Sunday, December 31, 2006

NYE - Blog # 06

Woke up to a mild hangover and a dismal, dreary, overcast city. We're off to the cinema to watch 'The Holiday' thanks to Murray, Jules and Alexander.

NYE - Blog # 05

02:55 - It's been a wonderful evening. Experiencing New Years Eve in Sydney has exceeded our expectations. A brilliant atmosphere in a fantastic city. The fireworks were out of this world.

We've cleaned up, had another drink and are ready to hit the sack. We're both looking forward to whatever 2007 holds. You never know, I might get a phone call from my parents. x

NYE - Blog # 04 more that can be said. Pictures uploaded to Flickr :-)

NYE - Blog # 03

09:18 - Another update. Fantastic fireworks over the bridge and Darling Harbour.

NYE - Blog # 02

We're ready to rock and roll. It's 19:37, guests have yet to arrive but....guess what??!?!?!?....our camera has charged and I've been clicking away like a pro. First photo of the view from our balcony below (taken using the 18-70mm lense. Wide angle or what!!!).
More to come xxx

NYE - Blog # 01

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It’s 17:40 on New Years Eve and we are back in the apartment. Abi is preparing the evenings snacks, I’ve just finished the ironing (I am a sad bugger at times), Duran Duran is playing on the stereo (Notorious!!!!) and we’re having a coffee (don’t want to peak too early).

We had a lovely morning/afternoon wandering around the town. The weather was fantastic, warm with clearish skies. We spent a while in Hyde Park people watching (a sport Abi excels in and I'm just getting to grips with). It reminds me of Central Park but on a slightly smaller scale. It's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. The high point of the day was our shopping expedition where we bought a new toy!!!!! I’ve wanted a digital SLR for ages and I know how much Abi enjoys taking photo’s so I thought it would be worth getting something decent. We purchased a Sony A100 and with careful research and Abi’s sales skills we managed to save a few bob and get a free bag and memory card. It’s charging now and I can’t wait to take some photos this evening.

On another note I heard that the England team have arrived at the hotel. Abi said she bumped into some athletic types in the lift earlier. They may have been cricketers be she hasn’t got a clue. It’s getting cloudy now and rain is forecast so I feel sorry for all the thousands of people who are camped in the various parks. We’ve got friends arriving around 8:30 to help us celebrate the New Year and several firework displays at 9 and midnight.

Photo's posted from last night and today....More updates later…x

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sunday night in Sydney

I spent last week working, which seemed pointless to me, it was however an opportunity to catch up with a few outstanding tasks and leave work earlier than usual. Abi caught up with some work and managed to get sunburnt. Her back is still a lovely shade of pink but her eyelids have gone down (thankfully!). Her back is only the middle bit, the ‘hard to reach’ bit when applying lotion single-handedly.

This evening we went to dinner with some of Abi’s extended family in Bankstown (about 45 minutes south of the city centre). The easiest way to get there is by train and we picked the sloooowest train in the world. It stopped at 19 stations along the way and managed to hit a top speed of almost 20 mph. Not being the most patient person I was moaning most of the way but Abi managed to keep me entertained…. needless to say, we caught a cab back! We went to a Thai restaurant with Pam & Jan (who we had an Indian with last weekend), Wendy (Pam’s sister), Lyndal & Ryan (Wendy’s 2 children), Marion (Pam’s other sister) & Cameron (one of her sons) – they drove up from Coolamon yesterday (just over 5hrs away). We then went back to Pam & Jan’s for coffee. It was a really lovely evening.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve and this is where Sydney outshines most of the world. Arguably the second largest celebration in the world with an estimated 1.2 million people watching the spectacle around the harbour (click here for a video of last years celebrations). Rio comes first with an estimated 2 million people on Copacabana Beach. This years theme is based around the Wizard of Oz, kids have to click their heels at 9:08 to see something special projected onto the bridge. You might be able see from the picture below what will be displayed on the bridge at midnight. It’s a coat hanger and a diamond. The coat hanger represents the bridges nickname and next year is the 75th anniversary of its completion.

Below is a list of the events occurring in the lead up to midnight:

1pm - Firing of the Fort Denison Cannon
2pm - Tiger Moth and Boeing Stearmans Flyover
3pm - Convair CV580 Flyover
4pm - Pitt Specials Flyover
5pm - Fire Tug Display and Microlights Flyover
6pm - Sky Writing
7pm - Ringing of the Bell Towers
8pm - Indigenous Welcome Ceremony - Sydney Harbour
9pm - Family Fireworks & Harbour of Light Parade
10pm - Mini Light Show - Sydney Harbour Bridge
11pm - Mini Light Show - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Midnight - Fireworks & Bridge Effect

Abi and I will be out and about tomorrow morning but intend to spend the evening back at our apartment. We’ve got some friends coming over and plan to watch the fireworks from our balcony. We have a great view of the bridge and part of the harbour. Darling Harbour (next to the hotel) is also having a firework display and we should be able to see that too if the fireworks extend above the buildings! I’ll be updating the blog tomorrow night as the celebrations progress so keep an eye on the site.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

December 26th

I’d booked to go out for a ‘Boxing Day Lunch Cruise’ to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race. (Have a look at the web site, it's quite interesting) The weather forecast had been rotten for the start so it was a pleasant surprise to wake up to a blue sky. As Abi recalls from her whale watching expedition the water can change once you’re out of the harbour so we had our fingers crossed.

