About us

We are a family of four. Sarah, Andy, Finn & Isla and we are on the emigration path to Sydney, Australia from Somerset, England. We arrived on Tuesday 24th August 2010 and this is our story.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Burns night & Australia day

Firstly I am going to start with evidence of the amount of mess comparing a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old:

 Isla - doing stamps = a whole lot of mess including on the carpet....

Finn = not so much!

25th January is Burns night.  This year we celebrated it in style with Andy and his mate Dave in Kilts....oh yes...!

Reminds me of our wedding day :)

 ...and he's strong....!  What's under the kilt I hear you ask.....

Andy and Dave on the Wii....hand on hip is all part of the blaze technique....bowling I think.  Kilts look good though hey?!

We had a lovely night of untraditional fajitas, red wine, cupcakes, good conversation and then rounded off with entertainment on the Wii.  Bowling, tennis and then Sonic.  Turns out Rachel was really very good at the bowling and trounced all over us!!

A slightly fuzzy wake up the next day and we rolled straight into Australia day!

Some friends and their boys came over for a barbie and a splash in the pool - OMG it was hot.....38 degrees and like standing in a hair dryer so being in the water really helped!  It was one of those days when I really thought wow - this is a great way to spend your free time.

Finn & Billy - cake..yum!  There was an Aussie flag on the chocolate cake but in the time between getting the cake out and Andy getting the camera it was demolished by 5 children!

Today it has been....let me think...oh yes hot!  I have to say I do love the heat.  With air-con and dips in the pool it is completely manageable.  So swimming lessons this morning for Isla and then 2 hours in the pool this afternoon.  Isla was so bushed that while we had a cuddle in the pool she fell asleep on me.  It has been a while since she did that and really reminds me of when she was a baby rather than a toddler.  I love that she did it!  So I moved her out of the water and lay her on a towel on the lilo under a tree and she snoozed away.....

...while Finn and I continued to play....

Monday, 24 January 2011

A camera catchup

Some pictures from my SLR taken on our road trip to Canberra & more recently in China Town for the New Year Celebrations.

 We had already done a check for snakes!

 Mid picnic - it's a serious business

 ....or not.....

 Tongue curler extraordinaire


 Wow.  Really, just wow.  View to the left.

 ...and view to the right, the view straight in front of me was a huge wind farm.  I know some people don't like them but I think there is something quite charming about a power source that is so huge, mostly silent and green!

 This was a dirt road around 30k's long, proper red dust, between Canberra and Jervis Bay.  This was the road that I spotted the big dead black snake.

 And we crossed over a large mountain/hill range (Great Dividing Range?) and the weather changed from the dirt road sort of day to a cool, foggy, drizzly & slightly damp day!  Weird.  It stayed like this as we drove over the other side and down to the coast.

 Our car proudly stamped with the red dust evidence that this 4x4 has been off road.

This Sunday just gone we made our way into Sydney using the tried and tested ferry method which is usually no trouble at all.  Unfortunately it appears peak holiday season, hot weather & the kids on holidays makes for not enough ferry seats.  One long boring story or the short one being we ended up catching the ferry from Darling Harbour back to Circular Quay to be the 1st ones to board the ferry back up the river as there was no hope of getting on the previous one.  It's not that hard....put more ferries on....!

Anyway, we had a good visit into China Town and saw the Lion Dance!  Vibrant, colourful, energetic and general feel good entertainment.  Finn & Isla were mesmerised.  We snuck into a Chinese restaurant for lunch - the Golden Harbour.  Great food, Dim Sum which was lovely and the real buzzing atmosphere.

 One of 6 lions.  It seems they were probably made up from the local Kung Fu team which would explain how very limber they were!  Quite a sight.

The guys providing the music.

A good, hot day rounded off with 2 hours in the pool when we got home.  Perfect.

Finn & Isla have come on leaps and bounds in the pool and they will both now jump in without holding on to anything, bob up to the top for us to pull them out and be ready to do it all again...and again...and again.  I am so proud of how they have both progressed in such a short amount of time and how much they love the water.  Long may it continue.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A weekend away

We went, we saw, we conquered.  Our secret hotel was lovely and in a brilliant location in the CBD.  It turned out to be the Crowne Plaza.  Very nice room with 2 double beds.  Perfect.

