Fernvale and Brisvegas.

At the last minute before I was due to fly to Brisbane, I had the crazy but awesome idea of spending the last week of my garden leave in India. However, in order to do that I would need a visa … which meant a rush to the visa office in Sydney city before my flight at noon. For some reason, I don’t seem to like my life to be simple. However, my plans were quickly thwarted when I was told it would take up to two weeks to arrive because of my Australian working visa, so that was the end of that – time to find an alternative.

As a consequence, I was left with plenty of time on my hands at the airport – the domestic terminal doesn’t offer an amazing array of shops, the wireless is pretty rubbish, and it was far too early to even think about visiting the bar that Andrea and I usually end up in before flying … wasn’t it? I behaved myself for once and went for the Boost juice instead.

Finally, I was en route and in no time, touching down in Brisbane. Yolly met me at the gate – I love being met at airports! Far too many times when travelling for work, it’s a lonely, tired arrival, and it’s so good to see a friendly face at the end of a journey.

The girls were at Bush Kids – Yolly said that Mya had told everybody that morning that “Auntie Jo” would be there to pick her up with her mum! Despite the fact that I’m not really her auntie … I like it though :)

We picked the girls up, packed them in the car, and headed home. As we got out of the car, Mya volunteered to take my case in for me – even though it’s almost as big as she is. She wants so much to do everything that big girls can.

"I tan take this for you"

We headed out for a long walk, stopping by the supermarket on the way home. It was fairly warm when we left but as the sun started to go down the temperature dropped really quickly, we were all pretty cold when we got home. The roads are hilly and I was having trouble keeping up with Yolly, even though she was pushing the huge double buggy with the girls in it.

Back home I got to help bath the girls and put them to bed, they look gorgeous all clean and in pyjamas! It doesn’t last very long though :)

With them in bed I had a bit of time to adjust and figure out my holiday plans, India was out, but I could have a few days in Malaysia … no advance visa needed!

Tuesday morning was a bit of a shock to the system: up before 8am and not even a job to go to – what’s that about? Yolly and Casey are incredibly early risers, he leaves for work by 5am. I heard them get up, but just found my ear plugs and went back to sleep :) 7:30 is more than early enough for me!

It was Yolly’s birthday that day, so the phone was going non stop, and she had cards and gifts to open as well. We sat down with the girls, who were more than happy to help with ripping open the parcels.

Opening birthday presents with mum

When the girls went for a sleep at lunchtime, Yolly and I took advantage of the time and made up a little exercise session with circuits. We decided to spend five minutes running up and down her driveway and five minutes on the trampoline – I underestimated how hard it would be trying to run up that hill, it is STEEEEEEEP! Trampolining is pretty hard work as well, although I’m sure I used to do it for an hour at a time when I was a kid …

Ivy on the trampoline

We were almost finished when Ivy decided she’d had enough sleep, but she seemed happy, if slightly bemused, to watch us finish off the last few rounds. Mya was up pretty soon after that, they had a bit of a play on the trampoline, then Yolly showed me the runner beans they were growing. There were a few that were ready, but Mya hasn’t quite got the hang of when to pick them yet, so some of the smaller ones came off the plant too!

Picking runner beans

In the afternoon, the girls made jelly dinosaurs with special moulds – we tried to make two layers with strawberry and lemon jelly, but it took forever to set. Later on, Mya asked for her hair to be put into two plaits – she almost never wants it like this, but it looks so cute! I had to have mine done the same way as well, luckily it’s just long enough now.

Photographer Braban

Just checking how my picture came out


She wanted to try out my digital camera – she got the hang of how to turn it off and on, take photos and look at what she had taken almost immediately, it was amazing. The photos weren’t all that bad either :)

Yolly feeding Ivy (by Mya)

Braids by me, photo by Mya

Hi Mummy! by Mya

Kitchen, by Mya

Me, taken by Mya

Me again, taken by Mya


On Wednesday, we had hoped to do a similar exercise session, but this time we hardly had any time at all before both Mya and Ivy were restless and out of bed. Once again Ivy was pretty easy to amuse – this time with the jelly dinosaurs! They didn’t come out of the moulds very well, sadly, but she didn’t seem to mind – they obviously tasted just as good.

