Friday, January 30, 2009

A House, A House, My Kingdom for a House

Ok, I know it's supposed to be My Kingdom for a Horse, but in Sydney's real-estate market, it really is a Kingdom for a House.

Despite the housing market bubble bursting in countries like the US and UK, Australia's market remains defiant of the trends.

For those looking to get a foot in the door, like The Bloke and myself, it's disheartening. Take, for example, today's open house jaunt....

We pull up near the townhouse, which is almost new and, despite being under the flight path, has double glazing to compensate. We're right on time for the 12:00-12:30 viewing, which is the viewing time for every other bloody open house inspection on a Saturday morning.

The real estate agent pulls up in his massive, black 4wd, which he (naturally) double parks so that he doesn't have to deal with the unpleasant prospect of walking ten metres to the property.

He jumps out and cheerfully announces that it's hot - no news to the 20-odd people waiting in the heat for him to be bothered to show his face. He swaggers to the door, all open neck shirt and sunglasses on shaved head, saying he "won't be a moment" to just "open up" the house.

We all troop in to hear him cheerfully announce that, such is the large interest in the property, that the estimated value has gone up $20,000. Great. That neatly puts it out of our budget. At it's original estimated value (if nobody puts a pre-auction offer in and it actually goes to auction) it was already twice the amount in mortgage repayments that we're currently paying in rent.

The townhouse is great and exactly what we're looking for. The only problem is that it is exactly what around 30 other couples are also looking for. You can barely move around the place without bumping into desperate house-seekers. We flatten our backs to the walls in corridors to pass and some get bolshie, pushing past you to look into the bathroom, not bothering to wait patiently for the last person to exit.

Deflated (unlike the property market), we head over to the next viewing.

It is not nearly as nice as the first townhouse with the second bedroom so small you could reach out and touch the opposite walls at the same time. The courtyard is lovely with a water feature and Japanese feel to it. But it's brick veneer and weatherboard and has a closed in feeling to it. The Bloke is quite keen, though.

We see the same faces from the first inspection and realise that this too, is a popular property.

We decide to call it a day as there are very little other properties open for inspection.

I am hopeful that, as Sydney returns from holiday January, more houses will come onto the market. The Bloke is less optimistic.

We return to our rental, in a suburb that we could never afford to buy in, and hope the property bubble will burst.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hot, Hot, HOT

Sydney has been baking in temperatures of 35 degC for the last few days with even hotter temperatures in Western Sydney. And when it's that hot, you can expect thunderstorms.

I cycled home yesterday beating the storm by minutes and raced to pull the clothes off the line. The storms don't make things cooler. In fact, it sometimes feels hotter after the storm because it becomes more humid.

And the storms tend to knock out our satellite TV, meaning I actually have to talk to the Bloke instead....

With a hot, westerly wind, like there was today, it's like cycling in a fan-forced oven.

Maybe I should do what the doggies in the park do and take a dive in the harbour. I saw a border collie yesterday galloping along the path with a big stick in his mouth and shedding sheets of water. He was as happy as a pig in mud.

Another thunderstorm is expected tonight, but this time bringing slightly cooler temperatures with a maximum of 29 degC expected tomorrow. That I can deal with.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hair Removal... or... The Joys of Being a Woman

Laser hair removal has been touted as the best thing since sliced bread as far as hair removal goes. Although removing hair with sliced bread is a rather arduous process.

I've tried most hair removal options and thought I'd give this one a go for my underarms. Imagine hair-free underarms for ever! Not that it's guaranteed to be totally permanent, but after six session the hair roots are supposed to be killed permanently.

Off I trotted to do a test patch at the local clinic (where, handily, you can also get botox and dermafillers....). The technician put some gel on the area - kind of like the gel they put on when you're getting an ultrasound - and proceeded to zap me a few times with the pen-like wand.

"What's the big deal?" I thought.

"It hardly hurts at all!"

So I booked in for my next session at which I prepaid the next five sessions in order to get the sixth session free.

What they don't tell you, and here's the sting (quite literally), is that at every session they have to increase the intensity of the laser to make sure the finer hair roots are killed as well as the coarser dark hairs. And on my first go, she zapped areas with hardly any hair and on a low level, so it didn't hurt.

The more intense the laser, the more pain. At my third session, I had to ask them to turn the laser down. And it still felt like hot needles being pushed into my skin. I had even put a topic skin numbing cream on the area prior to the session and it was still massively painful. So much so that my muscles sometimes spasmed.

The things we do! I have decided that I am NOT doing my legs or bikini line. Yoweee. Shaving is good enough for me. Next time I'm going to try both the topical skin numbing cream and a couple of paracetamol!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I came off my bike last week. No, I wasn't badly injured, just embarrassed.

And this is why....

I was waiting at some traffic lights, having a drink from my water bottle, when the lights changed. I knew there was a car behind me, so I attempted to hastily stuff my water bottle into its slot on the bike.

Too hastily as it turns out. I lost my balance and tipped over sideways, doing a McGyver roll to avoid any injury. I ended up sprawled on my back in the middle of the road.

If someone was filming it, it would have ended up on Australia's Funniest Home Videos.

