Sunday, 29 November 2009

Giving thanks

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday for the very first time. We've been very fortunate since our arrival down under in meeting some great new friends. One of the first new friends was Florida Girl. We met through her blog - which actually inspired me to set up and write this one. FG has introduced us to her delightful family and her own circle of down under friends - most of whom are ex pats too.

So at this Thanksgiving dinner were one Brit, one Kiwi, one Canadian, several Aussies, one South African, several Americans and some Texans - it was quite the British Empire reunion. The food was awesome. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potato and yam casserole, green bean casserole, two types of corn bread, two types of stuffing - it was quite the carb fest. Delicious.

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One Thanksgiving tradition is to go round the table and each state what you are thankful for. So here's my blog version of that tradition.

I am thankful for the new friends that we have made in Australia, and for the warm welcome that we continue to receive. Thank you Florida Girl for inviting us into your home, for your hospitality and for your continued friendship. I am thankful that Abi and Fraser were able to come over to Australia and that they had a great time here, and I am thankful that Adam is coming over at Xmas. Finally, I am thankful that I get to share this adventure with Gus, he is my rock and I love him more than I let him know.

Aye aye Cap'n

Last weekend was a hot one with temperatures forecast to go past 40 degrees centigrade. That's the kind of heat that would bring the whole of the UK to a halt - with schools closed, buses and trains cancelled, and the Sun would run pics of packed beaches in Bournemouth and Southend, with a topless young female and the headline "Phew, what a scorcher"

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Here in Sydney - it was business as usual. Aussies don't let heat, duststorms or other natural phenomena get in the way of having a good time. We'd been invited to spend Saturday afternoon on a boat in the harbour with some friends and a bunch of their friends. We rocked up at Rushcutters Bay at the allotted hour
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and were somewhat taken aback by the amount of alcohol being loaded onto the boat. Then we met the others - mainly Irish and in their twenties. OK - that explains that then.

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Once loaded with all the essentials - ice, beer, champagne, more ice, more beer, white wine, more ice, rose wine, more ice, more champagne - we headed off for a quick motor around the harbour - past the Opera House and under the bridge - before the captain floored the throttle and we zoom zoomed over to Middle Harbour.
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Here we partook of liquid refreshment.

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for several hours

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before heading back to land, where we continued the get together in Ru
shcutters Park.

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Gus and I then went home, ordered a takeaway pizza and fell asleep!

Next day, we both felt a bit jaded. I can assure you it was not the alcohol - the temps hit 43 degrees. I even have a photo as evidence!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

That was the week that was....

The kids had a great week here - sadly it was all over far too quickly. And it will be another five months before they are back over again. We did have fun and packed a lot of touristy stuff into our time together. We visited Bondi, Coogee and Manly beaches - went on various forms of public transport -ferries, trams, buses, monorail - climbed the lookout towers on the Harbour Bridge, and saw every variety of Australian wildlife at Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife World and Featherdale Wildlife Park. We loved the Oz Trek experience at the Sydney Tower, cycling on the swirly hill at the Olympic Park and the Undersea 3D film at the Imax cinema.

Interacting with the animals at Featherdale was a highlight, interacting with the school parties at Wildlife World was a defininte lowlight. And on that point - do Aussie kids ever actually take any lessons? Based on our experience, every school in the Sydney area was visiting a tourist destination during that week. You have not experienced hell until you have been trapped in the Wildlife World with all the glass cages amplifying the noise of several hundred screaming kids. The irony of where we were was not lost on me.

Having fun at Manly beach (despite the flies)

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The schoolkids weren't the only ones fighting at Wildlife World

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We proved that you don't need a car to get around Sydney

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How scary were those sharks?
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The giraffes have the best view

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Luk Chai the baby elephant

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Mother and baby

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Featherdale - a real treat

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Getting dizzy yet?

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So kids - did you have fun?

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Lego of me

One of Gus' personal training clients from London was recently over in Sydney. We met up on Sunday for the Glebe street fair. It was a bit bigger than we thought.

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It took us several hours to walk the full length of the fair and back again.

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It must have felt like old times again for Donna as Gus urged us to feel the burn

The only consolation was that I bought myself a great pair of cufflinks - the orange lego ones. So stylish.

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Rise and shine

Gus and I always enjoy inviting people over for dinner. It gives Gus the perfect chance to show off his culinary skills. And occasionally I get to cook too. This time, I decided to make chocolate souffles. This was a bit of a brave move - souffles are tricky at the best of times - but in an untried oven...well this was a culinary disaster waiting to happen.

I have cooked this recipe before - using the finest Green & Blacks chocolate. So I sort of knew what I was doing - until I mixed the cocoa powder. The recipe said to add water and then boil for a few minutes - well as soon as I added the powder, it turned into a paste. I suspect that the Aussie cocoa powder is slightly different to the UK stuff. I was a tad stressed, and only felt happy after I had added the beaten egg white & sugar mix to the melted chocolate and cocoa paste and it all looked as it should.

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And like a miracle, the damn things rose beautifully

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and were quite delicious with the caramel sauce I made as well

We went for a summery hot pink theme for this party.

Which perfectly complemented our harbour view

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I think our guests enjoyed themselves - they are still speaking to us and there are no reports of food poisoning.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sunny days are here again

Harbour Bridge & Luna Park
After a week on the Central Coast, the kids returned back to Sydney. I picked them up at the coach station at 1pm, and we headed back to Pyrmont. After a quick lunch, we took the ferry from Pyrmont Bay (about 5 minutes walk from the flat) to Circular Quay. This ferry route gives the best views of Sydney Harbour. Gus was on hand to capture it all.

Sightseeing with Gus is not for the fainthearted - he makes you work Abi and fraz were faced with a walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We stopped half way at the Pylon Lookout Tower for a rest...and for the great views.

If you look closely at the photo above you can see the groups climbing the bridge itself......I am amazed that I haven't been made to do that yet. I think Gus is torn between his desire to make me work hard, his fear of heights, and his reluctance to spend $150...

Anywho - after all that hard work, we deserved a treat, so we were allowed one ride each at Luna Park.

This funfair has been on the site since 1935 - now surrounded by high rise expensive apartments, whose residents constantly complain about the noise! Well hey - did you not notice it before you moved in?

It has a certain nostalgic charm

though the Wild Mouse ride that Fraz and I went on felt just a tad rickety....

Gus and Abi went on the Ferris Wheel........this surprised me, given Gus' reluctance with heights. Then again, I find Gus' fear of heights a bit odd, given that he towers over me....

Abi enjoyed herself

whilst Gus gritted his teeth....

Back on solid ground, Gus lined us up and marched us off to the ferry

we were allowed ice cream for good behaviour , before heading home.

Bondi Beach

As we'd been good the day before, we were treated to a day at the beach on Sunday...Bondi Beach. It's an Australian icon, and at weekends gets incredibly busy, so we were up early and arrived there at 9am! It was still quite busy - all the local kids were enjoying their regular Sunday morning beach & surf safety training.

We stayed for a few hours - even venturing into the sea for the first dip of the season. Jeez it was cold.....but we had fun swimming through the waves. Lunch was at Sydney's best pizzeria...and if my kids reaction is anything to go by, the reviews are true. Clean plates all round.