19 August, 2009

Back at work, farewell & a busy time ahead!

This week, I am back at work after 4 months off... Both Monday & Tuesday were good (busy)days! However, after an email when I returned, today I was off to an old family friends funeral. It was such a lovely day for it, over on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in glorious sunlight. Hek, it was even rather warm! RIP to you my friend... God speed!

I am now going back to work 4 days a week as well, giving me an extra day at home to get things done, stuff that has really needed doing for a little bit, but now I have the time, ability and money to do them! Just yesterday, I booked the house in to be re-pointed. You know what that is right? You scrape out the mortar between the bricks and replace it with new, stronger mortar. It not only sounds like an absolutely HORRID job, but I think it is even noisy as well since a grinder will need to be used! So a dusty, noisy HUGE job, is too big for me, so I have contracted a guy to do it for me! Once that is done, I will then get the painters in, and they can paint the eaves, fascias and windows/doors in the colour scheme I am yet to choose (I have it down to two though!).

I am also looking at gaining my Pilot's licence. This is going to be very exciting for me as it is something I have always wanted to do! Only trouble was that other things took priority over the last couple of years...


16 August, 2009

Happy 90th Birthday Nan!

Happy Birthday NAN!!!

Birthday Girl, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Today, we celebrated Nan's 90th Birthday, with family at Centennial Park, at their Restaurant. It was going to be a lovely day, 28C in Winter, and it was!

Jamie & Riley, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Rosie, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Issac, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

All of the new babies were there, and of course the older ones too. Both Rod & Barb and myself were in from London through the week, and I was keen to find out about how they were feeling. We were in similar timed flight to Sydney through Singapore (different carriers though), and as I had not been feeling any affects of jet-lag I was waiting to see if it was the timing, or the flights themselves! They had little to no sleep throughout, so I suspect it was the flights themselves!

Nans 90th Cake, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

By the time the cake came out, I was so full I would have exploded if I had any more! We had the choice of fish Travella, or the Slow cooked pork belly, spinach, caramelised apple, cider jus (which I had and it was FANTASTIC! Following the main, I had the Chocolate mocha tart, double cream, candied citrus, which was EVEN better, agree?

It was also time for another family photo, with a couple of notable people missing. Here's wishing you a very Happy Birthday, and I hope you had a great day...

90th NAN Bday, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

12 August, 2009

RHS Wisley Gardens

As I said in my all too brief post last night, after a very long day (and a few too many home brewed ales and Maggie's friends...) I was totally exhausted. But I can now tell you of my day!

We started early, and headed for the M25 to head south to Wisley. The Gardens were yet to open, but I could tell be the carpark, it must be a popular spot! I was not wrong either. After getting through the entrance gates, it was like walking into another world. This Garden was WAY better than my last visit of Kew Gardens! Sure, Kew has the History, Science and sheer size, Wisely has the WOW factor and in many ways, a CAMP factor with it being full of color, texture and in general, spunk! Gardens beds of tightly packed Cosmos, other beds full of colour and finely manicure lawns (with please keep off signs, grrrr) were everywhere! I took over nearly 200 photos, of which are in my Flickr account, and I will upload many more when I get home due to batt life and nearing data allowance, but I have done 30 and split them over two mosaic's for ease of viewing.

After that, Maggie took me to where she was living when over here, and her sons grew up until they moved back to Australia in the early '90s. We went to some of her old neighbours, were I was watered with home brew, fed with Moussaka (I picked out the Egg Plant: - YUK!) and had play time with Sally, an 11 month old Pointer who had recently been spayed after her first season. She was a playful pup, already pulled out 4-5 stitch's leaving 3 until next Tuesday, yeah right! I was also taken up to Keith's Allotment garden, which was a fascinating thing to do, eating the wild blackberries along the way...

As I said, a very tiring day. But I am now checked-in for my 26 odd hour flight home via Singapore, and will let you know how I am when I get there. The inbound flight I was told by my friends back home in the industry, left 4 hours late. This worried me as if it keeps this up, we will NOT make the 11pm curfew, so we will wait and see. They are telling me here that we will be departing only 30 mins late... Waiting waiting waiting!


To tired to talk...

Sorry, but after a day PACKED FULL of stuff, I am way to tired to do much... But, I am packed and ready to go tomorrow!

I have heard though, the flight left Sydney 4 hours late, so I will have plenty of time to fix some pics, post them and tell you all about it.

Looking forward to getting home and seeing Macc & Jasmine!


11 August, 2009

English Royality!

Today, was a Royal Day! After collecting Maggie from Heathrow, we ended up (very much as a last minute) heading west to Windsor, Windsor Castle! It was a cool day, now overcast and getting cooler, but I was so excited about going as I had not been there before. I know that 'L' would have loved to have gone, as in St Georges Chapel there was the most magnificent embroideries!