I was laughing at my clumsiness as I struggled to get the bike off me and haul myself off onto the pavement (not wanting to hold up traffic any longer). The guy in the car behind me was laughing too. As were the cyclists across the road who did ask if I was OK.

I was fine, just, well a little embarrassed. A small scrape on my knee and a sore shoulder is all I have to show for my dramatics.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


After the most ridiculous few days of heat (30-40 degC), the weather cracked and it bucketed down for my commute home on the bike. I was soaked. The rain doesn't bother me so much, but the wind was ferocious and I wobbled around on my bike. I'm not the heaviest person, so being blown off my bike is a real concern!

There were hardly any doggies in the park on the way home. On the way into work this morning, the park was packed as I tried to negotiate between pedestrians and dogs. I find that dogs are usually really smart and alert to the bike, moving out of the way.

The same cannot be said for many of the dog owners and pedestrians who dither in the middle of the path, even if you ring your bell to warn them. Like the woman with the South African accent who was squawking:

"ah just refuse to put mah dogs on a leash"..

It's not the dogs that are the problem, honey! It would be great if everyone just kept to the left so we could all share the path.

I haven't found the heat to be that much of a problem because I tend to cycle near the water. There's usually a nice breeze coming off the water (unlike this afternoon when there was a nice hurricane instead!). The doggies also love the water - especially the Labradors. It's cute to look down at the path and see the wet paw prints followed by a large puddle where they've had a shake!

They're so happy to be in the water! And there's this one dog, not sure about the breed, who just stands, belly high, in the water and stares and stares into it. There's got to be something there that's captured his attention!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tackle Obsession

Why is it that nearly all things related to hen's night (bachelorette parties for our US cousins) are penile related?!!!

I am organising a hen's night for a good friend and, in the ritual tradition of humiliation which must accompany every bride-to-be, have bought:
1) a veil and tiara with "bride to be" emblazoned across it in pink and
2) a garter as below

Relatively modest these days I know, but just about everything else (apart from some sashes), was penis related!

Surely the majority of people in Australia who are getting married are no longer virgins when they walk down the aisle.

So why is it all about the male bits?! This is a girls' night out and is a time for girls to be girls. It's not all about the boys and thier nether regions.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Random Thought #1

I love the sound of cycling over loose paving stones.

I also love the sound of rain on a tin roof.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 - reflections

2008 was a mixed bag for me.

Both my grandparents, my Oma and Opa, died within a few months of each other. We had a ceremony to bury their ashes recently and it was weird to think of those two wonderful, lively people reduced to a small box of ashes. It's still hard to believe that that is all that is left of a person.

2008 was the year I finally left the world of finance and entered the world of government policy. After 5 years with the same company, it took a massive own boot up the arse to get me to move. I'm not sure this is the right job for me, but I'm proud I made the effort to change.

2008 was the year of air travel: the Bloke and I went to Melbourne (me for work, him to be the trophy husband); we went to Byron Bay with friends; and Mum and I went to New Caledonia.

Financially, it was a much better year, with money saved for a house deposit. We still need to save more, but we can realistically look at buying a place within the next 12 months to 2 years. Something I never thought possible with Sydney's sky high real estate prices.

It was also the year of exercise, something I've traditionally fought against. I now cycle for an hour a day, 5 days per week.

For my friends 2008 was a year of change. My best friend got married, quit her job and went travelling in Asia for 6 months with her husband. Another friend also quit her job and is travelling. Two more friends decided to leave Sydney, one to Victoria, the other to Queensland because they have a better chance of actually having a nice lifestyle there. And quite a few of friends had their first baby.

So 2009 finds me married and in my 30s (early 30s I hasten to add!) with a job in the public service and a trip to the UK organised for the middle of the year. You can't stop time!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Shoes, glorious shoes

Like Kate, I recently bought some shoes in the post christmas sales:

I have some similar black, shiny patent mary janes, but the heels are so high that I can't wear them for more than one hour. I then have to cover my feet in band-aids due to the blisters the shoes cause.

These have a smaller heel and feel a lot more comfortable.

I have a hen's night coming up and it they last through that, I know they'll become my dancing shoes!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Post Christmas Sales

Every Boxing Day, I used to trek in for the post Christmas sales. I'd wake up early on Boxing Day, catch the bus in and be done with my shopping within 1-2 hours.

Now that I'm older and wiser (and work in the city and have to deal with the crowds every day) I find it too painful to do.

So this year my post Christmas sales shopping consisted of me going to my local direct factory outlet and getting some nice tops, a bbq cover for our new four burner beefmaster (BEEFMASTER!) bbq, a lovely Oroton handbag:

and a new sunlounger for the back yard. Strangely the sunlounger was instantly acquired by Kitty Smalls:

Usually her favourite spot is to be wrapped around the ficus, her weight slowly compressing the soil and exposing the roots:
But she's very pleased with the new sunlounger! Well, that makes two of us.

*Sob* no more Journalspace

Having blogged on Journalspace for over three years, it's upsetting that it's all gone.

It's my own fault for not saving my posts to my hard-drive, but still...

Onwards and upwards! I will endeavour to search out all my favourite JS members and resume posting asap.

Are you nice Blogspot? Will I like it here?