Friday, 21 December 2007

Old News - Newsletter December 2007

Another year draws to a close, and slowly I am starting to feel "home" here, after nearly two years in Australia.

Last January I sent off my application for a skilled independant permanent visa, which is based on points calculated from your age, qualifications and work experience. Luckily what I do is in high demand here at the moment, so I had points to spare! Even so, the paperwork took several nail-biting months to process, but I finally picked up my visa in August and I can work where I like and come and go as I please for the next few years, after which time they expect you to become a citizen. Passport 3 here I come!

Milord and I go from strength to strength. This has been a very good year for us after the initial learning curve of 2006! In the coming year we plan to buy a house together, and that will draw us closer and maybe make me put down roots here at last. Living in rented accommodation is just not the same!

I have been in the same job since March 2006, and I can't see me staying with it much longer. It has not been at all challenging this past year, and I was only staying because of visa sponsorship... I am now free to seek my fortune elsewhere! Hopefully for more money too ;-). It's a contract position so I can walk away at any time.

We've had a few memorable holidays this year. In March Milord and I went to South Africa for a couple of weeks and Milord fell in love with the place. We spent a week in Cape Town, and then a week in the Kruger Park. It was my first time in the Kruger and I was blown away! We are definitely talking about coming back sometime. He got to meet most of my family and friends, and is still with me so you all can't have been that bad!

In August we went to New Zealand to fetch my visa, and threw in a few days skiing in Queenstown. While it's a superb town and has stunning scenery, I wasn't that impressed with the ski slopes and I'm not sure we'll bother again - we'll probably try the local ski fields this coming winter. It was great to see H and C in Auckland though in their newly bought house.

In October K and P came over from the UK for a few weeks and we were able to join them for a few days of their trip. We went to Port Douglas, north of Cairns, for most of a week, and I'll definitely go back! Milord and I managed to sneak in a couple of dives, and it rates as some of the best diving I have done in Australia. Although that's not saying much... we are both very spoiled after the Red Sea!

Apart from that we haven't had much holiday this year. Milord's mum was extremely ill with cancer this year and we spent most of our free time and cash visiting her. She died in September, which is an enormous shame as I rather liked her. Milord is now "orphaned" and we will be spending Christmas with other folk who also can't be with their families.

On the weekends we sometimes get away for a break, or go flying in a light aircraft. We don't dive much around Sydney as it's cold and murkey, but sometimes we go for a snorkel to play with the underwater camera. Milord's been getting back into golf lately, and I'm still promising to get out my sketching gear but haven't made it off the couch yet! The summer has been extremely disappointing so far, very wet and mild. Hopefully it will cheer up before next winter - I'd love a scorching month or two ;-).

We have no holidays lined up for next year yet, as the house buying could put a stop to that sort of thing for a while... We are tossing around some diving/sailing plans though, so who knows?!

Stay well and have a wonderful festive season. Hug family for me, because I really miss you guys...

Xmas Time!



This is my last day at work until the new year. I may post from home, but our plans are pretty hectic so I might not get a chance... So I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday and festive season.

Spend it with your family if you can - I really really miss mine right now. But I have wonderful friends and a loving man looking after me so that's ok ;-).

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Summer Salad

Milord and I are being good in the final run up to Christmas, so I made us a cracked wheat salad with feta, mint and apricots to take to work.

It's from my WeightWatchers cookbook, and I see the recipe is on their site too.



175 g dried bulgar wheat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium orange(s), use the zest and juice
2 heaped teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil, or walnut oil
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
2 heaped tablespoon raisins, or sultanas
75 g moist packed ready to eat Apricots, chopped
2 stick celery, thinly sliced
75 g grapes, seedless and halved
100 g feta cheese, cut into small cubes
4 sprig fresh mint, to garnish

Put the bulgar wheat into a large bowl and add a generous pinch of salt. Pour over enough boiling water to cover, then leave to soak for about 20-30 minutes, until swollen and tender.

Mix together the orange zest and juice, honey, walnut oil or olive oil and chopped mint. Drain any excess water from the soaked bulgar wheat then add the orange juice dressing, stirring well. Add the raisins or sultanas, apricots, celery, grapes and cheese, tossing well to mix. Divide between four serving plates or bowls, garnish with mint sprigs then serve.

They say 6.5 points, but I used reduced fat feta and substituted apple for the grapes and raisins so I'm guessing 5 points. I gave us both a double portion, so let's say 10 points for lunch. I also threw in some rocket, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes I had in the fridge. Ever so yummy and very very easy to make. Filling too!

I have nothing to do at work at the moment, and with only 3 days to go before I take two weeks off over the festive break no one is giving me anything new... Man, it's boring. I've been sneaking out to do a lot of present shopping, but that's done now. I need to stock up on food, but I don't have the car today. So I'm reading a lot of blogs lately. I found this over on A Dumbbell in a Home Gym:

"I've been lifting weights much more regularly, and I think my body is in one of those periodic rearrangement phases where things start shuffling around like tectonic plates. I feel smaller again."

I know exactly what she means! I know I said I wouldn't post about my weight again this year, and to be honest there is nothing much to write home about this week, but I do feel good lately after all the gym work I've been doing. On the weekend I went through my wardrobe trying on clothes I haven't been near since my weight crept into the 70s, and things are looking better than they have in a very long time. My waist is definitely smaller, and so are my boobs (I like them small, so this is a good thing!).

Yay me ;-).

Monday, 17 December 2007

Lizzie

On the weekend I was changing the sheets on my bed when a tiny baby lizard appeared on the mattress. Where he came from I have no idea, as we have bug screens on the bedroom window and he can't have got in that way. I managed to catch him easily and took him outside...



Hopefully he'll have good long life catching our zillions of mosquitoes!

I can't see a lizard without thinking of Ms Grumpy Chair and her lizard phobia. I guess I'm lucky that in general bugs and reptiles don't worry me (unless they're huge or lethal anyway). I've made a number of friends here who are English and Irish ex-pats, and they just can't deal with critters. That's in central Sydney too - heaven knows what they'd be like in the bush!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Searches

Search terms which brought people to my blog:

possum box plans: It's great that you plan to have a possum box. It's just like a big bird box really, and make sure it's out of the reach of cats and so on. We have a possum living in the box in the tree outside our back door next to the barbeque, and at twilight the little critter wakes up and pokes his head out and watches us for a while before clambering out to do whatever it is possums do all night.

Manly Harbour/Waterfront: Yes Manly has a harbour and a waterfront... and a really long beach and promenade. Most of the bars and restaurants are not on the water though. My favourite restaurant in Manly is perched on top of the changing rooms right on the sand... You can watch the surfers and beautiful people go by while sipping chilled white wine and eating fresh oysters... I should go back there sometime soon.

how many weight watcher points for a apple/carrot juice drink: Well, each apple costs 0.5 points. Carrots are free. If it's not a freshly squeezed juice then check the sugar content and so on... and the purists will tell you to only use organic fruit but I'm not that fussy.

should my eyebrows match my black hair: I thought so - once. My brows are a sort of dark brown so they looked all right against my black hair in the end, although the hair itself looked a bit wierd. If you have very blonde eyebrows you should probably take them darker, but maybe not all the way to black!

juice fast detox poo: Um. Mine was fine but I've heard stories... Probably depends on what you were eating before the detox.

weightwatchers pumpkin soup zero: Sure is! Gotta love no-point soup ;-). And roast pumpkin wedges are great as a snack or in a salad in hot weather too.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Diet Post 14

So, today I'm 71kg? This is silly - the last time I lost weight so fast I was juice fasting!

I'm not fasting, honest, but I am being sort of good. Fruit for breakfast and snacks and a light lunch and dinner. Yesterday I had leftover chicken, tomato and barley soup for lunch, and I did a veggie stir-fry for dinner with a tiny bit of lamb in it (was supposed to be a lamb stir-fry but I overestimated the amount of lamb in the freezer!). Milord and I shared just one (1) bottle of wine...

I have been hitting the gym quite hard, but that doen't usually have much effect. I had to get up twice in the night to pee so I'm not dehydrated (tmi?). I can't explain it, but I'll update my ticker anyway! Ok, now I just have to maintain this weight through Christmas...

Hopefully that's the last weight post this year. I'm sure you're all really bored ;-)

Sunbathing...

Half an hour to go until my department goes out for Christmas lunch... I've run out of work and it's kinda boring here.

Let's go back in time...

It's 1989 in South Africa, the year I finished school, and I'm 17. The end of the year is fast approaching and it's a summer weekend - I am trying to top up my tan in the back garden. I have spread a towel or two on the grass, and have a book and soft drink within reach. I'm tanning naked today, as the garden is private, only my mother is home and I want to get rid of all tan lines. I'm stunned by the sun, hot and heavy and sweaty and I drift off to sleep, shielded behind my sunglasses.

In a corner of my awareness I hear my mum start the lawnmower. She used to run a gardening service and had this huge diesel mower that was complete overkill on our yard. It takes her a few goes to get it going, and then she begins to mow the lawn in the front of the house. A while later I wake again and I hear she is mowing the lawn near me now, beginning with the edges.

I stir, stretch and sit up, about to ask her if she wants me to move. But... it's not my mum... it's the black odd-job bloke my dad has been employing to help out around the house! He has an enormous grin on his face. I leap to my feet frantically trying to cover myself, and streak into the house juggling towels and book and drink.

From that day he always greeted me with the biggest smile...

