A long awaited visit.

I’d been counting down the weeks and days, and finally it was the morning: Mum and Dad had arrived from the UK! I set off early (so I thought) but got caught in craaaazy traffic on the way out of Manly … nothing I could do but sit in it and hit the wheel in frustration, I’d been waiting ages to see them but the last hour or so was definitely the longest. Dad texted me and called from the airport, “where are you? Hurry up, been waiting ages!” I know, I’m hurrying as much as I can … finally, finally I made it, and as predicted, both me and my Mum had rather leaky eyes (she was worse, honestly).

Coming in to land ... I was still stuck somewhere between Manly and Sydney!

Dad enjoying Manly Beach

Exploring around to Shelly Beach

The weather was beautiful – after a fairly wet summer, Manly turned on the charm to welcome my family. We found their apartment, and then it was time for me to head off to work, leaving them to explore the beach alone. If only I’d had a few more days holiday – I so wanted to turn around from the ferry terminal and spend the day with them instead.

After work, they met me at the ferry wharf – typically, with cameras. Nothing like getting off the ferry after a long day with somebody snapping away at you! They were doing pretty well considering they’d landed at stupid o’clock that morning, we made it out for dinner at Yok Thai, but by the time we’d finished they were both starting to droop a bit!

Manly Wharf!

Exploring around the Opera House (and Opera bar)

Walking across the harbour bridge

I had to work from Wednesday through to Friday, but Mum and Dad managed to get out and about and see far more than I have of Manly, at least judging by the (hundreds of) photos they did, anyway. They walked across the Harbour Bridge and around the Botanic Gardens – two things that are definitely on my list of things to do while I’m in Sydney. We spent the evenings together – wandering around Darling Harbour (and of course taking endless photos … there’s a theme here), and eating some good old home-cooked meals! Outside their apartment in Manly, a row of trees played home to a growing group of bright green parrots every evening, the noise was insane.

Me and my Mum!

At the weekend, we headed out to Brighton-Le-Sands near Botany Bay, where Mum and Dad used to live some 40 years ago. Armed with a handful of old photographs, we tried to find some of the places they’d been – starting out at the St George Tavern, which used to be known as the Hotel Rockdale. They tried to recreate the old photos, the outside looked so different now! Sadly, the weather wasn’t playing nice either, but they managed to get the photos done before the rain set in. We headed inside for a beer (for me) and coffee (for them), and they showed the bar tenders the old photos – probably taken nearly twenty years before they were even born.

Recreating the old photos

Next stop was to find Banks Street. TomTom got us pretty close, with Dad reminiscing about the roads he used to drive down to go to work, and the nearby beach, and after driving around a bit we found their old house. It was fairly rundown, which was sad, I wish it could have been looking beautiful and looked after, but what do you expect after 40 years? The fence that was there in the old photos was still there, the front porch that Mum was photographed sitting on was extended now, and even the old mailbox was still in place. Dad described the days of checking the mailbox every morning for news from home, making and sending cassette tapes to the family back in the UK. All these years later, when Skype, email and cheap phone calls make keeping in touch so much easier, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be so cut off.

The house where Mum and Dad lived, 40 years on

The same tree where Mum was photographed 40 years ago

The old Rockdale Hotel

We wandered along the beach – it was fairly windy, and Mum wanted me to write a message in the sand for Nan back at home, then take a dozen or so photographs of it. I obliged for a while but there is one shot with some rather rude hand gestures … sorry, Nan, that one was not for you! ;) The kite surfers were out in force, jumping over the waves despite the angry and leaky sky. I usually love the beach but I was kind of glad when we eventually made it back to the car that day!

I got a bit fed up of the photos by this point

Kite surfers leaping in the wind

Hugs with Mum

I’m glad I got to see where Mum and Dad lived all those years ago, it was kind of strange not having the memories that they had of how it was but trying to create a picture in my head from their reminiscing.

On Sunday, we planned to go out to see the Blue Mountains – I was up bright and early, but my lazy parents stayed in bed far too late and it was mid-morning by the time we got going. We started off heading to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters – funnily enough, the same place that I’d visited only a few weeks earlier with my friends. It was cooler but just as beautiful – we didn’t go down the staircase this time (thank god, as I didn’t like it much last time!)

