Saturday, January 28, 2012

Open House Number.....Lost Count !

We have lost count of the open houses we have had, but as we put the house on the market in early September and we have had an open day every weekend plus quite a few in between weekends it adds up to rather a lot!

So back to today...... 36 people (or 18 couples) came through!  Bloody amazing!  Six of them (3 couples) were on second looks so it is starting to look very promising!  I'm pretty sure there will be another interest rate cut next week, so that should also spark a bit more interest and loosen the purse strings.  We are now waiting for the offers to flood in!

Now for my whinge of the day ... it gets my dander up when we get comments from people who live in the UK and think that we must be nuts to move over there ...what with 'the unemployment, too many foreigners, Cameron having stuffed up the economy, crap weather, the Olympics being a waste of money' etc etc.

We are not going over there to make a shed load of money or for a career change or spend 8 hours a day sat on the M25!

We are going for a lifestyle change, and for one, not working will be a big change!  We want to see England from a completely different perspective and at a relaxed pace, catch up with family and old friends and of course to have an adventure!   We both feel very privileged to have Australian and UK passports and to have such a choice of where and how we live.

When I left Vauxhall in 1980 and went on a round-the-world adventure (only got as far as Sydney) they thought I was mad to leave such a good company with excellent prospects!  I proved them wrong as we will prove the current doomsayers wrong also!

Whinge over and out ! :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Struth ! It's Australia Day 2012 !

Today, 26th January, is Australia Day, so today's blog will contain a fair bit of the Aussie vernacular....''fair dinkum' (true, real)

Today is the anniversary of the first fleet arriving in Botany Bay in 1788.  Australia Day was first known as 'First Landing Day', followed by 'Foundation Day', 'Anniversary Day' and finally 'Australia Day'. The indigenous population (Aborigines) also know it as 'Invasion Day', which you can't really argue with.

OK, that's the history out of the way ... today is now best known for having a barbie and getting pissed! Even though it is a national holiday today we did notice that the 'garbos' (dustbin men) were still working!  There are also lots of citizenship ceremonies, Aussie of the year awards and honours etc.

We normally go over the city, where normally thousands of other 'dinky di, true blues' converge as there are a multitude of activities going on, but as today it is (yet again) pissing down we decided to go local.

We walked down to Dee Why Beach where they have a council run Aussie Big Breakfast Party.

We passed this house on the way, as you can see the Aussies are a patriotic bunch.
The council supplies the breakfast and drinks, but you can make a donation to a charity...

They also have a stage with bands playing etc...

We don't do queues so we had breakfast at a local cafe, as you can see Elaine loves having her photo taken ...
We just sat down and the heavens opened, it bucketed down for about half an hour (great timing!)

This old boy was playing a squeeze box in a cafe and they were singing Happy Birthday to Australia ...

They also had a car and bike show with a variety of different machinery -

Ford Capri with a 5.8 Litre Ford Motor! 

1912 Triumph which was ridden there!

Australia,s first car 
The 'old bill' was on display; they were also walking around to make sure no one was on the 'turps'. There was no sign of the 'Ambos' (Ambulance Officers) or 'Firies' (Firefighters) though !
There were a few 'Sheilas' on the beach dressed up as like 'galahs' ...

There was a good turnout even thought the weather was very dodgy, it isn't cold - just wet and very humid!

On the way back home we spotted this 'dinky di, true blue' drive past in his ute (pick up); he wasn't real true blue though as they wouldn't be seen dead in a Toyota, it would have to be a Holden Ute
On the way back we stopped at the 'bottlo' (off license) to buy some 'piss' (beer and wine) - so we can get 'rat-arsed' later (just kidding !)

All joking apart, Australia Day is a fantastic day celebrating Australia and what a great country it is to live in. You would have to try very hard to find to find anyone whinging and moaning about this country; my only whinge is it is very anti dog, and that is mainly in Sydney plus (as I may have mentioned previously) the drivers are worse than Arabs!  Apart from that Aussie Aussie Aussie - Oy Oy Oy !!!

It is also a year ago today that we sat in our pool and after a few beers and champers decided to bring the canal plan forward a couple of years !  We didn't really expect to still be here for another Australia day, but - in the nicest possible way - we hope this will be our last here !  'Stone the flamin' crows' what a year of ups and downs the last year has been - we are ever hopeful of selling the house soon!  There has been a fair amount of interest already and things aren't really back to 'normal' yet after the Xmas Holidays - so it is all promising ! Back to work for a day tomorrow, for some 'hard yacka', then another open for inspection on Saturday ... fingers crossed !  'Avagoodwegend' everyone !
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plane Spotting

So, what is the link between living on a canalboat and planes? Nothing really apart from we will be hopping on one soon to start the new life, plus I like looking at aeroplanes!  My dream would be to be on a narrowboat with a steam railway on one  side and an old aerodrome on the other.

Back to Sydney Airport....Elaine was on a course all weekend so on Sunday I took the 2 dogs on a road trip to show them the big birdy things where  they would be spending 24 hours stuck in a hold!  It is going to be the longest 24 hours of our lives worrying about the poor little buggers down there.

