So now the blog is back, here’s a quick run down on the good stuff I got up to between the end of May and the end of August. That’s pretty much three months of things, so this is a bumper post!

Working in Winchester: At the end of May and start of June I went back to the UK for work for three weeks for a special project, based in Winchester. I was going back for a holiday anyway, so the trip timing right beforehand worked out quite well. I had weekends and evenings free, so managed to fit in some good socialising while I was over. Highlights included a whole lobster at Loch Fyne with Kim, Tom, Rhiannon and Phil from the canoe club on my birthday and dinner with Southampton Uni friends at Rick Steins fish restaurant. I also went for work at night time to some road works nio the A303 at Popham. I got to wear full high vis and a hard hat – glamorous!

Birthday lobster

Birthday lobster

Rhiannons Hen Party: As I was back in the UK early for work, I got to start my holiday early and made it along to Rhaiannon’s hen party. It was great seeing everyone, especially as I didn’t think I would make it.  We did an aerial yoga session which was really fun! We got to do lots of crazy poses, with lots of hanging upside down and a fair bit of screeching and giggling! (OK that was mainly me!)

Aerial Yoga!

Aerial Yoga!

London: Matt arrived at this point for our actual UK holiday, and we went for a day trip up to the big smoke. We went around the Tower of London like tourists which i’d not done before, went on a Beefeater tour and saw the Crown Jewels. Later on we met my dad and Flick for a trip to the art gallery and a yummy crispy duck in Chinatown, before walking back to the station past Buckingham Palace.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Stourhead: We went for a walk around Stourhead gardens, which were beautiful. I don’t think I’ve been there before, which is surprising becasue its so close to where I grew up The views and landscaping were really nice.

Stourhead Gardens

Stourhead Gardens

Brighton: We went with the Shorts down to Brighton seaside. We played on old school amusements, went on the pier, the big wheel, the Voilks electric railway, went around the lanes, had fish and chips and I even got a cream tea! Happy days.

Amusements in Brighton

Amusements in Brighton

 

Southampton: We met my Uni friends for an epic and very tasty picnic at the park down in Southampton and then went for dinner in the evening. It was lovely catching up with everyone, and pretty scary seeing how all the children had got so much bigger!

Southampton Picnic

Southampton Picnic

Gruffalo: After a night in Bath with my nan, we went around Westonbirt arboretum, and met a Gruffalo hiding in the woods!

Me, dad and the Gruffalo!

Me, dad and the Gruffalo!

Royal Ascot: A bunch of 8 lovely ladies went along to Royal Ascot for ladies day. The weather was glorious. We had another epic picnic, along with plenty of fizzy wine. This is the only kind of alcohol you’re allowed to take in yourself – tragic! It was great fun getting all dressed up and hanging out in the sunshine. I even had a couple of wins, including a fairly good one and ended the day about £65 up! Woo.

Lovely ladies at Ascot

Lovely ladies at Ascot

Leith Hill Geocaching: Around Horsham we went for a geocaching adventure up Leith HIll, and helped Kate find her first one (I think). We also found bacon and maple syrup flavoured popcorn – nice!

Leith Hill Tower

Leith Hill Tower

Porter wedding: The key event in the 2015 visit was of course Phil and Rhainnons wedding. It was a really lovely day, and we were their witnesses. It was great to see them so happy and catch up with a lot of our friends who we hadn’t seen for a long time.

Phil & Rhiannon's Wedding

Phil & Rhiannon’s Wedding

Germany: I spent 5 nights in Germany, visiting my brother and Lucia, and meeting my new niece, Ella for the first time. She is super cute and very well behaved. I didn’t drop her and she wasn’t sick on me, so overall very successful! I took her a play mat which my friend Bex made which we had fun playing on. I found a sausage vending machine (yes!) and mistakenly ordered the normal (not small) size schnitzel one evening, which turned out to be TWO schnitzels!

Owen and I at German Garden Show

Owen and I at German Garden Show

Peak District long weekend: We had an amazing weekend in a giant cottage up in the Peak District. We arranged to get a bunch of people together from Horsham friends, climbers and canoe club. A lot of them didn’t know each other before, but it was a great weekend. We have a common love of board games, so played a LOT of those, as well as doing some geocaching walks with great scenery and having a massive BBQ – the British way, with charcoal. I managed to squeeze in an extra cream tea too.

Peak District Shennanigans

Peak District Shennanigans

Bristol: After the Peak District it was the end of our holiday, so Matt flew back to Australia. I stayed on and spent some time in Bristol with my mum in hospital, and got to stay with the Cornishes. John introduced me to the Navy game Uckers, which I promptly lost my first game of in spectacular style after a rookie error! I did later go on to beat him. We also went on an adventure to fund some Shaun the Sheeps which was exciting, and I bought a Union Jack Gromit souvenir.

