Bradleys Head

Bradleys Head

You know how this works by now….

Liking: The weather has cooled down slightly, so is now mainly high 20’s rather than low 30’s which I’m preferring.  Also chocolate hot cross buns are in the shop again – I need to get around to having some.

Disliking: Although its cooler, we have been having a lot of storms recently, especially in the evening. now its good they are heavy and get finished quickly, but nobody likes getting soaked! Also, we love mini-eggs. We had some here and they don’t taste the same which was pretty upsetting. Then again we thought that about maltesers to start with and I’ve gotten used to them, so maybe there is some hope!

Watching: We recently bought the BluRay of Game of Thrones Season 3 which I’m loving. I also bought Downton Series 3 by mistake, thinking it was the latest one and then realsied I should have bought Series 4 – oops! Back in late Feb we went to see a play our friend Tim was in called Estranged, which was a black romantic comedy.

Consuming: We had savoury pancakes on pancake day, which were a slight disaster! I changed the recipe and we then had some excellent sweet ones a couple of days later. I went for a trio with nutella and raspberry, raspberries with raspberry sauce and the classic lemon and sugar. The nutella one was the best – yum.

Buying: We finally “invested” in a robotic hoover called a Roomba. After a slow start it is doing a pretty good job. We got a cheap dust buster too for behind doors etc. We have been buying a board game a month. This time it is Castle Panic, following on from Last Night on Earth in February. Castle Panic is pretty simple so good for with visitors, and mainly co-operative, with a small element of competition too. We’ve played once so far and won.

Thinking about: Recently I’ve been thinking about my career, including what I want in the medium term, as well as how to balance work properly with all the other things I want to do like fitness, friends and family, cooking nice food, adventuring, charity stuff and philosophical type things. I’ve reached no conclusion apart from its very hard to do everything!

Visiting: We went up the central coast to Port Stephens for a weekend which was very scenic, although also pretty damp. We also did a kayak tour of the Middle Harbour, went to the Australian Museum on a wet Sunday and took a walk around Bradley Head, which is out near Taronga zoo. The walk is only about an hour, but has some excellent views over the Harbour to the city and has a war memorial.We did some scrambling around the coast too which was a bit of an adventure, and I got slightly hit by a wave! Luckily it was a hot day, so 5 minutes later I was dry again. There is a beach to sit on, a boulder for Matt to climb, grass for a picnic and a place selling ice creams (although this shut at 3, so we should have gone a bit earlier). At the end of the month we went on an evening walking tour around Sydney’s oldest area, the Rocks.

Missing: I’ve got a trip to the UK planned for April, so I’ve been more looking forward to things I get to do, see and eat when I’m there, rather than missing anything in particular. I’ve got another post coming up on my UK to do list very soon.

Looking forward to: As above really. There are loads of things I’m looking forward to, including of course seeing friends and family as well as green green grass, chips with vinegar, roast dinners, country pubs and board games! 

 

Albert and I

Albert and I

Soon after we first arrived we bought annual Merlin passes which are a great value way to see a lot of Sydney attractions. They included Madame Tussaudes in Darling Harbour.

This isn’t really the kind of attraction which would usually interest us, but as it was effectively free with our pass we thought we might as well check it out. The place is divided into about 12 sections including things like history, movie stars, A list, musicians, world figures and sports. Its fairly heavily geared around the big ticket celebrities with some other world figures thrown in like President Obama, the British Royal Family, Einstein, the Dali Lama and some heavyweights from the medical profession too. Being in Sydney there was some bias to famous Aussies including Paul Hogan, Hugh Jackman, Kylie, Danni, Rolf Harris (no mention of any scandal) and Dame Edna.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber

We went on a Sunday so it was pretty busy, especially around the more popular figures where people were queuing to have their photos taken (the longest one was for One Direction which had its own queuing system set up). There were props provided which you could use in your photos like a Crocodile Dundee hat, which I thought was a good idea.

