Apologies for not posting for some time but life gets in the way. 2016 was a bad year in one way and a good one in others. We bought the family home in March. Then my hubby had a health scare which entailed numerous trips to hospital and tests but thankfully it was a misdiagnosis – still have fingers crossed on that though. Sister in law who had been given all clear from cancer was told two weeks later that it had spread to bones and brain and is now in a hospice.
The positive side is that our granddaughter was born at the end of August and we went over to Australia in November to see her. She is just gorgeous. People had always said that grandchildren were special and I hadn’t got it. One day you will understand – grandchildren are the best thing ever and it was heartbreaking to have to leave her and come back to Ireland. It makes me even more determined to try to move there but it is really hard to get into Australia – I’m nearly an expert on the different visas at this stage.
Even though I do plan to move to Australia I still couldn’t resist getting a dog from a rescue centre called Molly Moos in Limerick. It is run by a nurse and she has seven dogs of her own mainly Westies. I really don’t know how she does it but she is wonderful. My dog is a shit zu called Gismo and is an absolute doll. She just wants to follow me around and be petted. Even though she wasn’t house-trained she has only had one slip so all is good. Walking her is also helping me exercise so win win.
I joined Slimming World when I came back from Australia in Aug 2015 and at one stage I had lost over a stone and a half. I did put a few pounds back on but 2017 sees me determined to get back to it fully.
I intend to try to post regularly about different topics over the next while.
Sorry for not posting for so long. Life often gets in the way. Well insecurities is anyone reading this, will anyone be interested? We are now back in Australia visiting our son, partner and new born granddaughter. Yes our beautiful Cora born 29th August. All I can say is it’s magical. I definitely have to move here if ever I had any doubts they are now gone. I will post soon about this.
So it was off to Auckland for a week flying with China Airlines. Hmmh should I be worried? No they were fine. It was only a three and a half hour flight. The one thing about Australia and New Zealand that strikes me is the immigration – you have to fill a card to land and one when you are departing. Of course we are used to the free movement of Europe so it is a bit of a nuisance. They are also trying to make sure nothing gets in so they make these bio security announcements telling you that if you have been anywhere outdoors you should bin your shoes! Well that’s the way it sounds – not what they mean of course.
We stayed for a couple of nights in Auckland which is in the North Island. We had booked into Sky City hotel which was right in the centre of things, had it’s own casino and loads of bars and restaurants etc. Had a cocktail in one of the bars but didn’t attempt to gamble! Once started I might not have stopped. Discovered a great Irish bar called The Fiddler just across the road which always helps. Pricewise they are similar to Australia and the measures are as bad as well. Everyone had told me New Zealand would be cold but we got temps of about 16 and blue skies and sunshine every day. Wore a fleece but no coat.
Auckland is called the City of Sails and I was told they have 85,000 sailing boats there – wow! It is a small city, we went on a ferry to a suburb called Davenport which is one of the oldest and there were some cool views of the bay if you went to the top of the mount – hubby did. I was a bit tired of sightseeing around cities at this stage so I did a few shops and let himself roam.
Then it was time to go explore in our automatic rental car. Both of us were nervous of it as we drive manuals but it was okay once you get the hang of it. Petrol was about two dollars ten cent but diesel was only one dollar thirty – go figure! But of course all the hire cars are petrol. So we made our way out of the city and over to the Coromandel peninsula and stopped at a town called Thames. Then it was through the mountains and over to Whangamata which is pronounced Fangamataaa. It was beside the sea and really pretty. Met up with a couple of Americans who were Mormon missionaries who were really nice. They were over there for two years.
I have to say everywhere you go in New Zealand is a picture postcard. We drove on to Matamata – which is where the Hobbiton movie set is and it was a pleasure driving through such scenery. You think Ireland is green well NZ is more so because of the ongoing forests and mountains.
So our time in Australia has come to an end and tonight is our last night. I wish I could stay and feeling teary at leaving the son. He is hoping to stay over here so we will be back if so! I could live here quite easily providing I could work or had enough money.
The last week has been very much chilling out – it has got colder here though the sun still shines and there are blue skies. Sometimes there is a chill in the wind. Still it is not like a winters day in Ireland that’s for sure and we have had no rain. However part of Queensland has had record snow so the weather is skewed all over. We went up to the West End last night and strolled through the markets – it is a lively place and definitely the place to go.
So reflecting on our time in Australia what have been the highlights? Well for me (apart from being with the son again) it was seeing the beach and Surf Club in Palm Beach/Summer Bay, seeing the monument to the Irish in Waverley Cemetery (shame on the Irish government for not having more). Then the Lone Pine Sanctuary and feeding the Kangaroos and holding a koala, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, the views from Mount Coot Tha and of course my favourite area in Brisbane the Streets Beach and South Bank Parklands.
Heading off to New Zealand tomorrow so the adventure continues for another week. I will update again when I get home with photos. Looking forward to doing the Hobbiton Tour (Lord of the Rings). Not looking forward to the cold. We are going to stay at the foot of Mount Ruapehu which is beside a ski resort so it will be cold! Maybe we might do some skiing.
They call it winter here but it is 19/20 every day and most days are sunny. A bit of rain overnight one of the nights and that is all. In the shops the other day and the shop assistants are talking about it being cold. Go figure! They don’t have a clue what cold is. Give me this winter any day.
Anyway my hubby’s nephew came up for the weekend from Darwin to surprise us and yes he found it cold cos he is living in 30 degree heat all year round so he was wearing a hoodie.
On the Firday night we went to an Irish bar in Brisbane called O’Malleys (there seems to be a load of them over here, must be a franchise). Anyway the music started at 7 and ended at 12. The Queensland Pipe band did a stint and they were really good and then Gary Óg (an Irish ballad singer) and Ryan Sheridan were on. Good time was had by all!
We went up the Sunshine Coast to a place called Mooloolaba – don’t you just love their names. The apartment was lovely – very spacious, 2 bedrooms, TV, washing machine, dryer etc. In fact we should have brought our washing with us! It was in a quiet setting beside a lake and the weather was gorgeous. We went into the town that night and ended up going to an Irish pub called O’Malleys – not to be confused with the one in Brisbane because would not recommend it. They charged ten dollars in and wanted photo ID. I mean really – it’s a long time since I was asked for id. Needless to say I didn’t have it – in the end they let us in but we should have just turned and walked away as it was tatty, dirty and not nice.
On the Sunday we made our way up to Nutworks and Chocolate Factory, and the Ginger Factory. The nut and chocolate place was based around macadamia nuts which are the big Australian nuts and chocolate but it was a small place and not much to see. I was expecting something out of Willie Wonka! Still tasted some nuts and chocolate and bought some.
The Ginger Factory is a huge tourist attraction with a train ride and other activities, shops, restaurant, rainforest and garden works as well as the factory. We walked through the gardens and looked at the shops but didn’t do the tour because of the time. I saw a limited edition Steiffe bear for sale which I really wanted but talked myself out of buying as I know I can get it online. A really good place to spend a day.
Footnote – possums – being woken in the middle of the night by them thumping across the roof and screeching is something I won’t get used to. Imagine if a herd of elephants were walking across a wooden floor upstairs to you and that wouldn’t even cover it!