Tag Archives: Rose Bay

Fireworks and reflections

2 Jan

We played a few Christmas songs, I made some mice pies, we decorated our tree, put up the cards and wrapped our presents and so despite the sun blazing through the windows, Christmas Eve was fairly festive. When we woke up on Christmas Day, the sky was grey and the rain started an hour later. It did not stop and so for our second Christmas in Australia we felt quite ‘at home’ in the decidedly British weather, had a roast turkey dinner, watched Christmas films and eventually went for a walk in the rain!

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It was our first Christmas in our own home in Sydney and our first (and possibly only) Christmas spent with just each other. We were joined by families via Skype later in the evening but all in all it was a very quiet day. I suppose we did miss some drunken relation falling asleep during the Queen’s speech or the dog eating all the mince pies and a family argument over a game of charades but I suppose there were no risks of typical family tensions. In fact  just to make sure I gave James a book and he gave me a jigsaw so conversation was pretty minimal!

New Year’s Eve was an entirely different affair. The sun was out, it was hot, James’ dad and Lindy had arrived, a feast had been prepared and a group of our friends and their families had assembled at our house for the pre-fireworks barbecue. As usual, there were too many sausages, plenty of beer and as the sun went down we enjoyed a bit of a party on our patio. Then it was an organised procession to the bus and up to HMAS Watson for a view from the wardroom for Sydney’s famous NYE fireworks display. The champagne was flowing and the display did not disappoint.




It is strange to think we have now had our second Christmas and another New Year in Australia. Last year we were still growing accustomed to life ‘down under’ having only been in the country four months. This year we’re almost ‘old hands’ and have a brilliant bunch of friends to show for it. As usual, New Year is a time when many people look back and reflect on the past twelve months. For us, 2012 was the year of settling and exploring! After a hectic 2011, a year of change and upheaval, this past year has been about establishing a home, a network of friends and some kind of routine. I started the year freelancing and ended the year having written a novel. James started the year on a ship and spending months away at sea and ended it in a shore-based job just a few kilometres from home. Our friends have actually changed very little but we have met some new ones and grown closer to our other ‘less new’ ones!

In 2012 we had visits from my parents, my friend, my sister and currently, James’ dad and step mum. We have had holidays in Margaret River, Jervis Bay and Tasmania. This year we may do a little less travelling but James has several trips away with the Navy and we look forward to a visit back to the UK towards the end of the year. It will inevitably be a busy one, particularly with James’ job this year and hopefully I’ll find something new and try to persevere with getting my novel published. We shall see…


Stand Up and Paddle!

20 Oct

Louise has mentioned in a few blogs that I have recently got into Stand Up Paddle boarding.  I thought it might be interesting if I wrote a quick blog about it for our site.

Stand Up Paddling is known as SUP, pronounced ‘S’… ‘U’… ‘P’.  It involves the paddler standing up on a long, wide surfboard and using a long paddle to propel yourself on the water.  You can paddle almost anywhere: on the flat water of rivers, harbours and lakes, in the surf and even out at sea (down wind and with the sea only).

I first tried it a couple of years ago when I was in Florida and when we arrived in Sydney last year I was pleased to see loads of people doing it in Rose Bay.  Only now that I have a little more time have I had the chance to give it a real go, and for the last few weeks I have been going with a Club in Rose bay a couple of times a week.

We train every Tuesday and Friday at 6 am (Aussies tend to get going earlier than Brits!), and there are races on Wednesday evening and Saturday mornings.  Both training and the races are fairly chilled affairs, but my competitive side has begun to show through in the races and as my technique and fitness improve, I am keen to improve my course times and get further up the leader board!  The trouble is there are different styles of board, some suited for racing, some for surf and some hybrids.  Then you have different lengths and widths and volumes of the boards, all of which have an effect on the boards’ stability, but the more stable the board, the slower it is!   As you can see there are many factors affecting the race, and I haven’t even begun to describe how wind speed plays a massive part.  Needless to say I am starting off at a disadvantage over someone with a smaller surface area than me!


