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Sarah and Emily’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 31 Mar 2007

Location: Brisbane and Coomera, Australia

So we headed back to Uncle Mike's for a few days, as we knew they'd have missed us! We did venture into town once but mainly we made use of the DVD player again! We let Sam and Sarah take us out again into Brisbane nightlife where lashings of wine and not a lot of food made for a good night, especially when we arrived at the 'club' (we'd just call it a bar!) and found complimentary drinks, now that's what we call a night out! We did well though as we managed to remember the address to tell the taxi driver but he did require his Sat Nav as we weren't much help with directing (Sarah was just looking for Dominoes Pizza and Emily was making endless chit chat). But we managed to get home to be greeted by Uncle Mike and his batch of scones he'd just made...perfect! Mike and Debs obviously weren't too ashamed of us as they invited a couple of friends round for a 'barbie' the next day where we got to tell a poor woman the horrors of spitting in China (her husband is currently there and hadn't mentioned a word) well someone had to tell her, maybe now she isn't going to visit him...oops!

All good things must come to an end and it was time to say farewell to the lovely Howard family that had treated us as one of their own, we look forward to seeing them again when the clan hits England for Steph's wedding. It was time for us to move families we now had the Howcroft-Quigley family to entertain. Debs gave us a lift down to Coomera Waters where we eventually found what we thought was Jackie's house (Sarah's sister's friend) but as Sarah knocked on the door there was no answer and as we looked in the windows we thought we were at the show home on this new estate, a quick phone call and all was sorted, poor Jade was in the house but hadn't heard us (luckily she'd not seen us peering through the windows we're not sure the poor 15 year old could cope with the thought of freaks at the window. But all is O.K. and soon we're meeting the whole family, our family for the next week!

First up 8year old Elle is in a lantern festival and Jackie and Gareth are wardens - something definitely not to be missed! Hmm actually maybe missing it wouldn't have been such a bad thing, the 'story' of the lantern festival was told by a scary woman banging sticks and seemed to drag on for rather a long time, the children walked on with their handmade lanterns but not for very long unfortunately, we tried to entertain ourselves by talking to the people in front but they made an escape halfway through. Oh well at least at the end we got to go to the drink shop for a traditional box of wine, but not until we'd talked to the head of primary at Elle's school and arranged to go into school for the day - you know us, dedicated to the job!!

We all headed out for the day to Stradbroke Island the following day, and as there are six of us we had to drive the Ute, yes that's right Gareth entrusted his precious Ute in the hands of us - ah he just doesn't know us well enough, he even let his daughter ride with us. But it was great driving again and there's something magical about driving a Ute in Australia - you feel like a local! So we all arrived safely on Stradbroke Island (though the vehicle ferry was full so we were all there as passengers) and got the bus down to the beach, well after walking around for about 45 minutes we found a beach. A beach that was so windy you felt like someone was throwing needles at your legs (but every time we looked round there was no-one there...funny that) this did not stop the typical British try and get the sun shelter up though (it was just like windy summers in Cornwall as you battle with the wind-break) but when it became truly ridiculous failure had to be admitted and it was put back in the bag. So decision made to move beaches we head over to the next one to be told by the lifeguard that it's closed - oops. So we trudge back up the hill, stopping by a hill for a bit of sand surfing and then catch the ferry back, oh well we still had fun!

Now the joy of where Jackie lives is that it has theme parks galore nearby. So after much decision making we decided we would do Dreamworld and Wet 'n' Wild, well we deserved after all this travelling! So we ventured out to Dreamworld in the Ute and had a great day. Emily forced Sarah onto many scary rides with the "it won't be that bad once you're on it" technique but still failed to get her on 'The Big Drop', ah the joys of theme parks. There were plenty of photo opportunities but obviously official ones were far too expensive to buy and were mainly of just hair over Emily's face. The favourite photo which we could've bought was of the whole carriage setting off at great speed on 'The Tower of Terror' and Sarah looking absolutely terrified, everyone else is kind of screaming but smiling (enjoying the experience), there is even a man at the back looking like he's just sat watching T.V. whereas Sarah looks like she's on the carriage to death...she enjoyed it really!! But after all that excitement a gentle water park the next day would be lovely...