I thought the wax works were pretty realistic. You definitely got a creepy feeling looking closely at them that they were going to move and make you jump! (Well I did anyway). They had a Justin Beiber which amused me as one man was walking around and said ‘Ah, there’s Beiber. I wanna punch him!’

It was worth seeing and I’m glad we went, but I certainly wouldn’t have paid the walk up price of $40. In all we probably spent about 45 minutes there. 

After we went to Pancakes on the Rocks pancake house. Matt won a $50 voucher to go there at a chin up competition at a friends circus event. The pancake house is open 24/7 to meet your pancake needs at any time of day or night. They have a selection of both savoury and sweet pancakes, breakfast pancakes and also meals not involving pancakes for those who want to go to a pancake house and eat something you’d find at a pub! We started with some savoury pancakes of course. Mine was mexican beef which was OK, but nothing massively exciting. The real win was in the dessert pancakes. Matt had Devonshire pancakes (buttermilk bancakes with clotted cream and jam) and I went all our for the Jaffa Pancakes. These had orange segments in grand marnier sauce aside chocolate buttermilk pancakes with cream and vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate chips. Yummy! I was defeated,  couldn’t even finish it all and thought I might explode. The chocolate pancakes were an excellent idea, and although they were slightly dry all the sauce, ice cream and booze soaked orange pieces covered this up pretty well. If you twisted my arm I’d definitely go back for some dessert pancakes.

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris

 

22. March 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: Travel · Tags: ,
Camping by Wilsons Promontory

Camping by Wilsons Promontory

In December / January we went on a long camping trip, with lots of moving between places. Lots of Aussies seem to camp in the same spot for a week or two and bring the kitchen sink with them – I’m not joking – we did see a portable table with a built in sink, plumbed and everything! Anyway, I thought I’d write a bit about some (car based) camping tips which I find helpful. Of course if you’re in the UK you can ignore this for another few months!

1. Starting at the beginning, pack the right stuff. As well as the obvious stuff like a stove, lighter, gas, sleeping bag, tent, mat and a torch, there are some other bits and pieces I tend to take which just make camping life better:

  • Tongs for the inevitable BBQ and a spatula
  • Our mini frying pan
  • A scourer, washing up liquid and tea towel as you don’t always get these and I hate greasy stuff
  • I have both a summer and winter sleeping bag and often take both if the weather might vary as I hate being cold! I still use my down bag even in Oz as I like being toastie
  • Bug spray
  • A canvas bag to use for taking my clothes in to the shower. This also comes in really handy for transport things about like food for your lunch or dinner from the car to the picnic spot
  • A stuff bag thing – I forget its proper name, but like a semi- dry bag with a roll top. I stuff all my dirty clothes in this to keep them separate from my clean ones. I hate having to rummage for ages in my bag to find stuff. I know it’s too organised, but it makes me happier!
  • Some 2 litre water bottles to freeze and put in the esky to save buying ice

2. Bring some luxury items (if you have space). My number one luxury item for camping is a full size real pillow, followed by a chair. The pillow is so much better for sleeping, and considering you sleep for (hopefully) 8 hours a night it’s definitely worth it! This trip I’ve also thought it would be worth investing in a small folding table, just to save cooking on the floor when there’s nowhere else to sit and we can play board games on it too!

3. Pack the car efficiently! I put all the camping bits and pieces like the pans, stove and cutlery in a big box so they are all together. Admittedly it’s often hard to find things and all the things you want are always at the bottom, but it’s a step in the right direction. Work out the best way to pack the car, and try and replicate it when you move campsites. That way you’ll always know where stuff is. I put pillows on the back seat in case I want a cheeky nap during the drive!

4. Get a decent tent! If you’re going to be camping a lot it’s well worth investing in something which isn’t a dome or pop up tent! They might be cheap but I’m afraid they just won’t cut it in any dodgy weather. Even if they don’t actually fall down they’ll wobble about all over the place, noisily, possibly even bashing you on the head! I love our tent although sadly it now has a dead pole which I hope we can fix. It’s semi-geodesic which means it basically stands up on its own even without any pegs, apart from the porch (hence the semi part).