Echo Point

We wandered a little way through the forest, then back to the car to head on to the next sightseeing spot. We stopped at Govett’s Leap, to see the water leaping off the rocks and shimmering in rainbows on its way down, and then at Wentworth falls, where we took a short hike down a lot of stony steps to get a better view of the waterfall. We watched the clouds closing in across the mountains and threatening to soak us before we finally headed back up to the car park.

Rainbow in the waterfall

Watching the rain come in

View from near to the Hydro Majestic

There was a bit of excitement going on with two police officers trying to get a closer look at an unidentified white object a couple of hundred metres down the side of the cliff. They thought it might be a car – I’ve no idea how it could have got there – and lots of tourists were trying to use their cameras and binoculars to get a closer look. We never did find out what it was though.

Police and nosy tourist

We stopped in at Solitude before heading back home, the restaurant with amazing views where Andrea and I enjoyed lunch on our last visit. We made it nearly all the way back home until the niggling set in (after this much time together, it was bound to happen eventually!) Dad took a wrong turn and blamed my TomTom, I took it personally and we argued our way through the busier streets of Sydney city centre until he pulled over and told me to bloody well drive then. I headed back towards the bridge and would have missed the turning myself if I hadn’t been that way a few times … OK, OK, TomTom can be a bit unclear sometimes I guess.

Accidental wrong turn took us over the bridge

Driving across the bridge

View from Andrea's apartment

After a day relaxing on the beach on Monday – them, unfortunately, not me – we headed over to Andrea’s for a barbie. Predictably, the cameras came out when they saw the view, and Dad quickly took over cooking the barbie – we had yummy kangaroo steaks, corn, salad – mmmmm!!

On Tuesday it was time to leave Manly and head out to Brisbane and Port Douglas for a bit of a holiday … I’ll save that for the next post :)

Photo credit: all the photos in this post are Mum’s – with two cameras and at least twice as many lenses, I didn’t bother taking my own out!

Life and stuff.

I haven’t had much to blog about in the last couple of weeks! No big trips or stand out events really … life is just going along nicely. So I thought I’d do a bit of a general update instead …

Last week was a bit crazy. The people who know me well will know that I like to have a plan, and I had my week neatly lined up: Tuesday I was starting my fit2date class, I had a haircut lined up for Thursday and heading to the Space bar afterwards with Andrea, then hoping to be diving over the weekend. At work, we were expecting to start on our next project.

Right from Monday morning everything went awry … the project was delayed, leaving us with barely anything to do but surf the interwebz, the fit2date class in Manly was cancelled and I had a choice of a refund or doing the Sydney CBD class on Thursday. My first reaction was to be cross and want a refund, but I was really looking forward to the class, so did decide to reschedule in the end.

Things at work didn’t really improve much, we switched to look at another project but that didn’t go anywhere either. I headed out to the Ruby on Rails user group on Tuesday, which can be an effort sometimes but is always worthwhile, especially now I know quite a few people there. I managed to avoid mid-week alcohol and made it to the ferry home before nine, but I got mistaken on the way out for the bar maid which didn’t help my ego …

Wednesday turned out better when I got an unexpected date :) so the week was looking up. Thursday, I arrived far too early for fit2date, and when I first joined the group there was a few minutes of wondering what on earth I was doing (kind of like that feeling you get when you turn up to a speed dating event). The night turned out pretty good though, I left after to get the ferry but realised pretty quickly I wasn’t going to make it, so went back to join the group in the pub. I was glad I did, they are all good fun and I ended up getting the ferry back with a girl called Amanda – we chatted all the way home, so I was hopeful that I’d found a new friend.

Friday night finally rolled around – I had intended to go out for a run, but it was cool and windy and I just couldn’t be a***d, in all honesty! So I poured a glass of wine instead :) I sat outside with my housemate Chelsea putting the world to rights for an hour or so, then slowly got ready to head out. I was dressed and doing my hair when Andrea rang, to say she’d locked herself out of her apartment having lost her key while she was out running. Her flatmate was away until the next day, so she needed a place to stay, something to wear, something to eat, well, everything basically. Nothing was too much of a problem, except that she couldn’t sleep on the sofa because it was full of dog hairs and she’s allergic … well, thank goodness I have a big bed, because I also have a tendency to fidget a lot in my sleep! Poor Andrea, when her phone alarm went off unexpectedly, I forgot she was there and as I leaned over she got an elbow in the mouth. Whoops!

