House-Hunting: As I Was Saying…

Well that was a good example of what I was saying in the previous post…

Typical house viewing capers…

I had two properties to visit. Separated but about an hour and a half – either side of lunchtime. Physically however only separated by a matter of 50 metres.

The agent was a little late turning up for the first place but that was not a problem. The second property was different though. I waited a good 15 minutes. Some of that time with another perspective tenant. An interesting guy as it happens. An Italian bloke about 10 years older than myself. He had lived in Sydney for over 10 years then chose to go travelling. It just goes to show you are never too old eh? Now he is back and effectively homeless. Just as well he was there because the agent sent him a text message saying that the place had just been leased. In other words, the agent wasn’t turning up and we had wasted our time. By the way; I never received such a message on this occasion.

Good old Google Maps

As luck would have it I did not have to hang around for nearly 2 hours between the two viewings. Thanks to google maps I found a pub some 5-10 minute walk away. As it was lunchtime this was the perfect place to take a break.

An interesting place too. Very much a British looking establishment (see photo). Very unlike the Aussie pubs I have mentioned in recent posts. But it certainly did the job.

Incidentally, I am not a fan of companies like Google and Facebook etc. Partly because of the way they dominate people’s thoughts and such-like and partly because of the Luddite in me. But that google maps is definitely one of the more useful applications on your mobile phone. During this house-hunting caper this mobile phone tool is proving to be very useful.

Good News…

Some good news. When we get a car the fuel prices will be much cheaper than in the UK or Madrid. In fact, almost half the UK price.

 Bad News

I just heard that Kirk Douglas has died at the grand old age of 103 !! He was in many of the movies that I watched when I first got interested in cinema.

All I can say is: “I’m Sparticus!” May he rest in peace.

Never Enough Hours

All this house -hunting is interfering with my plans to do some serious site seeing.

Plans to Explore on Hold

I have spotted a few interesting off beat things to look into but will have to put them on hold a short while. Finding a place to live definitely has to take priority right now. It can be time consuming. Even when there are two or more places to see in one small area the times can vary by up to two hours between properties. Often the immediate surroundings do not offer anything worth exploring so its back off ‘home’ (i.e. hotel) or to the nearest shops generally trying to kill the time.

On a similar theme I have completed my search for suitable gyms to do some training and generally get fit. There are many in the area and several are quite good. However, this will also need to take a back seat until we get settled in our new abode – wherever and whenever that may be.

House-hunting

Finding somewhere suitable to live is tricky anywhere. Of course, depending on your definition of ‘suitable’ this can be all the more difficult. In the areas we have been looking it seems that there are hardly any the size we thought we might get, at the price we can afford. Always the way I suppose.

Therefore, I have been scaling it down to the next size and there are quite a few. They still need viewing and then there is the application process to go through. Even getting to see a place is a job in itself. You can apply online for an “inspection” but they only offer certain viewing slots (often on Saturdays – understandable I guess) and even when you think you have booked one they text you to cancel it.

Even more frustrating is when two different agents offer the same time slots for viewings. Definitely not OK when the properties are a good 20-minute walk apart. The “inspection” slots usually only last 15 minutes.

Technically we still have over 2 weeks to find a place, but the clock is ticking.

Banks…The usual…

Meanwhile one of my first jobs needs to be done again. One of the jobs I gave myself on the first day here was to open a bank account. Which I did. Or so I thought. I am still waiting for my debit/ATM card which they promised would arrive a few days ago! No doubt it will turn up tomorrow. Why am I confident that will happen tomorrow? Because I am off to open another one at a different bank today. Isn’t that always the way it works?

Hey! You can’t wait for these people can you?

Happy Birthday to me – Sort of

In all the excitement I missed the fact that yesterday was the fourth anniversary of this Blog. That’s today still,  if you are reading this right now in Europe. Oh how time flies… I can still recall thinking about what to write in my opening post. Four years of articles and photos. Some nonsense, some I still find funny myself. Plus the odd rant. There’s certainly a lot of stuff for Dani to read when he is old enough to be remotely interested in this sh1t… Which I think is still a fair way off.

So; Happy Birthday to us!

Things that make you go Hmmm…

Remember these? Here’s a couple of things that some in the UK may recognise. Anyone over a certain age that is…

That’s the Wonder of Woolies…

Not to be confused with the Woolworths Plc that we grew up with in the UK. The one that went bust some years back. Woolworths is a big supermarket chain in Australia and ranks highly on their stock market.

