Autumn is in the air, time to get realistic

I’ve come to the conclusion that, realistically, updating my blog will be a once a week event. This should actually make it a better read by paring it down to the essentials and also assuage the guilt I have been feeling for not adding to it on a daily basis.

The thing is we really have settled in now and the routine is down pat. Kids off to school, I write, Hubby works, all easy peasy. Not so with the blog which I have decided to relocate from Blogspot to WordPress because I think the latter has better stats which I desperately need. So now I have to revisit all the sites I’ve added In the Hot Spot to and also relocate my (six!) wonderful followers.

Spoilt after 18 months in the tropics

The other evening I felt quite strange, I couldn’t put my finger on it for a moment and then I realised, I was cold! I don’t think I’ve felt cold for two years so that’s why I couldn’t pinpoint it at all, but since then I’ve been feeling a nip in the air in the mornings and even once in bed a night. So, my old duvets which were packed away in storage in New Zealand are now outside airing.

It is actually quite fun to have seasons again. In Costa Rica they do call the rainy season winter but it is not cold. Meanwhile here in Queensland, the summer was hotter than the temperatures in Costa Rica but now we will get a bit of respite over the winter and can enjoy wearing jeans and sweaters. Funnily enough Ticas (Costa Rican women) wear skin tight jeans non-stop no matter how hot and steamy the weather. It is kind of a national pastime I think.

So, now here in Queensland, the sky is clear blue and there is a light breeze, the perfect weather for airing my duvets after a week of clouds and unexpected showers. I do hope we have nice weather over the Easter holidays. I need to put getting a wetsuit to the top of my list as I could definitely tell I was cold last time I went surfing and was I eying all the surfers with wetsuits on enviously.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

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Writing career conflicts with tenancy agreement

Writing and Renting in Australia

Well, yesterday was a momentous day in my writing career. After all I’ve read about writing, the one thing that seems clear is that you have to be prepared to get many, many rejections before a piece of your writing will be finally be accepted for publication. This is a truth universally acknowledged in writing and everyone knows stories about famous writers suffering multiple rejections, before someone finally showed an interest in their work.

Knowing this, I thought I’d better get the ball rolling and actually submit some work to someone so I could start ticking off those rejection slips and start this writer’s rite of passage. So yesterday, for the very first time, I actually sent a stranger, in this case the editor of the local rag, an article I’d written. Sure enough, I got an instant result and within hours my very first rejection was emailed to me. This is what is said.

My First Rejection Letter (Hopefully the first of many)

“Hello Annabel
Many thanks for your column idea. We are always on the lookout for new ideas and ways to brighten up our publications. At present we are not in a position to add any extra columns, but we would be happy to revisit your column idea at a later date.
Best wishes”
(Name and address withheld)

Wow! I am really pleased with it. Especially because it didn’t contain the words “that sucks” or “you loser” so all in all I think it bodes rather well for my writing career. If he actually read it that is.

Renting a house and tenancy agreements in Australia

Changing the subject now, here are a few thoughts on being a tenant and renting a house as opposed to being the proud owner of your own home. I think we actually got a bit spoilt renting in Costa Rica. We had a lovely Italian property manager who would go out of his way to make sure we had what we wanted in the way of furniture, house keepers, gardeners and pool maintenance people, and all for a price which we found acceptable. How things have changed.

Here in Australia, we actually had to beg a property management company to allow us to stay in one of their houses. We had to provide references and copies of our bank statements, rental history and career progression. Of course, these all needed a bit of tweaking before they were accepted by someone. Now we pay through the nose to stay here, and are obliged to do all the cleaning, gardening and pool work all by ourselves! What’s more, we are treated as second class citizens by the press, who are forever making snide comments about how no one wants to live in areas where there are a lot of renters and little things like that.

