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#16 Cooking Class

23 Jun

I’ve wanted to do this one since 2013. We were in Positano enjoying five nights on the Amalfi Coast and the food was so incredible that I was absolutely desperate to learn how to cook some authentic and fresh Italian food. We signed up for a pasta making class the day that we were leaving and our plans changed last minute and we had to leave early in the morning. Still to this day I don’t remember having a bigger melt down/tantrum/whinge in my life! Ha ha!

Cut to September 2015 and we were in London at L’atelier des Chefs thanks to a birthday gift from Nick. We were treated to lessons on making:

– Garlic tiger prawns with rocket salad and a lemon mayonnaise
– Chargrilled Sirloin steak with bearnaise sauce and sauteed potatoes
– Chocolate Pot with Kirsch soaked cherries

Have you ever tried making bearnaise sauce or lemon mayonnaise from scratch? A great experience, but I think we’ll stick to supermarket bought… what a loooooooong process!

I have to mention that I’m very proud of Nick for being one of only two men in the room – I was the envy of all the ladies getting my partner there ūüėČ

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#27 Get Upgraded on a Flight… (again! YAY!)

23 Jun

After an extremely busy 10 days in the US (Atlanta for a friends wedding and Miami to visit friends) it was a lovely surprise to be upgraded to premium economy for our red-eye from Atlanta to London.

Premium economy was actually better than I thought it would be. With seats reclining much further than economy and extra leg room it was much easier to get some rest. Sometimes I think that Nick could sleep standing up, but I never do well on planes without about five of those mini bottles of white wine. Only one glass needed with premium economy! British Airways, our jet lag and my liver thank you!

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#7 Buy a house in London

26 Sep

So we’ve been in our house almost a year now, and we’re ALMOST finished repainting (not that it really needed it) and the only thing left to really improve is the garden but that can wait until Spring 2016. The previous owners left a very sad looking Christmas tree planted and a pathetic raspberry vine that produced 3.5 raspberries this season.

Anyway, sometimes we rent our place out on AirBnB when we go on holiday and I noticed that they were offering free verified photos. I booked them in and they were¬†here within a week! So, this should give you an update on #7 on our list. Let us know what you think of our place ūüôā

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#38 Collect 30 fridge magnets

5 Apr

Am I still allowed to keep this blog going even though I just turned 31? Am I really 31? Wow. Is this real life?

So this is one item on the list that we started immediately. I can’t remember which magnet was first. Probably from the state of Pennsylvania when attending a friend’s wedding, or from the US Open on the same holiday. I think almost three years later we may have achieved this…

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Let me go take some photos of how our fridge looks now and count the magnets.

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SUCCESS! I counted 32 different locations! There are more than 32 magnets however, some places we loved so much we bought two (I think Australia has four!) and some places we haven’t been to together. At first I didn’t like the idea of having all of the magnets on display but every time I look at them now it makes me so happy. It reminds me of how lucky we are to be able to travel to all of these amazing places.

#7 Buy a house in London

5 Apr

We are SO happy to be where we are, but I almost don’t want to reminisce on what it was like to buy a house in London. To sum it up, we put our first offer in on a flat in December 2013 and finally moved in to our place we bought in November 2014.

– 12 months
– 100+ inspections
– 15 offers
– 13 outbids
– 2 accepted properties
– 2 properties falling through
– 1 success (after falling through once)

I don’t even know where to begin to explain the frustration of buying property in the UK! In Australia the majority of properties go to auction and when that hammer falls you have to pay 10% of the sale price and you move in four weeks later. If you can’t get a loan (unless you’re paying cash) you lose your 10% deposit. In the UK, you put your offer in, then you can be out bid, gazumped, caught in a bidding war, and you’re not safe until you are at the very end of the process… after inspections and surveys, and the bank approving the property. But you’re not done yet. WHAT THE? It is so back-to-front. Either party at any time can pull out until you exchange, which should take five weeks, usually longer. You can be at the day of exchange and the vendor can change their mind. Or you could get cold feet and pull out. The only thing you lose are your survey fees. This then affects ‘the chain’. Everyone caught in this selling chain must exchange on the same day. If anyone pulls out, the whole chain is ruined for anyone that is relying on the funding for the place that pulled out. We were luckily only in a chain of three, but I’ve heard of one being 20 properties. Imagine trying to get 20 properties all coordinated. Ridiculous.

UGH! Besides the crazy process here we FINALLY found our home and fought tooth and nail for it. A lovely two bedroom ground floor terrace with a garden in Wimbledon (Which will hopefully cover off #9 Wimbledon tennis because we live 5 minutes away).

HUGE thanks to our friends Jon and Rosie for putting us up for about 8 weeks while it fell through TWICE… xx

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We’ve started putting out own touch on the place (see above) and will post the final results of the place later. Its already been five months… but these things take time!

