Last weekend on Saturday we ordered our sofa (woo) and went to Balmoral (Beach), which is a fairly short bus ride from the flat. The Queen wasn’t there.

Then, on Sunday, we took a trip down south to Wollongong. We met up with my friend from Uni, Toby, and his girlfriend Kendall. They took us on an excellent guided tour of the area, mainly around the countryside as we were keen to get out of the city. The train trip was 1.5 hours, and only cost $11 each – bargain!

First off we went in the soft top (grin) up a wiggly mountain road. The temperature dropped from about 25 to a relatively chilly 16-17 (don’t worry, I don’t expect any sympathy). The area is known as the Southern Highlands, and looked a fair bit like South Wales – lots of rolling hills, forests and cows.

Fitzroy Panorama

Fitzroy Panorama

We parked up and did a walk around an area called Fitzroy Falls. The view was stunning. There was a cliff ridge / break (I’m not sure of the proper technical word) which we walked around the top of. The falls went over the end, down a loooong way, surrounding by trees and bush as far as you can see. We were pretty sure there were Hobbit’s down the bottom – but it would have been pretty hard to go and check. I guess the scale of the bush is even more impressive when you get properly out into the remote bits of the country, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.

Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls

After the walk we went for a drive back down into the valley (it warmed up again) and had a good pub lunch in a place called Jamberoo. Being St Patrick’s day we had some pretty traditional Irish food, listened to a band in the sunshine in the beer garden. I had pie – yum. Matt got a pint of Guinness. Over here beer mainly comes in schooners (285ml), which are less than a pint, so getting an actual pint is pretty exciting!

In Australia there is a bit of a trend for ‘big stuff’. Some towns and cities have big things as landmarks. We went past Robertson, which is home of the giant …..potato! It’s a pretty weird landmark, and gets more points for obscurity and humour than historical interest. There’s no detailed explanatory sign, just a tourist sign with some actual potatoes stuck on it, that people have drawn faces on. We guess Robertson used to be home to lots of potato farms. It would have made me crave a baked potato (as I miss them here), but luckily for my stomach it was still full of pie!

The Robertson Giant Potato

The Robertson Giant Potato

After the excitement of the potato, we went down to the coast to a place called Kiama. It was incredibly windy which made for good (if slightly damp and salty) viewing conditions at the Blow Hole. It made a pretty cool boomy noise too. None of my pictures do it justice I’m afraid.

After the blow hole we got ice creams (mango plus double chocolate for me, white chocolate and raspberry plus old English toffee for Matt). They were goooood. We ate them so quickly I didn’t even think about a picture. Next, we went to a place with 360 degree views around the area, with beaches that went on for miles – but not quite the 10,500 miles to London. To round off the trip we went for a walk in Woolongong by the Harbour and along some of the beach. Its a lot quieter than the Sydney beaches and looked pretty nice if it wasn’t for the wind!

It was an excellent day out – we need to save up for a car so we can go on lots of other mini adventures out of the city too!

Thanks Toby 🙂

Hello, avid blog readers!

By popular demand, I’ve bumped down the zoo post, so you can see the video of our new place. I hope you enjoy it – I hate listening to myself in these, so I’ve not watched it again.

Recently, in the flat we have:

  • Put beer in the fridge
  • Got some hooks for our hand towels and calendar (I do like having the calendar up)
  • Got the internet connected
  • Ordered the sofa and
  • Acquired a gigantic very comfy air bed from a work colleague

Our new furniture comes tomorrow, so there will be some pic shortly, and the sofa on Saturday.

Enjoy a nose about!

Love…

Things I am loving at the moment:

1. Living somewhere new: There’s lots of new things to do and places to go and see. Stuff in the shops is different and best of all, we don’t have to do any DIY on our house!

Love score: 9/10 (not 10, as sometimes its hard to know where to get things you want and the chocolate tastes funny!)

