Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Melbourne adventure...

As most of you will know, Sham works for a small Brisbane based company. Since he joined three years ago, the company has almost doubled in size. The two owners have still kept that "family" feel though - they still fly non Brisbane based staff and their partners to the Christmas party, give all employees a Christmas present and give hilarious drunken speeches (sorry Craig - we haven't forgotten that one!).

When they were taking on a new client in Melbourne, they asked if anyone wanted to go and help set up - it would mean six weeks in Melbourne in a serviced apartment just on the outskirts of the city. The deal included flights to and from Sydney each weekend so Sham volunteered to do it! He left Sydney mid October.

We quickly realised that the return flights were best spent on me - I could holiday in Melbourne at the weekend rather than Sham coming home to help me with housework! Altogether, I got to visit for three weekends - and each weekend was different in what we did and saw, but each was as much fun as the one before!

On my first visit, Sham had already been there five days and was very excited to show me around his new home! The apartment had two bedrooms (he occasionally had a colleague staying for a night or two), a small open plan living, dining and kitchenette area and a bathroom. It was not flash by any stretch of the imagination, but it was perfectly functional, clean and most importantly, it was in a great location! A four minute walk to the office and a ten minute stroll to Flinders Street Station - the heart of Melbourne's CBD.

We spent the first weekend exploring Melbourne on foot - according to an app I have on my phone, we walked approximately 17km that weekend! We wandered down the lovely lane ways, shopped in Brunswick and strolled along the river at Southbank... stopping frequently for sustenance (coffee) and to take pictures of some of Melbourne's delights! It really was a perfect city break.

Yep, it's a busker!

The iconic Flinders Street Station

The second weekend just as lovely, but we did completely different things. Sham has an old friend from London, Mike, whose family moved to Australia around seven years ago. Because his family run their own business, Mike splits his time between Melbourne where his parents live and Brisbane where his wife and kids are. Luckily for us, he was in Melbourne while Sham was there. Mike had very generously offered to lend us his car over the weekend... but as we were negotiating a parking space in the apartment's underground car park, we were not quite prepared for the "car" we were borrowing!!

Our chariot for the weekend

Sharing the driving was out of the question as there was no way I was going to be able to drive that beast! This was a shame for Sham as he had some big plans for the weekend! After a late breakfast with Mike in the famous St Kilda beach, we dropped him back to his parents house and set off for a drive to Mornington Peninsula. It's a lovely sleepy coastal town and as the weather was lovely, we enjoyed a walk and lunch there.

We got back in the car and Sham said the next destination was a surprise! I worked out within 5 minutes that we were on our way to Ramsay Street, Erinsborough... home of Neighbours! Ok, don't judge me... I have watched Neighbours on and off since I was a kid and it was my first reference to Aussie life! I am not even slightly embarrassed to say I was very excited about our next stop! Pin Oak Drive (AKA Ramsay Street) is actually a really tiny, residential cul de sac. I wouldn't say I was disappointed as it was cool to see the Robinson house, but the size and non majestic nature of the street was a bit surprising ( I am not sure what I was expecting!)

Paul Robinson's house, Ramsay Street

Our next stop was the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.
It was a windy, steep drive up there and as we were there for sunset, it was absolutely freezing! I have to be honest, despite my best efforts to keep warm (hot chocolate and jumping up and down), I struggled to keep focussed on the amazing views looking down on Melbourne's CBD, so once the sun had set, I decided to wait in the car while Sham tried to capture the moment!

By the end of our first day of having the car, we had driven over 200km (approx 125 miles) and we were ready for an early night to prepare for the next adventure.

200 km later...
The next day was an early start and after a quick stop for coffee and snacks, we were on our way to do one of Australia's most famous drives - The Great Ocean Road! It really is a breath-takingly beautiful drive.
We stopped frequently to take pictures of the amazing scenery.

It was a REALLY hot day, so by the time we got to the 12 (now 8) Apostles, we wanted to get home the shortest possible way. The journey back on the motorway was not nearly as pretty, but it was quick!

530km driven
By the time we gave Mike his truck back at the end of the weekend, we had clocked up over 800 km (almost 500 miles!!) We loved road tripping together and are already planning our next one!

My last weekend in Melbourne coincided with my birthday so the weekend was spent shopping, eating at yummy restaurants and drinking cocktails!

Birthday dinner!

We both really liked Melbourne both as a city to work in (Sham) and as a city to visit... and we reckon we probably wouldn't rule it out as a city to live in! The weather is not as nice as Sydney, but it's also NOT as bad as London!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A proper holiday!

This post is being published in November - 3 months after our holiday... it feels like a lifetime ago!