A brief history of the race….Founded in 1945 the first winner took 6 days, 14 hours to go from Sydney, down the coast of New South Wales and across the Bass Straight to Tasmania. In 2005 the yacht Wild Oats (the current race leader) completed the course in 1 day, 18 hours!!! Most people will remember the 1998 race when a storm hit and 5 yachts sank with a loss of 6 lives.

We boarded the boat at 11:30 and found we weren’t sitting next to a window. With a full compliment of passengers we weren’t going to be able to move. Bummer!!! However, once we had ordered our drinks we went out on deck and had a perfect view of the proceedings. We left Darling Harbour and made our way towards the sea stopping at Shark Island, the official start line. To us it looked like every boat in Australia was there. I’m sure you could walk across the harbour without getting your feet wet.

We went back inside for lunch (not bad for a buffet and plenty of choice for fussy Abi) and came back on deck at 12:45 to watch the start. All the sightseeing boats seemed to move away from the middle of the harbour at the same moment to leave room for the yachts. It was quite strange to watch. The yachts were milling about trying to get in position before a canon was fired at 1pm. It looked like a mass of sails to me but apparently there were a number of different strategies at play. The canon fired (no boom but we saw a lot of smoke) and the yachts dashed off round the head on their three day journey to Hobart.

That’s about it really. Nice trip back to Darling Harbour, some shopping on the way back, coffee at StarBucks and an early night. Then into work today!!!!! :-(

Monday 25th

Well ….. we had to keep saying ‘Merry Christmas!’ as never a more un-christmassy feeling day has there been. We got ready and went downstairs to catch a cab. Driving around, it could have been any day of the week or the year. Arrived at Fiona & Justin’s (my friends Sister & Brother-In-Law) just gone 11:45 and were ushered into the garden with a strawberry dachari (mmmm!). Ciaran (who’s 3) decided that he’d ignore us totally on arrival, but then about 15 minutes later, Rob had a new fan and ‘Robbie you have to come to my room’ was heard (Rob here: Please note that only 3 year old can call me Robbie!!!!!) We then lost Robbie (!!) with Thomas the Tank Engine & friends!! Lunch was in full swing, with the BIGGEST ham in the world being cooked (in an oven in the garden) and masses of vegetables and a turkey too. The table had been extended and everything looked fabulous, there were 14 (I think) of us and it was a super, super day. Rob and I were even lucky enough to get some pressies (consumable and gorgeous) and were made to feel really welcome, it was lovely. It was really rather odd being able to sit in the garden after dinner and not have to hide under (generally new) fleeces and jumpers! It was also lovely to be in a house with a couple of dogs too … both very well behaved and suitably friendly! Unusually for Rob though, there are no photos of the dougles, so we’ll have to visit again and rectify that (for you Mum, one of the dogs is a beautiful golden retriever and she’s lovely).

Rob and I got a cab back home and snuggled down to watch a movie (after a few phone calls as Christmas Day in the UK was just beginning). We watched United 93, which is about the fourth plane to be hijacked on September 11th. It probably wasn’t the most festive of movies but it was thought provoking. The flight departed from Newark Airport in New Jersey. Rob lived about 20 minutes away and remembers that day like it was yesterday. Anyway, we won’t dwell on it anymore but check out some of the links below.

Sunday 24th

Again ‘the plan’ was to catch the ferry to one destination or another (nothing fixed) and then go for a coastal walk. One plan was to go to Manley and walk to the heads (harbour to ocean) which by all accounts will take about an hour each way, which sounded like a great plan. When we got up the sky was cloudy but it has been clearing by early afternoon, so I popped a strappy top in the rucksack (not wanting to suffer huge ‘lines’ like I did the other day) – and off we set. However, by the time we’d walked up through the town the clouds got thicker and the rain started, not just a few spots but a huge downpour! We hid under a shop awning and bought a coffee thinking we’d found a sheltered spot. That was fine until we sat down and the awning decided it couldn’t cope with the weight of the water and tipped a huge amount into Rob’s coffee and onto his lap!

We decided to scrap the walk and head down to the Rocks for a late lunch. The Rocks is the birthplace of modern Sydney. Click on the link for more info. The photo below shows the restaurant we finally settled on. (For those of you who’ve had the video, this is where I ordered my pig!!) Another couple of downpours later, we emerged fully fatted and walked round to the Opera House whilst waiting for our ferry home! One thing I love about Sydney is the ferries. It’s a great way to travel, especially on sunny days. Unfortunately it was pouring down but being of hardy stock we decided to don our plastic macs and sit outside.

Once back, we decided to celebrate Christmas a little early. So we opened a bottle of champagne and some pressies. I had a super ‘all you could need’ box of BodyShop goodies and proceeded to have a bath and try out every one…. Fan-tas-tic! Went to bed smelling yummy!

