Wednesday 25 June 2014


I've been harbouring a secret from Mick for the past few months!  I had arranged for a model to be made of our boat.

His birthday was Monday and this parcel arrived today.  Not bad timing.

All the hours of measuring and taking photos whenever Mick was off for a walk has paid off.  We are thrilled with the model of nb Parisien Star.

Sunday 22 June 2014

First week at work

Work brought the first signs of a routine to our lives this week which is just what we need.

Mick was happy to be working close to home for a couple of days building a verandah.  He loves it when he gets to come home for lunch and it's nice for our fuel bill.  He is still desperately trying to get onto something more permanent as he hates not working.

I had my first day at the office in 21 months.  It's a different office to the one I left with them having moved across the road.  When I arrived the bosses wife, who works in the office too, said they had something to show me.  She lifted the blind beside my desk and revealed the surprise.  They had a huge collage printed of some of the photos I'd been sending them while we were away.  I got a bit weepy to see so many photos of our adventure in an environment so totally away from it.  I couldn't stop looking at them.  The first few days of work were enjoyable and it was nice to catch up with everyone.  It was a treat to have so much space to work in and spread paperwork across the large corner desks that are mine. 

Thursday 19 June 2014

Photos - walk and drive

For everyone who has asked for photos of the area where we live, here is a start.

We went for a good walk the other day and I took my camera along.  I'm so used to having it in my hand all the time that it feels strange to be without it!  It was a lovely Winters day and we headed off from home with the magpies singing.  We saw a flock of sulphur crested cockatoos.  So destructive they are.... look at what they've done to the branches of the dead tree they're sitting in.

We also took the new car for a drive on the weekend.  I took a few photos of the roadside views and one of the road itself.  This is one of the roads into Bendigo.  We drove 20 minutes without seeing another car.  Such a contrast to the UK traffic.

And, yesterday's drive to work on the highway at 8.30am.  No traffic here!  It's an easy drive on wide sweeping roads.  It takes me 40 minutes to drive the 60 kilometres (37 miles).

Today was a totally different day.  It was foggy when I left home and it was even thicker at the office.  I went out during my lunch break for a walk and got a shock at how bitterly cold it was!  The fog was still heavy and it was only 6 degrees!!  On the way home it was prematurely dark and the driving was hard work with visibility so limited.  What a cold, damp, pea-soupy day it was.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Glad to be home

We are both feeling better now that we are sleeping through the night and the house is feeling a little more familiar.  We know where to find the light switches and door handles in the dark now!  Although we still have a way to go, the house is beginning to look a little more homely.  We have caught up with several of our neighbours, chatted by phone with friends, and I've spent some time with my mum.

Friday we collected my new car.  What a relief it is to have my independence back.  It's sheer luxury to go where I want, when I want, and shopping on my own is bliss.

I had a lovely day with my friend Tammy. She came over after taking the kids to school and I don't think we stopped talking until it was time for her to collect them again.  We went to our favourite Thai restaurant in Bendigo for lunch.  It will take us some time to catch up on 21 months of gossip. I've missed her!  While we sat drinking coffee at the kitchen island a kangaroo jumped along on the other side of our back fence.

I called in at my favourite quilt shop.  How nice it was to see the girls who work in the shop and I was thrilled when they said there was a sewing group Friday night and did I want to come along.  Yes!! I do!!  Something else to look forward to.  

Mick has been back in his element.  Dressed in his work boots and Yakka trousers and mowing the grass... his idea of heaven.  We spent half an hour chatting with our dear Wintons Folly friends on Facetime.  We showed them our house and the garden.  It was funny talking to them in their pj's before bedtime when we had just had our breakfast!

Tomorrow is my first day back at the office.  It's a different office to the one I left so that will be interesting.  Mick has been making phone calls and visits looking for some work.  He has something to keep him busy the next couple of weeks and I'm sure something more will come along.  Going to work will help us settle into a routine.

