Welcome if interested!

This is a blog of our year in Sydney. Nick is undertaking an orthopaedic research fellowship as part of his training before becoming a consultant. We have given up many things to do this having sold our house and have left friends and family and jobs that we both enjoyed. However we believe it is likely to become one of the most memorable years of our lives. I am keeping this blog mainly as a personal record of events and memories. Hopefully it will still be available for our children to read in years to come.


Saturday, 30 January 2010

Nicks Birthday

Wow, I am behind with this blog....the usual daily routines are taking over and occupying most of the days and evenings now. I am almost on top of the washing!. Chores remain the same where ever you are in the world!.

I have been meaning to summarise Nick's Birthday as we had the most wonderful day. Originally we were going camping but the forecast for the weekend was not so good so we decided on a weekend in the city. The plan was to not tell Nick where we were going. However the cat was let out of the bag well before we were even dressed. We caught the bus to Circular Quay and then the ferry across the harbour to Taronga Zoo.

Taronga Zoo is almost 100 years old and is on the Northern shore of Sydney harbour in the suburb of Mosman. It has its own ferry wharf which makes the journey across the harbour from circular quay the preferred method of transport. The zoo has all the usual zoo mammals and reptiles with, perhaps, a slight preponderance of spiders and snakes. The boys loved it!

We decided to treat ourselves to a lunch at the restaurant there and for the first time saw Kookaburras in a tree not to far away. I have since read that they are quite common and it is easy to recognise their laughing call. Well I got this shot after about ten minutes and our food arrive. Oliver was sitting on the outer edge of the table when there was a loud clank like noise, right in front of us sitting on Ol's plate was the Kookaburra I had photographed. They are big birds with chunky beaks and very fluffy dense plumage. I just wished I had the camera in my hand then. Both Ollie and I jumped and half the restaurant turned to see the bird escape with a whole fish finger. Have since learned that they often scavenge. Hmmm,not so exciting after all!. Nick has ticked another bird off in his book though, the twitcher in him has recently re-emerged. Oliver also spent a lot of his time at the planning strategies on how to pick up a lizard. At our apartment in the garden he has been managing to catch them by the tail, however these ones are about 5cm long. The ones on the paths in the zoo looked at least 50cm long potentially with teeth. This didn't seem to deter him though as you can see.

By the time we headed home the sun was shining again and the return journey across the harbour was just perfect. We had sushi for supper, there are some good restaurants with take out at the top of our road and we also had the chocolate cake the boys had made their Daddy for his birthday, great combination!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Ollie's first day at Coogee Public School

Well there was excitement and chaos in the Hancock household this morning as it was Olivers first day at his new school, he could not wait to get into his new uniform and get down the hill!. The uniform is lovely but very different. All the children have wide brimmed sunhats here, Ol calls his a cowboy hat and they all have massive rucksacks for school bags. Was a bit nervous I would end up with this and the double buggy but no Oliver did not take that thing off his back until he was in the class.

His school is huge and goes all the way up to year 12 with 650 children attending. The kinder year has six teachers with approx 20 children per class. They have not been allocated their teachers yet, apparently that happens next week???!!. It is much less formal than I expected and when I popped in yesterday with Ols epipens I was greeted by a lovely lady, Lynda who gave me lots of advice on playgroups for Alex and good local GPs. I later found out she is the Assistant Principal of the school. It seems a friendly place!. All I have to get over is the steps at the school, impossible with the buggy and the mountain to climb on the two returns home per day. Well here he is, totally different to Marchwood but very cute all the same.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Our First Camping Trip To Budgewoi

Budgewoi is just to the North of Sydney, about two hours drive. We set of early on Saturday morning for one night in a campsite on the edge of Budgewoi Lake. We though we were armed with every thing that we would need., we had a lot to learn!!!

We chose the hottest day so far this Summer as temperatures reached 40 degrees!. Nick set up the tent whilst I rounded the boys up. As soon as the tent was up we headed for the beach as even though we were minutes from the lake no one was swimming there... bizarre! We later found out the lake is full of stingray and a number of children have drowned getting out of their depth there.

