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Archive for the ‘Oz’ Category

Ears, meerkats and buying stuff

Posted by captainbeaky on September 14, 2008

This week has been a pretty mixed bag. As a follow up to my “ear” comment last week, I woke on Monday morning with shocking pain from my right ear, and mucus leaking from it. Cutting a long story short, I went to see a specialist and a doctor, diagnosed it as an ear infection (which effects me worse as I have holes in my ear drums) and signed me off work until Friday. So I didnt really get to do much during the week as I was constantly on nurofen and blotting the puss from my ears. Nice! However, on Friday, the pain eased off and I went back to work. As for the situation now, well Ive still got hearing loss in my right ear, but Im no longer in pain with it and the leaking has stopped so the antibiotics must be doing their thing. However, its been annoying staying off the beer, what with the weather being glorious over the past 3 days. 25 degrees and sunny. Wind has been high in places but its been proper t-shirt weather….in the UK equivalent of March!

Anyway, on to housey stuff. We’ve got a burglar alarm company sorted and hopefully coming to install it next week, we’ve bought a half price slimline dishwasher and had it delivered too. All the services should be sorted out next week, our bed is made and we just have to sort delivery out, and today we went to The Good Guys (like a cheaper, better Dixons) and bought a fridge, freezer, tv, stereo, surround sound system, washing machine, microwave and a super cute and super cheap mini-dyson. Its the really small upright, thats just been released here. Managed to negotiate a really good discount on the lot too, although the woman who sold us the Dyson got things totally messed up. SHe said it usually sold for $599, and would give us a discount price of $540. However, on the way out, we found it had an instore price of $650 so we got a proper bargain! The grand plan is to hire a car late next week, and move stuff over the period of 2 or 3 days. Theres no pressure on us to be out until the following Thusday so we can take our time. Plus Ive managed to move quite a lot of stuff over in my car already. 

In other news, cos the weather was forecast to be nice on Saturday, we planed, and went to Melbourne Zoo for the day and we were both impressed. Lots of stuff to see and do and most of the animals had a big enclosure with a lot of stuff to do. The aviary was a fantastic, Jurassic Park style walk through affair and was really presented well. Thankfully, no Pterodactyls to molest us on our way through! Meerkats were also great, as were the wombats. GOt back home and rounded the day off with some tasty ice-cream down on the beach. Summer is here…….and its only Spring!

Anyway, time to go now as stuff is coming on TV. More updates to come, maybe during the week. OH, Ive just forgotten we went to see Tropic Thunder on Friday, and it was hella good. Really funny, and a nice pastiche on war movies without stooping to Scary Movie levels of dumbass “comedy”. Robert Downey Junior stole the show with his black dude actor. Well worth a look. 8/10

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Posted in Film, Health, House, Oz, weather | Leave a Comment »

Eventful but…

Posted by captainbeaky on August 17, 2008

That sums our week up really. A lot of boring, but essential “grown-up” stuff has happened. Starting last week…..

 

  • Monday – got solicitors sorted and payed the remainder of the deposit
  • Tuesday – Met with the mortgage advisor and applied for a slightly different mortgage
  • Wednesday – Met with an accountant to get our tax return sorted and found that we should be in line for a big wedge of a tax rebate – nice, considering the circumstances we’re in!
  • Thursday – Heard the news that we have been approved for the mortgage
  • Friday – nothing grown up, but I received my new RC Lancia in the post! 

 

I think that just about keeps you up with house events. Got to get in touch with the solicitors tomorrow to make sure things are moving along. Not heard from them since Monday and I know full well just how feckin, useless solicitors can be. Its exciting now that I can look at home cinema stuff and security alarms, while Becca sorts out beds and sofas. Had a nice look around Bunnings today (Aussie verison of B & Q but MUCH bigger) and got a preliminary look on what we can expect to buy and for how much. 

Yesterday was pretty fun too. We were finally able to do something other than house inspections! The choice we made was to go into town and visit the Museum, as they had special stuff going on for Science Week. We decided to sign up for a behind the scenes guided tour which was fantastic. They took us upstairs and into teh specimen rooms where they have all the birds, mammals and reptiles on massive shelves. The guide we had was a really quiet but informative guy who worked in the labs there and knew an awful lot about pretty much everything. Well worth it.

In between all of this, TV has been pretty barren, what with the friggin’ Olympics ruining everything! Not only that, but all the good shows have, or are finishing. Apprentice, Top Gear, Gadget Show etc….. but as a result we’re watching a few more films. Saw Rogue in the week, which was alright (made us want to go to teh Northern Territories strangely!), and watched Bettie Page last night (again, it was ok). Got my day off tomorrow so I’ll be going to check out Star Wars : The Clone Wars at the cinema. Will post what I think of it.

There we have it then. As the post title says…….

Posted in Film, House, Oz, TV | Leave a Comment »

House, Drinks and Birthdays!

Posted by captainbeaky on August 11, 2008

So you probably already know by now, from the Twitter updates, or Facebook, or our families that we own a house! Cutting a very long story short, we went to the property auction, we won it, negotiated and bartered, and walked away with a house! For anybody that hasnt already seen the house, let me know and I’ll send you a link to the sale page.  We spent the hour after that going over the contract of sale with the agent and the vendor, then went and ate and tried to grasp what had just happened! To be honest, Im making it sounds more muted that it actually is – the excitement has wore off a bit now and has been replaced by eager enthusiasm to get everything sorted and moving along quickly. Anyway, Im jumping ahead. 

After food we came back home then arranged to meet friends in town to celebrate. Started off at a fantastic greek place called Stalactites which did superb meats and gyros. Then went to many, many bars nearly all of which were awesome. There is such a huge variety of bars here, with none of them being remotely like anything in the UK, or at least where Ive seen. The pick of the bunch being the container bar, which was just an outdoor space in between 2 buildings, with a shipping container with a hatch on it being the bar, lots of outdoor heaters, and candles everywhere as the lighting. It looked amazing and had a really good dj and atmosphere. Another place of note was the croft institute, which you would NEVER find if you werent looking for it. It was 3 floors of bar/club that was themed like an old hospital/science lab. Had medical and scientific equipment all over the shop and was like nothing Id seen before. The photo on this post is of the main bar.