Well maybe we just start with the worst rides by accident but as our near naked bodies just about managed to come out of 'Twister' alive we were in shock at the beginning of our Wet 'n' Wild experience. Luckily the other slides were not as bad and we were going on them again and again by the end. Our favourite was one where you were both on a raft together and hurtled down a slide which then sent you flying into the air to land on the side of a cone and swished up the sides of the cone - we called it preparation for White Water Rafting! Oh and the Black Hole really was Black, it was not an exaggeration but hey sometimes not knowing what is ahead is better and at least for that 3 minutes no-one can see you in your bikinis...a whole day walking round in bikinis - magical...

As if we hadn't suffered enough we then headed into Elle's school the next day. We began the day in a militant Year 6 class where we sat in shock as they chanted the school prayer then with a swift click of the teacher's fingers they were chanting the 'affirmation' before beginning morning exercises (Elle and Jade assure us not all classes are like this, as we couldn't teach that with a straight face). But there was more shock to come as Emily's worst nightmare unfolded...the teacher had a pet bird in the classroom and where did he decide to put it - Emily's shoulder! So we spent the next hour not paying attention to the lesson but trying to get the bird off Emily as it was pecking her shoulder to death and had very sharp claws, but anytime Sarah went near it he pecked at her and rather viciously so in the end we gave up and asked a kid to get it off...they couldn't...damn it! So they asked their teacher, who then struggled to get it off but Emily was finally free but with many red marks to show the physical pain...the emotional scars may never heal.

We were extremely pleased to be moved to 'Prep' (Reception) ah the young ones and no class pets, lovely! We were just settling into the classroom nicely when suddenly it was time for 'Godly Play' yes you heard right they don't have assembly at this age they have 'Godly Play' where the children sit in a circle in a hut and listen to a story being told by Mr. Harrison with a large wooden cross round his neck and looking at the floor the whole time and then the children went away and drew about how the story of the Mustard Seed made them feel (and you weren't allowed to talk to them during this...fine by us!). We soon headed back to the classroom enlightened by our experience and looking forward to lunch. We talked to the teacher and discovered that teaching is just as much work in Australia as back home, and they don't have dinnerladies so have to sit with the children themselves during the shorter lunchtime - YOU MUST BE JOKING!!

We were starving by lunchtime but unfortunately this was when we were given a tour of the school so we quickly had to shove our sandwiches down our throats in 5 minutes before heading to Elle's classroom, chanting "we mustn't embarrass her, we mustn't embarrass her". Elle's teacher was lovely and the classroom was a normal one hooray we felt at home and at ease and so we were quickly moved on damn it. We were even split up...shock horror for the first time in 7 months!!! Emily was led to the Netball games while Sarah went to the Football (sorry, Soccer) fields, where we individually baked in the sun with no shade around. Sarah struggled to find watching the girls football interesting for that long while Emily became very anal on the Netball pitches making it her job to run on and drag the girls into the correct positions. Wow what a long day, it has made us extremely glad we're not working, especially teaching - such hard work, let us relax some more, or we could go Go-Karting!! So that's what we did we hurled ourselves round the track with our usual competitive streak, Emily won the first round but once we were in the faster Karts Sarah hurtled ahead, we're thinking when we go back in about 5 years Jade will whip our butts though!

Now we'd heard a lot about Byron Bay and so a day out in the Ute was called for. We headed down the Freeway (or whatever it's called) and arrived at Byron Bay. Unfortunately the weather was a bit poor so when we did settle down on the beach it wasn't exactly run and jump the waves weather! We had a wander round the shops and visited the lighthouse and most Easterly point and people looked at us as though we were mad in our shorts and vest tops as the cold wind blew us about...ah well we're tourists and proud to be!!

Now Jackie wanted our last day in Coomera Waters to be memorable, so we all went Zorbing! That means we donned the unattractive clothes the company leant us (we can't afford to have laundry to do) and jumped into a large inflatable ball with a few buckets of water (after being hosed down first (yea hilarious...we don't think). Then we stride forwards in the ball heading down the hill and tumble around like we're in a washing machine, laughing and shrieking away like small children. Then we slide out and decide we'll have a couple more goes! Meanwhile as Gareth and Elle head up the hill for a go we are asked to be 'speed bumps' for them, well we'll try anything once so we lie on the hill and they come hurtling over us - great fun, it sounds like self-harming but it's fine as long as it's not Michelle McManus coming at you! Ah after much hilarity it is time to leave our new family, we must head to the big smoke, Dave and Mariel will be missing us and need a Sarah and Emily fix. So a nice overnight bus is in order!