Let’s see what I can remember from 16-22nd Nov

Monday 16th – sleep in, text from Joe, immigration, no key, bootcamp, green parrot

Those are the clues….. I slept in (ie didn’t set my alarm for 5:20am), Texted my rowing coach, got a reply…… got a phone call from Immigration saying my work visa application had been approved – hurrah can stay for at least another year in NZ – collected passport for can go to Oz at end of week. Did bootcamp to make up for missing training in the morning (hideous circuits trying to beat previous time each time round) and then went to the Green Parrot to celebrate – amazing steak!!!

Tuesday –

There would have been some training in the evening…….

Wednesday

According to my calendar – hair cut and then rowing…..

Thursday sydney – early training rhys

Here I have more of a clue – went to Sydney!!!! But first did some erging with my bf (trying to correct his technique) then a monster breakfast out, a mad pack, trip to the airport, flight to Sydney and then a drive to the Blue Mountains – stopped at a really yummy Thai restaurant on the way, but sadly no idea where or what it was called….. The temperature difference between Welling (17) and Sydney (27) was amazing, so warm, every time we got out of the car we were reminded of how warm it was (compared to the aircon in the car!!) We drove out to the Blue Mountains and stayed at a really friendly hostel called the Flying Fox in Katoomba – was late when we arrived, so time for a glass of wine and a sleep!

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For some reason we were both awake stupidly early, but was to be a blessing in disguise – temperatures of nearly 40 degrees C were forecast so it was good to get up and out before it got too hot. Took a walk down to see the view at Echo Point – it didn’t disappoint and even better there was no-one else there!!

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We wandered back for our free breakfast – amazing yummy bread and jam and cups of tea. Spent the day exploring, went to see Gordon Falls – a bit of a disappointment, but with the weather it shouldn’t have been surprising there wasn’t that much water!

Lunch was at a yummy veggie/vegan place in Katoomba. In the afternoon we were in Leura and spotted a sign for a vegan restaurant open in the evening – was upstairs in the mall, popped our heads in and it looked great, so that’s where we went for dinner – after an evening stroll back at Echo Point.

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Food was delicious, was even dessert – we got 2 to share and thankfully both preferred different ones!!

 

saturday TM

Tough Mudder!!!! Our reason for being in Australia. It was held in Glenworth Valley just under 2hr drive away from the Blue Mountains – was a lovely drive, but we only had the map they gave us when we hired the car…… it took us most of the way, but not the vital end bit….. we had no data on our phones, was getting a bit tense as to whether we’d missed a turning/not gone far enough when out the corner of my eye I spotted a sign (I thought) for Glenworth Valley, we turned off the main road and there were no signs, we drove, no signs, then turned around to retrace our steps when thankfully I spotted a sign from another road pointing to Glenworth Valley, with much relief we followed that and were soon surrounded by people all heading in the same direction!

This was my second Tough Mudder to participate, but my 3rd after volunteering in Auckland last year – spent 2 great days manning the Cage Crawl (Day 1 and Day 2).

My first TM was in the UK and was soooooo much fun and I’d trained so hard for it, this time, I’ve been training for rowing and hoped that would be enough!! My report for the UK was obstacle by obstacle, but without the memory of Nikki to help me this is far less detailed!!

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11233093_10156293221250293_1878294117877734748_oIt was fun, it was hard, it was wet, muddy and shocking (of the electrical kind) was well worth the travel to get there and everything that went before.

My favorite obstacle this time was the mud mile – mud banks to climb over before plunging into muddy water to climb up another bank (and repeat). Least fav was Arctic Enema – plunging into a skip filled with water and ice, ducking underneath a divider and climbing out – loved it first time round, this time freaked out, panic breathing, horrible – the smile in the photo above is misleading!

Had 2 showering sessions to attempt to get the mud off before changing into clean/dry clothes. Then drove to Sydney, parked up and found our hostel (our room more like a hotel) for the night – by the train station – Bounce. Had an ensuite and white towels….. they may rethink that for next year – any TM people should just get old towels. Despite the previous 2 showers there was still mud to be found, lots of it – I was finding mud in my ears and nose for days…….