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Diet Post 13

Mwahaha 71.4kg today. Go figure... Perhaps I was still recovering from my weekend? That means I "only" gained half a kilo, which is normal for me. Phew.

I managed to beat off the champagne last night, although a couple of diet gin and tonics did waylay me in a dark alley. Only 1 point each if you make them weak though, so not tooooo bad! (Yes I know I have an alcohol problem, hush)

Milord is home tonight and wants to decorate our cute little Christmas tree... with a glass or five of champers. Methinks I'm not going to be able to say no. If you're very lucky I might post a picture of my first ever Christmas tree ;-). First I was in a too-small flat in Cape Town, then a too-small flat in London, then I couldn't be bothered for a while, and last year milord and I were away at his mum's so I had no urge to do anything.

This year we are home for Christmas and we have a brand spanking new living 5-foot high tree. His ex must have taken all their old ornaments (suits me) so I've been having fun buying miniature baubles for our gorgeous little tree. Milord won't have a chopped down tree because it's killed, and I don't mind either way because I grew up with artificial ones, so we found a lovely little live one that we can use for a couple of years before retiring it onto a friend's property ;-). Nice.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Diet Post 12

Weekly weighing day... 72kg.

Argh.

I've gained a kilo since last week sniff. Well, no excuses, I know exactly where that came from! I was good yesterday and I promised myself I'd be good today, and then got ambushed by the chocolates while waiting in the checkout queue at lunchtime - I've discovered Chomps here in Oz - and they're exactly like the ones I grew up eating in South Africa! I didn't like the UK ones... sadly I like these a lot ;-)

Apart from 2 apples, a peach, a nectarine, a glass of juice and a few cups of tea that's all I've eaten today though. Talk about a blood sugar roller coaster hee hee... Tonight the plan is a nice light chicken soup. Milord is away in Melbourne though, and I find myself more easily swayed without him at home watching me be a piggy (that's when he's not leading me astray of course!). The bottle of champagne in the fridge may just wrestle me into submission halfway through the evening... must... resist...

Monday, 10 December 2007

I don't like Mondays

*yawn*

I'm shattered today. I really hate it when I start the week tired, because then I never seem able to catch up on sleep and the week drags slower and slower.

It was a fairly excessive weekend. Friday was our 23rd montheversary (nearly 2 years woohoo!), and milord took me out to an excellent restaurant. They were a bit overwhelmed with huge tables indoors, but we were able to sit out on the terrace away from the noise and bustle. Service was patchy, but we were in no hurry and when the food finally did arrive it was worth the wait. I had the best braised duck ever, and milord's steak was superb... We shared a bottle of very good sauvignon blanc with our starters (marinaded anchovies for me, and tuna carpaccio for him), and a lovely cabernet sauvignon with the mains. We got home around midnight and sat up watching a bit a dvd with a nightcap until very late... that may have been a mistake!

On Saturday milord was off on a stag weekend, so I dropped him at our friend's house then wandered back home for a late breakfast. I cleaned and tidied the house and then Lucy and her kids arrived. Lucy and Peter and the kids were staying over that night as they were going to a party nearby. We shared a bottle of champagne, and then I headed into town to meet up with the other halves of the stag party for a girl's night out. I got home around 1am, a bit worse for wear, and shared my bed with a 5 year old girl... she was very quiet luckily!

Sunday was an early start, as kids don't respect hangovers! We blobbed around with coffee for a while, and then they all took me out to brunch before heading home. I had the house to myself from about midday, and this is how I spent the afternoon:



On the couch.

It was a hot muggy day, and a storm passed through at about 3pm. I read the newspapers and my book, I painted my nails, I did several loads of laundry, and I made a pot of vegetable soup to feed milord if and when he came home... It seems the stag party was doing a bit of a pub crawl nearby. Every so often I'd get a phone call and the quality thereof steadily deteriorated through the afternoon! Milord finally stumbled in after dark, as trollied as I've ever seen him, inhaled a bowl of soup and crashed off to bed. I watched a dvd, finished another bottle of wine, and put myself to bed in the spare room at about 10pm.

Sleeping in that room gives me wierd dreams - I don't know why. Perhaps it is because the windows face the road and all the noises are different. I woke up tired and blah. I definitely feel better than milord though! I took him coffee in bed and had a chat, and he was just about out of bed when I left for work - I hear several others from the stag party have called in sick!

I think an early night is called for tonight ;-)

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Christmas Bus

When I caught the bus to work this morning, I was startled to find it swathed in decorations! Candy canes hung from the ceiling and streamers and tinsel wound around every available handrail. It was extremely festive. I wonder if there is a competition between the busses for the most garish bus?

So, Christmas... I'm sure we all have Christmas stories. I know I do!

Many years ago, when I was about 21, I was going out with a lovely bloke called Willy. We met when working together in a restaurant - I was studying computers and waitressing at night while he worked his way up through the restaurant hierarchy. He started as barman, then became waiter, then chef, then manager... He was wildly romantic, and I would come home from class to find a trail of flowers through the house, or soppy cards and soft toys. Our chemistry was awesome and he spoiled me rotten. I've never known anything like it before or since ;-).

Of course, if he was entirely perfect I'd still be with him today! Willy had, let's say, um, issues. He was utterly useless at managing money and insanely possessive, but what really freaked me out was his ability to passively resist things he didn't want to do. When things were going wrong at the restaurant he would simply fail to wake up for work. His housemates told me a story of breaking into his bedroom to silence a blaring clock-radio alarm that had been going off for 30 minutes, only to find Willy asleep next to it. Truely wierd!

So, this one Christmas was a bit stressful for Willy. I can't quite remember why, but it had something to do with him forgetting to buy presents, or perhaps because an old boyfriend of mine would be dropping by. I really don't remember now, but he was upset... He'd stayed the night of Christmas Eve, and in the morning I got up and showered and got ready to join my mum downstairs to open presents with a glass of champagne. I nudged Willy to wake him so that he could shower. Then I shook him. I called his name. I may have bounced on him... I do remember rolling him out of bed so that he hit the floor with a crash! At that point I gave up and left him in a heap on the floor next to the bed and went downstairs. He appeared hours later, rumpled and confused.

We were together for several years, but after I finished my computer course and entered the workforce it all went rather pear shaped. He was intimidated by my profession (he ruined the day of my graduation by picking a fight), and jealous because I was no longer working nights where he could keep his eye on me. His possessiveness started rubbing off on me and if he was late getting home I would freak out and drive the route at 2am looking for him. We broke up and got back together many times, each time more stressful than the last, and finally we limped away and got on with our lives. It helped that he'd got some other girl pregnant too...

Willy was my first real love I reckon. I still miss him a little bit from time to time, and my mum still talks about him - she adored him. Willy died a year or so after I'd moved to London - a head-on collision late at night after work. He most likely fell asleep at the wheel... I was devastated when I found out. The people you've loved never really leave your heart do they?

Phrase of the Week

Every so often I come across a word or phrase that tickles me...

Helicopter Parent

A helicopter parent is a person who pays extremely close attention to his or her child or children, particularly at educational institutions. They rush to prevent any harm or failure from befalling them or letting them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children's wishes. They are so named because, like a helicopter, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach whether their children need them or not.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Diet Post 11

Hmm, up again. Not too much, at least I'm still under the dreaded 71kg - but just barely! 70.9kg.

After my post on Saturday things went a bit wrong diet-wise. Milord and I went on a mission to find biltong and boerewors, because we are having folk around on Christmas Eve and fancy offering them something Saffa and unusual to snack on. Plus we are both utterly addicted to the stuff and have been in withdrawal since our trip to South Africa in March! We had heard of a butchers in Ryde (North-West Sydney) who did decent stuff, so headed off there shortly after lunch. We found them easily (Quality Meats in the West Ryde shopping centre if you're interested) and they had a reasonable range of beef biltong, including spicy and sticks. I've not heard of any other kind of biltong over here, but I reckon kangaroo would be excellent as it's a lean, gamey red meat. The only problem is that milord won't eat Skippy! Luckily for him the biltong we bought on the weekend was excellent, so I won't be attempting my own roo-tong just yet! The only boerewors sausage on offer was a pork and beef mix, and it looks really fatty. We didn't get very much, as I'm not wild about it anyway... I'll let you know what it's like after Christmas!

We munched biltong in the car on the way home, and with beer while reading the newspapers in the afternoon, and with red wine while waiting for the roast lamb to cook, and as a late night snack after dinner... I woke up feeling positively awful in the night! I must have eaten the equivalent of 4 or more steaks - and that's between meals! Urgh.

I haven't had any since, but Sunday involved a lot of champagne and nibbles and fresh bread with butter. Mmm. I reckon I'm lucky to not have gained more weight than I did! Milord and I are going to try to be as good as possible this week. No booze at home until Friday, and light meals. I've made us a batch of bean salad to bring to work and mix with fresh salad leaves and tomato, and I've stocked up on apples, peaches and nectarines for snacks. Milord will be cycling to and from work in spite of the rain (yes, rain forecast all week again), and I'll be gymming as much as possible.

Dinner tonight will be red bell peppers (capsicum) stuffed with leftover roast lamb, sweet potato and butternut pumpkin. Yum - I made something similar a month or two back, and reckon it's the nicest way to eat leftover roast lamb! Chop everything up small, add some fresh mint and coriander, stuff into the peppers then pop them into a very hot oven until the peppers blacken a little and blister. Serve whole.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Christmas Baking

When I was little, one of the thrills of Christmas time was the baking of mince pies for the festive season. For as long as I can remember my sister and I would "help mommy" to bake, licking bowls and pressing out shapes and brushing egg white. The smell of the fruit mince filling and of the cookies baking is an integral part of Christmas for me. I haven't baked a cookie since I was child!