We had a 3 hours drive to get there through some beautiful landscape that in parts looked like the Highlands of Scotland sometimes and other times like Wyoming.  Really beautiful, hot, dry and pretty unforgiving!  We stopped for a picnic and a rest stop and approached the picnic bench with a little trepidation as there was a huge sign warning about the snakes.  Happily we saw none.  Slightly more dramatic was the rather ripe thunderbox though!  I would rather bush wee then go in one of those again.......

We made our way around Canberra to our 1st stop.  The Corin Forest bobsled!  

 This wire pulled us up to the top of the hill in our little bobsled seats and then we took a ride back down the hill!

 Team Sydney - boy sub team!

Team Sydney - girl sub team.

Great fun and of course the more we did it the faster we got.  Andy & Finn must have reached 35k's on the last go!

We drove back down the winding hill to Canberra and checked in with no hassles.  Nice,  modern, clean and hinting at luxury hotel.  Perfect.  We paid $130 a night, so a good deal I think.

We walked out of the hotel and onto City walk to find somewhere for tea.  Saturday night in Canberra is amazingly quiet - hardly anybody around but we found a little Japanese place for some nibbles.

We made a prompt start on the Saturday and went to Cockington Green Gardens in the morning.  Lots of miniature houses and people is right up the street of my two favourite littlies.  Hot, hot, hot though for us Poms. 28 in the morning advancing to 32 by lunchtime, phew!  Sun cream applied twice and totally essential......

 Finn & Isla love fairies.  This is the miniature fairy garden.  They really like Tinkerbell & we have a lovely fairy book with a little girl called Isabella which is totally magical and great for a calming bed time story.

 Pink cheeks.  Isla looks hot too....!

Kent style little housing and me trying to get rid of my horrendous vest strap tan lines ready for a dress that really will show them for a wedding in February.

They had a pub next door serving draft Guinness and Kilkenny.  A little 1/2 pint of heaven for lunch.

We then headed over to the National Australian Museum for a bit of respite in the air con!  I had been before and the building architecture is amazing but for such a huge building there really isn't a lot to show for it.  Cool though!
We made use of the hotel facilities that night and ate in the restaurant after pre dinner drinks (read - one whole bottle of champagne to oneself, no hangover...bonus!).  

So, school boy error made the next day when the navigating was left up to moi!  Lesson learned....1 cm on the map can be a mighty long way.....

We went West for 300k's, albeit through some amazing scenery and dirt unsealed roads to Jervis Bay.  Saw a dead black snake at the side of the road which was pretty big.  About 1 1/2 meters long and as thick as the thin end of a baseball bat.  Shudder.  Then a lovely moment that really reminds you that you are in Australian...wild kangaroos!

Proper, live, wild, reclining, snoozing, joey in the pouch 'roos!

Unfortunately as we drove over the mountains from Canberra to the coast the weather changed.  A 10 degree drop in 2k's which we were not expecting or were dressed for!  So a lunch by the beach, quick stroll and then North for 300k's and 3 hours later...home.  Hmmm, I have told Andy to not let me navigate solo again!  Maybe it's best if he reminds me of his blog entry when he tries to tell me that though.......

So, in conclusion, Canberra is quiet but in a beautiful place in the world and in my opinion worth a visit for the drive in and out alone.  I love the structure and organised nature of this planned city and the government buildings are striking and imposing.  It really reminds me of Washington in America but way quieter!

A great weekend.  We took the children's bikes and they made use of them in Glebe park next to the hotel.  Unfortunately Isla has inherited my tendency to go pink and get frizzy hair.  Not sure if you can see that in the next photo but it's cute all the same!

A girl with purpose!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Asian cuisine,Christmas shoes & Canberra

As we had such a good trip through China Town on New Years Eve we decided to visit again recently.  We parked in the Exhibition Centre again with ease and followed our noses to the top of the Paddy's Market building.  We hadn't visited here before so mooched around and happened across an Asian food court for lunch.  I always have such a problem choosing in the food courts here.  They are huge and there tend to be around 15 different food options of varying origins.  This one was purely Asian which was fab and we had a good walk around taking in the fare available.  We were in the minority of white people amongst the many families in the heaving seating.  Unfortunately one vendor tried to catch my eye and point to the one and only chicken nuggets and chips options in the whole place and indicated towards our children.  I know that lots of children won't eat a diverse palate but I have tried hard to get Finn & Isla to try lots of things and enjoy variety.  So anyway, we averted our eyes and settled on some Penang beef from the Thai place and sizzling prawns and special fried rice from a Chinese place.  Yum, yum, yum! It was all super lovely, fresh and fragrant.  We all tucked in while enjoying some freshly squeezed orange juice.

