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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Life begins at 30...

So, the decision was made. Time to get out and make friends, get fit, healthy and happy and start enjoying the opportunities here in Melbourne for me.
I decided to sign up for Summer Hockey with PHSK and go full on into it. This was without-doubt the best decision I made here in Melbourne; one that would change my life here.
I played one match a week and started to get to know the girls along with Aisling. The summer season went from Oct - February, and gave me something to look forward to ever week. Our coach Jessie from Sports Development Services (https://www.facebook.com/sportdevelopmentservices) had also given us some fitness drills to do during the week, so I set up some days and times that some of us could meet up to do the 5km jog or the exercises and sessions on a regular basis. I was now jogging 5km in 26 mins 26 secs at best - a far cry from my 35min 4.84km 6 months ago! :)
Training in the heat wasn't exactly pleasant, and we had one hockey match that we had to play when it was 35 degrees! Melbourne was certainly living up to it's "Four Seasons in One Day" name! I thought Ireland was bad for that!
We were losing every match, but I was having much more fun now that I was fitter and that I knew the girls better. Paul would laugh at me saying that I was the only person who would come home from losing a match 7-0 with a big smile on my face! :)

Decide to rescue a little kitten from "Death Row" and call him Toby. He's my little baby who likes to behave like anything but a cat. He chases you, loves to be covered and hates to be cuddled!



We did "Christmas in July" with Bhany and Luke in our apartment. Didn't expect the real Christmas to feel anything like Christmas due to the heat, so we said we would do a full roast and veg etc. Paul cooked the meal and it was lovely - despite the drama of us buying pork instead of ham... Oops! Quick trip to the shops and it was sorted!



October brought with it the Moto GP (@motogp) in Phillip Island - Casey Stoner's (@official_CS27) last race on his home ground and Jack from work had invited Paul and I to stay in his son's house with him for the weekend as he was going to it also. What a weekend! I loved every moment of it, although the weather was unpredictable; it was freezing on the Saturday and then sunny on the Sunday! Stoner won, despite falling in practice and consequently got up and set the fastest lap! Got some amazing photos and was very happy with the experience! Can't wait til next time!




Went to see Coldplay (@coldplay) in concert in the Ethiad Stadium on Nov 13th. AMAZING as expected! Got the tickets from Bhany and Luke for my birthday. They certainly know how to put on a show and were even better than when I had seen them before in the Phoenix Park in Dublin! The other three hadn't seen them live before, so they really enjoyed it.



My cousin Jennifer (@secondtimer12) came over in mid-November for 3 months and I think was shocked at the realisation of how far away from home we actually were.
It's hard to explain how you feel when you get over here first. It is so different to home that you know it's on the other side of the world without knowing where you are. The first thing that we noticed when getting here was how "American" everything looked and the number of Asians there were! Everything is so much bigger than things at home, the weather is different, the people are different, the food is different etc. So getting homesick is easy cos it's nothing like home. Especially if you're not doing anything exciting or have plans to look forward to.
It was great to see her and we had a cosy little house for 12 weeks! :)


Went to see the Men's Hockey Championships at the State Hockey Centre with some of the girls. Was well worth it - great weather and great days out! I took my camera along and got some great photos. Classic Mary (@mary_munson) was shouting "Foxy I'll buy you a pint if you score" to @Danfox450 and then refusing to buy him a pint when she saw him later cos he didn't actually score - and telling him that "even she" scored on that pitch!! It was funny and he was a very nice guy!
Also classic Suzie telling her Black Sticks team that they choked, but it's ok, cos that's what Kiwi's do....!!! I was mortified!! lol!




Shared some of them on Twitter and got the Dutch Olympic Hockey Manager to reply to me with some of his pics. He then sends me out some Olympic Hockey gear for free!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!  I get a vest, 2 jackets, a pin, socks, 2 sweat-bands, a baseball cap and a training top! I am stunned at his generosity and have to think of some way of repaying him! Go Team Orange!! @hockey_nl
Things are looking up for this Irish chick Down Under!





New beginnings upside down

While life was now made up of saving to pay off our wedding debt, credit cards and other loans off; we were also trying to do other things along the way.
Nothing major, but these included a trip to Werribee Zoo with Bhany and Luke, a Jessie Jay concert with two Irish girls I met through a friend (OMG that girl @JessieJ can sing!!) and Moomba Festival (@moombafestival) (http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/Whatson/Festivals/MoombaHolding/Pages/Moomba2013ThankYou.aspx) - where we saw the best fireworks display we had ever seen!



Being away from home was made a little easier by the fact that we had Skype and the 11-hour time difference made it easy enough to arrange calls. Calling home on pre-pay was also way cheaper than anyone from home trying to call me. Paul was still not settling though and was missing his brother a lot. I had to remember that he had never been away before this though; and so I was at the advantage of having spent a year in France on my own and 6 months in Spain. Mam and Dad contacted us to say they were going to come over for Christmas, so I booked the 3 weeks off work.

Paddy's Day was celebrated in Dan O'Connell's (@DanOConnell14 http://www.thedan.com.au/) in style, but was still quite tame as we left it quite late. I, in particular, didn't really have any friends at this stage, and so spent a lot of time on my own or with Paul when he wasn't at work. Lots of weekends with Bhany and Luke!


