Hi honey, I'm hooooome!
I think I'd better say right now that spending 103 days buzzing around the Southern hemisphere on holiday with no responsibilities and no commitments is really rather relaxing, because I fear the relaxation element may come to an end sooner than hoped if today's job hunting exercise is any indicator. Anthony is rather pissed off at being unable to find a file on a disk 15 months after we dumped it in a box at his parents place.
The long holiday thing was really rather good. To summarise:
We spent two months driving up the east coast of Australia, across the top to Darwin, down through the centre and back to Melbourne. Highlights included crocodile watching, diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru.
From there we headed off to New Zealand for a month, which is nothing like enough to explore such a fascinating and varied country - geysers, waterfalls, Maori culture, yachting on a friends boat etc. We spent Christmas camping in the mountains in the middle of a 3 day hike, and it was just wonderful. The corned beef and cous cous Christmas dinner was at least tempered by a piece of Christmas cake which we took along, and the hut warden was very sweet in organising a carol sing-a-long and mince pies, which got us out of the cold and the wet for an hour if nothing else.
After New Zealand we spent 9 days in Japan, where we saw an awful lot of temples and discovered just how effective conversations entirely made up of body language are - or aren't. It was an amazing way to end the trip, because it was just so different to anything we've done before, and a wonderful country to visit.
Now we are back and have had a lovely weekend with the entire family - his and mine - down at my parents place in Surrey. Since then we've been to Wales to see his grandparents, one of whom is very ill :-s and now we're back at his parents place near Cambridge, wondering where all our stuff is and making some happy reunions with old treasures.
I have no idea how you all are. 4 months is way too long to try to catch up. I'll assume you're all basically well and as I left you back in October, if you've had any major changes/events could you let me know?
(PS words currently used to describe me: well, relaxed, happy, tanned. :-P)
Meanwhile, I have - just in time - accomplished my goal of reading new authors from A-Z. An interesting experiment, I'm not sure I'll repeat it but it did open up some new authors that I wouldn't otherwise have tried. And a great way to pass the time in a library!( The complete listCollapse )
So my last entry was a fortnight ago - well that ain't nothing on how incommunicado I'm about to be. We hit the road a week today, and I think it's incredibly unlikely I'll update again before we get back to the UK in February. It's possible of course - I thought I would stop using email when I went to university, and look how wrong I was then! But I can't see us getting online much, and there may be more urgent matters when that happens.
Even finding time now is difficult. Today is Monday. Thursday I have my OU exam, then ship our belongings home. Friday is my last day at work - I can't guess how much I'm going to cry that day but I cried buckets when I left a job I hated, so leaving a job I quite like may be pretty heartbreaking. Saturday morning someone is picking up all our furniture, Saturday afternoon the carpet cleaners turn up to steam clean the carpets (as is mandatory to our lease). Sunday is our leaving barbecue (pleaseletitbeniceweather). And Monday, we drop of the keys and skip town. We plan to be in Canberra by Tuesday night, to see an old friend from Cambridge, and beyond that our plans are.... drive. See stuff. Learn to dive. Aim to get back to Melbourne in time for our flights to New Zealand on 13 December.
It's deeply, deeply odd to be going on holiday for 4 months. I always thought it was quite normal - so many people our age do it! But now that I'm here, I find it very odd indeed. I can't really believe it's about to happen to me. Not go to work for months and months. Wake up each day in a different place. Become very very familiar with our tent - and our car. Hopefully not become too familiar with the RAC. Become more familiar with Anthony - is that possible? Being together 24/7 for 4 months is a strange thought. Even stranger is that I'm quite looking forward to it - I do quite like him.
It all hit me last weekend. Driving around the wineries in the Yarra valley, life was just perfect - sunshine, gorgeous sunshine, beautiful wine, my favourite person by my side, no place to be, no worries. And I get that for months on end.