 Isla loved using the Chinese spoon and bowl!

Finn tucking into a prawn cracker.
We finished lunch and walked through the city over to Hyde Park so the children could run off some steam.  We intended to go to the Australian Museum for a relaxing afternoon but there was quite a queue to get in.  I really want to go as the added bonus is that they have an exhibit of the National Wildlife Photographer of the year.  Another day.

So while running around the park it was an ideal time to take a few cute shots of Finn & Isla in their super sweet new converse sneakers!  They were sent some Christmas money from Aunty Mary, Uncle Steve, George and my Grandad back in the UK and I thought some new funky shoes would be a good purchase.  Isla typically made a beeline for the tiny pink ones and Finn the stars!
 Demonstrating the cuteness of the shoes....

 And just cuteness full stop.

 Climbing trees in Hyde Park while listening to a busker.  Both Finn & Isla put a dollar in his guitar case.

Isla is doing a Garfield smile here which is why she looks a little like she is gurning!  There's the rural colloquial English coming out.  A little like dimpsey hey Mum?!  Andy didn't believe that term for around 7 years.....oh the power of Google.

So, anyway, back to the point.  Thankyou Steve, Mary, George & Grampy! xxxx

A good day out, although we got caught out by the rain in the city in the afternoon and had to catch the monorail back to our car.

We have just had a fantastic, busy, social weekend just gone by and have come away thoroughly exhausted.  We spent a cracking, sunny day at Long Reef beach on Saturday with some friends and their 3 boys.  We set up camp with a parasol and tent to offer some much needed shade and then concentrated on the job in hand.  Playing in the sea!  Long reef is fab as there is a lagoon and river mouth opening into the sea which affords copious amounts of shallow and therefore very warm water to mess about it in.  We were in the water all day and I tried my hand at body boarding.  Great fun and the water was surprisingly warm but lets just say I need to put in a few more hours practice!

On Sunday we had my family visiting from the Central Coast (waves....Hi Caroline & Hilary!) and had a lovely lunch and dip in the pool.  Good company, food and some bubbly! Thankfully the rain held off long enough for us to have a splash in the pool and relax in the sun!  It's great to be able to spend some time with family as they know where we have come from and vice versa.  It's comforting when being all this way away.

I had a lovely surprise yesterday when my brother (in everything apart from blood) visited at short notice again from Perth.  We only just saw them recently when they stayed for Christmas and will see them in Feb when we go over and holiday with them in Perth.  So it's been great to see so much of them.  M is over here for a job interview and has made the cut so is staying for the rest of the week.  Hoorah!  I went into the city to meet him last night and we had such a good time.  Food, drinks, Lindt ice-cream at the cafe and finished off with Lychee bubble tea (really good - no milk and with Lychee jelly).  Good times.

Bill Bryson said - "Canberra - there's nothing to it".  Apparently the most boring City in the World.  Andy has Monday off next week and so we have decided to go away at short notice this weekend and head down to Canberra.  Now I visited Canberra in 2001 and recall it was pretty quiet but I also remember that it was quite striking in it's organised structure and architecture and also it has lots of museums.  Now at the age I am I can really appreciate a good museum!  So, we have booked a Secret Hotel on lastminute in the CBD and plan to do the parks, museums and coffee shops.  Finn loves a good stay in a hotel and is excited and keeps asking how many more sleeps.  I'm beginning to think 4 sleeps in notice for a 3 year old may be a little too many!  Ha ha.  Job one when we check in is get a ice bucket and fill it!  Finn's favourite occupation in a hotel!  Should be good.  Hope to get the SLR out a bit while we are away so hope to have a few decent pics for the blog on our return!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Oh baby it's hot outside....

We have at last had some scorching hot days in the midst of some unpredictable grey ones.  Yesterday in the sun Andy's watch reported 44 in the sun! 36 in the shade.
Oh my.

