Monday, February 27, 2012

Advice Needed re Onboard Communications

When we finally arrive in the UK and  move aboard  Caxton aka The Manly Ferry one of the first things to get sorted will be a mobile phone plus getting the laptop sorted for emails and bloggin etc.
I am a bit of a fair dinkum Luddite when  it comes down to setting up these things.

All we will be arriving with is a laptop.

Questions are.....

1. What company offers the best coverage

2. I have been looking at these click  little wifi thinggies I like the idea of no wires and being able to connect up to 5 devices.

3. How many MBs GBs would you think we would need, we will probably be only using the laptop for blogging, downloading pics and emails etc, we are not into games...well not computer games!

4. Can you get a package for an Iphone plus wifi thinggy and do they do deals, what is a reasonable monthly figure?

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Cheers Paul........... 30 days and counting

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My piles are gettin' bigger!

Well - Elaine here - and what a week it has been  - has it only been a week?  I can honestly say I have never felt so exhausted in all my life !  Well, that's my whinge over ... I will try to document  now what I have been doing to get soo tired ...

As I mentioned, the 'old piles are gettin' bigger' - not being personal - just talking about the piles for shipping / air freighting / storing / junking ... here is an example or two ...
Can you spot a cat amongst it all?

... well, that's Geoffrey !

As Paul mentioned, we went out last Friday night, then (last) Saturday it was his birthday - which he wasn't too worried about this year - his mind being on bigger and better things (and canal boats !).  So - Saturday morning we went to get my car cleaned as we had some friends coming over with their daughter to have a look at it, with the view to potentially buying it.  Their daughter said it was 'awesome' and really loved it - so, it is all looking good for her to buy it, toward the end of March - which will give her plenty of time to learn to drive a manual car (at the moment, she drives at automatic).  So - that was a productive morning !

Saturday afternoon, we cleaned out the garage and loaded up as much rubbish as we could into the Ute and took it up to the tip - the driving force being here that Paul wants me to keep the car in the garage - to keep it happy 'til it is sold !  The nice man at the tip only charged us $10, so that was a good result !

After a bit more clearing when we got back, we treated ourselves to a beer down in Manly, with the dogs (we sit outside a little bar, which is virtually empty at the time we go down there - but later in the night there are queues of young'uns up the road - waiting to get in !).  Then we got an Indian take-away and a DVD (The Thing) ... that was what Paul wanted to do for his Birthday night - he said he was in heaven !

On Sunday - after all the frivolities of take-aways and DVDs, we got up and I started on clearing out drawers - as we will be selling all our furniture and so it all has to be emptied!  Note to self, never ever put things in drawers again !  Paul took all his tools and tool boxes up to his work to clean and sort them out - which he did for about 6 hours!  When he got back we went to the Skiffies to meet some friends - as per his previous blog entry.

On Monday, I had to chase up the animal transport people - when we pick up the animals at  Heathrow we will have 5 crates to transport - so we wanted to know the dimensions, so we know how big a truck to hire !  It turns out they are plastic and can be dismantled into two parts, so what we will do is dismantle the dog crates and then fit one of the cat crates into them - that way we will only have to accommodate the size of 3 cat crates, plus our luggage !

When talking to the pet transport people, they mentioned that there were now new regulations on pet travel (as from Jan 2012) - which we knew about - in that, they now only have to wait 3 weeks following their successful rabies blood test.  However, what we didn't consider was that part of the wording was that it had to have been done within one year of travel - which seemed a bit nonsensical as our animals rabies vaccinations are all valid for 3 years - even though originally done just over a year ago.  Anyway, they wanted to double check with the Quarantine people - just to be safe !  I immediately developed whelts on my neck - and - it's a good job the sun was just over the yard arm - as I had a beer too ... I really didn't want any more hiccups with the animals (ref last years's debacle !).

