Monday, September 27, 2010

Trip to Freo and other Adventures!

Ben and I have been so busy with work that the weekends have mostly been catching up on cleaning and laying out on the beach. This weekend was a long weekend for us though, because today (Monday) we had a public holiday--the Queen's Birthday. So we both had it off from work! It's so nice to look forward to a shorter week now.

Here are a few pictures from our latest adventures in the Bunbury area:

Evergreen tree on the other side of the beach :)

Our favorite place to go--Koombana Bay Beach. Sand for miles (or should I say kilometers?) public restrooms, gas grills, perfection!

For Mom and Dad Toothaker :)

'Roo steak! We eat it weekly now!

'Tis the season-- Mama 'roo with her joey! Sometimes they sleep head first with their hind feet sticking out like this little guy

Friday and Saturday we bummed around the apartment and the beach, and ran some errands. It's been really gorgeous weather here lately, about 28 degrees Celsius (which is right around 82 degrees Farenheit, we are trying to get used to the different units here!) No one felt like hanging out Saturday night so we spent the night with all the windows open in the apartment and had our music blasting. It was fun to just relax and hang out with each other with not much to do. know me. I can't do that two days in a row. I get too antsy. I like to have something to do! I've been wanting to check out the Fremantle markets (Fremantle is a well-known area on the Southwestern coast of Australia--most travel books mention Fremantle). It's just a few minutes south of Perth, about an hour and a half north of us in Bunbury. It's a very bohemian city with tons of cool shops and cafes. The architecture reminded Ben and me of Quebec city, just a bit more modern. So we looked online to see if we could find a fairly cheap hotel, but were having trouble because everywhere was booked! I'm sure everyone was there for the long weekend. We found a room above an Irish pub called Rosie O'Grady's right in downtown. We decided to go for it. It was cheap, and we thought if anything it would make a good story. We knew it would only be for one night so we booked it and headed up to Fremantle.

The outside of Rosie O'Grady's. Our room was a couple flights up

Our room at Rosie O'Grady's. Pretty standard. We had a shared bathroom, but it wasn't a big deal because there were two bathrooms and only two rooms--so it was like having our own bathroom.

This is the balcony outside of our room at Rosie's. Sweet leprechaun! If you look closely, downstairs is the bar/pub/restaurant/stage area. It was a big downstairs though.

It's impossible to feel so far from home when the decor at the local pub is the same. Why not a 'roo head?

We had a BLAST! I would LOVE to live in a place like Fremantle. There are lots of people around, everything has a very relaxed vibe. Our room was tiny, but clean and cute! It was just above the pub and there was live music from an Irish band who were surprisingly entertaining. We went down and had a drink and watched the band. They even had some Irish stepdancers come out a few times! And they were way more fun to watch than I was expecting. Definitely not my kind of dance, but different and cool anyway. We ate dinner at the pub, too. It was realllllllly good. We had lamb shank with mashed potatoes in a red wine sauce. Mmmmm.

The next morning we threw our stuff in the car and walked around the Fremantle Markets. They were great! Lots of really cool vendors with interesting stuff to sell. Boomerangs, didgeridoos (an aboriginal instrument, here's a link to someone playing one: ), candy, coffee beans, food, carved wooden games...they just had everything. We didn't buy anything, but I know we'll go back to Fremantle fairly frequently (alliteration much?) I really loved it and Ben liked it too. I think it will be one of those places that if we have a weekend with nothing planned, we'll just head up for a night. There's so much to see and do, it's definitely one of my favorite places that we've seen so far.

This looked like an AWESOME store, but it was closed for the holiday :( Something I want to check out next time!

Fremantle Markets! The vendors were set up inside.

So there are some of our recent adventures. Our anniversary is coming up and then we'll have lots of pictures. Margaret River, here we come!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rambling updates

What a lazy weekend we had. The weather was very rainy on Saturday, so doing anything outdoors was pretty much out of the question. Sunday was a little bit nicer, and we did the "Tuart Walk" (TOO-art). Tuarts are a type of Eucalyptus tree here. We thought it would be a lot longer than it was, but it was only about a mile and a half, and we walked it in about 30 minutes. It was nice to get outside and enjoy the weather, though.

Last week we tried Kangaroo steak! It was really good! Very lean, about 98% fat free too. It tasted a lot like steak, just a little game-y. Not as game-y as Moose though. Definitely something we will be eating often, probably more often than beef, especially because of the nutritional value. We love red meat and won't give it up, but it helps to have something that's a bit better for us.

We are finally done paying all of our ridiculous rent payments this month. We've had over $1000 (that's a lot to us!) in bills that we don't normally have to pay. Between having three rent payments this month instead of two, car registration, a doctor bill, my qualification assessment, and extra money for the week of rent we hadn't paid, we'll be glad when this month is over. Next month we'll actually be able to put some money away, and still go to Margaret River for our 1 year anniversary. I can't believe we've already been married for almost a year...and together for four! It's really cool to see how far we've come together. We're looking into getting our wedding bands engraved as gifts to each other. We want to get a part of "One" by U2 engraved on it. "We have to carry each other". I don't know if that's too long though. We'll see :)

I can't wait to finally have my qualification assessment finished. Then I'll be offered a permanent full-time job at ELC, I'll get a raise, and paid vacation. I'm already there full time, I might as well reap the other benefits, too. I like the job and the kids. And the vitamins are really helping. I'm still sick, but it's just congestion mostly, I could live with that forever compared to the last few times I've been sick.

