Warning: This post is a long one. Three weeks in our home country summarised into one post? Make yourself a cup of tea why don’t you… 🙂
Upon waking up in Australia for the first time in a little while, I was immediately struck by the sounds of the birds chirping and tweeting and flittering around so loudly that it kept me awake for the entirety of the sunrise. The sounds of nature and birds was something that seemed strikingly foreign to me. Of course I can now sleep soundly through ambulances and sirens streaming past our bedroom window in London, and don’t even register the London traffic as it churns every morning from at the crack of dawn anymore, but those birds on a lazy Brisbane Saturday morning were almost startling.
We had landed at something crazy like 2:30am that morning in Brisbane and C had kindly picked us up from the airport. We didn’t do much (I believe there was a sneaky cheeseburger involved…) at such an insane hour of the morning but we had a chat, met her puppy dog Pudding and quickly fell asleep after a mammoth few days in transit. The flights itself were fine, long, but fine. I devoured two books, this one which I loved, and this one which I also loved but am yet to properly recollect my thoughts on! I love flying. The little meals in their individual wrappings (sorry, environment, I recycle and generally avoid plastic to make up for my one love of plastic in those damn plane meals…), the movies on demand, even the fact that it’s basically impossible to get any sleep on them, knowing that there will be a solid 20+ hours in which I can’t check emails or answer FB messages. But I didn’t love how long that journey was. Next time, we’ve vowed to stop over overnight… and I recommend this to anyone making the trek from Australia to the UK or vice versa. If you want to be able to function when you land (which we wanted to!), a stopover is a really great idea. Lesson officially learned.
Our first Australian adventure involved surprising Blake’s lovely mum who had no idea we were even in the country let alone hiding in B’s sister’s (Courtney!) bedroom whilst they and chatted and Courtney kept up the ruse of ‘a morning tea with friends’! Ha! Surprise!!!!!!! It was a total hoot and very well played.
We spent an afternoon in the sunshine drinking tea and eating delicious sandwiches and cake, relaxing and taking it easy with a little fluffball named Pudding, before heading out to a French dinner nearby.
The next day included some family visits for Blake whilst I attempted to get some sleep in recovery from only 1 hour sleep the night before (yeah, cheers, birds… Sure I was waxing poetic after a few hours’ sleep but the following night after only getting 1 I was not feeling quite so romantic towards their endless tweeting… the birds were the last thing I wanted to hear!). We then drove out to visit B’s dear friends and meet their gorgeous little baby, and then rushed off to Brisbane airport to catch our flight to Sydney. Because clearly we hadn’t had enough of airports or flights. If there is one thing we seem to be good at, its jam-packing way too much into our lives. But hey, we get stuff done.
Sydney is ‘my’ place, really. Blake and I lived in Sydney together for over a year before moving to the UK, it is where we met, and he had lived in Sydney for several years before we met, too. But Sydney is where I grew up and where I’d lived my entire life, so it was very cool for me pulling in, flying over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House and seeing my home city from above for the first time in a little while. In my time away from Sydney I’ve found myself missing things that I never really had much to do with whilst I lived there – the harbour, for example… All I’ve wanted to do for a year and a half now is sit by the harbour and watch the boats and the waves. Also, meat pies! I don’t even like meat pies! But it’s all I’ve been craving lately. The prospect of both meat pies and Sydney harbour at arm’s reach was almost too much to handle.
We met my sisters at Central Station and had dinner at my favourite dumpling house, affectionately known as ‘Angry Dumplings’ (because they serve dumplings and are usually angry), before my dad met us for a quick hello and a lift to our house-sitting location for the week. And so it began.
Our time in Australia was mixed. Blake was filming (he is an actor) for two full weeks and working very hard pumping out all those lines we had been memorising. I was catching up with family and friends. It wasn’t a chance for us to go out and explore but rather to see familiar faces and spend quality time with loved ones. Consequently, I don’t have the most elaborate portfolio of photos. In fact, I took very few photos much to my dismay when loading up my SD card… but on reflection, maybe this is a good thing. Maybe it meant we were spending the time truly enjoying good company and soaking everything up in its entirety without thinking of stopping and snapping a shot.
Highlights of the time in Sydney (warning, most of these involve food) included:
- A delicious roast lunch and playing a Finnish bowling game in the garden with my parents, siblings, Blake and Ash
- Going to Target (I HAVE MISSED YOU SO MUCH TARGET! There is nowhere easy, convenient and probably in every suburb in London to get average quality goods at average prices! It’s either way up or way down the spectrum over here so you’re forced to either spend ten billion pounds on something or spend two pounds and it will break within a week!)