Anyway, good food and drink was followed by a sever headache and horridness. Nevermind….its not everyday you buy a house! Today has been a regular day at work, except it wasnt really regular as I wasnt interested at all in doing anything but house stuff. At the end of the day we had payed the deposit, sorted out a tax return appointment, got a conveyoncer (a specialist solicitor in property) and a few other little niggles that we had to get done. Tomorrow is a meeting with the mortgage broker to get our loan finalised, and to sort out our $10,000 government grant. Later on in the week…I dont know – Im only taking it a day at a time as it all seems a bit overwhelming right now. 

Anyway, enough of me…HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY!!! Enjoying the British summer on your “special” day? Let me know how you want your “present” sent and if you got your card. Have a good one!

Posted in Drink, Food, House, Oz | Leave a Comment »

In the “bleak” midwinter….

Posted by captainbeaky on July 14, 2008

HA!!! Its been a fantastic day here in Melbourne. Had the day off (as its a rostered day off at Boeing) and godamn have I been lucky with the weather. Woke up at 9 and it was lovely and sunny. After a brief bit of interneting, left the house with iPod in tow and got the tram into the CBD. As if by magic, my ipod was picking out songs on shuffle that I hadnt heard in months, and put an extra smile on my face. After arriving in town, had a brief wonder around then got my ticket to go see Hancock, and again, I was impressed.

Its been the only “blockbuster” Ive seen recently that I havent got bored with and started checking what time it was. Smith wasnt annoying, or big headed or too yehaw-yankee-doodle-dandy as he’s been in most of his other films. Not too sugary or predicable either. A solid 8/10 I reckon.

After the film, it was off home and a walk along the beach while the sun was still out. Got back around 4, and rolled straight into a nice session of Rock Band drums. Had a stroll outside again at 5, watched the cockatoo’s sqwuaking at me from their palm tree homes, observed the 14 dogs playing together in the park, and met Becca for coffee and a cake after her day at work. Now at home, looking over the menu for the posh pizza place and deciding what to have for tea, while watching last nights new Top Gear. The days dont come much better, so Im gonna scoot now before I ruin it! T’raaaaa!

Posted in Film, Games, Oz, weather | Leave a Comment »

Fat & Happy

Posted by captainbeaky on July 7, 2008

I sit here quite content, with a belly full of home made onion soup with cheesy crouton, after watching download highlights of what was probably the best tennis match Ive seen (last nights Wimbledon final). Really pleased that Nadal one and really deserved it. However, I digress. Im also content because of our renewed interest and enthusiasm in houses. 

Saturday, after spending a criminally long time in bed, we drove over to Yarraville to meet up with one of my mates from work who lives over there. She promised to show us around and give us a tour of the area, and she delivered on every front. Yarraville seemed like just what we’re after, being charming, small and having none of the increasingly annoying hordes of visitors that come to St Kilda every weekend and inhibit your daily goings on. Lots of nice little coffee shops, a big pub on the corner, butchers and bakers, 2 supermarkets and an old art deco cinema. The surrounding areas were a mixed bag. Kingsville and Seddon are close enough to Yarraville to be a walk away, and are both nice too. Footscray seemed a bit run down, but no more so than the arse end of Wolverhampton or Birmingham. My mate took us to a couple of big parks in the area too, which were amazing. One park had a lovely little pond and stream running through the middle of it, and if it werent for the cockatoo’s screeching, you could almost imagine it being a summers day out in the country in the UK. The other park was massive! It was an old quarry which has now been partially filled and is a lake, while the rest is kinda forest-ey full of mad giant water fowl, that are probably venomous or something! Anway, overall, were totally sold on moving over there, and are looking at houses to book house inspections for on the weekend, nearly all of which are old weatherboard style houses with ornate ironmongery on the frontage, and picket fences around the front garden. Like our own little fairytale house! Cant wait!

As for stuff going on this week, theres not much really. Were off to see a doublebill at an old arthouse style little cinema on Thursday (Ironman & Spiderwick Chronicles) and Id like to see Hancock and Speed Racer at some point. Rock Band is still thrilling me with the download content, and it seems like Im finally starting to get the hang of that damn tricky 5th button! GTA is still keeping me going with stunt jumps and pigeons aplenty to be found, and BF: Bad Company is great, but its really intense, so I wont allow myself to play it too close to bed  time as Im wired afterwards! 

Macbook Air bargains on Ebay seem to have dried up, and Im toying with waiting a bit and holding out for a Macbook Pro. There are rumours of a case redesign floating around today, so Im hoping its not too far away. I dont really need the power of a Macbook Pro, but it would be good to compare the MBA against. We’ll see. Im spending more time having a lie in on the net rather than with a book, so a light mac would help. Speaking of net stuff, if youre an internet nerd like me, have a butchers at this and see how many your recognise. Good song too!

Anyway, thats it for now. Im gonna get off to watch the last Dr Who and Youve Been Framed. T’raaaaa a bit!

Posted in Food, Games, House, Oz, TV | Leave a Comment »

No proper post today….

Posted by captainbeaky on June 15, 2008

…as I just dont think its right, or feel like making flippant remarks. Its (here anyway) nearly the end of my first Fathers day without Dad, and I know the fact that we’re out here means I wouldnt have seen him today anyway, it just feels more lonely somehow. Empty. There’s so much that I wish he could share in, hear about or just have a laugh about that makes it feel so unfair that he’s no longer with us. For what its worth happy Fathers day, Dad, and I promise to do a proper post in the next day or 2.  

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Bush Tucker!