Well, it's less than three weeks now till the big off. I'm so sad to go, but in many ways I just want it over now. I'm sick of mooning about the place thinking of all the great places we haven't got time to go to 'one last time'. I made us an itinerary today with a countdown of all the things we have to do, and there just isn't time to go back to all our favourite haunts. Frescatis, Brunettis, Burger Fusion, that crepe place with the hot chocolates so thick you have to eat them with a spoon, Max Brenner (purveyor of chocolate pizza), all the cake shops in St Kilda so laden with goodies you have to pick at random in the end or you'll drive yourself crazy, wandering along the strip in Carlton and choosing which Italian restaurant you wish to patronise tonight, the cinema with the 'love sack' beanbags, the one where you can take wine in, the studenty Nova with lurid purple walls, the Cheesecake shop, the salad bar, Moustache where they make hot chocolate by melting chocolate bars in hot milk, the gorgeous Mecca Bah in the docklands.... aaaaah, you see the problem. I'll miss the possum which scuttles excitedly around on our roof, miss seeing possums full stop, miss the free newspaper Mx, where people whine and bitch about the wonderful public transport system, miss the jaw-droppingly low prices of our favourite DVD store. I'll miss red champagne, miss vanilla slices, miss Tim Tams, miss smoothies from Tropicana, with their 'secret recipe' South American. Miss hedgehog. Miss endless festivals of food and comedy and science and books rolling one after the other. Miss having a dozen restaurants within 10 minutes walk.
Miss Anthony walking in the door with red licorice, like he just did :)
Well we've picked up the new car and it has not yet fallen apart. So far, so good. We spent some time on Saturday morning crawling around underneath it in the rain, trying to change the oil as per instructions downloaded from the internet, but sadly when push came to shove, our wrench was just too darned big. So sod that. Instead we had a very jolly weekend going to Healesville animal sanctuary (Koalas, platypuses and superb fairy-wrens) and the Melbourne Show.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the Melbourne Show. I knew it had started out as an Agricultural Fair so I was sort of expecting the prize bull shows and the sheep judging, but I didn't realise that I'd enjoy it all so much. I was chuffed to bits with the chicken - sorry - chook washing demonstration - literally, dump chicken in soapy water, rinse, towel and then hair dry. I was impressed by the mad woodchop competition, where enormous men and women flung a 5lb axe at the log between their feet. I was inspired by the results of the baking contest, which included a gingerbread house competition - the gingerbread beach house was my absolute fave, and Anthony and I are looking forward to making our own gingerbread houses. I laughed at the laid-back Aussie 'I've got some snakes in that bag over there' until I found out said snakes included the taipan (world's deadliest, can kill 140 people with one bite) and he was still merrily chucking them about the place and giving sage advice like 'don't throw rocks at snakes'.... you THINK?! I even found perfect fitting black jeans (only a day after deciding I needed some more trousers to go travelling with), reduced from $140 to $40 and a good make. I trawled every 'showbag' stand to find a bag that wasn't a total rip-off (they're traditional. They're bags of sweets and toys and they're supposed to be a good deal, but I guess that part of the tradition has died) and eventually bought the $1 one just because I needed to get one of them.
But by far the best part of the show was the evening entertainment. Well fed on my Hare Krishna curry and semolina, I got a bit over-excited in the stands and did quite a lot of screaming and whooping for SAMPSON THE MONSTER TRUCK! Man oh man! I'd never seen the attraction really, but then this BEAST roared out into the stadium, a tiny little truck stuck on the world's biggest wheels, and it screams round the stadium pounding out so much power you can feel it reverberating in your chest, and then it does a handbrake turn and you just WANT it baby... so it goes storming up the ramp, sails through the air and crushes some poor little sappy cars.... aaaah, it brought out something very basic, primeval and destructive in me, and I loved it :) This was followed up by a woman shooting herself out of a cannon, which was good but it's far less dramatic when you're jealous as hell, and the same kind of goes for the Rocketman, who, well, flew round the stadium with a jetpack strapped to his back. Very very cool. But I was not jealous of, and was therefore very impressed by, the two lads on the motorbikes whose mis-spent youth had led them to a career zooming up a ramp, flying through the air to land on the roof of a lorry, and 'on the way' getting off the bike, or doing a headstand on the handlebars in the meanwhile. They made me all maternal and over-protective.