Anyway, I was still determined to go out for drinks, and eventually … we made it! We met a guy called Ron in the Space, he seems to be a regular, and he invited us to go out on his boat! There are some interesting people in Manly (I’m not going though). Halfway through our second bottle of wine, we were tired and I’d had enough – for some reason we decided it’d be a good idea to try and leave with it. Turns out, that wasn’t so much of a good plan, at least that’s what the security guard and policeman outside told us! We were relieved they only took away the wine then sent us packing, they were probably laughing at us though as we scurried away. Bad girls.

Saturday, I headed out for a morning run just as it was warming up, I was pretty damn hot by the time I got back. I run 5k along the beach, not on the sand (that’s way too much like hard work) – it’s a really pretty run, just long enough to feel like I’ve done something but not so long I get fed up with it. In the afternoon, I was off to Andrea’s – she’d got back in to the flat by then – for a barbie and a bit of a party with some friends, while we watched the Australian Open of Surfing from her balcony. The view from there is incredible.

The party went on all day and into the evening, until eventually I’d had enough cider and headed home. I carefully gathered up my belongings, still managing to leave behind my camera and iPod … I’m so forgetful.

Sunday was surfing and gardening! I met Andrea and Lucy down on the beach, and later Jess and Phil joined us too. The waves weren’t too bad, we managed to paddle out quite a long way and rest on our surfboards. I tried to sit up on mine – which was pretty easy on the big foam boards we had for our lessons – but on my surfboard, it was like it was trying to buck me off! Andrea laughed at me, especially when I fell off it (three times). I’m useless at surfing!

Towards the end, I managed to get both of my feet on the board – I was still holding on with my hands, but still, this is a first! By then, the waves near the shore seemed to be a bit bigger, and Lucy and I were having trouble getting over them to get out. After being thrown back down on the shore four or five times, I gave up and crossly marched out with my board, promptly getting turned over again before I managed to get myself out.

There's a spider like this in my garden

In the afternoon, I headed up to my herb garden to pull out the weeds that just won’t stop growing. I found an enormous black and yellow spider – it’s just an orb spider, which isn’t dangerous, but it isn’t one that I particularly wanted crawling through my hair, so I tried to avoid his web as much as I could. With my plants fed and watered (the rocket is ready to eat now!) I moved to the lower part of the garden, and just managed to finish weeding the front and side path, before Matt and Chelsea got home. I planted out a few of my pepper and beetroot seedlings which are starting to look really good, but it was clearly getting ready to pelt down with rain, so I decided to stop and start on the wine instead …

I put the barbie on a bit later, Andrea was going to come over for dinner, and I was feeling nice and chilled after the weekend, just writing a facebook status to that extent, when I realised the barbie was smoking a bit. I opened it to discover that the charcoal beneath the gas burner was on fire … that’s not supposed to happen, dammit. It wasn’t too bad though, it went out pretty quickly once it was turned off, and when we did eventually cook our dinner it worked out fine.

Then it was Monday again … back to trying to figure out what we were doing at work. I managed to run again on Monday night, then it was Tuesday, now let’s see … oh yes, Valentine’s Day. I headed out to my boxing class at lunch, which was nearly empty! It was wet outside, and I slipped over in my flip-flops, think I tore something in my right quad as it was a bit painful walking to the class after that. It didn’t bother me too much though, except when I tried to run across the road coming back to work there was a sudden twinge.

Now Valentine’s Day is not my favourite day of the year as a long-term single girl! I had re-booked my haircut deliberately, so after a lunchtime boxing session that was nearly empty, and seeing piles of flowers at the mailroom at work, I headed to Ebony in Manly to get a trim. I don’t want layers, so really my hair looks much the same as it did, except to me!

New haircut, looks completely different, right?

Wednesday, and we moved up to the 22nd floor in our building. It’s a much better view and lots more natural light, which is nice! In the evening I went to SydJS – the JavaScript user group, where I ran in to quite a few people I’d met there before, so it was nice to catch up on what they’d been doing in the month in between. I was tempted to stand up for the Open Mic segment – I’d been preparing and practicing a lightning talk for Web Directions next week, but I decided I wasn’t quite ready, and wanted to save it for next week.

View from the 22nd floor

Thursday night was my second fit2date event. I was a bit worried that my leg would hurt when I was running, it was fine for the warm up jog but when we played a bit of a team soccer game I went to kick the ball and it hurt! I had to run a bit slower during the games, but luckily it didn’t interfere too much with the post-class beer drinking.