Posted by captainbeaky on June 8, 2008

So today we decided to get away from soul destroying property inspections and general stress, and take the advice of a few folks from work to get out and visit a few places in the “country”. This boiled down to driving for about an hour into the Yarra Glen, and around the Dandenong mountain ranges. Its all very green, and has HUGE and I mean HUGE forests of eucalypts and ash tree’s. It really did look ancient and prehistoric. 

First stop was a place called Sassafras, which is famous for its cream tea’s and Miss Marple’s tea rooms. First problem was finding a parking spot as it was heaving! It was a lovely day today, with sunshine and very few clouds and it seems everyone had the same idea. However, we persevered and found a spot then set out to have a mooch about. Lots of little gift shops, like you used to get in Cornwall etc…. selling bits and bobs and antiques. Sat down for a cream tea and a rest, then onto the next stop which was…..

,,,,,a place called Olinda. No problems finding a parking spot here so got straight into looking around. Couldnt get anywhere near the big Bavarian restaurant (the Cuckoo) but was nice to see what was about. Saw a huge bunch of parrots and cockatoo’s there, which I was excited to see. I still cant believe they just flap about outside!

Final port of call was a pub that had been recommended to me called the Pig and Whistle which was about 10 minutes up the road…and god damn was it worth it. A PROPER english pub, with beer garden outside, fireplace inside and a load of beers and ciders on tap, of which I got to taste none as I was driving! Damn probationary license! Anyway, it didnt stop us sampling the food so for starters we shared a warm crusty sourdough load with balsamic, oil and seasoning for dipping…and its was amazing. I would never have thought just bread could be so good! Then for main, Crook had huge game pie which looked great, and I had roast pork and mash, and the pork was the best pork I think I’ve tasted anywhere! It was so moist and had a real strong flavour. Still got some of it left in a box, as I couldnt polish it all off! We’ll probably go back there as theyre doing a Christmas in July thing where they are serving a traditional Christmas 3 course dinner for $35, and if the quality of todays food was anything to go by, it will be fantastic!

So after the last stop we made our way back, on a different road which had some absolutely stunning views and scenery. This forest really has to be seen to be believed. We got all excited when we saw road caution signs for “Wombats Crossing” and “Caution: Kangaroo’s Ahead”!!! However, we saw neither, but even the mention of their proximity was exciting! It really has felt like we’ve been on a mini-holiday today – we’ve both really enjoyed ourselves. Lets hope its the first of many trips into the country!

I did try to post some live updates via Twitter, but there was no phone reception in the mountains, unsurprisingly. For those that dont know, even if I dont make a full blog post, its worth checking back to see if my Twitter bit on the right has been updated. The main page will not change but more messages on the Twitter box will keep appearing. Also, dont worry if it doesnt work straight away – Ive noticed it takes up to an hour from when I make a Twitter post to when it appears on my blog. If the Twitter box on my blog is broken, or its not updated, you can still click on the Twitter title over the box and it will take you to the actual Twitter site, where you will see updates as they happen. Hope that clears things up – Im off to get changed into my “lounge suit” and make a cuppa! Have fun!

ps – Ive added some photo’s to Photoshop Express and Facebook, so click the links on the right to have a look!

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Oz is good!

Posted by captainbeaky on May 23, 2008

No real reason for this post other than to express my fondness of this place already. Got out of the car today (courtesy car – mine still in garage waiting for matey boy to pay his excess) and stood there for ages watching 3 or 4 cockatoo’s screeching and playing in a palm tree. Looking down at me and their yellow crest on their heads came up, squawked at me, then bit the shit out of the palm tree, ripping chunks out of the trunk and throwing them on the ground – it was great! And despite the fact that is the equivalent of late November, its really pleasant. Its been the coldest May day for years apparently, as it got down to 4 degree’s at 6am. However, it ‘warmed” up to about 14 degree’s which aint bad for nearly December. I remember 6 months ago being in the UK and it was down to -10 degrees with wind chill, so this is comparatively tropical!. Anyway, the photo above was taken today, so even in Winter, this place looks amazing. Rounded off the day and welcomed the weekend with a meal in a nice cheap Italian restaurant – tasty!

No house viewing this weekend, as we’re giving ourselves the weekend off. Need to recharge our batteries as the we find we’re now walking around houses pretty disinterested and apathetic. Need to get the impeteus back. OK, time to go and watch Eurovision on TV – bring on Wogan over the weekend!!!

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Aussies = Shit Drivers. Confirmed!!!

Posted by captainbeaky on May 18, 2008

So we’ve spent anther weekend loking at more houses, except we’ve widened our horizons and are now looking a bit further inland, to a place called Prahran. Its kind of like St Kilda, but bigger. No beach, but a LOT bigger. We saw 3 houses there yesterday, some of which were nice but werent spot on for one reason or another, and went over again today to have a look at a couple more. Only to return to the courtesey car and see that someone has opened the door on us and scratched down the side! What the fuck is wrong with these people? Are all Aussies totally inept when behind the wheel? It certainly looks like it. Ive now just got to hope that the repair shop dont notice the scratch or I can say it was there beforehand (there is already a big scratch down the side when I got it, so I might just try to say it was a continuation of that). But for crying out loud….1 month into owning a car and Ive got 1 car int the garage thanks to someone smacking it, and another with scratches down it . Bloody Holden owning bunch of dickheads!

Saw another nice house in Brighton, a very nice house indeed, but…..its in Brighton. Dont get me wrong, its a very lucrative area. Its where all the gAy.F.L. players live and several celbreties, but as a place, its kind of dead. Lots of nice big houses, but the shops are all pretensious and middle of the road. its all very sanitised and fake, so despite the fact that was lovely, I dont think we’ll be putting an offer in. Oh well, the search goes on….

Thats been the top and bottom of it really. Oh, we met up with a bunch of Brits on Friday evening from the forums that helped us out with or visa application, and had a really good night. Nice to know its not only us that think Oz TV is terrible! But mostly, we’ve spent our time on real estate websites, hence the lack of updates. I mean, I get home and spent 2 – 3 hours looking at different areas, different prices, different number of bedrooms etc…. so by the time Im done, the last thing I want to do is spend more time on my computer writing a post.

