The story so far

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Car or a Lemon?

Arriving at Coffs harbour was a relief and after stress over running out of money and the car, we took a few days to recover while Matt and Fiona carried on their routines of work and taking the kids to and from Nursery.  Actually, the first day, Matt took me to the Deep Sea Fishing Club for a couple of beers and had second half of the afternoon off.  We looked out over the sea, drank cold beers and enjoyed the scenery.  It was pretty good really.

We came back to his place and drank half a carton of beer between us.  This was inevitable, as was the fact that we have probably done more or less the same thing every night since, although we did have onenight off, just to keep the ladies happy.  We did have a dodgy car on our hands though and that would prove to be a weight on our minds which needed lifting.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Meeting Bob McTavish

Last autumn in England, before I went to Australia, I went down to visit my brother in Devon.  Mike had previously helped me acquire a new longboard to replace the 7'6" minimal I had been using.  This longboard is a beauty, it is a 9'6" McTavish longboard and it rides like a dream.  If the waves are good in Devon, when I get on that board I am in heaven.

My brother raved on about Bob McTavish, telling me he was a really cool surfing legend from the 60s who had pioneered new technicques in surfing and shaping.  I just wanted to get out on the board.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The first month in Australia

We've been in Australia for a month now and certainly have found it difficult to find time to make new posts.  When you have no schedule it is really hard to fit blogging into your schedule.  Therefore I'm going to try and summarise the first few weeks in Australia with as few words as possible.  I will probably ramble on as ever though.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A perfect day in Sydney

This is Zoe's first post, actually the whole family are contributing. We have really had a perfect Sunday with the family in Sydney despite the fact that the westerly winds have brought day long 40 degree heat for the past three days.

Zoe: I think it is just a fabulous day in Sydney, I have just got hot the whole day and have got thirstier and thirstier. It's just the best day ever. We saw the ferry going round and round that we went on. It was always the same ferry. We saw a long green ferry and a yellow ferry and a short green ferry.

There were lots of people making sand castles on the beach. When we got to the party, there were people jumping off the side into the deep water of Sydney harbour but it didn't matter because they could swim.

Esme: I enjoyed my food. I enjoyed my fantastic cooking pizza yesterday. I liked swimming in Hans's pool. I liked all the pools, there's one, two, three there is mummy. I liked it when I throwed the balloons in the air, the balloons that i didn't like. I liked everyone on the TV putting the balloons up in the air and they sprinkled. I didn't like the beach. I did like walking in the rock pools....where's my seat, can I get on my seat? Thank you for my Holiday.

Hannah: we started with a perfect beach morning which was surprisingly busy at 9.00 am but made sense with the temperature. Zoe, Nick, Esme and Sue swam while I paddled. Then we went for a beautiful walk along the shoreline and onto the little island at Balmoral where Sue used to play when she was twelve. We saw where the shark nets were tied until last year and saw the manly ferry and round the headland. Then back to Nick for a wonderful swim before home for a late breakfast.

During that time, Sue phoned and said did we want to go to Hans's for a swim? We agreed to go after a quiet half hour in which even the children read silently which ended abruptly when Nick said "We've got 10 minutes to catch the ferry Hannah". We literally hot-footed it down to the ferry in the hottest heat I've ever experienced and made it with two minutes to spare.

At Hans's we had a wonderful afternoon swimming and eating and drinking with the Kirribilli community from three sets of flats and arranged New Years at Kirribilli. That means front row seats for Sydney harbour fireworks.

Nick: I am shocked that no-one mentioned that we travelled to the beach in the 4L Ford Fairlane Passion Waggon.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Nine days in Thailand

Thailand was Hannah's idea.  We were paying for the flights anyway and s stop-over did not add to the cost. I also had stacks of Hilton points to spend, so we booked ourselves into a resort in Hua Hin for nine nights.  The ideas was that we would use the time to recover from our hectic last few weeks and months so we would  be ready to arrive in Australia and hit the ground running.

