This week Sydney hosts it’s 2nd centennial event to review the Navy fleet. As a previous member of the Navy (Scout Squadron RN06) I had to go down and see some of the ships. I especially wanted to see British warship D32 HMS Daring, which is the currently the most advanced warship in the world and it’s first visit to Australia -
Amy, Oscar and I go the fast-ferry in the morning and I went upstairs and strategically positioned myself to get a good view, it was lucky as HRH Prince Harry happened to sail by on his inspection of all of the ships -
A lot of luck to get that photo as we sailed past! HMS Leeuwin is a hydrographic survey vessel but is now helps to prevent illegal immigration (Tony Abbott probably loves this boat for that reason!).
When we got to circular quay it was packed but somehow we managed to get a table for lunch on the rooftop of the MCA which was really nice, we ate, had a quick walk around the Rocks and then back to the ferry. At 2:30pm the F/A-18s were doing an air display, I managed to catch this one in the tooths of the Opera House -
On the way back we all sat upstairs for the journey, Oscar loved it -
Over Sydney Heads there was a constant rotation of helicopters, police helicopters, navy helicopters, ambulance helicopters, surf rescue helicopters this was one of the cooler ones -
A great day for Sydney, can’t wait for the next fleet review in 2113.
This has to be the longest blog dry spell for as long as the blog has been in existence! 5 months of no posts, you’d think I’d have abandoned it, well that’s not the case, blogging is still fun to do, it’s just the time now goes on work and baby feeding!
In July, Amy, Oscar and myself embarked on a 6 week trip to the UK, so that my parents could meet Oscar for the first time and we could have a holiday. I’d been worrying about the flight to the UK before Oscar was even born but when it came down to it, it was not as bad as we’d thought!
Dubai is a great stop over point, it’s 14 hours from Sydney and then an “easy” 6.5 hours to London. We stayed for a few nights in the Atlantis Hotel, which was very kid friendly although I think Oscar was a little bit too young.
The temperature was crazy though, some days it was reaching 47 degrees. We went outside just to see what it felt like and I felt like I was melting after about 2 seconds. Amy did go for a few drips in the pool whilst Oscar and I sat under a sunshade, then after about 5 minutes it was back into the air conditioning.
Some of the nice things you can do in Dubai is look at all of the fish in the massive fish tanks they have in the hotel and at the shopping centers. We even visited the shopping center that has the indoor ski slope and baby penguins! We ate in our hotel room every night (things are a bit different with a baby!) but we managed to go out for lunches at some nice restaurants, including a french one in the hotel.
Our second flight to London was followed by a 2 hour drive up to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we checked into the Alveston Manor hotel for 4 nights to go to Gin and Alison’s wedding. Gin came to visit me in Australia 9 years ago and we had a great time, his trip out here even got a mention in the best man speech! It was a fantastic wedding at the church where Shakespeare is buried and in the evening I got to catch up with all of the old Ettington crew which was great, it felt like nothing had changed seeing them all.
The next day we organized to meet up with some of the wedding crew, including Ian and his wife who was 9.2 months pregnant! It was great to see them all and hang out in what had just luckily turned out to be some of the best weather England was having (just in time for our trip!) -
After a few days in Stratford and some visits to Carluccio’s restaurant we headed for the drive down South to my parents house in Dorchester, it was a nice drive down and great for my parents to finally meet baby Oscar!
We spent three weeks with my parents in total and did lots of things with them. One of the first things we did was visit a model train railway which had lots of model trains. I used to be really into these when I was younger and still am, but now the reality of how much it all costs to have the awesome setups means it’s probably not going to happen on the scale I’d like, let’s hope Oscar is into trains -
We took a guided boat trip along a stretch of water called “The Fleet” near an Island called “Portland” that is just off the coast, we also went to a Prison for lunch up there, where the people who serve you the lunch are actual inmates of the prison (it’s not a high security prison).
We also accidentally went to a socialist fair, which was funny, we drove in, paid the 20 pounds per person, thinking we were going to a cool festival and then we asked what it was and they said “a trade union festival” at first I thought she was joking but this is what it was and it wasn’t very good (we actually came to look at the tolpuddle martyrs museum).