This past weekend I was invited to join a girlfriend, her two kids, and two other women, baking Christmas cookies. It was a leap back in time, watching the 5 year old girl and 3 year old boy standing on blocks to reach the table and "help" us bake. We made gingerbread shapes and lemon shortbread shapes and tiny mince pies. Flour got everywhere, especially all over the kids, and tray after tray of cookies went into and out of the oven, filling the house with baking smells. We had several bottles of champagne and a lot of laughs.


It was so lovely of them to invite me to join their annual bake-athon. I'd mentioned the other day that I was feeling a bit lonely over here at the other end of the planet from my friends and family, so she decided to include me. She's not a close friend - she's an old friend of milord and the best mate of milord's ex-wife, which gets a bit wierd - but she's very fond of milord and is being ever so sweet to me. Her kids are great, and we get along really well.

It is actually starting to feel like Christmas now. I bought us a living potted Christmas tree last week, and now just need to get some decorations for it. I've also bought a string of icicle lights to put up outside. I can't decide whether to put them out the front or out the back... probably out the back for our Christmas Eve party. It's getting dark so late now that we'd never see them lit up out the front.

Searches

Search terms which brought people to my blog:

saffa family tree: You may need a bit more detail for this one, like, surname? Unless of course your surname is "Saffa". That's funny - I wonder if the surname "Pommy" is out there! Or "Yank".

exam results: Again, more detail maybe. Institution, course, year?

does hair color remover work on demi permanent dye: Probably not. I take it you don't like your new colour? What did you go with? I tried a temporary red once over the summer school holidays and it wouldn't wash out for ages!

what clipper number does tom cruise use for his hair: Dude. Who cares?

trek pert to uluru: I'm loving the typo... Make sure you have a decent bra if you're trekking all that way and want to stay pert, ok?

juice fast: I'm getting a lot of hits on juice fasting stuff. To be honest you may be better off doing the pert trek instead ;-)

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Diet Post 10

Wahey! 70.2kg today... down from 71.6 yesterday - I definitely was retaining water!

And that's after steak last night. And a corn cob, some very oily stir-fried veggies (milord gets a bit generous with the olive oil, but I can't complain when someone else cooks!), and way too much champagne... I drank 2 pints of water in the night and I'm not dehydrated, so that's a true reading ;-). Yay.

What a great way to start the weekend! I am sitting in bed with the Saturday newspapers and my second cup of coffee, waiting for the hair bleach to lighten my roots. Milord is off playing golf but should be home for lunch which is lovely - usually I don't see him 'til late on a golf day.

I don't normally blog on the weekend but I had to share that! I wonder if I can get below 70 before Christmas? That would be the best present ever!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Diet Post 9

Friday at last. This has been a loooong week.

Weight-wise I've been all over the place. I had a look at my weight history and milord and I weigh exactly what we did 4 weeks ago... with some wild yoyo-ing in between! My weight on Wednesday was 70.9kg, down a pound from the week before, so that's something I suppose. 71 is proving a very hard number to get away from! It's also a bit of a milestone for me as it's a third of the way to goal... so when I passed it a month ago I was so chuffed. I'm not so chuffed to still be there!

The silly season has started, with Christmas parties and absolutely everyone throwing dinners and drinks and barbeques. It's rained more days than not over the last fortnight so I'm not walking home after work. And I've lost the will to get to the gym regularly... only went once this week. Bleah.

I'm feeling run down too. It's probably a combination of too much food and alcohol and not enough exercise. I'm also suffering a bit with hayfever which tends to wake me up sneezing at 2am and then I can't get back to sleep for ages because my nose is running. I've started taking an antihistamine at bedtime, but then I wake up groggy and retaining water and the scale is mean to me!

It was mean to me today but I'm ignoring the reading because I felt like I was retaining water. You know that puffy, headachey, swollen feeling? Gotta be that... especially as I was good with my food and didn't drink any booze yesterday. I hope it's gone by tomorrow! I'm not updating my ticker until I'm sure I'm below 71kg.

On the up-side, my trousers and shorts are definitely looser these days. I was wearing shorts last night that a year ago would pop open if I bent over. I touched my toes as a test and they were fine ;-).

I have another low-fat no-carb (possibly vegetarian) recipe for you, and it's awesome! By the way, Weight Watchers reckons pumpkin is zero-points, which is great! I've lived on the stuff before and lost weight, so I believe it!

Roast butternut pumpkin and vegetable soup

Half a butternut pumpkin, seeds removed, unpeeled
1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves (don't peel them)
2 red capsicum, halved with seeds removed
2 large carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
2 zuccini, halved lengthways
2 onions, peeled and halved
olive oil spray
500ml stock
spices: salt, pepper, Chinese 5-spice, ground coriander, cumin, lemon pepper
herbs: fresh oregano and rosemary

In a baking tray place all the vegetables with their cut sides down. Scatter the garlic cloves between them. Spray with olive oil spray. Season... I especially like Chinese 5-spice on my butternut. Sprinkle the herbs on top.

Bake for about an hour in a hot oven (I whack ours on max, but it's not a good oven, so maybe 180-200C) until the skin of the pumpkin blisters and you can slide a butter knife through the thickest part of it.

Allow to cool for a bit and then peel the garlic - it should almost ooze out of it's skin when you handle it... Plonk everything into a large saucepan. Add just enough stock to cover everything, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend to a smooth consistency and serve.

I don't serve bread with my soups because they are so hearty they don't need it. Without bread this soup is zero-points on Weight Watchers. If you ate it until you were full all day long you would lose weight! And it's filling and slightly sweet and nutty and yummy. Roasting the garlic in its skin stops it being overpowering so you can use loads - it actually goes kind of sweet.

When I made this I actually had the veggies in the tray that I was roasting a chicken in, so they picked up the juices and flavours of the roasted chicken. I also added all the roast chicken juices to the soup. If you do this then bear in mind that it will not be a zero-point meal anymore because there will be some chicken fat in there. But it's gorgeous!

Update: My Dad tried this recipe (Hi Dad!) and said the smaller veggies turned to charcoal, so maybe cook the butternut for half an hour on it's own then add the other veg! My oven is rubbish - I hate gas ovens - when we move I'm getting an electric oven with a gas hob.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Phantom Student

I never had much luck in school or uni with my classes or houses or teams. I guess the Sorting Hat had it in for me, because I always ended up in the team or house that failed in competition, and the class that caused the teachers enormous trouble. My house always came last. My team always scored nil. My class often had the headmaster come and tell us off. Teachers hated us.

Now, a little of this could possibly be my fault as I'm rubbish at team sports. But the performance of an entire segment of the school can't be my fault, can it?! And I was generally the nerdy teacher's pet. Actually, it's lucky I was such a nerd, because the distraction of my classmates was pretty huge!

Anyway, one such boisterous group I ended up in was my class for my computer course at college/uni after I finished school (it was a technikon, which is a kind of cross between the two - 3 years to qualify in IT with none of the deep theory or social life of uni. Uni students sneered at us but employers found us ready to work). There were 4 classes taking the course, but I ended up in the one that chatted and laughed and threw things and skipped class to drink beer on the beach. I was one of 5 girls in a group of 30 or so youngsters, and thoroughly enjoyed being one of the lads for my time there. Although I was still a nerd and came to most classes and did my homework and handed in my projects on time... I was very popular when people needed to copy notes (or code).

Near the beginning of our first year one of the lads decided it would be funny to turn in an exam in the name of a non-existent student. He picked up an extra exam paper on the way in to the exam, filled in some rather bad answers, and submitted it for marking under the name of "George Torsolopolous", who was the little brother of a friend. I suppose all he was really thinking was that the lecturer would find the answers really rubbish but know that the student wasn't in the class. What happened instead was that the phantom student had their marks posted in the exam results, and their name added to the class roll!

We found this hilarious! From that moment onward someone was nominated in every exam to fill in a paper for George. The poor guy's marks were never very good, and we had a quiet snigger every time a lecturer asked the class if George was around. They did find out eventually - after nearly a year I think, although it may have been longer.

The funniest thing about our phantom student though, was that the real George Torsolopolous actually did do that same computer course a year or two later. I hear he had a great deal of trouble convincing the lecturers to mark his papers!

PS. I've googled his name and got no hits, so maybe I've remembered it wrong. George, if you google yourself and find this, sorry mate!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Diet Post 8

Darn it, I've gone up a bit. 71.2kg today.

Not really a surprise, as last week we fell of the wagons thoroughly - both food and wine wagons that is. That means I am back where I was a week or two ago. However I really did enjoy the champagne, roast chicken, wine, bread, barbeques, beer and nibbles over the past while...

We are back on track though (how often do I say that!?) and are eating mainly fruit and salads this week. I made a lovely super-easy bean salad last night to bring to work, and it turned out great. I'm looking forward to having that for the rest of the week.

Recipe (makes 6 lunch servings):
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin 4-bean mix
1 tin lentils
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful cracked wheat
250 ml stock (I used chicken)

Heat the stock up in a saucepan until it is simmering. Add all the ingredients, stir and remove from heat. When cool, scoop from the saucepan with a slotted spoon, and add to a green salad... Yum. You could add other herbs and spices of course - I reckon a bit of fresh mint and corander leaves would be good. You probably won't need any salt because the stock and the beans are already salty.

