Thursday, 5 July 2012

10,000 Views and Counting

10619 as I’m writing this to be precise. But horary, I’ve broken 10000 views on my blog so cheers to everyone out there who reads! I didn’t expect many people outside of my friendship group to take much interest in my little blog so it took me by surprise when my numbers started to shoot up a few months ago. This week the most hits have come from India but there are a lot of you reading in the Philippines, Peru, Canada, Russia, the US and of course the UK and Australia. So a big hello to all the Deb Down Under readers!

My year in Australia
The last 2 weeks have been really busy. I say that a lot don’t I? Well I mean it!! The Australia bucket list continues and I have ticked off a couple more items recently. My friends bought me a scrap book to fill before I left and, well, look! It's getting full!

Week 44
So this week I attended An Introduction to Biostatistics, which I was prepared for it to be brilliant and help me with my paper a lot. So when I turned up to a tiny room that was a billion degrees with a very small projector that was out of focus and not aligned right, my heart sank. The next 3 hours blurred into a monotonous hazy blob, partly because the stuffy hot room made everyone so drowsy, and partly because the woman that was “teaching” clearly didn’t know much about stats. Any time anyone asked a question she would reply with “you get a statistician to do it”. I would politely suggest that the course be renamed to An Introduction to Being Inept. Actually that’s not polite at all is it? My bad.

The weekend was heaps better. This was when we went to Mudgee and I’ve written about that already.

Week 45
One of the cocktails
This week was shorter as we had the Monday as a public holiday so only 4 days at work. The Wednesday was my (now not so) little brother’s birthday. I wish I could have been there to help him celebrate losing his teenage training wheels and hit the big 20. I miss my brother loads and it looks like he’s done a lot with himself while I’ve been away; he’s got a new career direction, he’s started selling his work and he had his hair cut off! I am back to having the longest hair in the family but that’s because I can’t afford a haircut rather than I want my hair to be this long. I sent a card along with all my love to him and hopefully he felt it.

Friday after work I spent lots of money. No, it wasn’t shoe shopping; I booked my flight home. It’s crazy how fast this year has gone. I’m not ready to go home, but ill complain about that in a separate post. My housemates met me in Newtown after work to go for a drink in my favourite bar. It was still early so I got to monopolise the cocktail waiter behind the bar and we had a good chat about how there aren’t enough rum based cocktails for the lactose intolerant. We improvised something with egg white for body and it wasn’t too shabby!

The fish and chips that defeated us
The next day we ticked one of the quintessential things about Sydney off the bucket list: the fish market. The 3 of us all made the rather long walk and bus ride up to where the huge markets are. I had a whale of a time (excuse the pun) fish is such a treat for me usually. I try and have it once a week but with my erratic food shopping it usually ends up being once every 2-3 weeks. The fish here is good but I worry about its sources as the quantity of it may not be sustainable. I enjoyed walking round all the shops and gawping at all the different size, shape and coloured fish. Each place would cook the fish for you as well so we decided to try it. One of my housemates doesn’t really like fish so had a grilled tuna stake and chips but my other housemate is a bit more adventurous and joined me in the seafood platter for two. I think it meant two hundred! What arrived was a mountain of fish! We had battered fish fillets, squid rings, huge whole prawns, an army of calamari and oysters 2 different ways all with chips!! It was impressive. I’ve never had an oyster before and my housemate had never had calamari before so we were both delving into uncharted food territory. The oysters with bacon were awesome; the oysters with cheese were disgusting. We managed to eat maybe two thirds of the epic portion and boxed up the rest to come home. I bought some barramundi to take home and off we went feeling very full.

In the afternoon we went ring shopping. No, not engagement rings but an opal ring my housemate wanted to buy herself. I got mine in October and I love it so I liked going round all the jewellers looking at the pretty shiny things. I try to be non-materialistic but there is something about diamonds and pearls that just attracts! We went to this one place and the woman showed us this lovely ring and my housemate had it on her finger admiring it and we asked how much it was. It was more than we have been paid the entire year! Why this woman was showing something that expensive to us, I don’t know, but it was nice to hold something that valuable. By the end of the day we found a lovely tear drop set black opal on white gold that looks lovely on her.