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After a v solid nights sleep we were up early for breakfast – got to see a steam train leaving the station from our view over the railway tracks in the hostel’s fab kitchen.

Then packed away our stuff, carried it back to the car before heading off to our treat for the day – a Jet Blast Ride in and around the harbour. This was so much fun, the time flew by, we got a little soggy, but then we did sit right at the front!!

The rest of the day we walked to the Rocks, the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Botanical Gardens, back down Pitt Street and we were done.

When I say done, I mean could walk no more, had seen as much of Sydney as we could do.

Time to head to the airport and back to Wellington…… arrived back at 11pm and we were home for 1am. What a great trip away 🙂

 

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Monday 16th – Friday 20th June another wet week

Monday

Walk to school – an unknown highlight as the rest of the week was wet wet wet
Not sure if it was the impending weather but T super grumpy and grizzly
Rain rain rain
Massive Skype day – 4 calls, love having unlimited WiFi now!

Tuesday

After a day and over 2 weeks of coughing I finally gave in to peer pressure and went to the doctors. I shouldn’t have bothered. It cost me $99 (£50ish) just to see him. Basically threw antibiotics at me….. He did not appreciate me questioning if it was a bacterial infection. Left really angry, prescription in hand, determined to wait it out and see if I got better.
Recovered my humour enough to laugh when I was stopped for a breathalyser test and nearly caught with an expired warrant. Then on to meet Grant at the cinema for cheap Tuesdays and Fault of the Stars – brilliant film, many tears shed, not a film to watch on a plane or a first date!!

Wednesday

Had a terrible night of coughing and not much sleep, so terrible that I gave in and got my prescription from the pharmacy (Vogeltown Pharmacy like on the radio!!)
Stopped off and got the correct WOF sticker put in the car, safe from the police for another 6 months.
T and I stopped at the photo shop to get more printed while we went to Crackerjacks which this week had the theme of stars for Matariki.
http://www.korero.maori.nz/news/matariki/background.html

We met with Grant for a coffee afterwards, then picked up photos and T fell asleep on the way home.
In the afternoon we stuck lots of the photos up on my wardrobe doors – T found some very funny – me in Melbourne with a cushion on my head

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Or disturbing – me in Cambodia with wet hair – he doesn’t like wet hair, and curious – me running at Angkor Wat

Thursday

Nothing to report other than the spotting of a double rainbow

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Hmm, cant see the second one, above the one you can see!

Friday
Walked to school!!
Another rainy day, but could see the top of the mountain in the afternoon
Went to the gym for the first time this week – been trying to take it easy with no exercise and early nights – Brent asked how I was and soon gathered I’m not well. We went for weights, lots of heavy weights, not sure what my arms were made to do, but they were in pain and shaking. Did the leg press with 80kg on, that much I do know. Left after an hour feeling broken. I texted John to tell him, he told me I wasn’t broken, just weak…..
Stopped to get beer on the way home. Couldn’t carry it in the supermarket, had to hug them instead!

Tuesday 22nd April – end of an era

This morning was the last boot camp Sippie and I will go to together….. Very sad as she’s good company and it’s always good to have a buddy to make sure you get out of bed!

On the way back we stopped for a little treat of croissants and to pick up some coffee!

I had to pop into town to drop my DOC stuff off from the weekend, bit was back in time for Sippie and I to head to the port to see the boats leave for their trip to Australia – we’d heard about on the radio on the way back from boot camp and thought we’d go see!! Have to say it was an anticlimax….. They were pottering about and then randomly headed in the same direction and that seemed to be about it. So we decided to go for a coffee to make the trip more worthwhile!!

