Sorry for the severe lack of blogs, especially as I have been promising them to you prior to leaving, this lap top doesn’t find Ross & Leonie’s network, best laid plans and all that. So I have typed up a few and will add them on from my data stick.

We have just got back from Lachy and Renee’s house, they had the children this weekend, Cassy had gone away for her birthday with her new fella. It gave us the chance to see their new house, they’ve only been in 3 weeks, and see the end result of a Metricon build. It is a 3 bedroom town house, what we’d call a bungalow, most of the houses over here are built over one storey, but go back for ages on the plot of land. While we still love the houses, and have visited Studio 501, where you choose this front door, that fascia, those windows, design your kitchens and bathrooms before your house gets built, they are being built are in the arse end of nowhere. Lachlan and Renee are an hour out the city, 40kms, and it will look like a. n. other housing estate when the houses are all built. While they do build schools, healthcare facilities and shops for the new neighbourhoods, they are stuck out by the freeway, and looking it at on a map, is not the same as visiting it in person. There are very few trees and green areas for children to play in, we had to drive 10 mins to a park, admittedly a good one, but still too far to bimble to if you are a stay at home parent. So while the process is good, the opportunity to choose everything in your house to suit you, is few and far between, and if you like anything other than the basic specifications (which is all they put in the show homes, nice!) it will cost you an arm and a leg.

We did look at some completed houses too, in Mount Waverley, so in the catchment areas for really good schools, 20 minutes to the beach, city centre and out to the Dandenong hills we loved them. Built in a more ‘select’ neighbourhood, they would be worth about $1m, as it is they are worth $680-800k now. So about £320-370k, best we get good jobs! However, they were finished complete in a gated complex, 9 houses in total, we would have no need to move out for 20+ years. Most houses over here have master suites on the ground floor, right by the front door, which for some unknown OCD reason freaks me out, so we would use this as a guest suite, while we’d decamp upstairs. They had beautiful parquet floors through most of the living area downstairs, tiled kitchen and utility rooms, and shagpile we waded through to walk around. Even if we can’t get on of these, Michael, the Real Estate agent, knows the area like the back of his hand, the office specialises in 6-7 suburbs so will be the person we go to in any case, as we keep being drawn back to that part of the city. Should Dan get his job in Glen Waverley, this is where we would be based, as any further in to the Central Business District (CBD) would be even more expensive, it would mean a commute again for me, but about 30 minutes instead of 120!

I know this is a bit ‘housey’ but this is the purpose of the visit here, so if you are fed up with buildings, let me introduce you to some daft dogs. Leonbergers. We saw them on Crufts this year, and despite several attempts to contact a breeder in the New Forest, we made contact with Karen who lives out in Launching Place, the furthest East the Melway Map of Melbourne goes to. She breeds Leos every so often, but runs the stud book for Australia and New Zealand and knows the breed inside out. Living with her aged mother, a refugee from Zimbabwe, she admits if she didn’t have the three dogs she would go stir crazy. Now most people would struggle with one dog, but she has three, huge, all paws, tails and huge slobbery, soppy puppies. All of them were shut away when we arrived as the nurse was visiting her mother, but we could hear them barking under the house, but only because they knew we had arrived. When she opened the door, they came in to where we were sitting, and basically loved us to death. It’s hard enough when someone treads on your foot, but you try shifting a dog this size:

As I said, they were incredibly soft, had absolutely adoring eyes and are totally impractical for the life style we are hoping for, but when we get a big house, land and space which are our long-term goals, these are the puppies we are going to get.
Spending time with Lachy, Renee, Piper and Oakley over the past two days has been great fun too. We ended up watching more Bratz than is probably healthy for anyone to endure, Dan watched some more football, we opened up packet after packet of cricket cards that have been delivered to Dan c/o Lachy. Hmm, someone is spending too much time on ebay methinks. Oakley is 18 months old, and very nearly talking, he understands everything that is being said, and was showing off his new shoes and hat, but apart from the odd word, he mostly grunts. Knowing what you want, but not being able to tell people is frustrating him, but is generally a happy, placid little man who shares his toys, biscuits – nice and squishy too and has a really cheeky grin.

Piper is 4, and a typical 4 year old, chattering away all the time, she has a vivid imagination and if we were talking, chattered to her toys and brother, every so often you’d get ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ sung out too, which probably says a lot for the amount of jingles around now. Her room was pink, fluffy and dominated by a dolls house that stands taller than she does, Disney Princesses abound (never underestimate the power of Disney Princesses) and her sticker chart is on the fridge. Every time she sleeps through the night and doesn’t disturb the rest of the house, she gets stickers to put on it. Dan and I brought her some more pink and fluffy ones to add to it.

Right, I am fed up with typing, and while I must close, I am wondering at the shite adverts over here, one husband and wife are advertising mosaic lamps. Think Tiffany without any style, he wears a pink tutu, she squawks like a banshee, the first time I saw it I was open mouthed. Chris Tarrant would be pleased to put it on his naffest advert show. Apart from the odd generic dubbed advert, and world wide (red bull being a shining example) the Aussie TV advertising is diabolical. It’s like being back in the 60s and 70s. I will try and note some more examples for you, but I need to get this onto a datastick and online now. TTFN


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