2. Bread Top: Bread Top is a genius idea for a shop. Its somewhere between a bakery and a Greggs. I don’t think you can get actual plain rolls, but they have a whole host of warm and cold, savoury and sweet bread products, and they’re all very reasonably priced. So far we’ve had cheesy rolls (eat them on their own like a cheese straw, plus they have cheesy goo inside; pizza topped baguettes  garlic and parmesan bread rolls; onion naan; pain au chocolats and custard buns. Nom nom nom. There is a BreadTop below my building so it won’t be long before the list gets longer! 

Love score: 7/10 (it could have more exciting cakes, but I suppose then it wouldn’t be pure BreadTop).

BreadTop

BreadTop

3. Having a pool and gym in the basement: This is super convenient, and often not very busy. Now we’ve moved in we’ve been a couple of times this week after work. Lets see if we can keep it up!

Love score: 6/10 (although its good, exercise is a bit boring and I still prefer Body Combat).

Pool, jacussi and sauna

Pool, jacuzzi and sauna

Small gym in the basement

Small gym in the basement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dislike…

Sadly its not all great things though. For some balance, here’s some less good stuff. Hate is too strong a word, but I do dislike these things.

1. Friends: I miss our friends! We’re working on making some new ones but its a bit slow. (And obviously they’ll never be as good as you UK guys!)  The Ex-pat socialising night unfortunately clashes with the climbing socialising night, so we will be alternating till we work out who is best!

Dislike score: 9/10 (there is of course email, facebook, blogging, skype and of course visitors, but its not the same!)

2. Lacking furniture and appliances  In terms of furniture we only shipped our bed. Currently its somewhere past Singapore! Sleeping on roll mats isn’t actually that bad, but the lack of other furniture and appliances is getting a bit annoying  This is temporary though, and we have a fridge  washing machine  table, chairs, coffee table, bookcase and TV stand coming next week. No TV to put on it yet, but its progress! We’ll be ordering the sofa very soon once we can get to the shop. (Update: fridge and washing machine now here and wine has been purchased – woo!)

Dislike score: 7/10 (9/10 for the fridge, less for the other bits as it is temporary!)

Wine :-) Beer coming next

Wine 🙂 Beer coming next

3. Cheque?: When you pay for stuff with a card you always have to press which account you want the money to come from. The credit bit gives you some sort of added fraud protection apparently. I just find this annoying as I always forget and try to dive right in with my pin number.

Dislike score: 3/10 (Its annoying, but I’ll get used to it)

It seems bad to end the post on something negative. So next time I’ll talk about some good stuff at my work – stay tuned!

13. March 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

So far we’ve learnt a few handy lessons for migrating and just generally being in Sydney. Hopefully I can make them add up to a nice number, like ten six!

1. House hunting: I’m not the biggest fan of rental estate agents in the UK, but in comparison to here, renting in the UK seems like a total breeze! House hunting over here is a very weird, very pressurised process. The supply of places is low compared to the amount of people who want them. You go along to viewings with all the other people who might be interested in the place, generally in a 15 minute window, and most of them get taken before you have a chance to look! Get a good rapport going with an estate agent and play up all the things that make you a good tenant – I went with the Dr Short card!

2. The weather: British people love to talk about the weather. This time of year is a bit temperamental here. It can change suddenly  so, firstly, take an umbrella or raincoat everywhere. Secondly  wear sun cream! The sun here is strong and you can burn quickly  For people coming on holiday it is cheaper to buy it in England and bring it over. We thought it would be cheaper here on account of the general sunny weather, but we were wrong.

Weather Survival Kit

Weather Survival Kit

3. Manchester: This seems an odd thing to have a lesson about right? Well, it turns out Manchester is the name for bedding (including dooners which are duvets). Luckily for us we shipped a lot of ‘Manchester’ including our ‘dooner’, although its not here yet. Turns out its *really* expensive. In the sales, a double sheet and 2 pillow cases will still set you about about $60-70! Ikea and places like Big W and K Mart are a bit cheaper, but not that much. If you’re emigrating, bring your Manchester!

4. Public transport: Public transport is very cheap here compared to the UK. My Multi tickets let you travel on everything within a zone for a day, week, month, quarter or year and are good value as well as convenient. A my multi daily is $22 and a weekly is $44, so we’ll be recommending them to all our visitors as it will get you pretty much everywhere you want to go to.