When we landed in Thailand Zoe and Esme both drew a lot of attention from the locals.  At first I was worried that they were going to be kidnapped and kept a close eye on them.  As time passed however, I realised that they were just being friendly and that their way of being friendly to the children was to touch their face or ruffle their hair.  Later in the holiday I was surprised when Zoe refused to wear a pretty pink sari with elephant prints on it.  When I asked her why she told me in a very stroppy fashion that she was trying not to look pretty because she didn't like people touching her.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Esme's christmas list

Getting ready for Christmas in the sun and with the absence of cold weather, early evenings and snow/sleet/rain is something which we are not really concerned with.  However, we have been encouraging the girls to think about Christmas as we will be spending it with family who are well used to preparing for the festive season in 35 degree heat.

Anyway, this is a very quick post because I asked the two girls what they wanted for Christmas yesterday and Esme's list might take a bit of time to get together.  She assures me that her top presents would be:

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

UK to Thailand

I've been in Australia seven days now and am only just getting prepared to write about our trip out of England. I made some notes as we went around Thailand and reading through them now, I realise it's a good idea. I had forgotten about half the things that had happened already. I am finding it hard to find time to write now though. When at work, a bit more work seems to fit quite well, but the thought of getting my computer out while on holiday really doesn't appeal.

The taxi took us to Heathrow in what seemed like no time at all. The girls were excited, Hannah sitting in the back with them, with me in front talking to the driver, Richard. It all seemed a bit surreal, what we were doing just seemed like a dream and the feelings were just not what I expected.  It was very relaxing, I didn't feel excited, or sad, just exhausted and ready for a rest.  Not the best place to be when you are about to embark on an eleven hour flight with two small but very energy sapping children.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Leaving England

After my work leaving party on the Thursday, I decided to have a lie-in. I asked for a late checkout from the Hilton, but true to form, other things came up which meant I did not truly relax. I got a call from my friend Gary at 10.00 saying he was coming to see me at 10.30. Great! Although I wanted to see him, my plans of relaxation would have to be put on hold. Gary only stayed half an hour, we went for a walk in the Newbury sunshine and looked at cars on the A34, the source of the famous Newbury Bypass dispute. Some people will know about it, this guy called "Swampy" climbed up a tree with matted hair and an army surplus jacket and refused to get down saying that it would ruin the natural countryside around Newbury. Swampy had a point, you can hear the roar of the A34 in some of the most beautiful and otherwise quiet patches of woodland on the north side of Newbury and it ruins the peace. I don't think iPods had been invented back then though because once plugged in, the place takes on an even more atmospheric quality, depending on the track you are listening to at the time. I suspect Birdwatchers would disagree, they normally do, but I can handle it.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Leaving today

Just a very quick post to say we are leaving today.  We'll be arriving in Thailand tomorrow and flying into Sydney for the 5th November.  We may be out of touch for a little while....but we'll be back.  Soon.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Leaving Work

I'm due to jump on a plane in 24 hours and may not have Internet access for a while, so I decided to rush this article out. I may try and tidy it up a bit later and add more details. If anyone there thinks I've missed anything worthy of inclusion, please post a comment.

I have given up trying to post photos as I'm in transit and my iPhone keeps crashing. Take a look at my facebook page where I've uploaded a number of commented photos.

A while ago, someone at work asked me if I was having leaving drinks. Anyone who has read my article on saying goodbye will understand why this thought did not fill me full of excitement. I'm not that keen on being centre of attention, I don't like fuss and having to go to the expense and effort of organising something really didn't appeal.

Friday, 23 October 2009

A Poem from my mum

My mum has just read my blog for the first time and she asked me to post this:

It was about time I let the world know where Nick's poetic tendancies come.  I present: An Ode to a New Austalian.

Zoe Olivia Wiltshire, whose initials have always been ZOW
Informed me today of a change she is making to take effect from now
She wants to reverse her forenames which got me to thinking, "is this because
this transmogrification is a reaffirmation of her emigration to OZ?"

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Technology and gadgets

I'm a bit of gadget freak and going to Austalia gives me the excuse to research and trial all sorts of new gadgets.  What I'm planning to do is keep this article up to date each time I find something new.  Like how does my Xbox work in Australia?  I need a new TV, what will I do?  I'm sure the suspense is killing anyone reading this!