Milord has a bit of a social week planned, but at the moment I don't. Hopefully I will stick to the salad plan and can be suitably smug when I lose weight by the end of the week! I advised him to eat only half of the portion served in the restaurants, and he looked at me like I'd grown extra eyebrows. We do love our food!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

A Tad Blue

Sigh. I'm feeling blue today...

You know, I've changed countries a couple of times now, and occasionally it has its hard moments. I often get asked "Don't you miss South Africa / the UK?" and my answer is always "No. But I do miss my friends and family there."

I've been in Australia almost 2 years, I have a loving boyfriend and a couple of close mates... but no one here has known me for very long. No one here has seen me through a breakup, job change, house move or even a bad cold. I don't have a history with anyone - all our stories are less than 2 years old. We don't say "Do you remember the time when - " because of course we do, it happened only the other day.

Last night Milord and I had dinner with a couple of his old friends. Their friendship goes back many years: they have been on long holidays together, been to each other's weddings, helped one another through relationships and divorces and job changes and house moves and children. They have history. After a few bottles of wine they began to reminisce about things, and I kept having to say "Wait, tell me the whole story, I wasn't there...". Eventually I merely sat quietly, unable to join in or even follow the flow of conversation. I stopped listening.

I finally wandered off for a glass of water and went into the lounge room and sat on the sofa in the dark... missing my people. I went all tired and emotional, and luckily after a while Milord noticed and took me home. I'm still a bit down today.

I'll be ok - I've been through this before. Eventually I will have been in my new country long enough to create a history, and I will be able to say "Remember when" to someone.

But I miss you guys so much right now.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Addams Family

20 minutes left to the day and I'm bored... maybe I should tell you a story.

Flashback:

It's the mid-90s and I'm 24 years old. It is early summer, I have been in the same programming job for a year or two and I have a steady boyfriend. I live on my own in Cape Town and life is pretty good.

Except - I was bored with my hair. Does anyone else have that? As you may know I have incredibly slow growing hair. This means that by the time I have grown it long I'm ready to cut it short again and so on. I think I'd recently gone from long to shoulder length to sort of short and floppy around the ears, and I was fed up with it all. I was visiting my mum for the weekend, and she mentioned that she'd just bought a set of hair clippers to use on her then boyfriend...

Now, this was the era of Sinead O'Connor shaving her head, and Demi Moore had just done so in GI Jane, and I think a couple of other celebs were working the buzz cut. It was coooool.

So I asked my mum to cut my hair off with the clippers. To a number 4. She laughed, poured a glass of wine and proceeded to do as I wanted. It was fab! I loved it... for about 2 weeks. Then I got bored with it - there is only so much you can do with 4mm long hair!

One thing you can do, of course, is colour your hair. As I usually go blonde, and I was bored with this, I went black. Deep, solid, blue-black. In South Africa they sell a product called "Go-Black" aimed at the black people going grey, and I have never come across such a permanent product!

Oh yeah - did I mention that I usually go blonde? See, when you dye your hair blonde, you're not dying it as such, you're stripping colour out. So it doesn't matter if you slop over the hairline a little. Or get it on your ears. Or down your neck. And I thought that I should dye my eyebrows to match too of course. Never thinking how I should be verrry careful to keep the dye within the boundaries of my brows...

After I washed the black off, I discovered just how much facial, ear and neck hair I actually have! It's invisible, but man, I have oodles! I washed. And scrubbed. And exfoliated. And scrubbed. And finally I took a razor and shaved... my... face. And neck. And ears. And eyebrow edges.

Oh my.

It wasn't good. I had big black caterpillar eyebrows, and scarey very short very black hair. My co-workers named me "Wednesday" after the Christina Ricci character in the Addams Family movie.


After a week I brought home some hair lightener to get it off... Remember I said this stuff was permanent? It was permanent. I had to wait for it to grow out... and remember I said I have slow hair? Geeez.

Many months later, when I finally grew my hair into a decent style and all the black was gone, my boyfriend asked me very nicely not to do that again.


I agreed.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Searches

Search terms which brought people to my blog:


Wandering Saffa Chick: That's my name, don't wear it out.

Juice Fasting Holiday Sydney: Oh mate, you don't want to fast on your holiday! Sydney is all about amazing food and wine and restaurants and bars with views. Plus you might go all peculiar on your bridge climb...

Juicing, I'm tired, cranky: Yup, that happened to me too. It's normal. A good fix is to dash out and get an apple and carrot juice for a bit of a sugar lift. Or a herbal tea with honey.

Life: The Ongoing Education: True... but I'm pretty sure you are the blog author seeing who's blogrolled you so Hi! How you doing?

Flat chest humiliated: Oh no that's awful. I'm guessing you're very young if it bothers you though - hang in there honey it gets better! Boys will want to know you for your mind, shirts will fit, you won't have to wear bras or you can get padded ones to fake it, gravity will never make you droop, and running will never be painful. My bloke says he prefers tiny tits to big bad ones heading south, and I think most men might feel that way ;-).

Weight watchers points, biltong: Let me look it up for you... 6 points per 100g dearie. Steep but worth it - oh I miss decent biltong!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Teeth

Milord had his teeth whitened yesterday. Funny, I hadn't thought he really needed to - of course they'd discoloured a bit over time, and he likes coffee and red wine and used to smoke... so sure they weren't dazzling but they weren't ghastly either.

Not like some people I've known...

I went out with a chap years ago who had horrible teeth. Too many for his mouth so they bunched up and overlapped and stuck out, and they were stained and cracked too. The poor guy was not exactly eye candy anyway (it was a bad rebound alright!?) but these teeth were just the final straw. I have a thing about teeth... I like them clean and flossed and - well - straight! I've spent a fortune on my own teeth over the years, and I don't think there is any excuse for bad oral hygiene or snaggly teeth. You're never to old for braces - if Tom Cruise can do it, anyone can.

So there I was, dating Jaws, and dropping not-so-subtle hints that he should do something about his teeth, when he goes and has his back-hair zapped. Yes, he had a very hairy back, but that's not a big deal unless you're trying to apply suncream is it? But anyway he spent a huge amount of money removing something nobody ever saw - and wouldn't do anything about his teeth which everybody had to look at. I was not amused.

Needless to say, he didn't last long. Not just because he wasn't that attractive, but he was also boring and tight with money. Making your girlfriend pay her own way when she's out of work and you're earning big bucks is not endearing... We broke up on the second day of a 5 day trip to Florence - but that's another story! To this day the accent of Middlesbrough in Northern England makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up... shudder

But I digress...

I met Milord for lunch yesterday at the Sydney Fish Market, shortly after he'd been to the dentist. He complained of shooting pains in his teeth, but managed to eat lunch and have a glass or too of champagne (it was our montheversary) and went back to work. When we got home last night he really wasn't feeling ok - his teeth were aching and the shooting pains still struck every so often. I fed him painkillers and he went to bed. Poor baby - there's nothing as debilitating as tooth pain. It seems he grinds his teeth a bit so the enamel has worn away in places, and the bleach of the whitening process really stirred them up. He slept 12 hours and today says he feels much better.

His teeth are definitely whiter, but he's not sure it was worth it. It cost oodles too, which he didn't realise it would! As he said last night: "We could have bought a plasma telly for that amount of money!"

I fiddled about after he went to bed... painted my nails, watched a bit of tv, had a long bath and read my book with a bottle of wine... oops. Not supposed to drink during the week! Then I got the munchies and ate a whole jar of olives.

I'm not too bothered though, as my weight has come down a little this week - 70.6kg today! Woohoo! That's the first time I've broken 71 since March. I'm substituting juice for breakfast and dinner, have fruit for mid-meal snacks, but have a decent lunch. Seems to be working! Now I just have to hold it together over the weekend...

Monday, 5 November 2007

Port Douglas

It appears I have forgotten to blog about Port Douglas. I was fiddling with my photos and never quite got around to it!

So, Kat and Paul had spent a couple of days in the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains, and came back to Sydney on the evening of Thursday 11th October. On the Friday they did the Harbour Bridge climb and some other sightseeing, then met me in the bar of the Shangri La hotel overlooking the city and harbour after work. The bar is on the 36th floor and the view is amazing! After a couple of cocktails there Milord joined us and we went to dinner at Cafe Sydney, my favourite restaurant in town. It's on the 5th floor of the old customs house, and we sat outside on the balcony - this was the view from our table:


On Saturday Kat and Paul went sightseeing in town while Milord and I caught up on paperwork, then we all went for lunch in Watsons Bay - a very pretty beach looking back at the city. We had lunch at Doyles, a famous seafood restaurant right on the beach. Milord and I shared the seafood paella which was awesome! Several bottles of wine and a pub crawl later we caught a ferry home at sunset, then went out to dinner with other friends as well... I didn't last very long that evening, but Milord carried on until 2 in the morning and was not very well the next day!


We flew to Cairns on Sunday afternoon, picked up a hire car and drove an hour north to Port Douglas. Kat had chosen a very nice self catering apartment within 10 minutes walk of everything including shops, beach and marina. We dropped our bags and went exploring - ending up in a very nice restaurant for dinner, then had an early night as we would be starting early the next day.