Property Inspection Strikes Fear into Mother of Three’s Heart

Meanwhile, our property management company is coming to conduct a property inspection tomorrow. This sounds quite reasonable and they kindly gave us a few weeks notice, but with that notice came a letter that would strike fear into any mother’s heart. It said that the property had to be neat and tidy and the garden free of weeds. It listed the items they would be checking and requested that we do a few obscure things like “clean the grout” in the bathrooms. The timing of this is bad. It comes, just when I am really getting into the flow with writing and have gleefully lowered my standards when it comes to cleaning to avoid exactly these pointless activities that they are now asking me to perform.

So I have to go. Today will be devoted to tidying, cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming and mopping ready for my big cleaning test tomorrow. Actually, maybe I should just forget the cleaning and carry on as normal. Is it really that much of a sin if my house isn’t 100% clean? After all, it’s not a total health hazard or anything, we do perform a standard clean on a regular basis and, anyway, I like a home that looks lived in, not like a museum. I wonder what punitive action there will be if I don’t make reach their expectations. Actually, it would be quite interesting to find out….

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!


New to Noosa and enjoying all it has to offer

The koala that motivated us to walk on

The koala: a little known motivational tool

Free activities huge draw card for family with Scottish ancestry

Before moving to Noosa we lived in the south of Costa Rica where there were more monkeys than people and the only family day out would be the odd cabalgata, or horse parade. Cabalgatas are generally typified by the number of drunken cowboys riding their horses round the village, while sinking progressively lower into their saddles and leaving a trail of crushed beer cans behind them. Not really that family-friendly in fact.

Prior to Costa Rica, we lived on Waiheke Island, a stunning wine-producing island in the north of New Zealand. There were some great events on Waiheke, like the wine and jazz festivals, or the spectacular biannual sculpture walk, but the time between these big events seemed to drag by, often for months on end.

TravelSmart Noosa

Meanwhile, here in Noosa we seem to be spoilt for choice with the vast array of things to see and do. Take last weekend, for example. On Saturday, we enjoyed the TravelSmart Noosa event, kindly organised by the local council to encourage us to be more eco-friendly in our transport choices. To this end the lovely TravelSmart people organised a fun and non-competitive bike and walk circuit for us, and about 500 other people, providing free entertainment afterwards with music, a stilt-walker, a giant twister board and a prize raffle with loads of prizes that you’d actually want to win: a family voucher for Australia zoo, a bike or a two night stay in a posh hotel, to name but a few. As if this wasn’t enough, they also plied us with useful freebies including water bottles, bum bags, bicycle repair kits and backpacks. Thanks a lot!

Because we thought our seven year old would struggle to cycle to the event and then complete the ten kilometer circuit, we opted to drive there and do the five kilometer walk. I know, going by car kind of missed the point but still, we weren’t the only guilty ones. The car park was full.

I’m sorry to say that the walk didn’t get off to a very good start. Our adorable four year old kept falling off her bike as the trainer wheels weren’t in the right position. Our adventurous seven year old complained of thirst constantly. Even my dear hubby bleated on about how hot it was and how he wished they’d chosen a shadier route. He even suggested we sit down for a while, wait until all the other walkers had gone by and then take off our numbers and go back to the car! He then claimed that he was joking but I have to wonder.

How we got Motivated by a Real Live Wild Koala

Just when I thought I’d surely go mad if I heard another complaint in this unrelenting heat we spotted a koala.

“Look!” Someone shouted.
“It’s awake.” And sure enough it was.

Well, if even a koala could stay awake for a few minutes to egg us on during the walk, then we could complete it. Mercifully, soon after that we reached a water stop, and it was all down hill from then on, via the bat colony and back to our starting point. Apart from one final scooter accident involving our independent ten year old, it was all good old-fashioned fun from then on. We saw a few familiar faces from school and the Surf Life Saving Club, and had a laugh thanks to the man who was manning the microphone and encouraging us to chant childish inanities like:

“What do we want? The prize draw! When do we want it? Now!”

Even though we didn’t actually win one of the big prizes we came very close, had fun, got a bit of exercise and got motivated by a koala. Now, not a lot of people can say that.