Sippie had been looking for a place called ‘The Batch’ since she’d arrived, but to no avail. I spotted a sign for it as we walked along, Sippie was confused and then all was revealed!! The kiwis pronounce ‘Bach’ a holiday home as ‘Batch’, giggles all round we headed in that direction – but it was closed 😦

We went to another cafe instead just as the heavens opened and it poured with rain. Forced into coffee drinking we decided we’d go back to Bach on Sippie’s last day for lunch (handily enough tomorrow!)

When we couldn’t delay the journey back to the car any longer we made a run for it! Dived into the car just as the rain got even heavier. Giggling we drove back to the lodge in time for me to start work.

As it was Sippie’s last night Sophie and I met her in town (when she’d finished her barista course) and had a drink before heading back to the lodge for drinks with Alan and Rachel – a fun evening all round, especially when the Baileys came out!

Wednesday 2nd April – pancakes and a return to NZ

This morning Maddie and I both set alarms – Wednesday is pancake day in the hostel!!

We were down in the kitchen just after 8am and there was no sign, so we made toast instead – then discovered pancakes (with lashings of maple syrup) start at 8:30 – we’d not missed it at all!! And a couple of days ago I’d found a coffee plunger for sale for $3/£1.50 so we had a celebratory coffee too!

Getting up so early meant I had ages to pack my stuff…, or so I thought, with much faffing the time flew by and so I was forced into a panic shower and a rush to checkout – oops

Then all there as to do was sit with my stuff (their luggage room is only for guests arriving, not leaving) and watch a DVD! For the first time since I arrived the TV room was empty and having browsed their list, Toy Story was put on and I was soon joined by Maddie and a couple of others – no one can resist its charms.

Forcing myself not to cry at the ending, I pottered off to make some lunch and then catch my bus to the airport.

After queuing for ages to check in- stuck behind a chaotic group of Argentinians who seemed never to have stepped foot in an airport before – I got to the desk with a cheery hello. Where are you going today? Auckland. Do you know the contents of your bag? Yes. Do you have a return flight and can I see it? Err…. Sorry, what?

It seems that they’re pretty hot on making sure you have a flight out of NZ before Qantas will let you fly in, something to do with them being fined $1000s….. So I was sent round the corner to purchase a ticket…..

While I queued I wondered what ticket to buy and when for? I figured back to Oz would be cheapest and in 6ish months time, the latest I could do! I got to the counter, explained to the lady, she agreed Oz was the best option, I told her when, she said I could only get a visa for 3 months, I said I was sure it was 6, she phoned her supervisor, they checked NZ immigration website together then finally agreed 6 months would be OK…… So for $208 I now have a ticket out of NZ to Sydney on 23rd September……

Rushed back to check in and was relieved to discover no queues, as it was getting close to the cut off time, checked in, through security and headed for the gate.

Wasn’t long before our flight was called and we boarded. What I love about Qantas flights is that you can start watching the films etc before you take off, so I managed to fit 2 in on our 3h flight – Last Vegas, really funny and Philomena, good but I think the emotion was lost somewhat with the plane noise and not being able to hear the sound properly (less important in a comedy!)

Last time I landed in NZ it took forever to do luggage, passport control and customs. This time my bag was one of the first to appear and I zoomed through the rest – hurrah!

Soon I was sat on the airport bus heading back to the city and The Attic my home for the night.

Tuesday 1st April – Emma Day!

Was woken at 3am by my dad pinching and punching me over the interweb. I then kicked him back and set about pinching and pinching people before going back to sleep

Finally woke properly around 11:30!! To find that the others in the dorm had slept in too.

Dragged myself out of bed for a shower, went to Aldi to get some food, had peanut butter and Vegemite sandwiches for lunch, went for a wander, came back chatted to Maddie and a guy called Colin, agreed to team up tonight for the quiz.

After a dinner of pasta, pesto, tuna and tomatoes it was quiz time!!! Great questions and we did pretty well most rounds, we won the best photo round – 3 bonus points – but sadly came 3rd.

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To celebrate we treated ourselves to toblerone (?) and strawberries!

Monday 31st March – the bees came back!