We also had an electric bike ride tour which was good fun, the electric bike tour around Dorset was with Marshwood Trials, we covered a lot of kilometers and visited the gravesite of Georgy Markov who was assassinated on London Bridge by a poisonous dart from an umbrella.
On a lighter note we visited a fantastic sand sculpture center in Weymouth that had some fantastic sculptures that it was ashame they were not permanent!
My parents babysat for us for a couple of nights so that Amy and I could go out for dinner for the first time in a while, it was really nice but Amy and I kept going a bit over the top when we got to the restaurants, the first time we ordered three main meals between the two of us!
For my birthday, which coincided with our stay in Dorset, my parents booked Amy, Oscar and me into the Holiday Inn at Portsmouth. Portsmouth has a redeveloped waterfront area and we spent a few days going around the shops there and having a birthday dinner at Jamie’s Italian restaurant which was really nice. Again, because Oscar is just a baby the nights were spent in but that was ok, for one of them we spent the entire evening waiting for the Royal Baby (who was born the day after my birthday) to emerge from the Lindo Wing on TV -
Whilst we were in Portsmouth my parents had sorted us all out with a trip in luxury over to Guernsey, which is a little island south of the UK, near France but with British roots (although no tax or EU membership). My parents had got us into the nice part of the boat where you get free food and was behind a closed door. I decided to go out and have a look what was going on outside and due to the rough seas it was carnage, with people being sick all over the place, I was so pleased we had our little sanctuary as I think I would have felt sick as well! Here’s Oscar with his very own seat on the ferry -
At the end of our trip to the UK was my parents Ruby Anniversary party which they had organised to be just before we left. Lots of friends and relatives had come to visit, some of which I had not seen for a long time or not at all so it was great to meet so many people. The night ended with a meal in Poundbury which was really nice.
Next stop after Dorest was to spend some time in London, London is the best city in the world so it’s great to visit it. We stayed right in the heart of the West End at the same hotel I stayed at last time called No. 5 Maddox. It is great because it had a separate room for Oscar to sleep in, can you see him -
The trip to London worked out perfect because a lot of our friends from Australia who’d moved away had all booked trips to visit at the same time. Here’s Lorraine, Marcy, Chris and Sue walking down the street like nothing was different -
Of course no trip to London is complete without seeing Matt and Lorraine and their new baby as well. Matt and Lorraine live 1 hour drive from us in Sydney but I always seem to meet up with Matt at least in London more times than I do here, this time was no different, we had a lovely picnic in Regents Park on a beautiful sunny day (there was lots of them) -
The skyline of London has changed so much and I was only here last 2 years ago, with so many new buildings and a completed Shard. I went to the Shard with a lot of the Sydney crew to a restaurant called Hutong and then to the bar afterwards that Alex said was very “Essex” and I agreed with him. Hutong though was a fantastic Chinese restaurant even though some of the food was extremely spicy!
When we arrived in England, we thought we’d book a day trip to Paris on the Eurostar train for when we got to London. In hindsight a day trip to Paris leaving at 8am and coming back at 5pm is very short indeed. We got on the train, arrived in Paris, got a taxi to Concorde, had lunch down Rue d’Anjou, walked down the Champs-Elysees, took Oscar’s photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background, went to Zara outside Palais Garnier and then headed back to Gare Nord to get back in time for the train to London.
Mark and Karine came to visit us in London which was nice as they live in Belgium, we went to a fantastic Indian restaurant called Dishoom which is next door to Peter Stringfellows! We also had a lunchtime drink at the OXO tower, visiting Pineapple Dance Studios and talked about the old times. Mark and Karine were also visiting Australia the same time Gin was over to circular that connection together!
One last thing we had to do before leaving was visit Auntie Vi, my Grandma’s sister and Oscars great great Auntie who still lives in the same place that she moved into in the 1930ies! My parents were also down there to see Oscar one more time. It was a fun trip on the DLR and we even got to pop into Amy’s work in Canary Wharf to see some of her work friends and some of my old work colleague that I worked with for a short period of time 7 years ago.
It was a great trip and we’ve basically ticked off a lot of things Oscar might have considered doing as a rebellious 20 something, so now at least that is out of his system -
The trip back was one long journey which we should have really broken up into another stopover in Dubai, which is what we’ll do next time. It was a great trip and we were blessed with some really great weather the entire time!