5. Get a tent erection routine. We are pros at putting our tent up now. We have done it so much we know our jobs and get on with it pretty quickly without even talking about it! If you’re new to your tent, just make sure you communicate about who should be doing which job and remember it’s meant to be fun!

6. Organise the inside of your tent too. I know I’m over organised, but I have a system going on for the inside of the tent too. I like to know where stuff is and have a few things I keep my my head in the night which I’m likely to need including my book, water bottle, torch and watch. (Not you’re phone – you’re meant to be camping and away from it all so turn it off!) I also generally keep my shoes inside now, at the foot end. Even places where there aren’t nasty spiders about possums tent to like running away with shoes apparently! Remember to camp with your head up hill!

7. Plan for bad weather or burning! Make sure you take some waterproofs, and sun cream if the weathers that way inclined.

8. Take games! No camping trip is complete without some games, even if it’s just a basic pack of cards. Either games or a good book are an excellent way to pass the evening once it gets dark.

I reckon most people are just put off by traumatic childhood experiences with leaky tents from Duke of Edinburgh and sleeping bags from Argos designed to be used inside in summer – it doesn’t have to be like that so get out and give camping a go!

Remember, with the right attitude and preparation, camping can definitely be fun. I almost always sleep really well in the tent and enjoy the whole outdoorsness of it – especially when you have kangaroos and wombats to entertain you too!

When’s your next trip?!

Tea

Tea

Yup, this a post about tea! The drink kind.

‘Hello, I’m Elly and I used to be a tea addict’

Now I was more than happy to freely admit that I used to have a tea problem. Not only would I not really communicate in any way until I’d had a cup in the morning, I’d have on average about 7 cups a day, and typically they were monster sized.

I knew this wasn’t great for me, but you know, it’s not like I smoked, did drugs or drank any sort of coke or other fizzy drink. Sometimes I’d cut down a bit but then inevitably with work pressures and my general love of tea I’d creep back to my old ways! I also noticed when I didn’t have tea I’d get headaches – not good!

Last year I got food poisoning and it was terrible. When I was ill I didn’t want any tea anyway so was probably on only a couple a day. When I went to the doctor after the 5th day he said to avoid dairy for at least two weeks after as you become sensitive to it after food poisoning. I took this as an opportunity to cut down and now only have generally two cups a day, often even one.

The big change was to not have tea first thing in the morning. I enjoy tea, I really like it, but to feel like you need it to get going isn’t good, so now I have water or juice with my breakfast and have a first tea once I’ve been at work an hour or two or later on a weekend.

I do still like a hot drink, especially at work so I’ve been having some non caffeinated tea substitutes. I’m not a huge green tea fan but do like peppermint, Indian spice tea (a yummy mix of clove, cinnamon, ginger and pepper) and recently some orange and cinnamon tea (festive tasting!). We have a shop called T2 (like Whittards only not in administration) which has a huge range and very helpful staff who will give you samples to take away. I’ll also drink decaf tea if it’s after 4pm and I just want normal tea! (I find it messes up my sleep to have caffeine later).

So there’s my tea story. I’m not advocating anyone else changes, do what works for you. I just wanted to share because I’m pleased with myself and reckon I’m a bit healthier too.

Quote from our Youth Hostel in Melbourne

Quote from our Youth Hostel in Melbourne

On our mammoth Summermas holiday I spent some time reflecting why I like travelling and seeing new places. The hostel we were in in Melbourne had a lot of people in their 20s with maps and leaflets who generally seemed to be off on adventures as well.

I was tempted by a gap year before Uni but never had one, safe I knowledge I could go travelling later. But despite a lot of excellent holidays and short trips, I never really did the whole travelling adventure thing. Maybe that explains our emigration now.