Saturday 23rd

The plan was to get up early, walk round to the Opera House, pick up our tickets for the concert and then come back, get ready and go out for lunch .. as it happens, we got up (late) – lounged about, got ready and walked down to Darling Harbour to meet Jan & Pam, my cousins (a number of times removed) for lunch! As we walked out of the apartment the already grey clouds brought rain. Rob and I are determined not to buy anything warm or waterproof on this trip to Australia so we just had to suffer (every time we've been here we've had to buy something to counter the weather and as it's supposed to be summer now, it ain't gonna happen again!!). As it happens it only managed a few spots, bringing with it humidity – so thank goodness for air conditioning! I’ve met Pam a couple of times for lunch (she works in the city) but neither Rob or I have met with her Norwegian husband Jan (pronounced Yan). It was a really lovely couple of hours, time to catch up and hear about all the different countries, life-styles and Christmas customs. Lunch was delicious, we ordered various dishes & tried a little of everything, one of those ordered was beef vindaloo, but in fairness it wasn’t as ‘hot’ as Rob’s normal madras, so no fire breathing antics!

We then walked round to StarBucks for the obligatory coffee and said our goodbyes. From there we walked back to the apartment for a quick change and off to the Opera House. When we got back to the room though, we had a lovely surprise from the guest relations lady we’ve known since our first stay here – we had a bag containing a bottle of chilled champagne, teas, biscuits, chocolates & Christmas candy canes with a card – it was really lovely! We caught the ferry there and walked (only a short one) from Circular Quay – straight in, picked up the tickets and to our seats. The hall was pretty well full and the concert was great – very festive and full of good cheer. There was a sing-a-long ‘three white boomers’ which we deduced was referring to Kangaroos as everyone was ‘boing-ing’ about the stage. At the end of the show they got the kiddies up for an encore. As always a little one stole the show, he must only have been about 2 and looked totally bemused and dazed by the whole thing. He eventually got the hang of how to ‘bounce’, much to everyone’s delight & applause! That finished relatively early (20:00hr-ish) so we walked back via Coles (shop) for a few bits and bobs and then home.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

First blog of Christmas

Friday 22nd December - It’s the end of the week and Christmas is just around the corner (yeah!) – everyone’s packing up early and Rob’s been given early release and has booked a cab for 15:00hrs. I’ve an appointment with the Fire Brigade to introduce the products to another 3 guys and then just need to catch up on some reports and freedom for me too! It’s weird to think that if we were still home everyone would’ve been packing up from 09:00 … nothing normally goes on in the run up to Christmas, whereas here it’s like ‘just another day’ – no decorations up, no Christmas songs on the radio, no real Christmas trees (they’ve got frames, wrapped in tinsel and then decorated). The day started overcast, but soon cleared, and warmed up. Rob & I met for a coffee when he got home from work, then I went off to get my hair cut and so did Rob.

All trimmed and smart, we went out for a few drinks with some of Rob’s colleagues. One guy was leaving (who Rob had worked with on and off for ages, in the UK & here), so we caught the tram from under Star City and went a couple of stops to Glebe. We then walked to the pub / hotel, sat outside and partook in a couple of wines! We then went on to a Tapas bar and apart from the octypus (complete with suckers) it was lovely! The trams are supposed to run every 10 – 15 mins … so we went back to the tram stop and waited …. waited …. waited … one went in the wrong direction and yet we still waited … then we decided to walk. As it turned out not an unwise decision; we followed the road round, passed the Fish Markets and on to the hotel – tram stop to door in less than 15minutes!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Boring bunch of b***ers!!!!

I just wanted to thank everyone ever so much for all the comments, emails and text messages at this special time. I haven't got time to read them all now but will reply after the holidays :-)

Can you all sense the sarasm?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas from 'Down Under'......

Happy Christmas to one and all. We're off now, updates resume next week.

Jungle Bells the Aussie Way

Dashing through the bush,
in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust,
esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side,
singing Christmas songs,
It's Summer time and I am in
my singlet, shorts and thongs

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine's getting hot;
we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard,
he is welcome too.
All the family's there,
sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way,
by the barbecue.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Come the afternoon,
Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce,
are swimming in their clothes.
The time comes 'round to go,
we take the family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through,
before the washing up.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

TRANSLATION for the Brits

- Ute = Pickup Truck
- Kelpie = Dog
- Singlet = T-shirt (but think Bruce Willis in Die Hard!!)
- Thongs = Flip Flops
- Swaggie = Hitch Hiker
- Eskie = Cool Box

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Is Bill reading?

One quick posting...I'm able to gather certain statistics on the site. Nothing incriminating but I can see where people came from, where they went, what they read and some limited information about their PC. Anyway, guess who was looking at the site today!!!!!

Oh and before you ask, I do actually work while I'm here. :-)

Blog #50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wooo Hooo

Abi has just sent me a blog update but I wanted to add a few words before I post her comments. This is going to be a long blog so grab a coffee first.....!! OK, are you ready, here goes.

I often browse the net at lunch time, looking for news and gossip. Today I came across a blog written by Scott Adams. For those of you who haven’t heard of him he’s the creator of Dilbert, a cartoon strip about offlce life. If you work in an office you’ll find it hilarious, if you don’t it’s still funny. Please have a read of his blog, it's funny but also thought provoking. With blogging in mind I’ve added a section on the right hand side called ‘My blogs of Note’. There are some great blogs out there and I feel it’s my duty to bring them to your attention. Keep looking as it will be updated regularly.

