Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Shredder!!!!

For those of you that know me well - I love fitness classes!  Some might say possibly to the point of obsessive (5 classes in 1 day was my record - oh those were the days!!).  I promised myself that one of the first things I would do when I landed down under was to search for a nearby Body Combat class.

Clearly that has not happened yet and it has been soooooooo long since I last did a class that I can actually feel myself wobble when I walk!!!!  Worse still I am finding myself on the verge of a heart attack every time I have to run down the beach to catch a kid!

So today I thought "that's it!  i'm going to do a class even if I have to make it up".  Problem number 1 is, what do I do with the kids???

This country really is one for health and fitness.  Everyday whilst we're out and about there are people jogging along the beachfront, personal training in the park, school kids running along the beach as part of their PE lesson and I've even seen a heavily pregnant woman swim lengths in the sea before a yoga session on the sand!!  I did think it looked a little odd at first, but then though 'good for her'.  No ones seems to bat an eyelid at any of this, so I thought I'd try to blend in and do the same.  Although I really don't know how much blending in I (or we) actually did!!

First off I downloaded the iphone app 'Nike Training" (it has rave review so it much be good).  Then changed into my gym gear, bundled the kids in the car and told them we were going to do exercises in the park. "Park Park", they yell, 'YAY!!" Excellent start!

I choose a 30 minute routine at intermediate level (better ease myself in slowly) called "The Shredder" - brilliant - it even sounds like I should be shedding the flab.  High Leg kicks for 2 minutes she says (she being the personal trainer who's voice is booming out of my phone) and off I go!  OMG, this is harder than I thought!!  Squats for 2 minutes, high knee running for two minutes.......I'm now beginning to pour with sweat and so oblivious to what's going on around me that I forgot about the kids for a minute, until I hear this hysterical giggling.......

Picture this:  Mummy doing a very serious workout (in the park) with Josh and Hollie copying my every move!!  Hollie has got the moves down to a fine art and even gets down on the floor with her legs in the air (she definitely got that from watching Granny's nightly yoga moves whilst we lived there last month).  "YE-HAAA" she shouts while Josh is laughing hysterically (still on the high leg kicks I might add).  

God knows what people passing by must have thought:  A crazy lady doing a very serious work out class with her only students under the age of 5 - with instructions coming out of a phone???  It must have looked like a scene from You've Been Framed.  Anyway, I decided that if I was going to tackle the wobble I would just have to throw all inhibitions out the window and  finish my class!  Which I did!  And so did the kids!  

We loved every minute of it and I'm sure I must have lost a few calories!!  

Today was 'The Shredder' - tomorrow "The Dynamo!"

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Dear Mr Landlord - Please pick me!!!!!

I thought finding a house to rent would be a relatively simple task and possibly quite fun.  However it seems to move like a night out in Vegas - red or black??  I've spent hours looking at different properties on the internet and I definitely know what I want and what I don't want.  Mr D and I also have some great team work going in terms of criteria - he  wants a garage (to store the endless amount of crap that he emptied out of the garden sheds and insisted on shipping over) and I will choose everything else.  Perfect!!  My list is pretty simple too..... white walls (can't have anything clashing with my furniture), open plan, decent kitchen and bathroom, close to the sea - etc etc etc - surely I can find something along those lines!!!  Can I???

I shortlisted a few and got to work, with Natasha, the relocation agent that Mr D's company has assigned to help me.  First step is to view the properties.  I thought Natasha would make us an appointment and we'd go and have a look, see one we like, make an offer and move in.  Simples!  Unfortunately I've quickly realised that this isn't the case.  We arrive at house number one and there is a queue of people lined up outside the front door!!!!! Looking a little puzzled, I ask Natasha what's going on and she explains that it's an open house and for 15 minutes only (and believe me, she's not kidding) anyone interested can view the house.  I can't tell you how strange it is to be walking around a house with 15-20 other potential tenants.  It's like dining with the competition!!!  I can't help trying to listen in to everyone else's conversations to get potential ammunition in case I might need it later!!  I was totally bemused by the whole situation.

Luckily for me I had time to get used to this fiasco as the first 7 or 8 houses did not live up to my expectations for one reason or another (not that I'm fussy or anything!!  Well, ok, maybe just a little fussy - but there is nothing wrong with that!!).  