So there you go. I dont know what it is about Sundays and stupid pricks hitting my car, but its getting to be a very unwanted habit. Looks like I’ll be going everywhere on public transport after-all!

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No Work Update Below….

Posted by captainbeaky on April 25, 2008

….as there is no significant change, so its just going to be a recap on non-work related stuff that ive been up to. The weather has been fantastic here over the past week, despite the fact that its the end of September, in northern hemisphere terms. Its been almost consistently 23/24 degrees, each day with the sun going down about 5.30, so it IS in fact close to UK sunrise/sunset times. But Ive been making the most of it, going along to St Kilda pier most afternoons, taking my book with me then having a cake and a cuppa at the cafe at its end. On Thursday, we even saw one of the often mentioned/never seen St Kilda penguins, that nest in the breakwater. I always thought that there were penguins there ONCE, but with the influx of tourists, they’d gone elsewhere. However, we’ve seen them now with our own eyes – it was great!

For the second day on the run, we’ve gone for a bit of a drive in my new car, roof down, soaking up the sun. Today we took a drive down to Sandringham, and had a quick look about. Its a very affluent area, with lots of posh cars and big houses and a huge, deserted beach. I have no idea why folks chose not to spend time here, as it was lovely – you couldnt hear anything other than the waves lapping against the shore. Ive added a few photos to my Photoshop Express page, which Ive put a permanent link to on the right……here——->

In other news (videogame haters, skip the next couple of paragraphs) Ive had a rethink on Mass Effect and got right stuck into it, with overall positive results, but with a small number of reservations. First the good points. The story line and character development is top notch, with me actually getting attached to certain members of my squad, having my favourites to accompany me on missions, based on nothing more than if I liked them or not as people! It sounds messed up but Bioware really did a great job of making these people actually seem real, with coherent individual agendas, without going down the cliched videogame route of hideously over-egged stereotypes. the games environment too deserves a mention, with it actually feeling like you were engaging in a large space opera spanning multiple systems, with each story mission having a distinct feel to it. However, there are down points, specifically to do with the environments too. The side quests arent too hot, with most of them being identikit versions of the last, the only difference being this ones on a snow planet, this ones on a desert planet, etc…. Right down to the space ships and buildings, all of them are the same, with just different crates inside. This really ruins the brilliant job that Bioware did with the rest of the games universe, as it takes you out of the realms of fantasy and the shoddy game design pokes through and ruins the illusion. The other area that Mass Effect isnt too good at is with the purchase/managing of weapons and items. I dont think I bought one single thing in the whole game, rendering the entire money system useless. You get far more powerful stuff by searching through enemy lockers and crates, but this has its own negative consequence. Your inventory can only hold 150 items, which include all your weapons, your armour, grenades and biotic amp, each of which have up to 3 upgrades on each item, making managing what you have a lengthy procedure. None of which is helped by there being no “convert all” button, and when you DO select an item from the list to get rid of, it resets the list and puts you back at the top. It really does sound like Im picking flies, but when you have to do as much inventory juggling as you do in ME, then it really does start to annoy. Other larger scale niggles include the games length. Im on the last mission now, and it didnt take me long to get there. I now this game is the first of a trilogy, but thats no excuse to shorten it deliberately. Compared to Oblivion, both in terms of game size and amount hours invested, ME is minuscule. It also sometimes feels like it holds your hand too much, telling you exactly where to go, what to do and what your next step is. A more open ended approach may have been better. However, thats not to say I didnt enjoy, I did. Im on the last mission now, as well as mopping up a few side quests and its been hugely enjoyable. The story really does hook you, especially me being a sci-fi nerd, and having just recently finished a great book (more later) I found I just couldnt put the controller down. I had to see what happened next. So far, the game gets a solid 8/10.

In other game type news, Im going to have a bit of a clear out. Out goes Assassins Creed (ace game but Ive done everything I wanted to do with it), Sega Tennis (again, god game, but multiplayer is borked and single player gets ridiculously difficult on the last “bonus stage”, and Frontlines (crap singleplayer, but brilliant multiplayer, ruined by lack of support and not many folks playing – plus Battlefield and Quake Wars are nearly out, both being similar and being part of already established franchises). In comes Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 (got it cheap off Ebay) and GTA 4, which Im really looking forward to now. The more I read about it, the more impressed I am with it. Opinions to come on Tuesday.

Enough with the games, and onto books, which is pretty rare for me! I finished Iain M Banks new book, Matter recently (thanks to my St Kilda pier adventures!) and I was impressed with it. The last book I read of his was Inversions, which was too dull for my liking, and I missed The Algebraist, which seemed good, but not much to do with the Culture universe of its predecessors. However, Matter is right back into the Culture setting, but through clever use of technology, intertwines the fantastic futuristic setting, with a more medieval story line, which I initially was sceptical of, but the more I read it, the less of an issue it became, and eventually, both storylines meet and continue as one. Its typical Banks, with sprawling galaxies, battles, many distinct and interesting characters and all with his trademark attention to detail and descriptive nature. My only complaints are the books loss of purpose in its middle section, with it getting bogged down in the journeys of both sets of protagonists, and its abrupt ending, right when its hit its stride. On the strength of this, I started up Mass Effect (above) which isnt to dissimilar to Banks writing, and Ive got a Peter Hamilton book to get into now. This is a 1000 pager though, AND part of a trilogy so no reports anytime soon of how THIS book is!

Well, Im sorry for the long post, but I didnt think it woudl go on for this long. Future plans include going to an out of town shopping centre tomorrow, and then for a few drinks with a work colleauge. Oh, and probably nothing else too strenuous as Crooks coming down with a cold. Better not give it to me! Anyway, Im going to end this now before it gets any longer.