It did not take us all that long to get there, it looked much further on the map! I quickly went to the ATM to get some cash for the parking meter, and we then headed towards the Castle. When we got to the grounds, we turned left and headed for a Tea House for some lunch first. When we got into the grounds, it was magnificent, wonderful exciting to be in such a place, where the history was so prevalent... Most recently, Charles & Camilla's wedding!

The grounds were superbly manicured (of course) and the Mot Garden had some lovely roses which are within the Mosaic below. There was also some ancient graffiti as well AND some ECO lights (Compact Fluorescent) which I was very impressed with!


10 August, 2009

New found friends, and family at a London pub!

After an absolutely horrid night of sleep, or lack there of, today I again caught up with Rod & Barb... This time, at the Tate Modern (sort of)! At least, we were outside of it at the pub!

But, going back a couple of hours thanks to my Hotel... Over the last couple of days, when getting back to my room, there was this odour, gradually getting stronger, of damp... Kind of like, wet smelly socks, but much stronger. This morning though, I was able to get to the bottom of it! After every shower, the floor was wet, not a little wet, but very wet. And every shower I took, I made sure that the curtain was in such a position, where it would not let the water out. Or so I thought. So this morning, I took a bath instead and on the floor, was the water heading out along the grout lines towards the carpet! SO, with a close look, water was coming out of the panel covering the bath wall! I packed ready for the day, and I am now coming up to 9.30am and I was meeting everyone at 10.30am (it is a 40 min tube trip) so time will be tight, I asked if I can change rooms later today when I get back. I was told that I would have to do it now, as she could not guarantee availability! Ummm.... well ok then!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went back to my room, repacked shoved EVERYTHING into my bags, dumped into new room to sort later, and headed into London. I got to Embankment, and started walking along the Southbank of the Thames, and I sent an SMS saying I am about 10mins off, all whilst listening to "The War of the Worlds" on my iPod, and not thinking to too much...Walking past a pub, I got a reply saying we are at the Young's Pub... Luckily I checked, I was right there!!!

Here I met with Hannah, an exchange student many years ago to Rod & Barb, and her husband, Miles! Of course, Rod & Barb were there, and we had a beer (or 3) before ordering some lunch. Time had gone by so quickly in general chit chat, I was so surprised! It was such a pleasure to meet both Miles & Hannah, I am now (hopefully when they get home from their afternoon party) connected through FB!

Miles Rod Barb & Hannah, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Miles Rod Barb & Bernie, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

After saying goodbyes, we finished our lunch and then headed across the Millennium Bridge and a cabride up to Covent Garden Markets... I am still unable to get the gifts for the birthday babies, so I might have to resort to plan B (IF I had one), but I will go back through the week before I leave to try and get them anyway!

Rod & Barb London Cab, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.


08 August, 2009

Salida Madrid, and G'day London!

Madrid Airport Check-in Hall, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Here we have the Check-in area of the Madrid Terminal 4... I found it to be very impressive, bright and easy to get around! Below is the airside and at the Gate area

Madrid Airport Airside, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Madrid Airport Gate, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

When I arrived in Heathrow, we parked at a remote gate, and I was worried as the Captain had said there is rain about. Luckily, there wasn't when I got off the plane, but when waiting for the 'Hotel Hoppa' bus, it started! When I left the hotel, it had all but finished, so I headed for Central London for dinner with 'L's' uncle & aunt in Bayswater. They are at the end of their trip as well, heading home a couple of days prior to me! I got to Bayswater easy enough, and by the time I got out of the Tube, it was pouring! I later learnt that London got a months worth of rain, in just TWO hours!

Rod & Barb London, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

I am heading off again into Central London today, as I saw a couple of gifts for the birthdays of Rosie & Riley back home, they are very cute!


06 August, 2009

Gondola’s, Buses & Spanish Food...

Tuesday, saw me slowing down somewhat, and relaxing... Doing the typical ‘tourist’ type stuff now on different modes of transport. I must say here, that I thought the Metro in Santiago was good, and I would have to say that these guys here in Madrid are just as good! It is a much larger network of lines, many MANY more stations moving a LOT more people, but I had no hassles going from A to Z with a lot of stops along the way to view various things and shop!

I headed for the distant An? Station. Here, a short walk to the Terifico Gondola ride, a 2.4klm ride over the city and Parque de Campo. The Parque de Campo is very much like the Mount Annan Botanic Garden it that it is more of a local native collection of plants. It was also very dry and arid!

From the other side of the gondola, I spotted this freaky rollercoaster and amusement park. I have no idea of its name or location, but it looks awesome!

Madrid Rollercoasters, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Returning back, after all it took about 30 mins to cross each way, I headed back into Gran Via to find a local restaurant selling Paella I saw on my first day. This was quite easy to get to and there were many to choose from. And whilst it may not look like the picture advertising (are they ever?), it actually tasted excellent!