It’s a Wrap

Here’s another one I haven’t seen for a long time. When did these go out of fashion? These were definitely used in the UK some years ago. I really can’t recall when they stopped using them though.

Why did they stop using them? It can’t be a plastic reduction thing because in Australia the green lobby is just as big (or bad?) as anywhere else. And besides, they were replaced by another piece of plastic – in the form of a sticky strip. Why are they still being used in Australia?

Who knows? Who cares? Just a couple of observations…

Gym, Super Bowl, Pub

From the Gym to the Super Bowl. Via the Pub…

After dropping Dani at school today I decided to visit some local gyms. It is about time I got into a routine. Fitness routine that is. Or just any routine really.

Along the however I got distracted.

Superbowl – Live.

First, I made the mistake of returning to the apartment. I switched on the TV and the American Football Super Bowl was just about to start. So, I started watching. Always a bad move that sort of thing…

I am not a fan of American Football but have given it a passing interest over the years. This was of course the climax of the season and one of the most famous events in the sporting calendar. Even if it is only played in one country – the USA. Anyone in the UK close to my age will know the name William Perry – aka ‘The Fridge. This was form way back, when the game was brought to British TV by the then newly launched Channel 4.

It seemed weird to be watching it live at a sensible time of day. Those who love the sport in Europe need to stay up all Sunday night and well into Monday morning. Then have to work. As it turned out I soon got bored with it. So off I went to check out he gyms in the area. I visited several and made some sort of plans to return for free trials. One or two I wanted to see were closed; only being open at peak times. Because I had been watching the American Football I had missed the staffed times. Ah well; maybe tomorrow.

The Nelson

On my route I passed a classic art deco pub called The Nelson. The sun was shining and I had walked a fair bit so it would have been rude not to try a beer there. In I went.

As it turned out the Super Bowl match was still on. I had forgotten that even though they only play 60 minutes the whole thing goes n for several hours due to all the stoppages and advertising breaks.

So, I watched it to the end. Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Fransisco 49ers. As I have said I am no big fan nor am I an expert but that Kansas quarter-back is definitely real class. Only 24 years old too! 

Fishing?

The idea of a sea fishing trip out in the Pacific sounds great to me. I have been thinking of looking for such a trip. Maybe this is the one. The Nelson Pub fishing trip? Tempting eh? when you read the poster. The only problem is that it happens on a Sunday when I want to spend time with my boy. Maybe I can convince his mum that we could both go? Would I be the one to win that third prize?

Finding a Place to Live

The first full week of school starts this week for Dani. He will probably be glad to get back to class after an exhausting weekend.

House-hunting

Having done all the usual internet searching online we narrowed it down to seven places to view on Saturday morning. It was a hot and humid one. Although they were all in the same area there was still a lot of legwork involved. It was a hot one – did I mention that already? Poor Dani had to traipse around the streets with us. This is the thing now. We have nobody to leave him with. If we go somewhere he has to come too. At least for the foreseeable future. Only one of the properties was anywhere near what we want but it was all an experience. we may just make an offer on that one.

Hardly my favourite way to spend a weekend but a necessity. Our time in the aparthotel will soon run out. At least we had a little time to check out the Waverley Oval. There was a cricket match about to start so we had a cold drink and watched the first few overs. Dani of course does not know how to play cricket – yet. So there were many questions. A lot! Once we are settled in our new place I will take him to see some more and teach him. They may soon be teaching them cricket in his school.

Cricket at Waverley Oval

.First Visit to the Pacific 

Today we visited Bronte Beach. This beach lies a short distance south of the more famous Bondi beach. Waiting for the bus it was clear we made the right choice. Several buses came for Bondi and they were all packed.

Bronte has everything Bondi has but is a lot smaller. We had a swim in the rock pool. These sea filled swimming areas carved into the rocks are all over the New South Wales coast. Most beaches have one for swimmers to do laps. It was cold but refreshing. Then it was down to the beach.

Later in the day it rained. The recent heatwave has broken and there may be more rain to come during the week.

More Pubs…

Meanwhile, I have spotted some more great looking pubs. Architecturally of course. I will be doing the pub round up at a later date.

