It's safe to say that we've been rather spoilt in Newcastle! We arrived in Newcastle at quarter past 4 on the 23rd December, and tried to call my Auntie Jean to pick us up from the train station, but i couldn't call her number on my phone as I didn't know the international code for Aus. Luckily she spotted us though. On the way back to her house we stopped off at 9 mile beach, but not for long as it started to rain! We had a little wander around the shopping centre then we went back to Jean's house for nibbles, then over to see my dad's cousin Simon for a drink or four, and some more nibbles which was very nice! We stayed with Jean on the first night then the next day she showed us the pubs, clubs and slot machines of Newcastle! There are loads of members only clubs here, which seem quite cheap to join, but apparently if you live within 5ks of a club you have to be a member to go in. We went to one yacht club for a drink, and then the 16footers yacht club for lunch and another drink (we had to run back to the first yacht club as Sam left his camera there!). It's really friendly here-everyone seems to know everyone and they're all very nice. After the 2nd club we then went to a pub, after which we were both feeling a bit merry. My wisdom teeth started to come through around this time too, which made it pretty painful to eat and talk, so Jean got me some medicine stuff which numbed my mouth and made me slur my words, but it worked a treat!
In the evening Jean drove us over to Belinda and Geoffrey's house. We were quite jammy really, as their neighbours were away for a few days over Christmas and they asked us to house sit for them! We had the whole house to ourselves, whioch was such a luxury after staying in dorms! Their neighbours also have a pool which we made good use of as it was really warm over Christmas! We met some of Belinda's family too- Ol from norway (who is related to Belinda in the same way that I am related to Geoffrey), and her friends Marianne and Lynne. On Christmas eve we went over to Belinda and Geoffrey's friends for nibbles and drinks, then went out with a few drinks with Daniel, Ol and co, but we didn't have a late one as we knew we would have an earlish start on Christmas day. On Christmas day we came over to Belinda and Geoffrey's at 9 for a champagne fry up that was made on a BBQ! After a few drinks we headed over to Belinda's sister Marianne's house for lots more drinks and a Christmas dinner. It was quite a friendly day-there were 22 of us in total! The Norweigans sang their national anthem after dinner, and we politely delinded singing the 'pommy one' as it's both rubish and embarrassing, but instead we managed to bully Geoffrey into singing a Geordie song called 'keep your feet still hinny boy' which sounded surprisingly good, and is a much better song than 'God save the Queen'. After dinner we all had a few more drinks and then went outside to the pool! It was the weirdest experience ever going in a swimming pool on Christmas day (or dipping my feet in-the water was very cold!) but it was a lot of fun! At about 10 we all caught taxis home and had an early night. Boxing day was pretty uneventful-we could have gone to the Newcastle races with Daniel, Ol and co but it was quite pricey to get in and we didn't have anything smart to wear, so instead we got up and lunch time and spent the afternoon in the pool which was just perfect! We went out for dinner in the evening to another one of Newcastle's clubs-we got Geoffrey in trouble as he gave us his membership card to get in and it got confiscated by the Nazi doorman and he got a bit told off. When we got home Sam was thrilled as the house we were in had the full sky sports package so he spent pretty much the whole night watching English premiership football while i spent the whole night trying to avoid watching it.
Between Christmas and New Year we've been quite lazy-when the neighbours came back Belinda made us up an airbed in their front room, so since the 27th i think, we've bene back with them. We've been out for a few more drinks at the various clubs in Newcastle. We cooked everyone dinner one night which seemed to go down well, especially Sam's home made meatballs-i think everyone think he cooked the whole thing though, but it seemed a bit mean to set them straight! We've borrowed Geoff's 'ute' a few times, which Sam's had to drive as I'm too young to be covered by the insurance, and he says it makes him feel all manly as it drives like a beast! We drove down to Nelson's bay one day which was quite nice, but the beach wasn't nearly as nice as the ones in Newcastle. We spent the rest of the day in a nearby waterpark-it had this horrible water slide which is completely pitch black and absolutely terrifying! We've also spent a few days at the beach as it's been really warm, and did a little bit of shopping in the Christmas sales.
For New Year's eve the plan was to camp out in Sydney in a van, then the back up was top find somewhere to stay in Sydney, then in the end we just caught the train from Newcastle as everywhere was fully booked. We caught the 8.30 train and got there for about 11.30. We were expecting to just be able to go and sit somewhere with our picnic and esky full of wine and beer, but most areas had been fenced off and we couldn't take glass bottles of alcohol in (which is so mean as they have bars in all these areas that charge a fortune!). We started to walk to Mrs Mac's point, but we heard that people had been queuing to get in since 8am, and we couldn't even see the end of the queue at 12, so we decided to sit and have lunch, while Sam had a few beers so he didn't have to bin them, at which point we were interviewd by a reporter for the Sydney morning Herald, who probably thought we were just whinging. We ended up walking to the part of the botanical gardens that didn't close at 3, and although we walked through 2 checkpoints (we only got searched at the 1st), we still managed to sneak in our bag of wine which we were rather happy about. We got a good view which was partly covered by shade, but then we moved to another spot without shade for a better view of the bridge which turned out to be a huge mistake as it was boiling all day! I think it reached 34 degrees at one point, and it was pretty unbearable-we had loads of water and ice lollies and i even went to sit in the shade for about half an hour. At 5 it cooled down a lot as the sun went behind the building in front of us, at which point it started to get really chilly-you just can't win! We had dinner and a few drinks before the fireworks at 9-there were a big group of Brits near us who were absolutely plastered-they had even put rope around their little area so no-ine else could sit there-it was a bit embarrassing to watch really. We expected the 9pm foreworks to be by the bridge, but it turns out that they were behind us, so we couldn't really see much of the display because of the trees. We both had a little nap after that, then got all excited as the fireworks started at 12. It was an amazing display, and it was really wonderful to watch them, but they only lasted for 15 minutes. As soon as they finished we headed back for the train station-we walked all the way as the tube stations were rammed with people-there were hundreds and hundreds of people all walking in the same direction and as most of the roads were half closed off with fences it was quite hard to get through. We caught the 1.45 train, and arrived in Broadmeadow station at about 5, as we caught the train that stops at every single little station along the way. We slept most of the way, although it wasn't all too comfortable-luckily we had a seat though! When we arrived at the station there were no taxis so we started to walk home, then got lost, then headed back the way we came to arrive at Belinda and Geoffrey's at about 6am-we even saw the sun rise as we were walking which might have been nice if we weren't so knackered. It was amazing to watch and great to be in Sydney to watch the fireworks, but i think if i were to go again I'd try and stay in a hotel in the city or maybe try one of the harbour cruises as they sound awesome!
We had such a lazy New year's day-we slept til about 12, then got up for a few hours, then back to bed at 3 for another 4 hours and woke up just in time for dinner! Everyone had an early night but we stayed up a bit later so we could do some washing and watch the sex in the city marathon.
We head back to Sydney today at half 3 to stay the night in the base hostel (I am so dreading staying in hostels and dorms again after having such a nice house to stay in for the last week or so-it's been so nice), and then we travel up to Coff's Harbour tomorrow. We've planned our journey up to Brisbane but we need to book the rest up soon as everywhere is getting busy-apparently this is the busiest time to travel in Aus as we're right in the middle of the school holidays. I really think we're going to miss Newcastle-everyone has made us feel so welcome and it's been so nice to stay with family. I think it would be a great place to live if I had to live abroad as they have all the beaches, shops, clubs and lakes, and there's so much to do here! Apparently Coff's harbour is ncie too though so it should be fun.