Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Season's Greetings

Now we're both working, 'blog time' has been seriously reduced....hence the fact it's been a little while since the last post.....!
Anyway, all is still bonza, as they say over here. Dan's yoghurt shop is closed for most of Christmas so he's got a cushty week off.... in contrast, I'm working every waking hour with my only day off being actual Christmas Day. Someone's got to put bread on the table!

I'm still blagging the fact that I'm a 'barista' at the ice cream shop. I can cope with the simple coffees now but anything out of the ordinary still confuses me. Here's a pic of me practising at home....

Our landlady, Joanne, organised a Christmas get-together for the housemates here and the ones at another of her houses. We all went round to their house, because it's huge, and had a pizza night. We were eating pizza for the next week, as Joanne had ordered us a giant pizza each...I think she thought we needed feeding, as we're all living away from home!
Last week we headed over to Coogee beach, after Jen our housemate recommended it. It's about a 30 minute bus ride from here, which saves us going into the city. We had a really lovely day there, relaxing on the beach. It doesn't seem quite as manic as Bondi, which tends to get overrun with school kids (especially now it's the school holidays).
We liked Coogee so much that we decided to go back there at the weekend for their carol concert. We headed over early and spent a bit of time exploring the area. Someone at work had said that Clovelly (not the one in ND!) is really nice, so we took a walk along the coastal path to check it out. It was a lovely walk and I'm sure we'll revisit Clovelly with our swimming costumes again soon. It's a very narrow beach, and they've made the bay into a massive swimming pool, with places to climb in along the side. It wasn't the weather for it when we were there, but we'll definitely be back on a sunny day.

Dan and I got to the carol concert nice and early to get our pitch. It was a good job we did, because by the time it started every little space was taken by families and their picnic blankets. Dan bought a little candle and a booklet so we could sing along..... as you can see, he got well into it!!
 Newtown is full of lovely restaurants, so it is surprising that we have only just been out for our first meal. To celebrate our five and a half year anniversary (any excuse!!) we went to Thai Riffic, one of the most popular eateries. It's got a great reputation, and I can see why. The decor in the restaurant is so pretty and the food was amazing. A very enjoyable evening....
  All that's left for me to say is MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bread on the table!

It feels better typing a blog this time knowing that we both have jobs now! We've both been working for nearly two weeks and are making the most of our days off. I have landed a job at a frozen yogurt bar that opened a fortnight ago in Newtown. I am really enjoying it and the owners are nice too, which helps. They left me in charge the other night, while they went to see a show, which I was chuffed with as I have only been there a short while. The following day they said how well I had done and that I have gained their trust, which is good! Jo was doing a little bit of waitressing for a while but the owner wasn't very nice and didn't give her enough hours so she tried for another job. She is now working in an ice-cream parlour. It's just up the road from me which is handy and only a short walk from the house. They sell coffee at the shop too, so Jo has been putting her barista skills to work! She dreads being asked to make any coffees but as they say 'practice makes perfect!'

Last week we popped over to Manly where a Ben and Jerry's shop was having its grand opening. Because we can't say no to a freebie we went over to grab our free ice-cream.  Ben and Jerry's isn't well-known over here yet so the majority of the customers that day were American! The queue was quite long but worth the wait, especially when Mr Cohen and Mr Greenfield (aka Ben and Jerry) served us themselves. I had the 'Chocolate Therapy' and Jo had 'Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough'. If you have never tried their ice-cream before then go out now and buy some, you won't be disappointed...!
As you might be aware by now, I really hate spiders! I knew that coming to Australia wasn't going to be easy as 'house spiders' over here are a bit bigger than the ones back at home. I have only seen a few so far and they aren't a pretty sight. Jo was working the other night and I was at home with Yazeed, one of our housemates, who also hates spiders. Yazeed went into the cupboard under the stairs to put the iron away and spotted an 'incy wincy' (as I like to call them). It ran deeper into the cupboard so Yazeed pulled all the contents out and tried to coax him out. He eventually emerged just in time for Yazeed to get him, hooray! I still will always be on edge but that is one less to worry about!
We're both still trying to get our heads around Christmas being a few weeks away. With the weather being around 35°C most days it's hard to believe. Anyway, we have got our Christmas party tonight organised by our landlady, Joanne. She has a few houses around the area so is gathering us all up and putting on a little get-together. It will be nice to meet some new people and get a few 'Christmassy' photos...

