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John and Cam

John and Cam

Katie in Cam and John's kitchen

Katie in Cam and John’s kitchen

Another salubrious evening with Cam and John and our fellow guests, John cooked (or rather john directed and Klaus Von Kooker cooked) a delicious dinner, complemented by much wine – (how much Poulilly Fume is there in that cellar?) we vowed to get up early in the morning to enjoy out last day in London.

I did check the weather report before we headed out – it said 17 and showers, so i had a long sleeved top and an umbrella. Thank goodness Katie chose to carry a spare cardigan (who does that? Bless her) and bring a zip up top!

We caught the train to London Bridge, and from there the Jubilee line Westbound to Westminster. We were shocked to see a queue already forming to enter, and even more shocked to see the entrance price of £20. Wow.

Westminster Abbey - The West Front

Westminster Abbey – The West Front

There were several compensations that made up for the price – The Abbey is fantastic – that goes without saying – but also the audio tour was free, and recorded by Jeremy Irons. The perfect voice to accompany one around the Abbey. As we were finishing our tour, it was starting to get crowded, thank goodness we started early. I hate sharing with tourists (!!).

We revived ourselves with tea and a cumberland sausage sandwich in the Cellarium before tackling the crowd in the gift shop.

Elevenses

Elevenses

We left the Abbey in pouring rain (both in possession of umbrellas!) and decided that it was silly to catch the Tube, and instead we would walk down Whitehall (in the rain), have a look at 10 Downing Street (in the rain), amble past the Horse Guards (still in the rain), and from there to Trafalgar Square. By then it was pouring, and a gusty wind designed to turn umbrellas inside out had blown up. We took a few photos and decided we needed somewhere warm for lunch and to dry out.

Horse Guard and Horse. Caught him yawning while I was watching.

Horse Guard and Horse. Caught him yawning while I was watching.

Wet. Trafalgar Square

Wet. Trafalgar Square

We walked up Northumberland Avenue and found “The Sherlock Holmes”

The Sherlock Holmes

The Sherlock Holmes

Beef and Ale Pie and Tomato and Basil Soup

Beef and Ale Pie and Tomato and Basil Soup

What a lovely pub to drip dry and enjoy a pint and lunch. There was a slight issue with rain pouring in through the air conditioning unit, but it wasn’t where we were sitting – so…..

After we dried out, and the rain had very nearly stopped we decided that retail therapy was definitely needed. We jumped on the tube at Charing Cross and took the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus, and then another to Bond Street. We needed Selfridges. We needed the giant M&S.

Katie in her new coat and Bond Street

Katie in her new coat and Bond Street

Katie found a coat she had seen in another Marks and Spencer, and this time in the correct size, and I found a lovely pair of comfortable boots, and was able to stop struggling around in my dreadful black boots.

The plan for the evening was a dinner out at the local pub, so we headed back through the Tube and the “Ginge” (The overground service to Crystal Palace and West Croydon) to Anerley and the comfort (and dry clothes) waiting there.

Dinner out at the Goldsmith’s Arms – delicious! Burgers, steaks, tasting platters, sausage and “the best mash ever” according to Katie. The walk home was much needed after all that food and several pints of “Mad Goose” (Me) and several Sav Blancs (Kate). We were joined by Helen who was also a guest of “The Anerley Inn” and was sleeping in the “Ballroom” just for the one night.

Said goodbye to new friends and old as we had to leave at the asscrack of dawn to get to Heathrow by 7:30am. Sara-Jane and Sebastian also flew out to Dublin that morning – so we were able to share a mini cab. (“You want to pay by card? By card? You will have to ring our office……..” Who doesn’t take cards???? Clockwork Cars of Anerley – that’s who).

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Sarah, Kate, Cam, Amy, Sebastian, John and SJ

John and SJ

John and SJ

Relief when our cases didn’t weigh as much as we thought they might (damn, could have shopped more), anxiety when the check in lady told us that there was a problem with our tickets and we couldn’t fly until they were paid for.. (wtf?) – Kate made a call to the travel Agent in Melbourne and that was sorted. Then we weren’t seated together – Kate sorted that too. But then…. the inbound flight was delayed by 2 hours, do of course our flight was delayed by 2 hours. The nice check in lady assured us that it would not affect our connecting flight from Abu Dhabi to Aus.