So now it’s finally Friday! The milk was off this morning, which was a great excuse to have a naughty ham-and-cheese croissant at the cafe downstairs instead, I thought I’d try and be healthy with a mango smoothie but that tasted way to good to not have naughty stuff in it too.

Tonight I have another date – getting dinner cooked for me too :) Maybe I’ll write more about that sometime.

So … that’s it for now. Life’s good, not very exciting maybe, but pretty good …

Australia Day

I’m always glad of a free day off work, but I have to say it was very strange having a Thursday off for Australia Day. Wednedsay night felt like a Friday, except not really, because there was another work day before the real weekend …

After heading out on the town on Wednesday night with Andrea, Viv and Rachel for a few drinks, it was over to Fabio’s for celebratory lunch and wine. In our group, we had: four Brazilians, an American, two English and one Welsh – not an Aussie among us, didn’t stop us celebrating on their behalf though :)

We had a delicious chilli cooked by Enif, with tortillas and tacos – we all ate far too much, it was sooooo good, and coupled with a glass or two of wine, I was fairly sleepy by around five pm!

Andrea and I went to the beach a bit later but I couldn’t be bothered to surf, I can’t stay on my board at the best of times, let alone when I’m tired and tipsy. She’s getting really good though, standing up and everything, leaving me way behind at the bottom of the class …

I finished the day with a very light dinner and an early(ish) night … only one more day to the real weekend!

Happy Australia Day :)

A birthday with a difference.

As an English girl born in December, one thing I never expected to experience was walking home along a damp, deserted beach on my birthday, with a warm, gentle ocean lapping at my knees.

It’s funny how I never really paid much thought, when I was moving to Australia, to the fact that I would no longer have a winter birthday. It wasn’t until a week or two before that one of my friends remarked that I was now a summer birthday, that I suddenly realised it.

My date of birth is one thing I could never change, and many years ago I stopped bothering to envy my August-born brother for having a birthday in the middle of the summer holidays, guaranteed never to be at school and to be warmer than mine. Thank God school finished a long time ago.

Apparently, though: I can change the seasons in which I live – and in Australia, December 19th falls in the summer.

My birthday was wet and rainy, but not cold. After a night out near the wharf, I walked home, crossing the road at South Steyne, and descended the stone steps. With the storms and heavy rain, the sand was damp and cool, and the tide was low across the shore.

I walked diagonally to the water until I met it, foaming over my feet and ankles, deepening quickly until the back of my silk skirt was salty and wet. Viv gave me a crystal for my birthday with instructions to wash it in salt water, so I leaned forward to dunk it (carefully holding my handbag back).

The waves were crossing each other: towards and from behind me as I walked along the shore through the breaking white water.

I love the ocean. It never stops: it doesn’t matter what’s going on in my life or anybody else’s; the waves just keep on coming. Small and foamy, big enough to knock me off my feet, sucking me back into the ocean or gently lapping over my toes, always changing, but never ever stopping. I looked out across the dark sky as it meets the sea, all I can see is the white foam forming regularly to separate them.

Late at night the beach is usually deserted. It’s the most restful place I know, and the most complete I think I feel. Several times, I’ve walked home this way or stopped and locked my bike up just to wander along the beach. If it’s clear, I can watch the stars, while the sound of the ocean drowns out any other noise. I stare at the stars, or out over the water, and let my worries drift away with the wind. Occasionally if I’m feeling sad, I’ve cried on the beach until the ocean calms the tears.

Sometimes I think: this is how I will know my soulmate … he’ll love the beach and the ocean as well. Not just on sunny days, but at night and when it’s stormy and empty too.

The surf club isn’t far along the beach, so when I reached it, I made my way back across the beach and back home in sandy thongs (sorry, flip flops!). It’s not a major birthday (thank god) – but it was a pleasant, quiet one; a nice celebration with my closest friends in Manly, and a very different experience from the last thirty two cold ones :)

Hello… hello? Anybody there?

View from the train station on the way to work

Yes, I’ve been a bit quiet over the last couple of weeks. Sorry about that … since starting a real project, work’s been taking up a lot of my time and energy. It’s going great so far and I’m really enjoying the project, but as usual when that happens, I’ve been working slightly longer and by the time I get home at night I don’t have much inclination to get the laptop out, or much to write about!