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Initial Newtown Edition (thanks Gramp!)

Firstly, thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post... it's lovely to know you're all following it and (hopefully) enjoying reading about our adventure.

We have now been in our house for one week, although it seems like longer. After the nightmare that was Billabong Gardens it was bliss to get here and unpack and have a little bit of space to ourselves.
We are living on a street off the main road which runs through Newtown, so the location is excellent for both shopping and working. It is also a very quiet area, apart from the odd rumble from a plane overhead.

The first week has been taken up with lots of cleaning! There has been a complete turnaround of housemates, so we've been able to chuck out a lot of rubbish that had been lying around and, because Dan and I got here first, we've been able to set the standard and lay down some ground rules!
The living space, kitchen and bathroom are all shared, but the other guys seem to be out quite a lot so we've been lucky and had the house to ourselves most evenings. Being able to cook in an empty kitchen and chill out in front of the television has been luxury.
My favourite room in the house, unsurprisingly, is our bedroom. I love its wooden floorboards and big wooden bed, to me it feels quite Moroccan. We treated ourselves to the red leaf lamp as a moving-in present, which I think really suits the room. Not sure how we're going to get it back to the UK though....!
As time goes on we're gradually getting to grips with finding our way around Newtown. We've found Franklins, a much cheaper supermarket than the ones in the city, and a bargain chemist. Having said that, I still think everything is much more expensive over here. I was excited to find my shampoo on offer for $6 the other day, which is still about £3.50. The joys of being a girl...!
We have also found Newtown library, which will be very handy. I've really got back into reading since we've come over here and up until now I've been buying books from the second hand shop, so this will save me a lot of money.
After all the food pics in the last post, you'll be pleased to know I've since joined the gym (I have to burn off all those iced coffees somehow!). I was really lucky and saw an advert on Gumtree from a girl who was leaving Newtown and wanted to transfer her membership. As a result I didn't have to pay a joining or administration fee, saving me an absolute fortune. I've been three times so far, and am really enjoying it. I'm yet to try out any of the classes but I may go to body combat next week, as Jen is always raving about how good it is!!

Although our outside space is quite small at the house (just a small patio and bbq), we are lucky to have Victoria Park just down the road. We have been going there and sitting under the trees to read our books, or just stopping off there on the long walk to the city. Right in the middle of the park is an outdoor swimming pool, which we are going to try out soon. You can't beat diving into a nice cold pool on a hot summer's day. (p.s. the pic below is of the duck pond in the park, that's not the swimming pool!!)
At the moment we are enjoying our last few days of freedom before we start work properly. We may go shopping for Christmas decorations later.... I still can't get my head around the fact it's next month..... or just head off down to the park again to catch some rays... it's a hard life!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Slowly but surely...!

One month on and we nearly have our own pad, four days left! The latest plan was to stay at the Wake Up! until Friday, but we changed it to stay in a hostel in Newtown as it's closer to our new home, wrong choice! The place we're in now is known as Billabong Gardens. Don't be fooled by the exotic name as it is a bit of a dive to say the least...! Not only do you have to hire out cutlery, but you have to wipe your feet on the way out!
The past week has been really enjoyable. We stumbled across lots of cute markets scattered around the outskirts of Sydney, including Paddington, Bondi, Glebe and The Rocks (they all make Barnstaple Pannier Market look like a jumble sale!) There were so many stalls to look at and we managed to see lots of bits and bobs that we want to take home with us, just not sure how?!?

We are slowly exploring more of Newtown as the days go on. As Jo said it has everything we need. One particular shop that has stood out from the rest is a really old book store at the end of the road. It opens 9 - midnight 7 days a week which is crazy but they have every book you can imagine and there always seems to be someone in there!
If you didn't know, Jo started her new job the other night at Basil's pizza and pasta resaurant. It sounded like she was thrown in at the deep end, but she managed okay and is back in on Saturday full-time! I also have a  job at a frozen yogurt bar which is being built! Sounds crazy but should be up and running by the end of the week, fingers crossed. Even though we have jobs lined up we have been making our money last. We both love a good bargain. So when we spotted Milo (a Nestlé breakfast cereal ) on offer for $4 we jumped at it. Things seem to taste better when they're cheaper!
There have been numerous new shops opening up in and around Sydney the past week. When they open they all seem to have an offer on to entice you in. We have taken advantage of half price frozen yogurts and buy one get one free ice teas! The next store to open is a Ben and Jerry's shop in Manly at the end of the month. Ben and Jerry will be there themselves dishing out free ice-cream, so no prizes for guessing what we'll be doing?!? Let's hope the ice-cream tastes as good as the ice teas!
Now all we have to do is stick it out in here for a few more days until Friday. There will be lots of photos of the house in the next blog so stay tuned!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Coffee and Wigs

