Boxing Day at the MCG

For anyone that doesn’t know, the MCG is Melbourne Cricket Ground, locally know as ‘The G.’  It is the largest sporting venue in the world, holding 110,000 people. During the Ashes tour, Boxing Day at ‘The G’ is the place to be – it’s on so many bucket lists.  And Steve, being one of the world’s greatest cricket enthusiasts, had it high up on his list of things to do.  So, do it we did … and Tom, Alice and Marc joined us too.  Quite a feat getting all of us up at 7.00am on boxing day (no lie in or cold turkey and bubble and squeak for us that day!!) and off to the station to catch the 8.15am train to the ground.  Plenty of others had made an early start too – the queues had already formed.

IMG_1571  All very organised and civilised though – as soon as the doors opened we were quickly in – amongst all sorts of fancy-dressers, and Aussie supporters with their bucket heads, and found our seats.  Despite the current disastrous result (3 – 0 to Australia), today was a new day and we faced it with full enthusiasm.  The Barmy Army were in great voice from the off – nothing can dampen their true English spirit!!  Anxiously awaited the toss, hoping to win (for the 4th time I might add!) but sadly it went the Aussie’s way this time and they chose to bat.

Another major achievement was that Tom lasted until 11.00am until he had his first beer – a whole hour of resisting!!!!  Marc was the next to break … Steve, Alice and I resisted until at least 12.30pm!

Unfortunately not the most interesting of cricket that particular day – Australia batting and just two wickets (get me!! I’m learning all the jargon!!)  Moved down to hang out near the Barmy Army for a while – soaking up the atmosphere of the singing, the fancy dress attire and the Mexican waving.  It was an extremely hot day so plenty of refreshment was required.


We left the ground just before 6.00pm and our opponents were looking in pretty good shape – a tad short on runs possibly but despite some good fielding from England, far too many men left to bat.  But as always, tomorrow is another day ….

Merry Christmas in Merry Melbourne 🎄🎉😎

We’ve been in Melbourne for almost two weeks and I’ve fallen badly behind with the blog – blame the kids!!!!! Alice and Marc arrived a few days after us and then Tom two days after that … and what with Christmas and the cricket … there really are endless excuses!!! We have just been having the BEST time. Initially stayed with our amazing friends Kaye and Greg, then we moved into a nearby motel (our own 3 bedroom apartment) but still spending time with Kaye and Greg each day.  Have been doing some fitness training (well one session for me and lots of running for Steve!)  Naturally some shopping to get into the Christmas spirit – never stops feeling weird seeing Christmas trees and Santa costumes in the sunshine!  Had a night out in St. Kilda – some great dancing moments.  Kaye and Greg hosted a pre-Christmas drinks party to welcome us all to Oz – met their lovely friends and consumed much prosecco.  Some chilled time at our hotel pool as well.

So, as a means to catch up on myself, these next few blogs will be (for now) a photos with captions.


The beach local to Kaye and Greg’s house in Highett, Melbourne



Yay!! Alice and Marc arrived xx


…and yippee, Tom came too. Amazed us all by getting up to do the Park Run after 4 hours sleep (following 36 hours of traveling).


A Melbourne Parkrun pose (and a little Alice and Dad skip)!!


Greg, casually sipping red wine on the beach on Christmas Eve, chilled as ever!



Christmas Eve picnic on Brighton Beach, Melbourne (amazing picnic supplied by Kaye x


Beautiful Brighton Beach with its pretty collection of beach huts



Christmas day at Kaye and Greg’s – let the fun begin …



Many games, much dressing up, many many laughs !!


A toast to the chefs


Highly recommend Aldi Champagne Christmas pudding



Even found time for an afternoon stroll to the local park to play cricket and frisby


Tea time at the Christmas Day cricket


And of course, Christmas 2017 wouldn’t have been complete without a game of Speak Out!! We laughed till we cried



A great first day at the WACA

Last Saturday we flew to Melbourne for the next leg of this incredible journey. We had already had some phone calls with our special friends and Melbourne hosts, Kaye and Greg, and the laughter had commenced!! They came to meet us at the airport but the ‘meet up’ was a little hit and miss – they had hidden so they could jump out and surprise us and it seems we came out a different way. So that, topped with trying to connect to WiFi + our local phone had run out of charge (you know how it is) delayed things a little – but we eventually found each other … and it’s so brilliant … we haven’t stopped talking or laughing since.