- Eating Oporto, three times. I’m already regretting not making a fourth trip.
- Seeing my old work colleagues who are the loveliest bunch of people and spending a couple of days on set – working!
- Dinner at Pappa Rich’s Malaysian restaurant with a dear friend
- Dumplings (take 2!) and gelato with my sisters
- Drinks at El Loco with my beloved school friends
- Tea and discussing home-grown vegetables, fertility and wedding dresses with my lovely Elissa
- An incredible brunch and NARS discussion at Café Mint and tea at the White Rabbit Gallery with the fabulous Flo and Linda
- Korean BBQ dinner with my brother Freddie and Blake
- Drinks at the local RSL club with fam/friends
- An amazing German schnitzel dinner with MORE fam/friends
- Incredible vegan brekkie a la my friend Kate who is a goddess in the kitchen (check out her fantastic blog here ‘Brunchfast Club’ here)
- Playing in the park and doing painting with my little friend Grace
- Having my ring resized so that I can actually wear it on the correct finger!
- ..And a fabulous Engagement party/Yum Cha event that was held amidst all this! More on that to come…
- Pastizzis and Messina Gelato with ma sis Adelaide
- Ramen with my mum (unfortunately some dodgy gyozas made her sick but I survived my ramen experience and it was delicious)
- Getting a shellac that didn’t cost seventy five million pounds
- Encasa Spanish dinner (AAAAAAAAAAAH FLY ME THERE IMMEDIATELY!) with my parents
- Having a bath. Baths are my favourite.
- Hanging with the most ridiculous and glorious dog in the world Poppy
- Learning and recording this cover of Chandelier with my lovely Godsister Laura and Biological Sister Adelaide on their work lunchbreak
- Spending time in my parents’ garden which is a magical wonderland of greenness. To have this kind of land in central London would necessitate winning a lot of money in the lottery and even then it wouldn’t look like this. Living in Australia is pretty good.
- The fact that Blake’s filming was devoured by a ruthless storm that blew half the roof off on the studio and meant they lost a lot of time
- Not having nearly enough time to see everyone I wanted to see and our time being eaten away before our very eyes
- Having to get used to the new transport system in Sydney that doesn’t quite seem to be foolproof yet. Opal system, you are flawed.
- Did I mention not being able to see everyone I wanted to see? Because that was really rough and made it hard to leave with lots of unfinished social business.
All of the above and more went down in a mammoth 14 days. Because we are total lunatics, we then flew to Brisbane to spend 6 days there before flying home. The time in Brisbane was equally crazy. We somehow kept managing to book up every second of every day with people and food. It was lovely and so special to see friends and family again but it completely exhausting. In a wonderful way!
Highlights of Brisbane (Part 2) included:
- A beautiful ceremony in remembrance of our friend Brett who had passed away a few weeks beforehand. We had the honour of meeting Brett’s brother who flew to Brisbane for the occasion and surprised us! It was of course very sad but so lovely to hear so many people speak who loved Brett. We all said a word or two and laughed and cried together.
- A fantastic BBQ near Southbank with Blake’s mates in which we met this guy (because it wouldn’t be an Australian BBQ without a lizard of some kind)
- Heading to the gorgeous Stanthorpe (about 3 hours drive from Brisbane) to see his dad and stepmum for ‘fake Christmas’, complete with crackers, hats and a Christmas tree plucked from the property!
- Watching a particularly stunning sunset over the land
- Staying out until 1am taking photos of stars and drinking red wine with Blake and his bestie Peter
- An incredible seafood buffet feast with Courtney, and spending 10 mins standing on the beach (REAL SAND!) together chatting about life
- Peter’s 30th celebrations on Southbank
- A picnic in Wynnum after battling some treacherous winds with Blake’s mum, sister and of course… Pudding! Followed by a wander through the mangroves
- Coffee, tim tams and a super delicious lunch in Garden City with B’s fam featuring the fabulous AD!
- This snake that casually slithered next to us. Classic Australia!
- Sunburn. Turns out England has ruined my resilience to the sun!
And before we knew it we were back at our little flat in London, preparing to go to work… THE NEXT DAY. I think I’m still recovering from attempting to do that.
Australia, I love you for your clean air, your tweeting birds, your bizarre wildlife, your wide open streets with plenty of parking spaces, your room for movement and your sense of freedom, the smell of nature in the air instead of pollution and rubbish, your excellent Asian food (get on it, London, get ON that train!), your weather, and mostly for all the people we love there.
See you again sometime! We miss you already. First stop, Oporto (Sisters, can you please send me some Oporto chilli sauce for Christmas? Kthxbai!)!