Saturday, 17 November 2007

Amazing Dubai - continued

Well here's another amazing thing!

Right here in Dubai, where the temperature sometimes tops 50+ degrees (yes, thats FIFTY C!) there's actually a thing called Ski Dubai with everything you'd expect to find in the Alps, ski lifts lots and lots of snow, toboggan runs and all. We drove past it yesterday and a massive structure it is too, quite apart from what's inside it!!

Last night we went over to the Al Qasr Hotel (um, translated Al Qasr apparently means literally Palace! - so you can imagine what it was like!) for some dinner at the very nice PaiThai restaurant which sits amidst dozens of very expensive villa type residences on the banks of a long canal/river. (I'm told that Tiger Woods owns one!)

But nothing is quite what it seems here because the canal or river is actually man made and doesn't connect with the ocean like most rivers do - water is pumped into it and around it in vast quantities and its apparently a very long canal! We hailed a water taxi after the meal to take us back to the hotel! Remember, this is a desert!!

And we was chatting to a guy in the pool bar earlier looking up at the 'Burg' next door and he told us that the height from the heliport deck to the top of the 'spire' is apparently taller than our Jumeirah Beach Hotel itself - plus built only 12 years ago, they are thinking of demolishing it and building an even bigger and more expensive place!

So WOW; this is Dubai - and we haven't even scratched the surface of the place!

We're dining at one of the 23 restaurants here in the Jumeirah Beach - the Lebanese one - this evening which should be fun and another new experience.

We leave here tomorrow morning at 7am to catch the 10am Emirates flight to Sydney so it's been a quick 'hello and goodbye' to this amazing place; but I'm sure we'll be back!!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Amazing Dubai!

We arrived safely after a 6 1/2 hour flight from Heathrow - a rather badly behaved and noisy child made the time seem to pass more slowly, even with the volume turned up on my TV headset!!

So we've had a nice sleep overnight in a very comfortable King Size bed with a room on the 6th floor of the superb Jumeirah Beach Hotel just a stones throw from the sister hotel, the amazing (oops that word again, but it really IS!) Burg Al Arab which our room overlooks and which is described as the world's most luxurious hotel! I'm sure you've seen it before but here's a shot I took on my phone-camera while I was sitting on the beach this morning!

We've just chilled out on the beach this morning and watched a couple of helicopters dropping guests off on the helipad way up top of the 'Burg'!

This afternoon we're planning to go shopping; no, not grocery shopping. Shirley wants to go to a place called 'the Gold and Diamond Park' so no guesses that she wont be looking for milk and eggs there! As my favourite daughter-in-law once told me, 'a happy wife is a happy life' - and it couldn't be truer today and I'll probably come back just a little (yeah, some chance!) poorer!!

This evening we're having dinner with some folks from Keephatch House (they live in Dubai) in a smart Thai restaurant in a place just a few minutes away called Madinat Jumeirah

Tomorrow I think we'll probably do some exploring as its our final full day here - we leave to catch the 10am Emirates flight to Sydney on Sunday morning!

But Dubai is a place we MUST come to again - it really is an amazing place and looking out across the blue sea under the warm Arabian, blue and cloudless sky, you really could be in paradise!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Signing off!

Well, its Wednesday and tomorrow at 5am we'll be heading to Heathrow Terminal 3 to get our Emirates flight to Dubai - we should get there around 7.30pm local time (thats 4 hours ahead of UK time, so around 3.30pm for most of you!)

We're staying there for 3 nights and leave for Sydney on Sunday arriving there on Monday morning at around 6am where I think Andrew will be waiting to meet us (probably plus one or two of the younger members of the family who are usually VERY early risers!!)

We have a few last minute things to do today( like signing our new Wills!!) and having a 'final' meal out with friends this evening and then I guess it will be early to bed as we'll be up at 4am - YUK!

So I'm going to sign off here for a few months - and wake up my 'sleeping' Aussie Blog which you'll find at:

So if you've nothing better to do and want to know what we're up to, just pop in to see us! I can't exactly put the kettle on but you'll be very welcome, nonetheless!

Now where DID I put my book of useful Aussie phrases? I guess you'll see a few of those over the next few months, no worries mate!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Last few days.....

Well, it’s not been a quiet week!

Shirley’s Dad had a nasty fall last Monday and has been in hospital with a broken arm – he seems ok now and he’s out of hospital but he’s black and blue as you can imagine! He’s 87 of course and although Winnie is looking after him, she’s 84 herself! We spent the day with them on Thursday at the Medway Hospital while he was waiting for the operation to ‘wire’ his arm – he got discharged on Saturday but is under the continuing care of a visiting nurse.

We had a very nice meal out at a posh Indian restaurant in Westerham with our old friends, Steve and Sue and Mike and Melanie on Thursday evening; Mike and Melanie will be in Sydney for a few days in January so we’ll spend some time with them then and it looks like Steve and Sue will be extending their visit to see their daughter ‘Angel’ (now living with her new husband in Hong Kong!) to pop over to Sydney where Sue’s sister Jan lives. Its only 20 minutes or so from where we live to their home in Frenches Forest and we often see Jan and Mike ourselves when we’re in Australia. It will be nice to see everyone again!

We headed up the motorway on Saturday to see Clare, her partner John and the boys – taking with us presents for Christmas before we head off Downunder this Thursday. We both said that Clare looks so well now and now that’s she’s over the traumas of the past few months, finished her course of Radiotherapy and has started a new job, she seems to have really turned the corner – well here, judge our wonderful and lovely daughter for yourself:

Now don't you think that's a nice photo!

