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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?

Monday, 26 October 2009

A busy October indeed

It's been a busy couple of weeks for us this month, with: a visit to Manchester; a trip to the country; Sunday roast for my birthday; a Brazilian barbeque; leaving drinks for MI5; an office move; a halloween party; a sci-fi film all-nighter. To top it off we're headed up to Norwich for a beer festival next weekend! Perhaps November can be a quiet one?


I think I already mentioned Manchester (in an email?) -- we took the bus on Friday night, arrived quite late and were very happy to see Dayna & Bruce (thanks for picking us up! I'm not sure we could've handled another 20-30 minutes on a bus, even a Magic Bus.) It was really good to see Dayna, and we spent the weekend talking, playing Wii, drinking Dayna's impressive collection of donated alcoholic beverages (as Vicky has left for kiwi-land). We even did some tourism/shopping around Manchester central, with the mandatory "duck into shops and pubs to escape the rain" manouever. Then it was back on the bus on Sunday to get here! All in all a fun weekend away.


Another weekend was spent away in Dorking, south of London. Only an hour or so on the train, but out of the city and surrounded by greenery: fields and glens and forests and hills. We stayed with Martin and Helen (of "Jack The Ripper: The Musical" fame -- Martin is originally from Castlemaine) and had a lovely dinner in a pub/restaurant in the middle of nowhere (Helen drove) with delicious food and an awesome, relaxing atmosphere. Seriously! Good! Food! The kind of place you have dessert, even though you can't really fit it in. The next day we hit a farmer's market, before returning to the big smoke on the train.

Hmm, all these relaxing weekends, we should be completely chilled out, right?

The weekend of my birthday Dee cooked a lovely roast lamb for us & 9 guests. We stuffed ourselves silly, I got presents (yay!) and played Xbox. Tim Churchward, who I went to Uni with (and who is known as "the nicest man in the world") even visited with his wife -- they are travelling, and stayed with Martin and Helen for a few days. Great to see them!

Chris and Tina (housemates) were away for my actual birthday, so when they returned they took us out to dinner at the O2 Arena to a Brazilian barbeque house. Dear Goddess, so much fresh and tender barbeque meat: you grab a plate, load up on the bare-minimum amount of salad required to keep away the scurvy, then wait with hungry eyes as the waiters bring freshly cooked skewers of lamb, beef, chicken, fish and other poor, delicious animals straight to your table, slicing off as much or as little as you request before putting the skewers back onto the barbeque to continue cooking. I ate. And ate. And ate. For days I couldn't eat red meat! I even tried chicken hearts! (Chewy, tastes more like beef than chicken, and more than a little freaky.)


Afterwards we took a ferry back along the Thames to London Bridge, then had a traditional ale in a real pewter tankard at The Cooperage. We spoke to the manager about some of the paraphenalia hanging on the walls -- apparently in ye olden dayes of cobblestones and muck it was easier to drag barrels of wine and beer on gigantic wooden "cask sleds" dotted with flint than to risk breaking the wooden spokes of cartwheels.

On the work-front this week we moved into a new office, a proper "City" office. I'm even wearing a suit again (although not a tie)! Right in the heart of the square-mile, our office is newly appointed, clean, bright and airy and has a coffee machine. Yes, small things like that are all that is required to make me happy. The week earlier we said goodbye to a young man who may or may not have joined the secret-service -- we'd become good friends, and I'm hoping he stays in touch, even if he can't talk about what he's working on :-).

Right now we're sitting in our local "indy" cinema, Shortwave, having a glass of wine and trying to decide whether we want to see the Mexican film they're showing this weekend. It's free, as they're meant to be showing Coco Before Chanel, but I spent last night in a sci-fi film festival so I'm not sure how long I can stay awake, even with a nap from about 8am until 1:30 (I got home at 7am, and only slept a little bit in the cinema).

T'was fun though: I met Martin at Victoria station on Saturday night, then we headed to Troy's place for a Halloween party. We were amongst the first to arrive. We didn't dress up, as we were off to the film festival later, but I put in some scary looking contact lenses and we both donned wigs that Troy had from the last dress up party. Soon enough more people arrived: Frankenstein, Death, witches, zombies and even Jack Pumpkinhead and his lovely Lady (what was her name?). Troy cooked nibbles, and Martin and I filled up before heading to meet Allen (from RBS) at the film-festival at midnight.

It might sound daft, going to a party before an all-night film fest, but I think it was a stroke of genius: at about 5:30am Martin and I headed back to Victoria Station and he jumped on the express to Gatwick, where he was catching a flight to Australia at 9am!! With that kind of schedule he was bound to fall asleep on the 'plane, wake up in Dubai, then fall asleep again when he got to Melbourne at about 11pm -- time zone adjustment sorted! Or, at least, that's how the thinking went. We'll wait 'til he gets back to report on how successful the plan was...

I'll upload some photos and link to them here in the coming week: Manchester, and full photostream.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

photos of balloons?

Find the rest of the pictures here (in lower quality than this one). You'll need to log in to Flickr to see them - they're "only family". I'll change that if you want me to.


We had a great flight this morning. We had to meet at 6am and found there were eight passengers. After a couple of pilot balloons to test the wind direction, the basket and balloon were set up for the flight, from the Londonderry reserve.(one in Bendigo not Ireland).
Buildings and vehicles looked like toys as we drifted over the city. We even managed to spot our house. Since balloons are governed by the wind we floated over farms and bushland, spotting lots of kangaroos, until we reached Kamarooka where we landed in a farmers paddock. As the day was becoming windy, the landing was bounce, bounce then drag as the basket tipped over on it's side. We'd all been instructed on landing procedures so had no problems. We then helped pack up the balloon and basket back into the trailer and were driven back to Bendigo for a late breakfast at the Boardwalk cafe. Glenn and Dee will be pleased to hear Dad chose Eggs Benedict and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had Eggs florentine (with salmon). Also juice and coffee. Sue made sure we also had water to prevent dehydration. We were presented with certificates and a wine glass each. We'll test them with a sparkling bronze cabernet savignon we bought on our trip to Adelaide.
We both had a wonderful morning. Thank you all. I'll try for photos.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Up up and away

Balloon flight looks good for tomorrow morning so we'll be up up and away. Meeting at the Boardwalk at 6am so doesn't sound too early. Maybe there's a small plus for daylight saving.
Post again tomorrow afternoon to let you all know how it went.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Happy birthday Glenn

Hey bro,

I know you had a fab day with cake and fizzy drink (but no fairy-bread.. awwww). Hope the rest of the year is as good as today has been.

Haaaaappy birrrthdaaaay to yooooooou...
Haaaaappy birrrthdaaaay toooo yoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuu...
Haappy biiiiiiiirthdaaaaaaay deeeeear Glennnnnjiiiiiii...
Haappy biirthdaaay toooo yooooooooooooooooouuu!

keep smiling!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Happy birthday Dad

Happy birthday Dad!
Hope you have a fun-filled day with lots of smiles.
*big hugz*

Haaaaappy birrrthdaaaay to yooooou...
Haaaaappy birrrthdaay toooo yoooooooooouuuuuuuu...
Happy biiiiiiiirthdaaaaaay deeear Daaaaaad...
Happy biirthdaay toooo yooooooooooooooooouuu!