So at times like this we resort to air con on in the house and an official pool day.  There is nothing quite like it to cool off!  So a few pictures and videos from today:

 Cake maker extraordinaire.  Or chief spoon licker.....

The best way to cool off, floating around in water at around 26 degrees when it's pushing the mercury....

Water baby Isla

Isla smiler

Finn having fun being splashed which hasn't been his forte up until now!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Sydney New Year 2010-2011

Andy and I celebrated New Year in Sydney 2004-2005 when we were on our Honeymoon and had an amazing time on the Sydney 2000 boat.  We cruised around the bridge and Opera House enjoying the trappings of the included bar and food served to your table before heading out onto the deck and watching the fireworks.  Amazing.

So, 6 years later and we are back in Sydney with 2 wonderful children who at 2 & 3 can now occasionally stay up a bit later.  There are however consequences of a late night the next day!

Anyway, we drove into Sydney with no dramas (see what I did there - spoken like a true Aussie!) and parked right next to the Entertainment Centre at Darling Harbour in a space right next to the exit barriers.  We walked through China Town which was buzzing.  I love taking the children through places like this, what a great experience for them to see a glimpse of different cultures with such ease.  I bought a cup of my new favourite drink bubble tea which was introduced to me by our friends in Perth.  I tried the caramel one this time which was delicious and had pearls in it which weren't as nice as the previous ones I had.  Very refreshing though.  We also bought some small Chinese cream puffs from a little window that had a long queue last time we were there.  There was a machine constantly chucking out this little sweet delights and lots of locals were buying them which is always a good sign!  They were good!

So we strolled through into Darling Harbour where everyone was starting to claim their pitch now, loads of people, some street performers and the stages were being set up for the music later.  We popped into the food Court at Harbourside shopping centre for tea and sat in an area where we surrounded by about 8 tables full of Asian people all eating McDonalds while we, the only white people tucked into plates of noodles, rice, springs rolls and tempura prawns!

I had researched and found a good viewing point for the 9pm family fireworks was Pyrmont Park, a free spot with toilets and a great vantage point of the Harbour Bridge.  We walked down, spread out our rug under a tree and waited for 9pm.  2 hours in one place with small people can be hard work but Finn & Isla were pretty good.  We had an ice cream and soon enough 9pm rolled around and the fun started!  There were 15 minute warning fireworks at 8:45 and Isla was a little way away from me at the time, she can running back to me saying "What's that noise Mummy????!!!!" but I whisked her up and her mild consternation turned to excitement.  Then 8 minutes of synchronised pyrotechnics on 3 barges that we could see.  Isla loved the pink ones and Finn the green!  Wow.

All too soon it was over and we walked back to the car in the crowds which had a great party atmosphere.  The police were out in force and rather than the patrolling in two's that we are used to in the UK they go around in gangs of 8 or so, they actually look quite menacing and a little like the military, all armed.  I think they are probably taken a little more seriously here because of it.  No messing around!  We saw a few 'crims' lined up against a wall with the fuzz stood in front of them and they were not giving any back chat or grief at all.  That was the only thing we saw all night though.

We had taken the children's jammies in car with us, so changed them and tucked them into their car seats, 20 minutes exiting the car park and they were asleep!  Then we had a clear run home and transferred them into bed while they were still asleep.  A great night had by all.  They woke at around 8:15 this morning and an early night tonight should see them OK.   

So, for New Years day we will be mostly spent lounging around in the house with the air con on or in the pool cooling off as it's going to be a sunny, hot day of around 35 degrees - phew!

Early on at Darling Harbour

 Our pitch for the night!

 Sky writing - we have seen this quite a few times now, and even from our garden - I can't believe we live somewhere that does this as common place.
  Someone proposed using sky writing on New Years Eve - sweet!

 Finn - peace.  Ha ha - he has learnt this from the Chipmunks apparently....
 Isla went AWOL.

 The 4 of us, if only Isla was looking at the camera....

 Valuable life lessons....  Beautiful dress for Christmas - thanks Grandma & Grandad!

The best night picture of the night that we got, the firework ones really don't do it justice so I won't include them.  I didn't take my SLR as I really wanted to just enjoy the spectacle with my peeps rather than worry about the shot.

Happy New Year!