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Trip Start Sep 28, 2003
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Trip End Sep 29, 2004


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Saturday, February 21, 2004

Well I have finally caught up and this entry was written now rather than later, if that makes any sense at all!

The main change since my last entry is that we have moved into the house we have got a 6 month lease on. The house is in a suburb to the West of Sydney, called Drummoyne. It is about a 15-20 minute bus ride into the centre of Sydney and we are only a 3 minute walk from our nearest bus stop. Drummoyne is a nice residential area, and we are a 10 minute walk from the shops / main high street in Drummoyne - which is nothing special, but it has all of the essentials... Post Office, Newsagent, Hairdressers, DVD Rental store... Just around the corner from our house near the bus stop we have a Fish and Chip shop which proclaims its fish and chips as "The best in the Universe", we do not quite concurr, but the fish is pretty good. (Unfortunately all of the chips in this country are more like French Fries and nothing like the good old British Chip). However despite this, we have forced ourselves (MMmmmm) to use this place a few times now.

A bit further away, there is an outlet centre, that has some interesting factory shops selling end of line stock. This includes shops for French Connection, Clarks Shoes, David Jones (large department store company - similar to John Lewis) a music shop, book shops and shops specialising in camping/backpacker equipment.

The house is situated on a corner a couple of roads back from a main road. Unfortunately there seem to be an awful lot of people who use the roads down the side and front of our house as a shortcut. The house also seems to be under the approach path for Sydney Airport for the majority of the time. This seems quite similar home in Luton.

One thing about the area that is different however, is the fact that it is normal to leave the front door open all day, we just have the screen door shut, to try and cut down on the number of insects passing through the house. In fact we also have the backdoor open most of the time as it is so warm at the moment! In fact I am sure there are other good reasons why we don't leave the front door open in Luton, no matter what the weather is like!

We are saving a large amount of money compared to staying in hostels. We each pay $100 rent a week here. You can currently get about $2.4 to the British pound, if you are lucky. Our first few days in the house we spent gathering bits and pieces of furniture (we rented the house unfurnished). We managed to get some real bargains, including two sofas (one for $20 and the other $30), also a table and 6 chairs for $100. In fact, due to my current unemployed status, I am starting to have the kind of relationship with one of the sofas, that Homer Simpson, has with his.

We rented a TV, Fridge and Washing Machine in the end as it was going to work out a lot easier than buying old equipment that may not be reliable. These items are only costing us about $80 a month between us all.

As the local calls are a one off cost here - no matter how long you are connected for - using the Internet is fairly cheap. As I now have my laptop out here, at least I am well setup for looking for jobs - especially as I am spending plenty of time doing this at the moment!

Television here is errmmmm mainly British and American, with more ad-breaks than you can shake a stick at. I happened to be watching ER the other day and after its introductory sequence and playing the titles, it went straight to an ad break. It also seems that a lot of the adverts here are not quite up to the quality (cannot believe what I am saying) of those at home.

Unfortunately the work situation is not terribly good at the moment, I would not say that there is a real lack of jobs, more likely that there are many people going for each job that does come up. In fact, I was pleased to be called by an agent the other day and be offered some work. I turned up for work at 8.30 the next day and discovered that the job was a sales job and not the technical support role that we had been told about. I was expecting only to be paid: $16.50, but I really did not want a sales role, especially one I was going to have to get up at 5AM every day to be there to start at 7AM. So my only job so far, I started and left on the same day! One of the limitations to getting work out here, is the fact that I can only work for each company for a maximum of three months. This is a restriction of the working holiday visa.

On Australia Day (26th Jan) I went on a walk between Manly and the Spit Bridge, with Ruth who I met on my flight from Kuala Lumpar and had bumped into, in Manly. This was a really nice afternoon. Especially as so many boats were in the harbour due to it being Australia Day. Later on in the evening I went to a Fireworks display in Cockle Wharf (part of Darling Harbour). with James, Neil and Kelly. This was absolutely amazing. Probably the best fireworks I have ever seen. Although the NYE fireworks were possibly the biggest!

The weekend after we arrived at the house, we had a housewarming that some of the people we had met on our travels came to. Following Aussie tradition we had a barbecue of course, after finally managing to find a charcoal barbecue to buy. It seems that the majority of barbecues here are now run on gas. So we enjoyed relaxing in the garden with a beer (or two) and food constantly coming off the barbecue. The next weekend myself and Neil went to the Bucks do (like a Stag Party) for his Australian friend Lucas. It later turns out that Lucas stayed in Leagrave in Luton for a couple of months when he came to the UK. It is amazing who you meet on the other side of the world. Anyway the first part of the Bucks do was an alcohol fueled game of lawns bowls. I had never previously played lawn bowls despite there being several clubs in Luton! Interesting choice of activity, but we all had a good time, with myself and Neil losing to two Australians by a very small margin. OK maybe it was not actually that small. James then joined us when we went out to Balmain later that night for a few more drinks.

As Australia is a sporting nation, it seemed right that we should at least sample some of it. So when Neil and Kelly decided to go to a football match being played by a local team, I went along to have a look. The team we went to see was Parramatta Power, they are actually second in the national soccer league. (Rugby is often called football here, which can be confusing).

It was interesting to go and see the game, especially as the stadium would hold around 30,000 thousand people and there were only around 3-4000 there!

I decided to have a tourist day last week and went to the harbour bridge and went to the top of one of the pylons(towers). This is not the same as doing the "Bridgeclimb", it costs about a 20th of the price. ($8.50) However it was very much worth it as the views were superb. It meant that I took yet more photo's of the Opera House (from a different angle) so you them to look forward to in the gallery. I also took the opportunity to walk over the bridge normally, and saw a huge car transporter passing under the bridge.

Last weekend, I went with Neil and another friend of his called James back to Manly to spend a day at the beach. Neil met this James in South Africa, before coming to Australia. James, who had surfed before, hired a surfboard, while Neil and myself, hired boogie boards and we had a fun hour or so trying to catch some waves and trying to keep out of the way of all the surfers! We also had a tough time trying to keep clear of the bluebottles. These are not the kind of Bluebottles you find in the UK, these are a kind of Jellyfish that float on the surface with their tentacles hanging down into the water. They look just like a bubble on the surface, but you soon get used to picking them out. Unfortunately we all got stung at least once, but it wasnot much worse than getting stung by stinging nettles. It was amusing to hear the dry lifeguard who always seems to be in charge of announcements on Manly beach. Informing... "...anyone with a low pain threshold to leave the water immediately..!".

Afterwards we headed back to Drummoyne, to have a game of Frisbee on the park. However at the Drummoyne Cricket Oval, New South Wales were playing South Australia, is what was quite a big game. There were a few well known players on the team for NSW including that Waugh brothers. Not sure if I will make watching cricket a regular thing, but it was a great atmosphere and it is brilliant to have the option to see a game so close to the house if we wish.

Well that is all for now. Please feel free to have a look at the photo's of the house and our housewarming in addition to some more I will put in the gallery. I think this will be the biggest gallery yet...

Bye for now
Tim
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