Posted in Books, Games, Oz, weather | 1 Comment »

The Mega-post!!!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 2, 2008

hats.jpgRight – if you get bored easily, dont bother with this post. Ive got 2 days of catching up to do so its going to be a long slog until the end of the post. Firstly, the boring stuff. Work has been good, with it getting a little busier every day so I hope it doesnt reach melting point soon. Either way, at the moment, Im actually enjoying going to work. The weather is fantastic here at the moment too, with it being 28 degrees today and its due to peak tomorrow at 32 degrees. Mad when you think it is now the equivalent of being September in the northern hemisphere. I dont ever remember it being 32 in September in the UK. 

Right, now thats out of the way I can write about other things that we’ve been doing/mulling over. Yesterday, we went into Prahran to have a look about and just to get a change of scenery from Melbourne, and really enjoyed it. Popped into a great antique/vintage shop and saw many millions of dollars of stuff that we wanted, and things that bought a tear to the eye, as fond childhood memories came flooding back. They had a pristine, mint condition boxed Starbird, in all its sound-effect and lightshow glory. You remember that Andy? Even had the little detachable ships on each wing – awesome! On our way around, I picked up some HD leads for my Wii and 360, as well as Super Mario Galaxy, but more on that later. We managed to abstain from blowing  a small fortune in the Playboy shop, as Becca found some great looking baby-doll style heeled slippers, and I saw a great looking suit. Both far too expensive though. Settled for tapas on our way home from the restaurant just up the road, which was damn nice. I usually measure the quality of a tapas joint by the tastyness of its patatas bravas, and this place didnt disappoint – an 8/10! 

Before we visited “Pu-ran” yesterday, we decided to go and have a look at an inspection, pre-auction on a property thats next door to us, and in our price range. Thought it would be good to experience just what we’ll have to go through in a few months time.  This is the property (dont forget to click the links Mom!) we went to see, which looks huge on the photos, but seemed smaller in real life but the view was more spectacular in the flesh. We had a look at the penthouse suite in the same building as it was avaiable for rent (but quite pricey) and it was lovely. Built in robes, an even better view, big bedrooms and a nice bathroom. Trying to make an appointment to see another unit tomorrow too, just to have a “stickybeak”! Good to have a nose and see what we should be expecting even if we arent in the market right now. I went back to that place up for sale this morning to sit in on the actual auction. It was a pretty slow affair and seemed like trying to get blood from a stone for the auctioneer, as nobody really wanted to pay a lot. The opening bid was for the asking price of $510k, and it finally crept for $530k, which isnt too bad for a property with that view. We’ve spent a lot of today mulling over our options, trying to predict market conditions, should be rent for a year, how much is it going to cost us to get furniture, beds, appliances etc….. and we havent really got anywhere. Renting and buying right now, have so many pluses and minuses for and against each option, and as such its like hitting your head against a wall. In the end, we decided the best thing for us to do was…..wait. We’re in this place until July, we need exchange rates to improve, we need interest rates to drop and more properties to appear on the market. We can continue to monitor whats going on without making a rash decision that will end up costing us in the long run. The property market here, and the economy, cant carry on at the levels they are right now, so its got to slow down, or burst pretty soon. We just have to wait until then and jump in!

Right, onto games. Despite it being a bumper period for games in general, with a crapload of A+++ games being released, and another quality period around the corner, Ive been getting slightly sick of it all. Bored of killing people in Assassins Creed. Killing more folks in Halo 3. Killing more folks in COD4. Killing more folks in Mass Effect. Killing more folks in Tomb Raider Anniversary. I know theyre all very different games, but I cant help feeling theyre all quite generic when considered as a whole. All are very realistic, all are very tense games and all are fiercly competitive. I feel like Ive been playing them because theyre there, rather than playing them for enjoyment, or escape. Its been fun for a while, but that fun has turned into monotony, and Ive not looked forward to switching my 360 on for a week or so.  So that has ended now and after reading countless rave reviews I bought Super Mario Galaxy, and the found the reviews were not wong. Its bloody fantastic! Really does get back to the roots of what makes a good game. Its not realistic, its not gritty, its not got lifelike textures and environments. In its place is escapism, fun, colourful, no-stress adorable gaming at its best. Even the way Mario runs put a smile on my face! If youre sick of the whole generic real-world, shoot/stab-em-up style of gaming that infests every weeks release schedule, I urge you to try this. Its bloody amazing! As a result of this I intend to change my whole perspective on buying games. Ever since 360 was released, I tended to buy a game I was fairly interested in on its release day, rather than if I actually WANTED to buy it. For instance, in the coming weeks theres Army of Two, Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 and a couple of others that I acant remember which were orignally must buy games for me. On reflection, “post Mario”, I really cant be arsed with any of them. Theyre just more of the same generic gubbins I mentioned before, so I’ll be leaving them well alone. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hunt out some original, fun games to get on with instead. 

Ive also realised that I am far more into driving games than I thought. Forza 2,  PGR 4 and DIRT have all really got “my motor running” (pun intended) and I just want more of them, especially with the steering wheel setup. As a result of this, I may be about to commit a terrible, terrible sin. Well, at least in the eyes of UK Resistance (and possibly my Brother). Playstation 3. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Force Feedback Wheel. Three items which have me considering a purchase of Sony’s George Foreman grill. I knew I would end up getting one at some point, for God of War 3, maybe Singstar for Becca, and Little Big Planet also looks pretty special. However, I dont realy want to get one before the control pad has rumble reinstated so I wont be buying one immediately. I dare say I’ll be even  more keen to buy one in a few days as I intend to visit the Melbourne Motorshow on Tuesday evening, which is joint sponsored by GT5, and has demo units galore inside. If it actually plays half as good as the videos Im seeing, it will be very hard to try and persuade me not to buy one! 

