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The Family Bandwagon

Our family is spread out across the country and across the world, and what better way to keep in touch than a collaborative digital journal?

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Happy Birthday Mum

Happy Birthday! See you in a few weeks!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Where's our header gone?

I can't find it.. and I don't know the code to put it back.
Damien? Glenn? Can you put our header(s) back please?
and I don't know how to put the comments back to inline either.. not sure why it's all changed.. i didn't change it.. did someone?
mysterious and vaguely annoying.

The Cat is officially out of the Bag

Well, we've reached the end of the 13th week, meaning the first trimester, and so we've begun telling the world our news about the tiny person growing inside Cheryl. If like me you've been itching to tell someone, now it is officially okay to do so. Hooray!

Monday, 28 July 2008

A hydrocarbon- and hydroxl-fuelled weekend

Ah, back at work on a Monday morning. I'm enjoying my new job, actually - we even do things that could be considered ethical: enabling a micropayment economy in some of the poorer parts of the world, therefore boosting the economy and giving humans access to funds which they've never had before (e.g. in parts of Africa it's only something like 5% of people who have a bank account ... and we complain when they shut down our country branches!!).

Certainly better than letting rich people move their money around the world in order to let them stay rich ;-) and avoid the taxes that the rest of us poor working chumps have to pay. But enough subversive prosthelyitising! The point of this blog entry is to tell y'all what we did with our weekend - and it was all about friends, fermented grains and fossil fuels (and future fuel-cells, ahah!).

On Friday night we went to Chris's work drinks at a dingy little bar called the King's Arms in Holborn. Now, if that's where the King's soldier's spend their time, I'm surprised that Scotland didn't conquer England years ago - okay, a little unkind, it's a fun place to hang out but it's certainly shabby. Made all the more shabby-looking by Chris's entire office standing outside with pints of beer!

Strange phenomenon - when the sun comes out everybody is at a pub somewhere. And there are enough sprinkled throughout the city and surroundings, but they're always so full that people are spilling out the door, around the building, across the road in the local park. Strange, strange, strange.

So we had a couple of drinks and met a few new people Friday night. (Chris later went out clubbing with our mate Stolly, but Dee and I headed home for an early-ish night.) Saturday we caught up with another Aussie named Mark for lunch at the Union Tavern nearby. Bangers and mash for me, yum! After lunch we took Mark back home, and found Chris, Tina, Colleen and her friend Murray all having a wee party!

So many people in the back-patio area that we picked up the couch and took it out with us. Highlights: big chats about everything; more people turning up randomly; Chris bringing out a fern from his room, "because Planty was missing out"; yummy take-away Indian food (and lots of it).

On Sunday we got up early and headed to the British Motor Show (by way of Giraffe for pancakes and smoothies). So many cars! Trucks! Vans!


I walked around with Mark, a rev-head from way back. The coolest things in the first half of the building were the concept cars - with brightly glowing ninja-headlights, doors that swept up and back like wings and dashboards that looked like they belonged on the Starship Enterprise.

There were also a bunch of "green" cars - from low-emission petrol to hybrid (petrol and electric), diesel to biodiesel to other biofuel, fully electric with batteries or hydrogen fuel-cells. There were cars with recycled plastic bodies and solar panels, cars you plugged in to the wall at night, even a solar-powered bio-diesel Lotus Elise sports-car (in fetching brown-and-green forest colours).

I like seeing the electric cars, but most of them looked either a) ridiculous (square boxes on wheels, or bubbles that made the smart cars look sleek) or b) like something out of a Japanese cartoon (much better, but will they actually mass-manufacture them?).

Then it was onto the other side of the building for the petrol- and diesel-guzzling supercars -- Ferraris and Zondas and Lamboghinis and manufacturers I've never even heard of (but Mark's eyes glazed over and he drooled like Homer Simpson when he saw them). Lot's of things for going really fast - there were even a couple of motorcycles, so I was happy.

(Chris apparently sat in a Mini Cooper-D (for diesel), pretending that he really might buy one to the person minding the stand. Then when we finally caught up with him in the afternoon, he was genuinely considering it as a car to get sometime in the future! So I guess they did their job.)

Home to a barbeque (it's great, that patio!) and then we watched The Castle (classic) to try to introduce Colleen (Scottish) and Tina (English) to Australian culture. Not sure they got it :-).

Thank you everone and hello again

I know it's been a while - I've had a busy month or two..