Saturday 14 June 2014

I Still Call Australia Home

Stumbled across this today, the song by Peter Allen.  How appropriate.  The song was used in Qantas advertisements for many years and hearing it again now sent a shiver down my spine.
I've been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and old London town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home

I'm always traveling, I love being free
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home

All the sons and daughters spinning 'round the world
Away from their family and friends
But as the world gets older and colder
It's good to know where your journey ends

And someday we'll all be together once more
When all of the ships come back to the shore
I'll realize something I've always known
I still call Australia home

But no matter how far or wide I roam
I still call Australia, I still call Australia, I still call Australia home
But no matter how far or wide I roam
I still call Australia, I still call Australia, I still call Australia home

Friday 13 June 2014

End of an adventure

The adventure is over and we are settling in again at home having been back a week now.  We have met so many lovely people and seen such beautiful places during our time in the UK.  It's been an experience we will never forget.

We have received heaps of messages from well wishers and "welcome homes" from family and friends.  I'm sorry I haven't been able to reply but will slowly respond to each of you as time permits.  Our last week in the UK and first week back in Australia have been busy, emotional and exciting by turns.

It was heartwarming to receive a very nice email from Tore and Kirsten, the new owners of our beloved Parisien Star, and to know all is going well and they enjoyed their first cruise.  We wish you both many happy cruising days and hope you enjoy her as much as we did.  We couldn't have found nicer people to pass the boat onto.

It feels like something's missing to not sit down at the end of each day, sifting through photos and writing a blog entry.  I will continue with updates on where we are at but it won't be a daily thing!

Thursday 12 June 2014

Photos back in Oz

A bit of a catch up with a motley collection of photos from our first few days back in Australia.  I've also added a couple on "Homeward Bound" from our last UK day.

1. Waiting at Melbourne airport for Peter to come around the corner
2. This put a smile on Mick's face - his beloved rusty truck
3. So did this - the shed
4. Arriving at the house on a sunny winters day
5. Horrified at the price of salmon.  We won't be making our favourite salmon salad very often!
6. Sure fire place to see a kangaroo near us.  Locals call it the "roo paddock"
7. Bliss driving on our wide open roads
8. Visitors on our first morning


Monday 9 June 2014

Living in a house again

It's been a hectic few days for us.  We had just one night out at the caravan.  Saturday evening I got a message from my brother, Anthony, saying he and Leanne would come up to see us.  What a bonus that turned out to be.  They arrived in their Mitsubishi Triton so we had a heap more carrying capacity to take things to our house.  We were pretty tired by the end of the day but had the bare minimum belongings with us to sleep at the house that night.  Despite having a really good sleep our first night we were both up watching TV at 3am which seems to be the jetlag hour for us.

We had gone into town to get fish and chips for lunch on Sunday and it was so busy we could barely find somewhere to park the car!   There has been a few changes of shops in the Main Street and it was a weird feeling walking around our town feeling like a tourist among the crowds.  It was a long weekend and the weather was fine so it seems everyone was making the most of it.  I will have to make time to go and check out the new shops that have opened since we left.

We had another day Monday of moving a load of belongings from the shed to the house.  We didn't want to bother with hiring a truck or furniture trailer so have just been fitting what we can into Mick's "1 tonne" and the little 6x4 trailer. It helped that Peter happened to come out to the shed for some timber and drove a load of boxes back for us in the back of his ute.

Yesterday, being the first working weekday since we got home, we made it our mission to buy a car.  I don't enjoy the process and either does Mick.  We set off intending to buy one a couple of years old and got home having spent $6000 more than the budget we had set ourselves and bought a brand new Mazda CX5!  I'm not sure what happened there except we were fed up with trying to find what we were looking for without it having too many kilometres already on the clock.  We didn't want to spend another day on this and we had both had enough by then...... just sign here on the dotted line.  As we drove home we figured our money won't last long if we keep doing this!

I ordered a washing machine, a bread maker and a food processor on Monday night when I couldn't sleep.  It reminded me that we are home again...... first available delivery date..... next Monday.  I had a look on the Currys website in the UK.  Free next day delivery or £19.99 if you want a fixed time slot.  We paid $66 to have those three items delivered almost a week away.  We will miss the land of convenience that's for sure.