And on the subject of buying things, my mind is thrown into even more confusion by news of this game. Battlefield Heroes. While it may just seem like a WW2 Team Fortress ripoff, it looks superb. I can tell you I played Battlefield 1942 more than any other videogame before it, or since, so the prospect of a highly styled, great looking, FREE update of it sounds ace. Only problem is, its PC only. No Mac, no 360. If I buy a MacBook Air, it wont be powerful enough to run it. A MacBook Pro will easily powerful enough, but I aesthetically, it looks like a crock of shit, and has the ugliest keyboard Ive seen in a long time. I know aesthetics arent everything, but they are if youre me and use your laptop every day of the year.  However, there are distant rumours of the next MacBook Pro update in June, which will hopefully make it look prettier too. If this happens, Im quids in, but if they dont, I dont know where I stand. I guess, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it I suppose, but up until then, its yet another waiting game. 

So there ends the largest post Ive made yet. Its taken me over 45 minutes to type, and is currently at 1493 words. Jesus! I wrote University essays shorter than this! Dont fret though, normal service shall resume tomorrow.  Now, its time for Match of the Day, and a beer…….

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Alarm Clock from Hell!

Posted by captainbeaky on February 27, 2008

getimageaspx.jpegSo I managed to wake up 30 minutes before my 5:30am alarm this morning. Great you might think, he’s getting used to early starts. Wrong! While I am getting used to early starts, I have no plans on getting used sitting bolt upright at 5am with searing cramps all down my calf. God damn it hurt. Ive had cramps before but this was shocking. Its stayed with me pretty much all day, threatening another attack when I sit still for too long, and I can still feel it now. 

Anyway, its been a pretty routine day. Work was good, and Im already starting to get a bit of responsibility within the area, which after weeks of training is brilliant. For those still interested in the sausages of australia, we tried organic lamb, rosemary and mint today, which while tasting fairly nice, had a horrid consistency. I cant really describe it, as it just felt, kind of mushy. Proper nasty! 

In other news, a sentence or 2 for my Mom. Im sorry Mom, but you wont be getting a Mothers Day card next week. Not because Ive forgot, not because of the postal system, and not because I couldnt be bothered. The upshot of it is that, its not Mothers Day in Australia next week. For whatever reason, it is the same day as America’s Mothers Day which falls in the middle of May, so even though I wanted to send you a card, there arent any in the shops. Sorry! 

I see Apple updated their MacBooks Pro’s this morning, and I was hopeful of a CPU update, multi-touch trackpad a case redesign and the alteration of that god awful keyboard. Unfortunately, I find myself disappointed to find theyve only done the CPU and trackpad. So while its an extremely powerful and versatile notebook, it still looks like it belongs in the mid 90’s. In my opinion anyway. Oh well, MacBook Air, here I come! 

Oh, and before I forget, Becca has started a blog! Im not sure how often she intends to update it, but check it out every now and then. I dont think she’s going to do it everyday, but keep an eye open and pester her to post more often.  Anyway, here’s the link, and I’ll put a permalink in my favourite sits on the right.  

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Beach Huts…..but not like this…

Posted by captainbeaky on February 16, 2008

blue_beach_hut_takes_a_batt_400x300.jpgBeen a good day today. 28 degrees, and a nice breeze coming in so we went down to Brighton for a mooch around. Its a really nice place, with cafe’s and little shops and restaurants everywhere, although annoyingly, most were shut, or had half day opening – crazy! Anyway, we walked down to the beach and had a stroll up the coast. The whole beach was covered with British style beach huts (piccies on my webspace/facebook) and were painted all crazy – looked great when actually viewed in sunshine, as opposed to the overwhelming greyness of UK huts. Went for a paddle in the sea and was stunned at how warm it was. YES, warm….not ice cold – it was lovely. Like having your feet in a bowl of warm water – lovely! Lots of starfish, snails and fish swimming in the shallows (no jellyfsh or stinging poison fish, or sharks…you hear, Gathermole!). Was a great day, but after last weeks sun-fest we were both EXTREMELY careful about putting on suncreen – no messing about this week! However, I could do with a nap now as the pair of us are still tired – bloody idiots next door are building an extension and seem to love working on it at 8am, hammer and saw for an hour or so, then leave it. Swines!

No real plans for tomorrow other than a driving lesson early on. Maybe go down to the and just take it easy. Could do with a day of nothingness to be honest. I miss being able to take it easy! 

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Red Hot (Litterally)

Posted by captainbeaky on February 10, 2008

sunburn.gifIm going to keep it short for this post, as Im tired and Im going to have to get an early night cos of work tomorrow. Anyway, its been a good day, but very hot. Strolled on down to the festival at about 1pm, and it was quite sedate. You know, enough people about but nothing like what the news had estimated. Saw a band (Expatriate – ok indie guitar band on a stage by the sea – lovely), had an ice cream, had a wonder about, saw some crazy somersaulting bike guys, watched some  jive/showgirl dancing group and got very hot. After a while in the blazing sun, we went inside the Pallais theatre to have a nose, and have a drink. Was really nice in there – still got all of the old 20’s features. Capacity wise too, its the biggest theatre in Australia – even bigger than Sydney Opera House, or so the guy told us. After that, it was back outside to catch another band (Operator Please – ok, but a bit like the Australian Gossip), then back home as the amount of folks there had exploded to about a million times more than there was a couple of hours earlier. Took 10 minutes to get from one place to another, that usually takes us about 40 seconds to do the same distance. That coupled with a bit of heat stroke made us run for home and lick our wounds, and god damn are we both red! I have red hands, ankles and neck, and Becca has a bright red chest – so now we both look like stereotypical Brits abroad – marvellous! 

Anyway, I will love you and leave you to check out the photos on Facebook/webspace as I need to go and watch Match of the Day and TV Burp. Have fun, and put sunscreen on EVERY 2 HOURS!!! Doh!  

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Parasol Star (sorry – another obscure game reference)

Posted by captainbeaky on February 2, 2008

n867580483_2222203_96832.jpgWell, its been a tiring but fantastic day. Started off going over to the St Kilda farmers market which was full of tasty looking fresh produce, but we stupidly shopped the other day so have no room for any of it. Doh – better planning needed next time. However we picked up some fresh samphire, and are gonna cook it for tea afterwards with some barrimundi fillets – yum! 