Our 2nd week in Perth continued in a healthy and relaxed style – runs, walks, bike rides, swimming, bodyboarding, drives out along the coast – we felt so at home here, love the outdoor lifestyle. Enjoyed the blue skies and the stunning sunsets … also experienced some windy days being sandblasted on the beach! Walked to Hilary’s Harbour one day and after an extortionately priced round of drinks we decided to walk home along the beach – a real test to the calf muscles! Most of the beaches along this coastline have a ban on dogs but we hit upon one stretch signposted as the ‘dog and horse beach.’ Wished we’d got a photo but we were so busy dodging dogs and their owners on this short stretch of beach – never seen anything like it – everything from dachshund to German shepherd, sheep dogs, poodles the lot!! All shapes and sizes of pooches running along the beach, in and out of the water, chasing, catching and returning the various items being thrown. We felt so conspicuous being ‘dog-less!’ Thank God no horses had read the sign!!

Made it to the next Saturday park run at Neil Hawkins Park – extremely hot again but did OK. Steve missed a PB by 4 seconds – gutted!! No snakes or kangaroos this week!!

We made it up to the city one day to watch a one day cricket session, Australia v England B teams. Getting in practice for the hours sitting in the sun, ripples of clapping, the lovely sound of leather on willow. Got to see a little of the city too, beautiful parks alongside the Swan River – lots of Christmas gatherings taking place.

On Wednesday we moved down into the city for our last three nights in Perth. Took a leisurely drive along the coast road – settled into our ApartHotel – very nice too. After a swim to cool us down we decided to try and find the Barmy Army meet

up. Found the Crowne Perth and enjoyed a lovely meal, some drinks in the Sports Bar (watched a great boxing match), even had a little dabble in the casino … but didn’t quite find the Barmy Army – turns out they had met up in the nightclub. We had fun anyway and seeing the decorations made us feel a little Christmassy.

And Thursday, of course, was the big day – our first day at the Test Match. We were up early and set off by 8.30am – wanting to soak up as much of the atmosphere as we could. Excitedly queued with all the other early arrivers …. only to find out that we’d been scammed with our tickets and they could not accept them!! Horror!! Luckily they allowed us to buy some other tickets so the day was saved. We found Andy and Fran and set up camp at the back of the grass bank, nearish to the Barmy Army but not too near – a perfect spot – a wall to lean against, perfect view. And despite some early disappointments with Cook and Root, we were there to witness the Malan and Bairstow partnership, both achieving their centuries … so hopes were getting high … and the day ended with some optimism. Great experience – I learnt a lot about cricket (asking lots of intelligent questions during the day)!! We managed to resist the great beer run – watching other spectators get wobblier and wobblier during the day was enough – stuck to water to avoid getting heat stroke! We mingled in with the beefeaters, Father Christmas’, Charlie Chaplins, convicts etc. – such a spectacle when en masse. Of course, stopped off at the nearest pub after the game and got chatting to some great Aussie supporters. After a few jugs of beer we were adamant it was going to be an English victory!!!!!!!!!!

On our last day in Perth we took a river cruise to Freemantle along the Swan River. Very chilled, supping wine and with running commentary about all the beautiful residences and sailing clubs along the banks of the river. Had a final wander around beautfiul Freemantle (naturally involving some ‘bar’ time to watch the cricket!), beautiful meal in a tucked away tapas restaurant and then caught the train back to Perth, costing $1. Early night as had to be up at 5.00am to get to the airport.