We’re in ‘final’ run-down mode here now – last minute things and I got the suitcases up from the garage this morning ready to pack; it really doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago that we were putting them away after we’d returned in April!

I have a Lodge meeting tomorrow but apart from that and visits by Shirley’s beautician and a trip to have her hair fixed, we’re all but ready.

And just in time too!! This morning there was a real frost outside and the first morning scrapping the ice of the car windscreen! Brrrrrr! After a really wet UK summer we’ve had a lovely colourful autumn but now the temperature is dropping fast and with lots of berries on the bushes, it looks like it’s a very cold winter ahead here!

Monday, 5 November 2007

The Melbourne Cup

Don't even think about speaking to anyone in Australia tomorrow; that's speaking, emailing, texting or whatever else - because the first Tuesday in November is always Melbourne Cup Day when all of Australia literally stops dead to watch a horse race!!

If you go here, you'll find out all about this World-famous event!

Oh and once that's over it's the turn of the Australian Federal Elections on November 24, just after we arrive!

I think I'll be heading down to the beach, well away from all the politicians!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

At last! My 50th post!

Hmm, it’s taken me until 3rd November to get to my 50th posting on my UK Blog – well ok I guess I didn’t actually start the Blog until April so it can’t be that bad; but I’ll admit it has been a struggle sometimes to keep myself motivated to write something interesting!

Maybe I’m either to busy to write or perhaps I’m just too boring a guy to find anything interesting to write about! Maybe I’ll let others judge!!

Anyway I’d better try to grab your interest now, rather than waffle on about nothing just to say I’ve posted 50 times!

Two things – firstly, if you follow the link to my Aussie Blog you’ll find something new – it’s a ‘Google Map’ of our neighbourhood Downunder and by navigating there and then clicking on the list on the left hand side you’ll see where we ‘live, rest and play’ (um that’s because we don’t WORK, rest and play anymore these days!! Been there, done that etc. etc.)

If you’re interested in where we are in the world, then it’ll help you get orientated!

Secondly I came across another great sailing video – you know how much I like my sailing ‘fast and furious’ although in practice I never seem to get any faster than 8 or 9 knots when I’m sailing anywhere; these guys seem to be up and beyond 30 knots!!!

Anyway, go here and enjoy a few minutes exhilarating sailing with some stirring music too (incidentally and appropriately from a very popular female Aussie singer!) so get your sound switched on and turned up a notch or two!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007


Every day I become more and more fascinated by China, what is happening there right now and what is likely to happen in the future – I think it really is a momentous time and one which we will all probably look back at in wonder and awe. Yes there are huge risks of course, political and economic stability etc. but the opportunities are absolutely immense!

I read somewhere once that in world and economic influence, there were three distinct periods: the Mediterranean (old), the Atlantic (present) and the Pacific (future). The former I guess being the post ‘biblical’ and European influences, the Atlantic being dominated by the Western European and American influence and the Pacific being where the future influence was going to come from.

I think that we are witnessing now the emergence of that ‘Pacific’ or future influence in world terms driven from the ‘new’ economies of the countries around the Pacific Rim but principally China. This is and will continue to have profound effects on the lives of everyone; yes that’s including you and me!

Shirley and I have been to China twice; firstly before the handover of Hong Kong we visited there and travelled to Canton, returning to Kowloon by the ‘International’ train which used to run between mainstream China and the New Territories which were really, I think, part of Hong Kong.

And then we returned for a second visit to that amazing place on earth that Hong Kong was and still is, after the Chinese had ‘taken over’ – we didn’t think that it had changed very much, from a tourist viewpoint and the new airport on Lantau Island was in our opinion, the best in the world at that time! We’ve enjoyed both our trips there and always look forward to going back!

But there is so much more to see in China, the culture, the huge size of the country, the number of people, everything!! Plus the pace of change now of course!! It’s a place I want to see more of before too long! Plus I’m thinking of adding to my ‘Must Do’ list – to learn Mandarin!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

21 days and counting.........!

Well it's 3 weeks or just 21 days before we head off Downunder to Sydney again, this time via a few days stop-over in Dubai where we're staying at the amazing Jumeirah Beach Hotel, apparently voted the Best Resort Hotel in the World - well wow! The big decision every day I guess will be which one of the Hotel's 23 restaurants and bars shall we dine in!!

We're now into run-down mode here, sorting out things and making lists of things we've got to do/complete before we go - and as a result my usually regular sleep pattern is being disturbed by waking at around 4am with my brain running around in circles! Not good!

Also I've been trying to get up-to-date with all my masonic, property freehold and local nature conservation activities as I'll be 'distant' for a few months! But I'm sure that no-one will really miss me!! Or maybe they will for a little more peace and quiet from constant 'phone calls and emails on this or that 'new' initiative!!

Socially we're busy too as everyone has just woken up to the fact that in 3 weeks we wont be around so there's a whirl of dinner parties, restaurant visits and stuff plus last minute trips to see Shirley's folks and Clare's family in Keighley, over 4 hours drive distant!

But this week it's been chilly and putting on a sweater has reminded me that it's time I should be somewhere warmer!! It's how I guess birds feel just before they too migrate and head off to a warmer place for winter!

..... and now I really do have to get back to a more regular Blogging routine!! You wouldn't believe how many 'complaints' I've had from regular readers!! All I can say is ok, 'I'll try harder'!!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Wear It Pink!!