Madrid Paella, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Wednesday, I again headed into Gran Via, this time for breakfast of traditional Spanish food (so I was told) of Bacon, Eggs, Sausage (yumm) and Fritas... I also had an OJ and Coffee!

Then it was onto the Madrid Vision, Hop on Hop off style bus. There were two routes, I took both, and took around 90 mins on R1, and 60 on R2. R1 mainly took in the Historic points, whilst R2 was more of the Modern points.

I then headed back to the Hotel for a swim and relaxation, before heading up to the nearby shopping centre where I purchased a second bag to take home all my goodies for family members. I also had some dinner! Yes, MORE food! This time, and this will SHOCK many family and friends back home, was from an ‘all you can eat BUFFET’ for 8.95 Euro. I had a green salad with Horse Radish, Potatoe Salad, Tomatoes and Corn Chips with a Salsa and I added some cheese and shredded boiled egg. It was so YUMM, I went back for seconds! What’s more, I picked it all MYSELF!

So now, it is a matter of packing up, getting a good night’s sleep as I am London bound tomorrow afternoon!


04 August, 2009

Parks & Stations... A memorial of sorts...

Yesterday, was a long LONG day indeed... It started at around 8.30am when I left the Hotel and headed for Madrid central. I first went to the Atocha main railway station. This is where, in 2004, terrorist bombings took place. There is a non descript memorial to the victims of this attack, but what I found far more important, in some ways and not to take away from the loss of so many lives, was the Garden inside what looks like the old railway station. It appears as though the multiple new platforms were moved to allow for the central meeting are with cafes, shops and of course, the Garden.

Atocha Station, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Inside the Garden, there is a lot of little walkways, lighting and climate control sprays to maintain humidity. There is also a pond with aquatic plants, fish and turtles!

Atocha Station Garden, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Atocha Station Garden, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Atocha Station Garden Turtles, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

After checking out the station, I then headed over to the Parque del Retiro. This is a HUGE park, I suppose it is about the same size as work, but it is a very different layout, with many statues, fountains lakes where you can hire a boat and row. There is also a very well used fitness area. I sat on the lawns amongst the Peach trees, and watched for a couple of hours actually, enjoying the sun, whilst having lunch. I could not get over just how many people used the fitness equipment! It made me come to the conclusion, I HAVE to get fit again, and when I get home, it is ALL SYSTEMS GO to lose some weight!

Parque del Retiro Fountain, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Parque del Retiro Lake Fish, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

After lunch, and nearly 7pm, I slowly walked around the rest of the Parque, and came across the Mto. Alfonso Xii which is a very grand structure, Roman in style! More walking around and it was finally getting dark, now nearly 10pm, so I thought I had better head for the Metro and head back to the Hotel. I ended up getting to the cit centre, tried to find the spot where I saw the Paella for dinner, failed, so it is on for tonight! I got back to the Hotel at 12.30, showered and relaxed but very sore indeed...

So far today, 10.30am wake up, breakfast and shopping at the local shopping centre, and a swim in the pool. Camera battery is on charge, and as soon as it is ready, I am off to the Teleferico Madrid!


03 August, 2009

In Madrid!

I am in Madrid! It may have taken a 13 hour flight, with a moderate amount of turbulance, broken sleep THANKS to the turbulance and finally waiting over an 90 mins until my room to get ready (I did arrive well before check-in time though), but I finally got to my room at the Hotel Osuna. I very quickly got some things unpacked, laptop on charge and I hit the bed and thought I was going to have a quick (2 hour) nap... This ended up being nearly 4, but I was tired!

When I woke up, I had a quick shower to freshen up, and headed off to get lost, find the Metro. It was hot, and seemed to be getting hotter as I walked to the station, so I was glad to see that the train had A/C! It was about a 30 min train trip and I was in the heart of Madrid! Not really sure of where I was going, but I stumbled my way through what appeard to be the main square, a I followed the majority of people, and ended up down at the Art Gallery. Turning right, again following other people, I stumbled across the Royal Botanic Gardens Madrid! (planned all along, yeah RIGHT!). Not that there is anything wrong with the entrance to my work, but isn't this a grand entrance!

RBG Madrid Entrance, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

In the interest of saving time bringing a lot of images across, I have again used one of my favourite Flicker toys, and made another mosiac...

Inside the Gardens was also a cute little pond, surrounded by grass that had a sign, "Please Keep Off The Grass", which is in total contrast to work, where we WANT you to go on the grass!

RBG Madrid Pond, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

When I was heading back to find the Metro, there was this huge roundabout, that had one of the best gardens I have ever seen inside of it.

Madrid Roundabout, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

So, that's the first day from me in Madrid... I have a few things planned, but for now, I am heading for a swim in the pool... Cya!