Oh well, on to the good stuff. Caught a tram into Melbourne, which was lovely and cool, and extremely welcome as its been roasting today. First port of call was Flinders St to see if we could see anything of them filming “The Pacific”, and it turned out we could see quite a bit. The street was dressed with old wartime posters and banners, with lots of period cars and vehicles about. No actors on the set at that stage so took a few snaps (all of which are on Facebook or my webspace) and then did a bit of shopping. Becca picked herself up a parasol to keep her cool (also in the photos) and we went to see if we could find a bar we’d read about in guide books, called “The Rooftop Bar”. Found the building and made our way up to the 6th floor (the clues in the bars name!) and found it to be a great little place. All open air, 6 stories up, with grass on the floor (fake but looked and felt great) and sat ourselves down on old UK style wooden deck chairs. Ordered a blood orange juice for Becca and got myself a pint of Erdinger in a great looking glass. Then sat down, caught some rays, put on plenty of free suntan lotion from the bar and just appreciated the atmos, the weather, and the beer – awesome! After beer and sun, we did a bit more shopping, then walked on down to the film set again to see if anything had changed, and it had. They’d got some old period trams in, more dressing of the station itself, and the actors were on set being filmed. All very exciting, but nowt I can do will explain just how excited I was at the time. Kid in a toyshop!

Got back to St Kilda and found that all the festivities for next weeks St Kilda festival had already started, albeit on a small scale. A few hippyish stalls around Luna Park, some theatrical performance going on and a falconry thing, which was great. The size of this eagles claws were huge – a good 2 inches long. He was bloody huge too – would have those noisy cockatoos from breakfast. Also looking forward to this – a big open air cinema, near the gym on the seafront. Im particularly looking forward to seeing Jaws, outside, on the beach! Proper scary! 

Not quite sure of our plans for tomorrow yet. We want to go back into town to go to the market (if its on), go to a few more beer gardens/rooftop bars and generally lap up my last day of proper freedom! Going to have to investigate how to get into town to as there is  Gay Pride march going down Fitzroy St, closing off all the tram routes from St Kilda beach.  Anyway, Im off now to watch Mythbusters and have a beer. Gotta rest up for more booze and sun tomorrow! Ciao for now!

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Band of Brothers 2…..kinda

Posted by captainbeaky on January 31, 2008

brosintro.jpgNothing really spectacular happened today. It rained all morning, so it made driving a little more interesting than usual. 1st time pootling about in the rain, and it went ok. More of the same….just wetter! Didnt go to the gym afterwards though as the 1st visit is starting to take its toll. My stomach and arms are aching like a swine, so Ive put a repeat visit off until tomorrow morning, when I intend to go, no matter what! Played some more games, well…I say “some”, I actually just mean Forza 2 with my steering wheel again. Starting to remember why I played it so much. Its just so damn satisfying to buy a slow-ass car, upgrade it, tweak all its settings (and not in a chavvy install underlights, “phat” exhaust and a body kit kind of way) then prove it out on the track. Won some really tight races today and had plenty of smashes. Its ultimately more rewarding than Gotham Racing 4 as you can see the fruits of your labour pay off, you dont feel the desperate need to pass on the first lap, or bounce off the other cars. Just bought the extra track packs and more cars so I’ll give them a spin later.

In the papers today was news that Flinders St rail station, and the adjoining areas will be closed from tomorrow night until Sunday morning, to allow Spielberg/Hanks et al to film some material for his forthcoming WW2 miniseries “The Pacific”. By all accounts, its sounds like “Band of Brothers in the Pacific”, which should be prett-aaaaaay, prett-aaaaaaaay good as I loved  Band of Brothers. Might pop into Melbourne on Saturday to see if I can see anything going on. Exciting!

Plans for tomorrow include the aforementioned gym, then I think we’re going up to Boeing to have a mooch around the area, and see how long a walk it is to the nearest tram stop.  That is, if the rain holds off, which it should according to the forecast. Oh, and a bit more Forza 2. Might tackle some of the 1 hour long endurance races.

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Wheels, Cheese and Chairs

Posted by captainbeaky on January 30, 2008

Today, again has seemed quite busy without actually being busy at all. Started off with the delivery of some of our stuff from the UK. Some of which we wanted and picked correctly, some of which we didnt want, and some of which we wanted and unfortunately picked the wrong box. For instance, I wanted the rest of my 360 games, and instead got PS2 games, which isnt really surprising seeing as the boxes contents were listed as “Games”. All of the box descriptions were a bit vague, hence apart from the boxes like “Drum Kit”, or “Sewing Machine”, its a bit of a lucky dip. Anyway, we ended up with my comfy office chair, some DVD’s (but not all of them), PS2 games, PS2 guitars for Guitar Hero (which we didnt want), Sambe De Amigo for Dreamcast (again, which we didnt want), Becca’s sewing machine, some of our kitchenware, Beccas pic-er-nic basket and my Xbox 360 racing wheel, which annoyingly didnt have the wheel clamp in the same box. However, it sits on the desk ok and doesnt wiggle around too much when using it. Had to pop to the hardware shop (which I enjoyed tremendously – seeing what new stuff/hardware Australia has to offer!) to get some allen keys, cap heads and some washers to assemble my chair, which is all done now and a damn sight more comfortable than the hard wooden kitchen chair I was using to play games.

 Just got back from doing a “big” shop and saw some superb cheese, that we promptly bought. No, its not “coon cheese“, its ………

 

cheese2.jpg

 

Strong and Bitey!!! Sounds like the description of a police dog, not a cheese! Things here have such great names (and No Andy we have yet to find anything called a chuzwazza!) Bought all the ingredients to make my lovely chili to so Im looking forward to having that before I go to work. Was kind of strange having to do a shop for work stuff too, although for the short term, Im going to check out the works canteen and see what it has to offer. Fingers crossed its as good/bad as the legendary Denso curry, or the badboy breakfast!