On Monday we did a safari in the Daintree Rainforest with one other couple. We saw lizards and ferns and cycads and aerial plants... it rained all over us several times too - guess that's why they call it a rainforest! We were on the go from 7am to 5pm, with a stop for morning tea and a very nice lunch. We also went for a ride on a "crocodile boat" along the Daintree River, but didn't see any crocs among the mangroves. Apparently that means they're off lurking in the sea... nice. We walked on the beach at Cape Tribulation, and also took a walk to a high waterfall through some lovely ferns and trees. Turns out the bugs in the forest like me just as much as their town counterparts - next time I'll cover myself in repellent!


On Tuesday we went on a 4-story boat cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. The boat goes to a permanent platform which has underwater viewing rooms, semi submersable trips and lots of safe snorkeling. Rob and I didn't see much of this, as we'd signed up for 2 dives so spent most of the day on the dive boeat instead! It was pretty good diving - probably our best in Oz so far - but not a patch on the Red Sea. Kat and Paul looked at the fishies while staying dry, and we met up for the trip back to land again in the afternoon.


Wednesday Kat and Paul snuck out of the apartment early to walk on the beach and lie by the pool. We didn't realise and spent hours whispering and tiptoeing around waiting for them to wake up! We only realised what they'd done once we had crept out leaving a note in search of breakfast and found them by the pool! We'd made plans to visit an old mate of Milord's, Adrian, for the afternoon and night, so after leaving Kat and Paul by the pool and a lovely brunch on the beach Adrian picked us up and took us back to his place in nearby Wonga Beach.

It was a very interesting afternoon. Adrian has sort of dropped out of the rat race and is a hippy handyman. He has built his own beach house using construction site cast offs and pieces from Thailand and Bali... very funky. While we sat on cushions in the garden various friends and neighbours dropped by, and it turned into an impromptu party. I wandered off to bed around midnight, and Milord wasn't far behind... Thursday was a slow start, and then Adrian drove us back to Port Douglas and the three of us went for brunch overlooking the marina. Kat and Paul had gone off to the Kuranda Sky Rail, so Milord and I spent the rest of the day by the pool, resting.


Thursday night was our last night and we booked into Nautilus - a swanky restaurant tucked away in a grove of coconut palms and open to the elements. That was actually kind of annoying, as the only light was candles and they kept blowing out! The food and wine were superb though. We were the last diners to leave.


I really enjoyed Port Douglas, and I will definitely go back. They say it's too hot and too wet in summer, but it is an excellent winter/spring destination.

We flew home on Friday, and had a quiet night in. Milord cooked us his famous lamb curry and we copied photos from cameras and burned them to dvd. Kat and Paul picked up a hire car on Saturday morning and headed south for the next week, all the way to Melbourne. Sounds like a fab trip and I look forward to hearing all about it!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Happy Halloween

Ooh look - it's Halloween! We don't take any notice of it in Australia, so nobody is throwing a party or organising trick-or-treating... The Christmas decorations are up already though, which is a bit disturbing! The good thing about us not noting Halloween has got to be not buying bags of sweets for the trick-or-treaters! I always succumbed at some point in the evening and raided the bowl!

Milord and I went to a Halloween party last year, so here's the pic from that:



A moment ago a girl dressed as a pumpkin came past and handed out chocolates - so I guess we take a little notice after all! Mmm my first chocolate in weeks, very very good...

Life after the juice fast continues ok. We were very good (for us) over the weekend: we only ate seafood and avoided our usual downfall - potato chips. We had a bit of wine, but are such lightweights after a week off the demon drink that it completely floored us! Cheap date, me.

This week we are mostly off the booze, we're doing a fair bit of exercise (I walk home when I can and milord cycles to and from work), and we've cut our evening meal down to a small snack. I've lost another half kilo (71.1kg today), and milord's lost even more. I am almost a third of the way to goal! Gotta hang on in there, even though it's getting boring.
;-)

Tonight we're out with friends so we'll be falling off the wagon a bit. I will be taking it veeerrry easy, as I could get plastered and fall over on half a bottle of wine if the weekend is anything to go by! I'll be having a proper dinner too, as I can't drink on an empty stomach... it always comes back to booze doesn't it? What a shame I enjoy it so much!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Juice Fast Finished

Well, my fast is over after 4 full days, and Temptress Friend has just had lunch with me and watched me eat solids so she's happy ;-). To be honest, I could have gone for longer, but today is Friday so it's nice to be planning a meal tonight with probably a glass or two of wine!

Before I talk about that though, my tomato cocktail last night was deeeevine! Milord was very taken with it and we think we might serve it as a starter at our next dinner party. It will certainly be on our menu regularly in future ;-).

Recipe (makes 1.5 litres / 3 pints):
1kg tomatoes - the tastiest you can find.
2 red bell peppers (capsicum)
1 onion
4 garlic cloves
2 granny smith apples
1 handful fresh mint
2 tsp chilli sauce (tobasco)
4 tbsp mushroom soy sauce

Juice all the fruit, veg, garlic and mint, and mix with the chilli sauce and soy to taste. Serve chilled over crushed ice in a large wine glass. Mmmm. (By the way, the onion leaves quite an aftertaste so if you're not that into raw onion then skip it) Freeze all the juicer pulp to go into your next soup or stew.

I broke my fast this morning with 3 apples (which I had been craving) spaced an hour apart, and had drunk a litre of water and a glass of orange juice by midday. That all went down fine, bar a little gurgling. I had read that I should expect an instant bowel movement, but nope.

For lunch a few of us from work went to the local vegetarian restaurant "Badde Manors" as I couldn't face meat yet. It's about a block away from the office and really excellent - huge portions, interesting dishes, a funky cafe atmosphere and friendly service. Great coffee too, although I'm not back on that yet either. Oh yes, and an amazing cake selection, but I can never find any space after the meal portions!

I had courgette, carrot and walnut pikelettes, which come as 3 crispy fritters on top of each other, layered with shaved pear, blue cheese and baby spinach leaves. Yum! Wow! What a taste sensation! I have noticed that my senses of smell and taste have sharpened over the past few days, and they were pretty good before this anyway (which is actually a curse if anyone near you has bad breath, believe me). This lunch totally blew me away. I only managed a third of the portion, and took the rest away to have tonight. It is now an hour or so later, and I'm still feeling very full. I've just had a peppermint tea which might help.

Tonight I'm planning a Thai prawn salad, with leftover fritters... should be interesting! I think I might chop the fritters into chunks and grill them til crisp, then toss with stir fried prawns and a light cabbage and carrot julienne salad. Accompanied with a dry white wine I reckon. I've missed meal planning!

So, thoughts about the fast:

It was easier than I thought it would be, and I could have gone for longer. That maple syrup lemonade stuff lasted a day and a half and then I was sick of it - I prefer interesting juice combos. Getting up several times a night to pee was a downside.

I expected to get more "toxic". I had a mild headache for one day, and a furry tongue for two days, then nothing really. I had a few energy lows, but was never dizzy or nauseous. My poo didn't get interesting, or stop altogether. No acne, no funny aches or pains... I did get cranky, but that was mainly with people dissing my detox. If I do it again I won't tell anyone.

I lost just over a kilo (now 71.7kg), and I have lost 3cm off my hips. I was expecting more weight loss so that's disappointing, especially as I don't feel energised or spiritual or whatnot.

Cutting out alcohol was a breeze. Usually I crave wine in the evening for the first couple of days on the wagon, particularly when preparing a meal. I have a feeling it was precisely that reason: not preparing meals broke the habit. You don't want booze when you're feeling that empty anyway, you know it's going to go straight to your head and make you feel sick!

I saved a fortune in wine and meat and socialising!

Conclusion:

I don't think I'm all that toxic to begin with. My diet leans towards fruit and veg and lean meats, there is almost no fat in my diet and I can't remember the last time I had chocolate. While the detox is a great way to kick start a diet, it didn't do that much for me - although I've discovered some lovely juice combinations!

I may do it for a single day after a heavy weekend in future, but I don't really see the point in much longer.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Cravings

Almost time to go home. I have managed to last the day - I think because I had large and interesting juices today! The spinach, celery, carrot and apple one was rather nice... I think I'm tired of sweet juices.

Perhaps on that subject, I am seriously craving tomatoes! I think on the way home I will pick up a bunch of tomatoes, some sweet red peppers, an onion and some celery, then juice them with a bit of garlic, hot sauce and soy. Sort of a cross between a tomato soup and a Virgin Mary!



Mmmm hungry now!

Juice Fast - 72 hours

So here I am on day 4 of the juice fast. I'm still hanging in there, but only just.

Yesterday afternoon was an absolute NIGHTMARE on the hungryness front! I had rumbles and cravings and I think that if there had been anything healthy to eat in my office I would have munched it! My biggest craving was for a bunch of apples... until I passed the roast chicken shop on the way home. Man, that was hard!

I somehow made it through the evening and into bed, where I ignored my rumbly tummy and had a pretty good night's sleep. This morning I woke up fine - no rumbles or cravings again. I wonder why the mornings are so much easier? And I'm sure I read that day 3 onwards would be ok...

So far today I've had herbal teas and a huge watermelon, apple and berry juice. I think I could get used to fresh juice for breakfast ;-). I've found a new juice bar that does some interesting combinations; I will try their spinach, celery, carrot and apple for lunch I reckon. If the big rumblies strike me again this afternoon I think I might come off my fast - it's just not worth how cranky it makes me feel! I'll stay on fruit and veg today regardless though - they say you should ease your system back onto solid food or you could feel really sick, so nothing heavy just yet.