On top of that I’ve been shattered all week last week – finally realised why this weekend, when I’ve come down with a sniffly cold :(

With Viv and Rachel at the opera bar, with the Harbour Bridge in the background

In case I’ve not lost you already with that fascinating start … over the last couple of weeks, I’ve also had a couple of Christmas parties – starting with a pre-party Party last Friday night, at the Opera bar with Viv, the night before our ThoughtWorks party on Saturday. Friday evening was beautiful, with great weather and amazing views across the harbour but also incredibly busy – so we headed off after a drink, to get some food and meet the boys (Fabio and Jules) at another bar.

On Saturday I was out diving in the afternoon (more about that later) so I was very fashionably late to the ThoughtWorks party, most people were already having a good time when I got there. Our MD was even wearing a white halo.

I missed most of the food but managed to salvage a bit before they took the plates away, and we even got brownies to take home! Rachel and I had a couple each, and I think we gave away one bag to the man at the ferry gate on the way home … Definitely a fun night, and nice to meet some of my colleagues’ wives, it’s a great way to get to know people better :)

On Thursday this week, I was thinking all the way home about going for a run. So much so, that by the time I got there I was really not feeling up for it – I was so tired and already a bit sniffy. I walked in the door to find Chelsea putting together some delish looking salads, the back doors thrown open to a fairly warm evening, and the table outside decorated for Christmas. A couple of her friends had already arrived for dinner, and she immediately told me not to even think about cooking, there was far too much food … have a glass of wine and pretend to be a guest! Well, I don’t need telling twice :) That was the end of all thoughts about a run. When the last guests left at midnight, I crashed in to bed tired, tipsy and happy.

By mid afternoon Friday I realised that the reason I still felt headachy and fuzzy wasn’t just Thursday’s over-indulgence, I was actually ill. Dammit – I was supposed to be out diving on the boat over the weekend, and I’d been looking forward to it all week! I spent Friday night curled up on the sofa with comfort food (fish and chips, yum!) but it wasn’t enough and on Saturday morning I had to admit I just couldn’t dive.

It’s been a weekend of mostly rest, crappy tv, and also a little gardening … more about that later too! I’m still pretty stuffed up but hoping to feel better for my birthday tomorrow. After that I’m off to see my lovely cousins Yolly and Clauds in Brisbane – and so excited about meeting the rest of their family, including Yolly’s little children. I better get well by then!

Working for a living … and spending my earnings.

After three and a half weeks “on the beach” (as we call it at ThoughtWorks, when we’re not working on a client project) it was time to start earning a proper living. I started work at my new client on Wednesday this week. No more rolling out of bed at nearly 8am and getting on the 9:20 ferry – now I have to be at my desk and working by 9am! That means getting up at six thirty-ish and leaving home in time to catch the 8am ferry. Lucky it’s only a five minute bike ride!

The last three days of the week flew past faster than any others since I arrived, with so much to do setting up a new project. The beginning is always the most exciting. There are just two of us (myself and another consultant called Hari), trying to build a working website within six weeks – it’s going to be challenging, but that’s what I like!

The building where I’m working is above a mall – it has about thirty floors, and the higher ones have gorgeous views across the water. Sadly, Hari and I are working on the second floor, but we have nice, big desks and plenty of wall space. We only have to go down a floor to find coffee or lunch, and we get to see the view when we have meetings on the upper floors.

Enough about work though.

This week I also decided it was time to get a bit more serious about exercise, and so I’ve joined Fight Gym. I used to really enjoy doing boxing exercises at the gym in Edinburgh – with pads, rather than hitting a real person – and I wanted to find a kick-boxing class. Fight Gym hold different kinds of boxing classes every night of the week as well as lunchtimes, and have two locations: one near work and one near home. I was a bit nervous going for my first couple of classes as the website emphasises how much hard work it is, but it’s SO much more fun than boring treadmills and cross trainers. It doesn’t hurt to let off a bit of steam after a tough day either! Not that I’ve had any of those out here … yet.

My run from home to Shelly Beach, along the Steyne

Other than boxercise, I’m also trying to run occasionally. I haven’t tried running on the sand yet, but I did make it about 5k on Friday night – from home to Shelly Beach, all the way along the Steyne, looking out across the beach. It’s a lovely route and nice and flat, but I do feel quite unfit sometimes!

Other than the gym, I went out for a couple of drinks near Darling Harbour after work one night, but the 6:30 start got the better of me and I had to leave early! (Not like you Jo, I can hear you say!)