The campaign to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Research has organised a 'Wear-it-Pink' day this coming Friday 26th October - you can find out more information by clicking here.

So for all our 'Lady' friends across the world, please, please, please remember the five-point code
  • Know what is normal for you
  • Look and feel
  • Know what changes to look for
  • Report any changes without delay
  • Attend breast screening if aged 50 or over
Breast cancer touches so many people, old and young alike - but thankfully it can be successfully treated if caught early enough!

So this Friday, all you guys and girls please join us and wear something pink and donate something, however small, to help the important research effort!!

Humble Pie!

Well, you've probably spotted that I've removed the rather cheeky poke at the Aussie Rugby team getting beaten by the English - something about a new 'Aussie W(h)ine'!!

Yes, we got beaten by a better team yesterday - South Africa, you deserve the title of World Champions!! But we gave it everything but on the day, it was just not enough; arguably I don't think even the 'disputed' Try would have made a difference to the eventual outcome.

So now the wonderful, shiny, gold, Web-Ellis Trophy goes back to South Africa for another 4 years - look after it guys because you can bet that we'll be gunning for it again in 2011 in New Zealand!!

But what a wonderful competition! Hats off to the French for a very well organised and attractive competition - the real winner is the game of Rugby!!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

For all my Aussie friends........

Re-arrange these numbers into a well known combination

2,1,1,0 or

1,1,0,2 or um

1,2,0,1 or um maybe......................


Or put another way, simply:


Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Gift of Life

OK here is something close to my heart (um, pardon the pun!) – organ donation!

Would you believe that apparently, up to 90% of the UK population support organ donation but only 24% have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register – I guess most of us would say its simply something we haven’t got round to doing.

You may have seen that the latest major campaign aims to make it even easier for people to give the gift of life - over 11.6 million UK households are to receive an organ donation leaflet and registration form direct through their letterbox between October 2007 and February 2008 reaching an estimated 29.2 million people – 49.6% of the UK population.

Consider this:

  • 3,086 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 1,495 donors.
  • 949 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney, liver/pancreas or heart/kidney transplant.
  • A total of 2,137 patients received a kidney, pancreas or combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • A further 2,402 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
  • A record number of non-heart beating donor kidney transplants took place and accounted for one in seven of all kidney transplants.
  • The highest number of combined kidney/pancreas transplants took place (164, representing a 53% increase on 2005-2006).
  • Living donor kidney transplants are increasing - 461 in 2003-2004, 475 in 2004-2005, 589 in 2005-2006, and 690 in 2006-2007, and now represent more than one in four of all kidney transplants.
  • At the end of March 2007, 7,234 patients were listed as actively waiting for a transplant.
  • Almost a million more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total at 31 March 2007 to 14,201,229.

So if you’ve been thinking about it but not yet done anything, don’t wait for the postman to deliver the leaflet! Can I urge you to:

Just DO IT!

Click here and Register – its ‘easy peasy’ and who knows, you could be taking the first step to give the precious gift of life to someone!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Clare - update

Clare has now completed a full week of Radiotherapy treatment - Shirley has just returned home after spending the week in Keighley, helping with things generally and giving Clare some moral support.

Clare seems to be fine although beginning to get tired as the treatment progresses - today (Monday) she has a 'day-off' as the equipment is being serviced but she starts again tomorrow; its a daily 3-week routine for her and although the to-and-from the hospital travelling is a chore, the treatment itself seems to be progressing satisfactorily. Her final session is on 15th October and we are all hoping and praying that it will fix the problem for good!

Two pieces of good news - firstly Clare's partner John has just started a new job driving buses around West Yorkshire; he's very pleased to get something more suitable hours-wise and there are some good 'finge' benefits too which he didn't get before.

Secondly Clare has found a new job too - her present company is closing its operations so she's had the added headache and worry of finding another job at the same time as dealing with her cancer problem. (Sometimes life deals nasty cards like that doesn't it!)

Anyway, she's landed a nice job with the Consumer Credit Trade Association in Shipley as a member of their Marketing team - she's really thrilled and excited and starts work with them the day after her treatment finishes. something nice and positive to look forward to!


Hi everyone – ok yes, I know; I’ve been very quiet recently.

No real excuses but I’m going to try harder, I promise!!

So here is something to get you going - it's a quiz that tests your knowledge of phishing scams and teaches you what you need to know, I recommend it to you all.

If you think you're a smartypants and should score 100%, then take the test and prove it!

If you think you won't score 100% then you need to take this test because you are at risk of being tricked into passing over confidential personal information to some naughty criminal.

Pass on the URL to all your friends and spread the word! - phishing is BAD for you!

Good luck!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Mateship - the Aussie Test!

Hmm, don’t the Aussies have a wonderful way with words? Fair dinkum, no worries, g’day mate and all that – and now the concept of ‘Mateship’ and a thing called a ‘Citizenship test’ to encourage immigrants to better integrate into the Aussie society and culture – I think we could do with some of that here in England, don’t you?

So here especially for our very good friends in the Bandicoots Trivia Quiz Team at the Pittwater RSL Club are some teasers to get their teeth into before we arrive in a couple of months! Oh and maybe our (Aussie) son and daughter-in-law could have a go too!! No cheating now!


1. Who was the Father of Federation?

2. What were the real reasons the Australian colonies decided to become a federation?

a. What was New Zealand’s status before Australian federation?

3. List all the Prime Ministers of Australia in order, with their years in office.

4. What does Australia Day celebrate?

a. When was the first Australia Day?

b. What happened on the first Australia Day?

