Saturday, 30 May 2009

Spending in style

Florida girl posted the other day that I should get my wallet out and pay for excess luggage. Well now I just might. Gus has just been out to collect my birthday present - a Louis Vuitton wallet. In their new black check too. It's very fancy, and the perfect place to put all the Aussie money. Thanks babe.

The Long Goodbye

It's been a funny few days. I took Abi and Fraser up to my mum's in Anglesey - it's about a 5 hour drive away, but as you cross the bridge to the island, you also slip back in time. There is no internet connection and my mum's house is in a Vodafone blackspot. So if I want to use my mobile, I walk down to the beach. where the reception and scenery is perfect. I have felt disconnected all week, especially with so much to organise. Gus has been filling in for me as my PA, as well as working his last shifts at Starbucks.

It was Abi's birthday on Tuesday so we had a birthday tea with delicious M&S chocolate cake. My sister Amanda and her two kids Ethan and Tara arrived on the Wednesday and we had more birthday celebrations - this time with homemade fairy cakes and millionaires shortbread. It was great to see my family again, but it was tinged with sadness. Partly because I am about to move a hell of a long way away, and partly because it is exactly one year since my dad died. We visited the churchyard yesterday and placed flowers on his grave. I said my goodbyes to him too, again, one year on.

And then today, more goodbye's. There are going to be quite a few farewell scenes played out over the next 2 weeks. Could be sad - but then I am British - so I guess it will be more like Brief Encounter. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Monday, 25 May 2009

What not to wear?

Flights are booked. We are leaving the UK on Tuesday 9th June at 22.30

and we land in Sydney on Thursday 11th June at 06.35am

We have decided to go out in style so we used our Virgin miles to upgrade ourselves to Upper Class. Gus is already planning what to do in the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow - spa, jacuzzi, massage, manicure, cocktails, dinner - who actually needs to travel - you could just stay there.

We are facing a packing crisis though. When you fly to the USA, the baggage allowance is 2 pieces (3 in Upper) each of which can weigh up to 25 kg. For flights to Australia and anywhere else East there is a different system. A total weight limit applies, which for us will be 30kg each. Now when we go on a cruise we normally take 2 cases each, so surviving for the 2 months before our shipped belongings turn up presents a real challenge. Gus' haircare regime alone demands its own suitcase.

And we are headed for a winter season........we need a capsule wardrobe - a fashion makeover. We need Gok.

The Naked Chef

I'm in trouble with Gus.

He read my last post all about my birthday and wanted to know why I hadn't told everyone about the birthday meal he cooked for me. It was a gourmet feast - 6 courses. Nachos, followed by scallops wrapped in bacon, then individual beef wellington, and for dessert - lemon tart with raspberries and creme fraiche. And Guylian praline chocs to round off the meal. All washed down with champagne and Marlborough sauvignon blanc. And as is customary with Gus - it was all beautifully and artfully presented.

Oh - that's right - there are only five courses listed. The sixth? That would be telling.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

To boldly go

Had a break from all things emigratory yesterday. It was my birthday. So I went to the cinema with Fraz to see Star Trek.
Gus was working and it is so not his thing. Fraz and I had a great time - treated ourselves to some Hagen Daz ice cream. The lady at the counter said we could taste any flavours we were unsure of before purchase. We toyed with the idea of tasting them all, but chickened out. So we went for a regular 2 scoop. £3.10! Fraz had cookie dough and caramel chew chew; I went for vanilla toffee crunch and cherry garcia. Extravagant but delicious.

The cinema was very quiet - when we sat down there was only one other person in there. A few others arrived - and took the rows in front of us and behind us. Why? When there is a whole cinema to pick from? And dear god - the couple in the row behind starting snacking on what sounded like a roll of loft insulation. It went on for ever. No wonder they needed the extra large premier seats.

The movie itself was brilliant - one of the best films I have seen in ages. Exciting, funny, sexy.

Just like me.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Kills 99% of known germs

I've been getting quotes from removal companies to ship all our stuff to Sydney. All a bit last minute, but that's what happens when your visas get approved in 24 hours. Anyway, the removal bit will be exciting as an actual shipping container will arrive outside our house. Sad that I find this fun I know.

Both of the companies who have quoted have confirmed all my research - that mud and dead natural products (wicker, cane, bamboo etc) are shipping no-no's. They have been impressed by my bike grooming - apparently bikes are always inspected thoroughly. The guy today advised that I wipe the bikes down with Jeyes fluid - as the strong smell of ammonia will linger and convince the customs guys that I have done a good enough job. This is clearly the shipping equivalent of Tesco pumping the smell of freshly baked bread around the store to make you feel hungry and buy more. So I might have to go out and buy some Jeyes fluid - there isn't any in the house. Not much bleach left either - Gus has discovered Vanish Oxi action - and has become a bleaching fanatic. If it's white (or used to be) it has been oxi-actioned.