A week in Oz

In a few hours we will have been here exactly one week. Dani has finished his first (half) week in his new school. It’s hard to say how he is adapting as he never tells you anything. I suppose it’s fair to say that things are going quite well as we have not heard otherwise. Meanwhile we have been viewing some properties in the area. Bloody hard work without a car but more on that one to follow…

Getting to know the area

After dropping Dani at school today I went for a ‘reccy’ of the area just past the school. Only one block away is a real oasis. An urban retreat called Cooper Park.

The Park

Named after former owner Sir William Cooper the park is a large bushland reserve of 38 acres (15 ha). There is a natural creek running through the Park and a wide variety of native trees. The park has been developed for modern urban living over the years to include walking tracks and paths. There are covered shelters and picnic areas. If a bit of sports is your thing then there are eight floodlit grass tennis courts and a cricket pitch.

This park is an amazingly tranquil area in the midst of the huge urban sprawl that is Sydney. If a little transcendental meditation takes your fancy then this could be the spot for you. On the other hand if you venture less than 3 kilometres to the east you end up on the world famous Bondi beach. But more on that in a future post…

Dream Houses

The park lies in a dip between well established residential areas. There are some fine examples of early Sydney architecture and a fair few new builds. The new properties look modern but seem to compliment the old houses perfectly.

One street near the park is called Edward Street. Back where I come from there is a street of old terraced houses with the same name. They may share the same name, but they are a world apart. Not only because they are on opposite sides of the planet. I am guessing the cost of one of the big houses in this Sydney street would cost the same as the whole of the Edward Street that I know.

Pubs or Hotels?

Some good news for this old dad. I visited a local watering hole today and discovered that they will be showing the big fight live in a few weeks’ time. That’s the heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury in case you didn’t know. With the time difference between here and Las Vegas it means I will be able to watch the action at a sensible time.

I hope to visit a few more pubs in the area over the next few weeks. And of course, report it here. For now, here are two things I have noticed. One; that most of them are called hotels rather than pubs. And two; they have a distinctive architecture. Here’s one…

Typical Pub Architecture in Sydney

But I can’t be spending too much time inside such places. At least just yet. What we need now is a place to live. With three apartments to view tomorrow we may be a step closer…

First Day at New School

Today was all about Dani’s first day in his new school.

On Parade

Dani was up early and dressed himself quickly in his new school uniform. Proud of how he looked, he was ship-shape and on parade long before we had to leave the apartment. That school designed ruck-sack? Hmmm… Bit on the big side?.

I think those hats are great but he won’t be needing that just yet. The mornings have been cloudy and the sun only seems to break through about midday. Still, it makes for a great photo and is officially part of the uniform.

Meeting his “buddies”

Arriving at school

Only a 7 minute walk from our temp accommodation we easily got there on time. We were immediately met by the face of the emails we had received – Stephanie. She then told us to wait a while as a couple of “buddies” would be down shortly to meet Dani. This is how they integrate all new starters. A good idea I am sure you will agree.

Soon enough they turned up. A kid called Liam (sorry I forget his surname, maybe Greek sounding? I will find out and report later) and another called Winston Wang. Yes, he looks Chinese. So I guess he must be.

Pensive. Waiting for his “buddies”

Big Bag Theory

Judging by Dani’s own level of geekiness and some of the other kids I saw, they could start a new club. They could call it the Big Bag Theory named after their school ruck-sack sizes and those nerds on TV.

We met his new teacher, Miss Brookhouse. Although I am sure she would have been there for a couple of days prepping, this was her first proper day at the school also. An interesting mix of subjects and options they have too. During the day we looked over his timetable on the school’s website. Quite impressive. It looks more like a secondary school list of classes. This could lead to some interesting conversations with our son – should he decide to tell us anything about his school day…

Never to old to learn new things…

So, what has Dani’s old dad learnt from this new school start?
Here is a list:

  • ‘Invasion style games’ – Space invaders more like!? This actually means sports like rugby and Aussie rule football. Hands up, I have never heard of that one.
  • ‘Morning enrichment’ – Yes there is such a thing in schools these days. Amazing eh? It turns out that these are early morning activities for kids whose parents have to dump them off an hour before official start time. Then they can commute with the crowds and get totally stressed out for the rest of the day. Ahhh… So glad to be out of that rat race! (at least for now).
    Among the morning enrichment options is Tap Dancing. Great for a budding Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. But I would have thought tap fitting would have been a much better option. Why don’t they teach really useful, practical skills in schools?
  • HSIE: Which stands for… Wait for it…. Human Society and Its Environment – Oh ohh!… ‘Greta’ type stuff by the sounds of it. Fortunately for Dani he gets the ‘alternative Greta’ side of the coin from his wise old dad.
  • PDHPE – Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. Yeah; me neither. Not to worry – or ‘no worries’ as they say in these parts.