The plane from heathrow to Abu Dhabi was an A380! Lovely plane – heaps of room, touch screens that worked!

Sarah on plane!

Sarah on plane!

Katie on plane!

Katie on plane!

We had a lovely flight, apart from the slight angst when we were still 3/4 of an hour away and our next flight was boarding… still, what can you do? Nothing.

We walked off the plane in Abu Dhabi, and there was a man yelling “Melbourne?, Melbourne?”, he let us know our flight had gone, and we were staying in a hotel for the night with dinner and breakfast, and the next flight was at 10 the next morning. This would get us to Melbourne at 6:05am instead of 5pm the evening before.

We enjoyed a meal – the company of Steph, another stranded melbournite, and then several (OK 4) wines in the bar.

Katie in Abu Dhabi...

Katie in Abu Dhabi…

my room in Abu Dhabi

my room in Abu Dhabi

Breakfast – 2 seconds out on the street to say we had actually been there and not just in the airport and hotel, an hour queue for passport control and we were finally ready to board a much smaller plane for the 13 hour trip home. We weren’t seated together – but Kate convinced some guy to swap seats (to a worse one btw!) so we could sit together. We both slept for a fair time, and watched movies – what else is there to do? We were seated right behind business class – they close the curtain so the plebs can’t see what they are missing out on – but we saw the chef and the waiter and the real glasses…..

And so home – where Darren, Peter Alli and David were waiting to pick us up.

Home safe.

Home safe

Home safe

What a trip – we seemed to fit so much into such a short amount of time.

Katie – when are we doing it again???

FIN

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London, London, London!

Katie at Harrods

Katie at Harrods

Ahhhh!! London Bus!!

Ahhhh!! London Bus!!

Sarah At Harrods

Sarah At Harrods

We woke and after I spent a slightly uncomfortable 1/2 hour scrooting through John and Cam’s glorious kitchen, I found the tea cups, the tea bags, and the bread and Vegemite!

We set off to Anerley station, on the “Ginger Line”, (overground) to London Bridge, and from there to Knightsbridge to Harrods! Harrods was on the “must see” list! Of course everything is too expensive but we adored the Christmas Shop!! But we decided we didn’t Need a Christmas bauble for over $70.00.

Harrods fish display

Harrods fish display

Harrods food hall

Harrods food hall

After our extreme shopping experience, we adjourned to a tea shop in Knightsbridge for a croque Monsieur and bruschetta with proper tea! The tea was awesome, Oh tea, I love tea!!

By then, it was time to get across to London Bridge to get Katie to her meeting at Carers UK.

Katie changing her shoes before her meeting

Katie changing her shoes before her meeting

While she was at her meeting I walked back to London Bridge, over London Bridge.. And along the Thames Path to Tower Bridge. I had a look at the Tower, but I have been in before, so didn’t. Instead I had a look in the gift shop, and headed up Tower Hill to All Hallows’ at the Tower. The oldest church in the actual City of London.

All Hallows' under rift chapel

All Hallows’ undercroft chapel

Beautiful little church. The 90 year old church lady liked me and chatted to me on the way in and the way out.

Tessellated Roman Pavement under the church

Tessellated Roman Pavement under the church

I walked back and met Katie at London Bridge, and we went for a beer at the Shipwright’s Arms. A Kronenburg – delicious!

Beer

Beer

Katie looking at her phone in the pub

Katie looking at her phone in the pub

We caught the train home to Anerley for takeaway Indian fusion food and collapsed after more wine.

Today, I had a meeting at 10am at Merton. We worked out it was cheaper and easier to catch an Uber, rather than a train, and I got to the Merton Dementia Hub early!

Sarah and Nikki at the Dementia Hub in Merton

Sarah and Nikki at the Dementia Hub in Merton

I met Katie in Covent Garden after the meeting, ( took me nearly an hour to get there!)

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Balloons at Covent Garden

Balloons at Covent Garden

We had lunch in Jamie Oliver’s British Cafe, with a pint. Yum. Katie had pate and I had a pizza with mushrooms and garlic!

Opera singing busker!

Opera singing busker!

We wandered around the rest of Covent Garden, and then over to the Market. Bought some bits and pieces. Feet were beginning to give out, so sore!!