Wireless Digital Photo Frames

If you are going to be travelling or spending time away from loved ones and have an internet camera phone or a camera and PC, you could provide a feed of photos direct to a frame in their living room.  If this interests, read on.

A poem about Australia

I've had a real hard time getting a post out this week. I've just finished my job and had to work quite hard on my last week getting things done and saying goodbye to people in the evening. Since then, I've been running around, socialising and trying to orgainse 101 things which need organising before you move to another country halfway around the world. I am absolutely exhausted and don't know how I am going to be fit for my leaving party in Newbury in 48 hours.

OK, so the poem won and this has been part of this issue. Writing a poem is more difficult than it seems. When you are trying to say something, the less words you use, the harder it is.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Hatred. A Practice Poem

I read up a bit on poetry and learned a couple of things.  Firstly, it doesn't have to rhyme and even could be viewed more highly if it does not rhyme.  Secondly, poetry is often most moving when written in a state of heightened emotion.

I wondered about this.  A lot of poetry is written by men in frilly cuffs and curly wigs and delivered up to ivy clad balconies or in clearings in the woods.

What I mean is that a lot of poetry is driven by love, or more likely lust and you have to be a bit airy-fairy to write it.  I wasn't keen to get into that.

I did remember reading some poetry by soldiers in the trenches in the first world war.  This poetry, fuelled by fear, was really good stuff.  Clearly situations like this are to be avoided, but it's interesting to note that fear could probably inspire even better poetry than love.

I don't love Australia, I don't hate Australia and I'm not too scared of it either.  Maybe writing a decent poem about it would be difficult?

Then, at lunchtime today, I learned something that made me angry.  I don't mean angry, I mean totally irate, furious and fairly confrontational.  After I had calmed down sufficiently to reach the conclusion that violence was not the answer, despite its initial appeal, I decided that it might be a good way to start me writing poetry. I thought I'd write a poem about it.  This would be a warm up for my Australia poem and would be slightly more challenging because due to the sensitive nature of the incident, I cant really reveal any details.

One thing I can reveal is that this is not about Hannah!


My thoughts are focussed by anger, they pierce the fog of my life.
Why did she do it, the destruction inflicted, she's evil, she's nasty, vindictive, insane.
To me she was nothing, but now there is something, a reason to see her once more.
I wasn't her target but still took the pain, my hatred is burning, my fury aflame.
Her lies were effective, flawless in fact, but what was it that drove her to this?
What pleasure is found from causing this hurt, when all I can see is her shame?
My logical mind will not find an answer.  This much I know as I struggle to sleep
What motivates her is foreign to me, perhaps not so much as I imagine her weep.
But really I think, she is driven by greed.  One man for the money, one for her need.
She's a user, a leach, she's the worst kind of scum. That's why I don't get the things that she's done
But one thing I'm sure of, what motivates me, can not be the hatred that she'd like to see.
As sleep starts to win, my thoughts turn to pity.  She's nothing, she's failed, her life: it is shitty.
She may think she's won but she hasn't I see.  She's taken from us, but she's lost more than me.
We still have each other, our family and friends, but love is something which she just pretends.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Saying Goodbye

To be honest, I was not expecting this to win the vote. I thought I’d be able to write about saying goodbye once we had said goodbye to everyone. I am grateful though that I didn’t have to write a poem. I’m not sure why I put that option in really.
Of course, I already have some things to say on the subject and I can always add to this later when we are on the plane, crying tears of sadness. I probably will cry, but in private and I will enjoy it.

Anyway, what I initially had in mind is a description of our friends, probably with something about what they mean to us and what we will miss about them. This will come with plenty of photos. That won’t be interesting to most, but will be a good way for us to remember the people important to us.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Shankar Presents......

Shankar is a colleague at Detica and a friend. The most notable thing about Shankar is his cultural appreciation and his love of the finer things in life.

