Friday, 30 September 2011

We're Here!

Frickin YEAH!!!

When we first spied Australia from the plane and started gliding over the edge of it, I was struck by the fact that no one was on it. You could just see a country. No clusters of houses and roads, no patchwork of fields. Just a red country.
Wrinkly Australia - still 4 hours to go damn it

Turns out it’s quite a large red country, it took hours and hours to get to Sydney. When we did and had got through customs (they came back for Zappa cos he looks so dodge), we went to get our hold luggage off the carousels and after much waiting realised Zappa’s wasn’t going to turn up. On enquiry it was still in Kuala Lumpur but it would be there the next morning. Hopefully. I looked at my insurance documents and realised the maximum payout wouldn’t nearly cover the climbing gear in his bag and really hated myself.
Poor Ruth and Lili had been waiting for us for hours – it was so good to see them! We were treated to an amazing home cooked meal, shown our rather spiffing ‘room’ (it’s a whole annex thingy!) – I say our, it was Jake’s…er…sorry Jake… - and collapsed into the comfiest bed I have ever been in in my LIFE.
Yesterday was great – while Zap and Ruth went off for a walk, I chilled out in bed, then Jake cooked us all bacon and eggs. Ruth then took Zap, me and Lili off to Manly beach, which was gorgeous – that’s the beach in the first photo. Zappa looked at secondhand boards he could buy. We did some shopping for essentials – I got some cheap polarised sunnies, a hat that may actually suit me (it’s a cross between a panama and a trilby), some posh face suncream so I don’t get all spotty slapping on the factor everyday, shampoo, stuff like that.
Surfboard shopping
After that I was absolutely exhausted so I went for a lie down and accidentally slept for 4 hours! Probably would have slept for about 12 if Zappa hadn’t come and woken me up. Must….get used…to time zone….
We reckoned I should probably do something so that I didn’t go back to sleep. Ruth offered to plonk us on another beach while she did some shopping for Lee’s birthday party today, which I was ever so up for. So we (Zap, Lili and I) went off to Freshwater beach, to watch the good, the bad and the downright beautiful surfers, chat about all kinds of things and demonstrate our cartwheeling abilities. Lili informed us that if we get married she wants to be our flower girl and would need us to fund her plane ticket to perform this role.
On the way back Ruth took us to Manly dam reservoir (don’t know if it’s called that but gives you an idea of it). It was really beautiful, with this forest of eucalyptus trees around it you have to go through. I saw my new favourite thing:
A swamp hen! I kind of want one.
And look I saw a real live kookaburra!

And I saw a real pelican and some birds that had knobbly knees and beaks like those long hair clips you can get. Ruth said they were like Australia's vultures.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011



You know how I had that whole packing session, and I managed to include a few things I really wanted to take, while keeping it under the weight limit, just? 18kg is what I had.

I was watching Zappa pack just now, and he put a whole climbing rack in (I'm thinking oooo that's heavy), then pretty much all his clothes - ok yes ALL of his clothes (OOOO oh dear he's going to be so upset when he's 3x over the weight limit)...he weighed it:



I made him weigh it with two different methods. Definitely 16kg. I could barely lift it. But I was sure I had way less stuff.....a horrible thought hit me. I went and weighed my stuff, boardies and all.



I misread the scales cos they just had lines and I was an idiot!

All that stuff I could have taken! My lovely jacket! My one pair of going out shoes! Screw that I could have taken ALL my shoes!!! I have packed 3 tops, one hoodie, no jumpers, 2 pairs of knickers...


After Zappa and Luke had stopped laughing at me for the 3rd time, Zappa said 'Oo, you can take your rollerblades.'


I have decided to take the silver linings and run.
a. Rollerblades (best things I've ever bought)
b. I can bring nice things back from Australia
c. I don't have much to lug about
d. I will watch my soul unfurl as it is released from the horrors of materialism and learn to live without so many needless things
e. ...or I can buy more nice things over there.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bye, Buriton

On Saturday the Lymns threw us a goodbye party!

Some people will use any excuse to dress up.

We had so many people come from ages away, Jude, Russel and Tiffany from London, my Mum and my brother, even some climbers from Nottingham - Alice, Chivers, Tony and Sam Keyne. Chivers had got himself a splendid camper, which had already authenticated its camper van status by breaking hugely, costing a lot of money, and using up half of a recent camping holiday stood in a garage getting mended. Fantastic.
Some rather good-sounding funk started playing out of the workshop, which on investigation was of course my incredibly talented brother, Dave and Adam.