The other thing we have been battling with is our phones.  We had our two handsets from the UK.  The smartphone has gone home with Anthony to try and unlock it.  Mick is happy that his cheap little plastic UK handset works with his Aussie sim and I am resorting to an old flip phone in the meantime but I have none of my saved phone numbers on it.

It's been lovely to catch up briefly with family and friends.  We don't have a lot of time at the moment with rushing about moving and unpacking and getting set for returning to the reality of a working life.  I had coffee with Tracey who bought our previous house.  We are neighbours now.  How lovely it was to wander our old garden and see how well she is managing it on her own.  It was great to see the chook houses getting well used as she has not only her first half dozen layers but now a little family of fluffy Pekins and a pair of turkeys. 

Yesterday made me happy.  As we were heading out on the car buying mission my dear friend Tammy drove up.  How exciting it was to see her again.  We cooked up a plan for a quick catch up later in the day.  We are both looking forward to our weekly lunch dates again.  First one next Monday.  I had to laugh when she said she had been to our favourite Thai place and it felt like she was being disloyal going there without me.

So that brings us up to today..... 4am on Wednesday morning.  More moving, more shopping, more unpacking.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Back in the caravan

What a very long 48 hours it's been since we were having lunch in a Brinklow pub.  

At Dubai airport I had a shower at the health club.... thanks again to Lynne for the suggestion.  It made the next leg of the journey a little better.  Goodness that 13 hours drags on and we had pretty much no sleep.

The lady behind us was an absolute nuisance.  She would slam her tray shut that hard that she woke me just as I dozed off.  Next time I was almost asleep she pulled herself up using the backrest of my seat, grabbing my hair at the same time!  She knocked Mick on the head getting out of her seat twice. She held onto our seat backs while she arranged her belongings, jiggling us about.  When we were woken by her for the fifth time Mick said loud enough for her to hear "Some people are so inconsiderate!"  She heard, I'm sure, because it was slightly better from then on.

Halfway through the flight our section of 4 seats and the four behind us lost all power. No tv or movies and no light to read.   There was only a couple of vacant seats on the plane so they said we could take turns to use them to watch a movie but they were many rows back so nobody bothered.

After the false start for Peter, who went to the airport to collect us a day early, we hoped we wouldn't be too long getting through the airport and making him wait.  It was a breeze and we were out just 45 minutes after touching down.  10 minutes later we were in the car on the way to Bendigo.  It was 6.15am.  I looked out for kangaroos on the way and saw quite a few.  The trees along the highway have grown up and there's quite a few of the younger ones died over the very hot summer we missed.

We had a shower and breakfast at Kevin and Bernice's, who had kindly taken care of Mick's truck while we've been gone.  Then a quick stop at the Telstra shop to sort out Internet access and then on to give our phone number to the Mazda dealership, hoping they'll find us a demonstrator car of the type we've decided to go for.  We bought bare essential groceries at Woolworths (they were called Safeway when we left) and got a rude shock at the price of food.  A quick cup of coffee at my mum's and then it was back to the shed..... all before midday.  Mick was in absolute heaven to be at the shed.    Garry, who owns it with us, had cut the grass and tidied up so it looks neat as a pin.

We spent 3 hours getting what we need out of storage, cleaning dust and the bathroom, making the bed, doing washing and having a chat with Garry (who thought we arrived yesterday as Peter told him he was going to collect us then).  Despite our best intentions to stay up all day I just couldn't do it.  At 3.30pm I lay down and was asleep in about 20 seconds.  Mick did the same half an hour later.  We both woke up totally disorientated 3 hours later.  We couldn't even work out if it was 6.30am or pm!  So now we will go to bed again at a more usual bedtime and hope that we get a good few hours sleep.

It's so nice to be back on home soil.  Tomorrow we will start moving into the house.  I'm looking forward to settling in there but there's an awful lot to unpack and sort out before that happens.

