Happy Birthday!

It’s birthday time again for two of my beautiful Friends B and E.

Happy-Birthday-1
(Image from here)

Apparently you share your birthday with Ewan McGregor, Christopher Walken and Al Gore!

Ewan McGregor
(Image from here)

I decided you would appreciate a photo of Ewan McGregor rather than Al or Christopher!?!

I have known E since I was mmmmm about 5 years old when we started Primary School (and possibly for a time before that) so we have known each other for a LONG old time now eek. I remember many a night after school spent at each of our houses playing on the Commodore 64!

I will never forget the horrible time that whilst swinging a plastic tennis racket around I managed to hit E in the face with it as she ran past leaving lines on her face and everything (so sorry E!) and will also always remember the time that whilst at my birthday party E was doing some break dancing and broke her wrist! I can show you the exact spot she did it as well.

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(Image from here)

I first met B at secondary school so when we were 11 years old, again a long old time! I can’t wait for her wedding in September as I will be going back to the UK for the first time since last August to see my family, friends and celebrate her wedding.

B is so supportive of me and my time in Australia she always tells me how proud she is of me which is so lovely to hear really as I never think of me being brave or what not. She spent a year and a bit in China and it was so cool seeing about her time there as well as seeing where she lived.

Having that kind of support though alongside my families support goes such a long way in what can be quite an isolating time/experience and knowing she’s there at the end of the phone, laptop etc makes my life so much easier.

happy birthday moo
(Image from here as B LOVES cows!)

Both E and B are so supportive and kind hearted especially with their hectic lives of working, family, studying, planning weddings they deserve an extra special birthday day!

keep calm
(Image from here)

Happy Birthday Ladies – let’s celebrate in September xxx

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Happy Mother’s Day

Today in the UK it is Mother’s Day so I have to wish my Mum and my Grandma a very very Happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Mothers day 2
(I even created this little picture thingyme for my Mum (I know it’s not that great looking and luckily I sent my Mum some flowers and a card so she got a pretty version. I should stick to taking photos!)!)

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various different days in many parts of the world so those of you in Australia don’t panic you haven’t forgotten!

Here is a picture of me and my Mum which I LOVE when I was a little bit *cough* younger:

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My Mum is a very important person to me and I am so glad that she is my Mum. She has given me the support I needed all through my life to do what I wanted to do or be, be it qualifying as a Solicitor or moving to Australia she has always been there for me making things possible even when it was something she didn’t really want to happen and for life to be that little bit easier.

I’ve said it before but will say it again, thank goodness for the technology that we have now so that I can speak to her on text, iMessage, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook etc etc etc. It means that even though we’re in different countries we still speak all the time just like we are together. It is amazing.

I really wish I was there so I could take her out for lunch and give her a break from the day to day things she does but it’s another thing to look forward to when they all get to Australia in just 84 days!!!

I also did a search on the internet for nice thoughts on Mother’s Day and liked the one I found below:

Mother’s Day…the one day a year we try to pay our moms back for everything they’ve given us over a lifetime – Susan Gale

Happy Mother’s Day xxx

It’s a Drag

Last night me and the Aussie joined some of my friends at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip in Darwin to watch some Drag Racing.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

According to good old Wikipedia Drag racing is a type of motor racing in which automobiles or motorcycles (usually specially prepared for the purpose) compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line. The race follows a short, straight course from a standing start over a measured distance, most commonly ¼ mile (1,320 ft (402 m)), with a shorter 1,000 ft (305 m) for nitromethane powered Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars, while 660 ft (201 m) (1/8 mi) is also popular in some circles. Electronic timing and speed sensing systems have been used to record race results since the 1960s.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Before each race, each driver is allowed to perform a burnout, which heats the driving tires and lays rubber down at the beginning of the track, improving traction. Each driver then lines up at the starting line. Races are then started electronically by a system known as a Christmas tree.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

We of course knew none of this so kept asking the Aussie lots of questions about what the competitors were doing and why! He looked quite concerned when I asked him and one of my friends how you do a burn out in a car and immediately responded with “I’m not telling you that”.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

I can’t understand his concern (apparently a burnout is the practice of keeping a vehicle stationary and spinning its wheels, causing the tires to heat up and smoke due to friction. Technically the tire is not burning and the smoke is primarily a vapor (similar to steam). A tire that is set on fire will burn with a thick black smoke but that is rarely the result of a “burnout”).

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

After all of the racing there was a burn out competition, although no idea who won! A few of the drivers took their cars in to the staging area and drove the cars, sometimes until the tyres popped! There was a lot of smoke and the fire service were on hand just in case.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

It was actually a really cool night watching the cars race. Initially we sat down at the starting line so you got to see the cars start the race and doing their burn outs before starting which was fun. Later in the evening me and the Aussie wandered down to the pits and watched from the finishing line which was really good as we got to see what time they raced in and most importantly how fast in miles and then kilometres an hour and some of them didn’t drive much faster than we would on the motorway in the UK.