We were all a bit/very worse for wear the next day. Pete couldn't say anything apart from 'You guys.....that steak was so good last night' until about lunchtime. Luke was a shadow of himself until he got on a swing and swung in wide circles, which made him feel temporarily normal. Mum seemed to be the only one unscathed which was deeply unfair as judging from the night before she had absolutely no right to be.

Chivers and Alice had someone knock on their camper door in the middle of the night. When Chivers went to see who it was he was confronted by a girl demanding she saw her cheating boyfriend, clearly sure she had caught him in the act. Chivers tried to convince her her boyfriend wasn't in there with him but she insisted she see him. Eventually Chivers showed her his naked Alice. She went away.

If you suspect your boyfriend is cheating on you with a random bloke you've never met, chances are your problems won't be solved with a confrontation.

Enough lessons.

We are so lucky to have all these lovely people willing to put so much effort into sending us off. We're going to miss you all so much.


We finished my stool!!!!!

It's made of the end bit of a big bit of yew Luke rolled miles from its resting place at the sustainability centre, ash legs and cherry cross braces and foot perch.

I love it so much! It's just the right height - I like to be nice and high up.


One Saturday Zappa asked me what I wanted to do that day.
"We could make something," I said.
"Alright. What sort of thing would you like to make?"
"Errrrm.....a den!"
That clearly wasn't what he was thinking.
"A teepee!" I said.
"How about a piece of furniture?"
"A stool!"
"Yeah, good idea, we can definitely do that."
"It has to have a foot perch."
"Whatever you want, sweetie."

Monday, 26 September 2011

Barrels and Birthdays

Nick got the cider barrelled!

The barrel and apples, soon to become one.

He and Pete had to do an extra day of scrumping to fill the tasty-looking 50gal barrel he then purchased from a proper Somerset bloke with no front teeth (Pete took pictures: ).

mm tasty

On Friday 23rd September Steve turned 23!

I marked the occasion by flashing the whole pub, helped by Matt.

Thank you, Matt.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Goodbye Somerset

Mum threw me a Somerset goodbye party.

Together we made... Australia cake!

Australia cake after accessorisation. It's wonderful what you can just find in Mum's cake decorating box. Look look, where Sydney is, there are two flip flops, with a heart, cos they're in LOVE, cos it's US! Do you get it?

There was a whole load of gorgeous food, including a piece of beef as big as me and Grannie's blitztorte! Dad made a speech and announced we were all going to sing Waltzing Matilda. I didn't know the words so I was glad to have the matter cleared up. For future reference:

Waltzing Matilda
Buh buhbuh oo come a waltzing with me
Huh buh ehh shumpfer merrr, uhhh....
eerrguh YOU come a waltzing with meeeeeeeeee

Then Gig said as I wasn't going to be here for my birthday, we should light the flip flops on the Australia cake and sing me happy birthday. So they did!

Then mum started everyone off on We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Then Anne started Auld Lang Syne.


I had the best time. To be honest, I'd been feeling a bit daunted about it as I haven't been feeling too special, but I had the nicest evening, it meant a lot to see all those fantastic people I love so much.

Mum assigned Pete the role as official photographer, as he is the most qualified and all.


He managed to get this one of some of the young uns:

Thank you so much for coming everyone, and giving me such a nice send off!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


8 days to go!

I’m doing a first draft pack, I just really want to see what I can fit into my measly 20kg luggage allowance. (20kg!!! We used to take 32kg each to the Bahamas for 2 weeks!!!)
We’re supposed to be packing basics. Does that mean no hair dryer? Or straighteners?

No jewellery?
There are some items I would love to have with me but I don’t think I can get away with calling absolute essentials…

My favourite sailingy shorts, Mum's long wafty dress, my boardies, my awesome leather jacket, my favourite heels, my favourite book.

Maybe I could wear them all at once on the plane?
Mm stylish. Who needs comfort? Oh my god look how white my leg is!!! Can’t wait to put that right.
Ok packed the basics, going to weigh it...
OH YAY it's under!
But now I have a moral dilemma. Or rather a prioritising quandry. Zappa wants me to leave space for some of his climbing stuff. So in theory every item I now pack is instead of a bit of metal that could stop him falling a further 4 metres or so.
.......really want to take my straighteners.
And my jacket makes me feel so awesome.
How can you go to Australia without boardies?!
What if someone offers to take me sailing?
That dress is really cool, good for hot Australian days.
The thing is, the plan is to get there and buy our clothes from charity shops. For blokes that's easy cos they just wear assorted oblongs. But for girls it's not that simple! Fair enough pyjamas. And the odd wrap skirt.
Right, adding stuff.
.............oh dear.