Ben is enjoying his job. He's getting to do some real engineering work! Figuring out sizes of pipes for plumbing or something. I don't know. But it's all kinds of equations and math and pipe design/layout stuff, so he's happy to have a break from all the errand-running, etc. I know he'd be happier doing structural design work, but you have to start somewhere.

We're looking at what's available for houses/units right now, and trying to get an idea of where we'd like to live. There are some really nice units that are so close to the beach, and cheaper than what we're paying here. They're also renovated so they're a lot newer. If you click on this link you can see them:

Who knows if they'll be available come January though. But it's good for us to get an idea. We're thinking of going more minimalist, that way we don't end up with a lot of large stuff to have to sell when we decide to come home. The car will be enough! These units come with a refrigerator and a washing machine, which would be nice--if they break, we don't have to buy a new one, it would be the landlord's responsibility to fix it or buy a new one. I like that! We don't really care about our stuff being nice and all matching and stuff. Eventually we'll have our own home where we can spend money on nice, comfortable furniture, and design things the way we want it. But for now, yard sale stuff works. We want to enjoy everything we can out here, and don't want to spend our money on stuff tables. That's just silly.

We have another trip we're thinking about doing next year, maybe the year after. (Maybe a 2nd anniversary trip?) We're going to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef! How cool is that? They have tons and tons of trips that we've looked into that provide you with lodging and wet suits, and scuba certification, etc. They have 1/2 day trips all the way through like week long trips. We'd probably just do a day or two. The prices are pretty reasonable. They also have adventure packages where you can scuba and also do bungee jumping, sky diving, hang gliding, etc. AND we get frequent flyer points because we use a rewards card at our local grocery store, and we will gain points from flying home next year (as long as we use Qantas airlines), so we'd get one ticket to Cairns completely free. It would end up being a pretty inexpensive trip. Cairns is completely on the other side of Australia, what better way to use frequent flyer points then to scuba the Great Barrier Reef?

So, that's pretty much it. We're hoping for better weather this weekend so we can spend some time on the beach and not have to run outside and pull all of our clothes from the line because of ominous overhead clouds! Hope everyone is doing well, we miss you!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Officially Spring!

It is officially Spring here in Australia. They change seasons on the first of the month--we don't know why since the rest of the world does it based on the, you know...sun. But as of September 1st, it is spring, and it's definitely warming up. We spent the whole day outside today, and it was a much needed relaxing day.

There is a walk that goes around the entire Lescheneault Inlet, it's a little over 3 miles. We did our laundry this morning and hung it to dry, and figured since it was only 11:30, we'd do the walk. We've been wanting to do it since we discovered it when we first got here, but it was always either raining or we didn't have the energy to do the whole thing. Today was a perfect day to do it, it was so warm and breezy, and we didn't have much else to do. The walk has a boardwalk section over an estuary type thing, all staying close enough to the water to touch. It also goes along the city edge, through a small part of a residential area, lots of parks, and by the popular beach at Koombana Bay (where some dolphins live and often swim with the people.) It was cool to walk in so many different areas, all along the same path. Here are a few pictures from our adventure (we took about 2 hours enjoying it!)

The beginning of our adventure. Check out the pirate in the left bottom corner.

This outlook was on a "shipwreck".

I want to like this, but it continues to creep me out. These wooden people were on all four corners "raising the roof" to this rest area along the boardwalk.

Cool bench! And how easy does it look to make? Were they lazy or creative? Hmm..

This bird was fast at grabbing up little fish under his feet. You can't see it very well, but he has really light fluffy feathers on his bottom-region.

It's weird to see a different flag waving. Australian pride!

Gorgeous house on the Inlet.

Art and graffiti. It reads, "Wake up to the blood stain of real life and REVOLT."

Our landlords are doing some renovations in the unit behind us, and decided to CUT DOWN THE LEMON TREE. We are so sad. BUT, Ben climbed through the fence today, and there were the lemon branches, just laying in a pile with most of the lemons still attached. He filled a huge shopping bag and brought them back into the house. We made more fresh lemonade (thanks for the new recipe, Mel!) and have a huge bowl full of lemons for the next time. Here are a couple pictures showing how incredibly HUGE some of these lemons get!

Look how happy we are with our ginormous lemons!

This weekend has really been great. Last night we celebrated Nat's birthday at Mark and Tyler's. There were just six of us, and we barbecued and had cake and chatted. It was really fun and just the sort of night with friends that we needed.

After our walk today, we went back to the beach we saw at Koombana Bay. We had never been on that beach before, and it was great! We brought our books and fell asleep in the sun for a couple of hours. They have grills that are free to use, nice gas ones. People were grilling up veggies and sausages, and playing with their kids in the grass and on the beach. It was beautiful. Ben and I both kept saying, "this is what we thought Australia would be like." We're going to start grilling dinner down there a couple nights a week and hanging out on the beach until the sun sets after work. We love being outside and need to enjoy the fact that we CAN be outside 12 months out of the year without snow pants on. :)

That's all the adventures for this week. This month is very tight money-wise--I've just started working full time, and we have 3 rent payments this month instead of 2. And because of the landlord screwing up our rent, we are paying back a week of rent that got skipped. So, money is tight. But it's okay. Next month we're going to find a way to get down to Margaret River for our 1 year marriage anniversary (4 years together!) even if it's just for a couple of nights. What good is making money if you don't enjoy the way you spend it?