As I’ve probably mentioned before – we have loved Perth, could so easily live here. One strong memory however will be the endless rules and the signage that goes with it, particularly at the beach areas (no wonder one of the national games is called Aussie rules)!! Even at the WACA we were constantly being reminded via the huge screens about the fines and imprisonment imposed for inappropriate behaviour, including pitch invasion! Boy, they love a good sign: …..

So, it’s now Tuesday morning (have been trying to finish this blog for days)!! Will save our first few days in Melbourne for the next blog – having SO much fun 🤗 and only days till Tom, Alice and Marc arrive!! ❤️❤️❤️

Mullaloo, Perth, Western Australia

We caught an early evening flight from Phuket to Perth, via Kuala Lumpur – with the time difference it meant we were travelling through the night, arriving in Perth in the early hours. We therefore treated ourselves to flatbeds on the 2nd leg of the journey (special offer!!) which made sleeping so much more comfortable – just had to battle with ‘do I watch films or do I sleep!?’ All went swimmingly well and we picked up our rental car at Perth airport (slight blip in that we had booked it from the following morning – but hey, they had one to rent so all was well. We have our own wheels again!!! Steve happy to be back motoring and I practised my best navigating skills as we made our way north from Perth to Mullaloo.

Found our airbnb, beautiful neighbourhood – all the houses (and gardens) are immaculate, large, well-designed and such individual styles – in fact most of the Perth area seems to be that way (so perfect it’s practically Stepford Wives)! We have a fabulous self-contained apartment (Lesley and Shane, our airbnb hosts have the amazing house attached) and a pool for our sole use. We have a double garage (with remote control shutter) which we can actually fit the car into (that just doesn’t happen back home)!! And lots of extras – bikes, surf boards, table tennis, darts, beach chairs, snorkelling equipment, cool boxes, fishing gear …. you name it, it’s here for us to use!! So we are in fact making the most of using these great facilities and at the same time taking the opportunity to cut down on our spending for the fortnight – claw a bit back as they say. We’re eating in each day (really loving the chance to cook again) eating (and drinking) healthily, not spending out on tours but taking ourselves off in the car instead, exploring this beautiful coastline of Western Australia. Most mornings we’re up at 7.00am and out running/walking for an hour, then straight to our magnificent local beach for swimming and bodyboarding, returning home for a breakfast of fresh fruit about 10.00am. It’s a good life – Perth is the place to be.


This is our section of the house with our little balcony coming off the lounge on the 1st floor


A new marina area further north of Mullaloo – so much new development.

We’re on the Indian Ocean here and the sea has got to be the clearest sea I have ever seen, just perfect. The waves are something else though – so strong when the wind is up. I had a bit of a tussle with the bodyboard last week … and the bodyboard won! … managed to bruise my ribs on my first attempt at bodyboarding (and I’m a well practised Cornwall bodyboarder). Sticking to swimming from now on and letting Steve carry on with the manly surfing stuff! Mornings are mostly calm in Mullaloo, permanently sunny, and a wind gets up in the afternoon – it’s called the Freemantle Doctor – and boy does it get up!! Hold onto your hat stuff.


Our local beach – Mullaloo beach

We took a drive down to Freemantle on Monday – such an interesting town. It is where free settlers arrived in 1829 and it became established as a British colony. British convicts arrived in 1850 to boost the colony’s labour force – their first job being the building of the prison (how soul-destroying that must have been). We visited the original gaol (the Roundhouse) and Freemantle Prison, learning so much about the history. Gorgeous town of colonial style buildings too – interesting shops, cafes and bars. Hoping to go back there for an evening.


Freemantle prison – built by the original convicts shipped from UK

Of course on Saturday we were up early to find the local Park Run – it starts at 8.00am here as opposed to 9.00am at home (I wonder why)!!! I only meant to go to spectate but got talked into giving it a go – we both enjoyed it and got talking to many lovely people, including one lady, Ali, who had grown up in Milton Keynes. It was already pretty hot by 8.00am but there were areas of shade along the path – a little daunted as part of the pre-run talk said to look out for snakes and call out to people in front and behind if you saw one on the path!! Someone had apparently seen a kangaroo just before the run! Planning to go back again this Saturday – gulp!!