Saturday was the Global Day of Code Retreat – developers all over the world were meeting up to practice writing code. It probably is as geeky as it sounds, but I had a fantastic day writing Ruby and Coffeescript … OK, OK, megabytes, blah, blah, I’ll leave it there, save it for my technical blog. Rachel and I had gone together, and by the end of the day we were both shattered.

I didn’t feel like going home though, so after dropping off the laptop and a quick change I headed over to meet Marie-Claire – another fellow Manly-dweller who has just moved into a new flat. I love that going to see my friends here is so easy and chilled, unlike London where it’d take up to an hour to get anywhere. That’s what I thought, anyway, until I tried to cycle up the STEEP hill where Marie-Claire lives – ooowwwww, my legs! (I didn’t even make it very far).

We ended up going out for dinner at Yok Thai – she skateboarded there, behind the bike! – and I had an amazing Thai green curry. Finally, home to collapse.

Sunday was shopping day! Rachel and I had planned to hit Warringah Mall and her housemate Viv joined us. Some days I can go shopping and not find anything much to buy (OK, not often) and others I want to buy everything, well, today was definitely one of those days where I wanted to buy everything.

I found some nice new clothes for work – some great trousers and a wrap around skirt, and accidentally ran into a little silk dress in Kookai that I fell in love with … Oh, I do love to shop.

A proper day out shopping!

Rachel was spending more of her “furniture budget” (the money we have from ThoughtWorks to furnish our new homes in Sydney when we arrive on a temporary contract) – mine is almost gone now! As well as clothes though I did find some gorgeous aromatherapy “melts” and an oil burner in a lovely little shop called Dusk. I also bought my first (and probably only!) Christmas decoration – a little SnowShopper called Pippa (I think). It’s a snowman (snowwoman?) with a candle inside and a little handbag, and she looks very cute lit up on my dressing table.

Viv was disappointed not to find anything to buy, at the last minute she rushed back but the shops were closing :( Rachel and I definitely had more than our fair share of purchases though! What a great way to spend a rainy Sunday … oh yes, people, Sydney is rainy and COLD! I went to bed last night wearing a fleecy top, this is not how early summer is supposed to be here. It looks like next weekend might be warmer, so fingers crossed, I want to get out on my surfboard.

That’s it for now, a bit of a long rambly one, sorry about that! I have been hearing from people that they are actually reading my waffle though, so wanted to keep writing, I like to feel we’re keeping in touch :)

Rachel bought a cute mirror

My "SnowShopper" candle, Pippa

Quackers got a friend!

A beautiful day.

Last week it rained, not just cats and dogs but “elephants and giraffes”, as Inês put it.

On Saturday the sun finally ventured back out, and this morning was absolutely beautiful so I snapped a few pictures on my way to work – the road where I’m living, and some of the views from the ferry. Click to see bigger versions.

This is the street where I live. It's very quiet and five minutes' from the beach.

The city skyline - view from the Manly ferry as it gets close to Circular Quay.

Famous Sydney Opera House, view from the front as the ferry gets closer.

Sydney Harbour Bridge (unfortunately we don't get to go under it!)

Goals and Ambitions.

A long time ago, one of my close friends was telling me about a book he was reading, which said something like: “If you write down ten goals for the next year, at the end of it you’ll have done eight and two won’t matter any more.”

I like this idea, I’ve used it a few times and often just writing things down helps me realise what’s important to me. I don’t always get everything done in a year, but if I look back on the things I’ve written down in the past, they are mostly either done or not important. The one exception to this is losing weight – having a good time, which usually involves chocolate or alcohol or both, always seems to take precedence! Oh well.

Anyway, when I was planning my trip to Australia, I spent a month or so thinking about what I’d like to do over the year I’m here. Some things are work-related, since that’s an important part of my life, and a lot are about making the most of the environment and the new people I’m meeting here.

I’ve created a page listing my goals here, and am trying to keep my progress updated!

It’s been a busy few days since I last blogged.


Marie-Claire getting married to Richard on the beach

I moved into my new home in Manly … then went to a wedding party for the afternoon! The move was the quickest I’ve ever done – then again I only had a couple of suitcases to take.

Marie-Claire was-Jenkins-now-Dean got married in the morning on the beach, after skateboarding to the wedding. She had been the most chilled out bride-to-be I’ve ever seen all week at work, the biggest stress had been figuring out how to transport home the mountains of flowers that arrived at the office on Friday afternoon.

