Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Misadventures in Packing

Before the movers arrived a couple weeks ago, I went through every cupboard, wardrobe and drawer (or draw as some say here).  I asked my darling husband to sort through his belongings and get rid of anything he didn't want to take to the U.K.   We purged enough clothing and shoes and toys and household items to require several drop offs at our local thrift shop

When the packers finally showed up, I had carefully set aside one suitcase  for me and each child which contained everything we'd need for the next 6 weeks.  This was no easy task since I had to pack for 2 climates!  It was pretty minimal- but adequate.

Now notice that I did not pack a bag for my husband.  This is an important point in the story.  He was responsible for packing his own bag.

Fast forward to packing day.  The crew arrived and, in a very Un-Aussie like way, swept into action.  They were quick, efficient and thorough.  In less than 5 hours all of our belongings were wrapped and packed and stacked in the container.

In fact, they were so good that I was almost able to overlook their slightly offensive musical tastes (like T-Pain's "Take Your Shirt Off" ).

At the end of the day, we breathed a sigh of relief.  The hard work was done.  Now we'd be able to spend the next 2 and a half weeks visiting with friends and enjoying our time in Sydney.

But of course, everything did not go off without a hitch.  When my sweet husband went to get ready for work the next morning he quickly realized something was missing from his suitcase.  Shoes.  He has no shoes.  Well, except for the trainers (that's what they call sneakers here) he had on his feet.  Every other pair of shoes the man owns are now in a container not to be seen again for 6-8 weeks.

You might think, no problem,  just go out and buy a new pair of shoes.  Sounds simple enough, unless you've seen the type of shoes Aussie men tend to wear.  Think long, pointy, duck bill-like footwear.  That's pretty much what was "on offer" at our local shoe shop.

And then, yesterday, I was walking past our local Vinnie's- the thrift shop that served as a dumping ground for all our unwanted stuff.  And guess what I saw in the front window-  proudly displayed to lure in bargain seeking customers?

That's right:  a pair of my husband's discarded shoes!  We could actually buy his unwanted shoes back for the bargain price of $70 AUD  (about $72.80 USD).

Believe me, I was tempted to buy them back, but I resisted.  So if you happen to see my otherwise well dressed husband going to fancy dinners and meetings and goodbye parties in his trainers, you'll know why.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Australia

I don't want to leave you- with your sunshine and white sand beaches and happy people and tall white gum trees.

I want more time to watch my kids run around Rocky Point Island and stare out at the sea and think about how lucky I am to have landed in this lucky country for 2 years.

I want to ride on the green and yellow ferry, marvel at how the sea and the sky could possibly be so blue and stare at the sparkling white sails of the Opera House as we pull into Circular Quay. 

I want to stop by the kiosk and stroll along The Esplanade holding my husband's hand and just freeze time for a moment.  I don't want to say goodbye.

We will come back some day.  It won't be the same, but I'll remember.  I'll show my daughter where she learned to ride a bike and my son where he spent so many afternoons digging in the sand.  And I'll tell my baby, "You were born here."

Thank you, Australia, for being our home.  I will miss you.  Only one week left.

Photo:Vincent Lai

With love,


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Packing Up

And so it goes . . . .

I guess it's official now.  All of our personal belongings are being loading into this container, placed aboard a ship and sent to the other side of the world. 

We have to show up in London-  otherwise, what would become of my beloved tortilla press, the Little Buddy's rubbish truck collection (they say "rubbish" in the UK, right?), and our huge library of children's books? 

Nope, no backing out now.  Less than three weeks and counting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Winter Beach Days

Winter is officially here in Sydney.  It is cold and the wind is biting.  We've had some torrential rain, too.  But last week we were also blessed with gorgeous blue skies and bright sunshine.  Perfect winter afternoon on the beach.

I'm really going to miss days like this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Family Photos in the Botanic Garden

Photographer:  Vincent Lai

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Don't Mind if I Doo


Doo Town is a quirky little place on the Tasman Peninsula.  The story goes that back in the 1930s, an early resident of Doo Town placed a name plate reading "Doo I" on his weekend cottage.  He started a trend, and creative townspeople have been naming their cottages ever since.

Here's a pictorial tour of Doo Town's clever cottages.

One of my favourites:

What doo you think?