All’s being going along so well … and then there’s the cricket!!! Of course, tuned into the Adelaide test match, a few days of being disheartened and then there was hope … and then it was all over!! Hopefully the boys will pick it all up again in Perth – where Steve and I will be next Thursday – hoping to meet up with Andy and Fran too. Fingers crossed they win this one, otherwise our days at Melbourne and Sydney test matches might be a little fraught.

So we’re perfectly relaxed and enjoying this lifestyle … but of course nothing’s perfect – all I can say is ‘flies’ – where do they all come from in such a clean place!? That plus the constant ‘beware of snakes’ signage! But don’t worry, we’ll battle on for another week! 😉


Something for everyone!! Guess which is my biggest fear!?

Farewell to Sansuko Ville, Phuket, Thailand

Where did that month go?  It certainly speeded up over the last two weeks since Alice and Marc joined us.  We have LOVED it.  Particularly the people who are so smiley, calm and welcoming – it is a land devoid of aggression or stress.

Despite hangovers, managed to get packed and sorted and then hung out at the hotel until it was time to go.  Would you believe it was still raining today – Bobbi said Phuket was crying because we were leaving!!

The time came for goodbyes – thank you so much Bobbi, Pen, Tip, Nan and Mr. Lec.  – you are all amazing people and it’s been a fabulous place to stay.  We’ll be back!!


Penn, Steve, Nan, Tip, Bobbi, Dee, Marc and Alice


Steve, Mr. Lec and Dee. I was stood on the kerb by the way!!

Also we had to say tearful farewells to Alice and Marc – they were leaving later that night to fly to Cambodia .. then on to Vietnam … then  on to Malaysia … and then in 3 weeks time we will meet up again in Melbourne (can’t wait).

And so to Perth, Australia …

Our penultimate day in Phuket

Tuesday 28th November

Back to overcast weather today so no point lounging at the beach or the hotel pool.  Instead we embarked on a short walk into the rainforest to catch a glimpse of a nearby waterfall.  Picturesque stuff and completely remote from tourism.  The deeper we got into the forest area, the clammier it got.  And we met some local creatures too.  Alice was amazingly brave – a start to her spider phobia therapy!


This is Steve’s hand and you know how large his hands are!



Local residences


Spent a couple of hours on the beach afterwards, had our last swim. The sea actually felt chilly today – so different to all the other days when it really had been like a bath!

And for our last night party we returned to The Sunshine Bar in Rawai – slightly ironic as it was chucking it down with rain outside!!  Another outrageous evening of cocktail drinking, singing and dancing.  Joined by Mr. O and Sammi and some lovely new friends Andy and Fran (who we will be meeting up with at the Perth test match) – great night.


The tale of the longtail boat

Well, we had been experiencing some ‘unseasonal’ weather in the last few days – not just tropical downpours but whole days of cloud and rain (we felt so cheated!). Aware that our days in Phuket were running out, we started to assess what we wanted to do before leaving Thailand. We had done lots of things cultural, plenty of beach days, island trips, kayaking but as yet we had not been to any areas for snorkelling. Now, travelling on a budget, we bravely went unconventional and hired a longtail boat to take us out to Coral Island – this involved sailing out into the open sea, taking an hour or more. We optimistically booked it from our local harbour for Monday (weather dependant). We woke up to a little more sunshine but still very windy. I felt sure that we wouldn’t be able to go but we were given the go ahead … Alice, Marc and Steve were excited … my nerves started to kick in! I was talked into giving it a go on the understanding that we would turn back if the sea got too rough.



Guess what!? The sea got rough!! We were 45 minutes into the journey but as we ploughed through the open sea the waves got higher and higher and the boat rocked from side to side. Longtail boats may be beautiful but they are not the most sturdy means of transport and with completely open sides you tend to feel a little vulnerable (not to mention nauseas!). Alice, bless her, was trying her hardest to stay calm in order to protect me and I was attempting to do the same for her …. but eventually it just got too much and my anxiety got out of hand … the decision was made to turn back. Our lovely boatman, Manrit, offered to take us to an island nearer our starting point, good for swimming but unfortunately no coral, so not great for snorkelling! Perfect in every other way however.

