Well well well! It's been more than a year since our last blog, I think we lived in Clare still, and were expecting visitors for Easter 2014!
We did indeed welcome many visitors for that Easter, with Tab's parents Scott & Maria coming along with their friends Wendy & Grazer, their son Dustin & his wife Michelle, along with their two young boys as well, plus Scott & Maria's friends from WA Marilyn & Dennis. We squeezed in some wineries, a trip to the gee-gees and a few meals around the fire, with our little 2 bedroom house bursting at the seams with peeps! Was great to see everyone, and just in time really, as I think we had our garage sale a week later & had moved out within 2 weeks
During our time in Clare, we squeezed in a quick trip to Melbourne to celebrate the wedding of Jeff's brother to his lovely wife Tess. It was a great wedding and was great to catch up with not only Jeff's whole family, but some friends we haven't seen since leaving our little house in Monbulk way back when.
So we hit the highway north again in
early May, destined for Alice Springs, where we both had a date with the Finke Desert Race once more, and Jeff had a few weeks work back with his old boss "Vroomy" (Michael Vroom - winner of Finke Desert Race 2001) and Tab also got her old job back at the RFDS Cafe, while working nights at a local catering company. She also managed to score a gig cooking 5-star food at the only AFL game played in the NT for the year, cooking food for all the Government boffins that attended the game.
With only about 5 weeks in Alice it was soon time to hit the road again and we trecked back down the highway into SA, stopping this time to visit family in SA. We stopped in for a cuppa with Tab's mums cousin Lynette & her hubby Les (they put Jeff up a zillion times while Tab was in hozzie recovering from her appendicitis) and stayed with Aunty Mazz & Carl, even just in time to attend cousin Kelly's sons 5th bithday! A dozen or more screaming kids all in one place, in fact we coped just fine!!
Jeff then treated Tab to a
McLaren Vale minibreak for her 35th birthday, the penultimate event being a decadent lunch on The Verandah at DÁrenberg Winery, where we wined and dined for hours. Even scored a trip back down the hill to our waiting Boris with the kitchen staff after our taxi didn't arrive!
Onwards through SA, we arrived at our friend Roger's farm in Penola, near Coonawarra. Needless to say among fitting in wine tasting we were midwives as 9 piglets were born in an epic 5 hour birthing suite among the mud & all in about 3 degree temps! What an incredible experience and gee were we glad to put our heads on the pillow at about 4.30am! All piglets survived so very worth it indeed. He also had young puppies, 2 day old kittens, a baby lamb, heaps of chickens, turkeys etc, and even a naughty donkey Tab got to have a ride on! But by far the most rewarding experience was helping these new little piggies take their first breaths & take a feed with mumma-pig, its a crude birth when you pop out into almost zero degrees!
Onto our old haunt Mt Gambier, where we caught up with old
mates Mike & Michelle, these guys were just "boyfriend & girlfriend" back when we stayed here, so it was cool to see them happily married, in their own house and with a much-loved toddler in the 10 or so years since we last saw them. Not to mention having their own business, it was so great to catch up & see them doing so bloody well. We also revisited old faves such as the Blue Lake and Sinkhole, certainly natural phenomenon we never get sick of seeing.
So further on the highway, Boris arrived for the first time in Mildura, Tab's place of birth and somewhere we like to catch up with lots of her family & close friends still. We were lucky enough to arrive about the same time her cousin Jacqui was hosting a "Xmas in July" which started off at about 12 people, but soon ended up at 31!! Family that hadn't seen eachother in years managed to book a seat and despite the freezing temps (well, lets face it WAS Xmas in July - wasn't that the point?) it was so good to see some old & new faces as it's been a long time
since we all caught up. We also got to spend some time with Tab's Aunties, cousins etc and her God-Parents Deb & Zac who we last saw in WA about 8 years ago! Highlights also included a "foodie" stay with Aunty Patti & Uncle Michael, where we made home-made pork sausages and generally got well-fed & watered for a week or so!
With our house-sit in Melbourne looming, we decided to fit in one quick trip to the Grampians Ranges, where we were lucky enough to experience high-altitude snow on Mt William. We saw the most beautiful waterfalls, rock formations & did some amazing hikes, and the most devestating fire affected land on the north-west part of the national park. Places that Tab used to visit as a kid were unrecognisable and the destruction entire, even after the months that had passed since the fires over the summer, there was no sign of any green regrowth. It will be interesting to see how that land recovers in future, certainly didn't look good from first glance.