Thank you all for your cards and pressies and happy thoughts. I did rather well with booty this year - I bought myself a second-hand wii (and wii fit), my Uni friends gave me Mario Kart Wii (so if you have it too, we can play online!), Mum and Dad sent me some lovely summer tops and a funky table runner that fits perfectly on my table with drop-down sides (that I got for free), Glenn, Dee, Damien and Cheryl got together and today I awoke to a package of magnetic tantrix (it's such a fun game!) and belgian black and white chocolate flakes (apparently good for hot chocolates, desserts, or "Spread butter on a large piece of bread and sprinkle with white and black chocolate flakes. Simply delicious...". I've not tried that yet, but maybe it would be a good dinner. heheh..), I bought some purple shoes with Nana's money (Thanks Nana, they're great!) and Bruce gave me a 3D Labyrinth Puzzle (sounds easy - it's not!) and some mead (yummo).

After being out with the Lab constantly, it's finally the school holidays. This means I'm doing admin stuff for the next couple of weeks. Although I'll have the Lab out again mid-August. It's nice to not have to leave the house between 6am and 6.30am. It also means I have a little bit more time for catching up on things.. and I've just uploaded the photos from the May Bank Holiday Weekend that I spent in London.

Shake it upSo, here are some photos from the BBQ at Glenn and Dee's two months ago. :)

We had a good evening - as you can see here, the boys got the BBQ going. It was burning well.. until Troy shook it and smoked everyone. It was the first time the couch made it out into the back yard (I think). It's good to hear that the couch still gets to be a part of things. Unfortunately, Planty didn't join in the fun that night, but even so, there was enough good food, drink and conversation for it to be fun.

I'm going to leave it here.. and update again when there are more photos. heheh..

*big hugz* to everyone.
And thanks again!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Old School Rock. Heavy, man

This weekend we (finally!) visited Stonehenge, near Salisbury. Tina drove the four of us (Tina, Chris, Danielle and me) along with an excessive amount of picnic food -- it's not that there was confusion about who was bringing what, it's just that we didn't trust Chris to pack more than pre-made sandwiches :-D.

So we got to Stonehenge in a couple of hours, then sat in a field and ate and drank as much as we could, with the occasional frisbee session or kick of the footy to get our appetites back up to par. It really was fun -- we had salads, cheeses, biscuits, brownies, chicken, smoked meats, salami, all washed down with apple cider (how very English!). Then of course it was time to crack open the strawberries and cava (which is like champagne, but Spanish rather than french).


So we were all very full when it came time to waddle around the stones. It's all roped off from quite a distance now -- back in '77 you could actually climb on them, and in earlier times people would chip bits off for good luck or their healing properties! You get a free audioguide, which is why everyone appears to be talking on their mobile phones.

Each one of these rocks weighs something like the equivalent of 7 elephants, and work began on Stonehenge about 5,000 years ago. Which goes to show you just can't trust builders, I guess.

We eventually got home kind of late, so I'm tired today.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Dayna for Tuesday. Hope you have a great day!
Love from Mum and Dad

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Noarlunga Beach

Without any real plans for the weekend, and with the first sunny Sunday in a while, Cheryl and I decided to go to the beach. We had calamari and chips for lunch (woot!) and then went for a walk (to walk off the calamari and chips). We found an interesting looking walking trail and followed it over some dunes and up a couple of hills for a while, then realised it wasn't circling around or anything and had to turn back.

There's photos up on flickr :)

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Check it out now - the funk-soul brother

Well, nobody made any suggestions (probably a little bit late to ask I guess) but we still managed to have a nice four-day weekend. Stayed mostly at home on Thursday and Friday, played computer games (I got Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War for £10 from Amazon, and it runs flawlessly in Ubuntu/Linux). I had loooooooooong sleeps, whilst Dee actually went to the gym a couple of times (thus making me feel even lazier ... and lovin' it!). Saturday morning we all went to the gym (Dee, Chris and I) and then it was Fatboy Slim in Hyde Park in the afternoon-to-evening!

Actually, there were a few artists on a couple of different stages -- mostly electronic music, DJs, some rappers -- as it was part of the "O2 Wireless Festival". What wireless has to do with music, I don't know; perhaps it's because you can download music over the wifi network, or maybe a salute to the early days of radio? Whatever the case, Chris and I lined up outside the open-air venue -- a 2-metre wall surrounded an area the size of maybe 5 football fields (Hyde Park is huge).

Once we got inside, it was chaos. Well-meaning chaos, music-enjoying chaos, too-much-to-drink-before-lunchtime chaos. Plastic bottles littered the grass in about the same density as the human attendees; lines to the many bar-slash-tents stretched out across the lawn. Around the walls were stalls selling food and trinkets (glow-bracelets, necklaces, flashing lights, the usual dance-club paraphenalia), whilst strategically placed (and bad-smelling) mega-loos serviced the other end of the process. I imagine that most of London was once like a mega-loo -- plastic porta-potties in lines of tens and twenties, the humble pissoir-racks giving the men the previously-untried (and generally unwanted) experience of peeing whilst looking straight at another person (as the urinals were about chest-high and back-to-back). Eww.