Saturday, 17 September 2011


Good grief

What are we supposed to do with that?

Ooo I know


Thursday, 15 September 2011


I'm in Buriton where there is exciting news! Chicks!

7 of them! 

They are an Assorted Chick Selection and I have high hopes for them as quality stock, may they be obsessed with egg laying and all be hens. A flock of cockerels obsessed with egg laying would be tragic.

I can't wait to see what they all end up looking like.

One of the most exciting and astounding things is that there are two with black legs...

Those are suspiciously well-developed tail feathers on the right...

...because the only chicken in the coop with black legs is...

Osama bin Chicken!!!

It's astounding because he is the thickest chicken I have ever met, and the possibility that he managed to procreate is quite incredible.

An unexciting video of Osama

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Nick called us and asked if we wanted to come and make cider. This was clever as what he really wanted was some slave labour picking apples, no cider press in sight. We only found out when we got there.

As is fitting for Somerset tradition, we were pinching his neighbour's apples. Nick's approach was less stealthy than mine - he told his neighbour first.

Nick had a massive tarp we laid down on the floor under the tree, and we tried shaking the tree in various different ways.

The trick is to figure out a way to do it and not have apples raining down on you. I had a good go shaking it, but I was too weedy and got exhausted after about 20 seconds, so we soon fell into team roles. Rik would climb into the tree and shake it from there, Nick would take the ladder and jab the branches with it, and Pete would alternate from shaking branches and getting rained on, and trying to start collecting apples and...getting rained on.

I held bags open and other useful stuff...Rik started me on a training programme to get me habituated to spiders, working up the grades of hardcoreness. That was in fact the ammended programme, the first one being abandoned after I loudly and angrily explained that throwing spiders at me wasn't going to get me used to them any time soon.

The next bit was the longest most annoying bit. I thought we could just somehow pour the apples straight into bags, but there were as many leaves and twigs as apples, not to mention the spiders and million earwigs per tree. Rik really didn't like the earwigs. He spent as much time trying to kill them as bag apples. Bit like trying to exterminate midges from Scotland.

Apples bagged, it was off to the next tree, carefully selected by me. That was my other job - apple selecting. Like a professional wine taster, only without the horrible wine. Yuk yuk. I got to travel and taste things.

I'm gonna be honest - it was fun for the first...half and hour or so. Then it got a bit old. I wanted to climb trees and stuff like the others! Anytime anyone complained though, someone else would say 'Think of the cider!'

Pete and Rik playing 'Who Can Inflict The Most Pain with Apples'

After 3 hours though we ended it well - it's always fun getting a tractor out. We'd filled around 25 bags which I thought was pretty good going. Don't know how many litres of cider we'll get out of it. Blatently two or something insulting like that.

 Rik: 'Arrrgh I HATE earwigs!!!'

Soon we'll take the crop (I say 'we', if Nick doesn't take me I'll be pissed off...) to someone with an apple press, Nick's going to buy a barrel, and I'll finally see cider being made. Unfortunately I won't get to drink it, what with the whole shoving off to Australia thing. But it was nice to do something else genuinely Somersetty before we go.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Hay Bales

The neighbour supplying me with apples owns a little field next to the apples, which has been slowly but plentifully culturing a splendid crop of ragwort and docs. We don't like to see our neighbours succeeding in such a way so we got Bryan to bale it so we could burn it. That's called Saboutage.

Pete's task today was to stack the bales into a pile in the middle of the field ready for burning. He was computering so I appointed myself as project manager, my first task to pester him until he came with me to start the job.

We got up there and Pete had a GENIUS idea. Of making a HOUSE out of them. They were really heavy but after much coaching, here is our hay house.

The next task was, sadly, burning it. We were going to chuck diesel on it but we'd run out. Dad and I wondered if petrol would work. Dad thought I should check with Bryan but I rang him and there was no answer. I wondered if we should just go for it and hope. Then I remembered who to ring in any situation. Famie.

Famie told me in her calm way that whatever we did, not to use petrol, cos it vapourises and you could explode yourself in a cloud of fuel. This was today's useful lesson, unusually for me, not learnt the hard way. Tell all your friends. Ok fine so you all knew. Hush.

So I went and got more diesel and Dad chucked it on and I lit it. That is, after turning round to my parents and asking for reassurance that it wouldn't just blow up when I made a spark (I saw a film last night where that happened. It was a gas pipe the baddie had chopped, but it was still in my mind). They said they didn't know. But that they didn't think so. Not especially reassured, I still went for it.

It burned. We went home.