My temptress friend has stopped nagging me about my detox - because I said I wouldn't start on solids again until she left me alone! It's funny to watch her bite her tongue when she sees my juice though ;-). mwhahah

No weight loss today. I'm a little surprised, but a kilo in a week is a record for me anyway so I don't mind. I must also say that I don't feel particularly "detoxed" - I'm not glowing or energised or whatever. I also don't have pimples or headaches or funny poo. Either I wasn't that toxic or it still has to come out!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Friends like these

What is it with some people that they are determined to undermine your resolve? Dieting or teetotal or detox is hard enough without someone contantly chipping at your willpower.

I have a very good friend who I like enormously and I know she'd do anything for me if I needed it, but she's the very devil when it comes to my eating patterns. When I stop drinking alcohol she tempts me with "just one glass" and tells me I'm boring sober. When I'm sticking to Weight Watchers she offers me "just one slice of cake" - not once but repeatedly. When I'm detoxing she goes on about "eating disorders". I see her doing it to another friend who's also trying to lose weight - "go on, you deserve it" and so on.

The fact that she's a skinny petite minx who not only can eat constantly, but in fact has to or else she goes peculiar doesn't help. In my darker moods I wonder if she likes us plump so that she is the "hot" one in the group. And she is a hottie and wears lovely skin-tight outfits without making them look slutty. I'm about a head taller than her too, and don't I feel like the Incredible Hulk standing next to her sometimes?!

Ok, rant over.

I am 48 hours into my Juice Fast. It's going so well I'm going to go for another day and see how I feel then! My headache is gone and I have a lot more energy than I did the past 2 days.

Yesterday I had celery, apple, carrot and ginger juice for breakfast, orange juice for lunch, and miso soup for dinner. In between I had over a litre (2 pints) of lemonade made with lemons, limes and maple syrup, and few cups of herbal tea with honey. I also drank 2 litres (4 pints) of water. I was sloshing, I tell you! I put my intake through the Weight Watchers points calculator and came up with 17 points - which is what I generally eat anyway - so my nutrients are right up there. Milord and I also take a daily multi vitamin and a fish oil capsule, so I'm not missing anything.

Today I'll be having the same, except I'm cutting back on the ratio of maple syrup in my lemonade as it was too sweet.

I've lost a little more weight, which I'm chuffed about - now at 71.9kg, my lowest in quite some time! Milord is continuing to skip big dinners although he joins me for the miso soup. He's lost a bit of weight too ;-).

Side effects now: Very wierd dreams... I seem to be spending a lot more time in REM sleep because my body is not trying to cope with heavy food or alcohol. Possible constipation although I don't feel bloated.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Juice Fast

Back to reality after a week away in Port Douglas. It was rather lovely there, tropical, hot, humid and very laid back. The town is great and heaving with super bars and restaurants, all 10 minutes from where we stayed. We did a safari in the rain forest and spent a day out on the reef doing 2 dives, and otherwise slept late, ate and drank too much and relaxed by the pool in the shade. It got up to 30C every day, and didn't drop below 25C at night... glorious after the long Sydney winter.

We are now home and back at work. Kat and Paul hired a car and are on their way to Melbourne via the coast road. It sounds like a lovely trip, I shall have to do it someday. They were whale watching off Eden yesterday. Wah.

The good news is that somehow I managed to not gain any more weight while we were away, which is amazing! I was 73kg on Sunday and 72.8 Monday morning.

I have, however, decided to do a bit of a detox for the first time in my life. Now, I ordinarily disapprove of anything extreme in the diet arena, but having read up on juice fasting it doesn't sound that bad. You're still getting all the nutrients you need, the body just doesn't have to do much for them. And obviously you cut out all fats, dairy, meat, caffiene etc.

I'm doing a combination of the "Master Cleanse" lemonade fast (fresh lemon and lime, maple syrup and a dash of cayenne pepper), and a normal juice fast (anything). That's really because it's very easy to make a batch of the lemonade syrup to bring to work and then dilute hot or cold as I fancy! At mealtimes I supplement that with a freshly squeezed juice from one of the shops near here. And if I get a big craving then I can have a cup of miso soup for the saltyness.

It's been just over 24 hours now and I feel fine, not rumbly at all. Although, considering that the juice I had for breakfast today (squeezed at the deli over the road from my office) contained 2 apples, 3 carrots and a bunch of celery I should be ok! That's more than I eat in half a day usually...

My scale said 72.3kg this morning. I usually have a bit of a loss on a Tuesday after the excesses of a weekend, so I'm not too excited yet. We will see what tomorrow brings... And besides, this is a detox, not a diet ;-). I will of course be thrilled if I lose any weight! My initial goal is 48 hours, but if that turns out easy I may keep on going.

Milord is doing his own version of detox/dieting, which seems mainly to involve skipping dinner and having lots of fruit during the day with a light lunch. This means that no one is cooking near me in the evening, which makes things a lot easier!

Side effects so far: a slight headache, and a furry tongue. I will pop out for some sugar free gum soon, as dragon breath is not really my thing!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Compliments

Milord isn't one for giving compliments. He's a real gent and a great romantic, but compliments and flowers and stuff just don't occur to him. Or they don't work very well... A long time ago he asked me why I was happy being his girlfriend, and I listed his accomplishments, humour, intelligence, manners, height, dimples and blue eyes. In response I was told that I "have nice tits". Note to any boys: list accomplishments and attributes that are not subject to time and gravity unless you want to freak your girlfriend out!

A few weeks ago I took my hair a shade lighter because he said he'd prefer it blonder, and the reaction was "What have you done to your hair?". Upon later questioning he does like it, but I wasn't sure for a while - I suppose I was lucky he'd even noticed, eh?

As you know I'm not happy with my weight at the moment. I don't like the way I look, or how things fit, and it brings me down quite a bit. I've always assumed that my man feels the same way, that he watches me dressing in the morning and wonders where the girl that he met has got to under the blubber.

A few days ago he was being rather uncomplimentary about his niece. She has just turned 16, and is discovering the hard truth about being past your teen growth spurt - everything you eat is going to end up on your hips for the rest of your days! He's been quite mean about it, to her face too, and I was telling him off for being a horrid uncle and probably giving her a complex. It's one thing to think your niece is fat and quite another to be rude about it (Aunty Jane, take notice!).

After all, I'm carrying a lot of weight and he wouldn't talk to me like that would he? (If he wanted to keep his manhood anyway). "But you don't look fat!" He said. "Your stomach is flat and your waist curves in and your hips curve out... you look good. You don't look like a great fat lump!"

Isn't that the greatest compliment you could ask for ladies? My man thinks I look good in spite of my weight. He sees a waist! I think I'll keep him ;-)

Holidayitis and Fridayitis

I am counting down the hours until today ends and I can get back on holiday with my friends Kat and Paul who are over from the UK. They should be climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge pretty much as I type this. It's sunny outside, but a bit breezy - I hope they enjoy it! There is rain forwast for later, hopefully after they finish!

They arrived on Monday and we picked them up from the airport in the morning, came home for a freshen up and a champagne brunch, then headed into the city. We walked through Balmain to the ferry stop and caught a ferry which travelled under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House to the city ferry terminal. From there we walked along the water until we reached the Opera House where we stopped for a bottle or two of wine in the sunshine.


We continued into the Botanical Gardens and followed the bay around to Woolloomooloo where we stopped at a pub for lunch and a few drinks. Then we headed through the city to the waterfront and our favourite bar... eventually catching a taxi home where we had a barbeque and everyone had an early night!

On Tuesday milord took us flying in a 4-seater plane. We were lucky enough to be able to fly into the harbour and do circles over the Opera House - absolutely spectacular!


From there we headed out to the coast, buzzed Manly and Bondi beaches and then headed inland and north to the Hunter Valley wine region. We landed at Cessnock airfield, had lunch at the nearby cafe and called for a taxi to take us to the car rental depot where we picked up a hire car. Milord used to live in the area, so he directed us to his favourite wine estates then watched us wine tasting as he can't drink and fly! We had a lovely time trying out the local wines, then dropped in on a friend for a visit before being dropped back at the airfield by Kat and Paul who were going to stay in the area for a couple of nights.

Then 3 days of work... ugh.

Tonight after work we are all meeting up in the Horizon Bar of the Shangri-La hotel - on the 46th floor it has amazing views of the city and harbour. After that we are going for dinner at Cafe Sydney, where we have a table on the Balcony and can see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House all lit up. On Satuday we'll be doing some sightseeing, then we are off to Watson's Bay for a late lunch and intend to catch a water taxi back to the city to see it lit up from the sea at night...

On Sunday afternoon we fly to Port Douglas (green arrow) for 5 nights.


This is further north than I've been before, and it should be hot and humid - the forecast today is for 31C (that's 88F) and I'm looking forward to it! We will be doing a safari into the Daintree rainforest and spending a day on the Great Barrier Reef among other things. It all sounds gorgeous!

I am not too thrilled to be getting into a swimsuit at the moment, but I will simply stand tall and hope nobody says anything!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Holidayitis

Here I am at work for 3 days in between my holidays... it is perhaps understandable why I am having trouble getting into the spirit of things! It is also maybe understandable why I have fallen off the diet wagon and gained a bit of weight back. I have decided that I don't care, and that I will start over again once my holiday is over. It's my last holiday of the year and I am going to enjoy it! Hurts to update my ticker back to where it was 2 weeks ago though :-(

A couple of pics for you guys - both taken in my back yard. The parrot is a Rainbow Lorikeet and it is eating the new shoots on the tree, and the possum is a Brushtail Possum and it lives in a box in the same tree.