In July we realised that we hadn't really had a "proper" holiday since we moved here... we have enjoyed lots of weekends around Australia, a couple of lovely visits to Auckland and of course trips to the UK and Kenya... but we haven't had a do-nothing-but-sit-on-the-beach or a drink-cocktails-at-a-pool-bar type holiday for nearly 4 years!!

I had a small window of opportunity at work before various members of the team went off on time they had booked off, so we did something that we are getting quite good at - booked something spontaneously! We booked a 8 night trip to Thailand. It worked out to be a perfect time to go as it would mean we would get to be there to celebrate our seven (!) year wedding anniversary!

The trip was everything we had wanted - the food was yummy, plentiful and cheap; the weather was perfect for lying around on a sunlounger and cooling off in the pool (with a swim up bar) and the massages were exquisite and only $6 each (I enjoyed  at least one every day!)

We stayed in a resort that was an hours drive north of Phuket, a place called Kao Lak - it was pretty and the staff were lovely. It was a really quiet area with only a handful of restaurants and bars, but that suited us just fine for the holiday we wanted.

Relaxing at the swim up bar!

The view from our balcony

A beautiful Thai sunset
We did manage to change out of our swimming costumes for a whole day to do a tour of Phuket - we visited 2 temples, a pearl factory (where Sham bought me some beautiful Southsea pear earrings for our anniversary), Phuket Old Town and a market! In that sort of heat, its more than enough to fit into a day - we were more than ready to have a  nap by the time we got back!

It really was a perfect holiday and I can't wait to do it again... no pressure readers in London, but Thailand is about halfway... we could meet you there??

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Using the right side of my brain!

Some of you have been "lucky" enough to have experienced my new hobby first hand... for those that haven't, don't worry - I am sure you will by your next birthday!

I have started a card making class that I go to fortnightly on a Wednesday evening... its a fun way to be a bit creative. The other ladies in my class are a little older than me, but all are lovely and so cute!

Here are some of the things I have made recently... please excuse the bad photography - I didn't take them to put on the blog, more to remember what I had made!

I don't think i am ever going to be able to retire from making cards, but its relaxing and nice to be using the creative side of my brain... and if I can sell a few to help with buying supplies, I would be chuffed!

Let me know what you think!


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Food Food Food

Since the beginning of the year (well since the last of the visitors left), Sham and I have been making a conscious effort to eat well... cutting down on wheat and dairy, taking lunches to work* so that we don't end up buying oily noodles everyday (I MISS CBD NOODLES!) and eating more fresh fruit and veg than processed stuff! This has been a bit of a necessity for me as my new office is not in the city so there is a very limited choice of places for me too buy my lunch... and being vegetarian, my choices are limited further!

 *I have taken take food to work one step further and make a big salad with a friend at work everyday!  
Yummy Falafel salad

The wheat and dairy took a bit of getting used to - spelt bread is an acquired taste and its pretty damn expensive...The eating fresh stuff has become a lot easier since we have discovered a farmers market that is on every Saturday thats not too far from our house.
We get eggs, fruit, veg, bread, quiches, cakes (!) and some meat or fish for Sham there every week. The prices are comparable to the supermarket (and things that are in season are sometimes cheaper), but the freshness and quality is unquestionably better!

The rest of our fresh food is delivered on a Tuesday evening by Helen!
We are part of a farmers co op that delivers local food to a home in the area (to the Hubster!) The Hubster then boxes it up according to the order people have placed and then people go  and collect it from the Hubster.

Helen is our local Hubster, so I get a personal delivery each week when she pops over for a cup of tea! This works out good cos it means that we always have plenty of fresh fruit and veg in the house. And because its only things that are in season, we get to save on our weekly food bill as well as supporting local farmers.

Don't worry - as per my usual luck, all this eating well has not resulted in ANY weightloss at all!! Its ok, its enough to know I am saving money, eating well and putting good food in my belly!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Sham Shah - Action man!

As anyone who knows him will tell you, Sham is relatively fit... he maintains this by joining any odd-squad of football players he can find for a kick around, a semi regular round of early morning golf and occasional basketball and running stints. He also has a damaged knee that has been giving him hassles for the best part of 15 years! So it is sods law that he signs up to do the Urbanathlon with our friends Naz and Geraldine and promptly puts his knee out playing football!! Five weeks to go before a 10k run with various obstacles along the way, Sham managed to knock it at football! Here is a map of the course - I think it will mean more to you if you are in Sydney or have been to visit!!
It was a very early start on a cold and foggy morning. (These guys actually look half asleep!)
Luckily Hels and young Fraser came along to join me as spectators! We waited for the runners to set off, had a McDonalds breakfast(!) and then strolled to a few of the points around the course to cheer on the runners. The bad knee meant that there was less training done for this then planned, but on the day, Sham managed a not-too-embarassing time of 1 hour, 25 minutes and 41 seconds (1:25:41). Here are a couple of action shots... I have left out the ones where he was caught walking!!
Bye for now Kunj x

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A birthday treat worth waiting for!