Friday 6 June 2014


Not halfway yet!

We've survived the first leg of our journey with Mick like a bear with a sore head.  He just wants to get home and we have the long flight still to come.  He's fought with the luggage trolley, grumbled about everything, and not slept.  On arrival at Dubai we switched on all our phones..... the 2 UK phones and Mick's Aussie phone that he brought with him when he came back from his work trip last Feb.  Ping, ping, ping.... a whole heap of messages from Peter's wife saying Peter is looking for us at the airport.  A day early!  Looks like we better bring Peter 2 bottles of scotch.  One for each trip to the airport.

I just turned around and found this....

Homeward bound

There was a bit of frantic last minute packing this morning.  It didn't quite all fit in the suitcases so there was some extra for the charity bin.  Our phones began pinging with text messages and emails from well wishers.  

We stopped on the way to Brinklow to top up the petrol in the hire car one last time and arrived at the boat before 11am.  How strange it felt to knock on our own front door!

Tore and Kirsten had found their way about the boat late last night.  We went around the boat answering questions and showing them how things work again.    We had a last lunch with them at a pub in Brinklow.  The time passed quickly and before we knew it we needed to head off.  We had a couple of errands and wanted to arrive at the airport before the end of the working day when the traffic increases.  

We were among the first to check in our luggage, which involved a little juggling of the contents of our hand luggage as we had returned the bathroom scales to the boat yesterday and one bag was too heavy.  Once we had left our luggage we stopped and re-arranged it all back how we had it!  

Now we have a couple of hours to relax in an airport lounge until it's boarding time for our flight.  It's so much nicer to be away from the noisy terminal while we wait.  Thanks Lynne for the suggestion!

So Parisien Star is with her new owners.  The next time we see Tore and Kirsten will be when the visit Australia.  They have to now!  We hope you enjoy your first few days aboard and the Summer cruise in a few weeks time.  

We did take a couple of photos today but they're on my camera and this is an iPad blog entry.  They will have to wait until we are home now.

Thanks so much to everyone who sent well wishing messages.  I haven't had time to reply but appreciate every single one.  I will post an update once we work out some Internet access at home.

The end of a grand adventure!

Thursday 5 June 2014

Cleaning day

With Tore and Kirsten arriving tonight, we planned for today to be cleaning day.  I was wide awake well before 4am and couldn't get back to sleep.  This always happens in the lead up to something big and I have such mixed feelings about going home.

It had started raining last night and the roads were awash with water as we drove to Brinklow.  One section was so deep it was barely passable.  We cautiously crept through as a work crew prepared to close the road. 

When we reached the boat we immediately started the engine to get to batteries charging and got stuck into cleaning while the Rose folk muddled about moving hire boats so Parisien Star could be wharfside on landline.  When they were ready Mick reversed the boat back between the moorings, through the swing bridge and squeezed between two Rose hireboats.  In the middle of busily cleaning the kitchen I got a text message from Carol saying she was thinking of us.  Oh dear, it set me off crying!  Better today than tomorrow I guess.

We were both busy for a few hours until midday when Kelvin and Rachael arrived to have a quick lunch with us and tell us about their acquisition - nb Serafina.  We chatted over lunch but with plenty left to do we couldn't linger long.  We will likely see Kelvin and Rachael next back in Melbourne.  I forgot to take a photo!

I had a chat with Anthony from Rose as we sorted out finances and returned the Henry hoover they'd lent us.  Everyone at Rose has been lovely throughout the process of selling the boat.  I'm sure Tore and Kirsten will be happy with mooring the boat there.  The fellow who came to ask if we were wanting diesel was chatty too.  He asked if we were selling the boat and when I told him we already had it turned out he knew Tore and Kirsten.  He said it was great they'd bought the boat as Tore had often said he'd love to have a narrowboat of his own. 