Family Fun Day at the Noosa Regional Gallery

For us jungle-dwelling, island escapees, it was an action-packed day and we had barely recovered from all the excitement when Sunday rolled around with a family fun day at the Noosa Regional Gallery. Yes, another free event to keep us off the streets. We rocked up grumpy, well, some of us, and not quite knowing what to expect, only to be pleasantly surprised once again.

A bevy of friendly, helpful volunteers guided our children through the array of shoe-related activities on offer. It’s a monthly event and this time the theme of shoes was chosen to tie in with the amazing display of creative footwear by Pendragon Art Shoes. From designing shoes, to actually making them or decorating a shoe box, our kids spent a happy hour or so letting their creative juices flow. What’s more we didn’t even have to cook them lunch as there was a sausage sizzle to stave off hunger pangs and give us a much needed break from the feeding and cleaning merry-go-round.

It wasn’t just us that had fun either. I saw a few kids leave their thongs, as Australians adorably call flip flops, behind, preferring to go home sporting a pair of gladiator sandals hand-crafted out of cardboard and twine. So next time my kids want to buy a pair of fashionable but impractical shoes I know what to do, just let them make themselves a pair and keep everyone happy.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!


Moving abroad to Australia from Costa Rica and New Zealand and a foray into online grocery shopping

Surfing for Salami Sticks

Last week I was also trying to sort out my grocery shopping. Basically it has been taking up too much of my time since I moved to Australia and I need to get that sorted out. Still, at least I don’t get lost on the way to the shops anymore. But when I do get there it still takes me ages as I don’t know where anything is and I have to read every single price and label before I hit the right combination of cost and nutritional value. Of course, as well as taking so long, it always costs too much as well. But there’s not much you can do about that when you’ve got five hungry mouths to feed, and a serious chocolate addiction to support.

Anyway, we seemed to be heading off to the supermarket every other day, so in a bid to get that under control I decided to take advantage of our local supermarket’s kind offer of free delivery on all Internet orders. This is something I’ve been wanting to try for ages but haven’t been able to as the service just wasn’t available where we lived in New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Well, I have to admit that shopping online didn’t actually save me any time, although it could well do in the future if I make it a regular event. I think you’re supposed to set up internet shopping lists so that your regular items and favourite buys are automatically loaded into the ‘trolley’. OK, I admit, shopping online took me well over an hour. But that’s no longer than it would have taken me to drive to the shop, drag my trolley up and down every single aisle, load in the groceries, queue to pay, then stuff it all in my car. In fact the only down side of shopping from home is that it didn’t give me a chance to catch up on my Hollywood friends by having a sly read of the gossip rags while I wait at the checkout.

Food delivered to my door by a charming man

Anyway, after a good sixty minutes on the supermarket website, I finally placed my order, and organised to pay by mobile eftpos. I was delighted when a large refrigerated van turned up outside my house at 9am on Saturday morning. A charming young man then proceeded to unload everything I would need to feed the family over the weekend and the kids even got involved and helped schlep it into the kitchen. Of course, I immediately noticed that I had been sent me long life milk, not fresh, but the delivery man assured me I could just call the customer service people and they’d refund me, then he would take away the unwanted stuff next time I ordered. Not really a big deal that one, and apparently if I did run out of milk I could use the UHT stuff and still not have to pay for it. So far so good.

A Six Month Supply of Salami Sticks

What worried me though, was the amount of salami sticks I unpacked. Instead of the eight mini salami sticks I had ordered for the kids’ lunchboxes I had been sent about 80 of them. There were enough salami sticks to feed half of Frankfurt. And they don’t come cheap either. When I checked my receipt I saw I’d been charged (and paid) about $80 for them. Ooops. I pictured the wrath of my husband as he shook his head and reminded me how he told me it was a waste of time shopping online. I planned the conversation with the customer service people and decided the best tactic was just to admit my stupid error in over ordering, plead for forgiveness and beg to be able to return the 72 unwanted salami sticks.

