the rambles of a family of five in Australia


the summer non-ratings period

We have officially decided that there is virtually nothing on T.V. in Australia or the UK that is worth watching – which is a great realisation to have come to when we have scarcely any time free in which to watch it anyway. Despite this, channel surfing is king at the moment, in the hopes that in our rare moments of downtime we might stumble upon hitherto overlooked ratings gold.
Flood coverage doesn’t count, as it is almost required viewing and is utterly devastating both to watch and to sympathise with.
We have watched the second half of a two part special drama on climate change, Burn Up, which counts as one of the best pieces of television we’ve seen in a while.

We are also spending quite a lot of time reading. H is making her way through a number of studies on the life and opinions of C.S. Lewis; a couple of semi-devotional books aimed at enriching women’s relationships with God; sections from the Book of Common Prayer; and Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (which, interestingly, was the last begun and first finished.)
R is reading through eight months’ worth of Top Gear magazine back issues and the book of Philippians.
E is making inroads through Where is the Green Sheep?; That’s Not My Truck; Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball; and Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen’s Parables of Jesus series.
R and H played their first game of Scrabble with H’s mum & dad this trip and learned how frustrating it is trying to get a triple word score with only consonants in our possession.

All three of us are struggling with a lack of sleep at present (more in the next post) but are loving all the planned and unplanned visits with friends and family. Thank you all for making our visit thus far so special and homely!

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christmas 2010

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Rob getting suitably attired to sit in the kitchen and open presents…

E’s first gift – not really sure what to do with all the paper…

First gift unwrapped and sorted – think E is getting the hang of it all!

New crockery and cutlery from Gma and Gpa….

…yep – it’s a winner!

‘More tractor, Daddy, more tractor!’

E chose this himself on Christmas Eve and is still delighted by it!

Cooking Christmas Lunch – E loves to grind pepper.

E also volunteered to wash up. Water all over the floor = happy little boy.

E had his eye on dessert (apple pie) since he woke up. (So did his Dad!)

The wonders of Christmas snowfall!

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snapshots from sydney

Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral

Family & friends have been amazingly generous with their time to us – both in organising our accommodation and catering for our needs prior to our arrival, and in inviting us to share in their lives while we’re in Aus.

We’ve had raucous family dinners gathered over Thai takeaway; cultured breakfast picnics at Balmoral; homely meals with extended family; barbecues in the middle of torrential rain showers; candlelit conviviality soaked in wine, and coffees & lunches in various parks and shopping centres as the mood has taken us.

E, torn between the lure of friends and the lure of Dad…

E has been showered with summer clothes and toys to occupy him while here and has taken to them with joy and delight. He has LOVED spending time with various small (and not-so-small) male relatives and being initiated into the mysteries of toys far above his age range. He has taken to wearing a pair of ‘sunnies’ whenever he is outside, and particularly fancies himself in them when driving in the car.

E, R and cousins

 He struggled quite a bit with the weather in the first few days after our arrival, and was quick to ask us to ‘turn heater off’. Sadly, that wasn’t possible, but his solution has been to upend cups of water over himself when really suffering from the heat – which is fine with us as long as no one hands him a cup of juice.

E and R enjoying the beach view

He loved going to Balmoral – begged to be allowed onto the sand – and even though it was a cool day he ran into the water, plonked himself down just where the waves were breaking and shouted joyfully ‘me swimming, me swimming.’ It was less joyful when we pulled him out 30 minutes later, blue and shivering, and tried to carry him up the beach as he kicked and shouted ‘more water! more swimming!’

E and cousin on the beach

He has demonstrated a significant prejudice against grass – he doesn’t like the feel of it on his bare skin – so is wearing socks and shoes everywhere. He has even succumbed to the English practice of socks with sandals, such is the delicacy of his little white feet without protection from the sun and from chafing in his shoes. Rob thinks he derives his princess-ish-ness from Hailey…she is inclined to agree!

E and R meet Billy at Balmoral – a famous local personality


snow, ice and sunshine

A view of our neighbours’ house after 8 inches of snow

 The sights, sounds and scents of Australia have come as a surprise to we three travellers. Eight months away has been longer than we realised.
It is around 40 degrees hotter here in Aus than it was in the UK a week before we left (minus 12C). We have spent the last month trundling around outside in snow and over ice so all this bright Australian sunshine feels like a movie set.

Our front garden – several inches closer to the windows than usual

Winter in England has been very wintry indeed – a great experience for our first Christmas away from Aus. We have been used to central heating, seven layers of clothing inside the house, putting hats, gloves, duffle coats and snow boots on in order to leave the house. We’ve had icicles more than a foot long hanging from the guttering (which was also full of ice!) and snow nearly 8 inches deep on the ground.

R’s car – on a good morning!

Arriving in Aus was like walking into a sauna – good, but strangely discomfiting at the same time. E has been able to wander around barefoot for the first time in 6 months or more, and is having a wee bit of trouble adjusting to the feel of grass on his feet (he’s not a fan!) We have discarded all our layers – something we didn’t do even in the English summer – and are all contemplating the purchase of shorts (never necessary in the UK, for us at least.)

A view from our driveway to the field and beech trees next door

We are all a bit bamboozled by the light here – which has a spectrum of colour and brightness here – unlike the UK where it is both muted and crystalline at the same time. The shades of green and all the flowers here are in contrast to the varied (and oddly beautiful) shades of brown, grey and white that are the English winter colour palette. We are loving the raucous bird songs and vibrant flashes of colour of all the birds and flowers here, as well as the assault of eucalyptus and lemon scents that waft through the air as we walk.

E exploring in gum boots – the boys didn’t get very far. This was obviously a warm day – no duffle coats!

We are not loving the jet-lag and the heat is a shock, but we are very blessed to have travelled so safely and swiftly with our bright and active little boy. He didn’t sleep much on the plane and is showing signs of jet-lag in his desired sleep times, but has been tantrum-free for the whole trip so far and accepted the space limitations on the plane with a good grace and composure.

E in snow-boots – life will never be the same! He can run down an icy road wearing these.

We look forward to seeing family and friends and catching up on each other’s lives over the next three weeks. Phone calls could prove tricky but email and facebook (and this blog) will be good contact points.

Making headway through a restorative babycino after a cold morning in Stony Stratford.