The boat pulled up onto Lon Island, so beautiful, golden sands, clear blue sea, practically deserted – it was like being on our own desert island. We settled ourselves into some deckchairs, enjoying the tranquility, recovering from our high seas adventure, taking a dip in the warm sea. Bliss!! Manrit sat chatting to us for quite some time – he had spent a year in Cambridge and clearly loved to practice his English (a huge cricket came to join him on his shoulder)!  After half an hour we were joined by four boat loads of Chinese tourists (proper tour boats)!!  It was like watching a masterclass in photography – they were everywhere, a whole selection of posing actions and positions – fascinating!




We explored the island before we left, discovering a small tucked away resort, fishing boats, washed up sea life and swings … and more swings …







Our journey back from Lon Island was so much calmer … actually loved it … sorry about the snorkelling Marc. 😟


Our boatman’s sidekick

Had a well deserved beer on our return and then dinner at our favourite Beach Bar (where our Phuket holiday had started) – I think we’ll be back.


Hey hey we’re the monkeys !

The intrepid three took on the feeding the monkeys challenge, with Dee taking the decision to take charge of the sunbeds by the pool, also slightly daunted at the thought of kayaking up the river to feed aforementioned jungle / swamp inhabitants, particularly having been informed of the local water snakes!!

We had heard over the previous few days of other guests’ adventures with a bunch of bananas and a group of monkeys (get it…group / monkeys?). Our resident English Gentleman Mr O (Adrian) had ventured out on the kayaks the day before only to find the tide was going out down the river and he was headed for the bay rather than the monkeys! It was no joke as it was nearing beer o’clock and it had been a hot day. If all failed though Adrian had a plan to go with the flow in the direction of the Beach Bar, a cunning plan!

So midday saw not only the sun making a very hot appearance but also Steve, Alice and Marc heading out to the local harbour. We are staying in a very local Thai village and where possible we have been trying to support the village economy and this was an occasion where for £10 the band of three acquired two kayaks for an hour and a very large bunch of banana’s (for the monkeys stupid!). Now you might think that an hour is not long but believe me in 30 degree temperatures and very little shade from the sun something nearer 5 minutes would have been preferable! Anyway we set off with Alice and Marc leading the way with the tall bloke left to paddle his own oar at a more sedate speed, SLOW IS A SPEED! I should point out that I love wildlife but the last time I was close up with monkeys we were in Gibraltar and on that occasion you had to be very aware of phones/hats/glasses/hair/jewellery or anything not fixed being ‘nicked’ by the monkeys. So the thought of having any number of swamp monkeys jumping on my boat was quite a daunting thought – however Alice was very keen so I kept my thoughts to myself.

Initially we were pleased with progress to the monkey area, they live in trees in the mangrove swamps which border our village along the river banks. We’d been told they can swim, as well as peel bananas, open plastic bottles and I guess do a song and dance if so required? No sooner had we arrived than we had monkeys jumping onto the kayaks and soon we were busy distributing the bananas. One cheeky monkey settled himself onto Alice and Marc’s kayak and helped himself to their sun tan lotion bottle, lifting the lid and having a good lick! On deciding he didn’t like it he threw it off the boat – then retrieved it from the water, had a second lick and threw it off again!! They thought nothing of putting their paws up the back of your T-shirt and pulling at the back of your shorts!

But boy it was hot out there, sat in a boat in the full sun with the only shade being under the trees which then encouraged lots more monkeys onto your boat? Anyway it all went swimmingly and after feeding time we went for a leisurely paddle upstream taking in some of the local Thai culture. This is very much a fishing village still, with only small pockets of tourists – to say that a six foot odd tall bloke wandering (or at times running) through the village caused some attention I would not be under estimating at all. The hour soon passed and it was time to return the kayaks, just as well because we were scorching although good time had by all and some great pictures for the memories!