We used to have a few possums living in our roof cavity, but had them removed last year. You are not allowed to take them off the property so we had a possum box installed for one of them to move into. I guess the others found another roof to live in!

Funnily enough, a couple of weeks after we had the possum box set up I was standing outside with a cup of coffee when I noticed lots of flying insects buzzing in and out of the box, and my first thought was "Oops, I wonder if the possum is ok, that's a lot of flies." shortly followed by "Bees! Augh!". A swarm of bees had evicted our possum and were busy building combs inside the box! As the tree overhangs our outside living area, and Milord and I are very allergic to bees, and our yard is small, and there are lots of kids in the area we had to take drastic action and have the swarm destroyed. A funny little man came along and sprayed the box full of white powder and all the bees dropped dead. I asked him if possums would be able to move back in and he looked at me for moment then said "Well, they won't have any fleas!" So it's been about a year and finally a new possum has taken up residence. He's still very shy, but I put fruit along the branches sometimes and he's getting used to us.

Possums are very territorial and we hear them fighting and chasing each other across our tin roof in the night. They're nocturnal so you don't see them during the day at all.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Diet Post 7

I just don't get this weight loss thing.

Yesterday I was bemoaning my (and Milord's) lack of loss in spite of being so very good... We got completely down about it and decided to fall off the diet wagon for the night. We went out with milord's cousins to the pub, and I had a beef and red wine pastry-topped pie (ooh evil pastry - how I miss you) and half a bottle of wine. Feeling guilty the whole time of course.

I went totally over my points allowance for the day, and I know my salt intake spiked because that pie was jolly salty. So this morning I hopped on the scale expecting a nasty message... got off, got on again... got off, got on again. Said "I'll be damned!".

I've lost half a kilo since yesterday. Milord has lost more than a kilo since yesterday (and he also had a pie)! That's the lightest I've been in a couple of months.

It makes no sense at all, but it sure is a nice way to start a Friday! I walked to work this morning, and I've been really good all day again, and I intend to stay within my points tonight and this weekend even though we'll be eating out a bit.

On Monday my great mate from the UK, Kat, and her boyfriend Paul are arriving. They'll be in Australia for 3 weeks. I have Monday and Tuesday off to show them around Sydney, so the food and wine will be flowing... I hope I manage to keep disciplined!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Diet Post 6

My weightloss seems to have stalled, which is really annoying because I have been under my weightwatchers points allowance most days of the past week, and even the days I went over should have balanced with the "saved" points.

I have less than a week to go until my friend Kat gets here from the UK, and I had really really hoped to have lost a couple more kg before then. When she last saw me 20 months ago I was 5kg lighter than I am now, and my bum was a entire size smaller. It's one thing for new friends to know me plump, and quite another for old friends who knew the thin me to see me now. She's actually known me a whole 10kg lighter than I am now... she took that goal picture in an older post.

I'm stuck at 72.5kg, and the best I can hope for is a half kg loss by Monday. Oh well, such is life. One of these days my body will suddenly let go of the storage I'm sure! I've been hovering around the same weight now for nearly 2 months, but I suppose I can use the excuses of holiday and bereavement over that time? No? Drat.

Poor Milord is also stalled. It's funny how our gain/loss charts mimic each other (yes, I graph our weight!) as we don't always exercise and eat the same. He has however had a loss on the tape measure.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

There is a leopard in that bush!

Earlier this year Milord and I were in the Kruger Park game reserve in South Africa.

On our first morning in the reserve we had breakfast, packed up the car, then drove to the gate of the camp to deposit our hut key and then leave the fenced enclosure. While we were at the key deposit box we realised that a few things we would be needing during the day were in the boot, and as you can't get out of the car between camps we'd need to move them within reach. We parked about 20m inside the exit gate of the camp, opposite reception, and began moving things around.

Suddenly a black man in uniform came running out of the reception building and shouted at us: "Get back in your car, there is a leopard in that bush!" while pointing through the fence of the camp. I was in the car like a flash, but milord was having trouble with the accent...

"Huh?" he asks.
"Gitbik in yorka thehiz aleppidin thetboosh!"
"Wha?"
"GitBIK in yorka thehiz aLEPPIDin thetboosh!"
"Eh"?
"Honey, he says there is a leopard in that bush, get in the car!"
"Oh shit!"

We're in the car, boot slammed, doors shut, staring like light-struck bunnies towards the fence. The 3m high fence. The electrified fence. At a bush 20m away on the other side. The not very dense bush. In the middle of the scorching hot morning. Several minutes pass.

"See anything?"
"No. You?"
"No."
"Ask the man if he can still see it."
"Ok... um... I can't, he's gone."
"Gone?"
"Yeah."
"But... so... why isn't he shouting at all the other people wandering around?"
"Since when do leopards hunt during the day?"

We sat for a bit longer watching people walk around, then shrugged, got out and continued moving stuff from the boot into the car. We reckon they were having their little joke with the stupid white tourists. I wonder how often that little man runs out and shouts at people each day to make them jump?

And we never did get to see a leopard.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Picking up my visa

The day I picked up my visa from the Australian consulate in Auckland is a tale worth telling...

Milord and I were staying with Heidi, who lives about an hour's walk from the center of town. She and Craig had to go to work, so we would be making our own way into the city... we considered taking a taxi or a bus, but decided it would be a nice walk and we needed the exercise anyway. So we pulled up a map on the internet and worked out which road to go down from where we would cut through a park and pick up the long road bridge into town. We left the house at 10:30, expecting to get to the consulate at 11:30, in plenty of time before they closed for lunch at 12. We'd also keep an eye out for an internet cafe to print off the grant letter that had been emailed to me as Heidi didn't have a printer.

It was a lovely walk though a stunning suburb. The day was cool and overcast, perfect for a long walk, and we dawdled along oohing and ahing at the lush gardens and huge mansions along the way. We could see the Auckland Skytower in the distance and we wandered along in its general direction. After a time the road began to turn away from the city, and we realised that the park we had expected to cut through was actually impenetrable bush above a steep drop. We'd been walking for long enough that turning back was not really an option, so we decided to continue, because surely the road we were on would descend to the road and bridge we could see crossing the water to the city.

Well, yeah, eventually. We finally found ourselves on the several kilometers long bridge at 11:30... Remember, the visa office closes at 12? We picked up the pace, blessing the fact that it was a cool and blustery day. At 11:45 we reached the city, and found ourselves on the correct street - what a stroke of luck! Only... we needed number 189, and we were at number 1... so we picked up the pace a little more, almost jogging now.

We reached the Price Waterhouse Coopers building which houses the consulate at 11:53. I knew it was on the 7th floor so we bolted in through the lobby to the lift foyer, and leapt into the first lift we saw. The doors closed and we turned to the control panel... which wasn't there. Seriously. No buttons. The lift went up to the 8th floor and someone got off. It went to the 15th floor and someone got off. It went to the 28th floor...

"Psychic lift?" I hiss to Milord.
"Security tags?" He mutters back.

By now we are getting some very strange looks from the suited and booted people with us in the lift. We are scruffy and panting, and m'Lord looks like he is about to expire on the spot. He has gone a strange shade of red and sweat is literally pouring down his face and through his hair. We're also quite wild-eyed and are pulling frantic faces at each other.

A young man took pity on us. "Do you know how to work the lift?" he asks. "NO!" we chorus. Turns out each lift foyer has a console where you request a floor, and it tells you which lift to get into, which then goes to only those floors. Wierd. He led us out onto the 30th floor, we requested floor 7, then boarded the appropriate lift to go down again.

We exited onto floor 7 at 11:58. The security guard told us that unfortunately the visa office was closed for lunch... she then asked m'Lord if he was alright, and did he need to sit down! Ok. No problem. We'd come back at 1pm and try again... We called another lift to the lobby. Walked very slowly over a set of chairs and sat down gently. Drank a bottle of (crazy expensive imported from Europe - why?) water and felt our pulses return to normal and our high colour fade. We giggled for a while and felt human again.

Ok, an hour to kill. We never did find that internet cafe on the way, so we decided to do so and pick up some lunch. We circled a few city blocks in our search, and finally found an internet cafe. Now, either folk in Auckland are mostly Asian, or that part of town is their Chinatown, but almost nobody spoke English! I asked the lady in the internet cafe if I could just print something, and after a lot of waving and repetition I found myself looking at a computer screen with a login dialog. Which was all Chinese with the odd English word. I had no idea what to enter so typed the word "yes" into the "Print Document" textbox. Instantly all English disappeared and I was faced with a dialog entirely in Chinese. Hmmm. Interesting. So I clicked every button on the dialog. Turns out one of them represented "Shutdown". Riiight... and as the computer shut down I caught a glimpse of the file I wanted to print and double clicked on it and managed to abort the shutdown. And was in! I hacked a New Zealand Chinese internet cafe login screen - how cool am I?! We printed off my document and went to find a coffee.

We popped into the first coffee shop we came across and I went up the counter to order two plain white coffees and two pre-made sandwiches. After a lot of repetition and waving we finally got biggest mugs of coffee I have ever seen and the sandwiches. As I gratefully sank into my chair and took a deep gulp of the enormous coffee m'Lord, who'd been reading my document, said "Is it supposed to have Chinese characters in it?" ...!!!... Somehow every "'s" and semicolon had been transcribed into funny little Chinese symbols. Oh man.

