Sunday, December 25, 2011

Xmas Day In OZ

It's a lovely Christmas day weather wise, its a warm 27 degrees c,  with a nice sea breeze. (The weather of late has been quite cool and very rainy - so it feels even hotter as it is humid too - it's good the weather has decided to do 'it's thing' in time for Christmas day though) !

We were up at a reasonable hour and had fresh prawns on the deck for breakfast, as you do. 

We opened the dog's presents for them ...doggie chews as usual; they can't wait to get to England and sample Porky Scratchings! We didn't bother with a present for each other, we figured buying a narrowboat will be our belated Christmas present.

We then took the boys for a walk along the prom at Manly and checked out the surfing santas...

Even the lifeguards had Santa hats...
Lots of sunbathers out this morning ...

A young man offered take out pics - thinking we were from 'out of town' - we told him we were also from Manly - just taking pics for the folks back home (we were really trying to just take pics of the surfy santa dudes behind us !!!)

At lunchtime we went around to a friends house for a few drinks...
Our friend presented Elaine with a full set of wet weather gear, its pretty full on gear with a removable liner, all ready for the hours on the tiller in the driving rain!

The dogs had their picture taken with their dog, Jackson - who of course was dressed up as a reindeer!
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Later this afternoon we are off to the full-on Christmas do at a friend's house - these are the poms we first met when we come to Australia in 1980, some I knew from the UK.  Every year we have the pommie orphans Christmas; they all have kids and those kids are in their early 20s and have boyfriends/girlfriends, so there should be about 26 people!

from Paul, Elaine, Bombo, Sam, Geoffrey, William and Jaffa xxxx

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Christmas !

Click on the pic or the link, turn the sound up and have a Chrissy larf !! 

Happy Christmas to our 3 readers !!

Elaine and Paul xxx

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Work Xmas Do, Sunday in Manly and House Update ...

Saturday was the day of the All Marine Spares Christmas party; this year we were going by ferry from Palm Beach across to the  Patonga Pub.  It's half an hour by ferry vs two and half hours by road, plus there would be a fair bit of drinking, so it was a 'no brainer'.  (Plus we get a discount on the ferry as we supply them with spare parts)!

Palm Beach to Patonga Ferry
We had the top deck to ourselves, the bottom deck was taken up by a group of young un's going to the pub to celebrate a 30th birthday.  On the way back the roles were reversed - we had the bottom deck and they   had the top deck.  The ferry left at 11.00 am and picked us up on the last crossing at 4.15pm so we had plenty of time for a long lunch!

On the top deck 
We had a private dining room to ourselves, the service, food and wine was superb.

After we had lunch it was mingle time and the obligatory group photos

All Marine Spares Crew 
Only one staff member didnt make it, she pulled the pin at the last moment with a stomach bug

Crew plus wives, husbands etc
As usual with this sort of event, towards the end the photos or should I say the subjects start to look a bit strange.
Me and Rocky

Elaine and PC (and Leone in between!) 

Me and the Boss!
We got a take away case of beer for the return trip (24 beers) as it was going to be a long journey ... all of 30 mins !!

On the way back to Palm Beach
I had to go upstairs and perv   mingle with the young un's  After we got back to Palm Beach we went to the local Palm Beach RSL for a few more drinks before we got a cab home about 7.30pm.  All in all a great Christmas party.

Young un's on the top deck
We got up a at reasonable time on Sunday morning so we took a walk down to Manly for breakfast and after breakfast went for a walk around the headland to Shelly Beach.  It was the first decent day for a while so there was a fair few tourists about.
Manly Beach
It was still pretty hot for the dogs so we had to keep stopping to let them cool off ...

Rest time
Rock Pool on the Shelly Beach walkway
Shelly Beach is a lovely sheltered ocean beach at the southern end of Manly, there is a very popular walk and cycleway to it ...

Shelly Beach

There is a very nice restaurant (Le Kiosk) on Shelly Beach its a bit expensive so we have only been there on special occasions; there is a take away and coffee shop next door so there is an alternative.