MMMMM JELLY DINOSAURS

Mya desperately wanted to join in with me and her mum, so first of all she followed us as we ran around the house. The boxing circuits we’d hoped to do were harder … she found the spare pair of gloves and put them on her tiny hands the wrong way around, it was very cute though. I think she’s nailed the kicking technique better than me already …

Boxing

Thursday, we headed over to visit Steph, baby Xavier, and her older children Phoebe and Zeb. After spending a week or so together at Christmas on Fraser Island, I last saw them in February and it’s amazing how fast they all grow up. Steph and I had a good catch up (aka gossip!) – she was discovering the delights of online shopping, it must be a godsend if you have three kids. Meanwhile, said children were all looking very civilised as they sat at a child-sized table outside, complete with umbrella, eating chocolate cake.

Playing with Phoebe and Zeb

In the evening, Cory, Claire and Casey’s dad Cran came over for dinner. I heard many stories of Cory and Casey growing up together, and they demonstrated that they still do crazy things sometimes by munching on lemons …

Cory wrapped Yolly’s head in kitchen paper as a joke, and she made a mask of it with eye holes. She looked so funny, I wish I’d taken a photo. Poor Mya was very distressed though, especially when she thought her mummy might never take it off … Yolly finally did remove it, and Mya couldn’t stop touching her ears and nose to make sure they weren’t going anywhere.

It was so amazing to spend the few days with Mya and Ivy, whether they were making a mess with their dinner (Ivy is insistent on feeding herself, but often prefers to spill the food when she’s done), zooming around the house in tiny shoes or ramming the walls with little plastic cars. Ivy is so little that every time I see her there are big changes. This time, she was starting to look like a little girl instead of a baby, walking all over the house and she even says a few words – like “Bai” (that’s how she says it, not “bye”) and something that’s starting to sound like please and thank you. I think it’ll be September at least before I see them again (I’ve got a busy summer with a VERY special event coming up in August!) and no doubt she’ll be chattering away and running about by then.

By Friday though, I was exhausted! I have no idea how Yolly does it, but she seems to have a never ending supply of patience to deal with the girls.

We headed into Brisbane around lunch time and met up with Claudia in the mall for a bite to eat before she went back to work for the afternoon. We wandered over to the Botanic Gardens after that, where the girls could play in the park – Mya got a fright from the huge ugly ibis birds wandering fearlessly around on the grass, they get so close they have to be shooed away.

Finally it was time for Yolly to go, I was going to spend the night with Claudia before heading back to Sydney. I had to make a quick stop to get jabs for my trip to Malaysia, then Clauds and I met outside of her work and walked back to hers – up some bloody steep hills, with my stupidly-heavy-for-five-days suitcase!

Out for the night with Clauds

We headed out for the evening for dinner with her friends. It was my first ever night out in Brisbane! The restaurant was really good, the chef was the boyfriend of one of the girls we were out with. We had more wine than we meant to but it was a really lovely night out with a great group of girls. They had an empty picture frame on the wall for some reason, we decided to take some daft photos with it, until we got told to please put it back … whoops!

We've been framed!

Saturday morning, we actually managed to make it out to Boot Camp for 7am with another friend called Angie. I was so pleased with myself! I’m not sure if I’d have made it if it wasn’t for Clauds though, I was snoozing in bed at ten to six thinking, please oh please say you don’t want to go after all. We all felt so good afterwards! Clauds took us around the corner to a fantastic place for brekkie – it was practically hidden, luckily for us she had found it a few weeks earlier. I can’t remember the name of what I had to eat, but it had sourdough, avocado, poached eggs, lemon and fetta cheese and I hoovered it up in a couple of mouthfuls.

The food was amazing, but it wasn’t very warm and we were all cold in our still sweaty exercise clothes. We headed home, where I managed to use all the hot water in a totally amazing shower (sorry Clauds!).

