Friday, April 29, 2011

Jethro Tull

Went to see Jethro Tull play at the majestic State Theatre in Sydney on Wednesday night.

It was a great show, he still stands on one leg whilst playing the flute!   Not bad for  a 63 year old.

The audience was an OAP convention, but a few of them were bopping away.

The State Theatre is a lovely old theatre and a magic place to watch a band in a more intimate mode.

It was such a brilliant night - so great to see an old band who are still, truly GREAT !

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why we want to leave OZ and live on a narrow boat

About 5 years ago we started to think about retirement and what we would like to do when we reached retirement age. The first thing we decided was that we actually wanted to stop working full time well before I reached 65, so we decided 60 would be a good age and then quickly brought that down to 58!

We both knew that we would have to find something to do rather than walking along the beach and hanging around in cafes and bars etc; we needed to keep active and do something different.

We considered the 'Grey Nomad' lifestyle cruising around Australia - the only problem being it is a bloody huge country and there is an awful lot of nothing in between something!   Don't get me wrong, Australia is an incredible country with a very beautiful, but harsh, landscape but when you go seriously outback it's all a bit too well....boring. We have both travelled to all parts of Australia so I think we can comment.  So - that was the 'Grey Nomad' angle ruled out!
We are very grateful to have lived her for the past 31 years, for me, and 17 years for Elaine.
We have made a good living in Sydney and, in my humble opinion, it really is the finest city in the world!

Next we considered living and travelling around on a yacht, but that was quickly ruled out as it is very difficult to live on a day by day basis, could easily turn to disaster with cyclones / bad weather and a we would have a reasonable chance of being killed, also we just aren't that adventurous!  So - that was 'Grotty Yachties' ruled out!

Getting married in Vegas
In  May 2007 we ran away to Vegas and got married, we then went to New York  and then Mousehole  in Cornwall, which was just magic. Next stop was an Alvechurch  hire boat  and this was that was the Eureka moment!

Behind Mousehole village

Our Honeymoon boat

So what did we like about the narrow boat holiday  that made us realise that we could do this in our retirement?

1. Stress free living at 3mph and never far from a village, town, railway station, pub etc.
2. Being close to family: Elaine has 2 brothers and 1 sister and I have 5 siblings - plus millions of nieces and nephews, all living in various parts of the UK!   Also, Elaine's step Dad lives in Cheshire and my Mum lives in Milton Keynes.
3. Constantly changing scenery and never knowing what is around the next bend.
4. Keeping active by walking and operating locks, plus keeping the boat shipshape.
5.  Living a simple, lifestyle - cooking from scratch and chopping firewood etc.
6.  Living on a 200 year old system - which we think is like a 'parallel universe' ! (When we did our holiday in 2007, Elaine felt that we were like Hobbits - occasionally venturing out to civilisation and then quickly scurrying back to our 'boat-haven' !

I am sure there are a lot more reasons but that is enough for now.

PS  The retirement age has now come down to 55!  and Elaine is a fair bit under that!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac Day Lest we Forget

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Plane Spotting

We went for a drive today and ended up at the back of Sydney Airport under the East-West runway. When the planes use it you can get some pretty good pics from all angles

Air New Zealand


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Bonnie Going

My beloved Triumph Bonneville is off to a new home, she has been sold (deposit taken) to a Lady that hasn't got a bike license yet!   Her boyfriend   has, and I think the bike is more for him than her!  He collects classic minis, so it is going to a good home and I think  they will look after it as much as I did.  Sad day but another step closer to our ultimate goal....The Canals of England and Wales.

Elaine's pushbike  has also been sold on EBay, all in all a pretty good weekend as in a Caravan, motorbike and pushbike all sold

Friday, April 22, 2011

Caravan Sold

We sold the caravan this morning at 6.00am ! We were up at 5.30am!  He wanted to come last night but I said it really isn't good practice to buy something like a caravan in the pitch black. So he came at sparrows this morning, he had to drive 2.00 hours to get here.  One hour later he was off up the coast to catch up with his mates for the Easter and Anzac extra long weekend.

Next to go is the motorbike..nnnnooooooooooooooooooooo!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bugger !!

As we thought would happen has happened, our perfect buyers for the house have dropped out, the main reason being the delayed settlement till November (as Jaffa the cat failed his rabies vaccination)!  Even if he hadn't  failed the date was still late September early October.

So after a couple of bottles of Australia's finest red we have decided to put it on the market in the new year 2012.  I think if we had put it on the market again later this year we would be arriving in the UK right at the start of winter and probably would not be the best start to life afloat.  Now we will aim to be there by the start of spring which is a much nicer prospect.

