Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wednesday 26 February – The beauty of book club

Current location: Erskineville
11.11pm, Getting into bed. We'd just finished clearing up after book club (our third one), which was hosted by Rochy and me, at our house. It was so fun, they just keep getting better! We were talking about The Goldfinch (inspired by the painting above), which I LOVED, and we actually spent aaaaages talking about it. Usually it's a brief chat about the book, then onto chats about normal life. But this book is so massive, and has so much going on, that we spent a lot of time on it. Definitely recommend it, but not if you want a quick read!

Sunday 23 February – Bondi calling

Current location: Erskineville
11.11am, Writing about our awesome holiday to New Zealand, for the magazine I work for. It was a beautiful sunny day and, after a lie-in, I couldn't decided whether to stay in and finish my work (and update this blog!) or go out and enjoy the weather. There's nothing like the possibility of a trip to the beach to motivate me though, so I got my work done as speedily as possible, and then went to Bondi with Rochy, Tristan and Sha. It was gorgeous and sunshiney, so we went for a swim and lay around for a while, before getting a smoothie and coming home to get ready for a normal, working week!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saturday 22 February – Netball and wine, two of my faves

Current location: Somewhere between Sydney and the Central Coast
11.11am, On a train. I was on my way back to Sydney for a netball match (which we lost, but which was fun), and then we went to Hyde Park for the Cellar Door. Lots of wineries from areas such as the Hunter Valley and Orange came down to Sydney (including my favourite winery Audrey Wilkinson), so you could try lots of different wines and buy bottles straight from them. Fab idea, Sydney! Then lovely Jess made an incredible dinner for all of us (Dave, Val, Bree, Nick, Andy and I), followed by cake and a few bottles of our recently purchased wine.

Friday 21 February – 100,000 Likes!

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, Eating cake! Today at work, we were celebrating reaching 100,000 Likes on Facebook, and some of the girls baked cakes (and some of the girls ate the cakes). I was also celebrating owning a wonderful new Hanson T-shirt, which was a thank you pressie from the lovely Catdog.
After work, I jumped on a train and met Andy up at Ettalong Beach, in time to go for a swim and have dinner with Andy's parents – it's his dad's birthday today! Happy birthday Dave!

(Picture taken from New Idea's Facebook page)

Thursday 20 February – Missing you already!

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, In work, while Cat and Andy went to Bondi. She leaves today and just wanted to get in a last trip to the beach. Come back soon, doggy!

Wednesday 19 February – Catdog's last night

Current location: Erskineville
11.11pm, Sitting on the couch with Catdog. To make the most of her final night, Cat and I went out for pedicures, and then went next door to Nothing to See Here, a bar I'd been wanting to try in Newtown for a while. We had a glass of bubbles and talk about Cat's favourite parts of the trip (all of it, apparently), then went for dinner at Miss Peaches. I hadn't been before, but it was so cool, I'll definitely be going again! It's all soul food, and I had biscuits and gravy, and shrimp gumbo (Cat reckons her blackened fish was one of the best things she's eaten here). It was bloody gorgeous!
Tomorrow Catdog leaves, boooooo. It's been so fun having here here; we just slipped right back into being housemates again, and had soooo much fun. Going to miss you, you lovely funny gorgeous girl.

Tuesday 18 February – Go Hoops!

Current location: Erskineville
11.11pm, Watching America's Next Top Model with Catdog. Could there be a happier thing to be doing?! I was on a high for a few reasons:
1. Catdog is still here
2. Our friend Em, who we knew from Austria and Berlin, had been to visit this evening
3. Our netball team, Hoops, won our first game tonight! Woop!

Monday 17 February – Back to normality, kind of

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, Back at work, in an all-staff meeting. Normally they are pretty standard (we have one each Monday morning) but today's one involved pregnancy announcements and leaving announcements, so a mix of good and bad news. Always exciting on a Monday morning though!

Sunday 16 February – The day after the night before

Current location: Erskineville
11.11am, Eating breakfast at the Urban Cat Cafe. It's my new favourite place to eat in Erko (and in the night it becomes a Georgian restaurant!). Today was a hangover day that consisted mainly of eating, sleeping and watching Jersey Shore. Yeah buddy!

(Ps photo-wise, we didn't go to Una's, but we were going to. And it was literally the only photo I took today.)

Saturday 15 February – Birthday bike times!

Current location: Alexandria, Sydney
11.11pm, Dancing. In a warehouse. In fancy dress. To partly justify this, today is Andy and Nick's birthday, and it had been a long day of pub crawling! The day started pretty early when I went to netball in Bondi, and then Jess and I had a yummy lunch and went out to meet everyone at the pub. The idea was a pub crawl on bikes around Surry Hills and, by the time we went to meet everyone, they were already on activity/pub number three, the Carrington. We had an ace time there, standing out in the sun, and running into a friend I'd met in London, and then we all hopped on our bikes and made our way to the Forresters. By now most people were pretty merry, and as we got to the fifth pub, the Cricketers, there was some pretty wobbly riding! By then, the weather had got pretty rainy, so we abandoned the next part (which was a park) and stayed in the Cricketers for a few hours, mixing our drinks, chatting and playing pool. As we were debating our next move, Nick's friend's Missy and Dan suggested a party in their warehouse, and everyone was keen so there we went. By the time we got there, it was about 9.30pm, so Andy did a booze run and Jess and I had the bright idea of ordering pizza. For the next few hours we danced, put on costumes, rode around and casually ran amuck until somehow it was the early hours and we walked home, having unknowingly left half our stuff in the warehouse. Great birthday, Nick and Andy, and happy bday to you two gorgeous beings. Love you!