I also thought I’d share out plans for the holidays. One of my colleagues is leaving at the end of the year, another causality of outsourcing, so we are meeting for a few beers on Friday night. On Saturday we’re meeting Abi’s relatives for lunch then it’s off to the Opera house for ‘Christmas Carols at the House’. I thought it might get us in the right frame of mind for the holidays. Sunday we are out on the harbour subject to the weather. I want to have lunch in Manly and then head up to the northern beaches. Christmas day will be spent with a friend’s family experiencing a real Aussie Christmas. On Boxing Day we’ve booked a cruise on the harbour to watch the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart (Tasmania) race. I’m back at work on Wednesday but we plan to go to the cinema in the week courtesy of some friends (thanks for the Tickets Murray, Jules and Alex!!!). We’re also going to the park to watch a movie ‘under the stars’. Not sure what else we plan to do but we aim to make it a Christmas to remember. Oh, just forgot we are here for one of the best New Year celebrations on the planet. Sydney NYE!!!!. Anyway, it’s time to hand over to the Abster.

Well, getting ready to leave Perth, was going to spend an hour down the beach to try and get some sun, but really the sun needs to be out to allow you to catch some rays . so I thought I'd do a little update instead. Can't say I'm sorry to be leaving - not just because I'm looking forward to seeing Rob and breaking his peace & quiet or because we've got a few days off and it's going to be Christmas, but it's been a frustrating few days.

The trip has been good and bad - very frustrating with regards work and attitudes, we've had a few (not so diplomatic at times) words, but will have to wait and see how it is taken forward. Got a meeting with the MD of the new company & the Integration Manager again before I come back home, so am compiling a report of 'how it is' and 'how to move forward' and then I'll hand it over and all being well, will be able to walk away.

I can't believe Christmas is now just around the corner. I went out with the girls from the office for cocktails and dinner last night, which was really nice - but we were able to sit outside (a cool breeze came in about 8:30 - but Perth is known for what they call the 'doctor' . which is the cool air to take away the humidity) however, no Christmas lights in the town, they've got some lights in a tree opposite the hotel, but it would help if they turned them on so you could see them!!? I've had some pressies from the girlies here though, which was lovely - but it still feels odd.. I know your hearts are bleeding for me!

Rob tells me the sun is out in Sydney, so all being well it'll stay for a day! I'm under instruction to arrive quietly tonight as he'll be on a telecom with India when I'm due back to the apartment . it's gonna be a tough call, but I'm sure I'll manage!

Been getting reports of -2oC and frost from the UK, so hope you're all keeping warm and wrapped up . make lots of stews and snuggle under the duvet with a good movie x

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

‘There's a smell in here that will outlast religion’

Random thoughts from Rob……

Abi - Still in Perth but it’s her last day. She should land in Sydney around 8:30 tomorrow night. Peace and quite ends!!!

The Environment – Both Holden (GM) and Ford have reported increased sales of V8’s in Australia. Who the heck needs a 5.7 litre car in this traffic? Remember the environment and the ozone layer please.

Cabs – Plenty of reports in Sydney about cab drivers charging extra in the run up to the holidays. Seems that they were quoting $100 - $200 AUD premiums at last weekends Robbie Williams concert. One cabbie was quoted as saying ‘It’s market forces at work!! If they don’t like it they can walk!!!’. Charming!!

Mash Ups – Wikipedia defines this as ‘assembling new songs from elements of other tracks’. Not to be confused with remixing or recycling. To me this is mixing two tracks/videos together to create something very different. Apparently this goes back to 1950’s but can be traced back even further. However, digging even further it does sound more like remixing but anyway, have a look at these examples and tell me if it’s not a stroke of genius.

Nirvana and Destiny’s Child, TLC and Busted, Westlife, The Foo Fighters and Chirstina, Pussy Cat Dolls and Kool & the Gang (I have to say this is far, far better than the orginal)

Kenny – Proving that Australian Cinema is as oddball as it ever. This is a film about a guy who works for a port-a-loo company in Melbourne. Some fantastic insights into the world of portable dunnies. A good film, great actor, some light relief!!!! More please. I’ll leave you with some wonderful quotes.

'I don't know what all the fuss is about, it's 80% water and we've got chemicals to take care of the remaining 20’

‘Just watch it in there mate. That machine, once you press that flusher, that thing will probably suck your guts out through your bum’

Have fun. More surprises to come at the weekend

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Smoking Gun....

I've just found the Hecklerspray web site. For all those people that don't take life too seriously or those that want another slant on life.

Remember, tomorrow I'm going to be discussing blues and it's impact on modern music. In preparation for this I thought I would share my introduction to blues with you. I caught a video of Robert Cray singing Smoking Gun on MTV way back in 1988. I've followed Robert Cray ever since and managed to see him on several occasions. The most notable being at the New Orleans Aquarium in 2002. I was attending a conference and he was co hosting the evenings entertainment with Blues Traveler (another outstanding Blues Band). I stood at the foot of the stage and he even posed while I took a picture. You have to love Blues lyrics. Always singing about failed relationships.