Me and Ice Cream Shaun the Sheep

Me and Ice Cream Shaun the Sheep

Blue Mountains Snow: I got back to Australia  in late July, and it was cold! We went up to the Blue Mountains with some new friends to stay in a cottage for the weekend and go climbing. On the Thursday before we left it snowed up there, and there was still snow left when we got there on Friday which was pretty exciting! Unfortunately on Saturday there were a lot of road closures, which meant we couldn’t go climbing, so we went for a nice walk instead. Although chilly it was nice and sunny. In the evening we drank mulled wine, had a nice meal and unexpectedly played a game of Munchkin!

Snowman in July!

Snowman in July!

Fort Dennison: Matt took me on a surprise trip to Fort Dennison, for a tour and then lunch in their fancy restaurant. Fort Dennison is a small island in the middle of the Harbour, which you get to on the ferry. It was used for defense and sending convicts into isolation. We went on a tour around and up the tower, and the views back to the city were amazing.

Fort Dennison View

Fort Dennison View

Top Gear Festival: We had tickets to the Top Gear festival earlier in the year, but it got posponed after the Jeremy Clarkson issues. They re-badged it as ‘Clarkson Hammond and May Live’ and we went along. They did the ‘Cr-Ashes’, a series of car based games with the Top Gear guys against an Australian Team. England ended up losing quite badly, but it was good fun. The three wheeler football at the end was especially entertaining, as they kept flipping over.

Cr-ashes at the 'Top Gear' show

Cr-ashes at the ‘Top Gear’ show

UK again: The next weekend was the one my mum died, so I went back tot he UK unexpectedly to sort things out. It was a very sad and stressful time, but it was also nice to see family again. I went on a nice scoping trip with my brother to Glastonbury, somewhere my mum really liked and where we used to go quite a lot when I was little. It has a good hippy atmosphere and lots of nice shops and cafes. We walked up Glastonbury Tor which i’d not done before, and went back there to scatter mum’s ashes after the funeral. We took my niece Ella to meet my nan, her great-grandmother in Bath which was nice.

Owen, Martin and I at Glastonbury Tor

Owen, Martin and I at Glastonbury Tor

Once I got back at the end of August we went for a climbing trip in the mountains one day, and I even did a climb as well as reading two books! We also  went for pie at the famous Harrys Cafe de Wheels, before seeing the show Les Mis. We watched the move on DVD the week before as I’d not actually seen it. It was a good musical, although didn’t quite make it into my Top 4 (Wicked on Broadway, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and Avenue Q).

Next time i’ll do a shorter post on September.

Pie Palace

Pie Palace

 

Tristan

For our first wedding anniversary (yes that’s right, the first one, in September 2012), Matt bought me tickets to see the Lion King musical. We went in Jan 2014!

Let me explain. The Lion King was on in London at the time and I’d been keen to see it for a while. Matt decided we’d buy tickets together so we could agree the date. But because of our busy social life at the end of 2012, spending most of December in New Zealand and then an incredibly busy first 6 weeks of 2013 before emigrating to Australia we never found time to go.

But I’m not one to forget a present, and luckily the Lion King is now showing in Sydney so of course I was owed a trip! We went on Friday night so grabbed some food first after work and headed on in. The Show was at the Capitol Theatre in central Sydney, which is the main theatre and opened back in 1928 (see here for more history). I have to say the inside is not to my taste at all! Its very decorative, but to me looked like it was done by a dodgy builder with sub-standard plastering and painting skills (sorry!).

The show itself was excellent. At the beginning and at various points int he show the animals and cast sing and dance their way down the aisles. Noticing this the first time was cool, especially when I turned around some more to see a giant elephant coming down our asile! The show itself has a lot of great dancing and choreography as well as the well known songs. There was a drummer at each side of the stage lifted up so you could see them which was also good.

My favorite thing was the costumes for the animals. Lots of them were really good, and looked and moved just like the real animals. I particularly liked:

  • The giraffes – These were one person bent over with stilts on their arms and legs with their back angled like a giraffe and a big puppet head.It must have been pretty hard for them to walk around and I was impressed
  • The cheetah – This was one lady at the back of the puppet cheetah who controlled its movement with poles. It moved and slinked along just like a real one.
  • The gazelles – To do a herd of gazelles each person had a gazelle model on their heads and each of their arms. They bobbed up and down and moved their arms to make them run like a herd which looked really smooth
  • Pumba –  Pumba is a good comedy character and this really came through in his costume and acting
  • The hyenas – Although kind of scary looking the hyena costumes were cool. The actors had to do the two hyena arms with one of their arms and the head with their second arm, which must have been very awkward but again the movements were really animal like.

I think I was marginally more wowed by King Kong, becasue of the epic set, giant Kong and effects, but of course anything with lots of animals in always gets my vote! The Lion King also had a better feel good factor, given its Disney heritage.

Hakuna Matata! 

Exciting news – we have a new page on our website!

On our fridge, and in more detail in my head, we have a To Do List. It’s not one of those boring ones about hoovering and chores though, but about all the places to go and things to do while we’re over here in Australia. We’ve added the new page to share it with you and you’re more than welcome to give us ideas too! I’ve also summarised what we have done so far with handy links in case you want to know about something in particular.

