Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014


Seasons Greetings to all of our friends and family.


I’ve just had a read of what I wrote for our 2013 news and am trying to think back and reflect on what 2014 was for us. 2014 saw much less adventurous travel than 2013 – that was always on the cards though with us moving home! We still managed to get in a number of holidays and had a great time.


This time last year we were living in a rental property in Stirling and looking to buy somewhere. We had missed out on a few properties but just after Christmas we saw a property that had been on the market for a while but had changed agents. Gary had viewed it (in August 2013) but I had never seen it. We checked it out on the net and then organised to come to see it with a private viewing in January. We both loved the house and had a 2nd visit on a 37 degree day in February where the wine cellar seemed to be a balmy 22! After some negotiating with the agent, we signed a contract in February with a settlement date set for April. Finally after 6 months of intense looking, we had found our family home! We are so happy to be here and to finally unpack fully. The house is set on just over 3000 square metres of land and is on quite a steep hill (where the garden is). We have grand plans in terms of what we will do with the garden, and there is a bit of work to do on the inside, but it is really liveable and will give us some projects to go on with over the coming years when cash flow will allow it! We are all quite settled here and really do feel like we have our home.


 View from our balcony….


Responsible parenting – allowing the kids to climb trees in gumboots….


During the year, we had our first camping trip – just for 1 night, in February. The kids both loved it and are keen to go again. It did seem to go well. We will get there again – there just seems to be so much on – the issue of life – too many things to do and not enough time!


In April, we went for 4 nights to the beach – a beautiful town called Normanville, not that far from Adelaide on the coast. We had a great little apartment and had the pleasure of a visit from Leone and John – friends from Singapore who now live in Victoria and were on their way to Kangaroo Island.


In May, we had our first and only trip on a plane for the year – we headed to Sydney to go to a family yoga weekend. It was a beautiful and relaxing weekend – much enjoyed by all.


In July, we went back to Normanville with the Walsh family – we had 2 apartments side by side which was a fabulous trip despite it being winter!


In August, Gary had a quick trip home to the UK to see his family – the direct flight from Adelaide to London via Dubai working out really well. The kids and I coped with Gary being away pretty well except for the fact that we were late for school nearly every day – thankfully Tara’s class were pretty relaxed about start time and also, we weren’t the last ones to arrive (which made me feel slightly better!!) Gary managed to catch up with his parents and his 2 sisters in the UK.


We have a week by the beach planned for next week which should be really relaxing too.


The beginning of the year saw Tara begin ‘big school’ for the first time. She had a great time and it has been amazing to see her progress through the year. Alex finished year 1 this year and also had a great year at school. Both kids seem to be really blossoming at school which we are really thankful for. Alex turned 7 in July and discovered a new found love of AFL (Aussie Rules Football) during the year. Due to the influences at school, he decided to go for Hawthorn – I am still working on him supporting the Adelaide Crows but he was delighted that Hawthorn won the grand final! Tara will turn 6 in 1 week – she enjoyed doing dance through school and also joined with me in supporting the Crows (that’s my girl!)

1st day of school – 2014 (for Tara).

My 1 year contract at my old job finished in July of this year and I was lucky enough to find a new job which is part time – this has always been my dream since having the kids and I was lucky enough to be offered a new role at The Beachouse at Glenelg. It is a really flexible role and I tend to work my hours around school hours. I work with an amazing team and have a great boss, so I feel really fortunate to have this opportunity.


Gary was working in a contract role till October and is now on the lookout for something new. Fingers crossed something interesting will come up for him workwise in the New Year.

We made our first foray into pet ownership in August getting 4 12 week old chickens. The ‘girls’ are now laying pretty regularly and they are very confident – always looking for scraps and loving human interaction.


I am very grateful that we have all been very healthy this year – long may it continue! I hope that your Festive season is a good one and that 2015 is a good year for you all.


Love Jo, Gary, Alex and Tara xx

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

To our family and friends,


Happy Belated Christmas and here’s to 2014!

A quick recap on our 2013. We started off the year in Singapore, having received the news in mid November 2012 that Gary’s job would be winding up sometime in 2013. This news was met with great excitement for us as we both felt that it was time to come ‘home’. Singapore had been very good to us and we had a brilliant 4 years there, but it felt like the right time to move on. It was a fantastic experience – Asia for beginners and Singapore will always hold a very special place in our hearts.


Since moving back to Adelaide, we have had a relatively busy time. We moved back to our family home in Dulwich and knew that we would try to sell it within 6 months. By the time we had moved in, and unpacked – in fact, just 6 weeks after we had moved in, we had the house on the market and our first open inspection. We were very fortunate in getting a number of offers after the first weekend and we accepted one on the Tuesday. Settlement was set for mid November. We then started looking in earnest to buy a new property – our preferred location being the Adelaide Hills. We had 2 properties that we were quite keen on and both got sold the weekend we sold ours. Obviously not meant to be! We then bid at an auction in mid-October, but again, it wasn’t meant to be. Time was ticking on, so we ended up getting a rental property in Stirling with a 6 month lease. We are still looking – my biggest fear at the moment is that we won’t find the right property before our lease expires – but hopefully this won’t be the case! Moving isn’t that much fun, however, the kids handled it with ease – in fact I think they are of the opinion that moving is something that happens with a reasonable frequency – we hope we can dispel this notion after our next move.


So we have been in Adelaide for 6 months now and it is great to be back here. I think all in all, everyone has settled in really well. Alex started school 3 days after we landed – he came home on his first day beaming from ear to ear and announcing what a great day he’d had. He did just over 2 terms in Reception at Rose Park Primary. His teacher Belinda was an absolute superstar – she is truly gifted in her chosen profession and I think we were so lucky to have Alex placed in her class. He really blossomed through the year and has loved school so that has been a great start.  He turned 6 in July and is into Lego in a big way as well as lots of imaginary play and Star Wars! 
 Not looking so happy here for first day of school but it did go well!