Pop Quiz - a) What was the year and location of the blues festival shown in the video? b) The video is part of the ?????? ????????? Sessions. c) What club did he film in? Easy, just watch the video closely. First correct answers wins a prize. Remember I've just got back from the Hunter Valley so it could be worth taking the time.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hunter Valley

We’ve just come back from a wonderful weekend in the Hunter Valley. Leaving Sydney at the crack of dawn on Saturday (yup! we really were up at 6:00 at the weekend!) we spent a couple of hours at the Australian Reptile Park. It’s an interesting place albeit a little small. I’m not really a fan of zoos, I’m sure the animals would rather be out in the wild than pacing some little cage. We arrived IN THE RAIN enough of a down pour to buy and wear attractive plastic 'capes' (as seen in photo) - fortunately it didn't last too long, but we had a couple of really heavy showers! Also, bare in mind it was a 'Reptile Park' ... there was a small snake 'walk through' (which Rob loved!) a couple of 'pits' with some lizard type things (most of the labels were unreadable, so my knowledge wasn't broadened ... this ignorance isn't solely my fault) - then there were birds, koals, wallabys and giant tortoises - not very reptilian. Oh! the spider section was good though and they were also collecting venum from a really rather big spider who looked a little hacked off with being poked with a tube - funnily enough. Sorry, I've missed out the alligator section (lots as they are obviously native Australian!!) and one croc (with 3 legs, as 4th bitten off by a suitor, he'd already killed a number though [he's not the most loving], so he deserved it by all accounts!)

From here we drove on to Pokolbin and had a fantastic lunch at a local vineyard. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the place and will have to wait for Abi to check the receipt - [oh fountain of knowlege here ... it was: Jeffs Grill] I sampled a few of the local wines while Abi stuck to water (she was driving :-(). Properly fed we decided to take in a couple of vineyards and do a little ‘wine tasting’. Rob wanted to go back to Rosemont Estate, where he'd had a fabulous lunch a couple of years ago, but the Rosemont we found looked like an old wooden School House, very pretty, but not really the big corporate image you'd expect. The vineyard Rob had gone to is no longer open to the public as it was a way off (an additional hour) and not many people made the journey ... On the way back to the hotel ‘eagle eyed’ Abi spotted a ‘mob’ of Kangaroo’s in a field. We then had to park up and walk back down the highway and take some photo’s... it was fab! there were atleast 30, some were playing (or fighting - hard to tell!!) some were standing and have a scratch, some were eating - every now and again one would 'boing' along :-) it was great, until some other car stopped and 2 of the people got out and walked into the field and scared them all off ... I wasn't happy!

That evening we sat on the veranda with glass of wine in hand and watched another group of kangaroo’s bounce out of next doors vineyard and hop across a field. It was a perfect evening.

On Sunday we had brunch at the hotel on what was turning out to be lovely day weather wise. The weather has been pretty bad so far. Quite cold and overcast but the sun finally appeared and it was time to get a tan. We spent what was left of the day wandering round the ‘Hunter Valley Gardens’, which were great actually - lots of water, birds & plants (everything you'd expect really!) but very well laid out and there was a 'story book corner' - you can see the photos of Rob & I sitting at the Alice in Wonderland table - it was great! We then took the scenic drive back home to Sydney.

Abi left for Perth this morning (getting up at 03:30 for a 06:00 flight!! AND Perth is 2 hours behind, so that was 01:30 their time ... brains must be missing!) and will be back on Thursday evening. I’m sure she’ll be updating the blog once she’s read my pathetic attempt (you're just hunting for compliments - it was a great resume, I just 'bulk'!!). I've uploaded a few photo's so please check out the links on the left hand side.

Speak soon.

Friday, December 15, 2006

a little update .... 14/12/06

Well I started a little resume last night, and then the laptop re-booted itself thanks to some updates being applied, so we’ll have to start again :-). In fairness this week has been pretty much work driven, so on an exciting ‘gossip’ front, there is nothing! BUT today is Friday - yeah!! and the weekend starts h-e-r-e!!

My company have been bought out – this all happened late last week and has been ‘in the wings’ for a few weeks now, it’s just a shame I missed the introductory meeting, but I understand that it’s pretty much ‘carry on as is’ for the time being. I’m sure changes will be introduced, but for the moment, nothing drastic. The company are a big American corporation, so I’m sure some of their ethics and structure will be brought in, but I can’t see anything negative – I do however reserve the right to change my mind! It's funny how differently companies do things, as Rob's company have just been through the same process I could compare, but in fairness, there is no comparison. He's had letters and emails and updates throughout the process, I didn't. When it all went through he got a letter & a welcome pack ... I got an email from the new MD saying, 'it's gone through, it's official - here's a weblink ...' how poor is that?!!

There is an arm of the company in Australia, so I went and met with them yesterday morning (the MD and the Logistics Manager) – they will be seeing how they can take the Australian Office further, so it’s all quite exciting. It was all fortuitous timing too as I had a 2nd meeting with the NSW Fire Brigade that afternoon and some of the work they want done – they might be able to assist with and if it all comes off it’ll be an order in excess of £24k (pounds nor Aussie Dollars) for the first stage, so fingers crossed.

I’ve had the sat-nav working over here – I fell out with it first day as I drove around for 20mins and then just made my way back to the hotel and started again!! … some of the roads are shut in the morning (ie giving access to the Bridge) but obviously this doesn’t register on sat-nav … I should’ve at least looked what direction I needed to have been heading in & I wouldn’t have been so frustrated – lesson learnt! On the whole though, the traffic, although heavy, does move and that’s more than can be said for London.