From there we went to the London Transport Museum… ‘Nuff said, I’m a tube freak.  It was great. Loved the history of the tube and got to step on the electrified lines and get “electrocuted”. Didn’t get to drive a tube, there was a kid in the way.

Odd people we ran into

Odd people we ran into

Travelling in an 1890's train

Travelling in an 1890’s train

So we headed back to Leicester Square station this time (Covent Garden closed to ingress, egress only possible), from there to Waterloo, from Waterloo to London Bridge, and from there to Anerley!

We are footsore, and stiff, all of us! But John cooked a gorgeous dinner, and wine flowed, so all is well.

John in the wine cellar

John in the wine cellar

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Katie is doing the dishes, and I am off to bed.

goodnight.

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Sweden to England

We said goodbye to Marit and Eli at Oslo station, and caught the train back to Gothenburg.

we stayed at the Scandic Crown for the evening, after another trek around town (mainly to find a wine shop! Wine is so expensive in Sweden, and the bottle shops few and far between).

we had dinner in the hotel (very average) and breakfast (very average) and headed out to the Gothenburg Natural History Museum where we saw the history of the Scandanavian people, Viking skeletons, a real Viking ship! Plus some Norse gods and stuff. Visited the shop…..

Viking skeleton

Viking skeleton

Viking Boat

Viking Boat

Caught a cab to the airport and we were off to London.

Flight was fine, passport and customs was almost a doddle, and we walked out to meet Peter! It was awesome to see him, he took us for a cuppa while we worked out what we were doing.

Katie says: “Well, after leaving Sarah with Peter at Heathrow, I set off in the taxi to London. The taxi driver was lovely. Once we got into London he pointed out all the sights. I felt like I was in a book- every turn – something I recognised.
We drive past ( not in order)- Buckingham Palace, Westminster and Big Ben, Lexham Gardens (where we stayed when I was 5,7 and 12….), the London eye, the Shard (!!) Harrods……. My head nearly twisted off my neck!! And in a London can you are sitting quite high up so you have to crunch down to see anything higher then street level- I must have looked like such a tourist!!!!
Arrived safely at my hotel, checked in and went down for dinner. Then spent the evening watching telly (Stephen Fry and Big Bang! – not in the same show mind you….)
Set off after brekky to Carers Trust. Google maps was particularly unhelpful- luckily I had picked up a paper map…
Had a couple of hours to wander first so walked up southwark street- looked a the market (wow – cheese , game, truffle oil, flowers….) , some shops, London bridge- looking across to tower bridge, the Shard again…. Then walked in a big circle ( thank you google maps…)but got to Carers Trust right on time.
Had a great meeting with Dr Moira Fraser, director of policy and research- as well as some if her colleagues who joined us via Skype. Left with a bag full of really interesting reports which I will need to read as they will send me further into excess baggage !!
The bravely set out in foot with my (nearly) 30kg suitcase, my bag of reports, my backpack….. Still in work gear and heels- to brave the tube to Marble Arch to meet the Oxford Tube ( which is actually a bus…). Walked about 5 minutes (3 in the wrong direction) – them hailed a taxi!! Phew!
An hour on the double decker Oxford tube and I was met by Sarah, Peter and Ella- to be ferried back to Peter and Suzanne’s to stay.”

Peter drove me back to Abingdon, where we dropped in at his place to check on Henry, and then to the pub to meet Suzanne and Ella and have a pint of San Miguel and a meal.

Returned to Abingdon for a couple more beers and to meet the sausage dog puppies!!

Peter and Sarah!

Peter and Sarah!

Suzanne and Ellasausage rolls!!

In the morning I was picked up by Mandy from Young Dementia UK who drove me over to The Fleece at Witney to join the “Like Minds” support group for younger people living with dementia. It was a great way to spend 2 hours, and I had a great chat to the group, let them know a little about what we do in Aus, but mostly listened to their stories about services in the UK.

Young Dementia UK SUPPORT GROUP

Mandy drove me back to Abingdon, and Peter and I headed out for a walk around the local lakes with the sausage dog and the springer spaniel, and then off to pick Katie up from the park and ride.

A road in OxfordshireRose hips in a hedgerow

We prepared a BBQ, and had a few drinks, Peter’s mate Valdt that he works with dropped in, and we had some more beers whilst Peter lit the BBQ and a fire (using a flame thrower).

flamethrower assisted firePeter and Suzanne

On Saturday morning we got up and headed out to watch Ella play under 13 Football. Her team won 3 nil! An experience for Katie and I as we have never seen a game of English football before. The weather was kind and the sun shone the whole morning.