5. Who was Chips Rafferty?

a. Was he really gay?

6. Which was the only Australian State not to receive convicts?

7. Name the complete Australian Ashes Test squad from the 1948 England tour.

a. What was the team’s nickname?

8. How far is it from Sydney to Melbourne (to the nearest 10km)

9. What was the basis for the Crown to assume ownership of Australia?

a. What did it mean?

b. Was it correct?

10. Why can the Australian Prime Minister or Parliament not apologise to its indigenous peoples?

11. Were there ever any massacres (or mass killings) of indigenous people in Australia?

12. Did anyone ever take unwilling Aboriginal children from their families?

a. If they had, what would the institutions have been called which carried out these operations (if any)?

b. Did they live up to their name?

13. What has always been the general legal presumption in the Australian justice system if someone is accused of or charged with a crime?

14. According to recently proclaimed Australian laws, what is the basis upon which suspected terrorists are held?

a. What does this mean for justice in Australia and for ordinary, law-abiding Australian citizens?

15. What does the Government presume, and say, about David Hicks?

16. Habeas corpus is a fundamental of the Australian legal system. What does it mean?

17. When is Federation Day?

a. What year was the first Federation Day?

18. What is the correct spelling? “Color”, or “Colour”?

19. Two famous Australians travelled on the 1908-9 Shackleton expedition to which continent?

a. Who were they?

b. Together, they were the first to achieve which two feats?

c. Which of them is/was on the $100 note?

d. The other had an avenue named after him in Sydney. What is its name and in which suburb is it?

20. After whom is the mineral “davidite” named?

21. Who was the skipper of the first Australian yacht to win the America’s Cup?

a. Who was the designer?

b. What was the name of the boat?

c. In what year did it win?

d. What did the Prime Minister of the day famously say when the boat won?

e. What was the Prime Minister’s name?

22. Have there ever been Jewish Governors General of Australia?

a. If your answer is yes, what was their name(s) and in what years did he/she/they “govern”?

23. Has there ever been a female Governor General?

a. If your answer is yes, what was their name(s) and in what years did she/they “govern”?

24. Has Australia ever had a homosexual Prime Minister or state Premier?

a. If your answer is yes, what was/were their name(s)?

b. Of which State(s) etc.?

25. After what or whom is Bennelong Point named?

a. Where is Bennelong Point?

b. What is at Bennelong Point now?

26. Who was Pemulwuy?

a. What happened to him?

27. Who cut the ribbon when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened?

a. Why?

28. What disaster happened to Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge?

29. In what month and year did a ship collapse the Tasman Bridge?

a. What was the name of the ship?

b. Where was the bridge?

30. What does DLP stand for?

31. Who was the most famous member of the DLP for most of its history?

32. What was Australia’s greatest constitutional crisis?

a. In what year did it occur?

b. Who was Prime Minister?

c. Who was the Governor General?

d. Who became the next Prime Minister?

e. Which national media icon was on the steps of Parliament House at the culmination of the crisis?

f. What was Joh Bjelke Petersen’s role in the crisis?

g. What convention did he break?

h. What was the name of the Senator whose offer of a diplomatic posting precipitated the crisis?

i. From which party did he come?

j. Where was he posted?

33. What sort of creatures populate the island off Perth, WA?

a. What is the name of the island?

34. What is the constitutional status of the Northern Territory?

35. Who was the first female Justice of the High Court Australia?

36. When did Papua New Guinea become independent?

a. Who was its first Prime Minister?

37. Who called Australia “The Lucky Country”?

a. What did he mean?

38. In what year did Australia first host the Olympic Games?

a. In what city?

39. In which year and in what city did the world welcome “Matilda” as the mascot for the Commonwealth Games?

a. What was she?

b. How big was she?

c. What did she famously do?

40. For how many years was Robert Menzies Prime Minister?

a. From when to when?

41. Where was the Eureka Stockade?

a. What was it about?

b. When did it happen?

42. When did Aboriginal people gain the right to vote?

43. When was the legislation passed to include Aboriginal people on the Census?

44. Australian indigenous dot painting is world famous. Where did the movement begin?

a. When?

b. Name the person who initiated the movement as a community and economic enterprise.

45. Who was Australia’s most famous Aboriginal Artist before this?

a. Where did he come from?

b. What language is spoken in that country?

46. Who went to prison for planting a bomb in a rubbish bin outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney but subsequently had his conviction quashed?

a. What year?

b. What was happening at the Hilton Hotel, Sydney, at the time?

c. Of what religious sect was he a member?

d. On whose evidence was he convicted in the first place?

47. What were Ned Kelly’s famous last words?

48. Who wrote a book with those words as its title?

a. What was his real name?

49. Who was Xavier Herbert?

50. What, and in what year, was the Petrov Affair?

51. In which year did Australia first fight a war as a nation?

a. Against whom?

52. In Australia’s early years, what was the main form of personal transport?

a. What was the main form of bulk transport?

53. What is the Australian standard gauge for railways?

a. How many different gauges were there before standardisation?

b. What were they?

c. In what year did the first service operate from Sydney to Melbourne without changing gauges?

d. What was the name of the service?

54. Where was the origin of the most important breed of sheep in Australia?

a. Who imported them?

b. Where can the descendants of the first flock be found?

55. What did Paul Hogan do before he became a movie star?

a. What brand of cigarettes did he advertise?

b. To what tune?

c. What was the slogan?