Anyway - I continued clearing and creating my piles - I have one pile for storage, one pile for shipping, one pile for taking with us on the plane, one pile to send via air freight and one pile for the garage sale.  All the stuff in this picture, had been piled up in the garage, while we were selling the house - but which ll got moved to the laundry - which then had to be sorted ..yuk !
The laundry full of 'stuff'
Anyway, the following day I heard from the pet transport people who said that the Rabies statuses of the animals were all OK'd with quarantine BUT Geoffrey and William's microchips didn't have enough numbers - being the old standard - so they would have to write a letter to Heathrow to say that - if they required - we would bring a suitable microchip scanner with us for them to scan the cats (cost $150) ... the cats couldn't be re-microchipped because they can't do that after the Rabies vaccination ... so, we were prepared to buy the scanner to take with us !  The next day we heard that Heathrow were all cool and had no problems with our old microchips ... phew, another hiccup outa the way !  The pet transport people then booked the animals on their flights (on 29th via BA) which enabled us to book ours - so Paul booked our flights out on Wed 28th March - via Qantas (A380 apparently). Another tick !

Well -- that was the animals (and our flights) sorted - back to the piles !  The week was full of sorting  and culling (in between a busy week of massaging!)

We had decided to have a 'Garage / House moving / Clearance Sale' this weekend, so my focus was getting things ready for that ... this is the result on Saturday morning ...
Kitchen jumble sale !
Lounge room jumble sale !
Lounge room from deck 
We had decided to run our Garage sale (in the house) from 8 am to 4 pm ... we had been told that people always arrive early, so we got up at 6.30 am - Paul took the dogs out for a walk and went to get some coffee and croissants.  At 7.30 am the door bell went (even though I had put a sign on the door saying 'strictly no entry before 8 am' - I had gotten especially cranky the day before when someone turned up a day early !!!).  Anyway, they were 4 elderly people at the door, who were puffing and panting, having climbed up our pathway and stairs - and said they couldn't manage it again and could they please come in a bit early ... so, I let them in - thinking that they would have a quick look and go - then Paul would come back with the dogs and we could drink our coffee and eat our croissants ... but oh, no - it was like opening the flood gates - by the time Paul got back I was up to my ears in people ... !!! The Coffee and Croissants got put to the side, the dogs got hidden away and IT WAS ON !!!

We had soooo many people through from 7.30am to about 11am, then it dropped off - we had stuff all through the lounge, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, backyard and on the deck - so we had people everywhere !  We sold quite a bit of stuff really and met some lovely people too ... it was quite a fun thing to do, but by 1pm we were really, really tired !  My mate, Julia came by with her dog, Neo and bought us some chocolate muffins, so we had those with some cuppas ... very good diet we had yesterday ! By the time 4pm came, we were completely exhausted and the dogs were very peeved at being locked away most of the day (even though I was playing them their 'doggie classical music' to keep them calm!)

So - again - last night we got an Indian take-away - but watched a really bad film (something with Bruce Willis in it) ... I fell asleep, which was great .. thanks, Bruce !  So - we went to bed, thinking that would be the last night on our bed ... as someone said they were going to buy it!

Sunday morning, I got up early as I had so much going on in my head - so started putting our remaining stuff for sale on Gumtree.  The lady rang to say she didn't want the bed after all, so we get to sleep on it a few more nights !  Then --- just as we were feeling very fed up with the whole ordeal, Russel (Paul's brother) rang and cheered us up .. he is on board the boat (Caxton) at the moment, with his wife, Tracey - he told us it was so lovely and warm and cozy and peaceful ... so, that spurred us on !!

I put a few items on Gumtree, then we got ready to deliver some of the stuff we had sold (all part of the service !).  Paul went under the house to box up all his paints and other bits and bobs, as a guy was coming t 10.30 am to pick them up... which was great - at least they are going to good use !  Another lot of stuff gone .. another tick !

I then had a call from a girl who had seen the ads on Gumtree - who wanted to come and see the coffee table in the afternoon ... !  So - we did 4 lots of deliveries around the place and then came back for the girl to arrive to see the table, but she cancelled and then another guy rang to come and see it ... anyway, he ended up buying it, so all was well !  Now Paul had nothing to stick his feet on while he is watching tele ... terrible habit !  We still have a fair bit to get rid of, but we still have time, before we have to start donating to the charity shops !

Right ... that's my week ... we have just gotten back from a walk and a beer with the dogs and we will settle down soon with some beans on toast !  We know how to live !!! :) Elaine x

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last trip on the Manly Ferry

We went over to the city last Friday to catch up with some old friends from Byron Bay who were staying in the city for a few days.  As it was probably going to be our last  trip on the Manly Ferry I thought I had better take the camera along for some shots!