So that’s whatI did, but they were real sticklers there at customer service, and quite adamant that it was a fault on their website, and not my error at all. In view of this they promised to refund me the full amount for the preserved sausages and let me keep them too. So that’s how I come to have a six month supply of salami sticks in my freezer. Quite a bonus and the only problem is my freezer’s not really big enough so now I need to buy a new one.

All in all the online shopping was quite a success and I decided to do it again the week after. I had to laugh though, when I logged onto the supermarket website, revisited my previous order and saw that they are right out of stock on salami sticks.

Still Trying to Make Friends

It’s shocking that I’ve already been a bit slack on the blog and didn’t post an entry at all last week. Probably because I was too busy making new mates. I went out surfing twice and met some lovely ladies. The first session there was absolutely no surf what so ever but we gamely gave it a go. If my surfing pals in Costa Rica had seen me they would have been totally unimpressed. My new pals were fab forties like me and seemed like a good laugh.

The next day I went out with a younger crowd of surfing mums. They texted me the location saying “small, clean waves” so I was a bit shocked to see ten foot churners when I got to the beach. Way out of my league. Some of the girls gave it a go and managed to get out the back but even that would have been beyond me. It was scary out there. Still, I had fun riding the white water and getting that rush you get from being churned around in the surf which you just can’t get when it’s dead calm. Definitely good to be back in the surf and hooking up with some other surfing fans, even though it has eaten into my writing time.

Bad News About the Salami Stick Saga

I am so annoyed all the kids have announced they no longer like salami sticks.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Migrating to and Networking in a Foreign Country

Making friends but Not Exactly Influencing People

I do confess that last week I was feeling a touch lonesome and missing my far flung amigos. So this week I’ve vowed to take a more active role in making new contacts, meeting people and maybe even making some new friends! To do this I have settled on a four-pronged attack. This is following on from joining the Surf Life Saving Club where I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable and getting to know some friendly faces. My poor children though, they aren’t really into the Nippers side of Surf Life Saving and all the activity is a bit beyond them but that’s another story.

These are the four lines of attack I have chosen in my bid to make some mates.

1. Help out at school with reading in Medium’s year three class: I can meet Medium’s classmates and maybe their parents down the track.
2. Help out in the tuck shop: this has been recommended as a great way to get to know the ins and outs of the school, hear the gossip and get to know some of the teachers. Plus, I’ll get to know lots of faces around school and some of the mums (I bet there aren’t any men!) who work or help out in the tuck shop.
3. Find some groovy women to go surfing with: I can do what I love, be active and make a friend or two in the process.
4. Go to the movies on cheap day Tuesday: make myself invite some women I’d like to get to know better and see the latest cinematic offerings, a rare treat and something I’ve been largely deprived of for 12 years!

The Results of My Friend-Making Attempts

So this week I’ve been charging ahead with my plans to meet the people. There’s a lovely lady I’ve met through the Surf Life Saving Club who lives close to me and she very kindly gave me the phone number of a friend of hers who goes out surfing with some other ladies once a week. I took the plunge and called Claudia’s friend who was super friendly, even though we had a Costa Rica style conversation on our cell phones and it took about four calls to organize. To give you an idea of what I mean by ‘a Costa Rica style phone call’ the initial contact went a bit like this:

Me: “Hi, my name’s Annabel, I’m a friend of Claudia’s, I’m interested in going surfing with you.”
This sounds a bit stark but please imagine that I was talking with a smile on my face.
My prospective new surf mate: “Hi, hi…” (white noise, silence)
Me: “Hello, hello, can you hear me? Are you there? Hello, hello? Sorry, I can’t hear you, I’ll have to call you back.” I hang up.

This charade was repeated several times, each time with a little bit more information being relayed, until finally it was agreed that she would text me in the morning after checking out the surf conditions. I have to say she was incredibly friendly and helpful despite having been landed with an apparently semi-deaf newbie to entertain during her special surf day.