56. Who was the whistler in the advertising campaign for Cambridge cigarettes?

57. Before cigarette advertising was banned on Australian television, an announcement was made at the conclusion of each advertisement. What was it?

a. Who spoke it?

b. In what popular TV serial did he appear?

c. On which network?

d. What character did he play?

e. How did the character infamously die?

58. When was cigarette advertising banned on television?

59. Who wrote the advertising campaign whose catch phrase was “Where do you get it?”

a. Which radio stations does he now own?

b. Who is his most famous employee?

c. What is the name of the book which explores this employee’s homosexuality?

60. What is the name of the most famous Australian movie about transvestites?

a. Who is Australia’s most famous operatic soprano?

b. Who is the second most famous?

c. What dish was named after her?

61. Which two nations claim to have invented the pavlova?

a. In honour of whom was it invented?

b. On what occasion?

62. What disease was the first attempt to eradicate the rabbit in Australia?

a. What was the second?

b. Where was it first released?

c. Why?

63. Which organisation released sparrows and starlings into Australia?

a. Why?

64. Why was the cane toad introduced into Australia?

65. What is the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act??

a. When was it promulgated?

b. By whom [Prime Minister]?

66. What is the constitutional principle on which the Federal Government halted the proposed damming of the Gordon below Franklin Rivers in Tasmania?

a. When was the proposed damming stopped?

b. Which famous international TV naturalist joined the protest against the dam?

67. Where is the Ord River?

a. What was the Ord River Scheme?

68. What does QANTAS stand for?

a. Who founded QANTAS?

b. From where to where was the first commercial QANTAS service?

69. What is the full name of Sydney Airport?

a. After whom was it named?

b. For what was he/ she famous?

70. What does WACA stand for?

a. What does “The Gabba” stand for?

71. What does FNQ stand for?

72. What do the following have in common? Cambridge, Archerfield, Jandakot, Parafield?

73. What percentage of Australians are indigenous?

74. What was the White Australia Policy?

a. When did it end?

75. Who was Arthur Calwell?

a. Who shot him?

b. Where?

c. Why?

d. What were Calwell’s injuries?

76. When was the first modern terrorist bombing in Australia?

a. By whom was it carried out?

b. Against whom?

c. Where?

77. People from how many countries have made their homes Australia?

78. Have atomic or nuclear weapons ever been detonated in Australia?

a. If so, by whom?

b. How many?

c. What were the long-term consequences?

79. What was the name of the control centre for post WWII rocket testing on behalf of the British Government?

a. What people lived in the area?

b. What happened to them?

80. What happened at Maralinga?

81. Where is Pine Gap?

a. To what extent is Pine Gap an example of Australia/US cooperation?

b. What do they do there?

c. Why not?

d. What access does Australia have to the results?

e. Why not?

82. Who first climbed and named Mount Kosciuszko?

a. When?

b. What range is named after him?

c. Where is it?

d. What nationality was he?

e. Why did he leave that country?

f. Who was Kosciuszko?

g. What was his full name?

h. What is the correct pronunciation of his surname?

83. What was the Cowra Uprising?

84. What did Bec do before she married Lleyton?

85. What was Kylie’s first movie role?

a. What was the film’s title?

b. What was her name in Neighbours?

c. List all her boyfriends from Jason to Olivier.

86. What is Molly’s passion?

a. What is going on under his hat?

87. Whom did Elton John marry in Australia?

a. On what date?

b. What was she doing in Australia?

c. Which Australian singer was present at the wedding?

88. Whom did Graham Kennedy marry in Australia?

a. What American TV comedy show did she star in?

89. How many Twelve Apostles are there?

90. In which month are the Birdsville Races held?

91. How many members sit in the House of Representatives?

92. How many members sit in the Senate?

93. Which Australian parliament does not have an upper house?

94. Which place has the lowest elevation in Australia?

95. Where are the oldest rocks in the world?

a. How old are they?

96. Where was the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party?

a. What happened to it?

97. Who formed the Liberal Party of Australia?

98. What were the first Australian political parties?

99. Who was the shortest-serving Australian Prime Minister?

a. Who was the longest?

100. What were:

a. The Statute of Westminster?

i. When was it enacted?

ii. When was it adopted?

iii. What did it do?

b. The Australia Act?

i. When was it enacted?

ii. What did it do? how did you do?

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Clare - further update

Just to confirm that Clare seems to have been given the 'all clear' this morning - meaning that tests from the further surgery she had a week or so ago to remove a little more tissue around the margin of the original cancer were negative, so hopefully all the 'bad' cells have now gone.

It's likely that she will now undergo a precautionary course of (daily) Radiotherapy for about 3-weeks and then in 3-months get checked again - and then if ok, regular annual checks. She has an initial appointment to plan this on Thursday so she'll know more after then.

Having just talked to her she sounded more upbeat and less tired than a few days ago so we're obviously pleased and very relieved about that.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Clare - update

It’s now over a month since Clare had her initial surgery in July – since then she’s made steady progress and has been down near to us to stay with one of her good friends, Sally, which was a great tonic for her.

After the results were available she was told that she needed some further surgery to remove a little more of the tissue ‘margin’ around the cancer – this was precautionary to make sure they had removed all the cancerous cells. She went in again on the 8th August and stayed overnight – although the surgery was less ‘sever’ and intrusive, the anaesthetic took some time to work through her system this time and she’s felt quite run-down and tired than after the first operation.