Let’s see if I can get a blog post with a bit of a smaller gap in between next time!
Quick update, I’m going to get around to doing a full blog post soon about things but here’s a cool 15 minutes of a nice Manly Sunset from Queenscliff shrunk down into 15 seconds of enjoyment.
Welcome to Earth little baby Oscar!
Baby’s first sunset over Sydney
If everything goes to plan in the next few days we’ll have a new little member of the G2007 network! The spare time might be decreasing soon so I thought I’d get this last post out with what we’ve been doing!
We’ve been really busy planning for a baby, I had to move out of working from home and get an office and also start full time on my own enterprise, BuiltWith!
New Green Themed Office
Everyone is welcome to come and visit it is on East Esplanade opposite Manly Wharf.
Last November Amy and I went to ARIA for Amy’s birthday, it was a good night, the food wasn’t as good as I was hoping as it was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Sydney but we had a good time anyway, and we got free drinks as they took so long bringing them to the table -
Amy and me at Aria Sydney
Also in November we did a trip to Paperbark Camp for our one year (paper) anniversary. It was a really nice camp in the forest at Jervis Bay, the camp was luxury camping, with no TV and limited power, but it was really good fun and we didn’t have to set the tent up ourselves (would have taken a week).
Amy outside the Paperbark Camp
Near the end of November Chris got a Groupon deal to go on a taster cruise from Sydney harbor on a huge cruise ship. It was good fun but felt like it was teetering on a riot as everyone was getting the most out of their one night special cheap cruise.
Chris and I in cabin on our taster cruise
For Christmas we headed up to Brisbane and spent it at Taryn and Wade’s house. The rest of Amy’s family came over on Christmas eve. I got some new bike lights and a inventors kit which has an Arduino board in it, which was awesome!
Wade also let us drive is Range Rover around Brisbane which was really good fun.
Zara, Cooper and Ali opening their Christmas presents
New Years was spent at Simone and Stuart’s (who just had a baby) which is right on the water in Manly, perfect for the 9pm fireworks. Amy didn’t want to walk so I drove over which was a mistake because there was not a single parking space for miles, I almost drove home and walked!
Well that is about it for updates hopefully I’ll get more going soon!
Another year and another change to the categories of “best of”, which shows the pace of change mostly in technology in the world. Album of the year is now gone as buying albums are a thing of the past and has been replaced with Mobile App of the year.
Mobile App of the year – Spotify
Having Spotify on the IPhone and the computer has opened a whole new world of music, as well as a new way to listen to it. At home I can listen to friends playlists or what they are currently listening to or use the playlist radio feature to generate recommendations for me. This means I’m constantly exposed to new music which is fantastic!
Cinema Trip of the year – Argo
This year didn’t have as many cinema trips as other years, I think because of AppleTV and QuickFlix means we get as many movies as we could possibly want already through the post. The other movies I did see weren’t as good as I was hoping, Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus weren’t as good as I was hoping they would be. Argo is a fictional (but based on reality) story of getting some US embassy workers out of Tehran. It’s a really interesting story and recommend the movie.
TV Show of the Year – 30 Rock
It’s awesome when you find a TV show that has been running for a few years but you never watched, it means you have hundreds of episodes to watch. 30 Rock is one of those shows, it stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin and is based on running a TV show at NBC’s NYC offices at 30 Rockafella Plaza. It’s extremely funny and I’m sad their last season is currently being filmed. A close second is Homeland, which we’ve also loved as well as the continuation of last years top TV show Boardwalk Empire.
Game of the Year – Ski Safari
This little mobile app game lets you control a little guy as he skis down a mountain. He jumps on the back of yetis and can do loops in the air. All of which get you various different rewards. It’s super addictive and great fun. It’s lack of “buy credits” options makes this an original game where the developers goal of making a decent game without all of the tricky ways other apps try and get more money out of you is refreshing, hence why it’s a popular game and in the top 20 apps on the app store this year.
Website of the Year – Gmail
I’ve never featured gmail as the website of the year as I’ve never thought of it as a website. The tab I have open on the web for the majority of the time is Gmail, so it should get the accolade at least once!