Ella in blue and white

In the afternoon Peter took us to Oktoberfest, (or a version thereof) where we tasted some local beers and listened to some local music. Peter also took us to see the local Abbey that, in Peter’s words “whatshisname knocked down all those years ago”, (Henry VIII in the 1500’s).

Abingdon Abbey Buildings

Abingdon Abbey Buildings

Katie at Abingdon Abbey

Katie at Abingdon Abbey

We also found the local fun fair where we went on a couple of rides and Ella consumed more sugar then I thought was humanly possible!!

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Sunday we had civilised coffee in Abingdon, and then walked across the river and the Abingdon Lock and back across the Abbey Meadows.

Abingdon lock

Abingdon lock

The Thames

The Thames

We caught the London Tube back to London, dragged our terrible cases across Victoria Station, and on the train to Anerley, gave up then, there was no way we would have made the mile walk to Cam’s place in Anerley Road, so Katie got us an Uber. We were greeted with wine in bucket sized glasses and friendly faces!!

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A tour of the house, the wine cellar and the servants quarters, followed by more wine. John introduced us to Klaus Von Kooker (the thermomix), and a delicious sweet and sour. More wine, an awesome catch up with Cam and to bed. (All bedrooms are full with various visitors, so we have the “television room”.

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Sweden to Norway

Gothenburg's cobbles ate my heel

Gothenburg’s cobbles ate my heel

The conference ate all our time for the three days, it was pretty full on from 9 till about 6, and then with a function or a dinner in the evenings.

On Sunday afternoon we headed back into Göthenburg and looked through some of the shops, and then came back and had a fine relax before walking across the road to the local Lebanese bistro with some of Katie’s colleagues for a delicious meal. Not so sure about the wine though, it was “Chateau Lebanon”.

The next morning we were up at 5am to catch a 5 to 7 train to Oslo, Norway. I managed not to stuff the tickets up too badly, (the nice girl on the desk helped me when we had to invent a Norwegian telephone number to get the app to work!!) and all we had to do was show the conductor the app on my phone!

Ready to go to Norway!!

Ready to go to Norway!!

A very pleasant train ride (we got a table, Katie reaaaalllllly wanted a table) and a couple of hours later Eli was meeting us on the platform at Oslo Central Station!! So good to see someone you have chatted to for 6-7 years!! For those who may not know, I started a facebook page 7 years ago “Jon English is a Superstar”, and was surprised when people not only joined, but that a lot of them were from Scandanavia! Jon is big over here, starting with “Against the Wind” and then his music, and then his visits over here to take part in Sweden Rock. So, we are here in Oslo to stay with Eli and Marit…. Jon English fans are all awesome, but these two ladies are terrific!!!

Marit has welcomed us into her home, Eli as well! And we have had a fantastic time catching up and sharing Jon English stories and music! (Katie not so impressed the 47th time Dark Horses came on the car stereo!!)

Marit, Sarah and Eli!!

Marit, Sarah and Eli!!

Last night Eli suggested a delicious Korean Restaurant for dinner and we enjoyed it immensely!

Spent the rest of the evening back at Marit’s sharing stories and Vegemite chocolate along with wine.

Eli and Katie having coffee in Asker

Eli and Katie having coffee in Asker

After a lovely night’s sleep Marit went to work and Eli took Katie and I into Oslo, first of all to the Ski Jump at Knoll………. Wow!! The views were incredible and the ski jump itself is terrifying!! We went up in the lift to the top, and took some awesome photos.

Oslo Fjiord

Oslo Fjiord

imageKatie had her real camera and took better photos, ask to see them!!

After the ski jump we went into Oslo itself and had takeaway noodle box in one of the parks, and then went after to the Palace to see the changing of the guard.

Eli insisted that I try an Norwegian beer after I had asked about it online, so we sat on the street and had a beer (me) a cider (Katie) and a coffee (Eli). Very cosmopolitan!!

Our next stop was the Sculpture Garden at Frognerparken. Amazing. beautiful weather and incredibly strange sculptures with lots of penises.

