Tuesday, 26 October 2010

One year to the day...

Today we mark our one year anniversary of our Australian adventure, meaning that Tom and I have now spent 4% of our total lifetime living down under. When I put it like that, it doesn't sound very long, but I'm really proud to reach the one year milestone and only hope that time starts to pass a bit more slowly so that I can savour the time we have left here.

To mark this special occassion, we thought we'd go all out and do something really memorable. A weekend away perhaps? Maybe a nice dinner in the city? Actually, we've eaten an omelette and chips at home whilst I complete Tom's tax return! The moral to all of this, is that no matter how many photos I post of cute Aussie animals, beautiful sights and adventurous travels, the reality of life down under is sometimes very similar to back home, just sunnier.

We've come a long way in a year towards settling into our new lifestyle. My marks of our success include driving without the sat nav (and only sometimes getting lost), expanding our friendship group beyond our beloved Canadian besties (although still not really venturing too far beyond the North-American theme), and chosing Australian X-Factor over the UK version.

Over the past 365 days we have travelled to almost every state (Northern Territory still to go), eaten in more restaurants than my waistline cares to imagine, driven exactly 10,999kms in our car and had gained two mascots in the form of a piggy bank called Beechy and cuddly penguin called Nab Nab. We've laughed the days away with new friends and thankfully not cried too many nights away at home. The highlight of it all however is the times we've shared with those of you back home. Nothing beats sharing the life we love with the people we love, whether it's in person, on the blog or via one of our numerous apartment-tours over Skype.

Here's to another year of Melbourne-fun. Thanks for reading, and more importantly for not forgetting about us - we haven't forgotten you x

Monday, 11 October 2010

Sugar and spice and all that’s nice...

.. that’s what little girls are made of! Aren’t they? Well that’s what our weekend was made of anyway..


Friday was all about sugar, when I organised a cake sale at work in aid of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Having October as breast cancer awareness month is a global theme, and so Australia is in full swing for fund raising and awareness. I wanted to do something here to continue our fundraising efforts from back in the UK, but don’t have the contacts or the team to put together anything the size of The Big Pink Ticket. What I do have however, is an army of willing cake-bakers amongst my colleagues!

Despite only 48 hours notice, I managed to rally eight willing bakers, register myself with the charity and get permission to sell cakes to a captive audience of 80 or so colleagues. I pitched the sale immediately after a two hour meeting, and at the 11am ‘munchies’ weak spot! Needless to say, the caramel slice, chocolate truffle muffins, lemon slice, chocolage hedgehog, rice krispies cakes, Anzac biscuits and everything else went down a STORM! We raised over $500 for breast cancer research, which testified that Australian’s are just as good at putting their hands in their pockets for a good cause at the Brits.. especially if there is food involved!

I was a bit cheeky when pitching the sale, and told my audience that our first cake had sold for $50 (this was not a lie) to encourage high donations. The facilities team were even cheekier back to me though, and complained that I had broken the rules by bringing 'external' food into a meeting room where only internal catering was permitted. “Erm.. excuse me? Can you see the big sign saying ‘cake sale for cancer research’?” Some people never cease to amaze...


On Saturday night, Tom, Tamara and I had girls night at our favourite brunch spot, St Ali! I know, I know, Tom isn’t a girl.... but just take a look at the cocktail he ordered, then you might think otherwise!

St Ali epitomises Melbourne – it’s located on a back street in an unmarked building and yet inside it’s lively, exciting and yummy! The best of Melbourne’s culture, vibe and atmosphere is hidden in places like this, and after many a successful Sunday morning brunch we thought we’d try their evening fayre – pan asian curries. It didn’t quite live up to expectations, but I needed to write about the fact that we went for a curry in order to include the ‘spice’ part of the rhyme in the blog!

And all that's nice....

Actually, this part isn’t just nice – it’s amazing! On Saturday afternoon Tamara took me wedding dress shopping and I found... THE ONE. I am very excited and relieved that I managed to find my perfect dress so quickly, as I will now not have to traipse around dress shops with bossy shop assistants telling me what they like and don’t like. THE ONE was located on only the third bridal shop visit, and after a total trying on time of about 2.79 hours. This might sound like a long time to some of you, but I think in the history of bridezilla’s, this is probably up at the quicker end of the scale. You will be relieved to hear and probably familiar with the fact that I spent considerably longer chosing my husband-to-be...

Obviously I can’t tell you too much about THE ONE – however Nab Nab approves, and if any of you would like advance warning so that you can plan your outfits to coordinate with me, purple pom-poms are the way to go!!

That’s what little girls are made of....