I know of a fantastic spot where you can get very close to the action legally.

First you have to walk along a beach and then at the end go through some bushes and hey presto great spot for watching planes; I have taken El there before and even she thinks it is quite neat.

Whilst walking along the beach a Singapore A380 had just touched down and was back tracking on the taxi way...

I have now flown on the A380 3 times to the UK and it is easily the quietest jet I have ever been in.
It in an incredibly ugly plane  though!
They come past so close that the pilots even give you a wave ...
The dogs were fine they weren't at all fussed with the noise!

This  Qantas jumbo was taking off, it is the official Wallabies plane and painted accordingly I flew on this plane to London in July and to Singapore in November ...
This sign in next to the fence ... as I said you can get very close!
I took a close up of a BA Tailplane...

An Air Pacific 747 came past, they used to owned by Qantas but now I'm not sure.
 And finally another A380 taking off for Singapore and London ...
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brother Russ's take on the Caxton Handover

From Russ ...

"We went to do the handover on a cold and crisp winter morning but the sky was clear.  We found the basin easy enough and the first test was ... how warm was the boat? Well, it passed with flying colours;  it was so warm and toasty and that was just with the fire on low!

The next test was how light was it ...again, no worries there !  It was very light what with the side hatches, light paintwork and the Houdini hatches.

How much room was there? I was surprised with how roomy it felt, even with 2 big dogs in it - it didn’t feel at all cramped.

The bathroom was nice and big and the shower was nice and powerful (no we didn’t have a shower Joe just demonstrated it!)

We were there for 5 hours with a trip to the pub thrown in and as you said Lesley and Joe are a very nice couple. They made us feel so welcome ... it was an excellent day.

I’m sure Elaine is going to love the boat (if I give it back to you) as I know I did; there is storage for everything and it is such a neat and tidy boat. They have covers for everything and I liked the cover for the semi trad end.

When I took the pictures the sun was starting to go down so the pictures don’t perhaps show the true extent of how light it is inside.

Tracy has videoed all the handover and I have all the manuals ... "

Thanks Russ and Tracy and Lesley and Joe  - what would we have done without you !  Oh - we sooooo can't wait to get there !  We are ever hopeful of selling our house soon ....
Elaine and Paul :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Open House of the New Year!

Today was the first advertised open house of the new year, and what a result, 25 people walked round for a sticky-beak!
Property photo
Kitchen and looking down to the 'South Wing'
This was by far our best open house to date, and the buying season hasn't even kicked off yet!  It should all ramp up again after January 26th which is Australia Day.  We will see how Mr Real Estate goes with the follow ups next week.

We really want to get on board The Manly Ferry aka Caxton before the boating season kicks off; the idea is to get some practice in before it gets too crowded, we don't want to look like nobs do we?!!

Here are some pics of the house, when it is tidy and animal-free ...
Property photo
Main Bedroom - not a bad view when you are in bed !
Property photo
Big Deck !
Property photo
Lounge looking out to deck

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sydney Harbour Bridge to Shut !!!!!!!

But only for the next 3 weekends from Friday 10.00pm through to Monday 5.00am. Massive news for Sydneysiders as the bridge is the main thouroughfare across the harbour, so we will be steering well clear of the city.

Bombo and Bridge

Its the first time that the bridge has shut since 1932, the reason for the closure is  so that they can carry out major resurfacing work and waterproofing. 

Also Known as "The  Coathanger"

 It has been closed before for the New Years Eve fireworks and other special occasions but only for a very short peroid of time.

Bridge with Manly Ferry, Cruise Ship, and a  Bulk Carrier going under Bridge  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Caxton Handover

My brother and his other half are off to Stourport this weekend to meet Joe, Lesley and the boys and go through a handover with them.  Just wish we could be there, mind you they are going to video it!

We had a bit of a problem with the insurance as in they will not insure you unless you are a UK resident, although they couldn't tell me the reason why~ Not a problem though as we will put the boat in my brother's name, and we can use it with his permission down the track :-)

When the stoppages are finished in March, bruv and crew will move the boat closer to his home in Milton Keynes.  Any suggestions on safe secure marinas north of Milton Keynes would be appreciated!  Once it is there he will be able to use it whenever, having worked in the boating industry for the last 31 years you soon come to realise that the best way to ruin a nice boat is to let it sit idle on a marina.

Another thing we have to change is the name, but I think we will wait 'till we arrive over there to work out how to do it; we want it very simple as in THE MANLY FERRY and maybe a small Aussie flag or pic of the Manly Ferry.

Finally once again thanks to Lesley, Joe, Russell and Tracy who have made the whole exercise very simple for us; not sure its been so  simple for them !

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Buying of Caxton !

We made the decision to buy Caxton on Christmas Eve ... and no, we hadn't had a few !

I have been following the Caxton blog since its inception and have always been impressed by the look and the style of the boat.  I also really liked the stretch that was done on the bow, allowing for a hold to put in crap coal, wood etc and to keep a clean roof area.