We ended up abandoning half a bucket of coffee and made our way back to the consulate, selecting the lift correctly this time and saying a friendly greeting to the security guard. We took a number which put us second in the queue and waited for half an hour for the office to open, watching the wierd and wonderful visa applicants file in. m'Lord, like most Aussies (and probably most people in the world to be honest) is a bit of a xenophobe, and had a low grumble going on until I reminded him that I too am an alien import! Once the staff deigned to turn up and open their stations my document was accepted in spite of its new decorations, and I had the visa sticker in my passport within minutes. We wandered out to the lifts, looked at each other and said "That's it?".

What an anticlimax!

Back on Track

Last week Monday we flew to Brisbane for Milord's mum's funeral. She'd had a premonition that he was going to miss her funeral, so we booked on an early flight just in case, and in fact the flights into Brisbane were delayed by an hour so it was just as well! We landed with plenty of time and caught a taxi to the crematorium where the service was being held at 1pm. It was a glorious day and the 30 or so guests hugged the shade outside the building while waiting to go in. I knew one or two people, so Milord and his sister were able to leave me and meet and greet.

The service was very nice, officiated by the chaplain of the hospital where she died. Milord's sister read the eulogy and his nieces and a couple of their choir-mates sang. Afterwards we all went to a nearby sports club bar for drinks and nibbles, and then we spent the night with friends of m'Lord - Andrew, Jodi and their little girls Sarin and Makenna. On Tuesday we flew out of Brisbane in the morning and got home by midday. We had a quiet afternoon at home, winding down after the past week's events.

Since then we have been getting our lives back on track, restoring our routines and making an effort to be healthy. I gained a kilo and a half during the bereavement, and m'Lord gained 4!

Last weekend was Milord's first one at home in weeks (last weekend he went away on a boy's golf weekend, it was already organised and we felt it would be a good distraction) and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Long sleep-ins, reading the paper in bed with a coffee, a bit of gardening, and a walk along the water to the fish markets for lunch and then home again. We went out to a 40th birthday party on Saturday, but m'Lord went teetotal and I went moderate so it was very civilized and we woke up feeling wonderful on Sunday!

Over the last 7 days Milord has not had any alcohol, and I only had a couple of glasses of wine on Saturday. I've kept within my weight watchers points and he's been very good too. I have lost a kilo to be 72.4 today, and he has lost 5.5kg! We are now just over where we were before our NZ holiday.

We are starting to relax now after many months of having his mum's illness hanging over us. I hadn't realised just how stressed we were until now, it is a like a cloud has lifted. While it is very sad that she is gone, it is a relief that her suffering is over, and that we can begin to move forward with our lives.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Rest in Peace, almost Mum-In-Law

Lord Blackadder's mum died yesterday morning.

I didn't know her very well, and in the time that I did know her she was always very ill, but she was a lovely lady and I'm sad that she is gone. We didn't have much in common, and she was just a few years younger than my grandmother so I tended to think of her more as a granny than a mum, especially considering how frail she has been in all the time I've known her.

I'm sad that she will not be at our wedding and that she will not spoil our children when we have them. I'm sad that m'Lord's last parent in gone. I'm sad for his sister who has lost a mother she was really close to, and for his nieces who grew up at their granny's house.

Lord Blackadder's mum was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, and fought it off successfully. Then just over two years ago she was diagnosed with throat cancer, and underwent some fairly nasty treatment for it. We thought she had beaten that one when shadows appeared in both lungs and we were told it could not be cured and the clock was ticking. She fought all the way, and only in the last few weeks of her life did she say that she'd had enough and was ready to stop.

She was always cheerful around me, and made an enormous effort when I visited. Just a couple of weeks ago she got out of her hospital bed and walked me to the lifts to say goodbye, when merely sitting up was draining. That's the last time I saw her, and I will take the image of her determined courage with me.

We received a phone call at 5am yesterday summoning m'Lord to the hospital in Brisbane. He dashed from the house, got on the first plane and from Brisbane airport hailed a taxi. Sadly he missed his mum's passing at 9:05 by mere minutes, and he is very upset about that. She was unconscious and wouldn't have known that he was there, but that's not the point. I have never seen him so broken, although he pastes a brave face over most of it. He flew home again last night and the funeral will be on Monday so we will both travel to Brisbane over the weekend for that.

I left work early yesterday to be home when he got in, and stocked up on comfort food. I matched him glass for glass all evening, and while I feel kind of rough today at least he slept through the night! He went in to work today even though they offered him time off, as he felt the distraction would be good.

Although Lord Blackadder's mum was definitely suffering and so her death is a relief, we are still grieving for her. It's going to be a sad time for a while.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Back from New Zealand



Well, we are home from New Zealand, specifically Auckland and Queenstown. Auckland because I needed to pick up my permanent migration visa from the Australian consulate (yay!), and Queenstown because you may as well do a little skiing while you are in the country, right?

We took Friday 31st August off work, and flew at midday from Sydney to Auckland, which took about 2 and a half hours. We arrived at Heidi and Craig's house at 6pm and after a drink we all headed into Mission Bay for dinner. Heidi is 4 months pregnant, so we had a designated driver all night ;-). Heidi and I headed to bed about midnight, leaving the boys drinking red wine... Milord was a little under the weather the next day!

On Saturday we flew to Queenstown where we were met by our package rep and taken to our accommodation, which was a nice little one-bedroom apartment very close to the centre of town. It was surprisingly warm as we got off the plane, and we were a bit concerned to be told that the snow was melting and awful and that one of the ski areas was actually closed! Then it turned cold and began to rain, and poured all afternoon long while we tramped around under umbrellas stocking up the kitchen and bar. Luckily it seems the rain was snow further up the mountains, and by morning the ski fields were ready for us.

We spent the next three days skiing at The Remarkables ski area, which takes about an hour to get to from Queenstown centre, depending on snow chains and the like. We had decided that we were not interested in driving on ice, so took the ski shuttle bus to and from the snow every day. It worked out perfectly.

I was pretty nervous to begin with, as it had been 5 years since I'd last skied. Turns out it really is just like riding a bicycle, and after a wobble or two I was fine. We booked a couple of hour-long private lessons, and it was helpful to have any bad habits pointed out. m'Lord has done less skiing than I have, so his wobbles lasted a bit longer, but by the end of 3 days I was struggling to keep up with him on the easy runs.

Now, I had been wondering how the run difficulty levels (green/blue/red) compare in New Zealand to Europe, and this is my impression: NZ green is a lot like an EU easy blue. NZ blue covers everything from the EU medium blue to EU red.

What confused me completely, and I don't know if it is the norm, was the fact that only the green runs were groomed (compacted) at the The Remarkables. This meant that every other run was deep powder or very lumpy and as a consequence was pretty tricky to get down. Poor Milord with his bad knees couldn't cope with ungroomed at all, and I fell over so much I resembled a snowman! This from a girl who could get down any groomed red run and most mogul fields without falling a few years back. I was actually very disappointed, as the only good surface was limited to two rather short and crowded green runs. I would be interested to know if there was a reason why they didn't groom any other runs - were we out of season or did a compacter break down? Most annoying, and I'm not sure I'd go back again.

We had a final day in Queenstown where we didn't ski, and on that day we did the Shotover Jet boat ride in the morning. There are a number of jet boat operators, but the Shotover one goes up the Shotover River canyon, which is narrow with steep high walls and rapids. The boat goes within inches of walls and rocks and shoals, and everyone screams as they veer away at the last second then spin a 360 in a handspan of water. I did the same boat ride a few years ago in summer, so had the foresight to don my ski jacket and a woolly hat as we got soaked and it was freezing! We loved it.

Then we rode a gondola up to the gondola station high above Queenstown and had lunch in a bar overlooking the valley. We could see paragliders swooping past, and boats like tiny specks on the water, and even found ourselves looking down on an airliner coming in to land. There is a bungy platform over 47m of rocks and trees, and we watched a few mad people throw themselves off it. I bungied there the last time I was in Queenstown, and while it is a rather funny story I will never ever bungy again! Milord wasn't particularly tempted either. We walked up the hillside for a bit, and then both did a tandem paraglide down into town. This is also something I did last time, and it is just as thrilling as before! What a rush!

Queenstown is a lovely place, rather quaint and thronging with bars and restaurants, and full of boarders and skiers and backpackers. We enjoyed bar hopping and trying a new eatery every mealtime.

We flew back to Auckland on Thursday 6th, and as we arrived at Heidi's mid-afternoon we found the local supermarket and shopped and cooked up a roast lamb dinner for them. With lots and lots of vegetables as we were in withdrawal after a week of bacon and eggs and restaurant meals! On the Friday we wandered into town and picked up my visa at the consulate - which was rather an anticlimax after the year of effort that has gone into getting it, it took 5 minutes! We went up the skytower and had a bottle of wine overlooking the city to celebrate, and Heidi and Craig joined us at the Viaduct for dinner.

The rest of the weekend was nice and lazy as it rained and we were all tired and broke - and m'Lord and I have both been to Auckland before so have done the touristy stuff. We watched lots of rugby on TV as the Rugby World cup started last weekend, and read books and caught up on sleep. On Saturday Craig hosted a boy's poker night, so Heidi and I and another girlfriend went out for dinner and a movie, and we all watched the All Blacks totally thrash Italy at rugby. Milord and I flew back into Sydney late last night, and I would be happy not to be in an airport or aeroplane again for the rest of the year!

The good news is that I somehow only gained a kilo over the holiday - amazing considering what we ate and drank - 73kg today! We are detoxing for the next few days, so I hope to shake it off and get back on track soon. Veggie stirfry tonight!