You can get to it by clicking the button under the main picture called To Do List (to the right of Home) or by clicking HERE.

Not quite the king of the jungle

Not quite the king of the jungle

Whilst in Melbourne on holiday with Phil and Rhiannon from the UK, we took the opportunity to go and see King Kong the musical.

This is new and is only on in Melbourne. The organisers have guaranteed they won’t put it on anywhere else in Australia because it too big and complicated to move. And if they do we get a refund of the ticket price, the flights from Sydney and a nights accommodation!

The show was in the Regent Theatre, a 1920s style building which was super ornate, both in the theatre itself and the other rooms.

The plot follows the standard King Kong tale where aspiring Director Carl Denham and young actress Ann Darrow travel to the mysterious Skull Island to film the ‘beast’ for his new film.

The show was truly awesome – in the sense of actual awe, where you go ‘wow’! The show features a cast of over 50 and the most high tech effects I’ve ever seen in a show. Before you even get to the 30 foot King Kong there were all sorts of set changes, a lot of excellent projection including with infrared sensors to pick out people’s outlines and project directly onto them, and a floor that rocked about like the ship. The ship has a mad Scottish captain who was entertaining.

King Kong himself was amazing. The first scene he appears in when he picks Ann from the vines was done very well and actually pretty scary! He was 30 foot tall, weighs 1.1 tonnes and is mainly moved by a series of men moving and jumping to pull on wires or lifting his legs. He moved really like a real gorilla which was impressive. His head is robotic and the facial features were all very realistic and made you actually feel very sad for him. Zips or panel on his body opened up to show red lights underneath when he got hurt. His noises were really loud and he came nice and close out to the audience quite a few times. There was also a surprise other giant animal which was very cool.

The show itself was a good spectacle with lots of singing and dancing with big choreography, cool outfits (including ladies in furry grey kong leotards!) and good music. Some of the singing was a bit variable, but I often find that with musicals. There was some artistic licence going on, but it was within reason I thought. The ending was quite abrupt and sad, so if they do re-run it I think that could definitely be improved.

I managed to resist the $35 cuddly Kong at the end!

I would totally recommend the show to anyone who has the opportunity to go and see it. For me it definitely raised the bar in terms of projection and effects. I’d give it a 9.5/10 as it only lost points because of the sad ending and a bit of dodgy singing.

murderannounced

Being a detective and general murder mystery fan, I snapped up the opportunity recently to see A Murder is Announced, a Miss Marple Play, at the Sydney Theater.

The show started at 8pm, so first off we went to the Hyde park Night Noddle Market which is on as part of Good Food Month. There were about 40-50 stalls selling a whole wide range of different Asian foods, and lots of lanterns and cool lights. We started with duck pancakes which are my favourite. Unfortunately I was disappointed by $5 for one piece of duck in a pancake which was roasted breast and not even crispy – boo! Things improved with 8 Dim Sum to share and a selection of mains – crispy squid, salt and pepper prawns and BBQ pork. We went for pudding too – mini pancakes with strawberries and chocolate sauce – not terribly Asian by very tasty. On a weekday it was full with hardly any seats, so I imagine it would be hectic on a weekend.

Then it was off to the theatre. After a quick beverage in the theatre bar and some excitement over the combined Dyson tap and hand-drier in the ladies, it was time for the show. We had second row seats AND nobody say in front of us, so the view was excellent!

The story is about a murder being announced in the personal section of the local village newspaper, and the events that follow (including more than one murder). The set and the acting was soooo British, including the location in the small village of Chipping Cleghorn.

I loved it, although Matt found the play had a few too many elderly female characters for his liking. There was overly floral furniture, Royal Daulton, wing backed chairs, china tea sets, a tea trolley and cucumber sandwiches! 🙂 There were a lot of plot twists, especially at the end – certainly hard to guess whodunnit.

Who or what is your favourite detective or show? (I’m torn between Poirot and Midsomer Murder. Probably own we are here the total Britishness of Midsomer swings it!)

bluemangroup

We went recently to see the Blue Man Group at The Star in Sydney.

I wasn’t very familiar with them before Matt suggested it, but after a bit of You Tube learning and finding out it was only $50 a ticket we thought we’d give it a go.

The show is really hard to describe. Things it included were:

  • Three men all painted in blue who don’t speak
  • Drumming on lots of things including pipes and drums covered in paint
  • Hijinx with paints
  • Clever projection with animations
  • Scary audience participation (luckily we weren’t picked)
  • Comedy type sketches
  • Giant bouncing lit up balls and streamers in the audience whilst dancing

I think it was worth $50, but I’m glad we didn’t pay more than that. The drumming bit was really good, especially on the pipes and I liked the projection bits too, but I wasn’t convinced by the comedy. We were sat fairly far back so probably didn’t get the full experience.

Overall verdict: 6.5/10. Worth a trip if you get a cheap ticket