Purchase the Year – Focus Bike
I only got this at the end of the year but this bike is awesome. It has hub gears and disc brakes and is great to take out on bike rides around Manly. The lack of metal chain means the ocean won’t rust it as quickly with a bit of luck.
Restaurant of the Year – Margan
Margan was the venue that Amy and I got married at last year, we were really pleased with it. Recently we went back to the Hunter Valley for a weekend and we went back and had lunch there. I had Pork Belly for the main and a delicious dessert, the food is so good for a restaurant which is practically in the middle of nowhere. We also went to Aria this year which is supposed to be a top restaurant in Australia but I found it pretty disappointing from a food/service standpoint. A lot of online reviews say the same.
Trip of the Year – Kyoto
Amy went to Japan for work and I went along with her. We had a little bit of time away from work so we made a trip down to Kyoto on the bullet train. I love Japan in general but Kyoto was also really awesome and one of the highlights of the trip. I definitely hope we can make it back there again sometime soon. We made some other awesome trips, Bali, Fiji and Uluru and Paperbark Camp to name a few!
2013 has a very high possibility of being totally different from the previous few years so watch this space!
Last weekend Lorraine and Matt were kind enough to invite us down to Helensburgh (pronounce Helensberg) for the weekend. Lorraine and Matt moved there a few years ago and have taken a lot of the Woolloomooloo crowd down there with them, Gaétane, Andrew, Chris, Esther, El, Al and their entourage of children.
Helensburgh is about 1.5 hours drive from Manly or about a 1 hour train journey from Sydney, making it within commuting distance if you work in the big city. Manly to Helensburgh feels like a long journey though because you have to go through the city and put up with all of the traffic that brings so it actually feels like a holiday by the time you arrive.
We arrived on Saturday morning and Matt gave me a tour of their house, Amy has already been down twice but this is my first visit to Helensburgh save for weddings and trips to nearby Stanwell Park. It’s nice to have a house with lots of room and a garage where you can put things like bikes and cars! L&M also have this chicken that doesn’t actually do much egg laying apparently -
Matt and Lorraines Chicken
It was my job to feed the chicken, which wasn’t very hard, I just had to chuck food off the upstairs balcony into her pen. At lunchtime we headed off to the Helensburgh fair that was by chance happening that day, we bumped into all of the people we knew down there which was great and really nice to see them all again. Helensburgh fair had a “free books” stall where the books were free and Andrew got lots for his collection.
Afterwards we headed over to El and Alex’s house for a cup of tea and to see their new place which they’d recently moved into down in Otford. It was a beautiful sunny day and a great opportunity to take advantage of the large balcony and garden they had!
Gaetane had organised a PechaKucha at the Otford tennis court hall that evening, which is basically where you do a 6 minute presentation with 20 slides on the topic of your choosing. I was getting ready to meet lots of new people and it turned out the majority of them were people I knew which was strange for a place I’d never been to before!
PechaKucha at Otford Tennis Court / Village Hall
That evening Lorraine and Matt had prepared a fondue, El and Alex also came over and we enjoyed cheese fondue, followed by steak and salad followed by dark chocolate Fondue, followed by Cognac. It was delicious and really good fun -
Matt doing Fondue prep work
The next day we headed down the coast to Coledale Markets, where Gaétane and Andrew were running their stall - Plat Du Jour – La Crêperie. It was great seeming them at work and to finally taste one of their crepes. I had my eye on the salted caramel one since the beginning and I give it 10/10.
Gaétane et Andrew à l’étal de nourriture Plat Du Jour – La Crêperie
The Coledale markets had a cool sitting area and we sat in the sun and drank some coffee and tea with Matt and Lorraine before heading up the coast to checkout a pub and watch some hand gliders at Stanwell Park. Matt had asked if I wanted to try it out and I said I “wasn’t ready” – we went down the beach to watch some landings and I filmed some on my phone. It wasn’t actually windy enough for hand gliding apparently but one guy on a performance hand glider took off. Matt said to us, the worse thing that can happen is you land in the ocean. So we watched this glider come down the beach and then… crash into the ocean. He was lucky he was so close to shore and the life guards could help him as the seas were 4-5ft!