We were accompanied  by some of our 'Northern Beaches' friends who we met when we first arrived in Oz  in 1980. We were all in our very early twenties then and I still laugh when I look at the old photos from the early days; we all had mega sun tans without any worries of mortgages, serious jobs etc. - great times!

Back to the trip...... we overtook an Australian navy ship on its way back from....who knows ...
Passing a warship with another Manly ferry heading toward Manly
When we arrived at Circular Quay there was a P&O liner in (Aurora)
We walked around to a pub in the rocks area where we had a few drinks and dinner...
With old friends in the pub
At about 11 pm we walked back to Circular Quay to catch the last ferry back to Manly ...
I took a last pic from the ferry looking back towards the Opera House and bridge. If you are ever in Sydney a trip on the Manly Ferry is a must - it's cheap and you get the best views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge;  if the seas are rough you get a great roller coast ride as you cross Sydney Heads!
Looking back from the ferry
On Sunday afternoon we went to our favourite watering hole ... the Manly 16ft Yacht Club, with some old friends ...
Elaine and Julia
I took a night time shot on the way home of Manly cove beach and the ferry wharf; my first flat in Manly was located 100 metres from here.....ahhhh the memories !
Manly Cove and wharf
Back to the present day........Chaos reigns supreme as we or, I should say Elaine, is getting everything ready for the big move, I won't say any more as she is going to do a blog on it.  I will say she has been a bloody star, I have the easy job of going to work every day!

Other news is the flights have been booked and paid for by my boss (perhaps he wants to get rid of me :-))

We fly to the UK on 28th March the animals fly out on the 29th.

I had a chat with my brother Russell last night as he is spending a few night aboard Caxton at Stourport on Severn; he is loving it and amazed how warm it is and how much better the boat shower is compared with his home shower!

That's all for now ... :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Daily doings / logistics !

Paul wanted me to move all this stuff into the main blog ... so here it is .. don't fall asleep !!!

Here is a list of our daily doings in order to achieve our goal of getting to the UK and living aboard our Narrowboat !  Here goes ...

Pre 2012 --- in March 2011, we had the animals vaccinated for rabies, a month later they were all tested to ensure they had raised antibodies for Rabies ... however, Jaffa (cat) failed, so that delayed our departure by a month.  In 2011 the rules were that animals had their Rabies jabs and then waited 6 months before they could be issued their pet passports ... now in 2012, they only have to wait 3 weeks !

We also put the house on the market in March 2011 - we had one potential buyer but they wanted to move in earlier than we could leave (because of the Rabies - animals stuff ... so we lost them.  After that, the house was on the market continually --- not one serious buyer - until Feb 11, 2012 !  She signed the contract on that day and we signed our contract on Feb 12, 2012.  We have GO !!!

Friday, 10 Feb 2012 - checked out pet transport.  The animals are all well-ready to go now, so no problems there.  Got a quote for the 5 pets - $4400.  The lady at the pet transport company (skypets) told me that when the animals arrive at Heathrow, there is still a 4 hour processing time before you can get them - so we decided to fly out a day earlier than the animals and stay in a hotel overnight, to get our heads together.  We will then rent a van to pick them all up and take them to Macclesfield, where we will stay with my (Elaine's) dad for a few days ... poor Daddy !

I also rang the vets --- they are sooo helpful - we just have to make sure we have all the paperwork in order to give to the pet transport people, so they can liaise with the Australian Quarantine Service.  (We were originally going to do it ourselves - ie, you have to take the animals for a health check within 48 hours of flying, and then take the paperwork to the Quarantine Services to get it all authorised - but now we are going to get the pet transport people to do it for us - so much easier!)

Saturday, 11 Feb 2012 - we signed our contracts - so we have the green light.  We have a 42 day settlement period and will move out on Thurs 22 March.  We will then move into Paul's work's warehouse for a few days - thank God, for Paul's boss !  He did say we could stay at his house ... but, as ever, we just have too many animals.  So, we will literally just move into the warehouse / office with an old bed, our suitcases, the animals, animal food and kitty litter!