All in all we had lots of fun and the Aussie got to see lots of cool cars which always goes down well.

Some videos from the night are below:

Drag Racing

Burn Outs

My Top 5 Favourite Books

As I mentioned last week I am participating in the Cara Box Exchange and each week they set us a little challenge to help us get to know our exchange partners.

This weeks challenge is to somehow decide on your top 5 favourite books or magazines if your not a book fan.

I am a huge book fan and as I have mentioned before I am taking part in the Goodreads reading challenge and set myself the challenge of 45 books this year. Well it’s almost the end of March and I’ve read 14 books which is a pretty good amount I think you’d agree, however my little progress chart thingy says I am 4 books behind schedule. Oops! Ah well I have some time on my hands and plenty of books to read so i’m sure I’ll catch up.

Back to the Cara Box Challenge though and this was in some ways a super easy thing to do because I do have some books that I just loved and didn’t want to end (The Time Travellers Wife and The Fault in Our Stars) but the question was which books should take the last 3 remaining places in my top three?

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I love all genres (and despite what the Aussie thinks don’t just read books with Vampires in, ok well not ALL the time) and so one day I might be reading a Young Adult novel and then the next day a crime thriller or romance so it really depends what takes my fancy I suppose.

the time travellers wife

I chose The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenger and put this first because it was a book I really had to persevere with and almost gave up reading several times. Despite it being hard to get in to because the way the story jumps around I knew it was a book I would enjoy if I could just get past that. When I did I thought it was just brilliant, you get totally invested in the characters and experience all of their ups and downs.

my sisters keeper

Next up is My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The film for this book sucked, it was not good at all and I had such high hopes for it because the book is amazing. I am drawn to books with a semi legal theme and this has that in bucket loads as well as lots of drama as the story unfolds so you really don’t know how it could end and it is a surprise.

The Hunger Games

I loved the first Hunger Games book by Suzanne Collins but wasn’t so keen on the second and third books in the series (although the firms are exceeding expectation) and raved to all of my friends that they should read them and they did and also love them, so decided I would stick the first book in my list.

the fault in our stars

The Fault in our Stars by John Green was recommended to me by a friend who reads the same kinds of books as me and she knew I would love it. I can’t wait for the film to come out and I really hope it will be true to the book as this story is just beautiful. I really think everyone should read this book but be prepared for some huge up’s and downs throughout.

the book thief

I fell in love with the story of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak when watching the film and started reading it as soon as possible and fell in love with it some more. It’s such an interesting book and so well written, it’s difficult not to enjoy I think.

Books that didn’t make the cut but that I also love include The Memory Keepers Daughter, Life of Pi, the Divergent Series (this didn’t make the list as I hate the ending in the final book), The Lovely Bones, Monsoon Season, The Beautiful Creatures series, The Game of Thrones series (I hope the next book comes out soon), The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Residue Series and Gone Girl.

Oh dear I just realised all of my choices are either films or about to be made in to films – does this mean I have good book taste!?!

Life Juggling

There is a certain degree of juggling going on in my life at the moment. Between keeping in touch with family and friends in the UK, blogging, job hunting, visa application stuff and of course spending time with the Aussie I feel like there are a lot of “balls in the air” at the moment but it is worth it.

As you know I finished working for the company where I had worked for about 5 months last week. I have a job lined up to start but not for a few weeks so I thought I would try and find something temporary for a few weeks to get out of the house, earn some money and of course spend time in the air conditioning.

Sadly it appears that it is not meant to be as even with my criterion being only administration work in an office for 2 to 3 weeks there just isn’t anything around, even with my amazing recruitment consultant who found me my last job literally in 24 hours after I joined.

I’m filling the time as best as I can but there is only so many movies you can watch and so much window shopping you can do. Today i’m meeting up with my friends for lunch and quite looking forward to it.

Visa and Passport
(Image from here)

This break in work does also give me/us the opportunity to start getting things together for a visa application.

We have decided to apply for the Onshore De Facto Partner visa (subclass 820 and 801) which will mean that I am able to remain in Australia after my working holiday visa expires in August and also visit the UK for my friends wedding in September and for Christmas with my family.

This is by no means an easy decision and I know it has been tough on my family and friends when I told them that I was going to apply for the visa and remain in Australia but they have all been amazing and so so supportive which makes me feel truly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends back home.

The visa process is so confusing and very involved, the Aussie thinks I am joking when I grab the receipts for dinner etc from the keypad thing but it is needed.

I sometimes think that I am a Lawyer but I have had to visit the Immigration Office in Darwin numerous times to check things or ask our questions so I can totally understand why people use migration agents to help them even with the expense. I’m determined to do this by ourselves with a little help from Immigration, the visa website in Australia and the many many online forums where you can speak to people and ask your questions or find the answers because someone else has answered it.

After quite a bit of research I have made a list/table of each aspect of our application and what we need to provide to Immigration with our application forms.