Afterwards, Clauds did my make up for me in preparation for my night out. I asked for dramatic eyes with green eye make up to match the top I was planning to wear, the only problem was, I had to go all the way home with it on – wearing my jeans and trainers! It looked good though :)

Getting my makeup done by Clauds

The best part of the day was still to come though! Claudia’s flatmate Susie and her friend Monica were heading out to the races for the day, and we were all going for a champagne brunch beforehand! I felt very spoilt having two breakfasts in one day, but why not, I’d earned it … so I decided to have the sweet option this time around, and ordered a mountain of pancakes with berries, maple syrup and ice cream. And champagne and orange juice. It was so naughty, but oh so bloody good … Clauds finished the last few bites that I couldn’t quite manage.

Yummy second breakfast

Susie and Monica were dressed up to the nines and looked amazing, with fascinators and high heels – I did feel a bit of a slob in my jeans and converse drinking champagne before noon but it was amazing fun.

Finally, it was back to the airport, plane-train-ferry-bus home and a quick change before heading out to the next party in Manly … :)

Byron Bay Bluesfest!

A few days before we were due to jet off to Byron Bay for the Bluesfest, Andrea looked mournfully at me across the desk at work.

“I forgot to cancel the camper van I booked for Byron Bay,” she said. ” I think it might be too late now to get my money back.” She tried calling and sweet talking the rental company, but to no avail: there was a camper van out there somewhere that was determined to spend this weekend with us. Andrea wanted to try and rent it out to anybody who was looking for accommodation, I wasn’t so sure that was a great plan, but we decided we’d figure it out later and just make the most of it. We wouldn’t be able to collect it until Thursday, so we still had to take the tent for the first night anyway.

The next problem was mud. As in, there’s usually lots of it at BluesFest. Oh dear, does that mean we have to go shopping for new footwear? One advantage of being “on the beach” at work … time for online shopping … we found some wellies online and pretty soon they were on their way via express delivery. Woohoo! We’re all set!

Happy campers

Wednesday arrived and we had a pile of cases by our desks in the ThoughtWorks office. Everybody stopped by to ask where we were going (and why the hell do we always take so much STUFF?) The reaction was always the same when they found out we were headed to Byron Bay: “You’re going to have an awesome time!” It’s a pretty good way to start a trip – by the time we left, we were pretty excited! We took a taxi to the airport that afternoon – wearing the new wellies, very sexy we looked in those :) – and settled down in our usual spot in the bar for a pre-flight drink and a gossip. Except that somebody seemed to be finding her email more fun than wine and gossip … I was a little disappointed, but luckily she found her way out of that laptop pretty quickly and we were back on track!

As we boarded the plane, the stewardess glanced down at our feet. “You must be going to Bluesfest!” she said, “Make sure to check out Tijuana Cartel!” She seemed nice and kinda cool, so we decided to try and take her advice. We landed at the Gold Coast airport and found our bus, and some beer, which made the rest of the journey swing by quickly. The Byron Bay Tourist Village was nice, but dark … nothing like rocking up somewhere and staring at a pile of your suitcases on the grass in the dark when you really just want a nice cosy bed all ready for you. We are getting good at pitching tents so it was up pretty fast, although I got eaten alive by little bugs attracted to my headlamp and my apparently tasty blood.

Empty campsite before everybody arrived

Bluesfest graffiti

Rainbow Shop!


Tent up, beds inflated, suitcases tossed inside, now can we please go and hit the town? For food, obviously … and maybe more wine or beer :) Town was a twenty minute walk away, along a fairly dark, busy road with quite a few drunk sounding but generally friendly people coming the other way. It was still quite busy, and we found a place to eat then wandered down to the beach briefly before heading home. I was out like a light, but the noisy birds woke us both up pretty early the next morning.

The beach ...

The festival didn’t kick off until Thursday afternoon, and we had a camper van to collect. After breakfast – it turned out that the kiosk at the entrance to the tourist village made a yummy bacon brekkie roll – we walked into town again to get a bus to the airport. It was a glorious day, and the town is full of brightly coloured shops and hippy signs, which looked fantastic in the bright sunshine. There were no buses until mid-afternoon, so we headed out first for a bit of a shop – I wanted to wander through the Rainbow Shop, and then we found a few dress shops and spent time trying on a variety of clothes. We hit the Beach Hotel for lunch and met up with Korny, who was still a bit dazed having travelled very early that morning.

