Our failed attempts at Dolphin spotting in Byron Bay

I’m currently writing this sat on a bus on my way home from work in Sydney. Trying hard to cast my mind back about 7 weeks to when we were still backpackers on the east coast. Regretting not writing this at the time!

So let me take us back to a sunny November in Byron Bay, the last stop on our east coast adventure…

After a slightly disappointing stay in surfers paradise, it’s fair to say Byron was finally everything I’d expected backpacking Australia to be like. It’s a cute small town, although bigger than I pictured, right on the beach and full of proper hippies. I tried my best to fit in with baggy trousers, no make up and a hair braid although don’t think I was fooling anyone thanks to the camera round my neck.

It wasn’t long before we were sunbathing on the beach, being attacked by strong winds and sand. After only being there an hour, we looked up to discover our towels and bodies were completely covered in sand! Naturally the strong wind meant I got pretty burnt after not realising quite hot hot it was. Regardless, we were excited to be calling Byron our home for the next 8 days.
The only slight downside was the arrival of the schoolies. Schoolies is basically when the 17/18 year olds go on holiday after breaking up for summer. Essentially there version of when I headed to Newquay at 16. In fairness they were pretty tame compared to the stories we were reading about surfers paradise, but being on a night out with pretty, skinny, 18 year olds just made me a little depressed. And when a guy refers to you as an older woman, it’s time to go home!

Our fist night out consisted of £2 wine, body paint, topless barmaids and table top dancing at cheeky monkeys. Incredibly tacky and something only lots of £2 wine can make enjoyable! A much more fun night was had on Sunday at beach hotel for Stephs birthday. It’s only open til midnight but was such a good night and great atmosphere. Took us a while to get used to the strict drinking laws now we’re in New South Wales. No entry after 1, no shots, no doubles and no more than two drinks per order. I got told off a one point for being in possession of two drinks….I was thirsty! This scuppered my ability to get us midnight tequila shots to see in Stephs 25th.

 

steph desperately trying to lay her sarong down

one of the weirder things i’ve seen. The police on their horses stopped by the window of the pub so the punters could pet the horse!

 

actual python in a tree in our hostel

the day we arrived, they shut off the beach due to a shark sighting, maybe i wont go for that surf lesson anymore…

 

the scene of a tragic night out

Our heads and stomachs weren’t feeling too great at 8am the next morning when we scrambled out of our bunks to go kayaking with dolphins that we’d booked way back in Cairns. Unfortunately (and thankfully!) they cancelled it last minute due to strong winds. So instead we celebrated a quarter century of Steph’s life with a cheeky sunbathe, Mexican lunch and a new piercing. As pretty as my new nose stud is, it did cause me to faint in the chair with the needle still hanging out of my nose. I woke up with Steph and and the piercer patting me down with cold towels in the middle of the tattoo shop with lots of eyes on me. So embarassinng!

 

new addition to my face

 

birthday thai for dins. one of very few meals out we’ve had in aus

very quirky saturday market. i’m not cool enough for this place!

The following day saw our second attempt at dolphin kayaking, and despite some serious storms the night before, we were all good to go. It was pretty tough work battling against the currents for a few hours. We tried a bit of kayak surfing too which we failed miserably at! Unless the aim was to capsize every time… And as fun as it was, we saw no dolphins so there was a lot of disappointment. But due to the companies ‘dolphin guarantee’ we booked to go back a few days later. Skip ahead to Friday, and it turns out it was not third time lucky for us! There was a small pool of about five dolphins in the distance, but hardly the swarms of dolphins swimming up to us that we’d been promised. We were invited back again but decided not to bother, chances were still slim due to the wind conditions and the tough kayaking and disappointment were not worth it.

But if we ever head back to Byron, the dolphin guarantee is good for a year…

 

excited to hit the water and spot all the amazing wildlife

 

nap time!


still no dolpins…

 

the one time we didn’t fall in… nothing to do with the guy holding us upright from behind

 

It’s bigger than it looks!

 

The best fireworks in the world

This is probably just a fact I’ve made up, but Sydney fireworks must be some of the most famous as one of the first countries to see in the new year. It definitely did not disappoint! After a lot of umming, ahhing and googling of the best free place to watch the fireworks we decided to follow Laura’s pack of friends and head to Balmain. We were at the back of the bridge with an incredibly clear view. We arrived early to set up our picnic and sneakily drink some alcohol to watch the ‘kids firework show’ at 9pm before really getting in to the party spirit for the main show and seeing in 2016 in style. It was blooming amazing! By far the best firework show I’ve seen and incredibly surreal to be there after seeing them on tv for so many years. One thing you don’t realise until you’re there, is how many fireworks there are. Obviously there’s the incredible show on the harbour bridge but they also have identical fireworks going off at the same time at several points down the river so you can see them anywhere.

  

I’m going to apologise now for some shoddy photography work. Fireworks are not the easiest thing to photograph, especially after vodka and leaving my camera on the wrong setting. But I couldn’t write a New Years blog and not include any, so here is the best of the bunch! Luckily you will have all watched them TV so I don’t need to stress too much about mis-representing an amazing show.

