Friday, 31 December 2021

New Year 2022

 2021 has ended and I don't think anyone will be sorry!

The magpies are croaking outside and the temperature is, as it  always seems to be, averaging around 20 degrees. Some days, however, it shoots up to 35 and higher. Our first few days here were of that order and it made sleeping difficult. Overall it is a cloudy sky today  but it isn't 9am yet, so there is room for improvement. Even so, there are people on the beach and out walking their dogs - lots of dogs here! - before it gets too hot.

Part of the family is packing in order to visit rellies in Brisbane, and the rest of us are waiting to wave them Goodbye. Typically of Australia, they have 875 miles to drive to reach Brisbane from here. Everywhere is a long way from everywhere else. We as in dh and I, drove to Port Macquarie the other day and it seemed a long long way to drive but only a tiny distance on the map.

We will see them back again to take us back to Sydney.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Slow cooking anyone?

 Terrific rainstorms over the last couple of days.

On Monday we set out to go to Forster, reached Tuncurry and the first roundabout and kept going round it and back home. 

There was no hint of the storm slackening and we'd have been drenched in seconds had we got out. Later in the day there were intervals of no rain, but it was not long before it began again. No wonder everything looks so green around us. There are many trees here that have fire-blackened trunks, but most of them have a glorious green canopy.

The brewing company has had one day closed - Christmas Day. Not a long break for the people who run it. Tuesday was a canning run, so dh and Paul went in at six am to help before the normal, "open for customers" day began. Today it is a brewing day and no doubt David and Helen will come home even more tired than they were yesterday. Running a small business is no easy ride.

We did sausage and mash with onion gravy for them last night. Today it is going to be slow-cooked lamb. Hope we get it right in a slow-cooker we have never used!

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Musical magpies

Christmas has come and gone once again.

Yesterday was blazing hot and most unlike a British Boxing Day!

I wrote a chapter yesterday - time to get back in the groove rather than all this lolling around relaxing.

Last night we had lightning and they tell me it rained through the night though I was fast asleep until six o'clock. I think it is the local magpie family that wake me so early. The family of three sit on the whirlygig washing pole, groom themselves and talk to each other and the world at large. It is quite musical (once the ear is attuned.) 

OTOH it could just be the light itself waking me.  What I can tell you that it is pelting down this morning and we can hardly see the beach. Right now the birds are ducking under the many balconies around here to take shelter, and no one is wandering abroad except for a couple of dog walkers.

 Update: Rain

Friday, 24 December 2021

Barrington Blonde and Double Treachery

 It looks a tiny journey on a map.

It comes as something of a surprise that the distance between Mosman and Redhead, near Forster, is a car journey of four hours. (Evidently the rail lines go nowhere near Forster, so that is a no-no.)

We travelled up Wednesday and our first stop was the micro-brewery - to greet David and Helen, who were hard at work serving customers. I have now tried several beers, all of them with exotic sounding names. They sell fresh craft beer to restaurants, bars, clubs and pubs and not least, onsite and through bottlestores and bars.

Names like Barrington Blonde, Black Head Milk Stout, Bluey's Brown, Bo Bo Blood Orange and Double Treachery figure in the list - you'll find them all listed on the website, with tasting notes. 

Next day Bill and I took a quiet walk on the beach for an hour in the sunshine. Only dog walkers and a few surfers were out that early - it was around nine thirty. Ten years ago we set out to walk from end to end of the beach you see in the picture - Diamond Beach - and we never made the whole nine miles. This time we did not attempt anything so ambitious. From the house it is an easy walk over the grass to the lookout point over the Pacific Ocean, and going down the five flights of steps (15-20 steps in each flight) was easy. Going back we stopped and enjoyed the view at every landing.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Anniversary dinner

 Tuesday 21st December - even though we are in Oz, we still remembered that it was our wedding anniversary - 25 years together and still happy!

We spent some time wandering around the main streets of Mosman (no double "s" as I had it earlier).

A day or two ago we walked down to Balmoral beach located at the bottom of the steep hill in the pic. Much of Mosman is built on hills with surprising views and steep descents around twisty corners, but today we walked in the other direction and sampled the shopping outlets which are thankfully line a long a street  that is mainly flat. We visited Harris Farms - the most gorgeous supermarket with wonderful fresh produce, and bought some sun tan cream which is necessary - we both got sunburned the first and second day out  - and I mean burned! 

A sandwich, freshly made, served as lunch and more strolling followed. The shops are small, no departmental stores, but they are expensive. When you live in an area where 34 million dollars is not unusual for the price of a house, then the folk who live there will have plenty of dosh to spread around. The designs are all individual  - no estates, council or private, here - and many are super luxurious. Many houses are a hundred years old and are built in what seems to me to be an ornate Edwardian style. Others are more modern. Some are white concrete, but Expensive White Concrete. After a visit to a pub for a swift half and a cool down in their air conditioning, I got very brave and bought a bra. Probably the most expensive bra I've ever bought, but hey! we're on holiday.

Visited a grog shop and bought some champagne to take to Redhead tomorrow and made our way home. Later Paul drove us down to Spit Bridge where Bill and I had an anniversary dinner at Chiosco - swordfish steaks and Cannolo with an Italian Prosecco to introduce a bit of fizz. The sun blazed down so strongly through the open side of the restaurant that I protected my denim-clad leg with a paper napkin for fear of being burnt again. We enjoyed a delightful meal served by a chatty waiter from Bergamo in Italy. (Earlier it was a bar keeper from Whitehaven in Cumbria who thought he  recognised Bill's accent) With water on two sides and some of the sleekest, most expensive boats all around us it was a lovely evening.