After lunch, Andrea and I headed to the beach. It was gorgeous – a long, long stretch of pale sand, shallow turquoise water for paddling in, crashing waves and a few surfers for eye candy. Andrea jumped in for a swim, I stuck with paddling and sunbathing, until it was time to head back for the bus to the airport and collect the camper van.

View out of camper van window

Turns out we got upgraded from a Backpacker van to a Britz van – this thing was MASSIVE! It took forever to sort all the paperwork out, but we got a bottle of wine and some free chairs which would be great for the festival! The lady processing our paperwork walked us through the facilities on the van and how everything worked, I started to feel a bit brain-fried quite quickly though – glad Andrea had done this before and knew her way around it a bit better! She got behind the wheel and was pretty cool driving it back to the campsite, especially considering the size of the thing, not sure I’d have been quite as comfortable driving it. The sun was dipping down to the hills on the way home, and I managed to take a few shots out of the window that turned out pretty well.

Back at the campsite, we got ready and headed out to the festival. Disappointingly, the shuttle bus wasn’t free but cost $4 (each person, each way!) – this weekend was turning out to be pretty expensive! But there was no way Andrea was driving – this was NOT going to be a dry night for either of us.

Neighbour Jason

Where's Wally? There ... there ... there ... and there.

Waffles. They're wicked.


The first act we both wanted to see was Eilen Jewell, who was playing on the Jambalaya stage (one of the smaller ones) at 7pm. We had a bit of time to wander through the grounds, explore the food offerings, and grab some drinks tickets and wine. It was pretty quiet, so when we made our way back to the stage there were only a couple of people between us and the stage – it was pretty awesome. She sounded amazing, although I was disappointed she didn’t sing the one song I knew well enough to sing along to (maybe somebody had warned her …) When she was finished, we ended up in the CD tent, where Andrea bought a CD and had all of the band members sign it. They all seemed pretty ordinary off of the stage, which was somehow surprising … the guitarist and drummers were pretty cute though :)

We watched a bit of My Morning Jacket, which was a bit more rocky and more up my street than blues or country. I was getting kind of tired and antsy after that, so when Andrea wanted to try and socialise a bit more I left her to it! Very bad of me … luckily we found each other again pretty quickly and ended up hanging out at the Apra stage and watching a reggae-style band called Kooii, who turned out to be pretty good and worth a bit of a dance to. We finished off the night with crepes in the food tent – mmmmm, nutella crepes. All in all, it wasn’t a bad start to the festival.

That night, Andrea had decided to sleep in the camper van, so I had the tent to myself. I was wise to the noisy birds this time, and slept in lovely and late with the aid of earplugs :) When we finally emerged from our “bedrooms” and got dressed, our neighbour Jason had also surfaced. We hadn’t seen him at all the previous day, which often happens camping but is kind of weird – you just see the tent but never the person. I was pretty sure it wasn’t empty though, I had seen the number of beer bottles rising over the last day or so (it turned out he was using them to mark his tent ropes, so that he didn’t trip over them).

Britz. No boundaries. Apparently.

We all got chatting, he took some photos of me and Andrea with our wellies and camper van, and then offered us a beer. There’s something wonderful about sitting outside in hot sunshine before midday with a cold beer and no worries!

Eventually, we all headed out together to get the bus up to the festival again, for what would be our longest day there! We started off at the Crossroads stage (one of the two largest) and watched Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges and then some of Steve Earle, while just across the fence we could hear G3 blasting out of the Mojo tent. We settled down with our chairs, got some beers, and enjoyed the show for a while. Eventually Jason decided to head off for some beers before we moved on, but he took for-EVER … we checked the two bars nearest to us and couldn’t find him, although they were pretty empty, we couldn’t wait forever so we headed off on our own. Turns out he had gone to get food, turned up where we’d been with three beers and food to find us gone. I felt kind of bad when he told us that later … I don’t think the beers went to waste though.