We will try to fly out on Wed 28th, this means that we will say goodbye to the animals the day before probably.  We will arrive in the UK on Thurs 29th and go and either stay in a hotel for the day and night - or go to Paul's Mums in Milton Keynes.  The animals will follow us and arrive on the Friday morning ... well that is the plan !!!!

OK - so that's the progress to date ... following I will just write what we do on a daily basis .. it will be interesting to look back on in years to come !
  • Yesterday I also ordered 3 cat collars, 5 new animal tags with UK tel nos on them and also some Feliway and Adaptil - products to calm the animals down.  I will spray these in the crates when we get them from the pet transport people - so they have a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling about the crates and don't hate them too much !
  • Today I ordered two memorial plaques to leave in our garden when we go.  One for our dear old dog, Byron and one for our naughty Bella Bunny ...:(  It will be sad leaving them ... 
On Saturday afternoon I pulled out the contents of the filing cabinet ... oh soooo much stuff!  We had some bills going back to 2000 !  So I chucked all those into a box ready for shredding !

On Sunday 12 Feb 2012 we wandered round aimlessly for a few hours - not quite knowing where to start ! Paul made a little start on his wardrobe and put a few clothes into the charity bag.  Finally we got the shredding and went up to Paul's work with it.  It was a very cathartic process shredding our past!  I also shredded a lot of my course notes from when I was studying all those years back ... it was funny to briefly revisit them before they got shredded into oblivion !  We got a fair bit done and then filled up the shredding bin to capacity so had to give it up for the day.  I will do the rest when we go and stay up there on the last few days ... when I have not too much to do ! 

Sunday afternoon I decided the best way to start was to pack my suitcase for the UK!  So I did that and then put the rest of my clothes into bags, for shipping.  I have still have some in my wardrobe but we don't need too many clothes at this time of year !  I also packed up some other bits and bobs that will have to be stored.  We will have to decide on what shipping agents to use, so we can get some proper boxes and pack properly!

Monday morning 13 Feb 12 I decided to send out an email to all my clients, letting them know that I wasn't going to take any more bookings, but honouring the bookings that are already made - that took me a while, but was a good process to go through, in gradually letting go of what we have here ...

The animal transport people were back in touch also on Monday morning, so we sorted out some dates with them ... 

I didn't get much more done on Monday - apart from pulling the computer out of its cabinet and putting it on a temporary table ... the reason being that I needed to take some pics of the cabinet to put on Ebay ... but when Paul got home he told me he is undecided about keeping them again ... aaaarrgh ! 

Tuesday 14 Feb 12 - today I received the new cat collars and tags in the mail !  Our cats will hate wearing collars again, but they must !  I moved the computer cabinet out of the study room (as it is now empty and taking up space!)  Still don't know if we are going to sell it or not ... it is nice stuff but is fairly big so may not be suitable in a new place if it is smaller than here in the future !

I had a few massages to do today so didn't get too much else done but I did call in the vets to get all the rabies paperwork in order for the pet transport people. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

House Sale Statistics

The house went on the market in September and sold on 11th February. We had an open house virtually  every week, plus a lot of specials in between the scheduled open house. Total open houses approx 50! Which equates to around 350 people!! The Lady that bought it looked at it Wednesday for 20 minutes, building and pest inspection Thursday and signed the paperwork Friday! As they say you only need one.

Never mind its  all over now, we have got some really busy weeks ahead as we are going to get rid of everything apart from personal momentos, we kept thinking about storage but it such a waste of money plus we dont know where we will end up in future years. Elaine is going into all the ins and outs in her daily doings, which I am going to suggest she just puts it all on the main blog.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sold ! Sold ! Sold ! Sold ! (you get the idea!)

Well - that's it ... we signed the contracts this morning ... the pics say it all !
We now have to sort out 'the stuff' ... much more exciting !  Elaine is going to add a page to the blog of our daily doings, in order to get there ... should make for an interesting list !

Elaine signing on the dotted line ... 

Sasha sticking the sticker on !

Happy little vegemites !

A picture says it all ... open house cancelled !

Thank you, God !
Posted by Picasa

99% There!

We are now so close we can virtually taste it ! Our house buyer has paid the deposit and signed the contract and by tomorrow morning, it should all be a done deal !  Our Real Estate guy said we can be officially excited at 10 minutes past 10 am Saturday 11 Feb 2012 - it is now 19:50 pm Friday night !  So, tonight we are drinking the Australian champagne .. tomorrow it will be French (we actually prefer the Australian !).