Had a lazy morning at the hostel, up for the free breakfast, but then back to bed for a doze – had been a noisy night with people coming and going and talking.

New roommate Maddie arrived as I was about to head out, but instead sat and chatted for ages!

Went to a really nice cafe for lunch, Dr Jekyll, they a cold drip coffee – from Guatemala and El Salvador – I tried both along with amazing eggs Benedict and ham on sourdough.
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Over lunch I finally got to the bottom of why 1st April is Emma Day – my love of comedy and pinching and punching!

After lunch I went for a wander along Akland Street and gazed at all the yummy cake shops!

In the evening I met up with friends from the UK on Chapel Street. Not that I’m competitive but Google Maps said it would take 39 mins to walk from the hostel, I did it in 30, I also overtook a girl speed walking!!

We met at the Oriental Teahouse, the food was super yummy, I had chicken dumplings with quinoa salad and some sticky rice – oh how I’ve missed that. Was lovely to see them all again, caught up and discovered a reunion in Auckland may be on the cards.

Them having proper jobs and having had a heavy weekend, we had an early evening. I walked at a more leisurely pace back to the hostel to discover there was an open mic karaoke going on, there was also a suggestion of joke telling…. After about 5 minutes of thinking about it I offered to stand up….. It’s been a long time but the bee jokes were back – a very willing audience participated in recommendations for the comedy festival and bee punchlines – I told every one I could remember before having to reluctantly walk away!

Sunday 30th March – 1000 steps and Milton Jones

Woke up at a far more reasonable time today! We had time for breakfast and everything before heading out.

For a bit of light exercise we were heading for the 1000 steps…..

“Kokoda Memorial Track (1000 Steps), Named in memory of the notorious Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, this is a steep 1.5-km long staircase that combines hiking through near-jungle conditions with historical plaques documenting the battles against the Japanese and horrific conditions endured by Australian soldiers and their allies.”

Taken from http://wikitravel.org/en/Dandenong_Ranges

Details of the Kokoda Track Campaign can be found here
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kokoda_Track_campaign

It was a hard walk, a long trek uphill to get to the steps and then proper uphill on a series of stone steps, worn, uneven and wet and muddy. At the bottom there was an area with lots of people stretching, people were running up, walking in hiking kit and others (like us) out for a walk.

Well, before long my heart was thumping, the uphill was relentless, but after hearing that when Andrew had done this with his gf they didn’t make it to the top, that was me, challenge accepted!!

Make it to the top we did! You’re not rewarded with amazing panoramic views, just can see a few steps down where you’ve come from, but that’s not the point of the track, the idea is to experience and remember, so it seems quite apt.

In recent years they’ve made a second track from an old fire road and it also has steps to the side but these have been designed by some sports scientist and are nothing really to do with the original track. As Andrew hadn’t been down this way, that’s the way we went. Running down the steps, seemed easier on the knees than walking the slope!!!

Feeling far more refreshed at the bottom than we did at the top we stopped and read the boards explaining about the track, the troops and what happened – really interesting
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When we got back it was time for left over BBQ and a sit to watch some How I Met Your Mother, it’s the last ever episode on Tuesday, they’re massive fans and I’d not seen any of the last series. We managed to fit in a good few episodes!!!

Then sadly it was time to catch the train back into the CBD, catch the wrong tram, then the one going the right way, check into my new hostel in St Kilda, Habitat HQ, before heading out to see Milton Jones.

Milton Jones is another comedian from the UK and also a friend of Tim Vine. They both tell one liners but in very different ways. The show was full, he was funny, no trips into the stage this time or friends made, so back to the hostel afterwards.

Got back and had a nice cup of Tetley tea!

Saturday 29th – wine, Ramsey Street and a BBQ

Despite not sleeping well, I did sleep to midday!

Andrew had booked us into a winery for lunch called the Innocent Bystander in the Yarra Valley.