Paul's Triumph Bonneville (I think there may be tears when this one goes ... Elaine !)
So in the meantime we will carry on disposing of various pieces of crap that one builds up over the years. Plus we have to get rid of some good stuff as in my motorbike and our caravan which will both be advertised this weekend ...

Tata Caravan .. we've had fun in you !
It's been great to have the caravan but  we have only used it 3 times since we got it last June - it gets harder and harder to find places we can take the dogs, so we are giving up !

Looking forward to this Easter weekend as we also have a day off on Tuesday as it is ANZAC day. 5 days off in a row, feels like retirement!

Happy Easter Everybody  !  Paul and Elaine :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Summer Holidays

I am going back to the UK in July to celebrate my mothers 80th Birthday (she doesn't know yet).

Whilst there my brother has booked a narrow boat for a week valley.htm
so that should be fun.

Elaine will be staying in OZ to look after the menagerie.

Whilst there I will also check out some narrow boats for sale and depending on how  the house sale goes could even buy one!

We should have a update on the house sale shortly, and I would have to say we are not too confident, the long settlement period is putting off too many buyers.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Limbo Land

Well we haven't heard a dicky  bird from our buyers, we think the extra month settlement might have done them in.

So, its rethink time....we were going to put the house on the market proper in September with a settlement date of early November, but we are re thinking that date as well. Reason being is that we would arrive right at the start of winter and just before Xmas which could be a bit of a pain, so now we are thinking of putting the house on the market in January and arriving in March ready for spring and the one week of the English summer!  Also be able to save up a bit more cash etc!!

The original plan was always Feb 2014 when I would be 58! ... so we are still way ahead of schedule!
I am going to the UK in July and again in November, at least I will get a canal fix.

If we had no animals, it would all be very easy but there you go can't do without them, they are family!
So in the meantime as it is a very crappy day here I spent a few hours cleaning up the other love of my life, and no its not Elaine looking a bit grubby!! - it's my Triumph Bonneville motorbike which hasn't had a good clean and polish since we got back from Byron Bay in mid March.

I will have to sell it before we go, I bought it new for Xmas 2002 and she still looks and runs like new.

Cheers Paul  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hmmmmm - House Sale Hiccup ...

Update on the Jaffa situation .. it will cost us $3000 to send Jaffa to UK separately and $4500 to send all 5 of them together (or $4200 to send 4).  Jaffa can't travel 'til end of October (all going well with him making sufficient Rabies antibodies this time !. The other 4 would be clear to travel end of September / beginning of October ...

With all this animal stuff going on it has sent us into a bit of a spin, as you can imagine. We thought we would be all clear to go at end of September ! Also, if we leave our journey 'til beginning of November it is starting to get pretty cool in UK - we could potentially arrive, get a boat and be frozen in ! (if we even manage to get a boat in that time - otherwise, my Dad will be stuck with us for a while !).

Anyway, we had a meeting scheduled last night with the people interested in the house as they wanted to meet us and ask a few questions. They came in and greeted us with a bottle of wine and a smile - turns out they are also poms (who met here !) - who are renting but want to get into the property market.

They had come along with the assumption that all was going along tickety boo ... but THAT THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO MOVE IN HERE AT THE BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER ---- Nooooooooooooo ! Not only were they a 'month out' in the calcuations but we greeted them with with the prospect of the fact that we would potentially now need to be here 'til first week of November ! Poor lady - I really felt for her  - it really freaked her out .. her hubbie was pretty cruisey with it all though!  (Also felt guilty about accepting the bottle of wine !!). Obviously there had been some communication issues between us, the Real Estate guy and them - we had originally said end of September as the earliest and the Real Estate chap must have heard beginning of September !

So - we sat and had a couple of drinks with them and the Real Estate chap last night trying to nut it all out - it was all beginning to sound incredibly complicated and convoluted ! They are not sure they can bear to wait 'til beginning of November (when Jaffa will be cleared for travel) - so we suggested that we just pay for him to go separately later on but that we still couldn't leave until first week of October (after we had gotten all the other pet passports in order).  They obviously are in a spin also ... they certainly havn't signed on the dotted line yet, but they absolutely love the house so fingers crossed.