Since Shankar is an avid reader, I asked him to provide me with a list of his favourite books which I could read as I take it easy on the way to Australia. Shankar did such a good job of this, I have decided to make a feature of it and have asked Shankar to present his ideas on good food, music, places to visit and anything else he feels able to share.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pees and Peas

I’ve already noted that the Australians are different to the British in their nature and attitudes. Ultimately, I'd like to understand this culture and learn to appreciate it.

As part of the preparations I have been trying to be more observant about the world around me, I want to appreciate and remember what I love about England but also to understand how other countiries differ.  A recent trip around France and Switzerland gave me the chance to observe the Europeans.  If I could learn to appreciate and even enjoy some aspects of their culture, I thought it would make me more receptive to the Australian way of life.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Thoughts about England

As the time ticks by and our departure from the UK gets closer, we are thinking more and more about Australia.  I guess that's to be expected, but some of these thoughts are frankly quite unexpected and I thought I would share them.

It's a mixture of emotions.  We are going to Australia, at least in part because we think we can get a better life there.  In England we have made certain choices which tied us down, forced us to work in demanding jobs to pay the mortgage.  Australia is a chance for a new start.  We have no ties and it is an opportunity to set ourselves up again with more focus on what is most important to us now.  There are things we love about the UK also, and these thoughts, while not overpowering, are beginning to creep in.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

First impressions of the Aussies

Before going to Australia, I thought it would be a good idea to try to understand the Australian culture. If I was going to have to live and work there I would have to interact with Aussies on a daily basis and maybe even befriend one or two. I had better understand a bit more about what makes them tick.

I already have a view on Australian culture mainly based on sporting legends like Campese, Ponting, Warne and Border. While this may not be a representative cross section of Aussie society it gave me a start.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Job Hunting

Thanks to the disasterous performance of the British economy over the last year or so I have decided I need to find a job in Australia, rather than live the life of a surf bum.

In fact, this has been the chief cause of concern for me. The world economy is bottomed out (although Australia seems to be coping better than most) and I have just resigned from a well paying and seemingly stable job at Detica. I couldn't afford to eat too much into our modest savings or we would erode our deposit too much and wouldn't be able to afford a decent house in Aus.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Castles of France and Australia

Earlier this week, we went to Disneyland in Paris. Again, this was an opportunity which we would not get in Australia so a last chance to visit Disney, which according to Hannah every child should experience.

I had never been to Disney as a child and wondered how life would have been different for me if I had. Then I thought about all those Australian children who also can't easily get to Disney. It doesn't seem to affect them too badly. Is this because it is not necessary to go to Disneyland as a child or does Australia have something just as good which helps them get though the challenged of childhood? Either way I slept easy that night knowing that my kids would get a bit of Disney and a bit of whatever the Aussie kids were getting.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Towel elephants and symbolism

On Thursday, as part of our preparations for going to Australia, I travelled up to Norwich for a family party. In doing so I listened to Radio 1 for the first time in a while. In inane fashion, Scott Mills was discussing of all things "the towel elephant". Apparently in Indonesia and Thailand especially, you can arrive back in your hotel to find that housekeeping have left elephants, sleeping men or even monkeys fashioned from carefully arranged towels or other items of bed linen. Since the trip to Aus would involve a nine-day stopover in Thailand I wondered......"wouldn't that be great, a nice little towel elephant. The kids would love it". I was cautioned not to raise their hopes by the tale of one listener who had raved about the towel creatures to his wife only to be disappointed. On the second day in the Indonesian resort he had even made a "towel snail" as a hint to housekeeping, but no towel creatures had arisen.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


A while ago, I think about two years, Hannah and I, while on holiday in Devon realised that our life was not what we wanted it to be. Why can I only surf three times a year? Why can Hannah not wear flip-flops (Thongs!) all year round?

We thought about a move to Devon, but are there any jobs in Devon? We'd been to Australia a couple of times to meet Hannah's step familiy - the sons, daughters, cousings, sisters and even ex-husbands of her (wicked?) Austalian step mother Sue. We liked the Aussies and their attitude to life. Of course we had only been there twice and those times we had plenty of money to spend and everyone was on holiday.