It was amazing we shared lamb ribs and cous cous, pear and walnut salad, sourdough bread with olive tapenade, tomato and stuff. Really nice white (Chardonnay, pinot gris) and rose wine. For dessert goats curd cheese cake with strawberries.

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Andrew drove us back via Ramsey St – just round the corner from him and so much smaller than it looks on TV!!

We then treated ourselves to the remainder of the afternoon watching the last series of How I Met Your Mother, well, several episodes!

In the evening Andrew’s dad’s partner and son came for dinner – a BBQ, they threw shrimp on it in my honour!!!

Friday 28th March – a bit of a day

Today confirms my belief that you can’t have a good day without a bad one following close behind…….

I’d sent my Tim photos to my sister last night, she replied with – no way!!!!!!!! But as she’d just been to see Frank Skinner in London couldn’t complain too much!

Went for a potter along Chapel Street – lots of shops/restaurants and runs pretty much parallel to where I’m staying. Off Chapel Street is the Prahran Market, a fresh food market with cafes – stopped here for lunch and had a ham and cheese croissant with a long black and sat in the sunshine and read. Love it here, you can sit somewhere for ages and just read, no one seems to mind.

I’ve not had my hair cut since leaving Malaysia, so mid-January, despite Matt making me promise not to get it cut, I never actually did, so decided today was the day to tidy the mop up. I asked around various shops, but no one could advise, so I took the plunge and asked in a hairdressers for a price -$90! Way more than I pay at home so asked if they knew somewhere cheaper and they sent me to the Korean place across the road. They were $40, I was a bit dubious re Western vs Asian hair, but hey, what’s the worst that could happen? He did have blue hair after all!!! Well, I got an awesome head massage/hair wash and after my usual vague description of how my hair goes the blue haired hairdresser set to work. The result was pretty good, hair cut, tidy and well, perfectly OK!

I came out of the hairdressers and continued my potter along Chapel Street through the secondhand book and antique shops. Exhausting stuff, I had to stop for coffee and cheesecake – it turned out to be good coffee but rubbish cheesecake.

I then got the train back to south yards to pack and get ready to leave. April came home and we chatted some more.

It was then I got a text from my mum saying she had bad news….. My mind went straight to my grandparents or my parents dogs…….

Then the message arrived. My sisters ex-boyfriend had been found dead. They’d been together for over 10 years, split over a year ago, but she (my sister) is like me, after a relationship that lasts that long there’s always feelings.

It was a shock, I sat almost speechless (apart from an involuntary ‘oh my god’) it wasn’t at all what I was braced for and was a complete shock. I stopped the messaging and April very kindly let me sit in her room as she was preparing the flat for the next guests and Skype home. He was a diabetic and it’s thought he’d slipped into a diabetic coma. My sister feels so responsible that she should have been there to take care of him – crazy thought, they’d been separated for over a year and he had loads of brothers and sisters…… But still, I totally understand her thinking.

Being so far away it’s very surreal, can almost believe it’s not happened, especially as I had a train to jump on and a fun evening ahead.

I had to pick up my stuff and head into the cbd to meet Andrew (who I met on the Cambodian/Laos border) and his friend Scott to head to the Etihad Stadium and go see some Aussie rules football. We met outside the station and I burst into tears! I think they were totally panicked, but then totally understanding. We walked my rucksack back to their car. I donned the beanie they’d brought me – Essendon, we walked back to the stadium and joined the game!!

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The rules are surprisingly understandable once you’re up to speed! And the game Essendon vs Hawthorn was really exciting, lots of points scored, 4 and 20 pie at halftime, major Essendon come back, but we still lost by 3 points.

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Andrew drove us back to his house in the burbs – Ferntree Gully – love the name!

Was gone midnight when we arrived, time for bed, still hyped up from the game and thinking about the days events, eventually got to sleep, but feelings in turmoil, I didn’t sleep well.

Thursday 27th March – Melbourne tourist, trainers and Tim

Up, breakfast and a nespresso – first in nearly 4 months!!