I am not really into celebrating my birthday... it may surprise you to know I don't like being the centre of attention!
But this year, Hels' promised me cake! It took us three months to co ordinate diaries to get it booked in, but MAN did I get cake!!!
Those reading this outside of Australia may not appreciate it as much, but I think you will still be impressed by the idea.

Adriano Zumbo is a bit of a dessert king here. And his newest venture is a "Dessert Train" concept that is to die for!

Take a sushi train, and replace the sushi with the most amazing desserts you can think of! Add in two chocoholics and what you have is heaven for two girls that are lucky to have not gone into a sugar-induced coma after having 3 desserts between them!

My favourite was the V8 Diesel - goodness that is flourless chocolate, chocolate crunch, burnt chocolate brulee, choc macaron, choc jelly, choc creamaux and choc chantilly... all assembled into one rich, delicious cake.

Just incase there is ANY question in your mind about how we felt after sharing three desserts between two of us, let me assure you, we felt SICK!! It was an amazing treat that I could probably only cope once a year with... se better get booked in for next year Hels!!

Bye for now
Kunj x

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

My new favourite sport... my Mummy will be so proud!!

Despite my mum, my aunty, my uncle and my father in law being MASSIVE cricket fans, I have never really given it a chance! Usually I jump on the bandwagon of any sport that has a tournament going - rugby and tennis both being recent examples. Football is my only real sport and cricket REALLY REALLY bored me! Or at least I thought it did!

When Baru and Nitin booked their trip, we realised that they would be here during the Aussie/ India test. I didn't fully appreciate this at the time, but this was kind of a big deal... something about it being the SCGs 100th test and some guy called Sachin-something may be getting a century blah blah blah.... Anyway, we booked some tickets as their xmas present and then forgot about it (well I did!)

Then we got to January and it was time to go to the cricket... by this point, we had spent some time with Baru and Nitin while the Perth test had been going on and realised from their regular checking of the scores that they were going to love the day out we had booked.
The day started ok - we had great seats, the weather was glorious and I had packed us a decent picnic. India batted first and we realised quite quickly that it wasn't going to be pretty! I didn't mind though as I was loving the atmosphere and I had Baru teaching me about the game.

By the end of the day, we had seen 13 wickets! All of India and 3 Aussies... my resident cricket experts assured me that this was highly unusual for a test. India went on to be smaashed by the Aussies in what has turned out to be an embarassing tour, but I had discovered thatI quite liked cricket!

India went on to have an awful run - pretty much not winning a single test for the rest of the tour, but that didn't matter cos I was hooked!
At the beginning of Feb, India was playing India again in Sydney - this time it was an evening 20/20 game. The tickets were cheap, so we got a group of our friends together (a mixture or Australia/India and not-a-clue fans!) and as Chris' parents were here on holiday, even his dad joined us. It was a very wet evening in Sydney, but as I was now an expert, I sat between the other girls in the group "explaining" what was going on.

20/20 games are like a cross between a baseball and an ice hockey game with dancers, fireworks, mexican waves and random crowd pleasing music all making it an entertaining and slightly bemusing night out. Of course India lost! But now I had convinced Hels about how fun cricket was... and we have decided that we are Sydney Sixers. We ake this quite seriously - we picked this team as they are our local team and they also wear pink!! Unfortunately, the season is now over... lets see if we are still this excited when 2012/2013 starts... I think we probably won't be!

Monday, 6 February 2012

2011... (ALL of it!)

Sorry, I seem to have managed to not tell you anything at all about 2011!Last year flew by so I thought I better post something on the blog and then we can start afresh with 2012!! So, month by month, here are some of the years highlights and lowerlights(!) of 2011... Some months feel a bit light on things we did, but I have been relying on our Google Calendar to remind me what we did! Even so, this is a long one, so you might want to grab a cuppa!

We said goodbye to Shakil and the boys :-(
I went on a girls weekend away on the same weekend as my mummy arrived in Sydney! We spent the weekend in a house with a pool and a winery next door - whats not to love?!

A month spent with my mum! She cooked for us and spent a month making more friends in Balmain than we have managed in over two years!We had Julia's "Alternative baby shower". The venue booked for Afternoon Tea cancelled on us an hour and a half before we were due to arrive, so we cobbled together a little get together at Chez Child-Mitford and all was perfect.