That HSIE and PDHPE stuff sounds more like corporate shit than primary school lessons eh? It really was so much simpler in my day…

And ‘morning enrichment’? Feck me! When I was that age we were all thrown into the same classes and whatever that involved. And get on with it! Actually, it would have been just the 3-Rs and little else at that age.

New Kid on the Block…

Last night before going to bed Dani arranged one of his Star Wars Lego figures on the chess board. Here it is. I call this work of art ‘The New Kid on the Block’:

New Kid in School…

I wonder how much of this was subconsciously how he thought this day might go?…

Big Day for a Little Boy

Tomorrow is a big day. Dani’s first day in a new school. In a new country.

Back to Normal

It’s a huge step for the little lad. Yet he seems quite laid back about it though. I think that is because he finally got his mojo back today. The previous two days he as been dog tired and falling asleep in an instant, in almost any position – including standing. Jet lag. He has really suffered from it.

He was in fine form when we went to buy his new uniform. Now he is fast asleep in bed. Back to his normal sleep pattern – more or less.

Don’t worry

While he was clearly suffering the effects of jet-lag he also had a temperature, so we were a little worried. Then we get an email from the school asking parents who have travelled to China during the long school summer holidays to keep their kids at home for a couple more weeks. Effectively self-quarantined.

This coronavirus scare is a classic example of something we should all ignore.

Here’s why. It’s that classic old saying. “Don’t worry about what you can’t control.”

If this thing really does become a pandemic, then who cares? We are all done for. The chances are of course that it will all blow over.

Crazy figures…

The only thing that seems certain is that this thing started in China. On the TV the other day they stated that there were 42 flights a day from China to Australia. Admittedly not all from near the infected region and not all coming into Sydney. Also not all passengers (by any means) will be Chinese – although they would have spent time there. However, when you work it out the figures are staggering. Let’s assume that the average number of passengers on each of those 42 daily flights is 450. Then it follows that the number of people flying in from China are as follows:

42 x 450 = 18900 per day, (x 7) 132,300 a week, (x52) which is a staggering 6,879,600 in a year. The population of the country is only just over 24 million.

Asking kids to stay off school an extra two weeks is clearly not the type of quarantine the country needs is it? That is if they re serious about the so-called ‘threat’.

Real Perspective

This, in a nutshell, is why nobody should waste time worrying about this kind of thing. If this disease really is a big problem, then “the horse has already bolted” (so to speak).

Just to put this into perspective; I have an acoustic guitar being shipped over in our container. When it arrives, it will have to sit in quarantine for a month because it is made of wood. The same goes for any wooden products. Food and animals even worse! Yet people just come and go from any country provided they have a passport and visa.

Then they try to scare us with stories of deadly diseases? Crazy eh?

Sydney: Where are all the party animals?

This is a quick follow up to the post yesterday on Australia Day…

I want to talk about something that was bugging me slightly at the time. And I am not talking about that smoking lecture prick! I want to try and put some perspective on what I saw. Or at least what I think I saw…

What was bugging me?

There was something not quite right, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time. I hinted at it when I said that “there was a party (of sorts)” going on under the bridge. Then when I woke up – early this morning – it hit me. (Is that a jet-lag thing?)

There was live music, food and drinks stalls and other activities. It was a hot summers day but this was all under the shade of the bridge. So, what was wrong?

Well in a nutshell I think it all seemed too sanitised. For one thing, there was hardly any sign of booze being consumed. Only those who had brought their own – as there was no cold beer on sale. (Missed opportunity there guys!)