The past week has been busy busy busy! We’ve been trekking back and forth between the YHA and Wake Up! (two hostels in the centre of Sydney), as on some nights one or the other is fully booked, meaning we have to check out. We have now secured accommodation at the Wake Up! for the next two weeks, so room 206 is our home for the foreseeable future.

Last Thursday Dan and I both passed our RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) training, meaning we can legally work behind a bar now. We also took part in a barista (coffee making) workshop, as just saying you’ve worked in a café is not enough for the picky Aussies! Despite adding these strings to our bows, finding work has still been a slow process. I’ve currently handed in my resumé to about 15 places and haven’t heard back from one. Demoralising isn’t the word!! We haven’t given up hope just yet though, as we are still being quite fussy at the moment.... give it another week and Dan will be back at Maccas!!
Our lives were thoroughly brightened up last Wednesday when two crazy Americans from ‘Miichiiiigaaaaan’ moved into our room at the YHA with, literally, their entire wardrobe, every medicine they could possibly ever need and four months’ worth of cosmetics. Courtney and Cory had arrived! The four of us instantly got on and spent the next week hanging out together (we persuaded them to put 99% of their luggage into storage before we moved to the rather cramped room at the Wake Up!!) The highlight of our time together was a night out on Hallowe’en. We managed to cobble four outfits together for minimal cost and, I think you’ll agree, we looked ‘perdy darn good’! Courtney and Cory are now travelling up the coast, but they are hoping to be back in Sydney to join us for the New Year celebrations.
After realising we probably weren’t going to find work as quickly as we had hoped we decided to at least try and tick the accommodation box. On Gumtree (the ‘in’ website for travellers looking for somewhere to live) we soon stumbled across a house share that looked nice. It was in Newtown, about 10 mins on the train from Sydney Central, so we decided to book an appointment to view the room. As soon as we stepped outside the train station we decided we liked the place. The main high street is made up of loads of little cute independent stores (there seems to be some sort of rule against chains), selling really unusual jewellery and clothing. There’s a real community spirit which you don’t get in the city.

Looking around the house we could really imagine ourselves living there. It’s quaint, with wooden floors and bohemian furniture. This, along with the fact it has wireless Internet and bills included in the rent, was enough to make us sign on the dotted line. It sounds rash without having the regular income from a job lined up (Mum – ‘kick boxing’!!....private joke) but the rent for a week is about 200 bucks cheaper than we are currently paying at the hostels, so it really does make sense.

We are going back to Newtown in the next few days to ask around about jobs. Obviously it would be ideal if we could find work there but, failing that, it’s easily within commuting distance of the city and other major suburbs.

Two weeks today we will be moving in, so no doubt there will be lots of pics coming soon...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

1 week in...

Well, we have officially been here for a week and already we feel like we know our way around! Jo and I now both have an Australian mobile number as well as a new bank account. We have also applied for a tax file number (which stops you being taxed 49%!) and are waiting for it to arrive. There are so many adverts for shared apartments dotted around on lamp posts so we're just going to wait until we get a job sorted and then have a look at what's available. All the apartments they publicise have gyms and saunas which is an addeed bonus!
The YHA is our home at the moment but it's five stars so can't really complain. As we learnt from last year, eating out isn't cheap so we have cooked every night. Tonight's meal was so nice it deserved a photo!

On Sunday we came across the weekly food market in China Town over the road. It reminded us of India, but without the bartering! There was one particular guy there who made us laugh. He was on the fish counter trying to sell us king prawns. The phrase he used was "You try, you like, you buy. You try, you don't like, bye bye!" (imagine this said in an oriental accent!!)
The selection there was so good that we're popping back next Sunday to do our weekly shop.
I thought we had taken every photo possible of Sydney (check out the photos from last year on Facebook!) until yesterday when we stumbled along a bunch of bird cages hanging down a random alley...! What made it even weirder was the fact there wasn't a bird to be seen yet we heard tweeting coming from the cages!!
It's nearly eight in the evening here so we're off to watch a film at the local cinema. Tomorrow will consist of organising a couple of courses to help with jobs. The first is for a RSA licence allowing us to legally work behind a bar. The other is to learn how to master the art of coffee or 'barista skills' as they call it here.