Well, I was very excited and slightly nervous about my relaunch into the realm of ladies surfing. Not least because it means I have to get all my stuff ready and deliver the kids to school early so that will be a challenge. To avoid too much stress I located and packed my towel, rash top, wax, hat, dry clothes and tampons. Of course, it would have to be the first day of my period and having a little blue string dangling out of my bikini bottoms isn’t quite the first impression I am hoping to make. But it was a risk I’d have to take.

I laid out my togs the night before and did everything except strap the surf board on the car roof because, after all, it wouldn’t really feel like the morning without a bit of stress. As soon as I got down to the beach for my run at 5.40am I thought the surf date looked dubious. Sorry to boast about the running thing but I had to slip that in. This morning the sea was almost totally becalmed and that’s the first time I’ve seen it like that. Also the beach had changed so much, with about two feet more sand than usual, that I completely failed to recognise my beach exit and walked an extra kilometer leaving me quite literally running late. Of course when I finally got home, soaked from an unseasonal downpour, the surfing had been canceled so we will have to try again next week.

Instead I kicked off the day by helping out in Medium’s class. I get to hear the kids practice their reading which is lovely. I listened to about four of them and they were so quiet and studious it really touched me. The reading levels are hugely different with some children at a very low level and others quite fluent, with my boy being in the latter category I hope! Medium’s teacher is lovely so it’s good to spend some time with her and I met another mum who is helping out lots so off to a good start with my meet and greet despite there being no surf.

I followed up on that mini success by popping into the tuck shop and offering my services there for half an hour. Well, every little helps! Sure enough that was a good move. There were three mums in the tuck room baking cookies and making cakes. They were very friendly, quite funny and a veritable font of all kinds of useful information. In the short time I was there I made garlic bread, filled tiny pots with ketchup, prepared rolls with mayonnaise and lettuce for chicken burgers and got some good insider knowledge on the school scene. I must go back and help regularly. I offered to help on Friday but apparently there are loads of parent helpers there then and they were worried it might scare me off!

Teaching Four Year Olds Karate

Next stop was Small’s school to watch her karate lesson. The four year olds look adorable in their karate suits and I met a lovely mum and her son so that was a bonus. Small was practicing her blocks, kicks, scary looks and screams of “back off” with gusto and it is nice to think that one day she may have a fighting chance of defending herself should the need ever arise. I haven’t really told my kids much about ‘stranger danger’ mainly because there hasn’t been much of a need for it in the small communities we’ve been living in, but I think it’s a different story here. Small’s not shy so when they sat down at the end of the lesson to talk about ‘staying safe’ she was an eager participant.

“If a stranger said they had some kittens, puppies and sweets in their car would you go with them to see?” asked the teacher.
“Yes!” yelled Small enthusiastically. Those three items must be about her favorite things ever and it’s scary to think that some pervert could use that against her or any other child.
“Don’t you think you should ask your mummy or daddy first?” asked the teacher, concerned.
“OK” nodded Small, happily getting up to come and ask me.

I think that the ‘stranger danger’ thing is going over her head at the moment but I’m sad to say that I know she needs to be made aware of these things as do all our children. The age of innocence is over.

Anyway, all in all I think that my forays into friendship have been a great success so far. At least the scheduled ones. There was an awkward moment this morning at the end of my walk when I greeted a neighbor cheerily with a beaming smile. It swiftly turned to a look of revulsion as I felt the need to point out:

“Your dog’s just done a poo.”

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!


Working abroad in Australia, Costa Rica and New Zealand


Hats Off To All Career Mums

I now feel the need to mention that I am currently striving to be a super mum. I get up at 5.30am six mornings a week to exercise. I have three kids who all need food, clean clothes, love, attention, reading practice and exercise. And a hubby whose needs overlap with the kids in several areas. Husband and wife are both busy setting up a new home and home business in a foreign country and are still jumping through hoops to do this. For example, yesterday the whole morning was taken up with a trip to Maroocydore half and hour away to get our medical cards.