We have to prove that we are in a genuine relationship which includes:
♦ LOTs of statutory declarations from our friends and families that they are currently writing for us as well as our own;
♦ That we have lived together for more than a year (or been in a serious relationship for more than a year);
♦ How we support each other financially, emotionally etc;
♦ That we or particularly me are of good character through Police checks; and
♦ I will eventually have to have a medical to show i’m healthy and won’t require lots of medical treatment.

I suspect that this is going to cost us a fortune in printing and scanning costs before we even get to the fee for the visa, police checks and medical but I think it will all be worth it!

I’ll try and keep you updated on my visa application as it progresses but we are hopeful it will be submitted within the next few weeks, fingers crossed.

Forums I have found helpful (although you should always refer to the Immi website and/or the Immigration Department)
Poms In Oz
Australia Forum
Expat Forum

*** Please note that I am in no way giving visa or legal advice about applying for visa’s in Australia or anywhere else – this is just what I have found and is only relevant to our situation ***

Tripping Over my Own Feet

I'm Not Clumsy
(Image from here)

I would love to say that I am perfectly safe out in the big bad world but the reality is that I am beyond clumsy. I literally trip over flat ground in flat shoes.

Last week I had to take the Aussie’s Brother to hospital and I texted my mum to point out that I had been in Australia for more than 7 months and this was my first visit to the Hospital. This was indeed a milestone as I am a frequent visitor to the local hospital where I live in the UK and so the expectation is I would be the same in Australia but wasn’t….

Last time I was in Australia I stepped down a set of just two steps and landed on my ankle. This was literally about 2 hours before I had to leave the house to board the plane back to the UK. Luckily the plane was pretty empty so I could lie down and rest the ankle but I felt pretty sorry for myself on that journey home.

I did the same thing a couple of times but it wasn’t so bad but last May when walking to work and talking to my friend I fell over and was in agony. I swore I heard something crack and after admitting defeat, hopping on a train home (literally) I went to the hospital and was told to come back in the morning for an X-Ray. The X-Ray suggested I had finally broken the ankle and I was put in plaster.

I don't Always Laugh
(Image from here)

Now not only am I lethal when walking, I am deadly to myself when using crutches. I had been given them before and stopped using them because I almost fell over, a lot. This time I had no choice due to the plaster and thankfully when I went back to the hospital the next day they confirmed no break but wanted me to have physiotherapy because of the frequency of my tumbles. I did that and all seemed well.

Sadly my run of good luck ran out last night. When walking out to the “lovely” outdoor loo (this morning I discovered a huge brown spider possibly a wolf spider, a St Andrews Cross spider and another spider of unknown species) I stepped off the concrete stand the house is on and found myself on the ground with a grazed knee and throbbing ankle wondering how exactly I was going to stand up.

I managed to stand and walk on it pretty well and today it is just a bit sore. I am of the view that I have tripped over on the ankle so many times it just bounces back! Of course this evening when I got out of the car I dropped my iPad on the ankle and the throbbing returned, Ouch!

Hopefully I will now return to my non dangerous self but if not…

Clumsy Girls rule
(Image from here)

Raw Comedy and Some History

A lovely quiet if not extremely hot weekend this weekend with a few outings to the big city!

The temperature has been rising and it’s been extremely hot and humid with not much of a let up. This means it’s super steamy outside and inside if you have no air con like we don’t and so heading to the movies or theatre where they have very good air con is always appealing!

The Aussie came home from work yesterday afternoon and mentioned that there was a comedy event on in Darwin that he heard would be good. I spent a few minutes searching on Google and discovered it was an event called Raw Comedy and it was an open mic night where 14 amateur comedians would be competing for the chance to go to the final in Melbourne with the overall prize of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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As expected some of the acts were very very good with good stories, comic timing and the ability to make you roar with laughter. Some were a bit cringeworthy BUT they had the guts to give it a go and I really admire that strength as I absolutely hate public speaking and get so nervous its ridiculous.

I really enjoyed the night and laughed a lot which is of course good for you!

Today the Aussie was due to go racing in the sailing race at one of the yacht clubs but didn’t feel well enough. We decided to book some tickets to go and see the film Pompeii which has just been released and has the lovely Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones in it.

Everyone knows the story of Pompeii and the film was very well made with extremely realistic effects but because we know how the story goes they threw in the usual forbidden love kind of story which kept it flowing well and kept your interest.

We watched the 3D version and the Aussie said the effects for that weren’t bad although he has seen better (I cannot comment on the 3D as for some reason my eyes never see the 3D bits but I have to wear the glasses or the split screen/colour thing will give me a headache).

It was a good film for a Sunday afternoon if not a but violent and graphic in places which is never my thing.

We finished our Sunday off by popping to our local pub for dinner and I had a very tasty roast dinner. I miss my Mum’s roast dinners a lot and whilst those at the pub are not as good they will do until my Mum can cook one for me 😉

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