In the afternoon we reversed the boat in a wide arc around breasted up hire boats to move back to get diesel and fill the water tank.  By the time we were done with that and moved the boat back to the wharfside, the cleaning project was almost completed.  Andy and Jean on nb Josephine were moored back a couple of bridges so Mick went in the car to collect them so we could have a final farewell.  We spent an enjoyable hour or two and I passed on another set of Angie's (nb Lady Esther) mooring pin covers.

After a final tidy up we put the last few bits in the car, locked the boat up for the last time, and drove Andy and Jean back to their boat.  We're both exhausted.... not enough sleep and a big day.  The rain didn't let up all day so we got wet each time we went outside the boat.  We're both glad to be tucked up warm this evening for our last night in the UK.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Lunch with Maggie and Ray

More stuff to sort out and pack away and bag up for charity.  The morning went quickly.

We've had today's lunch date booked in for a while.... a catchup and farewell to Maggie and Ray in Warwick.  We met them through the internet in 2007 as potential house exchangers.  We didn't end up swapping houses with them but found new friends instead!

They took us out to lunch today.  We walked the 15 minutes or so from their house to The Saxon Mill.  It was a fabulous converted water mill with the wheel still turning on display.  What a lovely setting for a bar and restaurant.  We will definitely remember this lunch.  

We chatted with the waitress, a girl from South Africa who has had a lovely four years of working 7 months of the year as a waitress in the UK and then travelling for the other 5 months.  We have met Aussie waitresses who have jobs through a similar agency.  They get a waitressing or barmaid job, somewhere to live and sometimes a meal a day too.

After an enjoyable meal we walked back to Maggie and Rays to sit outside while the weather held (after Mick investigated the problem of the wobbly loo seat).  Their garden is looking fantastic with the herbs thriving.  Made me hanker for a herb garden of my own.  Not long now.

The day passed quickly with time late in the day to pack up the things we need to take back to the boat tomorrow.

We have really enjoyed staying on this farm. It's so peaceful to come back to at the end of the day.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Packing day

Just three days left!  Today's mission was to pack.  We did some research on the Argos website for suitcases large enough to fit Mick's chimney sweeping rods.  It's a set of them that screw into each other to make a long handle that you put a chimney brush on the end of.

When we got to Argos we were out of luck.  None of those we'd marked would fit the rods and anything bigger was oversize for our luggage allowance dimensions.  We decided to just buy the cheapest of the suitcases that was a decent size and ship the box of rods home.  I took some photos of the Argos store today to show everyone back home.  The store doesn't have stock on shelves, just a series of stations with huge catalogues and a monitor where you can look items up.  You write down the numbers of the items you want to buy and go to pay for them either at a self service kiosk or at a counter.  Then you stand at the collection point waiting for your goods to be brought out.

While we worked out where and how to go about sending yet another item home we sat at Costa having a cup of coffee.  We got chatting to a friendly couple with the sweetest 8 week old guide dog puppy.  Her name was Vespa and she was a very gentle little girl and so tiny! 

Back at the barn for lunch, we taped up the box of rods ready to take to the post office in Warwick.  While Mick went to the post office, I had a haircut.  It was another place that felt strange visiting by car when last time we were in the town we had walked there from the Saltisford Canal Centre where we were moored.  On the way back we couldn't help ourselves.  We parked the car and had a walk along the Saltisford Arm to check out the moored boats.  We spied nb Hadar but nobody in evidence.  Since we were last there the gardens have grown up and the paths have been refreshed. 

By the end of the day we had finished washing the linen, towels, rugs from the boat and packed up our two suitcases.  We will have a good pile of clothing for the charity shop.  We have a good pile of items to go back to the boat.  It's been great to have the clothes rack, extension lead, and other bits and pieces to use until we go home.  We will take them back on our last day.  Thanks Tore and Kirsten!

Earlier in the day Mick took some photos of the village near where we are staying.  It's called Sherbourne and is full of very attractive houses and some lovely old barns just ripe for conversion into housing.   There is no pub or store though. This evening as we cooked dinner we were missing a can of tomatoes so jumped in the car to drive to Barford, where the nearest convenience store is.  What a stunning little village it is!  I wish I'd taken more photos now but I did get one of the store.