Monday, 20 December 2021

A bridge of wire mesh

 The fresh sea air knocked us both out and we had a very quiet Sunday.

On Sunday evening we went to the Plonk beach cafe and ate Tiger prawns and flatfish with chips and  a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The bridge in the picture is the Spit bridge  - the only bridge I know built of wire mesh which means I can see through it as I drive over it or sail underneath it - and it is a drawbridge, timed to open at specified times. Boats queue up to move under the bridge, some going out to sea and some returning to harbour. This happened while we were there, so there was lots of interest which certainly kept the youngest members of the party happy.

Monday was another day out in the boat. An early start - 7.30am and by 9 we were unloading the boat on the Hawksbury River. Very different to the day in Sydney Harbour. I've never seen a boat backed into the water before, but everything worked well. We found a solitary seal sunbathing, got stopped by the marine police on a jet ski and were invited to display knowledge of the rules, regs, certificates and permission to fish - yes, yours truly did some fishing using a dead prawn (bought at a garage on the way out of Mossman) but did not catch anything. Paul caught one hand sized silver fish which he returned to the ocean. 

Lots of beaches with houses of various shape and sizes, but no public landing places.  So we ate our sarnies onboard thinking that if one buys a plot of land and builds a house, then one does not wish to have one's peace disturbed by the hoi pollaig in this case - us.  I found the day most relaxing.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

A day on the boat

 A splendid day on the water. 

 31 degrees and everyone in shorts and sandals 

Sydney harbour is huge and offers many kinds of beaches, from the sort only accessed by boat to those like Balmoral right next to main roads, shops and houses. In spite of the vast spaces of the continent, houses stand very close to one another and are built onto cliff faces and slopes, often on stilts and columns, all to enjoy the waterfront view.

And what houses! They say it is no good being a millionaire here today - you need to be a billionaire!

Most homes sprawl across the available space, but I spotted one tall thin building with five floors and 
possibly a garden level as well. I did wonder how people reached their front door. There are steps that
climb straight up the hillside, so steeply I would not dare attempt to climb them and driving to most of them seems impossible. Dh says some have lifts to take them up and down.

The new boat was lovely with enough room for four adults and two children to move around freely. 
Powerful, too, as we rocketed across the choppy 
waters between the headlands and bounced on the 
waves caused by the ferries and the speedboats.
Came home sunburned and yawning after all that 
fresh sea air.

Friday, 17 December 2021

First days in Oz

 We had to have a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival in Australia. So yesterday we set out to attend the local drive-thru test centre and were astonished to find that there was a 3 hour queue of cars ahead of us all waiting to access the Willoughby Centre. In actual fact it took closer to 4 hours, but eventually it was done. Evidently cases are rising here as well as in England.

We got the result within 24 hours, and happily we both registered as negative. We have to do it all again in 6 days time. So the precautions on the planes and in the airports of Newcastle and Dubai paid off. Because we had a longer wait in Dubai, we have not really suffered from jet lag, though I have to admit to feeling a little jaded today (Friday) What we need is a good walk in fresh air and we may do that this afternoon.

The temperature is 22 degrees and intermittently sunny. Tomorrow it is forecasting 31 and 33 on Sunday, so I may pick up a little tan before I arrive back in cold Newcastle. It was warm enough for the boys to play with a dinosaur spurting cold water this lunchtime! Rather them than me!
There are plans to take the boat out on the harbour tomorrow. Am I seasick on small boats? I don't know, but I will certainly find out. 

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

An eventful flight

 Car picked us up from home, 5pm, smooth ride to the airport. Check-in clerk says he must ring Australia. "We do it for everyone," he says with a reassuring smile. 

Reports back, minus smile, with another guy. "There's a problem."

One of our many, many documents states I am Mrs Jennifer Mary Black. The airline ticket has me down as Mrs William Black, and Australia won't accept me. 

I had visions of Bill flying off, and me heading home in a taxi. (Must remember to get house key from him.) Then I remembered Paul and his police training - smile and insist. "I am  both of those things," I said. "I am one person. Check my passport number. It is nothing but a clerical error." On whose part, I did not say. 

The manager spent ages hanging on to call Australia to try and change things. We stood at the desk, worrying. It must have taken an hour or more, and we finally paid £10 to get the name changed so Australia will accept me. We made it to the BL in time to have a swift glass of wine (2 SWIFT brandies for Bill to calm his nerves) and then onto the plane at 8.30pm, - the plane left 30 minutes late because "there had been so many problems." (Not just us, I hasten to add.)

The young guy behind us was flying to Singapore for work, and his PCR test was 5 hours out of time. We don't know what happened to him but he may have had to stay overnight and wait for a new test. Flying these days is no easy task. Check and treble check everything. I am braced for an exciting arrival in Sydney.....

Thursday, 9 December 2021

We seem to be acceptable

Excitement is starting to build in the household.

I actually packed my case yesterday. The hoops we have had to jump through!

Australia is very careful about who it allows to visit, but so far, we seem to be acceptable.

One more test to do and if that is OK then we're OK.

Now I have to remember all the little things I use every day - the sort of things that are easily forgotten. Like eyebrow tweezers, my diary, password book - yes, I know they should never be written down, but hey! Laptop mouse and batteries - without that I am sunk. Imagine being on holiday and no internet access! Unthinkable. How else will I show you all the pictures...

Lost dog!

Sunday 8 th May Slow start to a sunny day with a promise of high temperatures. Bill took Perla out at 7.30 as he has done all this month ...