A summer time Christmas

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December 14th 2007
Published: December 13th 2017
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Geo: -33.8671, 151.207

The 1st of December is summer and it was raining, but we went to an extended-family Christmas party anyway at bro-in-law's eldest bro's & missus (D&T) place, the 1st of many. This one had posted invitations! Christmas seems so unreal here, there's trees and stuff up but I hardly notice them but still I sent 44 cards overseas (as they say here).

Discovered a gorgeous Indian restaurant called 'Nilgiri' in the next neighbourhood St. Leonards. And there's another lovely one nearer us in Crows Nest called 'Cumin', where we will have a mini Christmas with friends P&A on 19th, 'Cumin' cook with olive oil rather than ghee if requested (I put 8kg on the big trip this year, so am in the process of removing that and then some, 4kg down so far). There are more good Thai & Chinese restaurants in Crows Nest than you could shake a stick at so I won't name them.

The first work Christmas party (the I.T one) was good fun and was in a Lebanese restaurant 'Prophet' in Surry Hills a night time affair (which went on fire while we were there) also I am now the owner of a pair of flashing Christmas antlers. And the company party was a week later in The Pump House, Darling harbour, starting at 11.30am! Needless to say I was at home unconcious on the couch by 9.30pm, so charming. We also had a photo shoot in work, with all the ladies in evening wear; for a company calendar -I looked like busty la roux in the group one but am in December 2008 in a close up shot which wasn't too bad (its my gmail pic now). There was also many vendor drinks but I tried to avoid them, except one in The Mint Bar in the city as I heard it's a lovely venue.

We had our next trip (only this time it's 'countrylink' train and not by road) to south NSW to Bowral (where real life Wolf Creek happened check out Ivan Milat on the web) to see our mates J&C we met on the Trans Mongolian express. Buying the train ticket was weird you could only buy it 24 hours in advance but could not buy the return leg, so when we got to central station to depart we had to queue up to buy the return leg then, bizarre, and it's a good job we did as Bowral station was unmanned on Sunday so we couldn't have bought a ticket there even if we wanted to and I heard the conductor say to people who tried to board only people who had pre booked seats could get on. On the journey there a 6 year old boy 'befriended' me and kept going "excuse me do you know the name of this fish is" pointing to pictures in his sea world book and then after he made me guess about 20 and corrected me if I got it wrong proceeds to give me a test to see if I remembered what he told me! I was a bit hung over so it was all quite funny.

Anyway the scenery on the way down and there (160km from Sydney) is lovely, the area is called the southern highlands and has good farming, vineyards and beautiful gardens as a lot of country estate houses were built there in 1800's ( we saw the one George Harrison was about to buy when he died). We also saw the Bradman oval as Australia's best and most famous cricketer Don Bradman was born there. Then we watched some 'bush cricket' as our friends teenage son was playing (he bowled 43 runs and got 4 wickets which is very good apparently), we also had 32km round tour of the area bringing us to Belanglo forest, scene of brutal Milat murders and shallow graves for 7 backpackers in 1990's, eerie (am now reading the book and am having difficulty sleeping). His brother apparently coach's one of the cricket teams there but we didn't see him at the game. Then we stopped off in the gorgeous sandstone village of Berrima and had a drink in 'The Surveyor General Inn', the oldest continuously licensed inn in Australia built 1834. After dinner with our friends in their 'ranch' and catch up with the other son who just returned from a 3 day boat trip and sailed right into Darling harbour we headed to Bong Bong St. to the Royal hotel where we met some locals and we were asked were we "intending to breed here", Jesus H. Christ. Then back to the ranch to polish off 2 bottles of wine! So Sunday was very civilised with loads of food and many cups of tea & the weather was lovely (we had a massive lightening storm on Friday for an hour which caused flash floods and deaths, the storms here are almost biblical). Our mates were going to an open air concert in Bowral on Sunday at 4pm where Lionel Richie was playing so we politely declined but may go back when Joe Cocker is on (watching our male mate trying to get out of going was funny) plus we have been promised a helicopter ride as this is his line of business. C. had to drive a 'ute' to the station so he's a real Aussie now.