I enjoy seeing new places and also meeting new people when I’m brave enough to talk to them and not all British and reserved! I’m not really sure why, I just find it a stimulating experience to see new places and do new things and I have just a general curiosity about other places in the world. Maybe that’s my inner geographer. I think you can learn a lot from seeing other places and different ways of doing things, thinking and living.

So I don’t really have a conclusion other than I like seeing new places and hope I can carry on doing it for a long time! The worlds a big place after all.

12. March 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramblings · Tags:
This may look exciting but it tastes wrong!

This may look exciting, but it tastes wrong!

So I realise a lot of the stuff on here is fairly positive about being in Australia. And don’t get me wrong, we are loving it. However, for some balance thought I’d have a bit of a whinging Pomm moment and tell you some of the less good stuff about living over here. So here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Obviously our friends and family are far away and I miss doing stuff with them.
  2. The TV is generally rubbish. I’m not one to schedule viewing time so the chances of finding anything decent on are low. On the plus side this does mean we spend less time I front the box (or possibly more money renting films!)
  3. It gets very hot – 33 degrees is currently officially too hot for me! You will burn in the sun very quickly, even when you don’t think you will. You need to wear a lot of sun cream and I hate the feel of it. Beats skin cancer though.
  4. Dairy milk tastes different and you can’t get Marmite (these are serious problems, along with the fact pubs don’t generally serve you vinegar to have with your chips)
  5. You pay to see the doctor and really need private health insurance. Luckily for us at the moment on our visas we get the insurance subsidised through Matts work, which saves us about $200 a month. Although this would be expensive otherwise it is easy to get a doctors appointment – none of this come in in 15 minutes (but I’m at work) or three weeks next Thursday business.
  6. There are a lot of flies in the countryside and they are irritating. Nobody really mentions this before you come. Maybe cork hats help.
  7. Things bite you and it itches a lot. Some of them might kill you (although I’ve not seen anything deadly yet – I don’t think!)
  8. House hunting generally means getting to a 15 minute time slot, on a weekend, with a bunch of other people.
  9. All the abbreviations (see here). I like these but my inner English teacher does die a bit inside every time someone says Ambo, Garbo or Firey. Then again I can see myself adopting these over time and then everyone in the UK will laugh at me!
  10. There is a lot of road kill about. Not only does this make me sad, you run a pretty high risk of whacking something eventually and doing some serious car damage.
  11. Sorting things out in the UK like calling the bank or mortgage company has to be done at night because of the time difference.Generally I can’t be bothered with this after a day at work!

All in all though we’re still loving Oz and all the things I rave about in pretty much every post!

Anything in particular getting you down about your country at the moment?

08. March 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: Guest post · Tags: ,

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When our friends Phil and Rhiannon visited, we came up with a new idea – guest blog posts! Rather than us doing all the work, we figured we could get our guests to write a bit about their trips to Australia and stays with us. Not only does it save us a job, it adds some variety for you and promotes tourism!

So, here is our first guest blog post from Phil and Rhainnon

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Name(s): Phil and Rhiannon

Home: Godalming, England

How do you know Matt and Elly: Originally from the University of Surrey Canoe Club

When did you visit and how long for:  We visited Australia from the 16th Nov 2013 but we arrived at Matt and Ellys on the 26th. We stayed in Sydney for 3.5 days and then Matt and Elly joined us for a further 4.5 days exploring Melbourne, the Grampians and the Great Ocean Road.

Have you been to Sydney before? No

Have you been to Australia before? No

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We were already planning to go to Australia when we found out that Matt and Elly were considering the move, so we may have been one of the few people looking forwards to them heading out there.  We quickly arranged our visit once their jobs and leaving date had been sorted.