Le Kiosk
We walked back around to Manly with yet another rest for the mutts, they really cannot handle the hot weather and today wasnt even that hot!

Yet another rest stop

 By the time we got back to Manly the storm clouds were rolling in from the west ...

Storm clouds
Still sunny looking east though ...

Lifeguard on duty
After the walk we did a bit of essential shopping and made it home as the thunder lightning and rain hit

Update to house situation ...

Tomorrow the Real Estate chappie will bring 3 groups through .. one lady (from Hong Kong) at 10.30 am and two others at 6.30 pm ... a-cleaning we shall go !!  Fingers crossed for a lovely Xmas pressie !

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At Last an Offer !

Don't get excited though as the offer is about the price of nice narrowboat below our absolute bottom line  :-(

I rejected their offer so Mr Real estate should come back today with what we hope will be a decent offer.
We think they are probably just trying it on  - can't really blame them, it is definitely a buyers market.  Still pretty annoying though.

Personally, I'm pretty crap at making people ridiculous offers for anything; we brought a second hand car a few years ago and because we were cashed up and the young girl was a bit desperate I made and she accepted an offer for far below what is was worth.  However, when we picked it up we gave her more money because we just couldn't do it!  Hopefully Karma will pay off!

Update:  They offered $10,000 more - still nowhere near!  Mr Real Estate suggested leaving them for a few days!  Ah well - onwards and upwards!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amsterdam, England and the Bloody House

OK - so I have been back for over a week and today is the first chance I have had to do a bit of blogging - the main reason is the poxy jet lag !  (Even though I got an upgrade to Business Class and slept for 16 hours on a 24 hour flight it still makes you feel like crap for about 5 days!).   Another reason for being slack is that work has been hectic - November was our biggest month since the company started 20 years or so ago, in turnover, sales and profit. We have been just so busy and if it carries on we will need more staff; we already have 5 on the phones selling marine parts all over Australia and are averaging 100 invoices a day, plus quotes and general enquires and its pretty full on.  A few reasons why we are so busy is (1) Christmas and everyone want their boats ready for the hols  (2) New boat sales are buggered so they are spending keeping the old ones in good order  (3) Our major competitor has just about fallen over so we have picked up a lot, if not all, of his customer base.
So that's the excuses out of the way, so with beer in hand off we go....
Once upon a time........

Because of Elaine's appendicitis operation I didn't leave Oz till Saturday afternoon and arrived at mum's in Milton Keynes Sunday lunchtime.  I went out with a few family members on Sunday night and on Monday morning I was off to Amsterdam via Luton Airport and Easy Jet.  (My boss had gone direct to Amsterdam; he left Oz on Sunday night and he arrived at the hotel about 10 minutes before me!).  We went out straight away and had a walk around the local Leidersplain area and had a few beers before we had a pretty early night and a bloody good sleep!
My Artistic Shot
I just love Amsterdam, such a great city with so many different bars and restaurants, some pretty good museums but we just don't have enough time to have a look around them - it is a business trip after all!
Nice bar where we had a drink or two
We stay at the Amsterdam Americain (Hotel) and a lot of the waiters and bar staff are the same as they were on my first trip twelve years ago.
Our Hotel
It's a great show for us as we meet all our suppliers from all corners of the globe in one spot and we are always on the lookout for new products. We had a look at a new motor we will be selling in the new year; its a Craftsman 85hp diesel, Dutch company, Hyundai power plant and marinised in India!

Craftsman 85hp
After the show finished we flew to Southampton, picked up the hire car and drove to Poole.  The good thing about going with the boss is you get a better hire car and we had a very nice little Mercedes something! 