Unusually for a new sport and me, I have not rushed out to buy a board and all the accessories – I am not allowed!  But I am hoping that by showing that I am really committed to SUP I might be allowed to invest in a board of some kind in the not too distant future!!!  Meanwhile I am lobbying hard for my own paddle for a birthday or Christmas present…..

SUPing is great fun and anyone can do it, Louise is waiting for warmer water temperatures before she gives it another go, although we both did quite a lot down in Jervis Bay.  I have begun to meet a new crowd of people down at the paddles, and it is a really fun, social activity with some real fitness benefits.


As a quick addition, I have just got back from my Saturday morning race and came first in my category and third overall. This a is a great achievement and considering the two ahead of me were using racing boards, it might not be too long before I am topping that leaderboard.

Fairy Lights

28 May

Sydney Harbour is pretty impressive no matter what the time of day or year, but there is something very special about it at night, with all the boats and the bridge lit up and the sun going down behind the skyline. Currently, and for the next two weeks, it is even more impressive due to Vivid: Sydney’s festival of light, music and ideas. James (who had an unexpected weekend at home) and I took the ferry into Circular Quay where the festival is taking place.

Buildings and skyscrapers around the main terminal were all lit up, fibre optic sculptures were set up around The Rocks area, the Museum of Contemporary Art was transformed with light projections, turning the building itself into an exhibition and the facade of Customs House was illuminated by a technique called projection mapping, with some incredible 3D effects. I took some pictures but the best way is to see it for yourself with this video (particularly good after 30 sec and also 2min into the clip). The Opera House itself was also lit up with art work projected on to the sails. One of the best effects was when it appeared that the sails were billowing and moving in a breeze. I noticed my old workplace, ITN, did a report on the Opera House illuminations (video is here, although, embarrassingly they do get the name of the last building wrong, never mind.) It all felt quite Christmassy, especially as everyone was wrapped up!

When it comes to harbour highlights, Vivid is not the only event worth mentioning. The other day, walking along Rose Bay promenade, I noticed two creatures darting under the water. When I looked more closely, I realised they were in fact penguins! After a few minutes, a small crowd had gathered to watch the sight and a third penguin joined them. It was incredible to watch them flying through the water and see the tiny fish jumping along the surface as the penguins looked for food. A woman told me she has lived in the area for fifty years and has not seen penguins in this part of the harbour for over thirty years, so it was quite a unique experience. It was pretty exciting to be privy to something, not seen here for decades. Fairy penguins are the smallest of all penguins so you had to keep your eyes peeled to see them but it was certainly a highlight of my day 🙂

A Rose Bay Sunday

23 Oct

Post first barbecue, today was another induction to Aussie life – my first attempt at SUP – Stand-Up-Paddle.

I have heard this described as ‘surfing for those who don’t like waves’ but actually, it is possible to surf on these boards – and plenty do – and I was quietly relieved that I could try this with just a few gentle waves in the harbour – quite big enough for me on the first go!

James being a relative expert set off easily. I was advised to kneel and paddle out initially but seeing as the sport is SUP – not KUP – I attempted the stand – not as easy as it looks. With James’ help initially I managed to stand up and get going as the photo proves!

Yes I was tensed all the way round the bay, yes my feet ached for gripping on for dear life and yes, I barely got to enjoy the stunning harbour views with my eyes so intently focused on the water ahead but yes I did enjoy it and yes, I would do it again.

We both loved the fact that we could get up and be on the water together so soon  and with the sun shining and weather heating up, it was a brilliant way to start the day.

It also happened to be the day of the Rose Bay Street Fair – nothing too dissimilar to the kind of event you get in English towns: craft stalls, food and drink stands, face painting, music and the streets full of locals. The only difference: people browsing stalls for Christmas decorations in blazing sunshine – something I’m not sure will ever seem quite right!