We drove just a bit further North and found Tugerrah National Park and Fraser Beach, absolutely beautiful, a white sandy beach, clean with turquoise sea and a gently shelving bay safe for the boys. We had a wonderful day.

At about 5pm, one of the very nice life guards came up, I though just to be friendly!. But in fact he had come to warn us of a huge storm that was brewing just south. He said we should get home as they were reporting 100km winds with thunder/lightening. Ok so we packed up quick and thought about how well we had tied down the tent. We raced back to the campsite and already our neighbours stuff was on the ground. Nick battoned down and we tried to cook some sausages. What a night, thunder and lightening until 2am and crazy winds. Alex finally slept with me next to him.

The next day was cloudy but still very hot and humid, Nick got in his first surf in about five years and we are now planning our next trip. Things to remember next time are washing up liquid and bowl alonside many other essentials like torch , batteries!!
Here is Edward the morning after the night before. Bright and breezy as had slept 12 hrs without a care in the world!

And here is Nick having a practise surf and preparing himself for the bigger stuff!

And finally gorgeous Al on Fraser Beach.

Centennial Park

Well the boys and I went for our first picnic with other Mums in the park.

Centennial Park is huge. It is just South of the harbour and is a massive green space with lakes and tropical plants. The birds you see are ibis'. They are the oz version of a duck??? and are everywhere. At first we couldnt stop looking, Now we dont even notice them. Grand Drive in Centennial Park travels as a circumference aound the park and is almost 4km. The Sydneysiders are fitness obsessed and run and do aerobics and yoga all over this place. As I arrived in the park after a half hour walk from our house there were Mums everywhere running with their pushchairs. They were immaculate, lycra clad, no sweat, ipods on, crazy. I quickly said to Ollie to run as Mums in the park must have to do this. I tried to immitate this mad crowd. After a few hundred metres, sweating and gasping I admitted defeat and accepted that walking was the only thing possible!.

This is Lindy, who is married to the Gavin, the brother of a good friend of Nicks from med school. It has been wonderful to get to know a lovely lady who has a little girl, Gemma, the same age as Edward. We also have had a BBQ over at their house as they only live around the corner from us. Pam Wertheim, Mikes mum is also her from Cape Town and Pam, Lindy and Gemma came over for some lunch today. Yippee some adult conversation.

We had a lovely cup of tea in the park whilst the boys explored (after being told not to play with spiders!). The other pics show some more park views
And Ed chilling out!

Only a garden spider apparently but it was big and its web was like a metre wide.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Coogee Walk

Well Nick came home early from work for once and we decided to go and have fish and chips on the beach. We also had a good look around Coogee, which at the moment is full of back packers and students, it's not really a family beach at the mo. Wow I am sounding old! The walk down to the beach is along Coogee Bay Road. This is quite a steep hill and Oliver's school lies just where the road starts to level out. I am already noticing how toned my leg muscles are getting. No need for the gym here!

This is facing North up the beach and there is a beautiful coastal path from North Bondi down to Marouba beach in Botany Bay, most of it is pushchairable, yippee. And this one is looking South along the beach. The coastal path takes you past this sculpture/memorial to Coogee residents killed in the Bali bombing. This happened just a week after Nick and I left Bali and we had drinks in the bar where it happened. It was sad to see the ages and just how many young people lost their lives just from this particular suburb.

The boys loved running around this though as you can see.

Our place in Randwick

Finally we have moved into a lovely ground floor three bed apartment in Randwick. It is located in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney just south of the Harbour and ten minutes drive from the centre. It is on a beautiful leafy street just off Avoca Street which is where all the shops are located. Ten minutes walk down a very steep hill takes you to Coogee beach.

This is the study area in the front porch which is very spacious.

And this is Ollie in the living room

The dining room and kitchen open on to the back garden which is wonderful as the door is always open and the boys can run in and out.