But that one-off chore isn’t really the problem. I find that there are always things to be sorted out because we’ve only just moved to Australia. There’s life insurance, medical insurance, standing orders to be set up or stopped, bank accounts to be opened and closed, term deposits to be opened in the hope that we can earn some interest on our house money, gardens to be weeded and mowed, a pool to clean, teachers and kids to help at school, shopping, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance and so much more.

What I’ve actually never been able to understand is how mothers who work full time actually manage to fit it all in and still have any time or energy left over for their family and themselves. Some women make it look effortless too. Always in a stylish outfit with brushed hair and make-up, always talking patiently to their children, never rushing or breaking into a sweat despite the tropical climate. Heck knows how they do it, but I am striving to be more like them! One key area I am determined to save time on is cleaning. To this aim I am dropping my standards as much as possible while still maintaining minimal hygiene and some semblance of tidiness. In Costa Rica I was blessed to have the wonderful Rocio come to our home for two full days a week. Not only did she handle all cleaning, laundry and cooling with quiet efficiency but she also provided me with lovely company and acted as a great Spanish teacher. I miss her cleaning and sympathetic ear.

On the networking front I am getting on well with the kids’ teachers who all seem to be lovely, professional or friendly. Several of them even manage to exude all three of those qualities. On a scale of one to ten of how happy I am with the kid”s school and childcare I would give an eight. I think that this is partly because I am so grateful, after a year in Costa Rica, that my children now have the opportunity to spend time with well-trained and highly experienced teachers in a caring environment with excellent facilities. The local state school here is a huge contrast to Luke and Medium’s school in Costa Rica. There I had to buy desks and chairs for them as there weren’t enough to go around. There didn’t seem to be any books at the school. One time I noticed that Medium’s pencil supply was constantly dwindling and he said that other children broke them. When I asked Medium’s teacher about it she said “Oh yes, it’s terrible” and produced a huge back of broken pencils from her desk. She went on to tell me that there was nothing she could do about it, that some of the boys were very badly behaved and there was a lot of violence in the school. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from your child’s teacher. Another time Medium actually had to have stitches in his head when falling over as he ran away from classmates who were throwing rocks at him. This time it was put down to the usual child’s play and the protagonists were never punished as they said it wasn’t them!

At the boy’s new school there is a library, music, PE and Italian lessons and clean classrooms full of bright artwork, books and games. I’m looking forward to helping out with reading three times a week in Medium’s year 2/3 class. One of the nipper mums recommended I volunteer to work in the school tuck shop. She reckons it’s a great way to get to know the teachers, kids, school news and gossip and as a bonus your kids get a free lunch on the day you volunteer. I really want to do that. But how to fit it all in! In Costa Rica I was aiming to write for two hours a day when the kids were out. Here I would like to boost that up top four hours. Four hours isn’t really enough of course and even that will be hard to fit in. I will need to be truly disciplined in terms of getting home fast after dropping them off. I won’t be able to go surfing during the working day and things will get even tighter when we start cycling to school on a regular basis. I should be able to do it though so I can keep updating this blog regularly and also finish off that half-completed novel.

I can’t drop the exercise though. It’s pretty essential to my physical and emotional well-being now. I am attempting to train myself to run three times a week for 30 minutes each time simply because this is the fastest and most efficient way for me to get some aerobic exercise. I am already able to run for 24 minutes in three eight minute slots and have worked out that if I carry on at this rate I will have achieved my goal some time around July! Slow but steady wins the race:)

The Financial and Emotional Cost of Moving to Australia with Kids

When the sofa finally arrived there was no room for grown-ups

When the sofa finally arrived there was no room for grown-ups

In which we broach that delicate, some would even say taboo, subject of money

I thought I’d wait until I’d been down to the Centrelink office to write this one. Centrelink is the government department which deals with dolling out family tax benefit and childcare benefit, two wonderful little surprises that have been offered to us here in Australia. All very handy if you have three kids and limited cash flow. We haven’t quite managed to set up our new business yet but it is in the pipeline and in the mean time we have to tighten our belts. I don’t think they had these benefits for big families like us in New Zealand, or if they did, they kept very quiet about it.