Mmmm, cake ... with coconut icing

The wedding party took place at their apartment complex, outside on the roof terrace with a pool. The weather was perfect, really hot and sunny (many people misjudged the sun and got sunburnt, I ended up with a small patch on one arm).

In the evening I hung out with Rachel at Manly Wine for a couple of glasses of bubbly, in a dress borrowed from my new housemate Chelsea while I waited for my luggage to arrive on Monday. It was amazing to just be able to walk from home to the bar, no need for a coat, no messing about tube trains, and on top of that a lovely walk by the sea to get there.


Furniture shopping day! I had planned to go to Ikea to hunt for a wardrobe, but after measuring up, Chelsea took me to Furniture Land and Harvey Norman. I found a huge wardrobe and she negotiated a discount and fast delivery!

No Ikea trip needed, it must be time to head to the beach – I met up with Rachel and a couple of her friends to go to Shelly beach, a sheltered bay just a ten minute walk around from South Steyne. It’s got more sand but less ocean, although I managed to take my first dip! The water is still pretty cold and it took me a good ten minutes to immerse myself in it. There were a group of divers floating around as well – I guessed they were doing an open water course, I’ve heard they use Shelly Beach a lot for the confined water skills, as it’s so calm. It made me impatient to get back into my scuba kit!

In the evening, on the way home from the offy with a couple of bottles of wine, I discovered Pro Divers on Pitt Street and decided to drop in and say hi. Turns out they might be grateful of an extra pair of hands sometimes, so I might even be able to get some free diving – yay!

On the way home, I bumped into Andrea, a friend from work who lives just around the corner, and she came back to see my new place and share a glass of wine.


My cases have arrived, all wrapped up!

My luggage arrived on Saturday, but I had to wait until Monday morning for customs to open and clear it. I headed out to the airport, easy enough to get there on the train but then I had to walk back and forth in the scorching sun, from Qantas Freight to customs, quarantine and back.

I tried to smile and be as polite as possible to customs, and luckily all my bags were cleared! They arrived on a forklift truck in the unloading bay, wrapped in layers upon layers of packing film – Dad had certainly made sure they were well protected!

After unpacking as much as I could, I had to work for the afternoon, then it was time for the beach! It was still steaming hot and such a relief to get into the cold water … still took me a while to get all the way in though. The waves are much bigger on North Steyne beach (the closest one to my pad), it was great fun playing around in them although a bit worrying as they have been known to tear away bikini parts … luckily I kept hold of mine :)


Andrea and I met for a morning run, I made it from Manly Surf club on North Steyne beach to Shelly beach and part of the way back (~2.5k) before getting too hot and puffed! I haven’t done much exercise in the last few weeks and it shows :( The best bit was jumping in the waves again once we finished!

I caught the ferry to work for the first time – it’s a lovely way to travel, especially compared to the tube – fresh air and lots of space, for a start.

During another quiet day on “the beach” at work (in other words, I’m not yet working on a client project) I searched ebay for a good deal on a bike. The walk from home to the ferry is just over 15 minutes, but so much quicker on a bike, and loads of people here have bikes with baskets to use for shopping as well. I found one for a really good price, located around the corner, and stopped by on the way home to collect it.

I cycled home in my flip flops, trying unsuccessfully to keep my dress from blowing up. I even got asked by a surfer dude, “Can I have a go?” – I’m not sure if he was referring to the bike or my dress!


Sunset from my back yard by iPhone ... better pics coming soon hopefully!

The highlight so far today is finding a new (and cheap!) battery for my DSLR camera – I seem to have lost the last one somewhere in my packing :( I miss Amazon here, but ebay is so far proving a good source for pretty much everything.

I’m hoping that I can now start taking some decent photos to include on the blog to make it a bit more interesting!

Note: Thanks to Marie Claire and Lizi Hamer for posting the photos on Facebook and letting me use them!

Attack of the Thong.

My flipflops are evil.

Flip flops, thongs, whatever you want to call them, are EVIL. They masquerade as a lovely comfortable shoe then they bite!

My left foot is in bits after walking all over town this weekend wearing flip flops. They rubbed a lovely big blister underneath my toe, so now even walking in my Converse hurt. How can so many people wear them all the time? I can only hope my feet toughen up soon :(

On the bright side though, it’s a great excuse to avoid the gym.