It was also totally clean. No litter. Now that’s not a bad thing but hardly a sign of a large number of people having a good time and letting their hair down. Yeah, I know that information leaflet (see earlier post) asking people not be a “tosser” was both funny and good advice. But still… Are Australians afraid to fully celebrate their national day? Conscious of the “invasion day” protests in other parts of town, are they now subconsciously dumbing down their own parties? **

Spain and UK versus Sydney…

On the opposite side of the spectrum, in Spain, the place would have been a mess. But the townhall’s street cleaning services would have soon sorted it all out. The area was relatively small and kind of contained after all. In Spain the people definitely know how to celebrate long and hard into the night. They are famous for their party-animal-mode antics

In the UK beer would have flowed. Then of course at some point blood would have also flowed. Also, the police and paramedics would have had to deal with those who had drank too much and could hardly stand. Yeah, I know. Trust me; party time in the UK is not always jut about the fun side. But the point is there would have been a real party.

Stepford?

I am trying really hard to put some of my reaction down to the hidden effects of jet-lag. But to me it all seemed a little bit too ‘Stepford Wives’*. Just not quite real or too good (or clean) to be true. I realise that this is one small area in large city, but there are over 4 million people in Sydney. It seems odd that so many people can be so obedient. Simultaneously.  I am not saying it’s a bad thing but definitely unusual. Is this what it is like everywhere in Australia?

Anyway, that is the end of this little rant/update…

Footnotes*
*Stepford Wives: The 1975 cult horror film set in the town of Stepford where wives are reprogrammed to be obedient (to the point of subservience) and always clinical in everything they do. The term stepford is sometimes used to refer to someone or something that is always perfect. Too perfect in fact to be real.
Not to be confused with the 2004 remake which was really more of a comedy. In this version the women were changed into robots. The original was far more creepy.

** “Invasion Day” – more on this subject in a future post. Once I have had chance to speak to people.

Australia Day

Well Australia half Day in Dani’s case. This kid was so jet-lagged we were worried he had fallen ill. It was hot and humid and there was no beer on sale. What the hell was going on?

Under the Bridge

We took the trains to Milson’s Point where there was a party (of sorts) under the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge. At least it was in the shade.

There were food and beverage stalls – street food if you will. But where was the bloody beer?

There were plenty of people there. Some set up for the full day with picnic hampers and cooler boxes. It would have been good fun if Dani was not so tired.

And then this happened…

Hello. What’s this? The Smoking Police?

It’s a little early in this adventure to be getting totally pissed off by some Australian idiot but this actually happened, so here goes…

While under the bridge Dani’s mum was approached by some bloke who asked her if she should be smoking. To which I pointed out that we were outside. In the wide open. It took us completely by surprise. So; I had to ask.
“Was it illegal?”.
“No” he responded.
“So, what’s the problem then?” I said – really wanting to tell him to f*#k off.
“Well do you think it is a good thing with all these kids around” he retorted. At this point I should mention that he did not have any kids with him.
“No. It’s your choice but I am just asking you to think about it. I will leave you to make your choice” he continued.

Yeah mate. Go on, walk away!

I should have asked him if he drove a car. Because we have just sold three cars and are now (for the time being at least) car-less. Instead I just said “Yeah leave us alone to decide what to do.”

What a c*#t!

Off he went to queue up for some insanely high sugar content drinks. Great example for the kids that eh? Sorry to repeat myself but; what a C*#T!

Real Wildlife

Anyway, not to be put off by that strange wildlife, we moved over to an exhibition tent where a real-life Crocodile Dundee type was showing the kids some interesting animals. Snakes, scorpions, a stick insect and a few types of lizard. He was a bit like that fella who used to be on TV until he got killed by a stingray while trying to be clever and swim above it.

I can safely say that the kids – and adults – gathered around the one man show definitely learned a few things about some of Australia’s amazing wildlife.

Dani loved it. He got to touch the lizards and had a large stick insect crawl up his arm. Now that’s a great Australia Day for a kid.

The Finale

After grabbing a nice meal in Kirribilli village we could barely keep the boy awake. We had to take the train back to the aparthotel.

By 8pm Dani was totally gone. He is running a temperature and not 100%. Hopefully it is all down to the long journey and the erratic sleep pattern of the past few days. Hopefully he will have a long sleep and tomorrow will be fully recovered and be ‘in the time zone’. So, we missed the firework display but not to worry. There will be more.

On TV there was one of those very long live concert broadcasts from the opera house. Outside of the opera house actually. They dug up (almost literally) some old acts I thought were long gone. The original Seekers for one. Blimey! I can barely remember them. I half expected Rolf Harris to put in an appearance singing ‘Tie me kangaroo down’. But then again…