the rambles of a family of five in Australia


six weeks and counting…

According to our obstetrician we are approximately six weeks away from our new bubba’s arrival. H has her 34 week check at NGH tomorrow morning, and E is tagging along for the ride. We are consistently amazed at the differing standards between the NHS and the Australian system, although possibly the public health system in Aus has greater similarities to what we are experiencing here.

We are very blessed to be under the care of a consultant obstetrician, which is unusual for women here unless they have complications or a prior history of complications. Due to H’s pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) and induced delivery last time, we had no option but to be under a consultant’s care. In practice though, it means we have seen a midwife for about half the scheduled checks and an obstetrician (never the same one twice) for the other half. We have three photos of our beautiful bub up on the fridge to admire while we wait and have heard the heartbeat for the first time at the 28 week check. Tomorrow is probably the last check by an obstetrician (barring anything unforeseen) until the birth/labour process begins. Everything from now til the birth will be monitored by a team of local midwives.

We would really appreciate prayer for a couple of things: labour itself; the immediate post-birth fandango, and getting the feeding stuff sorted and family life adjusted when we return home.
H is not really an ‘earth mother’ type and is a bit concerned about the early discharge policy that is quite common here. After her six day stay at the SAH with E it feels a bit scary to think about possibly being sent home as early as six hours after birth this time.

E is pleased about meeting the new baby and we are keen to ensure that he receives love and support from us in the midst of the upheaval that a new baby engenders.

Pray for R too as he was the linch-pin and support for our family for E’s birth and home-coming, and he will have more pressure and responsibilities over here, with less support from the near and the dear.

In all things, we remain grateful and full of wonderment at the gift of another new life for our little family from our great Heavenly Father. We know that ‘children are a gift from the Lord’ and pray for strength and wisdom as we grow together with our new little addition.


a pre-christmas trip to koln (cologne), germany

The best little reindeer in the universe

In December, while H’s Mum was visiting, she and H had a fabulous opportunity. R had offered to look after E so that H and M could visit family in Köln, Germany.

Hot-smoked fish – yummo!

They had 5 days and 4 nights to soak up the sights, catch up with family and revel in some (very) rare mother-daughter time. The plan was to hit as many of the seven Christmas markets as possible during their stay, see the Dom (Cathedral) and spend some time talking, eating and laughing with M’s Uncle and Aunt.

Gingerbread hearts

We arrived in Koln at just after 8:30pm on the Thursday evening – an hour late due to delays out of Heathrow. Although a little nervous about the language barrier (we each had the same three words of German!) we made our way successfully from the airport to the central train station. After some difficulties locating our branch line we made it onto the platform with our bags and thence to Ehrenfeld where we were staying.

The first flight of stairs to our apartment

Our apartment was light, bright and clean. It was also sparsely furnished – which was perfect for all our needs and wants – except in the sleeping department.

 The beds were quite short, the quilts were slightly smaller than the Australian single bed size – so you had to stay curled up in order to be covered – and the single European-size pillow was made of marshmallow. As soon as your head touched the seemingly fluffy pillow contours it would hit the bed as the other side of the pillow inflated to epic proportions. Did we mention the mattresses were about 3cm thick? It sounds a bit grim, but we were on a holiday high and prepared to accept less-than-ideal sleeping conditions on our little jaunt.

Breakfast & coffee heaven

The next morning we were greeted an hour earlier than we had planned for by M’s Uncle and taken on the main street to be introduced to the delights of the Mezernich Bäckerie – a family-run chain of bakeries in Koln that was utterly delightful each morning.

Christmas decorations that dreams are made of…

Onward to Neumarkt station, above which was Engelmarkt (Angel Market) where we bought Christmas decorations, drank gluhwein and ate potato cakes. Heavenly!

Did you know that hot roast chestnuts will stain leather gloves? We didn’t either!

Uncle then took us on a whirlwind tour of the city – he and it were full of buzzing energy that was very exciting – having lunch at a buffet, eating hot roast chestnuts, exploring the Dom, glimpsing the Weinachtmarkt am Kolner Dom (Koln Cathedral Christmas Markets) and entering the Heimat der Heinzel (Home of the Gnomes) in Aldstadt (the Old City) which had its own special charm. Each of the booths was decorated with a variety of carved wooden gnomes grinning and working in various industrious poses.

Light display above the outdoor icerink at Heimat der Heinzel

Uncle left us there to go for his weekly swim (!) while we stuffed ourselves with waffles with kirsch cherries and nutella and explored yet more markets.

M having the first forkful of cherry bliss
A very inadequate rendering of the Dom on my little digital camera

The biggest, most elaborate gingerbread house we’ve ever seen

The following days were stuffed with fabulous food from Mezernich; Aunty C’s amazing lunch that stretched over 4 hours (with a break for a walk to the park to visit Uncle’s bird family!); a traditional Koln meat feast; and many returns to Engelmarkt which we decided was our favourite.

OK, so we disagree about what it was called, but we do agree that it was bigger than our heads.

Uncle with his lovely birds… ! They saw him (and his netto bag) from afar and came running. You’d swear they understood every word!

Breakfast on our last morning: hot Christmas frankfurt in a bun, with mustard and hot Kinderpunsch (fruit juice). Almost the best thing we ate for the whole of our time in Koln!

Monday rolled around far too quickly and we found ourselves at the airport preparing to settle into the lounge before our flight. Owing to a couple of language glitches it took H too long to realise that our flight had been cancelled (eek!) due to bad weather, and that we were being paged to go to the check-in desk. After much frantic scurrying from one official to another, we were loaded into a taxi-van with 4 other passengers and taken to Dusseldorf to try to get a connecting flight to London. This gave us a never-to-be-forgotten trip on the autobahn at speeds of up to 180kph. (And we weren’t even the fastest on the motorway!)

The most exciting thing at Dusseldorf airport!

After reaching Dusseldorf we had to wait another 7 hours to get a flight to Heathrow, getting to experience the wild rumour-mongering of disgruntled passengers; the joys of meal vouchers and having a plane snatched from under our noses by mechanics who couldn’t get the door to close (no joke!) However, we finally landed in London at 11pm and were home in bed by 1am-ish.

Going to Germany was a fabulous experience. Neither of us thought we’d ever get the chance to sit and talk with family in their home, be shown around their city and experience part of their lives. It was an enriching time of blessing and we were loved and spoilt thoroughly during our stay. We didn’t struggle with the language and communicating as much as we had feared. Although neither of us really managed to speak German well our understanding of what others were saying and what we were reading on signs improved enormously and helped us feel involved in things. We loved Koln and would return any time, and recommend it as a fabulous city to walk around (even at -8C!)

Our favourite public artwork in the world!

Our ‘let’s spread out all our goodies and gloat’ table