Here’s a panorama I made on the new iPhone 5 of Stanwell Park and the South Coast from the top of Bald Hill.
iPhone 5 Panorama at Stanwell Park
That afternoon we popped in to see Chris and Esther at their new place in Helensburgh (5 mins from Matt and Lorraine) and then headed back up the coast to Sydney, popping in to Potts Point to visit Marcy and Chris and see their new car and then go to Chiswick restaurant to belatedly celebrate Chris’ birthday (and give him his birthday gift).
A great weekend and looking forward to our next trip down the South Coast! Thanks for the hospitality Lorraine and Matt!
I’ve finally updated amy-gary.com to be post-wedding rather than pre-wedding. It was an awesome day and hopefully the pictures and video can take you back if you were there or see what happened if you were not -
A few weekends ago Amy and I went to Uluru, which is a rock in the middle of Australia (it’s actually more to the left of Australia) and it is just about in the Northern Territory, but very close to the Western Australia border.
We got on the plane and saw another guy get on with us who had two bags of cheeseburgers. They sat in the overhead locker for 4 hours and were then handed out to his Qantas ground crew friends on arrival, who then tucked into them as if it was Christmas. It was disgusting to watch.
Central Australia Landscape
The scenery across Australia is incredible, you see the green of the coast, fade into the blue mountains and slow but surely it gets more and more red and crazy looking like that shown above.
We landed at Uluru airport which basically welcomes you to Ayers Rock Resort, as there’s not that much out here. It was lucky really as I hadn’t really planned anything and didn’t know how we were going to do anything. We went straight to the place we were staying which was called Longitude 131, which is 15 little tents that look out over the rock. The service there was fantastic we arrived and were told the itinerary for the days we were going to be there (which included some very early starts). Here’s Amy outside of our hut -
Amy outside our Tent at Longitude 131
That day was already planned out and we went on a base walk of the rock. It was fun getting on the bus and travelling to the rock which is incredible from a distance as well as standing right next to it. At the end of the tour we came across a little area where some drinks and canapes were setup for us which was really nice.
Ayers Rock and Me
Having water all the time was required because the air was so dry, it was like being on a plane for 3 days in a row but with more leg room. That evening we went to the fantastic restaurant at the resort and had some delicious food before going back to the hotel room and falling asleep as early as possible as it was a 5:45am start the next day for our trip to the Kata Tjuta, which is another rock nearby which kind of loses out to Uluru but is just as impressive from a tourist perspective.
We walked down one of the nooks of Kata Tjuta and saw a Rock Wallaby and also some Camels, which ever since they arrived have taken over central Australia apparently.
Amy and me at Kata Tjuta
Although it was 30 degrees in the day time it was really really cold at night (and at 5:45am) hence why we had pullovers and ponchos to keep us warm!
That evening we did dinner under the stars, which was basically an area setup away from the resort where we had dinner around a table with all of the other guests and got told about the stars, although there was a full moon the entire time we were there which meant we didn’t see too many stars but it was still fun.
We opted out of any other early morning starts as we just wanted to do a bit of relaxing, although when I booked the trip a free helicopter ride was a part of the package. It was just a 15 minute flight over towards the rock and back again but it was really good fun and a great way to see the place.
Uluru from the Helicopter
That was the end of our package adventure and the rest of the time we just spent relaxing, talking to the other guests and I even jumped in the pool (it was freezing). One of the things that amazed me about the area was how green it was, apparently they’d so much rain the past two years it was unusual for it to be as green as it was.
Everything at the resort was all-inclusive, so the mini bar and the main bar at the hotel was all totally free, if you were into drinking you wouldn’t have been able to walk out of the resort at the end of it! Every day the room keepers replenished the cadbury chocolate bar supply in our room, which I would then take out and put into my suitcase, hidden under some clothes. On the last night I went to pack my bag and found one of the bars had been eaten by some sort of creature with claws! That was pay back for me stealing the chocolates I think -
Chocolate eaten by a creature of some sort
It was a fantastic trip and I would recommend it to anyone, we really didn’t want to leave which is amazing considering it’s the middle of nowhere!
Last weekend Amy and I had a long weekend away to Uluru. Which is a famous rock known as Ayers Rock in the middle left of Australia, in the Northern Territory, which means I’ve now (and Amy) have visited every state in Australia; New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.
Here’s the video for the trip -
Full blog post coming soon!