I can see Jo is eager to play on a piano out here, as long as they don't all look like this.....!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Where's my bed?!?

I can't believe Dan and I haven't slept since Sunday!! Bearing in mind it is now Wednesday evening, I think this is possibly the longest I've ever gone without sleep. What is even more surprising is the fact that the photo below (which was taken to prove we are actually in Sydney and not writing this blog from our bedroom) makes us look relatively normal. Radiant, even.

I know you'll all be desperate to see pretty pics of the opera house, the harbour bridge etc...well, sorry to disappoint, but the first two pics are going to be very random.... In our dazed/weary state, this put a smile on our face....
Firstly, they make Oreo Cookie Kit Kat Chunkies..... when you've been eating plane food for two days, this is pretty exciting stuff (hence the slightly manic look in my eye!). Talking of the plane, I must briefly mention the horrific take-off in Kuala Lumpur. Let's just say that seeing lightning bolts right outside the window didn't make for a relaxed journey!
Secondly, I saw, not one, but three Christmas trees today....!! There's something very odd about seeing anything remotely Christmassy when it's 30+ degrees outside....surreal.....

Tomorrow things start to get serious. We're off job hunting..... wish us luck.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Here we go!!!

As promised I am typing this post at Heathrow airport. The last week has gone really quick. My last shift was on Thursday which ended with me covered in 'McDonald's Grease' head to toe (cheers boys)! It hasn't sunk in yet that I have left which is probably a good thing at the mo :'(

Jo had her last day on Wednesday which was quite sad and also long too. We are both now unemployed and off to a foreign country, we must be mad...!
Today is going really quick so far. The departure at Tiverton Parkway was a nightmare. We jumped on at coach G only to realise that we were meant to be in coach C, whoops. We then had to make our way down the train bumping into everyone and squeezing through the buffet cart to get to our seat. As always it was a long process to get from the airport entrance to sitting down. We are now both chillin'and waiting for the gate to open. I hope there are some decent films on the plane to make it more pleasant...!
Anyway, this is the last post from the UK and the next one will be in Sydney some time in the week...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

1 Week to go!!!

What a week! The last few days have been both fun and sad! The meal at Fulhams went really well and it was nice to see everyone together. Jo had her leaving do at The Chichester Arms last week which also went well.
Sunday was the day for 'The Family Get-Together'. Jo's granny and grampy came over along with her mum and dad. Then my sister arrived with her partner Steve. My mum had really excelled herself and put on a great meal for the 10 of us! Everyone enjoyed themselves, even the alpacas!
Then came Monday. The night I had to say bye to my 2nd family, work. It was originally supposed to be a secret but Chilly let the cat out the bag! Anyway, Lucy organised a great night at The Inn On The Square and nearly everyone attended. Food was great. Music (thanks chilly) was great. Some crazy dancing from Mike and Murphy...! and the speeches went well too. I was given a nice load of money in Aus dollars from work along with a giant card with a message from everyone at work inside. I will really miss the guys from work as I have enjoyed every minute there and made so many friends too. Thanks again.
Next post will be at the airport...!

Monday, 5 October 2009

2 Weeks to go!!!

Time is flying by...! This week is going to be a busy one. There are a few get-togethers planned and a meal on Friday to say bye. Finally sorted a way to the airport (quite important), also started to pack my bits up in my room. All that is left now is to sort out some dollars to take and start knocking up a c.v.
Sunday is the 'family do', which will be happy and sad!! : ) / :( 

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

3 Weeks to go!!!

Just so you know, this is the first blog we have done, so go easy on us!
Anyway. 3 weeks from now we will be on the plane going to Oz. The next few weeks are going to be hectic. Lots of goodbyes for friends and family. Leaving parties for the two of us. (Saying bye to my work place will be hard as I have been there 9 years!) and of course the dreaded packing.
So, there you have it, the first post. Please follow us over the next year as we will both try our best to keep you all updated with photos and info of what is happening.
Watch this space!