Friday 14 February – Playing dress-up

Current location: Sydney
11.11am, Trying on dresses. Cat and I are bridesmaids for our lovely friend Sarah in August, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get our bridesmaids dresses. We spent most/all of today shopping, trying things on and sending pictures back to Sarah in the UK. We've now got our dresses, yippee (no sneaky giveaway pictures here!) – and, surprisingly, these sequinned playsuits were not the chosen garment. 
In the evening, we went to Mary's for burgers and drinks, and I once again tried to convince Catdog not to go home. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday 13 February – Last day in NZ

Current location: Auckland, New Zealand
11.11am, On our way to Mount Eden. We were spending the morning in Auckland before flying back to Sydney, so we decided to follow the advice of the man in the travel shop next to our hostel, and walk up Mount Eden. Powering up with coffee and a muffin, we began the walk to the hill/mount...and found ourselves trekking through an industrial estate. So scenic. We finally made it to our destination, just in time for  speedy walk up the hill and the sun to come out. We had a quick sit down, took a quick photo (emphasis on quick) and walked back down, and back through the city to our hostel, were we packed up our stuff and caught the bus to the airport. Booooo our NZ holiday is over. It was so fun!
By the time we got back to Sydney, we were both pretty tired out so we stayed in, watched TV and waved goodbye to the boys, who were off on a big night out.

Wednesday 12 February – Welcome to Auckland

Current location: Auckland, New Zealand
11.11am, At a vow-renewal ceremony! Onboard the ship this morning, Capt Stubing was hosting a ceremony for 14 couples, and it was beautiful! The ship was decorated really nicely, and all the couple were looking lovely, and very excited! The rain held off long enough to enjoy the ceremony, then when the heavens opened, Cat and I retreated inside, packed our stuff up and left the ship (after a sneaky early lunch!). Within minutes of arriving in Auckland, the sun was out, so we decided to make the most of it and head over to Waiheke Island, known for its wineries. The windy, sunny, 40-minute boat ride away was quite a change from our ship, and when we got to the island, we decided to hop on a bus straight to the Onetangi beach. Seriously, one of the most magnificent beaches I've seen, ever ever ever! And it was pretty much empty.

As we'd hopped off the bus, we'd half-heard a comment from the bus driver to someone else, saying the wineries closed at 4pm, so we went to check in a nearby cafe, and found out that was true. The nearest winery was a 40-minute walk away, and the next us didn't come until 4pm. And it was 3.20pm. Uh-oh.

We were desperate to go to a winery called Stonyridge, which we'd heard a lot about, but just couldn't figure out how to get there in time. We started walking, while we were thinking, and in the end, decided to hitchhike (sorry Mum!). Can I just say for the record, it's a small island and nice and safe, and there were two of us. I don't make a habit of hitching but this time it saved our bacon, as a guy our age picked us up, drove us right to the door of the winery and, two minutes later, we were sitting out on loungers with the beautiful vineyard in front of us, and eight tasting wines lined up next to us. It was boiling hot, so sunny and green and lush, and we were so happy!

We ended up staying for a couple of hours, as there were quite a lot of us there so they didn't want to kick us all out. Apparently Taylor Swift had been there a couple of weeks ago, which according to our very sweet Stuttgart waiter was 'f**king cool'. I loved this winery!

When the winery closed, we ran down to catch the bus and then got a boat back to Auckland as the sun was going down. It's just so gorgeous here! Chucking our stuff in our hostel room, we went downstairs to a really cute bar (fairy lights, exposed brick and cheap drinks), had a beer and went next door for yummy burgers from Velvet Burger (recommended by some Aucklanders we got chatting to in the bar). Ending our night at an amazing cake/ice-cream shop called Milse, we got back to our hostel and fell asleep, full, drunk, sunburnt, and loving NZ!

Tuesday 11 February – Bay of Islands

Current location: Bay of Islands, New Zealand
11.11am, Paddling a Waka Canoe. It's a 50ft Maori war canoe, which takes up to 32 people. You all paddle together, singing songs and chants to get you in rhythm and help you paddle in time. It was one of the most fun and culturally enriching things I've ever done – we learnt so much about Maori culture and heritage from our amazing guide Tani (who was 14 but looked about 34), and found out heaps about genealogy and personal experiences of being Maori. Seriously – DO THIS if you ever go to Bay of Islands, I can't recommend it enough!

We'd arrived at the Bay of Islands overnight – so, when we woke up this morning, instead of seeing sea in every direction, we saw land! And it was beautiful land! We caught an early tender in for our canoe trip then, after our morning on the Waka Canoe, we caught a bus to Paihia. It's a very sweet little town, with lost of history and beautiful beaches, but it felt quite touristy. Very pretty though, so we sat and ate a sushi lunch in the sunshine and then wandered along the beach. We were both pretty tired, thanks to a combination of an early start, an active morning and missing our daily midday nap! Yes, we're quickly becoming nanas!

After a lovely day, we decided to walk back to the tender instead of getting the bus, and it was such a nice walk. New Zealand is stunning! We got back to our ship just in time to get a phone call from Meg, who said they were all going for an early dinner, so we quickly got ready, went straight there and had dinner with Gavin, Meg, Dave, Mick, Gavin's agent and another journalist David. It was a bit sad because tonight's our last night on the ship. It's gone so fast, but I'm excited to see Auckland and get back to dry land.

We got back to our room pretty early and decided to crack open a bottle of champers and enjoy it on the balcony. It was a beautiful evening, helped along by the full moon – what a great way to spend our last night on the Sun Princess!