There had to be a lovely little girl at the end of all of this, didn’t there? This week our Melbourne-friends Neil and Sarah welcomed baby Amelie Grace into the world! Neil and Sarah are also English, and given the lack of family in town as a result, our visiting rights were elevated up the pecking order and we got to go and have a cuddle at the hospital yesterday.

Amelie Grace is the second Amelie to feature on our blog – Amelie number 1 was born to also-English friends Ella and Andy last September. I’m already considering a bulk Moonpig order for personalised birthday cards...

It was lovely holding a newborn again - not since Dora was born have I had a cuddle with a bub so small. The hospital visit definitely put the fear of God into Tom that I would be wanting one of our own very soon. Fortunately for me, Tom is an atheist, so God’s presence will not linger too long!

Congratulations to Neil and Sarah, and we hope you have a very happy time as a family.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Spring sunshine

I composed the original opening paragraph to this blog entry in my head during my morning shower. It was the morning of the AFL Grand Final replay between St Kilda and Collingwood. I wanted to tell you about how Tom and I had witnessed a little piece of Australian history. A historic premiership title for St Kilda. A classic game in the record books of Australian Rules football.

Unfortunately, and as you might have gathered, I’ve had to rewrite.

Tom and I were lucky enough to be one of the 93,000 fans with tickets to the game. We arrived early at the historic MCG (as historic as you get in Australia), with painted faces, banners ready and nerves a plenty. The anticipation was huge, and Lionel Richie entertained the crowd before the match on a bright sunny day.

As it turns out however, we paid per over $300 for the privilege of watching our team get totally smashed. The St Kilda team managed a paltry one goal in the first half, and it was clear at half time that the Magpies would defeat the Saints in both spirit and score. There was none of the drama of the first final game last weekend, and as the chants of the St Kilda fans died, the gap in the scoreboard increased. In the end, we were defeated by 56 points.

A solitary Saints fan comtemplates the Collingwood masses

Our view of 'the G' from the nosebleed seats!

Our favourite, Nick Riedwolt in practice. He didn't kick a ball like that all game.

Nice hunks of muscle warming up! (You see why I like this game now?!)

Go Saints! Go back home and get some practise in before next year!

On a more positive note, spring has arrived here in Melbourne! This weekend we have basked in glorious sunshine and mid-20s temperatures. The first signs of a suntan have started to appear, and our garden chairs have made their first appearance on the balcony. Today we drove along the coast to luxurious Brighton (the Sandbanks-suburb of Melbourne) and met Tamara for a walk on the beach and a diet Coke in a cafe (gosh, aren’t we daredevils?!).

Tamara biking, us driving, back from Brighton. (We are a lot lazier than the Canadians!)

Pretty beach huts.

I don't think we'd be allowed to paint a beach hut like this on Branksome Beach.

A solitary umbrella.

Summer clothes are out!

The English Rose and the Canadian Sweetheart!

Along with the spring weather has come an annual attempt at self-improvement on my part. In an attempt to boost the health of both body and mind I have started a new healthy eating regime, have been making sure I get to the gym, and have even visited the dentist for a spring clean – only here in Australia they don’t call it the dentist – it’s a ‘dental spa’. Hmmm, the only ‘spa’ like quality of the dentist in my opinion is the price! To counteract all the good that this is doing, Tom and I have started a new wine tasting course (intermediate level, don’t you know! – I still don’t have a clue what I’m tasting, fear not) and have been doing lots of eating out.

Earlier in the week we took advantage of a special offer at Melbourne’s branch of Nobu, and dined there with the Canadians. During the course of our meal we were surprised to see a group of three ladies walk in wearing tracksuits and sit down in the booth next to ours. Nobu is not the kind of restaurant where you wear a tracksuit, and if you or I rocked up in such attire, I’m pretty sure we would be politely declined a table. So naturally this raised eyebrows, and after much hushed discussion and a little bit of Googling, we figured out that we were dining next to a dressed-down, baseball cap-wearing Missy Elliott! We all found it very amusing that whilst in one of the finest Japanese restaurants in town she ordered fries with ketchup and diet Coke...

We were also treated to a meal out with Tom’s second cousin Merryl and her new beau Bill. You should all know about Merryl by now, as she is a regular blog character. However you might not know that she was sadly widowed a couple of years ago. Merryl is full of enthusiasm and life, so we are very happy that she has found someone to share this with! No pressure Bill, but now that you are on the blog, there is no turning back!

We have rounded off the evening with a series of Skype calls to Tom's family back home - first Peter and Sue, then Anna, and finally Anne. We were especially touched by a plea from seven year old Rosie for us to come home soon!