Thursday, 16 February 2012

A lot has happened....

A lot seems to have happened in a short period of time, which has the wierd effect of making it seem as though we have been here longer.

Work is going well, I have now settled down to my usual clinics, more or less. The patients are lovely and the work is rewarding.

So far the summer has been kind to us, apart from the odd "warm" day over over 35C, it has been in the 25C to 30C region.

The kids started school at the end of January and have now completed their 3rd week there. Imogen is finding the work pretty easy as she has done most of it before. Due to timetable constraints she has changed some of her subjects slightly, so instead of Biology, Maths and History she is doing Biology, Maths, Nutrition and Art plus a research project. She is working towards her South Australian Certificate in Education or SACE which will be used to gain entry to university. The SACE is awarded a number of points (200 over 2 years) and subjects must be gained at grade C or above to pass the SACE. For her work in the UK - AS levels she will be credited 110 points - leaving 90 to work towards for this year. In order to get into university, they rank students each year and state how many points a student must gain in order to get entry to a course. The points change each year depending how popular the course is. Students can gain extra points for things like outside activities and being from certain ethnic groups or single parent families. Due to our temporary visa status she will be taking a year or 2 out before applying to uni, we need to gain permanent residency first otherwise she would be classed as an international student. This is something she always said she would do anyway. She could opt to stay on another year at school - get another qualification perhaps part-time and work part-time. If a student earns over about $21k over 18 months and then goes to uni, they are classed as an independant student and can get extra money from the government to live on. Imogen has made some friends and has been invited to someones 18th tonight and another party in the near future.

Alex has settled in well. He is a typical boy and much prefers being active to sitting at a desk and so the Riverland way of life suits him down to the ground. He has joined the Scouts, swimming club and soccer team. This week from school, he has had a number of aquatic activities. A visit to a local town saw him trying kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and water skiing! Not surprisingly he seems to have caught the eye of a number of girls already!

We went out for my birthday at the end of January to a place called the Mallee Fowl which is designed like a sheep shearing shed (I think). The food and atmosphere were both very good.

Outside the Mallee Fowl

Collection of memorabilia inside

January 26th is Australia Day. The town council pay for everyone to have a free breakfast in the park and then there are citizenship ceremonies and various community awards given out. It's a good idea and brings everyone together. As Renmark is only a small community (10,000 or just under) then I kept seeing my patients! I felt as though I recognised them, but perhaps would have had a better idea if I looked at their feet!

We have now moved house as last week all our stuff arrived from the UK. Everything got here in one piece except for a plastic microwave dish, so that was great. Where on earth did everything come from though? I really didn't realise we had so much stuff. It was wonderful to sleep in our own bed though. Our new house is 15 minutes from my work and the kids school (walking) and 5 minutes from the pub/restaurant and river. It's about 15 minutes walk to the town centre too. The house is on a new estate which is one of the most desirable to live in in Renmark - "Jane Eliza". Our house is detached and open plan. The double entrance leads to a hall way and a passage way to the right. On the left is a study/4th bedroom and also a 2nd sitting room (which we have dubbed the music room). Down the right hand passageway is a door the the double garage (with its electric roller doors), cloakroom and utility room. Then the house opens up into an open plan lounge, dining room and kitchen. Off the lounge is a small passageway leading left to Imogen's bedroom and right to Alex's bedroom. Straight in front is the washbasin set in a vanity unit, a shower/bathroom and a separate loo. Immediately behind the lounge is our bedroom with its walk in wardrobes and an ensuite bathroom to its right. The shower is a triple size shower with 2 showers in it - a "waterfall" shower and one on an adjustable rail. Outside is an undercover patio area, a decked area, a gravelled area and a lawned area - -surrounded by young planted shrubs and herbs. The house has air conditioning which is very necessary. Inside it is decorated in cool whites and cream with some areas with beige carpet and the others with cream marble tiles.

Below are a few pictures to give you some idea....

Outside No 28

The new dining table
Our en suite
Our next piece of news is that Trevor now has a job. It's as a Production Supervisor but opportunities exist to advance. He starts at the end of Feb and it's with a company called Almondco - who, unsurprisingly process almonds and producing slivered, flaked, ground almonds etc. He's been very lucky with it because he has only been looking a couple of weeks or so and this was his first interview. They are an expanding company and recognised that he had helped companies expand in the past. This is fantastic news as we can be a little less cautious with our money! We are going to the Renmark Hotel to eat as tonight is a double celebration - 22 years of marriage and a job too! Well done Trev!

A Twitchy Eye (or Trev's contribution)
So, the end of my freedom is coming to a close and with it my mid-week morning treks through some of the local nature trails to do a bit of bird-spotting. Paringa Paddock has been my trail of choice with a good variety of habitats, but there's a nature trail or conservation park or game reserve every ten paces you take here. Guess I'll have to cram them all in next week. Bird-life is rich in the Riverlands and I've identified around one hundred different species already. Here are a few snaps:
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Young Darters