Yesterday was an absolute stunner weather wise, today it’s been grey and drizzly all day, so a good day to be stuck at the laptop. I think Rob’s mentioned we’re off to a wildlife park tomorrow morning, so the plan is to leave here at 07:30 [yup! you read that correctly!!] I thought we were going to a park where you can cuddle things, but by all accounts it's a reptile park (there is a cuddly one, but it's in the wrong direction ... but who needs to look at a map eh?! - me! obviously!! ... I think I'm just surprised Rob's up for going to a reptile one - if I get him to hold a snake, I'll be sure to take lots of piccies! There is a crocodile with 3 legs [so I've been told] and aligators) & then onto the Hunter Valley for a sedate lunch and some wine sampling – the weather’s destined to improve by Sunday... but then looking at the forecast it's still overcast with a chance of rain until end of next week. The weather for Perth is better, shame I’m going to be in the office – all being well the evenings will be nice and I’ll have chance to have a look round and do a little Christmas shopping for Rob’s stocking!!

We went for a walk tonight and I bought him some sandals (no laughing) but as he had to try them on, I can't really wrap them up and get away with that one ... but they are really great and yes, don't fret - I managed to find myself a pair too! (or should that be - two?!?). Right, pizza's done - so off to have some tea :-) more news after the weekend of exploring xx

Thursday, December 14, 2006

You aint never caught a rabbit..

I’ve had some feedback today….woooo hoooo!!!! My mum emailed me to say that my music ‘is way above her head’. So I thought I’d post something different to show that I appreciate music in general. I’ve attached a clip of Elvis Presley singing Hound Dog on the ‘The Milton Berle’ show, June 5th 1956. This was a ground breaking appearance which sparked controversy over Elvis’s gyrations. It led to an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in September 1956 which drew an estimated 82% of the US TV audience.

This actually links quite well with next week’s posting on the Blues. People think of Elvis as a ‘Rock & Roll’ artist performing cheesy songs in Vegas wearing very tight suits. That might be how he ended his career but it started in a very different way. Born in Mississippi he was influenced by Country, Gospel and Blues. Moving to Memphis, TN just after the war he spent his spare time on Beale Street (officially home of the blues, see picture on the left) which was lined with clubs showcasing the blues in its many forms. People such as BB King, Muddy Waters, Albert King and Louis Armstrong have performed there. His first recordings were at Sun Studio’s (pictured) just outside downtown Memphis. I’ve actually been in that recording studio (with Dad & Pam) and held the microphone he used. Standing there and hearing a recording of Elvis laugh and joke with Sam Phillips (the owner) and Jerry Lee Lewis was an experience I’ll never forget. The funniest thing was visiting Gracelands and Pammy saying 'it gave her goosebumps' just being there. Anyway, more on that next week. Enjoy.

I'm done, shoot your gun.....

Nothing much to report so far. I've just helped roll out some system changes across Western Australia. Everythings gone to plan and work is continuing as normal. No reports from the end users which is always a good thing. If its going to plan all you hear is silence, its when things go wrong that the phone starts ringing. Abi and I are off to the Hunter Valley this weekend. Leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday!!! Abi then leaves for Perth Monday morning. I'll post some updates Sunday evening.

In the meantime I found this on You Tube. Sound quality isn't great but it gives you an idea. Isn't this great :-). Come on guys get with the program and join in.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Musical Update

While we are on a musical theme today I'd like to have one last word before I hit the sack. That word in PANDORA. I've mentioned this web site before and I can't stress how cool it is. An online radio station where you are the DJ.

I'm not just talking pop music, it's going to contain every recorded song and I mean every one. Each song has been analysed by an expert noting up to 400 specific attributes. That information is then used to tailor your station(s). It's free all you have to do is register. Check out the FAQ and About sections for more information. Have a go and you'll be hooked. If anything it's a fantastic way to find new music.

Finally a musical quote which had me in stitches 'Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn' ~Charlie Parker

Music Appreciation – Part One

I’m done, shoot your gun; I think it’s time to take it back to where we started from….’ The opening lyrics from James Morrisons ‘Stop the Police’, a classic in its own CD case.

Welcome to the first edition of my music appreciation blog. I’ve got a spare 30 minutes at lunchtime and thought I would share my love of music with everyone. This is a global edition, it seems people are reading this from all over, Australia, UK, Germany, Spain and even the US. Fantastic!!!.

Anyway, back to James Morrison. This guy has shot up the Album chart with a great CD, ‘Undiscovered’. Released in July 2006 it's not quite on par with some other classic first releases such as Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and Macy Gray’s ‘Oh How Life Is’ but not bad first stab. A Rugby boy born into a troubled family his uncle introduced him to the blues when he was 13. From there he started to develop his own sound using his life as a canvas. Q Magazine says ‘Approach with Wonder’, I say sit back, listen, enjoy and don't take it too seriously.

Click here for further information and look at the download section. I recommend starting with ‘Wonderful World’, followed by ‘You Give Me Something’ and then ‘Call the Police’. Beg, borrow, shoplift or download this album, it's worth listening to.