So after all that adrenalin, we had to wander around a bit more while I giggled manically and got talked into a free 'trial' massage by some Chinese masseurs who jabbed my shoulders till i owwwed. Eventually we left the show with all the people laden with showbags emblazoned with different chocolate comany logos... and we had our bag labelled 'Sprouts'.... And when i asked Anthony what his favourite bit of the day was, he said 'your reaction when the monster truck came out'.
Good God. We have a new cinema in Melbourne, and I do declare I have just had the best cinematic experience of my life. The screen we were in,'half-pipe', doesn't have seats. Instead they have just a few scattered enormous beanbags. You can fit two people on each one, and it just moulds to you perfectly - you can take off your shoes, sprawl out, be cuddled by your beloved, gobble popcorn and just watch the film as if it was your own lounge. Except it was way more comfortable than our old knackered sofa. And what's more - nobody talks! Probably too busy snogging ;)
All cinema should be this way.
So yesterday was an interesting day. We were awake absurdly early, so made the most of it and got up and out - we left the house at 9am! OK, there was a wardrobe malfunction that meant we had to spend another 10 minutes faffing while I found suitable clothing for the weather that didn't entail a jeans/denim jacket combo, but essentially we were on our way before 9.15.
We spent the whole day looking at cars. I'd found a dealer in the paper who was offering lots of good cars in our price range, so we went down there to check them out. They did indeed have lots of good cars in our price range, so we spent a good two hours or three looking around, getting bonnets up, revving engines, and test-driving before we finally settled on one we liked, and then found the owner to make him an offer.
Two minutes later we walked out the garage. He was just such a dick.
Fortunately, the area was awash with cheap used car garages, so we had plenty more shopping to do. God, we saw so many cars. And such a range of salesmen - from the guy who seems to think you're highly suspicious for wanting to look at his cars, to the guys who are just so good at their job that you find yourself testdriving a tiny bright blue sedan before you remember you're looking for a stationwagon (estate).
We tried a gazillion. None were right. There was black smoke belching, there was radiator leaks, there was funny smells, there was so very many in the wrong price range. We went back to discussing the idea of hiring a car for the trip, when we came to the very last garage on the strip, and the end of our tether. We were both knackered and frankly past it, when we found the car we have now bought...
... it's a red 1990 Mitsubishi Magna automatic - a common as muck large estate car that has room enough in the back with the seats down that we can both lie out (the idea being, you can then sleep in the car). Now that we're away from it it's hard to remember it clearly. Have we done the right thing? God knows. Anthony has been awake all night panicking about it. There were little worrying things (like the way it needed jumpstarting *ahem* - but that's a battery issue, and they are replacing that for us) but essentially I think it seemed pretty good. It accelerates, it brakes, it steers. I reckon that's a pretty good start.
We have drive a LOT of shockers over recent weeks, so I do feel we're less inexperienced than we think we are. We've SEEN the cars without exhaust pipes, the ones that don't steer and leave you screaming in the middle of traffic, the ones that spit little black bombs out the exhaust pipe. This doesn't do any of that. She's not the world's prettiest car, I'll admit, the door is scratched to buggery, and she's getting on a bit. We think we're her last owners, realistically, but I reckon she'll be right. God, I hope...
We shall see.
There's coming home to discover he has got you a tray of little cakes :)
Is there anything in life finer than than coming in from a hard day's work, to find your beloved slaving over a hot stove, and you have nothing to do but sit back, watch the Simpsons, and drink beer?