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Unraveling a Life

Tasmanian Sunrise
Our time left here in Australia can now be measured in weeks instead of months.  We'll be gone before the eggs in my refrigerator expire.  It's surreal to think that I  have to begin to unravel the life I've spent the past 2 years creating.

Squeeze in a couple last trips.
Sort through our belongings and decide what to take, what to sell, what to toss.  
Close out our accounts and memberships.  
Say good-bye to all the people we've come to love here. 

Even the kids are starting to feel the tension of being torn between two lives on two continents.  Someone once said that beginnings are always scary, endings are always sad, but it's what's in between that counts.

I just wish the in between could last a little longer.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scenic Tasmania

For our final Aussie holiday we headed down to Tasmania and spent some time exploring the Tasman peninsula and the capital city of Hobart.  Tassie has a reputation for being the most natural state in Australia.  It's rugged coastline and convict past didn't disappoint.  Tasmania was gorgeous (But really, isn't all of Australia?  Like this, this and this).

Tourists are discouraged from driving after dark in Tasmania.  It didn't take long to see why. At least 4 dead wombats lined the Arthur highway on the drive from Hobart to Port Arthur.  So much marsupial carnage was difficult to see.  Luckily the kiddos were too busy poking each other in the backseat to notice the roadkill wonderland.

Our first stop was Port Arthur, the site of the convict settlement in the 1800s.  The landscape was beautiful, and the ruins were interesting.  When you see the historic site you just can't help but think about how miserable it must have been to be a convict at Port Arthur.  It was freezing, the wind was whipping and the rain pelted us.  I just kept thinking about how lucky the Sydney convicts were by comparison.

We spent the night in Port Arthur at the Stewarts bay Lodge.  I highly recommend the deluxe cabins there.  The setting and the views were so beautiful.  The cabins were modern and clean and spacious.  And dinner at their Taylors restaurant was the best meal we had in Tassie (Ok- it was the only decent meal we had in Tassie).   I wish we could have stayed more than one night!

After Port Arthur we did some exploring on the Tasman Peninsula.  The coastline is breathtaking.  We visited Devil's Kitchen, The Blowhole, Tesselated Pavement and the Tasman Arch.

We drove through Doo Town (which was so amusing it deserves its own post) and spent the night in a guest bungalow in Marion Bay.  The bungalow had a wall of glass looking out on the gorgeous Tasmanian coast.  It was so picturesque.  Freezing cold and pouring rain, but still picturesque!

Day three brought us to Hobart and the famous Salamanca Markets.  We handed each kid a $20 bill and set the free to shop for souvenirs.  The market was huge, with stalls hawking everything from gorgeous handmade Tassie wood products to cheap "made in China" plastic trucks and fresh produce.  Wanna guess what the little buddy bought?

That night our family had a private night tour at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  We were the only people in the park, with a private guide who took us inside the enclosures.  Nothing quite like tossing a chunk of opossum leg to a hungry Tassie Devil

 We also fed this frogmouth and the little potoroos.


We all enjoyed getting up close with the animals at the sanctuary.  Although I did freak out a bit when a sugar glider plopped down on the face of my sleeping baby.  That was a little too close for comfort for me!

On our final day in Tasmania we headed up to the top of Mt Wellington where we found SNOW!  We were completely ill prepared but the kids didn't care.  They reveled in throwing snowballs at each other and the Little Princess (the only one with gloves!)  insisted on building a snowman while the rest on the family retreated to the warmth of the car. 

After all that snow play we stopped by the Cascade Brewery.

And then made our way to the MONA.

 There were some really cool things at the MONA, like the full size mack truck in a corridor, and the wall of paper panels seen above.  The kids loved the light bulbs that flicker in time with your heartbeat and the architecture of the building with its massive sandstone wall is impressive.  But there were also some really disturbing things at the MONA.  And much of the content is totally inappropriate for kids.  A staff member was stationed outside the most objectionable exhibits so they were easy to avoid.  But when we got out of the lift on level 2 and found ourselves staring at a wall of plaster cast vaginas we realized the MONA might not be the best place for our inquisitive little children.   So we quickly headed back outside to the expansive grounds and watched them run around with these giant bean bags.  (Which I think are intended to be used by adults as they relax and sip wine).

We loved Tasmania.  Even with the road kill, the freezing rain, the creepy art and the lack of decent dining options, it was an amazing holiday.   It was rural and green and rugged and simply stunning.  Tasmania really is like no place else on earth- and I'm so glad I got to see it.

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