Sham started his VMWare course which meant it was a nice quiet month for us socially...

We went on our first "interstate holiday"... a weekend in Melbourne with the highlight being some really really good seats at the Usher concert!

Ajay made his annual trip over to Sydney this year and this time brought Kay and Aaron with him! We had a lovely weekend with the three of them...

For Sham's birthday, I took him to a Michael Jackson tribute show. We had amazing seats and it was so much fun dancing in our seats!

Sham got some qualifications! He completed a recognised VMWare course... I don't really understand it to be honest, but he assures me that it makes him more employable. This turned out to be more important than we ever thought it would be as I was made redundant from my job. I am sponsored by my company so without finding another way, there was a chance that we were heading back to London having lived this dream for two and a half years! More about what happened with this later.

I came back to London for a flying visit so that I could be at the lovely Jo and Pete's beautiful wedding!

It was the very first time I had ever flown anywhere on my own... but I had no one sitting next to me for both legs of the flight there so I managed to rest loads!
I had a great trip that was over too quickly, although I did find myself missing Sham more than I thought I would! It was lovely to meet some of the new babies that have arrived since we have last been back- although I didn't get to meet them all :-(

We celebrated our anniversary and Christmas on the same day! Due to everyones busy diaries, we ended up celebrating Xmas in July, in August! Julia and Grant hosted a spectacular Xmas spread and the only disappointing thing was that the weather was unseasonally warm.

When we realised that there was a chance that we could be going back to London, I thought that it would be a real shame to have lived here for this long and have seen very little of the country. So I busily started booking some short breaks!The first of these weekends away was to Bryon Bay - a hippy town at the very north of NSW.It was an hour or so flight time but it was a world away from Sydney!The highlight of the weekend apart from the gorgeous weather and beaches has got to be the random musical version of a flash mob that just started up outside the market!Here is a picture of Shamir at the Byron Bay light house.

October was a particularly busy month for us. We had found a way to stay in the country - thanks to Sham's AMAZING bosses, we were going to be sponsored for permanent residency. We spent a lot of Oct getting together a lot of documents, filling out forms etc. We celebrated baby Fraser's first birthday. Check out the little man!

We had another short break in Nov! This time to the Gold Coast. It was a nice weekend of eating out and walking on the beach.

I had booked the hotel on a Groupon type deal and was a bit worried it would be rubbish, but it turned out to be a lovely apartment!

This year for my birthday we had a lovely HOT afternoon at lawn bowls... I must apologize again to my team for how bad I was... Let's just say, thank god it was my birthday- so no one could be cross with me!! Here is the winning team.

I am not sure when I got old, but I know that I have because of my excitment over being bought a tree for my birthday! Let me explain:
Some friends recently told us about a "fruit salad tree". Its a tree with several fruits grafted on - so one tree gives you 3-4 different fruits! I wanted one! and for my birthday, the girls got me a lemon/lime/orange tree! It doesn't look like much yet, but I will put some pics up when it does. Thanks ladies for a great present - and thanks Hels for the pot of poo!!

December brought the Christmas silly season with work parties (including one for Sham's work that involved a weekend in Brisbane for us!), team lunches and gang lunches. On the 19th, we lit a candle to remember our Ba. She must have been looking down on us because on the 19th of December, we got the amazing news that we finally had our Australian residency!! everyone's messages of congratulations were overwhelming- thanks guys!
I could now leave my job by negotiating a shorter notice period on my redundancy. I will miss the friends I have made at CMC and I will certainly miss the view from my desk, but it was definitely time to leave!

Christmas day started the same as every year- on the beach! We then spent the evening with some friends as we ate and drank!

Jo's list made me giggle as she had every minute accounted for - it was worth it though... Xmas dinner was FAB!

Thanks again Jo and Paul!!

On the day after boxing day we headed to the Blue Mountains for our final short break of the year! This was a special one as we were joining my aunt and uncle Baru and Nitin! We headed back to Sydney as they carried on their tour. On December 30th they arrived in Sydney.... also that day, our gorgeous niece Aria arrived into the world!We saw in 2012 in one of the most spectacular ways possible- on a cruise-ship on Sydney's harbour watching the fireworks! Thank you Baru and Nitin!

And that, dear friends, was our 2011... I am sure I have missed out some stuff, but I was mostly relying on our Google calendar and our photos as my memory is not what it used to be in my old age! Sorry if I have missed out anything important! Happy new year to you all and Don't be strangers in 2012 guys! By for now
Kunj x

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