Obviously reading the blog you get a good idea of the condition of the boat plus how fastidious the owners are in maintaining the said boat !

When Yarwood started its build I thought "hmmm I can see a cunning plan coming up"!  (Yarwood is the new boat being built by Caxton's current owners, for those not in the know !)

When I was over in the UK in July/August 2011, I arranged to go to Stourport and meet Lesley, Joe and the boys and, of course, to give Caxton the once over !  It was love at first sight !  I must admit I wasn't keen on portholes because I thought the boat would be dark inside but with two houdini hatches and two side hatches plus light coloured paintwork the interior is very bright and airy.  My other reservation was that Caxton had a cross-bed and the thought of dismantling and reassembling a bed every day had always put me off them.  However, when visiting Lesley and Joe, they gave me a quick demonstration on making and un-making the bed and, from memory, I think it took 2.5 minutes !  If I remember correctly, Lesley's words at the time were "if you can't spend 2.5 minutes out of a day, you have a big problem".  Plus of course in a cross-bed there is a lot more room (to accommodate 5 animals plus us !).  The boat is reverse layout - as in the galley is at the stern (rear), followed by the dining room / lounge, walk-through bathroom (large !) and the forward cabin and a very large foredeck (cratch) - just perfect !

We discussed the price at the time and I told Lesley and Joe that I would be very interested and would like first refusal.

Of course, the plan was always to sell the house first and hopefully we would have been in the UK a few weeks before Caxton became available but it was not to be as the housing market in Aus slowed down just as we put our house on the market !

So - back to Christmas Eve - we thought why don't we just buy it and leave it in the capable hands of my brother, Russell - who has hired out many a narrow boat over the years and knows how to handle them !

There were a couple more reasons for buying the boat now (1) we would have somewhere to move straight on to rather than burdening ourselves (and our animals) on relatives plus hiring or buying a car to travel around the country looking for a suitable boat (2) the currency rate is in our favour at the moment is fantastic, so it seemed the right thing to do.

We transferred the funds for the boat plus a few months living expenses (for when we do get there) - and rather than using the bank we used a company called Oz Forex.  We saved approx AUS $6000 (which is 3900 pounds!) by using this company rather than the banks !  We will certainly be using them in future to transfer money across when we need it - it was very, very simple.

So - that's it - we have bought a boat we can't use yet ! (But Russell is very happy with our purchase !)

I would like to thank Lesley and Joe for their never ending help and support (and all based on trust) and also Russell and Tracey for their help with making our dream possible !

We were hoping to get the name changed before we got there but we might wait until we get there to get some ideas.  Any suggestions welcome on how to turn NB Caxton into NB The Manly Ferry !


The Manly Ferry (North Head)

Friday, January 6, 2012

NEWS FLASH !!!!!!!!!!

No, we haven't sold the house, but we are in the final stages of buying........................A NARROWBOAT!!!

Its too late tonight to go into the why, when and how etc; I will do a full blog tomorrow, but we are both stoked!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mini Road Trip

As today was the last day of the Xmas/New Year hols we thought we would go for a mini 'road trip' up to Morpeth, which is a historic river port about a 2.5 hour drive north of Sydney. "River Port" ...  sorry, it's the closest we can get to a canal link !

I took the dogs for a walk around the block before we left so we wouldn't have to stop for wee breaks. Sam was so hot when we got back he climbed into a bowl of water that Elaine had left on the floor. The poor dogs really suffer in the heat, hence the reason to travel to the other side of the globe!

Sam in bowl of water
We took off up the F3 free-way and battled with the crap Aussie drivers; there was only one smash ... mind you it was on a clear blue sky day on a dead straight piece of motorway and he still ran up the arse of a big 4wd....I absolutely despair of their horrendous driving.  Moving get a nice view of the Hawkesbury River as you head north.
Hawkesbury River
When we got to Morpeth the temperature had risen to 38 degrees!
Morpeth Post Office
We walked through the centre (there is only 1 main street) and had a look in some of the shops but it was so hot we thought we would head down to the river ...
Hunter River
We got down to the river but we couldn't really reach the water - apart from at the boat ramp - so it was there that poor old Sammy went in for another cool down ... (Bombo gets hot too but he doesn't like the water !)
Sam cooling off
The local pub was very quiet, in fact the whole town was pretty quiet; maybe most people had headed off to the beaches - which would have been a more sensible thing to do on such a hot day!
Morpeth Pub
There were a lot of lizards on the pavement, who were competing with the sparrows for tidbits of food ...

Lizard vs sparrow
The dogs were really interested in the lizards - even Sammy forgot about the heat for a while !
As you can see the roads are very wide in the country towns...
Morpeth high street
On the way back we went the long way round avoiding the free-way,  It is very green at the moment as they had a really wet December. We stopped for a pint and and nibbles at the Wollombi Pub before heading off home in the late afternoon.
Nice greenery 
Back to work tomorrow :-(