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Last weekend we celebrated Andrew and Nicole's engagement with a picnic at Clarkes Point Reserve in Woolwich. After the grown up part of the day was over, the kiddies headed to Woolwich Hotel for a few post-party bevvies. A few drinks later and the night deteriorated rapidly. Like any good gossip column I'm going to give you the juicy news without naming names. The low-down: someone got a nasty bump on the head, someone vomited, two someones were refused service because they were pished, and two someones were too hungover to go canyoning the next morning.

Congratulations Andrew and Nicole. We hope that you enjoy this very exciting period in your life. (photos)

jess - 13th Jan 2006, 11:11 tags: engagement dowleys

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This month's theme for Self Portrait Tuesday is Personal History. I think it is a perfect time to post some old photos of the Budge. Budgewoi was the scene of many of my childhood summers. Being there in December brought back a lot of fond memories.

Original BudgeMy Mum and AnnieThe Kids: Annie, Jennie, Jess and Liam on the cement slab for new garageThe Kids: Jess, Liam, Annie, Paddy, Jennie, Simon, Matt and ?
Annie, Jess and Buckles on the BeachKids: Shae, Jennie, Erin, Annie, Paddy, Linda, Simon, Kade, Tim, Liam, Jess and KarenKids: Annie, Simon, Jess, Tim, ?, Paddy, Jennie, Liam and Gypsy

Self Portrait Tuesday was initiated by redcurrent. Each Tuesday post a self portrait on your blog. January's theme is 'personal history'.

jess - 10th Jan 2006, 11:11 tags: spt self-portrait photography

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11...   10...   9...   8...   7...   6...   5...   4...   3...   2...   1...   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A New Year's countdown that beings at 11? That's what happens when a bunch of geeks find out that a "leap second" is being added to the end of the year.

We saw the New Year in with a few of our closest and mostest at Budgewoi. We did all the usual Budgewoi stuff. We went to the beach in the morning and avoided the rips and bluebottles. We had a Budgewoi lunch and takeout and a BBQ for dinner. We walked to the shops for ice creams and lollies. Thanks to Uncle Bob for letting us use the house for the weekend. Thanks to our guests for helping out on the weekend, especially on clean up detail. You guys get a gold star for the weekend. (photos)

Our journey home was a bit of an advenCHA as we got stuck in Bushfire traffic. The F3 Freeway and Pacific Highway closed because of a bushfire at Mt White. Unfortunately, they closed it at the Gosford exit about 20 minutes before we reached Gosford. We were directed off the freeway and we then spent the next few hours trying to find an alternate route to Sydney. We drove to Wisemans Ferry, where we were turned away. I'd never seen the town of Spencer before and now I've been there twice. We drove back to Gosford again; three hours later and we were back at our starting point. We met up with the Dowleys (who were in the same boat as us) and decided to see a movie (Fun with Dick and Jane) while we waited to see if they would open the freeway again. Luckily, the freeway was open when the movie finished. We had a very smooth run to Sydney and we were home at 9.30pm. A 1.5 hour trip took us 7.5 hours.

It wasn't actually that bad a day. We were in air-conditioned comfort the whole day, either in the car or in the cinema. We don't have air-conditioning at home so we were probably better off. We were only stuck in a traffic queue for half an hour, so we were driving for most of the time. We had scenery to look and tractors to spot. It could have been much worse.

45 degrees on NYDSmoke column from Mt White fireTraffic queue at Wisemans Ferry
Traffic queue at Gosford and smoke from Woy Woy fire41 degrees at 7.30pmSmoke from Woy Woy fire

I was surprised at the lack of information we received from the authorities. We received conflicting reports from different sources throughout the day. The ABC was telling everyone to go to Wisemans Ferry. When we arrived there we were told that the road was closed (by another motorist so we're not sure how truthful the report was). The Dowleys asked a Firey what to do and he suggested that they find accommodation for the evening as he was sure the Freeway would be closed for the night. The RTA website had no useful information what-so-ever. It reminded me of a scene in War of the Worlds where people in the crowd are discussing what cities in the world have been destroyed. Some people think that America is safe and Europe has been decimated. Others think it's the other way round. Rumours spread like wildfire and fiction is taken for fact. The RFS and the RTA had a very busy day on New Year's Day but they failed the motorists who were diverted off the F3. I wonder how they'll cope when the Aliens land *G*.

jess - 9th Jan 2006, 11:11 tags: social nye nye05

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Happy Birthday Andrew!
(statistics are from the Birthday Calculator)

jess - 7th Jan 2006, 11:11 tags: birthdays andrew

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Each year on Boxing Day, the Grangers have a BBQ and Bocce competition at their house in Austinmer. This year, Sydney put on a gorgeous day for the annual event. The sun was shining, the sky was blue; it was the perfect antidote to cure Christmas Day indulgence.

Each year, names are randomly drawn to form mixed teams of two. The draw is created and one round is played by all teams. The winning teams of round one go into the Cup (Winners) competition. The losing teams of round one go into the Plate (Losers) competition. The two competitions are then knock-out format and are contested until the Winner of the Cup and the Winner of the Plate are decided.

This year's event saw a few welcome changes to the competition rules and regulations. A $5.00 entry fee was introduced with the money allocated to a prize pool. All teams were in the running to win either $100 (The Cup Prize), $80 (The Cup Runners up prize) or $15 (The Plate prize). The games were also shortened, with each game now consisting of three ends. (In the past we had played first team to five points, which could sometimes take forever.)

After a hard day of Bocce the Plate grand final was a contest between Team Greg / Julie and Team Patrick / Jess. Greg and Julie triumphed in the end and won the Plate and took home the $15 prize money (don't spend it all at once!). Team Andrew / Daphne and Team Max / Sharon played for top honours in the Cup grand final. Team Max / Sharon beat out Team Andrew / Daphne to take the ultimate Bocce prize, the Cup.

It's quite interesting to look at the list of past winners of the Bocce competition. In the past the Boxing Day Bocce competition has been won by Andrew & Kay (Cup 2003), Kay & Brendan (Cup 2002), Andrew & Max (Plate 2002) and Sharon & Jess (Cup 2001). Maybe next year we can run a betting competition as well. (photos)

jess - 6th Jan 2006, 11:11 tags: social christmas05 christmas boxing_day boxing_day05

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