At Poole we stayed at the RNLI training college which also doubles as a hotel open to the general public.
It really is such great institution and the facilities down there blew me away.  They have a huge pool where they practice rescues and righting lifeboats, class rooms, slipways and repair yards for the lifeboats plus administration buildings; well worth a visit if you are down that way.
Our rental car
View from my window
RNLI Hotel 
Interesting sculpture outside of RNLI centre
After a night in Poole we drove up to Norfolk to meet a supplier in King Lynn.  After a quick lunch with him we went to my my boss's brother- in-law's place, who lives in a lovely little village called Thornham. It reminded me of that programme 'A Place in the Country' - lovely house with gardens and a view to die for!   We went down the local for drinks and dinner to a fantastic pub called the Lifeboat.  'Spider' (the brother- in-law) is known by all and sundry as he is the local builder who has virtually rebuilt the village, using traditional building methods. Oh and the pub allowed dogs!!!!
Spiders House and Garage!
The Garden and View
After Thornham we drove south to London, where we had a hotel booked for 2 nights right next to Tower Bridge!
Lovely Norfolk Windmill
We used the Thames Clippers on the river to get about, we only had to see one supplier so we actually had one day off to go sightseeing.
Spot the Bus
I love the Battle of Britain sculpture, it is so different from the norm.  My boss's dad, who is still alive, flew Spitfires in the war but missed the Battle of Britain.  I have read all his diaries - basically he enjoyed his time over there and, as he says, he enjoyed his war even though of the group he left Australia with only 2 returned.

We also visited the Churchill war rooms, which have been left just as they were or reconstructed to as they were in wartime. Once again if you are in London a must see.
Churchills seat was the one at the far end middle
Chief of Staff's Room
Churchill's Bedroom
Whilst we were walking down Whitehall we heard an almighty bang ... a van went through the security and had activated the anti-terrorism  posts. The van shot about 4 foot in the air and was thrown against the wall; when they released the posts it had smashed the sump and rear axle plus body damage, when they pushed it forward it crabbed along at 45 degrees! Oops !
Unlucky Van
We caught the clipper down to Limehouse and we had a beer at the pub by the entrance. Can't wait to do that trip down the Thames in the sardine can!
After London I dropped the boss at Heathrow and spent 2 nights at Mum's and caught up with the rest of the family ...
Mum feeding my Niece's Horse. Plus My Brother Russell 
All in all a really enjoyable but hectic trip.

Now the Bloody House.........Saturday was the last official open house of the year - 4 groups went through and, according to Mr Real Estate, two of those are very interested (again !).  So far, we have had lots of 'very interested' but not one has made a half decent offer.  We are absolutely 100% we are priced right but we don't have the flat garden that 99% of the population with their 2.5 children and Ford Cortina want.  So unless we get an offer in the next few weeks that's it folks. :(

Nothing happens in the real estate market now till after Australia Day, which is January 26th, 2012.  We will then see how the market is and make a decision to re list with current agents or try someone new.  It's been a very interesting (challenging) 3 months we have had approx 20 open houses and 100 groups through!  Poor Elaine is well and truly over it, especially when Mr Real Estate has a 'red hot prospect' who can't come on the Saturday scheduled open day and comes mid week.  Elaine spends 2.5hours getting the house shipshape and then takes the dogs down the road and watches Mr Real Estate turn up with a woman, her  baby and a toddler.  In  Elaine's words  'F#$%^K !!'  -  you know they will never buy it in a million years!  Since we put the house on the market 3 months ago every other house (approx 12) in the same area and price range have sold, except ours and 2 others.  One is an overpriced dump and the other is a fantastic house a bit like ours but isn't kid friendy.  Isn't there any one out there who doesnt like kids!  Its a joke OK....well bit of a joke, we just prefer animals.  On the last few open houses we even resorted to putting pictures up of our friends children to make the house appear child friendly. (Desparate or wot ?!!)

 After the last open day Saturday we did the proper thing and went down to Manly at 3.00pm went on a pub crawl and got pissed....It was great! 

Although we are frustrated with the delay we are both healthy and happy, all the animals are healthy and I think they are happy and we live in one of the most desirable parts of  the world.  But we will make it to the England of our dreams living on our narrowboat cruising the  lovely canals and rivers, exploring gorgeous villages and going to DOG FRIENDLY pubs - one of these days !

PS:  It is supposed to be summer now and is FREEZING !!!
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