Sculptures at Frognerparken

Sculptures at Frognerparken

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After the sculptures, we made the most exciting trip of the day! The supermarket! I love a foreign supermarket!! There were interesting things we had never heard of and huge fishes and lots of balsamic vinegar and balsamic glaze and chocolate! Heaps of different types of bread too.

We also made a very important stop at the wine shop for some vital Jacobs Creek to go with the meal.

We have just finished our salmon and vegetables, delicious!!

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I was woken this morning by the sound of many voices in the bedroom.

Turned out Katie was facetimeing with Julie and Brian and Petie, for Julie’s birthday. Odd feeling, you think all the people are there in your bedroom.

Happy Birthday Julie!!

Today’s sessions were diverse and informative…the theme however seems to be people who have devised an amazing way to collect data, and are expecting incredible results….. But the study is not finished yet…… So many…….

Katie!s presentation was after lunch and was excellent.

Katie’s presentation on YouTube

in the afternoon I took quite a few notes about the similarities but also the differences in simple things like definitions between countries.

Tonight was the conference dinner. I’m not quite sure how it started, but it turned into a sort of strange country centric karaoke session. We had songs from the Swedish, the Norwegians, The Irish, The Japanese, the Scots… And of course the Aussies. Aussies sing at #carers2015

back to the room now, Katie has another presentation at 9:30!!

Therapi Hund!!Sorry Maggs!!!Kate preparing for her presentation Kate againConference dinner

Goodnight!!!

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We were honoured this morning by having the conference opened by HM Queen Silvia of Sweden. Her Majesty spoke of her support for carers, and of her own experience caring for her mother who had dementia.

The day was full of presentations, but Steven H Zamit was my personal favourite with his presentation on the measurable health benefits of day care for carers of people living with dementia. Taking a regular break is good for carers, and there is now proof! Who would have guessed.

We had a civic reception after the final session, the Mayor spoke, and wore much Mayoral Bling..

We had dinner with some of the multitude of Australians in the restaurant downstairs. Delicious!!

Exhausted now. Just fixing up Katie’s presentation for tomorrow, and then off to bed with the sound of the fun park in our ears.

Liseberg across the road

Liseberg across the road

Sharon from Carers NT, Jean from Carers ACT and Kate from Carers Vic! Go Aussies!!

Sharon from Carers NT, Jean from Carers ACT and Kate from Carers Vic!
Go Aussies!!

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Sweden Day two

Amazing Swedish Bakery

Amazing Swedish Bakery

A big sleep found both of us a little less rough ’round the edges this morning. I woke at about 6, had a drink and a pee and looked at the gorgeous sun hitting the ancient red roofs and went back to bed. Katie woke me about a half hour later talking to Alli on FaceTime. Very disconcerting… “Look everyone, here’s Sarah!” Cue bleary eyed squash face staring at iPhone….

We breakfasted downstairs on a selection of Swedish breads, meats and cheeses…. Very nice! We both ventured a little pickled herring as well…. Whilst in Rome…….

Met up with Katie’s boss while she enjoyed her breakfast (this time with a full case of clothes to choose from) and headed out into Göthenburg together.

We headed out to Haga Nyota, a shopping street in an old part of town, supposed to be full of amazing boutiques and shops…. Not so much, and less were open at 11 am, but pretty all the same.

Language is not an issue

Language is not an issue

Language is not an issue…. I have just looked embarresed and said ” sorry, I don’t speak Swedish and English is produced immediately! (Once with a pronounced Irish accent)

Katie chilling in a street cafe

Katie chilling in a street cafe

We walked about 12 kms today, (all on freaking cobblestones… My boots need re-heeling already!) and saw the ancient fish market, the market house, some awesome shopping streets and shops, so many effortlessly gorgeous people it made my head spin! The people are beautiful!! Hipsters, business people, teenagers…. It must be something in the water.

Hmmmmm

Hmmmmm

Odd

Odd

Nasty fish wants to bite you!

Nasty fish wants to bite you!

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The canal

The fish market

The fish market

Beer House!! Didn't get to go in though.....

Beer House!! Didn’t get to go in though…..

Came back for a fine relax, and to edit some of Katie’s presentation…. And before we knew it it was 6pm and time for the conference reception! Luckily it was just here in the hotel, so a quick ap and c and we were on our way.

