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Kiddies! It was great to catch up with all the kiddies while we were home. We met the newbies Isaac, Jude, Summer and Ella. Lots of cuddles there! The big kids are lots of fun. Sarah, Hannah, and Oscar are now old enough to take part in some playground games. I can't remember the last time I played "What's the time Mr Wolf?" or "Red Light, Green Light". I struggled to remember the rules. (Sarah and Hannah made us play "What's the time Mrs Wolf". They must be entering the "boys have germs" stage.)

Most of all I enjoyed hanging out with my nephews. Leo has changed so much and is an adorable and very affectionate little boy. One very special memory is of Leo throwing his chubby little arms around my neck and covering my cheek with kisses. It makes me happy and just a little bit sad. Oscar is very talkative and a little precocious. His reasons for getting his own way weren't always entirely rational but always amusing. My favourite reason was "but Daddy is always right." Nice training Richie!

Isaac! A new nephew! Cause for celebration. Baby Isaac is only 6 weeks old. There is nothing quite like a little one falling asleep in your arms. I love how he struggles to stay awake; he doesn't want to miss out on all the fun.

Of course, we took lots and lots of photos of the kiddies. I've put them all in a gallery for your enjoyment. (Just for you Alison!) (photos)

jess - 10th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: travel photography hsev oscar leo family

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June, July, August... the season for Summer sport... Andrew and I managed to tick off two sporting events in our last two weeks in London. We squeezed in an evening at Wimbledon, to watch a couple of matches, eat strawberries and cream and drink Pimms. We also managed to catch a 20-20 match at Lord's, the home of Cricket.

I can't really say that Andrew and I could be called tennis fans. Although, like any Australian, I note how Aussies are doing in current tennis competitions (Australians are sports mad!), I don't think I've ever actually sat down to watch the tennis on TV. But, Wimbledon is a spectacle and I'm a tourist. My lack of interest in tennis wasn't going to stop me from checking it out.

Tickets to Wimbledon are in high demand and people go to extreme lengths to secure a ticket to centre court. Luckily, they also cater for the casual spectator. They encourage fans who leave early to hand in their tickets to be resold. All proceeds from these tickets are donated to charity. Basically, it means that even if you turn up at 5pm, you can still get in to watch a bit of tennis. You won't get in to watch tennis on centre court, court 1 or court 2, but you can get a general admission which gives you free access to the rest of the grounds.

So, turn up at 5pm we did. Actually, it was more like 6.30pm. Andrew and I joined the back of a very long queue and as we did we were handed a queue card. The queue card has your number in the queue and you require it to purchase tickets. It's a system designed to stop queue jumpers. We were 10061 and 10062 in the queue (that's how many people had queued that day!)

The queue moved fairly quickly. Soon we reached the beginning of the overnight queue. It was only 6.30pm and people were already queuing to get tickets for the next day's play. These crazy people were after the much sought after centre court tickets. In the morning they release 500 tickets each for centre court, court 1 and court 2. Those people already in the overnight queue were camping out for these tickets. Fan does come from the word fanatical.

Another 20 minutes or so and another few hundred metres we finally were able to purchase tickets and enter the grounds. The queue had been almost a kilometre long!

First off, we checked the board to see if any Aussies were playing. Our only compatriot was Samantha Stosur playing a doubles match, so we headed to court 5 to catch the tail end. Lots of Aussies were also at the game cheering Sam on. Every now and again someone would remember that doubles does involve two players on a team and would half-heartedly cheer for her Sam's doubles partner, Lisa. Sam and Lisa won their match. Well done Sammy! (and Lisa)

We're Wimbledon newbies, so it was back to the boards for us to find another match to watch. (Note to self, must figure out what games to watch at the first visit to the board). We thought that we'd try and watch a Bagdhatis doubles match but when we headed to his court, it was full. So we wandered the grounds until we found a court that was only half full. We watched a men's doubles match. The men's game was faster paced game than the women's. I'm always amazed that players are able to return those speedy serves. Fantastic reflexes and lots of training I guess.