         
  

As for my resolutions… Well I haven’t specifically made any as who know what I’ll be doing this year and what my life will be like or even what continent I will celebrate 2017 in. I’d love to get fitter as always but I’m not going to promise that to myself! So I guess very loosely my resolution is to make the most out of 2016, meet new people and try new places and experiences. I don’t want to go home next Christmas and have any regrets about not doing something or putting myself out there. As a painfully fussy eater, I always like to start eating at least one new food every year. 2015 was the year of mushroom and avocado, I’m thinking maybe peppers and courgettes for 2016, but will have to wait and see what I can stomach!

first selfie of 2016 (one thing we won’t be giving up!) Here’s to an amazing year with my partner in crime

Soppy bit over!….can I go back to talking about drinking?!

Back home New Year’s Day would typically be spent lying on the sofa watching dodgy TV and eating a bacon sarnie. However NYD is a bigger deal here and possibly more celebrated. We’d hoped to go to Field Day festival, but our empty bank accounts meant a party in Manly instead. This was my first trip to the other side of Sydney and it’s just a short windy ferry ride away. Didn’t venture particularly far into Manly as we were going to Manly Wharf hotel, right next to the ferry point. It was a beautiful view sat at the bar with our prosecco and nachos as the sun set over the wharf. Perfect start to 2016!

 
  

  

I’m dreaming of a white (sandy) Christmas

I seem to have let my enjoyment (*cough* laziness *cough*) get the best of me recently and the blog posts have been lacking! Apologies! Those of you close to me know that I finished my east coast trip a month ago now and have since got a flat and a job in Sydney, and I will go back to finishing those stories soon but I’ve decided to side track and talk about something a little more recent…
I have a confession to make, I am a big Christmas lover. I’ve been caught listening to Christmas albums in July before and have normally finished all my shopping before I’ve even opened the first day of my advent calendar. Fair to say that my first Christmas away from home and my family, was always going to be a struggle. It wasn’t even until mid December that I finally managed to buy an advent calendar, and even then the chocolate was so disgusting, it’s still sat unfinished on the coffee table. Maybe it’s because it’s hot and light until 8pm, but it just doesn’t feel very festive over here, apart from the carols in the supermarket. There’s not nearly enough lights, decorations or Christmas window displays for my liking! But then it’s always going to be hard to beat Christmas shopping on Oxford street in London. Nothing will ever beat my wonderful Christmas’ back in England.

With that in mind and everyone of the same opinion, it’s like an unspoken rule that if you can’t be at home then do something completely different. If you try and replicate a traditional roast dinner Christmas, you will fail and cry over the lack of presents and family. So on Christmas morning, I was woken up to a glass of prosecco and the smell of bacon and pancakes wafting through the flat. After getting ready and opening our presents to each other it was time to FaceTime the family. It was still Christmas Eve, but they watched as I opened the ASOS parcel they sent me! Thanks heavens for online shopping and worldwide delivery! Although having spent two years working at asos and getting a delivery at least once a week, nothing made me miss home more! Donning my new necklace, I said goodbye to Allie and Steph as they had other plans and headed to my friends house. Walking in was when it suddenly felt like Christmas with their matching pyjamas, stockings, decorations, pile of presents and snowy scene on the TV. Can obviously tell they’ve been here a bit longer than me!

a suprising amount of presents!

 

Christmas morning face time with Daddy

 

Perfect Christmas scene

After some more prosecco and rushing Laura and Jen to get ready (those girls are the worst for being late!) we headed to bondi beach. After a rainy few days and the forecast not looking great, I’m pleased to announce it was the sunny Christmas we’d dreamed of.

The day was then spent basking in the sun, drinking beer (and hiding it from the cops), playing ball games, listenin to music and hanging with friends. Tom even managed to drag me the furthest I’ve been in the sea since being in Aus, right up to my waist!

the gang, of which i know about 4

 

Jen, Laura and I

it gets hot sunbathing in a santa hat

Once the sun had set we headed back to the house and the boys started up the BBQ. It was an insane feast! Lamb, steak skewers, pigs in blankets, roasties, salad, asparagus, dips, a cheese plate… After coming round from my food coma, I snuck off from the party for a quick face time to wish my family a merry Christmas and watch them open some presents. I probably should have rejoined the party but the bed looked too comfortable so I stayed there until the morning.

my family with the present I sent them. its almost like I’m there

 

looks like mummy got spoilt!

 

always hogging the wine…

 

BBQ feast with my pals

 

Boxing Day, despite serious rain, we headed to Randwick races as it was free to international passport holders. We had an enjoyable day of drinking, chatting and not a lot of watching the races or betting. Another thing that’s very different in Australia is most companies actually close between Christmas and New Year so with a week and a half off work most of my time was spent either at the beach, shopping or drinking with friends.

all dressed up for the races

Although very different to the Christmas’ I’ve become accustomed to, it was such a lovely few days surrounded by friends.