The day after Paddy's Day we decided to go to Albert Park to watch the Formula One Grand Prix racing that was on. Only 2km from our apartment, you could hear the cars all day anyway. Great experience, although the noise of the cars is absolutely deafening!! I was more impressed by the air-show, but it was a great day out for $99 each. You couldn't exactly do that at home! Thooughly recommend it for a good day out in the sun @onlymelbourne !!


April to June was quiet, again trying to pay off the remaining debts to leave the mortgage as the only noose around our necks!
Horse-riding in Ballarat and a day out in Daylesford being the most exciting things.

I decided that the only way I was going to make friends was through work or a club/sport. As I didn't play GAA or camogie, I had only hockey to fall back on. I hadn't played hockey since secondary school, but it was the only team sport that I had played, so I joined the local hockey team - Powerhouse St. Kilda (http://www.phskhockey.org.au/), which trained down in Albert Park once a week. I was SERIOUSLY unfit!
I went for a jog around Albert Park one day with Paul and thought I was going to die!!! It took me 35mins to jog 4.84kms, and I was passed out by men, women and kids; obese and old alike!
My first match involved me watching the clock and wondering if 5 mins was too early to ask them to sub me as I was knackered already!! I tore both my hamstrings at the beginning of the season and never really recovered for the year - probably due to my being so unfit. I was therefore not enjoying it and using any excuse as to not go training - "it's too cold", "it's raining", "I'm tired" etc were regularly used. Then when I decided to get my ass in gear and go regularly, I fell off my bike on the way home from work. It was either that or get creamed by a car who didn't see me, so I chose the tarmac. I didn't go back to hockey for the season after that.


And so, having one friend (Aisling) meant that my 30th birthday came along with a sense of depression. I had always planned to have a surprise 30th (yes, I know, I had planned to have it. But I would want my friends at home to organise it and I wouldn't know when it was or where. Sad, yes...), but that wouldn't be possible this year. I was then afraid that I'd be upset at being away from everyone and on my own barring Paul, Bhany and Luke. So I planned a weekend of activities that would take my mind off it.

A 14,000ft SkyDive at Euroa (@skydiveEuroa) http://www.skydivingassoc.com.au/www/home/, a Hot-Air Balloon trip (@balloonmanmelbo http://www.balloonovermelbourne.com.au/home), a fishing trip (@blueysboathire http://www.blueysboathouse.com.au/) and a Photo Shoot (@blushphoto http://www.blush.com.au/) were booked in!! And yes, I was still getting used to the fact that June 2nd was in the middle of winter in Oz...!

I thought I was going to be crapping myself doing the SkyDive in Euroa, but I think I was more in denial than anything else. It was only afterwards, when we were in the car on the way home did I start to feel ill after all the adrenaline left my body! An amazing experience and something I would definitely do again! Paul loved it, but we couldn't show his DVD to anyone due to the language content throughout! :) The staff were lovely and the although the scenery wasn't as spectacular as the beaches or mountains of other companies, it was one of the places with the highest safety record...something I thought was quite important to note when jumping out of a plane...


Fishing wasn't exactly a success, but was fun nonetheless! I caught nothing but the propellor of the boat, Bhany caught seaweed, Paul caught something "that got away" and Luke caught the only fish (snapper) - but we had to through it back as it was too small. Paul drove the boat straight into the pier after convincing the owner that he had loads of experience sailing, and then zig-zagged out of the docking area. We also narrowly missed a very expensive yacht on the way back in for more hooks and line (since I had left half of my reel around the propellor - almost stopping the boat from working out at sea!). I think the owner was glad to see the back of us when we came in! Sorry Bluey - but we have been back twice, so I'm sure he'll forgive us for the good business we provide! :) 


Paul was too afraid to go on the Hot Air Balloon with me (even though jumping out of an airplane 14,000ft in the air is OK?!), so I went on my own. I actually loved this experience and got some amazing photos with the new Nikon camera I got for my birthday. So peaceful and serene; I would definitely recommend this to anyone - seeing the sunrise was unbelievable. I was most definitely blessed with the weather, as it had been raining for every moment that I was indoors throughout the weekend, but stopped for when I needed it to! We had to help set the balloon up and clear it away, which adds to the experience; one of the best things I've ever done!


The model photo-shoot was expensive, but something I was interested in doing for something different and good to look back on when you're older. I picked 6 photos out of the shoot. Doing this on my own I thought would be daunting, but the staff at @Blushphoto were lovely and very talented! You bring your own clothes and pick three looks and then they work with what you have ;)





It's times like these that I was missing my family and friends the most, but then I was also reflecting back on the last 6 months and realising how far we had come since leaving home. I was now 30 and leading a life I could never and would never have been able to lead at home in Ireland. I was living; full stop.
It was at this moment that I decided that I would make a big effort to make this a life for me for the time that I was here - however long or short that would be. I would make friends and have fun, use this opportunity given to me for the better and see and do as much as I could. This is when the memories would start...

Farewell - somebody's going to miss you...