Checking out the Guardian review of this CD they put forward some interesting facts. Over 40's now spend more on music than under 30's and women over 49 buy twice as much as those under 20. Hence all these awful middle of the road bands such as Il Divo. Whoever compiled this information probably forgot to take into account illegal downloading and file sharing. That must account for the contents of most under 30's iPods.

More next Wednesday when I'll cover and introduction to the Blues, the foundation of modern music.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dad....So What?

Just uploaded some photo's to Flickr. Click here for our Aussie Christmas photo set. We'll be updating this as time goes by. I'd also like to add to Abi's posting yesterday. On Saturday we walked from our Hotel, ROUND the rocks, took a ferry to Neutral Bay and then walked back OVER the bridge. When we got back to Circular Quay Abi suggested we walk back to the hotel as the ferry wasn't leaving for 10 minutes!!!!! Fan-tas-tic!!! :-)

My Dad wanted some Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. I think I confused things with my earlier posting about Barcelona. I was refering to a style rather than the music itself. I couldn't find Miles and Dizzy together but below we have Miles Davis and John Coltrane performing 'So What' live on stage in 1958. I'm more of a Herbie Hancock fan myself. Enjoy, more Aussie exploits to come. (Dad, once this page has loaded click on the Play arrow in the middle of the video twice (slowly, not quickly!!!). Might take a while to load. I hope you enjoy it.).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Summer in Sydney...?

Well, here I sit looking out on a black sky, listening to the thunder rumble in the back ground and the odd flash of lightening catching the corner of my eye ... no rain to speak of yet, but it's not looking too much like a 'hot summer evening'!

We've had a good 30+ degrees today though, so this may well clear the air or just make way for the next 'wave'. Most mornings have been overcast and relatively dull since I arrived on Thursday, but from midday onwards the clouds clear and the sky is blue! There have been some great breezes too at the moment, so that's keeping things feeling cooler - although going down towards South Australia, they're really suffering with both the heat and the wind, pushing the forrest fires. Melbourne is covered with a grey fog, caused by the fires; they are reporting the temperatures being the highest they've been since 1980, it's been pushing 40degrees+ in Wagga (so Mum & Dad, not a good time to plan any trips to Shirley & Trevor!).

I had a good trip over, apart from sitting next to a guy who talked .... consistently .... now, I know I can talk with the best of them, but I'd also like to think that I'm quite good at picking up on body language.. should someone pretend to be a sleep whilst I'm talking, I do believe I would take the hint and STOP! The worst thing was his wife was sitting 3 rows back and I even tried the 'would you like me to swap seats with her so you can sit together', but no (and that was shouted by her!!). In fairness he was a nice guy, but I like to sleep my way through those hours. Just after we boarded again at Thailand (the flight was a lot emptier) he had a bit of a turn and they sat him with his wife anyway - she came over and said he'd got 'confused' and wasn't sure who all the passengers were or where he was, so I hope they got to NZealand ok.

We had a number of delays - even taking off from Heathrow, as we sat on the tarmac for over an hr, then in Thailand someone decided not to carry on to Sydney, so they had to find and off load his bags. I had thought that I could just arrive at the hotel in time to see Rob (fleetingly) prior to him having to go to work, but as it happens, we didn't even 'cut it fine', it wasn't cut at all! I unpacked (recalling fully the email I had saying that the apartment lacked some 'abi-mess'), made myself feel slightly human again (by way of shower) and went shopping (to stock the fridge) & to the post office for my mum! :-) I then sat in the square opposite the hotel with a coffee and a book and waited for Rob to come home. Later that evening we went for a walk around a bit of Darling Harbour which we've not been round before, they've just built a number of flats on a pier, I guess you'd call it - and then went for a yummy Thai.

The evenings are so much nicer now, last time we were here it was dark by 5 but now it's 8ish, which makes a huge difference. We've been for evening strolls, swimming, coffee ... it's just nice. Over the weekend we had a good walk around on Saturday and on Sunday I hired a car & we headed over to the Telstra Sadium, Sydney Olympic Park - it's where Chris & I had the exhibition back in October, but we didn't have time to look around. Rob & I got a tour around the stadium, which was really interesting - how they changed the seating after the Olympics and how they can actually move the stadium seating 15mtrs in and out (depending on what sport is being played) - 45ish feet .... very impressive. They also announced with considerable pride how they came in on budget and 6mths early ..... I get the feeling that we won't be boasting the same statistics! (although by all accounts they were able to work 24 / 7 & didn't have a day of rain ... further statistics we won't share!). On the way home we stopped and had a 'coastal walk' watching lots of doggies playing and springing in and out of the water - it was great!

I had an appointment today with Qantas Defence at a RAAF Base near Richmond, it was very interesting seeing some of the planes & how much of an overhaul they do, some take up to 18mths. Tomorrows appointments may be delayed, I'm still waiting on some calls back but Wednesday is fully booked. Rob's got some late nights coming up this week, there is a roll out & telecons to be had - but things appear to be going well (I don't want to speak too soon) - no new grey hairs have been spotted!!

Well, I think that's enough for you to be going on with! I hope all you sick people are feeling better, all your snuffles are going & legs improving xx

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Can a woman park...?

Couple of interesting articles on ‘The Times Online’ today (I usually logon to the Sun or Daily Star but got a little confused this morning). The first is about Valet Parking which doesn’t sound that exciting until you check out ‘Valet Girls’!!!! Great idea, interesting concept, do they franchise? See their website here.