She has a further appointment this coming Tuesday to get the results but she called this morning to say that she’d received a letter with an ‘out-patient’ appointment with the Oncologist to assess and decide what ongoing treatment, if any, she will undergo.

So that’s where we are at the moment with fingers still firmly crossed that things will improve and the trauma of surgery will have all been worthwhile.

Clare is still recuperating at home and will be off work for a while yet; oh and just to add another dimension she learned a week or so ago that the Company she works for will soon be closing its operations in Keighley so she’ll be looking for a new job as soon as she’s fit enough.

As we all know, some times life deals you these bad ‘hands’ and Clare sure has had more than her fair share recently! So let’s hope those storm clouds part and the sun comes out in her life again soon!!

Hello again! Missed me?

Hmm, I just had this guilty feeling – it’s a month since I last posted something here and I’ve been getting complaints from far and wide!!

So I’m sorry – no real excuse just out of my routine since I was away for 10-days sailing at the end of July; you know how it is?!

Anyway, the sailing was good although because the weather was so awful and unpredictable we didn’t get as far south as St. Malo, visiting (apart from Cherbourg) just Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands. We did have some good sailing but mostly we ‘motored’ as either the wind or tides were against us – the tidal stream known as ‘the Alderney Race’ is especially severe and critical when sailing in that area.

And then I hurt my back!! Well it was after we had moored up at the Hamble on returning when we were moving heavy bags and provisions off the boat – I twisted and felt something go; ouch!! Next day I was flat on my back and crawled to see my Chiropractor, Henry Butterfield, who did his usual ‘tut, tut’ when I explained how it had happened!! Well, that’s how he makes his money I guess!!

It took all of two weeks to get myself fully mobile again – maybe I should be more careful in future!

Meantime there is some more up-to-date news on Clare which I’ll post separately after this.

We had a nice weekend break with our good friends Elaine and Sandy Downs in the lovely old Shropshire town of Ludlow last week and managed to experience a ghost for the first time!! It was actually a reasonably friendly ghost I think but nonetheless scary in the ‘prickly-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck’ situation! The house is very old (actually its two very old cottages, knocked into one) and some parts of it date back a few centuries – it was at one time apparently used as a hospital!

I first sensed something when we went to bed at around 11pm – I walked into the bedroom to a really strong and pungent smell, like fish or something like that. Shirley smelt it too and we both agreed it was an ‘un-natural’ smell – we switched the light off and snuggled closer together, peeking somewhat carefully from under the bed-covers!!

Thankfully, the night passed without any problem!

Next day we mentioned the smell to Elaine, being careful not to phrase it in an offensive way to our lovely host and hostess!! ‘Oh’ said Elaine. ‘Did I mention this to you before?’ ‘No?’ we replied, feeling more than a little apprehensive at what she was about to tell us!! ‘A fish-like or deathly type of smell?’ she enquired. I couldn’t actually remember what the latter smelt like so I said it was more like cat-food, kind of ‘fishy’!

Well it seems that there IS a ghost there! Elaine has sensed ‘something’ close behind her on one occasion and literally tore down the stairs in a blind panic and on another she saw what she described as ‘a shadow’ moving into their bedroom. Plus they’ve both experienced ‘the smell’ which seems to appear suddenly and then disappear just as quickly!!

We stayed three nights and strangely only smelt the ‘pong’ on the last night we were there, and then not as strongly as that first night so maybe the ghost got used to us and thought we weren’t that bad at all to be in ‘his’ or ‘her’ house!!

So next time you switch off the light at bedtime………………….!!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Speed sailing!

Ok for anyone reading my Blog who's not quite sure what this mad pastime sailing is all about, here at 20 knots plus in a big swell is Pirates of the Caribbean - one of my all time favourite sailing videos!

Hmmm, now I wonder if we could match that on Friday evening's English Channel crossing?

Putting my sea-legs on again!!

This Friday I join the other ‘Long John Silver Sailing Club’ guys at Hamble Point Marina – we’re off for 10 days sailing across to the Channel Islands and France!

The plan is to leave the Hamble at around 6pm, aiming to pass the Needles just off the western end of the Isle of Wight at approximately 9pm just before the light fades; and then it’s a straight passage across the busy English Channel to Alderney where we hope to arrive around 8am – 80 miles or so at roughly 5 knots per hour will take us a total of about 16 hours so with fingers crossed for the weather and sea state, I guess we’ll be still all be a little tired when we tie up in the picturesque harbour at Alderney.

The English Channel at night is always a challenge as its one of the busiest shipping areas in the world so everyone will be ‘alert’ and watching the eerie dark shapes of big ships moving this way and that in the darkness! We usually arrange shifts – 2 hours on and 4 hours off depending upon how many crew we have. One guy always on the helm of course and at least one on permanent look-out which is such a critical and important job to do while everyone else tries to sleep below until woken and then immediately get up on deck, blinking and rubbing eyes, ready for their shift.

Although busy, mid-Channel is also a very lonely place especially at night, regardless of the weather and there’s a lone single buoy mid-Channel which looks surreal when you pass it by – it marks the midway point of the 5 mile wide separation zone of the two 5-mile wide shipping channels (westbound and eastbound) so it’s a fairly important feature in an otherwise featureless seascape, completely out of sight of land!

The boat we have this time is called Jane’s Buoy, a 10-berth Sun Odyssey 43 built in 2005 – if anyone is interested, you’ll find it here. At this moment there are only 6 of us on board so I’m sure we’ll be able to spread out a little! I usually get allocated a cabin to myself anyway because I’m told I snore – what, who me??