After meeting delightful Carers Aus and Carers UK staff ( and a Swedish “Therapi Hund” ) we headed to dinner at the place next door. Delicious food, awesome wine, and such a lovely and attentive waiter!

Back now, exhausted, Katie is asleep.

Until tomorrow. Xx

First world problems - 2 women, not enough charging things!!!

First world problems – 2 women, not enough charging things!!!

International Carers Conference 2015. Reception.

International Carers Conference 2015. Reception.

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Sarah and Katie hit Sweden

Well…

long story short, My sister Kate was accepted to present a paper at the International Carers Conference in Göthenburg, Sweden. I guess she heard this back in April.

“Wow! Congratulations!!” Said I.

“Come with me!” Said she.

So I did.

We left Melbourne at 3pm Tuesday after a hectic week leading up to the trip trying to get everything done before we left. I was crook as well which didn’t help.

We also had a small issue with my ticket being issued in a slightly different spelling of my name – which the travel agent assured us would only stop me from travelling in 0.1% of times…. Arrgghh!!

Anyway, we got to the airport (Thanks Mum and Dad!) we got through passport and ticket checks, and we got onto the plane headed for Abu Dhabi, from there to Berlin, and from Berlin to Göthenburg.

Arrived grubby, exhausted and kinda not as good looking as normal for some reason!!

a shower and change of clothes at the Göthia Towers had us almost as good as new and we headed into the streets to see what was what.

We found a traditional fish stew for lunch, with a glass of wine,

Fish stew in Gothenburg

Fish stew in Gothenburg

and then had a relax before heading back Into the streets to end up accidentally at the cultural centre of Göthenburg. We visited the Art Gallery (gift shop) and admired the statue of Posiedon in the GötaplatsenGötaplatsen

We had dinner with Kate’s boss (who had arrived sans luggage, we ordered her a gin and tonic and Kate lent her socks and a top).

I had langoustine, I have never had them before… Delicious, but not much meat to fiddly bits ratio!! Kate had. A beautiful chicken liver pate thing…delicious!!

We have retired to our room to watch Swedish Big Bang Theory.. (Same as the regular version!) and do this.

Till tomorrow.

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The lead up to October 30th, 2014 was stressful…. we found out that you can only pack so much beforehand…. and the rest is a last minute rush!

We still cannot find the playstation or Darren’s shed radio… but then there are still many boxes to be opened!

The guys at Maroondah Removals  were awesome! Thanks so much guys. They packed half our stuff into a container on the Wednesday – and then the rest of it Thursday. It was a constant thing on moving day, for every box that went – I found more stuff! Some of the boxes ended up “Toilet paper, kettle, maggs’ bowls and files” very mixed. (Maybe that’s where the playstation is? Mislabeled?

moving out 1 moving out 2 Moving out 3 Moving out 4 Moving out 5

Maggs the Wonderdog suffered through those last three days – she thought we were packing up to go without her! She stuck to us like glue – no – more like a big hairy leech, without the bloodsucking.

It was all worth it though when at 1:15 we were able to start unloading at Hazel Street…

Moving in 1 moving in 2

…and despite the steps – the hill, the dirt road and the possible chipped ankle bone of the “Boss” of the removalists – the unpacking went just as smoothly as the packing.

Darren can be seen enjoying a well deserved beer on the deck.

We did find out that the house has absolutely abysmal 3G and 4G coverage – so we dash up the steps to the drive to take phone calls. The drive has excellent reception.  Wi Fi has now been activated – so we do feel a little less lost than we were without it.

Alli 1 desk 1 desk 2 Maggs 1 Maggs view veg 1 Veg 2 view 1

The veggie garden I left was huge. I have pulled out some convolvulus (flowers? seriously?) to plant mum’s tomato seedlings and a few lettuce. Veggie’s started in under a week – proud of that! But we may struggle as nowhere has full sun.

They say “Don’t do a thing to a new garden for 12 months except watch” – so I shall watch.

*Watching*

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DSC_0156After 17 years of living here – on this block, if not in this exact house… we are on the move.
The weirdest thing is that for someone who is nearly 50, this is the first time I have EVER moved a whole house of stuff!
My history is sordid and diverse, I have moved from house to house and relationship to relationship ( in the early days) without having to use “The Removalists”
We move on October 30 – and it is daunting!

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