The view from the Observatory 
Sunday was nice. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze. We met a friend for coffee and a walk round the water which was bordering on civilised! Very nice relaxing day. It was also father’s day in the UK which made me miss my family again. It doesn’t matter how old I get, my dad is still the biggest and the strongest and the smartest man I know. (Even though in my heals I’m nearly as tall as him, he’s spent the last 10 years winning the snoozing Olympics and he does say some rather blonde things now and again)

Week 46
This week I apprehensively attended Advanced Biostatistics as the follow on course from An Introduction to Biostatistics. But this time it was good! This woman presented clearly and with knowledge. The room was still the tiny shabby one at the back of the old medical building and it was still a billion degrees but it was a much better experience.

One of the doo-dads at the winter magic festival
The weekend was packed. Saturday morning we were all up really early to go to the winter magic festival in Katoomba. This is an annual alternative festival that people flock to or avoid. It was fun. Though, with true transport authority style, the trains were replaced by busses on the main route. So it took, a car journey, a train, a bus, another train and a walk to get to the mountains. I liked pottering round all the stalls and I bought some tea and some caramelised cashews. Yum. We had to come back fairly early as it was a friend’s birthday dinner that night. We were going to a nice restaurant and I conservatively picked a gnocchi dish to save my pennies. I shouldn’t have bothered. With the amount of wine that ended up flowing I paid twice what my meal was worth just to cover the bar tab! We went to Bungalow 8 after and I decided I like the place more each time I go. The dj wasn’t bad but the drummer they had was really good. Drinks are a little pricey but I managed to flirt us in for the early entry fee and get the birthday girl in for free.

The observatory
Sunday was exciting. We have spent months watching the jet boats zip about the harbour and every time have said: we must do that someday. Well we did it this day! We missed out original booking by 5 minutes but were lucky enough to get the last 2 spots on the last boat going that day. In the unexpected free time we suddenly had, we walked over to the observatory to look at the view and see the museum. It was really interesting and they do a night time tour which would be great! They also had a couple of sweet old men sitting outside with telescopes looking at the hydrogen of the sun which was cool. We made it back on time for our next boat (via the pub of course) and had a lot of fun getting soaked by a jet boat. It was so cold when we got off. We didn’t realise it would be that wet do didn’t think to bring more clothes. We shivered our way home and warmed up with tea and cake at a friend’s.

Week 47
Glow worm tunnel
Wow I haven’t written in a while have I? This week nothing happened in the week. I got up, I went to work, I came home, I went to the gym, I showered, I slept, I repeated. At the weekend though we were back at the mountains for Papa Bear's birthday. The couple that took us to the mountains and Mudgee have become Papa and Mama Bear and we are the three baby bears. We went after work on Friday and on Saturday we went for a walk and we went to the glow worm tunnel. This is an old coal mining train tunnel that has a bend in it so if you stand in the middle no natural light can get in. All these little pin pricks of light stat to appear and it looks like the whole place is the night sky as the glow worms shine. It’s so dark its disorientating, and because the glow worms do looks so much like stars your body starts to feel like its lying down and you are looking up and the sky despite the fact your brain knows you’re standing up and looking at a wall.
Rice... bubbles???

That night we went out in Katoomba for dinner and drinks. Wow I haven’t drunk that much in a very long time! Everyone got totally car parked. You know it’s been a good night out when you get “sorry if I offended you” texts the next morning! I spent Sunday feeling very fragile and we made our way back home.

Week 48
This week I haven’t done much yet. I went to the supermarket and was horrified to discover that I have been living in a society that calles rice krispies rice bubbles!!! Work's chugging along and this weekend I have the impending fate of taking a 4 year old to the aquarium. Excellent. I’ll let you know if he survives.