Thursday, 26 April 2012


Well the time came and we sadly departed Melbourne, saying farewell to our family and friends and looking onto our new adventure, the city of Sydney. We caught the overnight train from Melbourne to Sydney, the easier, cheaper and quicker option, so we thought why not. After a tiresome 14hours on a train, we where delayed along the journey as the night instigates track works and we where held in them. Arriving into the city feeling sleepy but excited, we checked our baggage into a storeroom for the day and embarked on exploring...after breakfast of course!

So, I briefly remembered certain places and familiar sights of the city from my last trip here a couple of years ago. I took the lead and navigated us around the city, well...I do have great navigational skills when it comes to finding my way around a place. It's one thing I am good at, finding my way when we are lost or only visiting a place once and never really forgetting where to go. So, we indulged in a pastry brunch served with delicious tea and coffee. The city was already alive bustling with people, noises and smells. We wandered through the streets, admiring all the buildings, street buskers....we even spent 30minutes watching a guy on drums and a trumpet! The weather was not the best, quite grey and small droplets of rain, but we didn't let that affect us. We marched on through the Paddy's Market, explored China Town and headed towards the Harbour. After strolling and stopping for a rest near Darling Harbour, we caught a glimpse of it....the vast structure of the one and only Sydney Harbour Bridge! This trail followed on to the lovely Opera House. I really like the Opera House, its location is great and the architecture that formulates this beauty is amazing. The outer shell almost reflects the light and allows the building to glisten. We ended our day resting in the Botanical Gardens, watching life pass us by and joking around with the wildlife. We felt really calm and content. As evening approached, we began to get excited again as we where heading into suburbia and staying with my lovely family friends Marie and Brian.

When we arrived into Caringbah, we where greeted by Marie with a lovely warm hug. I love Marie, last time I visited Sydney I stayed with her and had the most amazing time. Marie and Brian welcomed us both into their beautiful home, having our own room and bathroom. It was great to have a base and really feel at home and comfortable. They have the sweetest cat called Nina, who John grew to love, after a few slasher incidents and run-ins they became the best of buds! Over the next few weeks, we stayed in Marie and Brian's, they took us to great places around Sydney, visiting beaches, coastal walks and eating in delicious bistro's! Through the week days, me and John did our own things, sightseeing and spending lots of our time down the local beach at Cronulla. What a mesmerising beach this is!

I was even more so excited to see my best friend Katie, herself and Kieran had only just emigrated over to Sydney from Liverpool. So, after a couple days we got to meet up, spending the evening in their wonderful new home at a great 'Ozzie' bbq! The area they live in is very open, bohemian and cool. The vibes around the area and people is very warm and friendly, I am so happy they have moved here and from observing them they seem so happy. In terms of lifestyle, they have it all, beach life, city life, cosmopolitan cafes and a great circle of friends. One thing with Sydney is that people really do work hard and long hours through the week, so work days start as early as 5am and work until 7pm, but when the weekend approaches, everybody fully enjoys them and takes time to relax and enjoy life. That's what I love about this culture, a real appreciation of life and most of all to enjoy it!

Staying with Marie and Brian, we got to enjoy lots of tasty meals, with John and Brian expressing their brilliant culinary skills. Each dish which was delivered was like a piece of art and with the approval from myself and Marie on the tasty treats, we all enjoyed our evenings, wine and dining and having lovely conversations. When we where making plans to depart and head up on a road trip up the East Coast, I felt quite sad to be leaving everybody. We felt really happy in Sydney and almost naturally at home. It's strange as we felt so strongly about Melbourne and the life of living there but deep down me and John loved the suburban life of Sydney. Saying goodbye to Marie and Brian was hard, to me they are my family and it's always hard saying goodbye to the ones you love. We have grown to appreciate those we love and have in our lives and especially with travelling, we are always on 'the go' and live out of backpack, so time settled in one place is like heaven to us. After a farewell kiss to Marie and Brian, we headed over to Newtown to spend our last evening with Katie and Kieran. They are really enjoying life over here and no matter where we are in the world I can always have fun with Katie. So, after our time in Sydney together, we had experienced brilliant days at beaches, catching the rays, enjoying the sea and having some good ole fun! We ate delicious food together and enjoyed a beverage or two...So, as the time came to say farewell, I felt strange. I think it was the emotions of sadness to say goodbye, happiness for spending time with them and everything rolled into one really. It's difficult to describe as these emotions can play with you when saying goodbye to the people and places you love! I know Katie will do brilliantly over in Sydney, so I just kept telling her how happy I am she is living this life and that no doubt I will soon be back over!!

