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Photos of Australia added

A picnic at Paddington reservoir

After thwarted visits to several libraries, we’ve finally overcome administrator controls, lack of flash plug-ins and time to upload our Australia photos showing Jon and I reunited with Rini and Donna and having a whale of a time in Sydney. We also loved visiting Susan in Albury and Aunty Joyce for lovely stay and an excellent lamb roast dinner in Wagga Wagga. We’ve just done the photos after a tour of the Monteith’s brewery in Greymouth where we got to pull our own tasters ¬†so apologies for any beer-induced mistakes and we love you all, no, we really, really do…

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Sydney seaside strolls

View of the South Pacific

Yesterday we went our separate ways as Donna and Lou had a girls day out and I decided to head out for a walk. From the pub, I found I could head across three parks and a bit of suburban Sydney and end up at Bronte beach south of its more famous neighbour Bondi. A lot of people had recommended the cliff-top walks to us and I really enjoyed the amazing views of the Pacific and fresh sea air reminding me of home. I headed over to Clovelly where there was a man-made lagoon and had my first dip of the day. I then walked all the way back along the cliffs to Bondi for another cautious dip. Since being in Australia we’ve become hooked on Bondi Rescue, a TV series following the lifeguards. The rips are pretty treacherous here and loads of tourists get into trouble. I saw one of the film crews filming at one end of the beach. After my two swims I felt I’d earned a fish and chip which was duly dispatched while fending off the beady-eyed ibises and seagulls.

I’d agreed to meet Lou and Don at the NSW art gallery for the gallery’s late night ‘Art After Hours’. The girls had enjoyed a morning of swimming, sauna and spa before heading to the Newtown area, known for its quirky shops selling retro and vintage wears. They spent a pleasant afternoon browsing, finding a pair of ornate silver plated cake tongs in a bric-a-brac shop and finishing with a pot of earl grey and the world’s biggest slice of carrot cake. Thus fortified they caught the metro into the city centre to meet up.

The Art After Hours event focused on pieces selected from a state-wide competition involving the equivalent of A-level art students and a Q&A session with the presenter of Australian Big Brother. We ended our evening listening to some live music in the gallery cafe and possum spotting in Hyde Park on the way home.

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Don Down Under

Reunited

Woooohhhoooooo – Donna’s here! We went down to the airport to form a welcoming committee with Aimee, Donna’s auzzie friend and a lovingly hand sown banner to make sure she couldn’t miss us. Cue lots of crying, laughing and hugging all at the same time. We whisked her more or less straight off to the beach for our first experience of the beach Australian style. The surf was huge, but we all ran straight in with Aimee leading the way. Figuring out how to jump or duck through the waves was fun and we all gained a new found respect for Aimee’s aquatic abilities as she seemed completely at home. Unfortunately the waves were too much for Donna’s bikini top meaning that any lucky observers on the beach got an eyeful after one particularly powerful ducking. Only three hours in Australia and the girl flashes the life guards! We ended Donna’s first day by included some English tradition and celebrating Shrove Tuesday with pancakes back at the pub with Laurina.

On the ferry to Watson's Bay

We did a mix of things in the following days; sight seeing around Sydney and enjoying views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, walking over the bridge,learning more about Australian flora at the Botanical Gardens and taking a ferry boat ride out to Watson’s Bay for a view of the harbour, famous Doyle’s fish and chips and a dip in the calmer waters. We’ve also been exploring all things new, Australian and edible, including toasted banana bread, raisin toast, Tim Tam biscuits, jelly sweets known as lollies and kangeroo on a pizza (sorry Skippy), washed down with Bundaberg ginger beer, lemon, lime and bitters and some Australian Carlton Draught.


Picnicing in Paddington

Yesterday we had a picnic at the Paddington Reservoir after browsing the exhibits at the Australian Centre of Photography, followed by a trip to the cinema to see Age of Reason, one of the films shown as part of the french film festival being held at the moment. Today we’re planning to do Sunday lunch Australian-style and have a barbecue in the park with Aimee and Nick as our barbecue consultants to make sure we’re doing it properly. We might even have kanga bangers!

Laurina has use of a pool so we enjoy escaping from the boiling hot heat and going for a dip. There’s also a jacuzzi and sauna. Off for another swim now, sending you all lots of love Lou, Jon and Donna xxxxxx

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Visiting Mount Buffalo

This week we’re visiting some of Jon’s Aussie relatives. Currently we’re in Albury visiting Susan who’s my Dad’s cousin, or my first cousin once removed I think we’ve finally managed to work out over our first Australian beers. We had a wonderful day out today driving into Victoria, stopping by an goldmining town with an old-fashioned main street, and then walking in different parts of the national park containing Mount Buffalo. On the way back we passed the amusingly titled Hell hole creek – we didn’t stop to find out whether the name was deserved. We also spotted a wild wallaby or small grey kangaroo. He jumped off at speed once he spotted us, easily clearing a couple of fences. The previous day we’d seen a small herd of grazing kangaroos so count ourselves lucky.

Australia outside of Sydney is vast. It took us a whole day to travel from Sydney to Albury and we are still in the same state of New South Wales. There’s so much open space, lots of it green and grassy following a wet summer and used for grazing. The national park is varied with fresh-smelling eucalyptus forests, waterfalls, rocky outcrops and the silver skeletons of trees destroyed in previous forest fires. It was cooler on the higher ground, and we felt we could have been in the peak district apart from the multi-coloured parrots!

Tomorrow we’re heading back up north to Wagga Wagga to visit my great aunty Joyce before returning to Sydney late on Sunday night. We’re counting the days until Tuesday when Lou’s twin sister Donna arrives. See you soon.

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A quick update…

Wow we're here!

I thought I’d write quick update while Laurina and Louisa are putting together a picnic for us to take to the park. Mondays are Laurina’s day off. She’s been taking really good care of us. We’ve been enjoying all the free things that Sydney has to offer over the past couple of days, orientating ourselves with the major sights. Over the weekend there was a wine festival with live bands in the central Hyde park (there are a lot of UK names – Oxford Street, Surrey Hills, Waterloo) and we enjoyed sitting on the grass and reading the free newspapers they handed out. Sydney’s really clean, laid back and a surprisingly small city. People live outdoors here with lots of alfresco dining, ¬†terraced bars and people enjoying the green spaces. We really like it, although we do miss the hustle-bustle and street food of Asia.

We also went to Laurina’s Hillsong church a couple of times over the weekend to see what she’s been up to. It’s well known throughout the world for its worship music and their latest album released last week reached number one in the secular charts in Australia and number five in the USA.

Thanks for all your messages – we haven’t had time to reply recently with all the moving around but we’ll get around to it soon. We also need to post up our photos of Thailand – maybe a job for this evening.

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