Fatboy Slim came on at about 8:30pm (after Robyn, whose pop-style and catchy beats were stuck in my head for days afterwards). I hadn't seen pictures of him before, but he looks more like an English teacher than a popular musician. He spun his mixes, the crowds went wild, and we all bounced to old favourites (We've Come A Long Way, Baby) and new. (Chris made it his job -- no, his solemn calling -- to get as close to the front of the stage as possible. My tolerance for pushing through people was not so high, but I did follow him some of the way.)

When the show was over, a mass-exodus ensued. Expected, inevitable. I tagged along with Joyce and Luke (Chris's friends) whilst they raced to the exit, then came back to find Chris once they were off in Luke's car. The plan was to get a quiet drink somewhere -- the reality was the two of us walking south instead of north, then jumping on the train and getting back to King's Cross station at midnight. Which was just in time for the local pubs to close, so no quiet drink for us!

Sunday Dee and I went to Camden Market (it's fun, that market). We walked there from our place, looked around for a bit, but soon realised that the walking was more fun than the looking, especially when you don't have anything you really need to buy (got Dayna's pressie a while back; otherwise Camden would be a good place to find it!). So we caught up with Chris and Tina for lunch, then wandered back along one of the many canals to home. All the walking meant we didn't feel too bad about having a little pizza for dinner, whilst watching "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry" on the ol' Xbox.

Good weekend, really! What has everyone else been up to?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Edinburgh on a business trip

A quick trip to Edinburgh on the company dime for me this week -- part hand-over, part team night out. Except that certain key members of the team -- namely the ones with the corporate expense account -- were either sick or on holiday, so there was no night out!

Instead, I home at 5am to get to Heathrow in time for my flight. A barrier-machine on the tube tried to kill me, but once I extricated myself it was a quick hop on the Heathrow Express to Terminal 5. I packed light -- underwear and one fresh t-shirt -- and checked-in online the night before so security was a breeze. Still had to take my shoes off (why do they do that?) and walk through a metal detector however.

The 'plane was perhaps half-full, and I was sitting in an aisle-seat over the wing. Not the worst seat, perhaps, but not the greatest -- no view, an ever-present danger involving elbows and drinks trolleys, not even some turbulence to lighten the mood. I made sure to pick a window seat at the back on my way home.

I arrived in Edinburgh -- ahh, the permanent, omnipresent odor of Scotland's capital! Somewhere between "warm wheatbix" and "vegemite toast", the breakfast-themed smell is presumably the by-product of whatever magic is being performed each day inside the distilleries to bring us the e'er humble whiskey. I followed the scent onto a shuttle bus into the city centre, then walked up the hill to the office.

Many hours later, much dejected with the dwindling prospect of free drinks and food, I left the office in search of my hotel. Across the bridges into the Old Town and I could see it -- a stone's throw away, but on a street that ran under the bridge! With no visible way down, I continued into old-town proper and wound my way 'round until I found the back entrance. By this stage I was so tired I could've happily slept in one of Edinburgh's many rabbit warren-like covered streets (called "wynds" or "closes"). Luckily -- for the more deserving homeless, if not for myself -- the hotel check-in was easy enough, even for the walking-dead (or walking-comatose). Within minutes (that seemed like seconds) I was in my small but well-appropriated room, asleep on the couch.

My stomach woke me within the hour (actually, probably my intestines ... or more truly some complex interaction of signal-chemicals through one or more of the evolved internal communication networks that our bodies use for status monitoring and control). My immediate thought -- pizza! So I trundled back into the real world for a short time, found a restaurant that would make an Italian-style pizza (thin, not too many toppings) and retreated with my booty back to my temporary pirate-cave. (The pizza, as it turned out, was not as good as it could be. But it was still better than going hungry.)

I watched some TV -- something about chimpanzees -- and drifted off to sleep early.

The next day in the office was much the same, but thankfully shorter. At 4pm I jumped on the shuttle back to the airport, waited for my near-inevitably delayed flight with resigned acceptance rather than anxiety, but eventually I was safely cloistered in the tiny world that constitutes a aeroplane seat -- seat, foot-rest, tiny table, magazines, light above and bag storage below. At least it was a window-seat, and being a British Airways flight (rather than the cheapest carrier possible -- hey, I wasn't paying!) they brought food and complimentary drinks. Although with a 50 minute flight time I barely had time for a prawn salad (too salty), cup of tea and glass of chardonnay.

HEX'd (Heathrow Express) back into Paddington Bear Station, then Tube'd home (which may invoke images of flying across the city in a Futurama-like vacuum tube, but actually involves more sitting and less flying). Back home to my baby! And the housemates, oh well.

So I've got the next couple of days off -- any suggestions on what we can do?