So - that is where we are at this morning - dazed and confused ! We have all gone away to think about things - so we are really just waiting to see if they want to go ahead or not (mind you, she did take a few measurements last night while she was here - so just maybe ... !)  We hope this sale works out because we have got a good buyer and good price without any sign boards or newspaper ads!  If they pull out we will wait till Jaffa is sorted and will do the full marketing campaign probably in August/September.

Noooo ... please don't leave with out me ... look I'm packed , ready to go !!!!

Stay tuned !!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jaffa fails rabies jab

One of the cats (Jaffa) blood test for rabies has come back as unsatisfactory.
This means that he is about a month behind the others. If all goes well with the house sale we will travel to the UK and Jaffa will have to go into a cattery in Sydney until his 6 month quarantine is finished - although this is looking like a costly option. Elaine is really upset about it - stay tuned for Plan B!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Ego Mind

Well - Elaine here! This morning I went out to Long Reef Headland (I will put some pics in the Oz pages blog later) - to take the dogs for a walk - it was nice to get out and be with nature and be alone with my thoughts for a while.

Since we have had an offer on the house and it is potentially 'happening' - I have been feeling as flat as a pancake and struggling with that in itself because I felt that I should be overjoyed! So ... after a fair bit of self analysis this morning, I came to the conclusion that it is just my 'ego mind' that is making me feel unsettled .. that little voice in your head that says things like ...

"but you are giving up this lovely house - you will never get another one"
"you will be homeless - you've got to have bricks and mortar - it's no good just having a boat"
"you've done so much work on the house - what a shame to give up on it now - what a waste"
"you will never be able to get back to Sydney / you will be out of the housing market"
"you won't have enough money to live on - you will have to go back to work 40+ hours a week - but then you are too old to get a job like that anyway"

etc etc ...

The ego mind (or the lower self) is the 'devil on your shoulder' as my mum used to call it! It is the part of your mind that wants to keep you stuck - not to move on or progress in anyway. It is part of the self that detests you following your heart and achieving ultimate happiness and contentment. I found a quote somewhere that said "without guidance from the heart, we’re merely playing notes on a piano, not composing a melody". Oh so true ...

Anyway .. so there I was this morning - wandering around Long Reef with the dogs waiting for my friend to arrive and I rang Paul at work. At that moment I remembered why this plan is so valid. If we don't follow it, we will carry on doing as we are doing for a long time - Paul will be busily working away - barely seeing the light of day - and I will be doing my work all hours of the day (but which I do love!) - but the thought of Paul, myself and the animals all being able to spend so much time together - in nature (literally immersed in it!) - a without rushing around and being exhausted at the end of the day is such a precious opportunity - and I realised that we must fight our 'ego minds' and keep our focus on our heart's desires.

It is my true belief that the ego mind keeps us in fear and if we can rise above it or at least recognise it - and trust in the Universe / God - then he / it will provide. We already have so much more than so many people - we really are truly blessed with this magnificent opportunity that is presented to us here and we must truly keep that top of mind at all times - with an 'attitude of gratitude' !

When I got home I decided to put all these thoughts onto the Blog and found that Paul had gotten there before me !!! Paul is more 'black and white' than myself but I think we are in the same place ! Any comments would be appreciated ! Better get to work now ! Elaine xx

The Long Reef dog walk ...

Here are a few pics from the Long Reef headland walk which is just about 10 mins drive away from our place.  The walk goes around the outside of a Golf Course - it is quite spectacular all the way around.  Lots of dogs and their owners abound - all 'on leash' though (the dogs, that is!)
... otherwise you incur a $220 fine per dog ! 

We used to do this walk a lot but just lately we have been a bit slack !
Note to selves .. get up early in the morning and DO IT !!!

When it is whale watching time, (April to December) we often see them out off the headland - as often as you see them, you always feel honoured to be their audience !  This pic isn't from Long Reef but it was taken when we went out in our friend's boat - we just followed the Whale Watching boats - and there they all were!  Magnificent !

We are blessed to have had the opportunity to live in this stunning part of the world.  Paul has lived here for over 30 years now and I (Elaine) have lived here for about 17 years ...where that time has gone I don't know !

Anticipation and Trepidation

So things are moving along rather well at the moment. We have had this plan to live on a narrowboat for about 6 years.
So why now that we could possibly be in the UK by this September are be both feeling very nervous and worried about the future?
We are leaving behind a very nice house, good job and money (albeit we are both over working and the general rat race), nice place to live with good friends.
We are going to UK to be closer to family and friends, living a much simpler and slower lifestyle and to explore the England that we left so long ago.
Did anyone or does any one feel the same way when they make the move?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

House Sale Update

Had a good offer on the house today, which we have accepted.
So subject to building and pest inspections, it could be all go!
One really good thing is that the couple who made the offer will rent the house back to us till we are ready to go.
Everything is crossed!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yay ! We can walk our dogs on the grass again !