I also got my first taste of London snow. It was brief but exciting because I’ve never woken up and gone to work in the snow – glad it only lasted two days!

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The last thanks goes to my wonderful friend, Jem and her BF Rupert – what an amazing housewarming gift send all the way from Sydney! This cookie lasted long enough to keep us going with an empty fridge… x

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#29 Save for more travel :-)

5 Apr

It’s been so long since an update! A very poor effort from our end. However, this one isn’t very exciting. Saving for more travel has been something that has just ticked along in the background. While we were living in Sydney Nick and I set up a joint high interest savings account and put in a large sum each and then added to it each month. If you live in Australia you’ll already know that two of the best high interest accounts are ING and USaver.

Anyway in addition to this we kept an old school money tin in Australia – you know the ones that you have to open with a can opener to prevent any temptation? Well we filled two large tins over a 12 month period. I can’t remember how much exactly, but it was enough to fund a holiday for the two of us.

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When we moved into our flat in Pitt Street, Sydney, we went from a huge 2 bedroom 2 bathroom 2 storey apartment to a small one bedroom apartment which meant we needed to downsize all of our (my) junk.

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We decided to hire a van and rent a space at Rozelle Markets on a Saturday morning. It must have taken me a week to go through everything that I had collected over the years including clothes that I no longer fitted into (SIGH! No woman enjoys that moment where you realise you’re not going to get down to your weight from when you were 21!). It was a pretty crazy day. The die-hard market goers were literally ripping boxes apart as we brought them over for the van. They know that the earlier they get there, the better the offerings.

But things died down and it got pretty boring around lunch time. All of our good stuff was gone and we were down to the $1 shoes.

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Anyway, it was a pretty interesting experience (that we ended up doing again when we were moving to London) but well worth it. We must have made $2000 from both market stalls… enough to get from London to Paris a few times… but it didn’t end up going on just travel… ūüėČ

#6 Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef

9 Nov

During our stay on Hamilton Island we had a day to relax on the beach and just generally laze about. We spent a bit of time on Catseye Beach and noticed that you could hire snorkel gear for the day.

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For $15 each Nick and I both hired a snorkel, mask and fins and made our way out to two orange buoys about a hundred metres out. The buoy on the left is where you could apparently see turtles and the one on the right was swarmed with fish around coral.

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It was quite shallow most of the way out and took a while to get all the way out there, but it was definitely worth it. We headed out to the right and eventually came across quite a small patch of coral but was filled with beautiful colourful groper and angel fish.

We then decided to try our luck at finding a turtle. Not far from the first buoy Nick signaled for me to look down and there one was! A huge turtle slowly walking along the white sand on the ocean floor! Sadly we didn’t have an underwater camera (Note to self: MUST buy a GoPro!) but he looked something like the below photo, and he was HUGE!

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We didn’t have much luck once we reached the other orange buoy. We swam around for a while and after finding nothing we decided to head in. After powering into the shore with our fins, Nick popped his head up and pointed down again. Another huge turtle! He was so fast that he was out of sight after only a few seconds and Nick tells me that he almost collided with it underwater.

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Nick then spent the next few hours laughing at my mask marks on my face. Ha!

#1 Ride a jet ski

8 Nov

We have just got back from a fantastic two weeks in Australia. Two weeks of sunshine and warm weather! Living in Australia allows you to have an extremely active and outdoor lifestyle – something that I’m already missing in London. However, Sydney will be the last thing on my mind when Nick and I are spending the weekend in Prague or Venice!

For Nick’s 30th birthday we decided to book a long weekend on Hamilton Island which is just off the Great Barrier Reef and it was perfect. 30 degrees every day, clear aqua water, great restaurants and a beautiful apartment with reef views.

When you stay on Hamilton Island you can be as relaxed or active as you like. There are endless day trips around the Great Barrier Reef, scuba diving tours, snorkeling tours, kayak hire, boat hire and our favourite… jet ski hire!

We hired two jet skis, one driven by Nick and one by Dave (Nick’s Dad). I was on the back of Nick’s which was probably for the best as it turned out to be quite an upper body workout! Also at $220 per jet ski for an hour tour around the island we would have been broke!

After a fairly short briefing of hand safety signals and how to drive the jet ski (apparently full throttle is the best way to drive!) we were off on a game of follow the leader. Nick and I were first in line as we were the only jet ski with two people on on this tour.

We were both pretty surprised about the speed and power of these machines… at first you feel like you are going to fly off but you get used to it and learn to hold on tight. It is quite an exhilarating experience and we reached an average of about 50 – 55kms/h. Doesn’t sound like much but out on the water it feels like double this. Especially when you hit the waves of passing boats. In some areas around the island the water was so choppy that we were getting air every couple of seconds. Made me wish I wasn’t wearing a strapless bikini!