We both ended up needing the dentist in Nov/Dec. and have been root canalled/capped to within an inch of our lives! However the private health care subsidizes it a lot which is cool as I don't think we get that kind of dental cover in Ireland. Also I know two aussie adults here who have never had a filling cause their dentists actually reminded/made have regular check ups, I used to think that the dentist we had in Dublin was good but I was wrong, my teeth are in rag order in comparison to people here and things he told me I should have done "some time" should have been actioned years ago, lackadaisical b'stard. I am not the only one from the 'British isles' with this observation/issue.

We still need to unpack all those book boxes in the house to feel more normal, but as we shipped no furniture it's been a bit difficult, so December saw or will see us get a vacuum, a TV stand, a kitchen table & chairs & tonnes of Tupperware (as you have to containerise everything here from ants & cockroach's, so that's my excuse plus my skeptical sister had a party), a wardrobe, blanket box, lockers & a tall boy (I hope)...

TV here is really weird, very much U.S. shows: all the cop shows from the last few years & all the boring re runs of friends, frasier, will & grace, sex & the city etc. and then better new stuff e.g. 'Dexter' (well its ok with your man from 6 feet under being a nice psycho) & 'The Riches' (v.g. Eddie Izzard/Minnie Driver being tinkers), and 'Sleeper Cell' really good, the tagline for the first season was "Friends. Neighbors. Husbands. Terrorists." and the tagline for the second season was "Cities. Suburbs. Airports. Targets." (was on channel 4 at home), but loads of Simspons (some we hadn't seen), Family Guy, Futurama, South Park (these fall into the category of good U.S. tv for me)& there's good old UKTV with 'What not to wear','Life on Mars' and 'Eastenders' (now at Aug/Sept07 which I have seen so next month I was have new stuff, I know & I have the cheek to give out about other shows, ah well it'd be boring if we were all the same). and there's something new coming from the writers of Shameless.

Also in Sept/Oct was some good U.S. stuff: the last series of 'The Sopranos' & new david Duchovny thing 'Californication' (which I'll reserve judgement on for now), and 'Damages' with Glenn Close as corrupt lawyer (v.g.). The home grown tv shows are as crap as RTE home grown, local news is absolute thrash all really stupid human interest stories (but there's CNN, BBS World, Sky News etc. for world news) but then the tv shown 'free' movies can be good: have caught up with Jarhead, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Brokeback Mtn. all pretty good The Departed in last place. And at least 2 films on Myra Hindley, well one on how she duped poor oul Lord Longford.

Middle of the month we were at a big extended-extended-family Christmas party of my bro-in-law's WHOLE family, his uncles, aunts the lot. Met my sister on our own that morning for brunch & shopping for the 1st time since I arrived here which was nice and then we started the festivities at the 'mother-ship', including a family race, C. & I umpired.

19/12 Just got the best gift from Ireland (thanks TnA) today of tayto's & tea etc. yum, yum.

Most annoying thing about this city is the difficulty in getting a taxi which I think is very surprising in such a big place. And the fact nearly everything (bar rubbishy shops) shuts down days before Christmas and for weeks after. In a country where they all only get 20 days annual leave I don't get how they are all on holidays in the same month for a month! I once heard an Irish writer on a radio show at home bitch about how everything shut in Ireland for a week at Christmas so he always takes himself off to Paris where presumably they shut nothing, Jesus he shouldn't come here so.

Feeling a bit displaced ex-pat today as my Mum just texted me details of the hotel she has checked into in Ireland and it's sounds lovely and toasty with frost on the windows outside. (24/12/07)

Anyway the Christmas eve party for us was in the youngest sister's & hubby's (L&B) gaff where 4 of us ended up phoning my Mum at all hours talking crap, so no need to explain how that party went. Then 5.30am Christmas morn I was up with my niece to see
"did he come" (I saw the 2 girls praying outside on the trampoline the other day and when I asked why the smaller one said 'cause Santa likes it and he can see us better outside'�nd much later we headed for lunch at the 'mother-ship' with many but not all of the clan, which involved a car load of the family including C. going to someone else's house to catch an escaped rabbit (personally I was stretched out on a couch). It was 19 degrees and overcast, Christmas on the beach my ass. But it was 29 degrees 3 days later when I was at work.

The following weekend was the 40th birthday celebration for the eldest bro (in-law-ln-law) in a restaurant in our 'cool' neighbourhood, which was good and I ended up sitting beside a very nice guy from Leitrim (my fave county) whose bro is the ambassador to China.

Then NYE, fireworks, champagne, yadda, yadda, yadda.......


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