Then the the crisis arrived - after queueing at the front door (again) I finally walked into THE house!!  Ok, it's not perfect, but it just about ticked every box AND it has a garage (bonus :)) and at last it was something with a homely feel to it.  Looking around at all the other interested parties wondering through the house, I suddenly started to panic - what if someone else gets this house and I have to go back to queueing at front doors????  So, I walked straight up to the agent (who may I add looked like he had just finished high school and really didn't want to there) and asked "excuse me Joe, how do I secure this property?"  "Fill in an application form and drop it in that box"He replied nonchalantly.   Clever me had come pre-prepared with an application form, just in case I found the right house (thanks for the tip Natasha).  So I dopped it in the box and politely asked "So what happens now - how to I secure this house?" He then proceded to tell me that once he had collected in all the applications forms he goes through them to make sure they all meet the correct criteria (eg: bank statements, credit checks etc) and those that are left get passed on to the landlord and he will then decide who he would like to have as new tenants   "Oh, I say!  So how do I make sure he picks us??  Is there anything I can do to secure it???"  Nope!!  Are you serious, I'm thinking - I thought the early bird got the worm - or least had the best shot at it.  So I ask again " Is there really nothing we can do?"  Well, he says, You could write the landlord a letter".  "A letter??  "Yes, stating why you want the property".  I turn to Natasha and ask if there is something she can do (I mean she is being paid to find us a house) and she just shakes her head.  "This is the just the way the system works she says".  God, I wish Kirstie and Phil were here - I'd never have this problem then!!!

I really really want that house, so here I am, trying to write the landlord a letter ready for Monday.  This is honestly the most ridiculous thing I've ever done.  Then again, I've never rented before so maybe this is normal!!  What do I say???  "Dear Mr landlord, please pick me!!"

(pics were taken when we finally moved in - yes we got it!!  Woo Hooo)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

My worst nightmare! And just when everything was going so well....

Another gorgeous day at the beach!  We arrive back at the apartment sandy, soggy, exhausted but happy - everything is going so well.  I haven't got lost yet, I've made it into the City and opened a bank account, we've spend another glorious day on the beach having fun - this moving across the world thing is really not so bad!!!!  

I had honestly completely forgotten about some of the bad things until I was unpacking the car this afternoon.  I got Josh out first and sent him down the garden path and then opened up the other door and got to Hollie (which takes a while as she HAS to do her own seat belt now).  I popped her on the floor and turned back to get the beach bag and there it was.........................right on the inside of the car door just glaring at me.......................OMFG it was a tarantula I swear!!!  It was the biggest, fattest, furriest spider I have EVER seen in my life and about the size of my hand (without the fingers).  I'm pretty sure it's legs were as fat as my fingers!!

I just froze with fear which then very quickly turned into panic!! I have only ever seen these awful things behing glass in pet shops (for those crazy people that actually want them as pets) or in those horrible spider and snake exhibition rooms you get in zoo's and farms!  I HATE just walking past them and I've always had a fear that the glass might break and one could get to me!!  And here I was - face to face with one  and not only that but it was IN THE CAR!!!

I screamed at the kids to stay away (Josh was already trying to come and see what was causing Nanny Mummy to just about go hysterical).  Now what to do????  I txt Pete "emergency, you have to leave work now??"  No response!!  "Bloody typically - what a time to be on a conference call".  There was absolutely NO one else to call (Grandpa, I needed you!!) so I had no choice but to knock on people's doors until someone could help me.  I did think I could just push the car door shut to trap it - that would get it away from me, but then we'd never be able to use the car again (I would have to send it back to the rental shop and order a new one).

Next move, I knocked on a neighbours door and hoped for the best.  (He must have thought I was some kind of lunatic as I stood there trembling and close to tears, explaining that there was a killer spider in my car and I needed help!)  He was a young lad (about 18ish and quick cute) and he very politely obliged.  When he got to the car his exact words were "Wow, that's a beauty"!!  I told you - killer spider!!  He told me to wait out of the way (I was already on the other side of the road) whilst he grabbed a long stick and tried to push it to the floor.  It was not happy to be moved though and every time it wriggled - I screamed again (couldn't help it).  Eventually it fell to the foor and ran under the car (or so the neighbour told me).  He then walked back to his house chuckling to himself.........(the situation had clearly amused him).

I have been well and truly traumatised by the experience!!  I was jumpy for hours afterwards and when Pete finally got home, I made him check the whole car before I'd get in it again!!

I have checked my book on Australian Spiders (kindly given to me as a leaving present by a friend) and this is the description "TITAN OF SPIDERS!  On of the group of barking spiders includes the enormous bird eating spiders.  These are the largest of all Australian spiders: One Australian member is about 6 cm in body length: it's legs span about 16cm - wider than a page in this book.  It's fangs along measure 1cm in length.

For your interest

No photos I'm afraid, I was too traumatised to even get the camera!

Anyone want to come and visit??????

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

How bad is it to leave your kids in the car with the windows open and the keys in the ignition????

I decided that the best way to figure out which suburb to live in is to ask Emily (my new friend the sat nav) to take us to each one every day so that we can try before we buy!!  So far each one has been lovely, but last night when looking through the endless lists of rental properties on the internet I came across a house that I instantly fell in love with!  It's in a town called Collaroy, about 40 minutes north of Sydney centre (and not too bad a commute for Mr D - can't have him moaning every morning!).

