do, then¬†now was the time. I got my¬†act together and put all my effort into finding a job somewhere we would like to live. And Matt has now got a job too. Moving overseas to work is my no means an¬†easy thing to do, especially if you own a house to sort out, but if its what you want to do, then it’s totally achievable!

So, if you really are jealous, why not do something about it? Go on!

Maybe have a think about what you are jealous of though. Are you committed enough to ttoally move away, or maybe a long holiday would be better? Although more immersive from a  cultural point of view, working in another country is not going to be fun all the time. We will have bills to pay, taxes, commutes to work, actual busy jobs and only 20 days holiday a year. But then there are evenings, weekends and plenty of Bank Holidays to get out and about enjoying a new place.  

Obviously it’s¬†not just moving over seas either. If you want to achieve something – GO FOR IT! No matter how small. Remember January 1st? Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Have you done it yet? Chances are, nobody is going to go after your dream for you and serve it up on a plate!¬†¬†

What do you want to achieve this year?

So, one week tomorrow we are off. I have named today, Epic Tuesday – there is a lot going on!

Yesterday Matt found out he has got a job in Sydney with his current company, which is excellent news! Other plans are coming along well too.

Later on the Shipping people are coming along to take away our pile of things for shipping. Its the pile below, plus the sound system, TV and our bed and mattress. It turned out the doubling in size of things for taking the bed and a few more bits didn’t make much difference to the price. The shipping takes 11-14 weeks. In 5.5 weeks time our temporary accommodation will end, so we’ll have a fair while without a bed. Luckily we are used to camping!

Shipping pile

Dividing our our belongings to work out what to take, what to store, what to try and give away or sell, what to give to the charity shop and what to chuck has been quite hard, not to mention time consuming! Here’s what made it into the container:

  • The TV and surround sound ;
  • Bed, duvet and mattress (expensive to buy in Oz and not that much more to ship);
  • A lot of clothes;
  • The computer and printer;
  • Camping equipment ‚Äď tents, sleeping bags etc;
  • Climbing kit;
  • Bouldering mat;
  • Some kitchen things (incl the food processor I spent ages deciding on);
  • Jewellery box with jewellery and of course
  • A couple of (bean-free) cuddly toys

We made a last minute decision last night not to take Matt’s bike. They are very strict about mud and there want time to get it spotless enough. The cost of getting it sorted the other end if the quarantine people didn’t like it would have been too ridiculous. Cuddly toys with beans or wheat in are also not allowed (so no PG monkeys for me).

I’m currently waiting for the duvet covers to dry having washed them this morning so they can go as well.

Other things going on today:

  • Triple wardrobe we sold is being collected;
  • Gas man is coming to fit a new gasket;
  • I have a bajillion forms to fill in;
  • Contacting the chappy about our party details and
  • We are going to Smith and Westerns for dinner. Yummy.

Filling in forms when you have no phone number and no address is quite difficult! I feel like a total vagrant.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

I keep getting the Final Countdown music in my head, so I thought it was a good name of this post.¬†Matt has run off with the camera, so no pics today I’m afraid, but i’ll bring you plenty next time.

With a bit of artistic mathematic licence, its now ten days until we go! Eeek. 

According to the spreadsheet we’re now 71% done, although it doesn’t really feel like that. The main stuff left to do is mainly to do with packing, shipping ¬†and sorting the house out ready for the tenants. They’re almost confirmed, but not totally signed yet – hopefully next week.

We now have flights and accommodation for the first month booked. Some of the big stuff has been sold, including both our cars and the giant wardrobe. My car is being collected the day before we leave, which is idea. A shipping quote is due on Monday, so then we can decide what method to use and how much to take. Tax forms are in. 

This morning I’ve painted our spare room, and next week when we’ve moved some more stuff out we’ll get the office done too.

The “free stuff” page has been a good success so far in re-homing things. ¬†If you want anything please go and take a look!