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It's actually been a little bit hectic since we've returned to London. During the day we're looking for a new place to live (without much success.) We've looked at places in Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Bayswater, Brook Green, Stamford Brook and Ealing. We've only been searching for a few days but it feels like forever!

In the evening we've been catching up with our London buddies and also making new friends. Our social calendar has included:

Roller Disco
Natalie took me along to this fabulous place, Roller Disco. It's a nightclub combined with a roller skating rink. It leans more towards nightclub though. The rooms are nightclub sized and have a very funky decor. Because the rooms are night-club sized and not rink-sized it can get quite crowded on the floor. They also serve alcohol, but sensibly in plastic cups and bottles.

Roller Disco is a great idea but I'm not quite sure that alcohol and roller-skates mix. There were lots of spills and crashes and one girl, who had been part of a hens night, was carted away in an ambulance. I'm quite pleased that I didn't fall, even though my skill level does not extend to dodging or even stopping. I believe the trick was to stop drinking after two beers. It was enough alcohol to increase my confidence but not too much to head into the dangerous over-confident territory.

Roller DiscoRoller DiscoRoller DiscoRoller Disco

BBQ London style
On Sunday arvo, we squeezed in Juzzy's famous annual BBQ. A London style BBQ is a little bit amusing. The normal London BBQ pales in comparison to the Aussie monstrosities. Usually, it's just a disposable BBQ from Tescos and it costs only a few pounds. These disposable BBQs are really aluminium trays with charcoal in the bottom. Juzzy had splashed out and got a 13 pound kettle BBQ as well. The poor poms, they miss out on the true BBQ experience. Now I understand why Duncan is so obsessed with his BBQ.

Love Argentina
Another event care of Natalie. She invited us to Love Argentina, a night run to raise funds for underprivileged children in Argentina. Andrew and I were more than happy to tag along, not only because we got to hang out with some really fun people, but also because we got to drink Quilmes (my favourite South American beer), eat Lomito sandwiches and crepes with dulce de leche. We scored a jar of dulce de leche for only 2 pounds. This is great news because we left a tub in the rental's pantry in Pyrmont. Hope you're making good use of this Paddy!

Love ArgentinaLove ArgentinaLove ArgentinaLove Argentina

(We discovered dulce de leche in Buenos Aires. It's a very sweet, caramel-like sauce which bonaerenses eat spread on bread at breakfast time. Snaps to the Argentineans for their sweet-tooth prowess.)

Last night we caught up with Tash and Matt to watch Atonement at the Gate cinema in Notting Hill. Atonement is a beautiful film (love the green dress) but read the book before you see it. It's one of my favourite novels and you'll definitely spoil the impact of the book if you see the film first.

jess - 11th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: london social explore_london

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If anyone would like quality copies of the kiddies photos they are also on Flickr in the Aussie Kids 2007 set. The Flickr versions should be big enough to print photo quality. (Click on the photo, select All Sizes from above the photo, select Original from Available sizes, click Download the Original size and print.)

jess - 11th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: travel

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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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