So this morning we head to Collaroy and already I have decided that I love it (based solely on the perfect house of course).  Emily wants to know an address and is not happy with just "Collaroy", so I keep tying until predictor txt comes up with Parks street - Perfect we'll go there!!

As we approach Collaroy I see a little road covered in bushes, that looks like it heads to the beach, on the other side of the dual carriage, so I do a quick U-turn (which I've discovered is perfectly ok here!! Awesome as it's got me out of a few tricky situations) and see where that little road takes us.  We arrived at what I can only describe as 'surfers paradise'.  For those of you who are South African, it reminded me of the north coast of Natal - Zinkwasi beach as it was when we were kids!

Long reef mouth
The weather was now sweltering (a delightful 29 degrees) and the kids were desperate to get out the car and get wet (any water will do - including the rain puddles as you previously saw).  We climbed up the 'secret path' as Josh called it (which was actually a sand dune) and once we reached the top the views were breathtaking.  I had to just stand and take it in for a couple of minutes before realising that my kids were almost out of sight and I had to make a mad dash to the bottom of the dune.

Come on mum!
After running across this mass expanse of golden sand that went as far as the eye could see until it reached the sky, we finally settled on the edge of the lagoon which was running into the sea.    I covered the kids in almost a whole bottle of sun lotion and sent them off to play.  I really must look into banana boat shares if this is any indication of how much of the stuff I will be getting though.

I'd love to say I settled down on the sand and relaxed for a few hours, but instead I spent the next hour or so rushing into the current to collects shoes, lunch boxes and any other random item that Miss H threw into the river to watch it float away.  The current was deceivingly strong and almost took me off my feet a few times (much to Josh's amusement).  I decided it would be far more sensible if we moved to the still waters of the lagoon (very responsible parental decision).  Aaaaah at last I could relax and just listen to the joyous sounds of the kids screaming and giggling whist feeling the sun beating down on me.

Right, time to move on.  We are on a very serious 'area to live' search.  I have to report back more to Mr D with more than just 'it has an amazing beach!!!".  We start the long treck across the sand back to the car.  The kids are exhausted and the temperature is now brutal - and of course - Miss H wants 'a carry' and Master J has 'sore feet'.  I lug Miss H on to my hip and negotiate a deal with Master J for about 5 minutes until he realises that we're almost at the car and he can now run!!  Just as we reach the car, I notice that Master J is not wearing his shoes (essential beach wear as the sand is hot hot hot).  'Where are your shoes? I ask.  'On the beach' he replies! I contemplate - do we all trapse back to the lagoon to fetch them (in this heat)??  Do I just abandon them and buy a new pair?? or do I leave the kids in the car and make a run for them???  What to do what to do what to do????

I forgot to mention that earlier, when we had arrived, there was a little beach shack/ice-cream shop in the car park.  The minute the kids saw it they wanted ice cream - so I agreed (as they had been stuck in the car for a while).  The shop keeper was a little strange.   We eyed each other up for a second as I looked at the menu.  I couldn't work out if he was totally high or just a bit odd.  He had longish hair and had a rather vacant look on his face.  He was also wearing nothing but a pair of underpants!!!  Some might call them speedo's but where I come from, if they're cotton, they're underpants!!  He didn't seem to think anything of it though as he strolled around - and neither did any of the surfers that were in the facinity.  I asked him for 2 ice-lollies and he smiled and then jumped into a great long conversation with me.  I realised that I may have mis judged him and  he was actually just a really friendly local (although still a bit odd) and I discovered his name was Frank! He reminded me a little of that character that was friends with Hugh Grant in the film Notting Hill.

Anyway, back to my dilema with the beach shoes!  I decided that I couldn't replace them - Mr D would not be impressed with that financial decision as I'd just paid a whopping $50 for them (besides I don't yet have a bank account).  There was absolutely NO way I was going to carry Miss H again and negotiate with a tired and whingy Master J ALL the way down the beach back to the lagoon again in this heat.  So my only option was to leave them in the car!  Was I mad???  Would I ever do this at home???  No Way!!  But I put them both in the their car seats, put the windows down and turned on the ignition (I had to - no aircon and I would have come back to two pools of melted children).  I gave Master J a lecture about how he was not to touch any buttons WHAT SO EVER (again visions of returning to see the car halfway through the ice cream shop) and if anyone opened the door he was to SCREAM as loud as he could!

I took a deep breath and ran - up the sand dune, down the sand dune and across the wide expanse of beach- and at last I found the shoes!  I grabbed them and started to run back.  I was almost dying by this point, running on the sand in the heat is no easy task but I had to get back!!  Again, thoughts of "was I crazy' were flying around my head!! (also a couple of " I had better loose a few calories for this" floated in too).  I finally got over the dune and saw the car was still there.  As I got to it, panting, hardly able to speak, pouring with sweat and red faced, Frank gave a little wave and said "Chill English - I had my eye on them!!"