At the suggestion of my friend Matt I walked into the city along river, really nice walk with lots to look at. The river walk takes you into the city at Federation Square – perfect for stopping at tourist info!

A very nice man gave me the guide to the Melbourne Comdey Festival – handily starting today!! I walked down to the Town Hall, where the booking office is, and joined an unexpectedly short queue to book tickets – tonight’s Tim Vine Chat Show and to see Milton Jones on Sunday (I know they’re both British comedians, but as is every British persons mantra ‘they’re so much cheaper to see here!’)

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Important stuff done it was time to take in some sights of Melbourne, randomly the first sight was Milton Jones! Thought about saying hello, but what was I going to say??

Sightseeing was temporarily interrupted by the discovery of a shoe shop selling vivobarefoot shoes. You can only get them on the South Island of NZ which would be an expensive trip! So effectively I’m saving money buying them here, so that makes it OK to get 2 pairs right?

For trail running
http://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/womens/breatho-trail-ladies?colour=Grey/Teal

So I have shoes that aren’t jandals or trainers! And they weren’t full price…..
http://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/womens/jing-jing-ladies?colour=Black

They even have their own twitter hashtags – #VivoBreatho (nice rhyme) and #VivoJingJing – crazy!

After all that excitement it was time for coffee, so walked to another Matt recommendation – Pellegrinis – a Melbourne institution by all accounts, old style Italian coffee bar complete with old style Italians, but disappointingly the coffee was not that great – Australia sets its coffee standard v high…..

I managed to wander my way bak to the train station and got the train back to South Yarra for what turned out to be a cup of tea and a hot x bun with April. Perfect chillax before heading back into town to see Tim Vine.

As I still had plenty of time I decided to walk back in. Was home time for the workers so was passed by loads of runners and cyclists, I managed not to trip them up and they didn’t run me over, so job well done.

It being the first night of the festival, things weren’t running too smoothly, so we had to form a little queue outside the Town Hall. Ahead were 2 Aussies and behind me was a lovely girl called Charlotte from the UK. Everyone was v excited to see Tim and soon enough we were in and for extra leg room we headed for the front row! We were soon joined by another Brit called Gaz, from Manchester, works for BBC radio there.

The show is called ‘Tim Vine’s Chat Show’ the guests aren’t famous, but instead drawn from the audience. We all found a slip of paper on our seats, filled in name, occupation (lab manager on sabbatical) and a fact/incident (can fit fist in mouth) and handed them to a guy who took them backstage for Tim to select his guests.

Tim’s style is very much one liners, sight gags and silly songs/dances (think dad-jokes just don’t say that to him!) Perfect if you ask me!!!

Anyway, we had an arts admin person who’d caught a llama, a dinosaur guy, someone who’s mates had given him a fake job and fact. Then there was a guy who was on sabbatical, a lab manager (sound familiar?) and was called ‘oh it’s a woman’ yes, it was me!!!

We chatted about my sabbatical how I got it/why, what kind of lab I worked in, the research, he was interested in lupus, but not great comedy material! Eventually it was time to put my fist in my mouth, he thought it was ‘disgusting’ but he had asked to see it!!

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After the show he said he’d come out and talk to people (there was another show waiting to come in). Charlotte had to rush off and see Milton Jones, but Gaz and I waited for him and what a treat it was!

Tim came out and was happy to chat, sign my slip of paper (to my sister another massive fan)

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We talked the show, cultural differences – Aussies don’t know the word muggins or have the AA for car breakdowns, how he got into comedy, being in Melbourne, his brother, his parents, having jokes similar to other comedians, how I should have said hello to Milton Jones earlier, Not Going Out, lupus (turns out he knows someone with it). He bought us coffee, we took some photos and were still chatting when Charlotte came out from Milton’s show! We all then had a personal viewing of Pen Behind the Ear then Pen Behind the Ear photos – what a great guy

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http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0pwbQvJDFzQ

Charlotte and I walked to the train together so excited at our evenings and how lucky we were to be in Melbourne and at just the right time – thanks Mr Vine