My Multi Weekly

My Multi Weekly

5. Haggling: Do it (but know the limits)! I have been haggling money off things left right and centre. All you really need to do it ask and generally they furniture shops and electrical shops will give you some money off. Either if something is cheaper online, or just becasue you say, can you do a better price. This week we got knocked back on haggling though. It was for a sofa. We decided to go for a certain level of discount and if they said no, try walking out. Unfortunately they wouldn’t give a discount, so we left, and they didn’t chase us or anything! Seems like some bargains really are the best price.

6. Supermarkets: Supermarket bags here are rubbish, so you should definitely buy the ones they sell for 99c and take them with you to the shop. It helps save the planet too. I am finding exciting things each time I go to the supermarket. This week I got a bit overly excited about finding yellow, green and purple bin bags! My excitement only grew when it turned out these were also scented! We now have nice bright yellow bin bags in our bin, to make putting our the rubbish a bit less skanky and a bit more happy (yellow is cheerful!)

Lemony yellow bin bags

Lemony yellow bin bags

10. March 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:

So another week gone down in Australia. Its been a busy one.

Moving 

We got confirmation on Tuesday that someone else could take on our place in Glebe on the Thursday, if we moved out. This would save us a weeks worth of rent on two places at once, so of course we obliged! Moving by bus and train with only a day and a half’s notice was a bit too much like hard work but we are in now. I got a few funny looks with my giant suitcase and Roy in my handbag on the train! 🙂

Moving with Roy

Moving with Roy

More shopping

We’re fully moved into the new place now and have been checking out the local area.  Unfortunately there is no ETA on the fridge yet, so no nice chilled beers or wine for us unless we go out. On Thursday we ordered a very nice matching dining table, chairs, coffee table, TV stand and bookcase for a pretty good price. We had a bit of an odd collection of furniture in the UK, so it will be nice to get a matching set. Its coming on the 21st, so under 2 weeks to go.

Saturday we hired a car again to go and buy more things as we’re  still short of lots of bits and pieces you need to live comfortably  Sadly it was a bit less flash than the upgrade we got the time before, but it did the job.

Micra

Micra

Many hours and another trip to Big W (=Woolworths), Bunnings Warehouse (=B and Q), Good Guys (=Currys), Freedom (=Habitat) and Ikea (=place of meatballs) later we are well on the way to a fully functioning flat! Key items we managed to acquire include breakfast bar stools; an outdoor table and chairs (to be used inside if we need them for now); nice crockery; a travel mug; microwave; drawers and shelves for clothes; a coat stand and a bin.

More purchases

More purchases

Our new crockery

Our new crockery

Being tourists 

We decided Sunday would be for stuff more fun than shopping, so we went to the zoo! (Last Sunday was climbing, so it was my choice!) There are two zoos in Sydney, Taronga Zoo (accessed via ferry) and Wild Life Sydney. We got annual Merlin passes for only $90 which get us in 5 attractions in Sydney as much as we like in the year, plus some cool places in other cities too. This is a massive saving on even just doing more than two of the things individually, so seemed like a good idea. It includes Wild Life Sydney, the Aquarium. Madam Tussaudes, the Sydney Eye and Manly Sea Life centre (where the penguins are). I can now see penguins all year for $0 additional cost! Wooo.

Wild Life Sydney was cool. There were lots of very cute koalas, lizardy things, kangeroos, a wombat (sadly hiding), a cassowary (like a colourful ostrich) and a ‘big boss croc’. It was low on scary spiders too, which was good. I have a lot of pictures to sort through, so I’ll do another post with them – here’s one for now.

Koala at wild Life Sydney

Koala at wild Life Sydney

After we shared a duck pizza for lunch in Darling Harbour looking at the water. The pizza was yummy although we got stung on the good deal by a $6 weekend surcharge – boo.

This weekend we’ve also been playing a new board game we bought called Dominon. Its very good and has lots of variety possible which keeps it interesting for 2 people. Current score is one all. We’ve not had much luck shipping our boat, so no idea where the rest of our board games are!

