Sunday, 23 March 2014

Weekend road trip

Last weekend we decided to explore a bit more of New South Wales. Someone had told me of a drive along the coast to the south which was nice, so we decided to go a short distance along it, have a leisurely drive and stop where we wanted.

I took the first driving shift, heading through the city to get out of Sydney and on to the open road.  I think Kym was sorely regretting (a) lending us her car and (b) coming with us by the end of it!  I am still in London driver mode - which just doesn't work out here!  It is actually part of the law that once you signal, any car behind you in the lane you want to get into HAS to let you in.  I mean, WHAT?!?! I don't have to risk life and limb by aggressively pushing myself into a tiny gap, forcing the other driver to either slow down or risk crashing his car into me?  Nope, sorry, I just can't process it....

Anyhoo, we then got out into the national park, which was lots of lovely windy roads out to the coast. We stopped in a town called Cronulla for brekkie by the amazing beach there. We then drove along the coastal road and stopped for a few piccies...
Jan is happy he is taking his two ladies on a trip. Oh, and the nice scenery.
All short people understand this picture - the one where you finally get to be as tall as the person you are standing "next" to (ie up the hill from).
We carried on down the coast through some towns and villages - and then I noticed something rather interesting on the map - WINERIES!  Kym was slightly bemused by the fact neither Jan nor I had ever visited a winery, and so off we went.  They offer the delightful "cellar door" - behind which is all the wine you can drink*!!
Boooozze.  And beautiful countryside. And I saw a Masterchef winning chef on the way out - and he waved at me, like he thought I knew who he was! Pah! I only knew, cos I saw the advert in the winery.
We tried white wine, red wine, sparkling wine and some weird port in exotic flavours - like strawberry, lemon and chocolate. We then went to another winery - because it is important to compare and contrast and do other scientific researches and so on. There was a wedding at the second winery. And a dog. I liked the dog. I may have got, ahem, slightly tipsy - all in the name of safety though! Jan was driving by this time, so of course I had to finish his samples off for him so he was safe to drive.  This is DRINKING RESPONSIBLY, like what the ads tell you to do. (WHAT? ME? Secretly planned that all along? Noooo....) 

We then headed to our guest house, which was a lovely 1920s building, all wooden and quaint inside. They had an amazing front porch to sit on, and a guest lounge with a big decanter full of port. 
This is obviously not the guest lounge with port.  This is the room we collapsed in after the guest lounge and the port.
After we checked in we went for a walk and took in some river views:

We then headed to dinner at a little restaurant down the street and had cocktails, wine and yummy food.  We were stuffed, but then we saw this on the dessert menu...
Who says no to afoggato? Not we! Although I never know how to eat it - what are you meant to drink and what to eat? I settle for pouring the espresso and the liqueur on to the ice cream and turning it into a milkshakey cocktail of deliciousness...
We then headed back to the guest house and availed ourselves of the free port - well, come on, it was just sitting there! In the guest lounge! It must be free and for guests, right? Right. After another hour of putting the world (and the port) to rights, we went to bed.

Next day, after some rehydration, we headed down to Jervis Bay to look around. We found beautiful coastline and luscious beaches...

The sun was hot, so we decided to hire paddle boards and have a go. A paddle board is essentially a large surf board on which one stands and uses a paddle to propel oneself around the sea. I managed to panic paddle myself into a bunch of rocks, because you know, god forbid I could operate something A SMALL CHILD could master in minutes. I sat there contemplating my fate for a while and then used force (ie a lot of pushing and shoving and splashing and swearing) to get myself out of that rocky situation. Other than that, it was fun though! Jan and I tried to paddle one together - which ended up in lots of falling off for Jan and lots of clinging on for dear life for me.

We drove around a bit more to see the bay and then decided it was time to head for home.  We drove a different way home, through the lush landscape of Kangaroo Valley, which is very green countryside and hills and a bit reminiscent of England.  We got home Sunday evening and rounded off the trip with some yummy meats and cheeses for dinner, which we had bought from a little cheese making shop we found on the way back. The best way to finish a weekend!

