It’s a little late, but I am finally writing this post from the banks of a beautiful lake in the South Island of New Zealand. There isn’t another soul in sight, it’s rather nice. I should say exactly where I am, but actually I haven’t a hope in hells chance of getting it right without my guidebook (so sorry ‘bout that!). If somebody does turn up, they’re probably going to be a bit disappointed that there are two British people here, tapping away on their laptops spoiling the view, but hey ho, we got here first and I’ve put this off long enough!
So here goes….
There has been a lot going on since I last wrote, a lot more than our usual (get up, surf, eat breakfast, surf, eat lunch, maybe surf, eat dinner, go to bed) routine that we had going on in Bali.
On the 20th of January, after 8 amazing months, we left Indonesia to set off on the second phase of our trip – the monsoon getaway. I’d like to say that I felt sad leaving our little haven in Padang Padang, but if I’m totally honest, by the time it arrived I was excited to move on and see somewhere new. I think constantly being munched on by bugs (those who also suffer from being a ‘tasty treat’ for various flying insects will feel my pain) and getting soaked from the endless downpours that go along with the wet season of a tropical climate was taking its toll. The wine, hot showers and air conditioning (in that order) of Western Australia had started to call my name and so I was happy to get going.
The journey from Bali to Perth couldn’t have been more pleasant. It was early morning, so Denpasar airport was pretty quiet and after a super quick 3 hour flight we landed world away from sticky, rainy Indo, into Perths slick, air conditioned airport. As we got off the plane, I was sure we were in for a long transfer, certain that Australias strict custom rules coupled with our grubby appearance and MASSIVE surfboard bag was a sure bet for getting all our bags and boards checked individually by the custom officials. I was wrong, and for the first time ever, all our bags were waiting for us, we picked the right queues and before we knew it we were standing in the dry 40 degree heat of Perth’s summer, waiting for our friend Ash to pick us up. I was so bloody happy.
Ashley and Justin (who some of you will know from when they stayed with us in the UK) put us up in the city for the next few days (thanks guys!). We had fun exploring the town and Jim, to his credit, humoured me while I made him walk all around the city searching for the house I used to live in and restaurant I had worked in when I stayed in Perth around 12 years ago. He’s a good boy! I thought he would moan a lot more than he did, but he was far too preoccupied searching the city for all the deadly animals he had heard were rife in Aus. Unfortunately for Jim, we saw no red backs, huntsman, brown snakes or sharks in Perth city centre. We did find the Apple store though, so after months of waiting I got my new I Phone! Horray! (Me cheering not Jim).
After a few days we moved from central Perth down the coast to stay with Justin’s dad, Andy, on the beach in Warnbro. We actually couldn’t believe our luck when he drove us down to his beautiful big house (plus swimming pool) which was only one street from the gorgeous Warnbro beach. I was even more excited when I found out they kept DOGS! Yay! Bob and Saus were my new best friends. Particularly Saus, the little fat sausage dog, who swims and loves to cuddle. We decided he was Jims perfect dog as he definitely needs minimum walking time and he loves to sit in front of the TV. I want one!! We had a lazy few days at Andy’s mostly sleeping, hot showering and swimming which was heaven after the last few months and just what we needed.
On the Friday, our other Aussie friends Jess and Aarron picked us up in Aaron’s MASSIVE car monster truck to take us down the coast to Margaret River where we spent Australia Day weekend at Jess’s dads house (also one street from the beach!) with a group of their friends. It was such a fun weekend.
It was here Jim’s wish of finding a kangaroo finally came true while driving to surf early one morning:
Jim: Why haven’t I seen a Kangaroo yet? Isn’t this supposed to be Australia?!
Hobbo: Sorry Mate.
Jim: You guys need to find me a……
They told me it hopped off, unscathed…..I’m not sure I believe them….
Despite much ridiculing from the Aussies, I was a little nervous about surfing in a place where there had been 5 Great White shark attacks in 14 months. Jim’s obsession outweighed his fear though as he was obviously nervous but went in anyway…..me, not so much, I was just nervous! The Aussies found this HILARIOUS. I mean, why would you be scared?! After some deliberation I decided I would probably freak out if I went in, so I stayed out of the water. I got a little bit jealous though, when in a very special moment, a pod of dolphins surfed through the wave where they were surfing and right underneath where the boys were sitting. They are so lucky! It was amazing.
Jim – having just braved shark infested waters!
