Sunday, 6 July 2008

Been here a year!

It's been a while since the last update. I kept waiting for Andy to do his bit but have concluded that the likelihood of that happening is pretty much zero, so I'm afraid it's me again!

So much has happened since the last post. Firstly, my Auntie Rosemary passed away in Brisbane and so my Mum flew over for the funeral. It was obviously a sad time, but it was really good to see my Mum.

It was a bit surreal though, because she was here while Andy was over there, and she flew back the day before Andy arrived so they crossed in the air.

We spent our 1st Australian Anniversary at The Farm with our Church. We went to The Farm back in September (check out the archive for pictures) and were really excited about going again. We had a great time but it was blooming cold! I know many of you think Australia is all BBQs and Sunshine, but believe me, it gets cold, especially in the country at night. We also had rain, which we really need, but we all rather hoped it would wait a day or two.

Still, we chased the odd kangaroo, rode motorbikes (I nearly came a cropper on the mud but managed to stay upright) and huddled round a roaring bonfire at night. It was a rather appropriate way to celebrate our first year here, especially as it was a long weekend - we all get a day off to celebrate the Queen's Birthday - gawd bless 'er!

As I write this, we're in the middle of the school holidays - yay! Trouble is, I've come to the end of my 2 term contract, so I'm on school holidays forever. I was sad to leave my class and I've enjoyed teaching at the school. I got thoroughly spoilt - gifts all round...

Getting a permanent teaching job here is almost impossible. I had an interview last week but didn't get it. Mind you, I wasn't too upset - the Principal came out to meet me and said, "Oh, hello, sorry I don't remember your name" and as I was leaving, the Vice-Principal shook my hand and said, "Thank you for coming in Amanda"! Not exactly the most professional interview I've ever had! Still, I'm sure something else will turn up and in the meantime I'll go back to supply teaching.

Even though it's winter here, we've tried to get out and about as much as possible. I did an Adobe Photoshop evening class and we both did an Archery course which was a lot of fun.

Now the question is, which one of us got the arrow right in the centre of the target...Go on, have a guess and leave us a comment.

We'd love to hear from you...

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Andy's nan - An Amazing Woman

Some sad news. Andy's nan died in hospital in the early hours of Tuesday 15th April after a fall. She was 96 and was one of the most incredible people I have ever known. She was one of those old people that you look at and say, 'When I'm old I want to be like that.' She was always upbeat and positive and everyone who knew her loved her.

There are so many memories I have of Nan, one of my favourites being when we left to go backpacking in 2002. As we went to say goodbye, she insisted on giving us some home-made jam to take with us for the journey - 6 jars of it! This photo was taken the last time we saw her and she had so much life and energy.

The funeral is on Friday 25th April. Andy has flown to the UK and will be there for 3 weeks. He was very close to his nan (his mum's mum) and I'm sure he will want to say a bit more when he is able. I'm still in Australia and have been really touched by the kindness of our friends. Being on different sides of the world (I like to say 'planet' as it sounds more melodramatic!) for 3 weeks at such a difficult time is horrible but I'm being well looked after.

Such sad news. Such an amazing woman.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

At last the school holidays are here and after 10 gruelling weeks I can collapse in a heap and sleep! Australian term dates are split into four lots 10 or 11 weeks with no half terms, so you can imagine how tired everyone gets.
Anyway, moving on. Easter came & went! We really missed being at Culford - a youth weekend that we've been involved with over the years. We didn't do much apart from hang out with friends and visit the beach. I got given the biggest Easter basket ever from my uncle - look at the size of MY Lindt buuny compared to Andy's...

And yes, I did share it with him.

Last weekend was a fantastic one - we went to watch the World Rugby Sevens tournament in Adelaide. South Australians are not into rugby as they prefer some inferior game called Aussie Rules (gonna get a ribbing for that comment) so Iwe've felt very deprived of the game. The 6 Nations came & went and because my mum is sending over the games on DVD I have no idea of how England went. If they were anything like our performance at the Rugby Sevens then maybe I won't want to watch.

England were awful! We lost all 5 games that we played. That's right, we didn't win a single game.

That's us playing (and losing) against Wales - and the group hug at the end.

Andy & I cheered our little hearts out, barraking for our team. But to all to no avail. We even gotinterviewed on the big screen about how we were feeling at England's performance. We suggested the boys grab a cold beer and watch to see if they can pick up any tips for next year.

Still on the plus side, I'm half Kenyan (well, my mum was born there and seeing as Kenya beat England - yes, that's right, the Kenyan rugby team beat England, I was happy to claim a dubious connection!) So we cheered for them too. they were outstanding and everyone was cheering them on. It was great.

Our friend Dan (he and is girlfriend Bec emigrated out here a couple of weeks before we did) was also at the tournament but cunningly disguised as Wally the Wallaby - the Australian Mascot. Even though Australia were heaps better than us, it made us smile every time Wally appeared on stage to know the an Englishman was inside and that in his heart, Wally was cheering for England!

A couple of last photos of the day, which have to be my favourites...