 Playing outside kindy.


Tara started at kindergarten 2.5 days per week in term 3 and also did 1.5 days in childcare. She seemed to enjoy both although kindy was a definite preference and she also loved Thursdays which she called “Daddy and Tara days”. She will begin school in January and I think is definitely ready for the structure that will come with that. She turns 5 today – New Year’s Eve and is very excited about her birthday, which we are also making a big deal over. She ran into our room this morning shouting “I’m 5!”


I started work in June back at my old work – I was lucky enough to pick up a maternity leave cover contract so that was fantastic timing. I am there till the end of July and will see at that time if there’s anything else available. It has been really nice being back somewhere familiar – although doing a different role. Gary has been kept pretty busy running the house, getting Dulwich ready for sale, and then getting us moved and settled into our new temporary home. He has also been looking for work although not too actively till the past month or so. He will begin a new contract role in the new year, so life will change again, with 2 of us working and no helper at home to do the cooking and cleaning!! We were spoilt in Singapore with fantastic domestic help. It will be a challenge to juggle 2 jobs in Australia but hopefully we will both have a degree of flexibility.


We had a few nice holidays in 2013. We started off the year going to Bintan for 5 nights just before school started. It was a favourite destination – January was our 3rd visit there. We all had a brilliant time and it was sad to leave. Alex got his first wobbly tooth whilst we were there – it proceeded to be wobbly for 10 weeks finally falling out in the last week of term 1! In January, I also managed a girl’s weekend away to Bangkok with my friend Karen (Gary is so good to me, I am so very lucky to have him) – (obviously Gary’s editing!!). Oh, how I do miss those cheap flights from Changi! Karen and I had a brilliant couple of nights there, staying in a Club room at the Novotel – we made full use of the bar and canap├ęs on offer! Many massages were enjoyed and quite a bit of shopping.


February saw the Chinese New Year break so we used the opportunity to come back to Adelaide and sort out a number of things. It was a bit of a house swap as Allisa was in Singapore so we made use of her house in Adelaide (and her car) whilst she stayed in our Singapore apartment. We then got to catch up properly with Allisa when we got back to Singapore so all around it was a win win situation. For Easter, Gary was off to Melbourne for a course. I decided I didn’t want to be in Singapore for the long weekend without him so researched cheap flights to go somewhere easy with the kids. We decided on Hoi An Vietnam as the flight was reasonably priced and direct. The day before we were due to go, Tara came down with a vomiting bug. The GP advised that it was a 24 hour virus and not to cancel the holiday. The next day, Tara was on the mend, but Alex had a fever. We got on the flight and by the time we arrived in Vietnam, Alex was looking very pale – he then proceeded to vomit in between customs and the taxi. Hmm, I was questioning my sanity in going away with the kids by myself – but it ended up being a good trip – the kids were both a bit tired – recovering from the virus but they swam every day and we had a pretty low key visit – still fun.


Gary finished work in April  (April 19th) and then headed back to the UK on the 21st of April for a couple of weeks to visit with family. This was a fantastic trip and all rather epic. Family ties reforged and old friendships celebrated! I had 2 of my nieces come to visit from Adelaide at the same time.

Gary, Holly, Lucy, Ann & Jim – what a great family reunion!

In early May, just after I had finished work in Singapore, we had the amazing chance to have a long weekend in Hong Kong without kids. We met up with Adelaide friends – Natania and Colm to celebrate Nat’s 40th birthday. The Langham Place hotel was amazing and we had a fantastic weekend. Thanks Nat for giving us the excuse and thanks Anita for helping out in Singapore with looking after the kids – despite the fact we forgot to leave spare keys with her (to some this would have been a drama but she just breezed through)!


May saw us packing up the apartment, saying goodbye to our wonderful helper Marina who went to a new family (she is very happy there) and heading to Changi for our last time as Singapore residents. We boarded our flight to Yangon Myanmar and bid Singapore farewell. We had a great few weeks travelling before landing in Aus. We had a week in Myanmar, a few days in Thailand catching up with Gary’s family (Neville, Ann and Rachapon), and then 10 days in Sri Lanka. The kids are brilliant little travellers – they are really very adaptable and had a great time with all of the new experiences.

 Our last day at Aspen Heights…

 Posing with the locals – Yangon

 Myanmar – Lake Inle

 Yangon city

 Taxi on the way to Yangon airport.

 Bangkok – so great to see Neville again.

 Riding an elephant – Sri Lanka

 We climbed Sigiriya – Sri Lanka – well done to the kids!

 Galle Fort – Sri Lanka

We now haven’t been on a plane for 6 months – an absolute record! It has been really nice settling in though and I haven’t got itchy feet (yet)! 2014 will no doubt see some less adventurous travel – we hope to take the kids camping for the first time and will do a couple of driving holidays rather than anything long haul. Depending on what happens for both of us workwise, we may try to sneak in a family trip back to the UK to see Gary’s family but this is all up in the air – of course we now need to consider school holidays also.


We hope that 2014 will see us settling down properly with buying a new house (hopefully the house we will live in for many years) and putting down roots in Adelaide. We had a great 2013 and as always we are grateful for the support of our family and friends who make life a great journey. When we get set up in our new house, we are hoping that it will be somewhere we can have lots of visitors.


Legoland Malaysia – our favourite daytrip from Singapore.

Guess who loves roller coasters? In fact, both the kids now love them too!!


We wish you a safe and prosperous 2014.