Dominon cards

Dominon cards

 

We’re just assembling flat pack this evening and hopefully off to try out the pool after dinner. We went earlier but it had about 10 people in it, which is about as many as I think it will hold, so second attempt coming up.  In the mean time we’re cooking baked potatoes. I’ve missed these as I ate a lot of them in England and they don’t seem to be sold as a separate thing over here.

How are you guys over in England?

Hi all,

Sorry for the slight delay between posts, we’ve been proper busy.

Week 2 at work took me on a quick jaunt up to Brisbane. It rained properly hard when we got there. Apart from doing a lot of work I got to try ‘Moreton Bay Bugs’. These are amazingly yummy crustaceans, somewhere between a crayfish and a lobster. I’d definitely have them again. We stayed on the South Bank, where next to the river they have an artificial beach and pool. I didn’t bring any swimwear, but had a quick paddle before work on the second day.

Brisbane South Bank

Brisbane South Bank

This Saturday we had an epic day of moving. Although, when I say moving, we only moved two suitcases and a rucksack! Most of the epicness was actually buying new things to kit out the place with; as we basically bought nothing with us apart from clothes. Some things are coming on the boat in about a month, but in the mean time we need to sleep, cook and eat!

Our new flat is in St Leonards, on the train line to the north of Sydney. Its just a couple of minutes from the train station, has three bedrooms (more than we need), a very nice interior with some wood floor, a balcony with a gas BBQ hookup, a gym and pool in the basement, car park space and a storage cage for storing stuff, or where guests can sleep if they upset us! 😛 (You have been warned). Unfortunately the only appliances it comes with are a cooker and dishwasher, and the only furniture is the built in wardrobes.

Here’s a sneaky pic, and we’ll do a video tour later.

Our new flat

Our new flat

After signing the contract on Saturday we got the keys and “moved in” with our two suitcases and one rucksack! The estate agent found this pretty amusing! We checked out our parking space, but still cant find our storage cage. I think it might be behind a door for which we don’t have the key.

From there we walked to a car hire place to pick up our ‘smallest model they do’ car. Unfortunately they didn’t have any small cars, so we got a reasonably good looking bright red Ford Falcon. Win! As we didn’t buy the collision waiver I drove it like a sensible person, but was happy it looked better than a Punto!

Ford Falcon XR6

Ford Falcon XR6

First stop: Ikea of course! We didn’t have anything to measure up the flat with, so we got some paper measuring tapes to take home! The big furniture we checked out, but weren’t inspired by anything other than the drawers we didn’t know the measurements for. We got loads of barginacious bits and pieces including pillows, garlic press, colander, bath mats, containers for the kitchen, cutlery inserts, ice cube trays, glasses, wine glasses and so on. After Ikea you could get 50c ice creams, so that was a good break. I also enjoyed the free refill tea in the cafe before we started, and was very restrained with only the two cups!

Next stop: Target, a sort of Australian version of an upmarket Wilkinson’s. We were doing well, but still no crockery we liked. Energy levels starting to flag after 3 hours (!!) so time for a Subway pitstop. Yup, they have subway here.

Next stop: Home HQ. We picked up a kettle, toaster, iron, ironing board and hoover from the Good Guys and haggled a fair bit of money off too.  From there we went to Chatswood Chase shopping centre, to Kmart. Kmart is like Primark, only also with home stuff like Wilkinsons. We got some crockery to last us till we find something we really like, some silicone utensils and a couple of other bits and pieces.

Shopping Haul

Shopping Haul

 

Here is our final haul, packed and unpacked.  By the time we unpacked it all, put it away, dropped the car off, walked back to the station, had a quick take away and got into town it was 9.30pm so we missed the Mardis Gras parade, but it will come around next year.

Stuff we bought

Stuff we bought

The washing machine and fridge have been ordered (thank you credit card for finally turning up!) Next we need some furniture, especially a sofa.  For now we are living in Glebe still, ready to move and squat in the new place if they find someone to rent our place early.

Stay tuned for the video!

From…..

Elly!  (Other Elly models are available)

Elly!
(Other Elly models are available)