First day of waiting

19 Sep

The Foxtel (Sky TV) has been installed – therefore life is complete – almost.

We are still waiting for the phone line and broadband to be connected. We have gone with Dodo for the latter and hopefully it does not live up to it’s name: Non-existant.

We are also waiting for the Qantas Airmiles card so we can start SHOPPING! So it is very much a waiting game right now but with the sun still shining and the temperatures reaching the high 20s, I am happy to wait for a while – perhaps down at the beach.

Ten minutes from home

14 Sep

While the job hunt starts and I have some time in the day, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to explore and get to know this area, known as the ‘Eastern Suburbs’.

Whether by car or on foot – walking or driving just ten minutes – brings us to wonderful beaches such as Bronte or Bondi, secluded bays or dramatic cliff top views.

During the last couple of weeks we have visited a few of these bays while out walking or to hit the beach while the weather seems determined to stay warm.

The other afternoon I walked from HMAS Watson where James is currently based along the coast through Vaucluse to Shark Bay.

En route, I passed Watsons Bay, Gibson Beach, Parsley Bay, Vaucluse Bay and finally through Nielsen Park to reach Shark Bay, an almost empty stretch of sand in a sheltered cove. James joined me after work and it was tempting to go for a swim but not even the hottest day can get me in yet… Maybe in a few weeks.

We keep having to pinch ourselves to know that we are really living here now and these places are just on our doorstep.

Rose Bay itself is beautiful with a sandy beach to one end, Bondi Beach is a little further away and the cliffs along Dover Heights and up to Vaucluse and Watsons Bay can be reached after a short (but steep) walk from one end of our road.

Our photos from these recent trips can be found here.

The day James made a grown man cry

12 Sep Rose Bay, our new suburb.

From a London flat to an apartment in Sydney via various hotels, honeymoon resorts and temporary accommodation, we have done a fair amount of moving in the last few weeks. Today, however, should be the last of it – for a while at least – as we became proud residents of a unit in Rose Bay and finally have a place we can call home.

It is a huge relief to be out of the hotel room and not living out of a suitcase, which has been a common theme for the last month!

The defence service arranged for us to borrow a furniture pack, so we are now kitted out with a bed, sofas, a TV, fridge, washing machine and all the other bits and pieces we need and don’t yet have.

The colour scheme is pretty monochrome and beige so we’re looking forward to injecting some colour into the place – roll on the sea freight arriving. I never thought I’d say I’d be glad to see those rugs and pictures again after lugging them up three flights of stairs in London.

To celebrate we went and had a coffee at (one of) the local coffee shops round the corner. It was sat in the sun, outside the ‘Art of Coffee’, with us passing the phone between us to sort out the broadband installation, that I got chatting to Gianni.

Originally from Italy, he has lived here for over forty years and used to run a local gelateria in the area. His daughter is an opera singer and judging from the number of times he stopped to greet someone, there aren’t many people he doesn’t know in the neighbourhood. His chair at the coffee shop pretty much has his name on it.

Once off the phone, James started talking about Italy and after a few  words in Italian, the tears just started to pour (from Gianni that is) and whether this was some indication of what he thought of James’ Italian we’ll never know, but we like to think he just grew a bit nostalgic.

He kept hugging James and stroking his face and it all got quite emotional. As he continued to sob and pat James as if he was a long lost son we all grew a little bit teary. At this point, if we had been in England, there would probably have been some awkward, embarrassing moment where we would have pretended nothing had ever happened but here, nobody seemed to think it was odd.

When we left, he shook our hands, told us he was always sat outside there and started to cry again.

Gianni is just one of the people who struck up conversation with us today. First, there was Gary at ‘Oscar’s’ coffee shop, who now calls James ‘Captain’, there was Sue at the flower shop where we bought ourselves a housewarming plant (!), and then the man who owns one of the local grocery shops, who told us in no uncertain terms not to shop there again as he is ‘too expensive’.

Welcome to Rose Bay… I think we’ll soon feel at home!

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