I shouldn't really be surprised - he already bleaches his hair. And you thought he was a natural blond. Thinking about it - working for Aussie Quarantine would be his perfect job - telling people off for their lack of cleanliness. Does it come with a hot uniform?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

A roof over our heads

Got an email this morning from the relocation company - they have booked us a serviced apartment for the first 6 weeks of our new life down under. It is in Balmain - one of the areas we will look for a permanent place in. Balmain is a trendy, quite upmarket place with great cafes, bars and restaurants. Cool shops too. And there is a ferry service from Balmain to the city centre - takes about 10 minutes. Gus will love it there. Hopefully my commute won't be too bad.
Anyway here's some pics of the apartment

View of the city and the Harbour Bridge from the terrace - hopefully we'll get some winter sunshine so we can sit out and enjoy it.

Bike grooming

Well I have just sprayed WD40 onto all the bits of the bikes that need lubrication.

So in a way, they have been moisturised.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Mud, mud, glorious mud

A few years back we all got shiny new bikes for Christmas. We used to cycle on Greenham Common, where the Americans stored all their cruise missiles in the 80's. Now it belongs again to the people of Newbury, and the people of Newbury seem to use it mainly as a giant dog toilet. Then, when I bought the holiday home (aka static caravan) in the Cotswolds, the bikes lived there and we had several trips along bridle paths and around the lakes. All of this meant that the bikes were a bit muddy. Had I known we were moving to Australia I would have wrapped the bikes in cling film and left them pristine. Why? Because nothing puts the fear of God into Aussie Customs like mud. Yes mud. Common dirt. Apparently mud represents the greatest threat to the Australian way of life since the arrival of the £10 pom. You would think that a land founded by a bunch of unwashed convicts could cope with a bit of mud - but no.

So the bikes have been jet washed, scrubbed with bicarbonate of soda and then jet washed again. All that's left is for me to moisturise them and their pre-move grooming is complete. And the washing machine is going night and day as we work our way through Gus' trainer collection. Unlike many rap stars (and David Beckham) his trainers are not box fresh. OK - so he needs them for his personal training, but there are trainers drying everywhere. It's like Niketown in here.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Handy wartime advice

I know I should do this

but every now & then I want to do this

Oh what a beautiful morning......

What a great start to the day. Our visas have been approved. Hooray. They were only submitted on monday and the lawyer warned us it could take up to 6 weeks. Well it only took 24 hours. The combination of the backing of Woolworths and a shit hot immigration lawyer has worked wonders. And Gus' visa has been approved too - he is now officially regarded by the Australian government as my de facto spouse. It's a virtual marriage. Well that saves on the wedding costs.

And Westpac have accepted our application for a bank account.

All systems go.

Now we need to book the removals and flights outta here.

Moving as therapy

Anyone reading who has made the move to Australia already knows about the tough and eclectic quarantine regulations. I can understand the desire to protect what is a unique ecosystem - but I do fail to see how my wicker dining chairs from Next pose a threat to Australia's flora and fauna. We could take a risk and pack all this FMD (furniture of mass destruction) hoping that the customs staff are impressed by our sense of interior design. Trouble is - if they put flora and fauna before fixtures and fittings - then the wicker chairs are a no-no. Given that the decontamination costs are apparently enormous and I don't fancy sitting down to eat on something that has been irradiated and probably glows in the dark, we have decided to get rid. And you know us gays - once one element of the look has gone, well the whole thing is ruined. Just ruined.

So we are having a clearout. Gus is in his element. This combines two of his favourite activities - actually three. Cleaning, organising and telling me what to do. My duties seem mainly to involve taking stuff to the tip - or recycling centre as West Berks council now like to call it. The garage is now divided into clearly delineated areas - stuff we are selling, stuff we are giving away, stuff we can actually take with us (worryingly the smallest pile) and stuff for landfill - sorry recycling.

I do wonder how we managed to collect so much in the first place - we could open a hotel with all the bedlinen we have - but all this clearing out is remarkably liberating. And the more we do, the more I realise just how much of an adventure the next few years are going to be.

Monday, 18 May 2009

First post

Well this is quite exciting. My first blog post. A new experience. I guess there will be quite a few new experiences over the next few months as I relocate my life to Sydney.

I'm moving out there with my partner Gus as I have accepted a new job with one of Australia's biggest retailers - Woolworths. It's a great job and I am thrilled to be joining them, and quite flattered that a company on the other side of the world wants me to be part of their team.

There's only one downside to this move - and it's quite a biggy. I am a divorced dad, and moving so far away from my three kids is going to be tough. At the moment, they are all excited about my move, and busy planning their first trip out to see me. I know that when I have left the UK and we don't see each other every other weekend as usual, that they will start to miss me, as I will miss them. So this blog is a way of keeping in touch with them especially, as well as other family members, friends, and any other internet surfers who happen to stop by.

So the first blog hello goes out to Adam, Fraser and Abigail.

We had a busy day today - myself, Gus, Fraz and Abi - we were at our holiday home in the Cotswolds. Well I say holiday home - it really is a posh static caravan.

Anyway, we spent the day clearing it of all our stuff as I don't think we will be going there again. We have had a lot of fun there - and the coldest Easter ever when the power went out.

That's one more thing crossed off the very long pre-move to do list.