Last Sunday we went to a protest meeting regarding one of our regular dog walking routes.  The Council had decided (without consultation with anyone) to ban dogs from walking on the grass along side the path (they are already banned from going on beaches!) - this meant that we could only allow our pooches to walk - and poo and wee - on the footpath - and not step foot onto the grass !  Yes - beaureacracy at its best !

The reason for the ban was that some little penguins had been killed a while ago ... supposedly by a dog (that no-one saw and there was no evidence of it being a dog!) - amongst the dog walkers, we feel it was more likely to have been a fox - but the anti-dog squad would never entertain that possibility !  (PS:  The penguins referred to used to be called 'Fairy Penguins', but now due to political correctness, the are termed 'Little Penguins' !)

Anyway ... I digress ... after much ado and complaints at the council meeting on Monday night the ridiculous ban got rescinded !  Yay - common sense prevails!  Following is the article from the paper yesterday.

We are so limited in our dog walking activities around here already ... this was like the final straw !  Soooo glad they have seen sense !

A year or so ago the Council came up with another beauty - they said dogs weren't allowed within a 10 m radius of any area where food was served - this basically meant that we weren't allowed to walk down the footpath with the dogs - ie, past the cafes with the outdoor chairs !  That one lasted for a little while before it got booted out for its absurdity !

Here are two happy puppies ...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Interest in the house ...

Well, today our Real Estate guy rang to say that he had a very interested party in the house.  However ... they weren't that keen on our 6 month settlement. We um'd and ah'd about the possibilities of renting ourselves (in order to bring the settlement date earlier) but the chances of renting with 5 animals is nigh on impossible - so we will just have to wait and see if they are willing to wait !

To be continued !

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Open House

Yesterday we had another Open House in the afternoon.   We had nine groups go through the place with two interested and one very interested !  Hopefully we will get a (good!) offer on Monday ... fingers crossed!

Open House !
If all goes well with the animals' vaccinations, we would not be able to leave here until the end of September, so if the house doesn't sell in the next couple of weeks we are torn between a full marketing campaign in July / August or leaving it until the New Year.  There are a few reasons for our 'torn-ness' - these being (1) Paul leaving his company in the lurch in the peak season, leading up to Christmas and (2) arriving on the canal system in the beginning of winter, rather than toward the end of winter.  Decisions, decisions ... ! :)

... and introducing the rest of the 'family' !

Here are some pics of the other fluffy kids, who will be travelling with us aboard our Narrowboat! (If anyone has any hints about travelling with cats on boats, they would be most welcome !)

Geoffrey (Ginger and White) and William
Geoffrey is slightly different now from when this pic was taken .. in that he has no ears !  He is a silly old cat and tends to lay out a lot in this Aussie sunshine .. he developed little skin cancers and so the vet lopped them off ... ears and all ... poor Geoffrey !  Geoffrey is 18 years + and William is around 15 years old - they are sleepy old boys, so hopefully should be happy to snooze and watch the world go by on our boat!
Jaffa (Ginger cat) and Bella (Rabbit)
No .. we are not planning to bring the rabbit along !! (I would if I could ... Elaine).

Jaffa is a 'different kettle of fish' (!) - he came to us as a stray and is still a bit 'feral'.  We can't really leave him behind with anyone else - just wouldn't be fair on him or them - so he is coming too.  We have no idea how old he is - but he does sleep a lot, so should be OK !

Friday Night in Manly !

Until we have a Narrowboat in the UK, these pages will show what we are up to in our weekly lives in Oz ...

On Friday night we took our regular walk down to Manly with the dogs.

After half an hour's walk along the beachfront, we come to Manly Corso ...
Manly Corso, heading towards the Ferry Wharf

At the end of the Corso is the Manly Wharf - where the ferries come in ... 
Manly Wharf

View from back of the Wharf - the 'Fast Ferry' just arrived, bringing home all the workers from the City!

One of the Manly Ferries, just arriving !

Wharf Restaurants with Ferry in background

But the best bit of the Wharf is one of our 'locals' - the Bavarian Bier Cafe, where we can sit outside with the dogs and have a 'bier' ... (but only one 'cos it is hellishly expensive !!)

Bavarian Bier Cafe, Manly

Paul, Bombo and Sam (dogs are very interested in a mouse that just ran by !)