The overall plan is to cross the Channel and visit the Channel Islands of Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey before heading further south to the lovely port of St. Malo on the Northern French coast. Then afterwards heading north again passing the Channel Islands again to port and then around to Cherbourg where we’ll rest up before the return crossing to Cowes, Isle of Wight probably on Friday 27th July; then finally back up to the Hamble to return the boat on Sunday 29th July, hopefully undamaged!!

Of course, the weather, wind, sea-state, crew state etc all play a part when sailing so if everything goes ‘pear-shaped’ its possible we could just stay put on the mooring at the Hamble for 10 days!!!!!! Anything more than a Force 5 or 6 on Friday will certainly make us rethink the plans!!

Watch this space………………….!

Hello Bandicoots!

Now here is a nice photo which I’d like to share with everyone – it’s of (l to r) Ian, Barbara, Jon, Chris, Craig, Chris, Robert and Lin - otherwise known as the Bandicoots!! – enjoying a quiet evening out together and a ‘curry’ at the Rupee Room in Collaroy.

We’re very pleased to be ‘honorary members’ of the team when we’re in Australia – every Wednesday evening at the Pittwater RSL when it’s ‘Quiz Night’!!

Good friends, good times! We look forward to joining you again hopefully in November!

‘Go Bandicoots!!!!’

Clare – update

As everyone probably knows, Shirley has been staying with Clare in Yorkshire to help her through the first couple of weeks since her operation; I travelled up to Keighley on Friday and brought Shirley back home here on Sunday evening.

Clare seemed fine, still more than a little sore and heavily bruised of course but she said she felt better and stronger as each day passed; obviously having ‘Mum’ around like a cross somewhere between a house-chore ‘White-tornado’ and Florence Nightingale helped!

Clare had her follow-up appointment at the hospital this morning (Tuesday) – its two weeks tomorrow since the surgery. The news seems good although there’s a slight problem. The good news is that the operation to remove the lump in her breast was successful and there’s apparently no cancer in the lymph nodes – the not-so-good news is that the surgeon feels that he would like to remove a little more of the tissue around the margins of the area where the cancer was which means that Clare will have to go through another (slightly less traumatic) operation on 8th August to do this. I think this is really just a precautionary measure to make sure that they have got all the cancer and it hopefully won’t return.

The surgeon has assured Clare that the surgery will be less severe and it is possible that she will only be in for 24 hours. Following this they will decide what treatment, if any, she will require.

So with just a little proviso, we’re feeling somewhat relieved!

We would like to thank everyone again for their support and continuing concern which we very much appreciate.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Clare - update Saturday

Good to report that Clare was discharged from hospital yesterday afternoon - into the care of her Mummy! She's tired of course but otherwise in good spirits.

I talked to them both earlier and all seems fine - Clare gets the results on July 17th so 'fingers crossed'. She'll probably learn then what treatment she needs.

She's still sore but less so as each day goes by so hopefully she's on the mend.

Thanks to everyone for their concern and good wishes which we really do appreciate.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Clare - update - Friday

Just sent a 'good morning' and wakey-wakey' text to Clare - she says she slept like a log after taking some strong pain killers last night. She says she's ok but still quite sore and she's hoping that she'll have her 'drains' removed later today.

Oh and the photo? Well it was taken at Studland in Dorset in July 1977 - wow that's 30 years ago!!

Pictured from left to right are Andrew, Clare, Richard Lally and Simon Lally (standing) - today between them they now have a total of 7 offspring of their own, amazingly 6 boys and only one girl, our Jessica!!

And coincidentally, Richard and Simon's parents, Chris and Diana were with us only last weekend - so there's another long-standing friendship which we cherish so much; I think good friends are a precious gift - don't you?

..........where DO the years go to??

Thursday, 5 July 2007

The most important day

This is the most important day in your life. Because this is the day that you are now living.

If your life is headed in an undesirable direction, this is the day you can change it. If there are dreams you are longing to fulfill, this is the day you can follow them.

This day, right now, is the day when you can put to use all the knowledge, experience and wisdom you've accumulated. On this very day, you can do the things you've been meaning to do and connect with the people you've been meaning to see.

On this day, you have a world full of choices. On this day, there are more possibilities than ever before.

Of all the days you've ever lived, and of all the days to come, this is the one special day that now matters the most. For it is on this very day that you can now think and speak and act and love and live.

Give yourself a quiet, peaceful moment, and grasp the immense value that is now yours on this very day. Then step forward and fill it with beautiful life.

-- Ralph Marston

Clare - Bulletin

Clare had surgery yesterday to remove sentinel lymph nodes in her breast - she apparently went to theatre around 12.30, earlier than scheduled and I'm told she came round about 2pm.

John visited her and said she was ok but still obviously groggy from the anaesthetic but sitting propped up and quite chatty.

She's since had a reasonably good night and she tells me in a text that she's sitting by the bed more than just a little sore which I guess is to be expected; but she seems in good spirits and ok.

Shirley is going to see her later today so I expect I'll get more news and detail afterwards.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Concert for Diana

….an old Rocker gets excited again! What a great concert!

And would you believe it I even enjoyed some of the Rap too!

Elton John, Nelly Furtado, James Morrison, Lily Allen, The Feeling, Fergie, Duran Duran , The English National Ballet, Status Quo (oh yes!), Joss Stone, Orson, Roger Hodgson of Supertramp (oh yes, again!), Tom Jones, Will Young, Natasha Bedingfield, Pharrell Williams, Bryan Ferry (YES!), an Andrew Lloyd Webber performance, featuring Donny Osmond and Andrea Bocelli, Rod Stewart, Kanye West, P. Diddy, ‘Take That’ and then Elton John again.