What’s more the Australian Government is, even as I write, rolling out stimulus packages designed to keep the economy ticking along during these times of what’s being called a global recession. We’re not the only ones trying to keep to a budget. While some people are being laid off left, right and center, we are boldly seeking employment. Rather untimely of course, but we remain undaunted. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s possible the stimulus package could give us a small cash injection which would certainly help to pay for those school uniforms, school books, karate suits, Surf Life Saving Club kit, SLSC membership, swimming lessons, drama lessons, basketball lessons, computer software and, well, maybe it won’t stretch quite that far!

Financial Cost of Moving Abroad

I know that for most people the expense is one thing that puts them off moving abroad. For us I have to say it’s been much less expensive than we imagined. The main cost of moving here has been buying new furniture, kitchen wares, electrical items, outdoor toys and computer equipment. Because we were originally leaving New Zealand for Costa Rica and those two voltage systems are incompatible, we sold or gave away all electrical items. We also got rid of most of the big items of furniture to cut down on the cost of storage, which as it turned out, was for 18 months, and reduce shipping costs. That’s why, when we finally did find a rental house after three weeks of searching, we all slept on mattresses on the floor for the first few weeks. With our travel track record these kind of things don’t really phase us much and the kids are equally adaptable. In fact, Hubby and I are still on a mattress as we are having our bed made to order by a lovely wood craftsman who is pleasingly called Mr. Wood. It is a wonderful firm king-size version, an upgrade on the queen-sized versions we slept on in NZ and CR. But I digress.

The Rental House

So, the house was pretty empty when we loved in. We bought a knackered old dining table in a Salvation Army store, mainly because it came with six pretty good modern stacking chairs and we had the mattresses of course, and a camping chair, but that was about it. This house has a big living area with a tiled floor and the kids had a lovely time running around screeching in the echoey spaces. It just about did our heads in. We moved in here on December 18th and even now we still have no sofa so the living room looks very bare. Who’d have thought that it would take eight weeks for a sofa to arrive? I certainly didn’t. At least we picked up a $200 sofa in Ikea for the kids. For a while there we were eating off plastic plates too before I got hold of some china ones. But looking back it is amazing how much we have managed to achieve in two months.

Shipping Personal Effects to Australia

The stuff we got shipped from New Zealand was hugely delayed in getting to us, mainly because the local Waiheke Island removal company were a bit slow off the mark, so our boxes and furniture arrived in Oz right before Christmas. Before, during and after the festive season the Brisbane ports and docks people go into some type of seasonal limbo. They don’t care if you are reduced to eating your Xmas lunch at a Salvation Army table. In fact, they quite possibly gain considerable pleasure from holding your beautiful recycled kauri table hostage in their warehouse for as long as possible.

So reluctant were they to let us have that table that they actually broke it in the end. A quite considerable feat when you consider that this is a solid wood table with all surfaces about four centimeters thick. Well done guys. It must have been much easier, and probably more fun, for them to break our two green shelves and knock three large castor wheels right off the bottom of them. But they were kind enough to hang on to the wheels and get them back to us so all is forgiven. Of course, we had taken out insurance for our dearly beloved personal effects and best items of furniture so no harm done. Except, really by the insurance company whose brilliant excess limit of $500 was just about equal to the cost of the repairs so not worth our while putting a claim in. Hey ho.

But the time is nigh when I must do the school run and collect our dearly beloved children from school and childcare. Then I need to take one of them to the doctor for a skin scraping to find out whether we have picked up some virulent tropical parasites as a souvenir from Central America, or if it is something more pedestrian which is causing the blistering skin rash around one little Candy’s hips and thighs.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!