Soon after we arrived in Melbourne to house & dog sit for Tab's parents who were off on the trip of a lifetime
to Dubai, Ireland, Scotland, England & Singapore. Their senior pooch Molly is no trouble to look after, along with 8 chooks, and we both enjoyed touring the local watering & eating holes on the way from Coburg to the city while shacked up in a great house! Little did Tab's parents know, as we dropped them off at the airport with their friends Wendy & Grazer, that we were going to turn up for Wendy & Maria's joint 60ths in Singapore! On asking them later, they said we lied very well as neither had ANY idea we were going to turn up!
We flew to Singapore on the same flight with Tab's brother Adam & his wife Carmena, going into lock down for 3 days while we waited for the big birthday party & the big surprise! Tab's mum later revealed that she wondered why Adam & Carmena had to keep "disappearing" and weren't being as social as normal, it was because they were keeping us in hiding until the party! Amid some tears of surprise, it was a beautiful night and travelling that far to celebrate both Maria's & Wendy's 60ths was great. After the party, we stayed
on for another 5 days where one of the main highlights was the Botanical Gardens. I know right??? Not something 30 year olds should be into! OMG, we thought we'd be there about an hour, and 5 hours later & exhausted, we caught the train back to Bugis.
Another highlight was the MacRitchie Trail which we hiked with Adam & Carmena, before anyone knew we were in Singapore. It took about 4 hours and with the heat & humidity certainly presented a challenge. We sweated our way through and jumping in the pool at the hotel that night was so nice on our aching calves!
Another thing we had on the bucket list was a trip to the Sha Tin races, after putting bets on these races at the TAB so often, & seeing the level of care that goes into the horses here, it was a must-see. So we went with Adam & Carmena on the train (public transport in Singapore is awesome) we spent the arvo in airconditioned comfort, sadly no big wins!
Other big highlights for us were the Singapore Flyer (wheel), the Zoo, and ONE drink at the bar at the Marina Bay
Sands (57 floors up- see pics, or bloody google it!) where we paid $22 per Corona, just for the priviledge of being there!!!! What an incredible place. We stayed at Sentosa Island which we really enjoyed, as long as you stayed away from the touristy bars & restaurants, and even got to swim in the ocean there, SOOOOO salty! Totally different to Aussie beach water & so warm.
So once we got back to Melbourne we had pre-arranged work on the Murray River, where Tab started as a chef's assistant at a wedding venue/restaurant called Perricoota Station. It was such an amazing experience where she learnt 5-star cookery and being such a foodie, even the hours were tolerable, despite getting home about midnight on most Fridays & Saturdays! We started off living on-site there too, which was handy, and Jeff even got a few gigs as courtesy bus driver after the weddings! We lived & worked with a great team out there, hi to you all & welcome Lindsey, Robbo, Kirsty & Narelle to our blog!
Soon after he took a job at Horseshoe Holiday Park, as a PSO (Park Support Officer) which included all manner of jobs
from raking leaves, to filling in Excel spreadsheets, to building park benches, where we were provided with a HOUSE!! This house was massive! So it allowed us to welcome many visitors, some more than once, and it was such a joy to be there. We did fit in some mini-breaks, such as out to Beechworth/Rutherglen & Mornington Peninsula (hmmmm, aren't both of those wine regions?). We also recently welcomed Tab's Mum & Dad & their friends Marilyn & Dennis, where the Navy Vets both proudly joined the march in Echuca and we equally proudly cheered them on.
So in one last hurrah to our beautiful murray river, we spent one memorable night on board a paddle-steamer Emmylou, where we were treated to a 4 course dinner, and beautiful breaky the next day. Can't thank Jeff's bro Dave & his wife Anita enough for kick-starting the idea with a voucher last Xmas. We LOVED it guys, and thanks too to Tab's mum & dad who snuck a bottle of wine on board for our arrival!
So, where are we now???? Well, once more we are dog & house sitting, but this time it's in Newcastle NSW. We only just
arrived a few days ago, but geez its been great to catch up with Madge and her fiancee Mick, even though we had to say goodbye to them the day after we arrived as they had holidays booked. We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Lovedale Long Lunch for the day after we arrived, a LOT of fun!
PS we have added about 80 photos this time, so make sure to scroll down to view them all!
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