Oh yes and then of course even Freddie Mercury got in on the act as a video of Diana’s early years played – and Freddie sang, ‘Those were the days of our lives…………..’ – a very poignant and emotional finale.

A wonderful and very entertaining 6 hours!! And the new Wembley - WOW!

More here

Saturday, 30 June 2007

............last drag

Well, its almost here - tomorrow 1st July 2007 to be precise!

The day all non-smokers in England (oh and Australia too!) have been waiting for and the day probably which smokers have been dreading!

So from tomorrow in England, ashtrays will finally disappear from the bar in pubs, you'll not get bothered by smelling smoke in a taxi or standing on the platform waiting for a train!

A smoke-free heaven on earth!!

(but watch-out for some very techy and irritable people in the next few days and weeks!)

Friday, 29 June 2007

Newsflash! Aussie population

AUSTRALIA's population has reached an estimated 21 million.

The milestone is thought to have been achieved about 9.32pm and 58 seconds (AEST) today, according to an online clock operated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that estimates the country's resident population.

The estimate calculates an increase of one person every one minute and 45 seconds by averaging one birth every one minute, 56 seconds; one death every three minutes, 59 seconds; and a net gain of one international migrant every three minutes and 15 seconds.

Australia's population passed the 20 million mark in December 2003, according to ABS data.

It was not immediately clear who was the 21 millionth Australian - a baby or a migrant - or where they might be.

.....................but WE know who they are, don't we!?

They are pictured right here with the family!

G'day to our good friends Downunder, Jon and Lin Price - Australia's newest citizens!!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Rough day?

Just in case you are having a rough day, here's a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological journals - the strange thing is that it really does work and I promise it will make you smile.

1. Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.

2. Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.

3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.

4. No one knows your secret place.

5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.

6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

7. The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater.

See? It really does work. You're smiling already.

Keephatch Friends

um, here's something else we get up to at weekends!!

..........and Andrew keeps telling me I don't have enough to occupy my time!!!

I'm not too sure about that! Take a look at what we do as Keephatch Friends.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

The Champagne Murders

It's the Summer of Love, July 1967, and London still swings like a pendulum do. In the Chelsea home of Lord Michael Jagged, a select group of fashionable young things have spent the weekend drinking champagne and partying.

As the guests gather for dinner on Sunday evening, however, they are met not by their host but by Scotland Yard detective Austin McClue, who brings them shocking news: Lord Jagged has been murdered! And they are the principal suspects in the policeman's enquiries!

The guests were:

TERENCE SHRIMP - An East End boy whose success as a photographer has taken him into the most fashionable social circles.

MARTIN X - A reclusive political rights campaigner from America, whose presence in England is not strictly legal.

MARY-JANE FAITHLESS - Formerly the lover of Lord Jagged, now known as a pop star in her own right.

WIGGY - The most famous and glamorous model in the world, for this week at least.

OLIVER STEED - Actor, raconteur and hell-raiser: larger than life and twice as loud

Wiggy and Oliver Steed

KITTY KILLER - She looks like a sex starlet and claims to be a journalist, but everyone knows that really she's a secret agent.

BRIAN SEWER - The brilliant wine critic of the Evening Times whose snobbery and arrogance have endeared him to nobody. Unfortunately, his arrogance is justified.

TAMARA FARA-BUCKTOOTH - Famous for being famous, she is a regular fixture on the London social scene and is somehow related to Lord Jagged.

'CHAMPAGNE' CHARLIE BUNSON - A high-living entrepreneur whose connections with the London underworld have already attracted the attention of Scotland Yard.

BABS CRAYFISH - The girlfriend of 'Champagne' Charlie and a former nightclub-hostess, she now claims to be a legitimate actress.

Wiggy, Charlie Bunson, Kitty Killer, Babs Crayfish, Terence Shrimp, Tamara Fara-Bucktooth, Mary Jane Faithless and Brian Sewer (kneeling)


Shirley, Graham, Judy, Patricia, John, Maria, Eileen and Dan this is how adults spend a wet n windy Saturday night!!

Friday, 22 June 2007

Christmas in July!

Now here’s an interesting thing!

The high point of winter celebrations in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney is Christmas in July, around which the winter-long Yulefest has evolved when the hills come alive with the sound of carols and roaring fireplaces — and great tucker — to banish the winter chill!

That’s all because in the Southern Hemisphere, winter takes place in the months of June, July and August; December — and Christmas — occur in the summer.

In a country where Christmas takes place in the summer, it seemed only a matter of time before people started enjoying the spirit and the trappings of Christmas in the middle of the Australian year — which is when it's winter in Australia.

Rumour has it that it all began only in 1980 when a group of Irish visitors, visiting the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney during the Australian winter, saw snowflakes dancing in the wind, and felt celebrating Christmas in the summer didn't quite feel the same.

So was born Christmas in July — with Christmas decorations, snowmen, carols, roast dinners of turkey, ham and mince pies with plum pudding, and yes! Snow too!

Oh and for the rest of us enjoying the (wet ‘n windy) June in England, its only 186 days to our Christmas or 16,070,400 seconds or 267,840 minutes or 4464 hours or simply around 26 weeks!!

……………, although its still a little early, a very Happy Christmas-in-July to all our Aussie family and friends!! Ho, ho, ho!