I also found an article about about driving by Alistair Cook (English Batsman). He made an interesting comment on Australian driving ‘“They are such bad drivers. They can’t drive quickly — they dawdle at 30mph on a three-lane motorway, for goodness sake. And they have these really wide roads that they could be using so much more.” I'd like to make a couple of observations a) Some roads have a 50km limit, which is 30mph b) If he has ever driven in Sydney he would know that the roads are VERY narrow and c) is he expecting to make any friends while he's down here? I have to agree but then the Brits drive too fast. It should be noted that this comes from a guy who drives a bright orange Ford Focus and can’t see the little red balls the Aussie bowlers chuck at him. See the rest of the article here,,22750-2480512,00.html

Abi arrived in Sydney this morning, an hour and a half later than planned. It seems BA is as punctual as as Virgin. I had to leave for work before she arrived at the hotel but I’m looking forward to seeing her tonight.

Finally, a note to my readers. I know people are reading this blog, not as many as usual, but people are reading it. So let’s have some feedback. An artist suffers without feedback from his loyal readers. So for all technophobes (Herb & Dad!!!!) I’ve written some instructions. It’s simple.

1. Click on the comments link underneath the particular entry
2. Enter your comments
3. Click on ‘Other’ and enter your name or alias
4. Hit Publish.

Job done, it’s simple. So sis, I know you were reading the blog at lunchtime yesterday, so leave a comment, don’t be lazy!!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's over before it really began

Flight ABI 009 left a cold, damp UK bound for the warm shores of Australia at 22:30 last night. As I write this she’s somewhere over Eastern Europe. Probably above one of the former soviet states ending with ~stan. She gets into Bangkok about 10:00 UK time and finally reaches Sydney at 19:10 UK/06:10 Thursday local time. Unfortunately I have to work tomorrow and the shuttle bus will probably leave just as she’s pulling into the hotel. :-( B**GER!!!

I’ve been reading back through the blog and realised that Abi and I have yet to comment on our trip to Barcelona. Although looking forward to the weekend I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful place to wander around and the architecture is so varied. From modern hotels to gothic buildings to Gaudi’s masterpieces. We walked for hours and covered a lot of the city centre. The highlight was walking back form La Sagrada Familia (bit of a building site) to the hotel on the last day. It took a while but it was such a nice afternoon, perfect for walking. We found a great café in a residential area and had a wonderful lunch for a fraction of the cost they charge tourists downtown. Fantastic.

While on the subject of architecture I thought I would mention my favourite building. New York’s Chrysler Building, slightly ahead of the Rockefeller Center and my own humble abode. La Sagrada Familia is interesting but it won’t be finished in my time. ‘Walter P. Chrysler wanted a provocative building which would not merely scrape the sky but positively pierce it.’ I’d be interested to see what other people think. Please stagger your comments as I’m having difficulty coping with the volume :-)

Wonderful headline in the Telegraph today, ‘All is lost after foolish final day’. I would imagine the red tops are a lot less restrained. Looks like England’s Cricket team has lived up to expectations. Seriously though, not everyone can be a winner. At least they can relax and enjoy the sights. Hahahaha

Quote for the day. 'If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven't understood the seriousness of the situation' David Brent

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I've seen the future

Nearly bumped into a guy called Alan Border today, apparently he’s some sort of Aussie Cricket legend!!!! Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, is also staying in the hotel. Now he is someone I would have recognised. I have to say that cricket is not a sport that interests me although it’s good to see we're putting up a bit of a fight after the hammering we received in the first test. No, let me correct that last statement. I’ve just checked the BBC website and we’re 75-4. Not good!!!

I had an email from my dad this morning. He reminded me of the 3-0 bashing Spurs took off Arsenal last weekend. Thanks Dad!!! I blame the bloody players, someone ought to. This is a team that nearly (and I mean very nearly) took 4th place in the premiership last year. If it wasn't for some dodgy food in a second rate Marriott hotel they would be playing in the Champions League. Everyone looks to the manager. Take Glen Hoddle and Graeme Souness for example, they were both useless. Mind you anyone that wants to manage Newcastle must need their bumps reading. This is one of the biggest clubs in England that excels at under performing. I blame Alan Shearer. However, the players have a responsibility to perform as a team. How can they beat Chelsea one week get spanked by Reading the next!!!!!

News on the new Ipod phone is buzzing round the internet. No details yet but I found this mocked up picture on the web. It’s all very exciting. If it’s anything like their other devices expect it to look very sexy, have around 30 minutes talk time, 2 hours on standby, it will only accept video calls from other iPod phone, won’t be compatible with anything running windows mobile, the only outlet for these will the Apple Store website and you will need a subscription to iTunes before it works.
Who knows, but I’m the sort of mug that would buy one. The expression Form over Function comes to mind. I'm not intent on bashing Apple, I love their products, just a little sarcasm coming to the surface.

I'd like to apologise for the ever changing blog layout. I get bored easily and I'm using a beta version of Blogger than allows me to change the layout with one click. I like the one click approach - Something that Amazon and iTunes have perfected. It makes it easier to spend money.

And my final comment for the day 'Ab-dabs arrives in 40 HOURS and 55 MINUTES!!!!!! Woooo Hooo'