More details tomorrow but we should be in the UK by the end of March !  Give me another glass .. hic !!!
Paul and Elaine x

Thursday, February 9, 2012


We are so close but as they say "It ain't over till the fat lady sings"  The last couple of days would have to be the most stressful situation we have ever had to endure! Stay tuned!!!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Elaine's Birthday and a Long Long Weekend!

Twas Elaine's birthday on Sunday, and I'm sure she won't mind me broadcasting it was her 50th!  Still got all her teeth, a bit of a spring chicken really!

We had all sorts of plans for her 50th - as in big parties, hiring out a big house for a week, having a party on a nice boat etc. but in the end she said what I would really like would just the 2 of us to go away with the dogs!

So that was it ... a quick search on the internet and I found a lovely small converted barn on the south coast in a little town called Berry.  We decided to go down on Friday morning and come back to Sydney on Monday morning.

Berry is about 2.5 hours south of Sydney; it is a lovely little town surrounded by very green hills, the reason being  they have a fair bit of rain down there!

On the drive down we pass a lovely little beach with a railway station right next to it and the name of this place.....Bombo  (who we happened to name our dog, after the said place !)

Bombo railway station
When we arrived on Friday we decided to go for an 'explore' around the property but I ended up sliding down a hill in the mud so we had to go back to base to clean up!  On cleaning up my shoes, Elaine discovered a leach - which promptly disappeared - so we didn't think too much more about it and set off to the town to have a look !  On driving down the road, I felt a squelch between my toes and stopped the car, only to find two leaches in between my toes !  Elaine had never encountered leaches before and was (vocally !) horrified !  She then found a leach in her shoe and later in the day we found one in Bombo's mouth - poor puppy !  They seemed to disappear after those few appearances but they were enough to put Elaine off walking in the grass around the property again !

Anyway, I digress ... it just so happened that Friday and Saturday were the dates for the annual Berry show.  Country shows are here for the best explanation.  I must add that it had been pissing down for the previous week, it stopped on Friday but it was very boggy and muddy ... we have always wondered how our little white boys would cope with muddy towpaths, but after battling the Berry bog we realized that they will be fine!
Big Bull
I really enjoy watching the wood chopping events, it is amazing how the old boys generally win, this chap was in his 60s and he was on the biggest handicap of his group!
60 plus woodchopper
This truck is the RM Williams mobile outfitters, the trailer opens out to become a fully functioning shop.   RM Williams is the iconic bush outfitter supplying quality Australian products, but unfortunately more and more of the products are Made in China :-(
RM Williams Semi Trailer (Artic)
The truck is amazing, the paintwork and chrome are absolutely spotless, the truck travels all over Australia to various country shows for 11 months of the year!  Elaine bought a nice top and I bought a shirt.

The Truck is a Western Star

The sun came out for the rest of the weekend so we took the dogs down to the beach which was 10 ks away.  Dogs are banned from all Sydney beaches but in the sticks they are a bit more tolerant, they are still supposed to be on a leash but as there was hardly anyone around - we thought 'sod it' !

Chasing on the beach
They go absolutely mad down the beach they just love it ...
Sam going full pelt
Bombo never chases sticks when we take him to the park but get him down the beach he goes mental for one ...

Just chuck the stick !
Me and the boys !

 Elaine's Birthday was on Sunday but we thought we would go to a nice restaurant on Saturday night.We went to the Post House which was the old Berry Post Office ...

Berry Old Post Office
We both ate and drank  too much but it was a good night!

Outside the old Post Office (Posthouse resturant)

The rest of the weekend we just walked around and went to the beach again plus we vegged out back at the Barn ...

Such happy boys !!
The Old Barn

We drove back to Sydney via through Kangaroo Valley which was also very very green ...

Kangaroo Valley 
We also went out for a late lunch when we got back to Sydney - we went to the Cottage Point Inn  which was very nice plus we sat outside with the dogs.

On the way back home we took the shortcut through Kuringai National Park which obviously dogs are banned from - but we weren't even allowed to drive through with the dogs in the car - the Ranger turned us around!!! Welcome back to Sydney!!!