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As this trip wasn’t solely to see Matt and Elly, we started off in Port Douglas where we visited the Great Barrier Reef (amazing) and Daintree, the world oldest Rainforest (also very very good, and we got to see a wild crocodile). We then got the train to Airlie Beach for the Whitsunday Islands and whilst no cheaper than flying and slower the break from the airport was nice and the opportunity to see the scenery meant we got to see, albeit briefly, a lot more of Oz. Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island were lovely. Firstly we went sea kayaking and came back engaged(!), then we had a failed sailing trip when the other clients found their sea legs were really rather nonexistent (but did briefly see ex canoe club member Tris) and then had a couple of lovely days at a resort, enjoying the facilities, exploring and going out to visit Whitehaven beach. 98% silica, very clean, white, uniform, 7km long and squeaky – definitely worth a visit!

 

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Next we arrived in Sydney. We found a very reasonable tour and host rate of two large jars of Marmite and lots of Dairy Milk. Unsurprisingly we did a number of the main attractions starting with the harbor bar, eating some kangaroo and emu pizza, getting a ferry to Watsons bay, walking over (although not up) the Harbour Bridge, visiting Hyde Park, eating some Nitrogen Gelato, visiting Bondi and going walking in the Blue Mountains.

Melbourne followed Sydney but we arrived there in a very roundabout way travelling first along the Great Ocean Road and through/around the Grampians. I don’t want to go into too greater detail to our Melbourne travels as I want to leave Elly and Matt something to blog about but I thought that Koalas were easier to spot than I imagined, ‘The Grotto’ on the GOR was unexpectedly good, the Grampians were very hot, Crazy Golf was not to be and that the King Kong puppet (in the theatre story of the same name) was outstanding but the story needed a happy ending!

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Verdict:  8/10   Definitely go and visit – there is something for everyone and of course, Matt and Elly to see, – but when people tell you that food is expensive, imagine it as expensive and multiply it by another 1.5! It would be almost perfect if it was British Countryside sort of green and also a little bit closer to get to…

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Epic Cheesecake

Epic Cheesecake

Wow, February 2014 is over already. We’ve been here over a year now, so here’s the latest…

Liking: Having a cheese and wine night with our friends at our flat, to mark being here a year. Before hand we went and played two courses of mini-golf which was good fun.

Disliking: It has been pretty hot and humid some days too. 33 degrees cooked me, and we’re sleeping with just a sheet. Its starting to cool off again now though which is good, so soon I will have survived my first summer.

Watching: Breaking Bad. We started this back in January, got through Season 1 in a little over a week and are well underway with Season 2 now. We alsoi watched the Hobbit 2 at the outdoor cinema – more about that in another post.

Consuming: Late January was Australia Day and we had an epic Sheep Roast with friends in the Blue Mountains, where between us we ate a whole 25kg sheep called Reginald! We ate a LOT of cheese at our cheese and wine night, as well as an exciting tropical jelly-topped cheesecake I made (yummy!) I also had some particularly good venison with a Port and Blackberry just in New Zealand.

Buying: The hoover is playing up again, so we’re thinking about a new one. We both got wetsuits for canyoning recently and a camping table which will make camping better.

Working on: Work has been totally crazy in February. There’s budget issues, restructuring and all sorts flying about which has led to a lot of uncertainty for our team, but we’ve all pulled together really well (as usual) and its getting back to making sense now.

Thinking about: We have friends coming to visit in November which i’m really looking forward to, and we’ll be joining them up on the Barrier Reef. We’ve also been thinking about moving house and started looking for new places with a bit less space in exchange for a decent view.

Visiting: I’ve been to the North Island of New Zealand with work, stopping over in Auckland and Rotorua (which smells of eggs). I had a nice swim in a thermally heated pool but no time for much actual tourism. Matt went to Perth with work and hit the Little Creatures brewery. He’s one Aussie state up on me now, but I have been to the ACT twice and Queensland more times (I know this doesn’t really count). twice with work. War is Over

Missing (new feature!): Recently I have been missing vinegar. When you go out and have chips, you never get it unless you’re at a proper chip shop. Also someone in the UK mentioned roast dinners, which I also quite fancy now! And I also had a slightly nostalgic moment thinking about seeing red London buses (but not having to go on them!)

Looking forward to: We’re going to be planning a trip to Uluru soon which will be good.

Sheep roast

Sheep roast