Queue at WimbledonWimbledon: Andrew in the QueueI queued at Wimbledon
Wimbledon: Order of PlayWimbledonWimbledon
WimbledonStrawberries and creamWimbledon: Spectators

A big pat on the back for the organisers of Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the first thing I've come across in England that has been organised well. Everything about Wimbledon was tight and systematic: Queuing, passing the security checks and purchasing tickets. I thought the queuing cards were a fantastic idea. What a great way to make it all fair and genuine.

jess - 7th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: london sport explore_london wimbledon

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So we're back in London! We had a surprisingly non-boring flight with Singapore Airlines. They have a fantastic entertainment system and I was able to watch movies and TV shows the entire flight. Andrew slept most of the way (he can sleep anywhere that boy!)

London gave us a true UK welcome with a horror trip back from the airport. We circled for 15 minutes before landing, sat on the tarmac for half an hour and then waited to clear immigration for about an hour (this was in the speedy EU line too!). To top it all off, we were turfed off our train back to Ealing because of "signal failure". We then had to walk for 1km, dragging our entire luggage, to try and find a bus. It was London payback, I'm sure.

I'll leave you with a few photos from our trip to Brisvegas.

You talkin' to me!Only gay in the villageBen and IsaacJess and Isaac
Family photoJanet and IsaacAndrewAndrew

Andrew no longer has his red mohawk... phew!

jess - 6th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: kids isaac

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We're in the closing stages to our visit home and here I am still faithfully updating fushmush. Aren't I nice to you?

I managed to squeeze in a girls' night out while I was home. We nominated Newtown as the battleground. Our mission? To drink cocktails, discuss the merits of smock dresses and 3/4 length tights, and take no hostages!

We started the evening at the newly refurbished Bank Hotel. I think it's a renovation on top of a renovation because I can't remember it being that seedy previously. The renno certainly gets a thumbs down from me. One essential thing that's been removed is Cocktail Happy Hour. (SMH review says "the new Bank no longer feels like a Newtown pub." I agree.)

They now have an upstairs bar called The Velvet Room. It has comfy couches and gaudy d├ęcor and it's where we started our evening. The new upstairs bar was a surprise to most of the group. One by one, we'd turn up to the Bank, wander aimlessly around the ground floor looking for the other girlies. The mobile phone would come out and a "Is anybody out there?" call would be made. Poor Bel and Davina. After the first cocktail I stopped hearing my phone ring and they wandered lost a little longer than the rest of us.

After pre-dinner drinks we headed to Kafenes, a Greek restaurant on Enmore road. (Great pick from Davina!) We ended our dinner banquet with a special Loukoumades birthday cake to celebrate Alison's 30th birthday. Loukoumades are Greek donuts and they taste divine when dipped in melted chocolate.

Thanks for coming out girls. I had a great time. Happy Birthday Alison and thanks for sharing your birthday with a girls night out! What was the verdict on smock dresses and footless tights? I think we were evenly divided, for and against. We'll just have to convene for another session.

Bel, Clare and JessGirlies at dinnerClare, Sue and James of Quality Kitchens and Bathrooms
Happy Birthday AlisonHappy Birthday AlisonSue loves Loukoumades

jess - 2nd Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: social girls_night_out

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Jess, Michelle and Tash

We headed south for a few days to visit with Michelle and Tash in Melbourne and with Andrew's family in Ballarat.

Michelle and Tash took us to a great little Italian place that has the best dessert pizza ever. I had a calzone that was filled with a mix of white, milk and dark chocolate. Yum! Thanks for coming out with us Tash and Michelle and thanks for letting us stay over Michelle.

In Ballarat we hung out with the fam and met Tara's little boy Jude for the first time. Andrew was horrified to discover that Jude's nickname was Judie. The Darbys very thoughtfully scheduled in a visit to the Pancake Kitchen, Andrew's favourite childhood restaurant in Ballarat. Thanks Darbys for looking after us in Ballarat. We had a lovely time. Happy Birthday Tara! Happy Birthday Gran! Happy Birthday Roger! Happy Birthday Jude! (Lots of August birthdays in the Darby family)

Andrew and Gran Gran and the grandkids Bodhi and Gran Andrew, Jess and Jude

jess - 29th Aug 2007, 11:11 tags: travel melbourne ballarat kids

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