Shepparton – day 265 (K)

Now that my travel scholarship competition entry is finished and entered, I’m back to the job of planning our trip around Australia. Expecting my credit card to get a serious bashing today was thwarted by my first successful job… After spending time looking at all the places we want to travel in the East coast and Central Australia, it was clear that YHA hostels were everywhere we wanted to go! With the option of members being able to get 10% of all accommodation and buy prepaid accommodation cards too, meaning we could get a bed for $23 each per night (even in Sydney!), I ordered membership cards for all three of us to the hostel chain – $25 ASD each. However, the membership numbers didn’t come through so I can’t order anything else or even book our coach tickets (since we get a discount on those too with our cards!). Had to email the company to ask them for our membership numbers and then waited… And waited… And waited… Filled my time with finalising planning and researching, car rentals, different day trips to the Whitsundays and Fraser Island as well as looking for the best place to do some scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef – we are going to be practically destitute at the end of this trip!!! I even looked up some sky diving but I really think HSBC might have a heart attack…
Was just about to head out to the nearby supermarket to get some ingredients to make dinner when Ashleigh came home, saving me the walk and driving me to Coles instead. Made my famous halloumi pasta with garlic bread for dinner and watched some TV before bed. 7 days to go.Tuesday 28th June 2016

Shepparton – day 257 (K)

Tracey went back to work today and I was home alone. Eerily weird to walk around someone else’s house when they are not there – I still had to shower with the bathroom door closed! Made myself some breakfast and watched a bit of early morning television before I got started on my list of jobs. Some call it dreaming… I call it planning! That was my task today. Trying to assemble some sort of a route for our travels around Australia, hitting as many UNESCO sites as possible without making us bankrupt – it’s an impossible task! Spent time trying to work out what there was to do in each of the towns we wanted to visit and working out a rough price for each of the things we may want to do (FYI, every time I read the word ‘free’, my heart fluttered a little bit!!). Having covered our map of Australia with highlighter pen, circles, pen lines in to the sea and post-it notes (with a text to Tracey apologising for using up the majority of her post-it notes), I have a vague idea of where we are going to go and what kind of things we are going to do. Not going to be able to do all 19 UNESCO sites in Australia, which is kind of disappointing, but it equally means we’ll have to come back one day. Tracey came back from work, dropped off Chilli dog and went straight back out to Pilates whilst I skyped Jayne and showed her the current mess that I had created on Tracey’s dining room table. A dinner of spaghetti bolognaise whilst we watched the final episode of series 6 of ‘Game of Thrones’. Now, I have only ever watched the very first episode with Jayne, which was declared a ‘WTF is this?’ experience and I have never watched an episode since, much to the disappointment of Jayne who is a big fan. I won’t spoil it for anyone but this is how I watched most of the episode…Therefore, ‘Game of Thrones’ still remains, and possibly always will remain, a ‘WTF is this’ programme – think I’ll stick to ‘House Rules’ and ‘Modern Family’!! A quick Skype with Jayne before bed. 15 days to go!

Monday 20th June 2016

Shepparton – day 253 (K)

Woke up at a reasonable hour (based on the fact my body is still on Bangkok time) and padded out of the ex-teenagers (now a sophisticated university student in Melbourne) bedroom that is now my home for the next 3 weeks until Jayne gets here. Wrapped up snugly in my new fleecy pyjamas, I made myself a coffee, flopped down on the sofa next to Tracey and chatted the morning away. Brilliant catching up where we both have so much that we want to talk about that we jump from one conversation to the next, without any logical flow or reasoning behind our conversation topics. If anyone was listening, we probably sounded like a pair of crazy old ladies jibbering away about absolute nonsense – I loved every minute! Started getting whatsapp messages from Jayne around 2am UK time (her body is clearly on Bangkok time too!!) as the morning turned into afternoon. Feeling slightly guilty about our total lack of activity, especially when Jayne has a list of jobs as long as her arm, I had a shower and got dressed before chatting some more whilst ‘Modern Family’ was on in the background (I’ve missed that show!). Headed out into town, stopping at the bottle shop to pick up some essentials…Also stopped in the RAC shop to grab a map of Australia so I can start planning our route to visit as many of the 19 Australian UNESCO sites as possible during our time here. Found out, randomly by accident, that Tracey is entitled to discounts at the cinema with her car insurance premiums so we picked up a few cinema and food vouchers along with information about other attractions around Victoria and New South Wales where she can also get money off – it might be a decider in some of the places we visit!!Next stop… K Mart! Desperate for some clothes that don’t have holes in them and some new underwear, I was slightly confused by a. my new body shape and b. the Australian sizing system!! Got some cheap t-shirts and underpants to try on over the next few days to work out what fits me properly and comfortably before impulse purchasing loads of stuff that was dotted around the store – haven’t shopped in over 9 months and you could tell… Had a great time trying on ridiculous hats and ear warmers, reminding me of when I used to do stuff like that with my ‘cousin’ Gaelle. ‘Who can find the ugliest item of clothing for the other person to wear?’ has become an essential game to play when you have some free time in a clothes shop!Headed next door to the supermarket where I must have seemed like a weirdo, picking up random bottles of jars and bottles before replacing them on the shelf, exclaiming loudly about them before continuing on my way. Have found that my British accent has come out much thicker and stronger as I am clearly, subconsciously, trying to convince complete strangers that I am not a total lunatic! A selfie with me and a MASSIVE tub of hummus may have made people think otherwise…Headed back to the house, to crack open the wine and there was serious talk of having another meal of cheese and bread but sensibility ensued and Tracey made Tacos instead (with cheese and sour cream though so almost the same!!). Started marking the Australia map after dinner with the UNESCO sites and cross referencing them with the Greyhound bus routes to begin figuring out where and what was feasible to achieve during our stay ‘down under’. Now I’ve got a vague route planned, I have to start researching accommodations and working out how long we can afford (time and money wise!) to stay in each place. Pyjamas went back on as we both collapsed on the sofa, topping up our wine glasses and finishing our meal with a desert of Mint Oreo Dairy Milk Chocolate (I’m in heaven – I love you Coles supermarket!!) and sweets whilst we watched ‘The Proposal’ and continued chatting about anything and everything. Still missing Jayne loads (although the Mint Oreo chocolate is easing the pain somewhat!!). 19 days to go!

Thursday 16th June 2016