I may love living in Australia, but I'm still English

and a sucker for a well built Rugby player!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Andy @ The V8 Supercar Race

Hey look at me - this is the first blog entry that I have done. Not bad seeing as we have been here for 9 months. Anyway the reason is I have something to brag about. Well the guys will probably see it as bragging but the girls won't know what all the fuss is about. I managed to land myself a place in the corporate box as a guest of Bigpond at the V8 Supercars in Adelaide and all for free. Adelaide hosts the Clipsal 500 the first race of the V8 Supercar season. Anyway I turn up with my journalist friend (the guy who got me the ticket) and headed for the pit lane as he was going on a hot lap before the race. Next thing I know I am handed a clipboard to sign and asked if I want to go on the hot lap as well. Then we proceeded to fly round the track at 150 kmph in the 6 litre V8 safety car. All very exhilerating. I got the middle seat.

After a tour of the garages and seeing the cars up close we got to do the grid walk. In the 15 minutes before the main race the priviledged few get to walk around the grid and soak up the atmosphere. Apparently this car is the one sponsored by Bigpond and so the one I was supposed to cheer for.

In the spirit of Anglo-Australian relations I felt it was my duty to inform these 2 young ladies about the dangers of alcohol. They just smiled and posed for the camera which I guess is what they are paid for.

I then retired to the corporate box, situated by the pit exit to watch the race. The beer flowed and the seafood did abound. I felt like a complete fraud with most of the people there being employees of the sponsors. I soon got over it and had a great day.

News flash - we have just had a record breaking heat wave with 15 days straight with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees and 8 of those were over 38. Those stats are the highest ever recorded.
I've enjoyed blogging and who knows I might just do it again soon.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Life's a Beach!

I know it's a cliche but it's true! I finished work at 4.30pm and then Andy & I walked to the beach (takes all of 6 minutes). We had a swim for an hour in clear blue water and walked home after. We were dry by the time we got back. Hmmmm - this is the life. Mind you, we're in for a cold snap soon - the temperature is meant to drop on Thursday to a chilly 24 degrees - brrrrrr.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Bac 2 skool!

The new school year started this week - I can't tell you how many times I've thought we were in September 'cos that's when the kids go back in England. I'm more confused than ever (which is a worry!) I'm teaching Year 2 (seven year olds) which is even more of a worry! I've never taught that young before and was really apprehensive about it. But all went well and we had a good week. I was utterly exhausted by the end of the week as I worked every night 'til late in order to get my head around a new system, new curriculum and new year group. Still, all the planning is in place now so I should be getting some of my life back again.

We celebrated Australia Day on 26th January which meant a long weekend - don't you love public/bank holidays! We went away to the Barossa Valley with friends from SALT (our church - and had a whole heap of fun. We saw our first possum which was rather cute.

The Barossa Valley is one of the top wine growing regions in Australia and so we went to visit a few wineries. I drove while our friends Sally & Tim and Andy sampled the many wines up for tasting. One winery (Two Hands) had 12 different shirazs to try - I'm not driving next time! We bought a few bottles back and have cellared most of them. Our friend has a proper cellar and many of our bottles can be stored for 10 or so years. So if you come to visit in 2018, we'll crack open a vintage bottle to celebrate!

We've now been here for 8 months. It's feeling more like home although I still find some things rather strange. Would you ever get a road sign like this in the UK?

Thanks to those who email and let us know you read this. Take care, x

Friday, 11 January 2008

Happy New Year!

We decided when we emigrated to Australia that we would see in 2008 in Sydney, so after 2 great weeks in Perth, we flew to stay with our friends in Cronulla which is south of Sydney. We met Kylie & Josh when we were backpacking in Thailand and had stayed with them on our 'tour' of Australia in 2003. It was good to be with them again and, as usual, we ate too much and drank too much. Well, the diet always starts tomorrow doesn't it.

The fireworks at the Harbour Bridge were fantastic. Unfortunately the batteries in my camera died at about 11pm (how embarrassingly frustrating) so these are the best my phone can offer. Still, it shows how close we were to the action. We met a really lovely lady who, on hearing we had to travel for an hour or so to get back to Cronulla, invited us to stay at her place. That's typical Aussie behaviour.

We were right on the waterfront in a 'no alcohol' area. Well, they were quite happy to sell alcohol at outrageous prices but they were checking bags on the way in. We were aware of this and had poured our white wine into a pineapple drink carton and so, smiling sweetly at security as they checked our bags, had a lovely, merry time!
(This is the 4th attempt of trying to get rid of Andy's chins for the picture!)

A few days later we headed back into the city with Kylie & Josh and did a bit of the touristy thing. People kept asking us if we were in holiday and when we said 'yes', they replied, "Oh, it will be cold when you get back then". It was great being able to say, "Actually it's 40 degrees in Adelaide where we live". We live in Australia - yippee!

After our great time in Sydney and Cronulla, we travelled inland to Mittagong to stay with friends from Chelmsford. It was good to catch up with Janet & John (but are still looking for Peter & Jane - LOL. Those born after the 70's may not have a clue about this but tough - you missed out!). As we arrived, a wild peacock flew onto their property and proceeded to stroll around the roof. It was a bizarre sight.

So, we are now back in Adelaide. We've missed the 43 degree heat and today has been a beautiful 28 degrees. We've had a relaxing few weeks and I (Carla) have another 2 weeks before the new school year begins. Andy didn't get the job although it was very close and he only missed out to someone with more experience. He's feeling fine about it and now that I have a full time contract, the money pressure is off anyway. It's great that he can continue coaching as well as picking up the occasional handy man work.

We missed our family and friends during this special time and we hope you all had a good Christmas. May 2008 be all that you want it to be.