No real plans for tomorrow. Got another driving lesson at 11.15, after which I’ll probably book my test. Gave Vic Roads a quick ring today and the tests are currently being booked in the region of March 17th, so a good 6 weeks lead time. So really the sooner I book a test the better. Anyway, after the lesson I’ll probably go for my 2nd punishment at the gym. Im not aching at all today, which is quite scary, although I seem to remember, the 2nd and 3rd days post gym were the worst after my last hiatus from working out. Making the most of these lazy days anyway, as Ive only got 2 more non-working weekdays left! Cant complain really though, as 2 remaining days form over a year off work aint bad at all!

Managing to catch up some decent downloaded TV too. Ramsays Nightmares USA (what did we do pre-bit torrent?) is both fantastic and vile. Some of the states of the kitchens are unbelievable. Cockroaches and bugs living in the seals of fridge doors, green mouldy burgers,  layers of fat on the walls – its shocking. Also loving Monkey Dust too. Ivan Dobsky is a brilliant creation as well as the divorced dad. Shame it didnt get past 3 series though.

Oh and I almost forgot…..Scrub Turkey Update! The program was great. It was basically about these wild turkeys, which are on the endangered list, and only seem to live in a small populated region of Queensland. Seems nice. However, the turkeys are incredibly inquisitive and destructive, ripping up flowers, ruining crops, getting in folks houses through open windows and literally trashing the place like a burglar had given it a going over.  But because the turkeys are rare, youre not allowed to do anything to them. Even throwing stuff at them could get you in trouble. However, it didnt seem to stop folks. This old lady hated them, and spent nearly all her day on turkey patrol, setting up ghetto blasters connected to sensors to scare the bejesus out of them, throwing kitchen implements at them, and best of all, putting up signs around her veggie patch that simply said “Piss Off, Turkey!”. One guy finally cracked though and after one got in his house and broke and load of plates, ripped up all his sheet music and shit everywhere, he went out, found the nearest turkey, threw an avocado stone as hard as he could at it, which killed it and then honey roasted the bugger! Justice, Aussie style! Well worth a watch!

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Bowl-a-rama!

Posted by captainbeaky on January 28, 2008

img1397845cba9814f077.jpgYes, thats what we got up to yesterday! Lawn Bowls. And before Im lambasted for being an old sod, let me just tell you this – I would say 90% of the folks there were aged 28 – 35. And when you think about it, its a damn fine way to spend a day. Met up with our mates at about 2.30, got a round in then went out for an intro to lawn bowls. Was really busy, with more folks turning up as the minutes went by. And as the beers flowed, the more interesting it got. It turned out to be a great afternoon, as it kinda felt like playing pool, or darts but outside in the sun. Its the kind of thing that is a side to beer and banter, not the primary focus, and Im sure if the UK had the weather for it, it would be just as popular. Seems most areas here have a lawn bowling club all, with a lot of young’uns there. Definitely like to do it again. Was a great day, rounded off with mexican food and huge margaritas. Hence the lack of update yesterday!

Anywho, today was quiet. Stayed in, only venturing out for a walk along the beach and a trip to the paper shop.  Played a ton of games on my 360, but it felt strangely unsatisfying. Maybe Im actually beginning to tire of gaming, and yearn for this job? Stranger things have happened. 

Tomorrow is driving lesson first off, waiting for the relocaition people to call to arrange a part delivery of our stuff, then maybe go to the gym for my 1 weeks free trial. Im looking forward to getting fit again, but Im equally dreading the first visit. Just the mild bending and rolling of bowls yesterday has got us both holding our legs every time we stand up – damn they ache! Right Im off to watch a download of the Man Utd/Spurs match now, so dont ruin it for me! Oh, and more pics (of bowling) added to my webspace/Facebook page. 

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Maybe Tomorrow…

Posted by captainbeaky on January 27, 2008

28828.jpgJust a quick one to let you know there will be no in-depth post today. I’ll make one tomorrow on account of having a few too many sherberts today and not really feeling like typing and editing at the moment. Sooooooo…..give it a few hours and I’ll type up a proper description of what we got up to today. Needless to say it was fun and involved beer and friends and food. 

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Another Dull, Grey, Rainy Day in St Kilda…..YEAH RIGHT!!!

Posted by captainbeaky on January 26, 2008

dsc01077.jpgJesus its been hot today! Its only (ONLY!) been 35 degrees today but the wind has been warm too, like a hair dryer in your face. Heat, like its been today, just saps your energy, and as such we didnt leave the house until after 1 in the afternoon. Went around Fitzroy St for “breakfast” (which was damn tasty!) then got on a tram to Northcote, which took us via some really nice suburbs, with pretty old houses. Got to Northcote at about 3 and on the face of it, Northcote looked crap. Like if you put Kings Heath in Australia. However, we quickly found the big sports shop we went there for, and not only bagged a load of shirts and shorts, but also picked up some cheap trainers for the pair of us. And I mean CHEAP! So now weve got ne excuse for not going to the gym!

After that, we continued down the somewhat uninspiring High St, but found some great little antique/vintage shops. I got a nice vintage shirt, and Becca got some old glasses and a featherey hat. So from what looked like a rubbish visit to a rubbish town, turned out to be quite prosperous. 

Anyway, since coming back, Becca’s made a really nice tuna nicoise salad from Nigellas new book, which while not quite as tasty as the one I had in Myers a few weeks ago (well…it DID have quail eggs!), I definitely wouldnt have been upset if Id have had to pay money for it at a restaurant. Still got some left for tomorrow too.

Speaking of which, Im not sure what we’re up to. Might be off out with friends for beers and bbq, but not sure yet. Theyve forecast rain, but they forecast rain today and we had nothing so who knows.  I just hope its not as hot as today. Might pop down to the beach in a bit (its still over 30 degrees out at 8.36pm!) to see if there are any bbq’s going on, or if we can see the Australia Day fireworks from the city centre. Oh and there are a few more photo’s on my webspace for the Facebook-less people out there!

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