We had arranged a road trip with a lovely couple, which unusually we met in Halong Bay on a boat trip. They are originally from Southampton and have lived in Australia a while, living in Sydney and about to take a road trip up to Brisbane. So after exchanging details and confirming our plans, we all set off in their monster car up along the East Coast. I felt back on the road!

Arriving into Sydney after a long train journey

With all my bags...exploring the city

Admiring the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Joking around outside the Opera House

Enjoying the afternoon laying down in the Botanical Gardens

Enjoying the waves down at Cronulla Beach

John was so happy watching the students having a PE surf lesson at the beach

Just after being filmed for a music video taking a picture down at the beach

Me and Marie having a stroll by the water

Me, Marie and Brian joking around by the edge of the cliff

John, Marie and Brian...just before our lunch by the water

On Katie's balcony at the Ozzy BBQ!

Popping to see Katie while she was on her first week of work

Exploring the famous 'Rocks' of Sydney

The lovely Opera House

Enjoying the views and the sunshine

Having a great day in the city

A day at the beach with our friends

A self picture balanced on a surfboard

Fun times down at Cronulla Beach

A lovely morning stroll

John, me, Marie and Brian enjoying the Sunday sunshine Portuguese Chicken!!

Enjoying our farewell meal at a local Portuguese restaurant

The beautiful Nina 'aka - Slasher' the Cat

John drooling as Kieran cooks up a treat on the bbq

Me, Kieran, Katie and Jess enjoying our afternoon bbq lunch

Having a traditional Bondi Burger

Treating myself to an ice cream on a super hot day

Heading down to the beach

Enjoying the beautiful Bondi Beach

Walking around the cliffs, some amazing waves, rocks and views

The landscape is beautiful with a lush breeze flowing by

The last trails of we head further away

Me and Sean enjoying the views

Being windswept up the it!

A great end to the day. Me, Sean and John loving the Sydney sights!!

Saturday, 21 April 2012


So arriving into Melbourne early evening, I was super excited to see my family. Nader was brilliant and dropped us off at my cousin Kevin and his wife Emma's lovely home. They live in an amazing area, they have the magical Botanical Gardens on one side of them and a bustling cosmopolitan vibe of Chapel Street towards the other way, plus it is only a gentle 20 minute walk straight into the city. Seeing the family is brilliant, as it makes me feel comfortable again and able to truly relax and take time to rest, talk and just be happy. Our first few days, we took it easy and caught up with the small things we needed to do, such as washing, organising and most of all...having plenty cups of tea! 

Melbourne is such a vibrant city, it has something happening all the time, whether it be sports, arts, music, everything and anything really. The weather was dull and a little wet to start with in our stay but thankfully the sunshine appeared and made our daily ventures even more enjoyable. There was always something to do each day in Melbourne, I grew so comfortable in knowing the area and even the people are so open and friendly. I even managed my first bit of exercise in a long time...a 3km jog around 'The Tan' a popular running circuit, I must admit it killed me, made me realise how unfit I actually am these days. Throughout our days in Melbourne we went the usual sightseeing and experienced some brilliant places, I particularly enjoyed my morning strolls through the Botanical Gardens, with the sun shining and lots of wildlife, it was such a calming place to be. The city is super cultural so everybody is different, people from all walks of life are friends and there is so much street entertainment happening, I love watching live busking music! 

As the time passed in Melbourne, a special day was approaching, this special day is my birthday! I decided to treat myself to a new pair of pumps, as my last pair had an awful odour, 2 holes in, ripped along the bag and generally excessively warn. So, the morning I woke up feeling happy, opening my gifts and cards, then made my daily journey through the Botancial Gardens to watch the ducks. Then we ventured into the city and had a lovely day out, heading back early to prepare for the long process. This is where I made myself feel pretty, borrowing Emma's lovely polka dot dress and with a pair of heels, I felt 'dressy' for the first time since being away. We enjoyed the warm evening heading down to Southgate, a really cool trendy part of the city right by the river. We enjoyed some nice drinks and chatting the evening away, then all of sudden I heard this noise. When I say noise, this is not just any normal noise, it is something I have used and still use to this day with my dad, we call it the 'Newman Whistle'. It's so funny, when I was a small child he would use that whistle so I could always find him if I ever felt lost and even on random days back home, we will jokingly do the whistle to each other. So, there I am sitting all glamous on my birthday, enjoying wonderful drinks with my family and I suddenly hear the 'Newman Whistle', I jolted up like a meerkat and as I spun around there was my mum and dad standing behind me. I was in total shock with happiness, I literally could not talk for at least 5 minutes and my face was beaming anf glowing with delight. I felt so emotional, one of happiness, surprise and love. We spent the next couple of hours, enjoying a delicious meal, sharing conversations and more opening of presents! Then, a surprise chocolate birthday cake popped out with the whole bar/restaurant singing happy birthday to me, my cousin and his wife Emma had treated me to this surprise. The rest of the evening, we graced an amazing skyscraper bar overlooking the city and then ended the evening dancing in the local pub close to home. This was one of the best evening's and birthdays of my life, one that I will cherish and never forget! 