Australia Day itself was great. You know those long weekends you plan in the UK’s summer? where you spend the whole month before fretting and hoping that the weather is going to be ok? And then it rains? Yeah, they don’t have that in Aus. They just plan it, pack their ‘bathers’ and hop off to the beach. Bastards. Not that I was complaining on this occasion though! We were introduced to the Perth custom of listening to the JJJ (Triple J) radio programmes top 100 while drinking beer, swimming in the sea, BBQ-ing and playing beach cricket, just to celebrate the fact that its hot and you live here (at least that how I saw it). The only downer (apart from having to cover ourselves reluctantly in the Aussie flag colours, which you could EASILY pretend were the Union Jack – shhhh) was the massive jelly fish sting I got on my BOOB when I was thrown off the back of the Jet Ski (thanks Hobo!). Errrr that’s thrown off the back of a jet ski into shark infested waters I might add. That makes me pretty hard-core in my book.
Jim & Sarah – Aussie Day Prep
Ready to Go! Aussie Day 2013
The day after, while the boys went surfing , I went with Jess, Sarah and Renee for a little ‘pick me up’ at a few of the local wineries. I’m not going to be cool about this. It. Was. Awesome. So warm, so beautiful and to top it off, no Jim to tell me off for buying bottles of my favourites! I only went a little bit overboard. But that’s what happens when a girl can’t have wine for eight months. Fact.
Knee Deep Winery – Margaret River
Jess Exploring the Vineyards
Renee at Driftwood Wines
Now I know this is going to make a few people roll their eyes, but the next week was a little shock to the system for me. I had to go to work. I know, I know…I haven’t been for 8 months etc etc, stop moaning etc etc…..but that’s why it was so hard!!
I was lucky enough to spend a week with the IBD team in Freemantle hospital. It was an opportunity for me to see how my equivalent role worked over in Aus and also to keep my skills up and fresh. I had a great time and they really made an effort to make me feel welcome…..so much so I didn’t really want to leave! The highlight though, had to be the evening Intestinal Failure Meeting I was invited to at the fancy UWA Club on the banks of the Swan River. Jim offered to drive me there, wait for me and drive back. This was very kind of him and meant I had company to navigate my way round the city. I felt a little bit guilty however, when I rocked up and realised the ‘meeting’ was actually being held over a fancy 4 course meal in a private dining room. I did think of him though, while I was sipping free wine and eating free….while he was sitting in the car reading…..ooops!!
Our third weekend was a flurry of activity again. Jess, Aarron and their friends really pulled the stops out to show us a good time and they had organised a heap of weekend activities. Luke had Friday off work, so Jim and I joined him early in the morning to go crabbing. And guess what? We caught crabs! We took them back to Luke’s place and cooked them up for lunch. I say ‘we’ but the fact is I’m not the greatest of fishermen. I don’t think cheering every time the crab net is empty/the crab is undersized and has to be thrown back is traditional in fishing circles, so when I say ‘we’ it’s a loose term that mean’s ‘the boys, while I watched’. I did pull one up and pick it out of the basket though! Well done me. 🙂
Early Morning Crabbing!
Pinchy The Crab. Oh & Luke & Jim
Another good thing about this particular day was Sarah’s Brownies. I have to mention them because they are literally THE BEST brownies I have ever tasted. EVER. Thank you Sarah. You rule. (Note, if anyone wishes to send me their brownies to challenge this statement, please feel free, I’m not a stick in the mud and challengers are welcomed).
On Sunday, we went across to Rottnest Island on Luke’s Uncles boat. It’s a quick 30min ride across to the island which is famous for its unique population of ‘Quokkas’, which are like mini kangaroos crossed with rats…they sound gross but they are actually pretty cute! When I was here last, there had been a police crack-down on the vile and cruel ‘sport’ of Quokka Socca’ which was trendy with school leavers. I had discussed this with Jim some months earlier and when we anchored up at the main harbour to pick up our licenses for the day, Jim asked everyone in a confident, loud and cheery tone, ‘Is this where they play the Quokka Football?!’. Err no love. That’s not what they call it. Everyone please point and laugh at the tourists! On the plus side, we anchored up in a lovely cove and went swimming and snorkelling went for the day. We really were spoiled. Thank you guys!
Monster Truck. To me anyway! Note. I wasn’t allowed to drive……booooooo.
Day on the Boat at Rottnest Island
Jess & Aarron – Our AMAZING Aussie hosts. LOVE YOU GUYS!!
Jim uncharacteristically helping out with the cleaning. Its man cleaning though, so it’s ok.
Phew! So after a busy few weeks, it was time to say bye to Perth and head across to New Zealand for our Van Adventure.
We have been here for a couple of weeks now and after spending a wonderful few days being spoiled by friends Zoe and Ben and their baby Hector in their lovely home in Auckland, we are on the road and going well. The plan at the moment is to stay here until April and then head back over to Bali, but I’ll fill you in on our NZ journey in my next post!
Hope you are all well!
Love Helen & Jim xx