Beer tickets!

Watching some music

Something was funny ...


We watched some of G3, then saw Candi Staton, who was pretty good, and one of the few artists there that I actually knew :) After that we caught some of Seth Lakeman and Buddy Guy – who is 76 and still playing! – then planted our chairs in the wrong area to listen to Keb Mo for an hour. He had an amazingly smooth voice … Andrea was totally into the music and getting up to dance, but I was getting pretty tired. The last act we caught that night was Earth, Wind and Fire, who blasted on stage with Boogie Wonderland and got me up out of my seat for a few tracks.

Saturday was another gorgeous day, another lovely late morning, and another early beer. I could definitely get used to this kind of life! We had decided to take a trip out to hippy town Nimbin for something to do before the festival, so we piled into Jason’s car while Andrea tried to navigate from the back seat with Google maps. Nimbin was a quieter version of Byron but without a beach – we stopped in a pub for beers and I was amazed at how cheap they were! We wandered around a few shops before heading back, where we hung out at the campsite for a while, drinking beers, eating pizza and Tim Tams and generally enjoying chilling out.

Fancy a bit of hemping?

We got to the festival in time to catch Seasick Steve, but something was wrong with the sound system and we could barely hear him – we had just packed up our chairs and started to walk away when guess what? Yep, it’s back on – and dammit, we’ve lost our good spot! We stayed and listened to him for a bit before heading out, and lost Jason again when he wandered off in a different direction. Never mind, he seemed pretty capable of amusing himself! We watched Bettye LaVette for a while but she was kind of depressing … we found the stewardess’s favourite band Tijuana Cartel, who turned out to be pretty upbeat and dancy, so we bopped along to them for a while.

Some kind of reptile!

More Keb Mo

Candi Staton


At some point we headed back to the Mojo tent and set up camp … I was feeling pretty festival’d out so was happy to sit and watch from the side while Andrea still wanted to get in the thick of the crowd and dance. It actually worked out pretty well … we watched Ziggy Marley, who was awesome, Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot and John Fogerty for the rest of the evening, leaving only after he sang Heard It Through The Grapevine, as Andrea insisted …

Sunday was our last day … Jason was also leaving, he had a long drive back to Newcastle and headed out long before we finished clearing up. With the camper van full of our stuff, we headed out to the beach and parked up – I couldn’t be bothered to change into my swimsuit, but after paddling in the water I couldn’t resist getting in either, so ended up jumping in with my t-shirt on!

We headed into town to get some food, but didn’t get very far before the traffic was thick and slow, and we turned around to go back to the festival instead! We ate and listened to Yann Tiersen for a bit before leaving to go to Ballina Airport, which is one of the smallest I’ve ever been to.

It was all over … :( the one nice thing being that we still had Monday off before heading back to work! We made the most of that too … I had grand plans to go on a long walk around North Head, until I stopped by Andrea’s to help her put up the tent to air it. She invited me up for a wine … and, well, there’s something pretty wonderful about sitting outside on a balcony, looking across Manly beach, with cold wine and no worries …

Peace out

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!

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!

I found some bogans.

We headed out to party wearing tags in our hair.

Last Saturday night, Rachel invited me out with her new housemates, to a Wig Party in Queenscliff. Sadly, we didn’t have any wigs, although that wasn’t going to stop us from partying.

Rachel was trying to style her hair to make it look like a wig, but things weren’t going too well.

“Why don’t you just pin a tag to it, make it look like a wig that you forgot to take the tag off of?” I joked … the next thing I knew, she was snipping tags off of her bath towels, so that we could all wear them.

I found a bogan wig and got into character ...

Funnily enough, once we got to the party, we did fool one person, who asked – “should we tell her that she’s forgotten to take the tag off?”

The party was fun, loads of the guys had come as bogans, wearing crazy mullet wigs. In some cases the wig seemed to invade their brains and change their whole character … they had cut off sleeves from denim jackets and worn bogan-style shorts to complete the look.

I felt a bit underdressed with my tag, but after a few glasses of wine I did manage to obtain a wig …

Bogans!