The next week, we spent many days with my family, most of the time I was constantly with my mum and dad, dosing up on my time with them. It's mad I really began to realise how much I had missed them and it's the small things like conversations and popping the shops together, sharing dinner or cuppa's are the things I love. We ventured out to the city plenty of times, visiting lots of tourist attractions, luckily the weather was sunshine which made the days even better for all of us. As the time approahed, my mum and dad moved on with their own adventure heading up towards Cairns, so I got up at 6am to wave them farewell. I felt quite subdued, the day was cold and rainy and goodbye's are never really easy. Deep down though I knew I was happy to have seen them and that no matter what they are never really that far away. As my mum has always told me 'no matter where you are in the world, your only ever one phone call away' and that's something I believe greatly in. My mum and dad have always wanted me to go off on my adventure, go see the world, experience cultures, people, foods and embrace it all. So, I was ready to keep enjoying it all. 

Our final weekend in Melbourne was approaching and this was going to be a spectacular one. My family had bought me a ticket to the Melbourne F1 race for my birthday present. On the Saturday, we ventured into the city to celebrate good ole 'St.Patrick's Day', graced with an array of green, we enjoyed plenty of beers, good music and a lovely pie on the last train home. On the Sunday, we where all heading down to the race track to have a brilliant day out, see lots of cool cars and be prepared for the volume of the roaring engines. The day was once again filled with sunshine, which of course made me even happier, then we started off early, walking around the track edge, viewing different races. We observed the amazing planes in the sky, completing plenty of acrobatics and at one point a Boeing plane even joined in, flying low and tilting itself side to side. We managed to give Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton a wave, to which John swears they waved back once he shouted them! The race itself was on a while and the thrill of the sounds of those cars is wonderful. There is a real buzz in the air and everybody is out to have a good day out. After, a long day in the sunshine we ended with a pizza to go home and enjoyed a lovely chilled night at home. The whole weekend had been fun filled, eventful and a brilliant buzz for the whole city. 

As I reflect upon my time in Melbourne, I realise how great a city it is, it has the cool bohemian area of St.Kilda if you want to enjoy cakes and beach life. You have a buzzing night out around Tourak and Chapel Street, oozing with lots of funky bars and clubs. The city itself is a miss-mash of total uniqueness, where everybody is open and themselves. There is so much being invested here, lots of the people love living here and there is so much taking place in terms of arts, performance, festivals and music. I ponder a thought and shall leave this with you, a wise man once advised me that for everything that want, need, enjoy or love, it's all summed up in small phrase... 'Only in Melbourne' 

Enjoying the laneways of Melbourne

Morning walks through the Botanical Gardens

John heading into the cricket match at the MCG

Meeting Jamie Oliver and winning a $200 frying pan

Some brilliant street busking in the city
Saying a tearful 'farewell' to my beloved pumps

Opening all my cards and presents on my BIRTHDAY...

Morning birthday stroll through the Gardens

Stopping off at the art gallery, playing around with the water and kids...

Enjoying the beautiful city of Melbourne
The amazing night full of surprises, I am so happy...

All tucking into the tasty chocolate cake

Giving my dad a thank-you kiss

John super happy with his presents too

Out in the bars enjoying the live band playing sweet music

All having a laugh and dancing the night away

My dad's so funny in his scarf...all enjoying the night in the skyscraper bar overlooking the city

All having a wonderful night on my birthday

Off sightseeing the city of Melbourne

Enjoying the Moomba Festival

Up in the Eureka Tower, overlooking the whole city

My mum and John joking around, capturing a good snap too!

My cousin Kevin giving an interesting and comical tour ride around the city on the trams

My dad tucking into his cake at St. Kilda

All treating ourselves to cakes in St.Kilda after a tough day at the beach

Me and mum having a laugh up in Dandelong

Overlooking the fireworks in Melbourne

Enjoying my last cultural day out with John & Nader, reflecting on the city