Edwards bedroom and the playroom is above and our bedroom here. It is completely furnished all bills linen, everything and so has made our lives easier. The family who stayed here before us, also doctors, left us lots of things including school uniform, tents toys, even a bike for Ollie. The landlady Thalia is also very kind and helpful and loves her garden so I am doing my best to water and nurture all the beautiful plants!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Australia Museum

Nick started work on the 16th of January and I had a week before moving to our apartment in Randwick with the boys on my own. We decided to explore the city on the bus and got a weeks bus pass.
Australia Museum. The family who lived in our apartment before us said their children had absolutely loved this place and we quickly discovered why.
Here is Ollie posing with some of the infamous Sydney Funnel Web Spiders, notoriously the most poisonous spider in the whole world. Let me tell you I have read a lot about these ones and they are actually quite interesting. The males are the problem ones in that they become very aggressive during the mating season (which is now by the way Summer/Autumn) and overwhelmed by hormonal surges they lose all of their senses, other than one that is, and go on the hunt for females. Occasionally during this time they come in to houses. The males have serious fangs and these hide underneath their mouths. About the size of your thumb nail, pretty impressive. Well the Australia Museum loves this sort of thing and has many ways of looking at alsorts of scary insects, down microsopes and up close. Oliver loved it, and so did I. Alex was slightly more cautious. They also had the most impressive dinosaur exhibition alonside the biggest dead insect collection I have ever seen. We have already been back twice!! The map was to show the location of the museum just to the right of Hyde Park, put your specs on to see!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

City Walk

Our next adventure was to take the boys on the bus to Darling Harbour and walk along the Rocks and end up at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It was meant to be a cool cloudy day but as we are finding out here the weather forecast is often wrong. The only sensible thing to do is to wear factor 50 every day and a hat. Otherwise you burn your scalp and your nose, I speak from experience

Buses are great in the city, pretty much where ever you want to go you can go and every other bus on the route has disabled access so easy for our monster pushchair, this is now my main mode of transport now Nick is working fulltime.

We walked to outskirts of Darling Harbour and were greeted by a fun park for children and glitzy high rise offices.

Darling Harbour has the Sydney Aquarium, Maritime Museum and some very swanky restaurant and boats moored. It also has a massive IMAX cinema ( never been to one, not sure what it is but maybe will find out some day).

As we left Darling Harbour we trekked up a road called the hungry mile, we soon found out whyas the boys decided that they were similtaneously hungry and thirsty and both in need of wees, fun!!. The walk was worth it as we wandered through another beautiful quay with plush apartments, the final one presented this view of the Harbour Bridge, amazing...
It was incredible to watch the bridge walk people high above on the arch of the harbour bridge, something I would love to do. Oliver was most impressed with the size of the bolts as we walked underneath.

After passing beneath the bridge you enter Circular Quay and from here you can catch ferries to the North Shore, Manly, Taronga Zoo etc. You also get fabulous views of the Opera House, which is where these pics were taken.

Our walk ended after climbing the steps of the Opera House and walking through Sydneys botannical gardens. A total of six kilometres with Oliver in tow on foot and he didnt whine. Can you believe it. I think that the enormity of everything stunned him.

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains form part of the Great Dividing Range just inland and to the West of Sydney. When the first settlers arrived in Sydney many of them tried to travel West through the Blue Mountains as they believed China and freedom was on the other side. It took many years to find a route though and now this single route remains from Sydney to inner NSW.

Wentworth Falls is supposedly where the Blue Mountains begin in earnest. They are said to be called this because of the blue haze that shimmers over the green bush that carpets the valleys here. This is form by evaporated eucalytus oil from the trees, I read this as we were driving up on our first proper road trip and it really is true, not that I will convince you with these pics.

We walked around here and enjoyed seeing cockatoos and rainbow lorakeets in the trees, special. (Have since found out however that these are equivalent to blackbirds in Sydney!)

We then drove on to Leura and the Three Sisters, incredible, deep lush green valleys as far as you can see with steep sandstone peaks. It really took our breath away.
If anyone comes and stays with us this is a definate must see, the picture doesnt really manage to convey the enormity and vastness of this landscape.