So...how do you even start one of these? It was suggested to me by numerous friends that I start a blog. I'm not sure if it's due to the number of random things that happen to me on a regular basis, the fact that I am obsessed by social media, you can read me like a book or simply to give me something to do to keep my mouth shut...but I'm going to give it a go anyway and see how we do.

Sun Jan 8th 2012 and I'm having to emigrate to Australia with my husband Paul at the age of 29. Something that we never had in our plans, something that I never envisioned myself doing (and not just cos of the fact that I'm arachnophobic!), yet something that was now very real. Probably one of the most upsetting experiences I've had to do was having to say goodbye to everyone. The decision to leave was forced upon us by the fact that Ireland was in a recession and that we were struggling to make ends meet and keep our house. We left within 10 weeks of making the decision, so it was a whirlwind of preparation, organisation, saving, laughter and fun times, tears and farewells. We met with as many people as possible before leaving and some close friends called over to the house the day we were leaving. It's funny, because you see who your real friends are in times like this and who made the effort to see you at some stage before you left. Those are the friendships that I will do all in my power to keep forever.
It was so upsetting to have to say bye to the friends and family you love, not knowing when you'll be back next and knowing that you're going to be on the other side of the world. The only way I can describe it was like attending your own wake!
With a quick change of plan my younger brother Kev dropped us to the airport (as he couldn't be any more laid back if he were lying down!), and then we were on our way...

23 hour flight which was made up of Paul sleeping for about 22 hours of it and me left tired and frustrated at the fact that I couldn't sleep and felt like I was in cargo-class. Watched a few films, took a sleeping tablet which didn't work (because it actually turned out to be an Immodium tablet that I had taken by mistake), ate til I was fit to burst and then finally Tues Jan 10th 2012 we were there. Dublin - London - Hong Kong - Melbourne.

My younger sister Siobhan (AKA Bhany) picked us up from the airport, where we quickly figured our tracksuit bottoms and hoodies were not the correct attire for a 32 degree day. We went back with her in the "Ute" (a word used for all utility vehicles in Oz - basically what we call a "jeep") to Darraweit Guim and Skyped home to show Mam and Dad, Angela and Kevin (the in-laws) that we were safe and well and in a greenhouse of heat.
Bank account setup, driving licence appointments and recruitment agency appointments ensued for the rest of the week to get ourselves sorted. Money was bleeding from the account, where we quickly realised that Australia was not a cheap place to live. Not to mention their ridiculously large and heavy 50c coins and the fact that they don't have a 1c or 2c coin, but will price items at $4.96 or $9.98 etc. Go figure?! I spent the first week petrified of seeing the man-eating sized spiders I'd heard all about and could barely sleep. I was checking every corner, would get Bhany or Paul to check in the wardrobes and under the sheets before I went to bed, just in case. Apparently it wasn't that common to see the big spiders and I was over-reacting...
By day 10 I met Mr. Huntsman. For those who have yet to get acquainted with Mr. H; just picture a MASSIVE black and hairy spider (which can have a leg-span of 12 inches!), which can run fast and JUMP. My nightmare was on the kitchen ceiling staring at me from across the room. I was ready to book my one-way ticket home at that second. Paul came to the rescue as I bawled my eyes out from under the bed-covers; later confessing that he hit it with the sweeping brush and legged it!

First Aussie BBQ was on Jan 26th. And I don't know where they were putting all the Aussie sun, cos Melbourne most certainly doesn't get it!!! I spent a lot of the month in my trackkie bottoms and a hoody! We made the BBQ outside and ended up having to go inside as it was so cold. 10 mins later it was hail-stoning outside!!


Then came the mice.
Now, mice are to Paul what spiders are to me. I am only grateful that I only met Mr. H once in Bhany's house. There was, however, an infestation of mice. It ended up at one stage that I was lying in my bed with 8 mice running around me on the floor and Paul on the couch staying awake during the night and sleeping during the day to avoid them! One of the cheeky things even made it's way onto the foot of the bed, right by my foot when I realised and gave a swift kick onto the floor. It was time to do something now! Turns out rat poison isn't the best as they eat it and then die in the walls of the house, thus rotting and getting the last revenge as they stink out the house in the summer heat. The mouse trap scared me too much to use it, so I tried an old-wives method; peppermint oil, and never saw another one again! My room smelled like a tube of "Mr. Soft" sweets (or "lollies" according to the Aussies), but no more Mickey and Minnie. Paul had, however, already had enough and had moved out of Bhany and Luke's house and was now sleeping on his best mate Johnny's couch in Balaclava, Melbourne and doing the dishes for rent :)



By Feb 15th we had bought "The Beast" (1993 Toyota Camry Executive) and I had managed to crash it into a sign, narrowly avoiding killing myself in the process. I still maintain the massive dent in the left hand side of the car adds character to her. She'd be boring without it...
Oh, and we told Mam and Dad that Paul did it...so, if you're reading this folks - sorry! :)


I had also started working on Chapel Street and so we got a small 1-bed-apartment on Pakington Street in St. Kilda. Paul was working at a plasterer for an Irish guy and so our Aussie life began...