* Well, all the wine you can drink out of tiny glasses into which they pour a tiny amount of between 6-8 different wines.  It's essentially a mini wine tasting. But still - AWESOME and FREE!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

On Britishness and weather and zoos.

After a long week at work last week and much wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding a recent Windows 7 update, I determined to fully enjoy last weekend and get some sightseeing done. I decided this regardless of the predicted bad weather on Saturday - after all, am I not an Oates? And do not Oates's brave all weather conditions in order to enjoy a day out? And drag all others (Jan) with them? Why, yes! Yes, they do! 

The weather here last week was mainly rainy with the odd interspersed thunderstorm of biblical proportions. Sydneysiders get almost as overexcited about the rain as the British do about the snow - and multiple "severe weather" warnings go out on the television and radio for what the British would consider a light shower (judging by recent UK conditions, anyway).  These storms usually only last a couple of hours, however heavy they are. That's right - TWO HOURS! Not two days or two weeks or even two months! And - and - it's warm before, during and after the rain! Whowuddathunkit?!

So being an Oates and a British person, I thought, "Pah!" to the clouds and rain, "I will wear my jeans and take my fleece and enjoy my day trip out".

So on Saturday off we went to Taronga Zoo to see the lions and tigers and bears and such (cute fuzzy animal pics to follow).  You have to catch the ferry to the zoo, which is very beautiful, and then you get to the park entrance via a cable car, which also offers spectacular views of the harbour.  As we reached the park, I was noticing a distinct ... lack of rain. In fact there was a large amount of RIDICULOUSLY SUNSHINEY sunshine. HOT sunshiney sunshine. And an awful amount of BLUE SKY. 

Yes, yes, I am in fact moaning about perfectly beautiful weather conditions - but please remember I am wearing DENIM and carrying a FLEECE at this stage and possibly look like the weirdest person in the park. Certainly the sweatiest, that's for sure! 

But despite the extreme sweat I had on for the rest of the day, we had a really good time. We saw some natives chilling out...

As well as some more exotic types...

And also some very CUTE specimens...

We also saw a platypus, which I was super excited about, and a Tasmanian devil - and of course my ultimate favourite, the GIRAFFES!  You could feed them carrots, but only if you had some sort of pre-paid ticket, which I was very sad not to have. I am going to smuggle in my own carrots next time and cut out the middle man I think. 

Next weekend we are hoping to get out and about again, but no fear, I have learned a very important lesson about life here in the southern hemisphere - I must shake my British reaction to rain! Unless there's a "severe weather" warning, I won't be putting on anything other than a summer dress!

Sunday, 9 March 2014


We are very happy to announce that as of 10am on Thursday, 27 February we became the loving owners of ALL OUR STUFF! Yes, it finally overcame high drama in London, high seas over here and then the high-ly annoying customs red tape in Sydney before making it safely to our flat. Jan stayed home to welcome the new arrival:

It was actually a lot less than we had imagined. Now all that was left was to play the good old, "What on earth did we pack?" game. It has been three months since we left - and who knows what went into the boxes in the madness of those last few days? It was just like the Christmas we never had! And it turns out we were sensible and only packed the absolute essentials:

This is a hand warmer. A used hand warmer that doesn't heat up any more. Just so you know. 
(Note: I wanted to put up a picture of a straw in the shape of ... well... erm, a particular part of the male anatomy that apparently the packers in London must have seen in our drawers and duly packed, but Jan vetoed that on grounds of "appropriateness", or lack thereof). 

We spent a couple of days rummaging through everything, sorting it out, and now the flat is looking more homely. It's almost like civilisation in here! I can't fully articulate the LUXURY of that first night of sitting down to dinner with actual plates and not plastic bowls! Drinking out of actual glasses! Using cutlery that wasn't liable to snap in two if you applied too much pressure! JOY!

In other news, Kym has found a place to stay, so we have taken the sofa bed she was sleeping on and turned it into an actual sofa - so we now have multiple bum-parking options as well! 

As I write, Jan has just headed down to our (wonderfully convenient) basement storage area/car space to store some of our winter things. We still have plenty of things to find places for though - and I am sensing another trip to the *shudder* furniture centre in order to buy some new things to put our things in...