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To be honest, I’m not sure that I would have been able to control the jet ski under those conditions so I was impressed with Nick’s ability to keep it on the right path and not throw us off… until…

Half way through the tour we rotated positions and we were last in the line. Following the path and wash of eight jet skis wasn’t easy! Nick was able to correct an almost out-of-control jet ski a few times. It couldn’t have been easy with me as an extra weight on the back! Unfortunately (but in hindsight it was kinda fun) we had a guy in front who decided to quickly snake his jet ski for the last 10 minutes of the tour causing a huge amount of small waves for us. We did eventually come off as it is impossible to stay straight… however, the water in north Queensland is about 25 degrees so quite pleasant! It is easy to climb back up on them and off we went and shortly back into the marina.

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It was definitely worth the experience. I’m glad I wasn’t driving and I’m not sure the 12 year minimum age for drivers is high enough but maybe kids have less fear than us 30 year olds and don’t mind flying off at high speed!

If you’re ever visiting Hamilton Island we would recommend doing this activity… or anywhere actually! Just remember to hold on tight or prepare to get wet!

#27 Get upgraded on a flight

4 Aug

To be honest, this is one that I never thought would happen, but it is probably one of the ones that I wanted the most. Nick doesn’t really understand what the big deal is, but us Australians are so passionate about our travel and go such long distances to get there that it is like winning the lottery. The travel lottery. You see, a business class return ticket from Sydney to London will cost you about USD 10,000 (Damn Australia’s thriving economy and high salaries).

Nick and I are in the process of moving to London. He has already made the move and I still have a few weeks in Sydney to tie up a few loose ends. Following our recent Italian holiday in July, we had to part at Rome Fiumicino airport. On top of an emotional goodbye, I had a long 26 hours in transit. In economy. The farewell was difficult, but I’m sure a few of those tears were in sympathy for the pain my neck and back would endure in a chair more uncomfortable than a concrete bench.

By the time I walked back to my check-in gate (after saying goodbye) my face must have looked like a thousand bees had stung it. Puffy and red-eyed I was still sniffling a little bit. The lady behind the counter obviously took pity on me because she lent forward and whispered those magic words “Miss Davies, Emirates would be privileged to upgrade you to business class for your journey”.

I’ve flown business class once before, so I knew what a brilliant result this was.

Priority boarding! Glass of Veuve Clicquot upon arrival! A flat bed to sleep in! For 26 hours!

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Emirates offers a full menu with celebrity chef created meals. A fantastic wine and liquor selection and a full cocktail menu. Feel like a mojito 35,000ft in the air? Not a problem. Another glass of Veuve? Don’t mind if I do!

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Who wants to balance their head on a blow-up travel pillow when you get to rest your head, horizontally, on a plush full size cloud!

Even though this wasn’t something that happened together, Nick told me that his flight from London to Rome was up the front of the plane in a larger chair than usual… so I’m counting that as an upgrade to business class also ūüėČ

Moral of the story is, if you aren’t going with the honeymoon story for an upgrade… just shed a few tears, and you never know!

#5 Become Certified Scuba Divers

3 Apr

The previous item that we crossed off our list¬†involved going 14,000ft in the air. So it made sense to check out what is down below for our next activity. Scuba diving involves quite a bit of preparation before you can submerge. It is recommended (but apparently not essential) that you get a diving medical and there is quite a bit of theory to study. We found the study element particularly¬†difficult¬†as we can’t even go though a five minute ad break without saying something to each other!!

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The main purpose of the medical is to test your lung capacity and your balance through your ears. Nick had no problem getting his ears checked. I on the other hand had a Madame Tussauds open for business in my ear canals and needed an ear flush. Mortifying.

We ended up becoming SDI certified over a three day course which will allow us to dive anywhere in the world to 18 meters underwater. Next stop, Great Barrier Reef!

The course consisted of:

  • a day of theory with an exam
  • a day of confined water diving to get used to the diving equipment and underwater communication
  • a day of open water diving and skills

After completing the course you can understand why there is so much involved in becoming certified. You are completely reliant on your equipment and a small error in your pre-dive checks can result in a complication. Anything from your air tank running out or your weight belt coming off and rising to the surface too quickly and tearing a lung.

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Your equipment is quite heavy and it is a relief when you get in the water and take the weight off your body. Especially if there is a distance to get to the water. I always thought that you just jumped in the water and swam down with ease and you had a tube to suck air through a tank. That’s how it looks in the movies! No one mentioned equalizing, safety stops, regulator checks, weight belts, purging, decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis (however, that last one could be kinda funny!).

Its all worth it though! It is incredibly peaceful down there. You almost feel as though you are in slow motion and the only thing you can really hear is your breath. Schools of fish dance past you and there are endless areas to explore and fish to admire near rocks and in caves. I think its safe to say that we will be scuba diving again in the near future!

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30 March 2013 – 1 April 2013