Sunday, 3 April 2011

An explanation

To our loyal readers, I feel that I owe you an apology, or an explanation at least, for the lack of regular blogging activity for the best part of 2011-to-date. You see, I have been rather distracted with couple of new activities, and that old chestnut that always gets in the way of doing the things you want to do - work. That aside, some more exciting things in life have been occupying my weekends and taking up my valuable could-be-blogging time, and I'm happy to share these with you today...

Firstly, I have a new passion in my life - photography! After owning an SLR for a good 4 years, but never doing more than pointing and shooting, Tom and I finally unlocked the power of the Canon EOS on a photography course last year. Since then, I've developed a love of taking photos of people, and before Christmas I booked myself onto a specialist portrait photography course. Since then, I've been studying the subject and practising my shoots whenever I can, and to display my work I've set up a portfolio website of my own - (Lister will be my married name, in case you were wondering). So far I've been photographing my friends and their children, but soon I hope to get some independent business which will contribute towards the cost of my equipment, and photograph not just children, but adults too. Here is a sneak peak at my portfolio to date:

When I'm not taking photos, I might be found working on a website project or two, with the latest online venture being in aid of one of my favourite pasttimes - dancing! Some of you may have spotted that a new series of So You Think You Can Dance has just started on BBC One on Saturday nights, and one of my old dancing chums from Diane Gulliford's has auditioned for the show. I've made her a website to support her campaign to become the nation's favourite dancer, and I hope that all of my blog readers will support her if you watch the show. Next week is is the Choreography Camp episode where we find out who makes the top 20. I can't reveal whether or not she makes it, but will let you figure that out for yourselves....

So that's why I haven't been blogging much, but please read on below for two more blogs that I've posted today to make it up for it!

Travels to Tasmania

Wineglass Bay

After two months of no travel (which is a positive draught by secondee standards), we packed our bags and headed south to Tasmania. Instead of taking the ferry, which leaves from the pier at the end of our street with a 9 hour journey time, we chose to fly with Virgin Blue, who promise a 1 hour flight but with traffic en route to the airport, check-in queues and the obligatory budget airline delays, came in at around 4 hours in the end. We left on a Friday afternoon, and with a few emails left to send for work, I ended up sitting in the back of a taxi en-route to the airport with my laptop on my knees trying to connect to the internet via 3G. One day I hope Australia will catch up with the rest of the world and offer me the chance to send emails via a portable device that fits in my pocket, or at least my handbag!

With us for the ride were Sue and Peter, who unfortunately had been to Tasmania already, however unlike their first visit, this time we were lucky enough to be showered with SUNSHINE! At 29 degrees, our first day in Hobart was quite possibly the hottest day for the year for Australia’s most southern state, and we basked in the sun as we browsed Salamanca market , drank diet Coke and ate fish and chips by the water. I had no real expectations of Hobart, but soon fell in love with the small-town coastal environment, which felt really rather Mediterranean on this hot, late summer day.

My opinion of Hobart was in no doubt swayed by the luxurious and unique hotel that was our home for two nights - The Henry Jones Art Hotel. Forget TripAdvisor, because there won’t be a bad review in sight – this is one hotel that delivers on every front, and it’s unique to boot. The building was an old jam factory in the 1800s and is now home to over 50 rooms, all uniquely furnished and with a variety of art on display. Before I start to sound too much like the brochure, I’d also like to add that breakfast was CHEAP and the beds were really comfy!

After a day in Hobart, we jumped into the car for a drive up the East Coast, to the Freychinet National Park, home to Wineglass Bay. This part of our trip was all about fantastic scenery, breathtaking vistas and.... eating fried food. After three lots of fish and chips in three nights, it’s a good job that the Wineglass Bay lookout was a 45 minute uphill hike. Only today have I gathered the courage to get back in the scales – after two weeks of compensation dieting!

The pictures that I’ve come back with in no way represent the true beauty of Tasmania, and we were totally enthralled by the beauty of a state which is much-mocked by locals, but adored by tourists. Tom and I would love to find time to go back and explore the rest of the state, and maybe next time we’ll brave the ferry journey too. If you’re ever heading down under, Tassy is definitely one place that you should have on your list...

The Henry Jones Hotel

Hobart Quay, with Mures Fish & Chips in the background

Salamanca Market, chatting with a stall owner from the New Forest!

Salamanca Market

Salamanca Market

Tom at the peak of Mount Wellington
Mount Wellington, overlooking the cirt of Hobart

Hobart from Mount Wellington

Wineglass Bay

The amazing view from our balcony in Bicheno

Walking on the beach in Bicheno was heaven...

.. so much so I started jumping around!

Picnic lunch!

The power of friendship

Moving to Australia has taught us a lot about the importance of friendships. We’ve learnt how much we value our friends back home. We’ve discovered how hard it is to make new friends in a strange country. And now we finally appreciate how hard it is to say goodbye to friends that you love.

This blog entry comes in three parts...


Nice to see you again.... and



Since moving to Melbourne we’ve said ‘hello, nice to meet you’ a gazillion times. Every day brings a new person, sometimes a visitor, sometimes a local. When we’re lucky, ‘nice to meet you’, turns into ‘let’s do this again’, and again, and sometimes again. Finding new friends seems so much harder as an adult, compared to the days of classrooms and playgrounds, but this also means we really value the friends that we’ve made here.

A sunny afternoon in a beer garden was the setting for a recent rendezvous with our Melbourne crowd. The occasion was Pat and Amanda both turning 30, and the day will remain ingrained in my mind as the time when our circle of friends shifted to the next stage in life. Parenthood. Newborns aplenty, a couple of toddlers for good measure, and two heavily pregnant ladies made for quite the child-fest. Surely this is sufficient to explain any clucking or brooding that comes from my direction!

I can’t list all the people we’ve said ‘hello’ to as our new friends in Melbourne. But we appreciate every one of you.

Nice to see you again

Friendships are hard to maintain over Skype. We can chat, and we can wave at each other, but we can’t share good food, and wine, and laugh together in the same way we can do in person. Tush and Andy taught us this during their recent honeymoon visit to Australia.

After a false start and disrupted stay in Melbourne as a result of the bitter English winter, Tom and I decided to fly to Sydney and spend 36 hours with Tush and Andy before the end of their trip. Gatecrashing their honeymoon for a second time might seem a little bit ‘off’, but after a 5am wake up, 700km flight, full day of sightseeing and long night of merriment, the four of us couldn’t have been happier. The ease with which old friends can reconnect amazed me, and the experience triggered some deep thought for both Tom and I about the decisions we’ve made, are making, and will make in the coming months and years.


Saying goodbye is hard, but I think it’s even hard when you are the one who is left behind. Tom and I will soon find out, as dear friends Richard and Tamara, and Pat and Amanda both leave Melbourne to return home. To rub salt into the wound, their departure dates are just three days apart. On the other hand, perhaps this will be like ripping the plaster off quickly?

We’ve known for months that Pat and Amanda would be leaving. They have a 4 month old son, Charlie, and the time has come for them to return to their families in Ohio and settle down into family life. We’ll miss them dearly, but understand that life moves on, as will ours one day.

Richard and Tamara’s departure was much more of a shock however. As our closest confidants here in Melbourne, the news that they plan to return to Toronto early felt like being dumped by a boyfriend out of the blue. ‘It’s not you, it’s us’, they pleaded. Either way I fought back the tears that night. Now that I’ve had a while to digest the news, I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that there will be life without ‘Ramara’, and in the meantime we’ll enjoy the times we have left!

Celebrating Richard's birthday on the beach