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Homeward bound – part 1

Well we’re on our way home. This time we travelled on the mighty Airbus A380. A most impressive leviathan of the air. The A380 has a length of 72.7m which is only 1.1m longer than a 747 but can carry 96 more passengers! Its secret lies in the fact that it contains 2 decks. Whilst the interior on the main deck, which we were on, is nearly the same as the Boeing 777 (3; 4; 3; seat arrangement) which we travelled down on on both legs of of journey to Oz, we noticed differences straight away. For one it’s incredibly quiet when compared with the Boeings. On take off it hardly felt the engines were on let alone being pushed to maximum capacity. Another major difference, although one we didn’t see being in “Cattle class” economy class, is the existence of suites … yes suites! In 1st class on the A380, for Singapore Air at least, you can have a suite. A suite is effectively your own enclosed cabin containing video screen entertainment, a recliner seat AND a separate full flat bed and...

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We spent a great day touring Sydney on the “Sydney Explorer” hop-on hop off tour bus with Ma en Pa who left Norfolk Island with us and are here in Sydney until a day after we leave. We got to see all the iconic Sydney sights : Darling Harbour; Sydney Bridge; the botanical gardens and of course the Sydney Opera house. The gardens were interesting as we got to see hundreds of “flying foxes”, bats with wingspans of up to 1.5 m, hanging from the trees. Sydney could certainly make a claim to be the Paris of the southern hemisphere … love was definitely in the air … literally! 😀 As we sat on the top deck of the bus we watched a sign writer aircraft carve out the message “Marry me Jen?” above the towering skyscrapers of central Sydney … we didn’t have to wait long for Jen’s answer … 5 minutes later the aircraft wrote out “She said yes!” In addition we saw at least half a dozen weddings, receptions and photo shoots going on around the city. In the evening we headed down to ” The Rocks”, the oldest part of Sydney and site of the first convict landings in 1788, for a...

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Tot ziens Norfolk

It’s time to say goodbye … Until the next time. We’ve had a great time especially with Mariëlle, Sylvan, River & Lukas. We miss them already 🙁 They gave us a terrific send off and as we zoomed down the runway we could see them on the other side of the field madly waving us off.

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Only on Norfolk Island …

If you want to call someone in Norfolk Island but only know them by their nickname then … “no worries mate” … there’s a section in the phone book for that. So if you want to call ‘Binky’, ‘Griffo’, ‘Nippa’ or ‘Smudgie’ then you can find them at the back of the official Norfolk Island Telephone...

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Beautiful Norfolk

Some views of this lovely island all with the ubiquitous and unique Norfolk Pine…

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Norfolk Island … a potted history

Norfolk Island is situated some 1,500 kilometres from Sydney and 1,060 kilometres from Auckland. It is an island with an unusual & chequered history. Discovery and First Settlement Discovered by Captain Cook during his second voyage in 1774, Norfolk Island was initially used as a penal colony. The first penal colony was established on Norfolk Island on 6th March, 1788; just five weeks after the arrival of the first fleet at Botany Bay. The penal colony was established under Commandant Lieutenant Philip Gidley King R. N. who thus founded the second British settlement in the Pacific. The majority of the convicts were slowly and eventually evacuated to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and by 1814 the penal settlement has closed and Norfolk Island lay abandoned and tranquil for the next eleven years. Second Settlement In 1825, after eleven years drowsing in the sun, Norfolk Island was elected by His Majesty’s Government to be the site of another colony. The original settlement was established primarily in order to develop the resources of the island. This one had no such purpose. It was designed to be conducted along the lines of `a great Hulk or Penitentiary’ for the incarceration of `re-convicted incorrigibles’. It was designated to become `a place of the severest punishment short of death’. Sir Thomas Brisbane wrote: “I could wish it to be understood that the felon who is sent there is forever excluded from hope of return”. Hell in Paradise Such depravities are destined to culminate in rebellion and many occurred. Following one uprising, a priest, later to be-come Bishop Ullathorne, wrote: ‘I have to record the most heart-rending scene that I ever witnessed. The turnkey unlocked the cell door and … then came forth a yellow exhalation, the produce of the bodies of the men confined therein. I announced to them who were reprieved from death and which of them were to die. It is a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and each man who heard...

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Happy Birthday

Happy birthday Sylvan … or nearly happy birthday as it’s really tomorrow but we gathered along with the rest of the Andrew family to celebrate a day...

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Fun & Games

Having a great time with our 2 nephews River & Lukas. They are such cute and lively little boys !...

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G’day Norfolk Island

Mar 16, 12

G’day Norfolk … or should I say “Wat awey yorlee” which is Norfolks for welcome to you all. The Norfolks dialect is actually a rather unlikely mixture of Cornish and Tahitian. This has come about as the majority of Norfolk Islanders are direct decedents of the Mutineers on the Bounty. After a ‘brief’ flight of 2.5 hours and a further 1,043 miles to add to the tally we find ourselves back in the lovely island of Norfolk. Meeting up with Ma en Pa , Mariëlle and Sylvan and of course our cute 2 nephews, River & Lukas. It was fantastic meeting up with them again on our 3rd trip to the island especially as they were waiting just behind the gates alongside the apron where we exited from our plane waving frantically. So after a total of 22.5 hours flying time and 12,223 miles we’ve swapped one small island for an even smaller one!...

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G’day Sydney

3,915 miles and 7 hours later we’re saying g’day Sydney. Off tomorrow to Norfolk Island...

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Singapore -Origins

Mar 15, 12

Sir Stamford Thomas Raffles (1781-1826) first set foot on the island of Singapore on 29th January 1819 which was then just a small fishing village. Raffles, an agent of the British East India Company ventured to Singapore hoping to establish a free port and a halfway point for traders along the China-India trade routes. After signing the preliminary treaty with a local leader, the official treaty with Sultan Hussein of Johore-Riau was signed on 6 February 1819, giving the British the right to establish a trading port on the island. However the Dutch protested as Singapore was then part of the Dutch Empire. The dispute was resolved with the signing of the 1824 Anglo-Dutch treaty whereby the British acquired Mallorca, Penang and Singapore while the Dutch gained Bencoelen (present day Bengkulu) and the rest of Indonesia. In August 1824 another Treaty of Friendship and Alliance was signed giving the British governance of Singapore. From the 19th Century, Singapore’s success as the “Great Commercial Emporium of the East” owed much to its free port status and strategic location. The Singapore River became the main artery of trade, where port, trading and warehouse facilities developed along the riverbanks. In 1867 Singapore became a British Crown-Colony after the transfer of the Straits Settlements from the British Administration in India to the Colonial Office in London. It remained so until 1959 when Singapore achieved self-government, gaining full independence in...

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Singapore Nights

Singapore really comes alive at night. It seems to take on a whole new feel and the cityscape vibrates energy especially from the way that the buildings are lit up. One of the most spectacular of all the mega constructions in Singapore is the Marina Bay Sands. It consists if three 55 storey towers each joined at the summit by a long curving structure in the shape of a boat. This ‘boat’ contains a swimming pool, buildings and gardens. The palm trees growing all along the sides can clearly be seen from the marina below. By day …. By night … Here’s the man himself … Sir Stamford Thomas Raffles. This statue of him is on the exact spot where he first set foot on the island of Singapore on January 28th 1819. Nothing can really epitomise more the progress and wealth of the city than the backdrop behind him. Something neither he nor his contemporaries could imagine would happen in only 200...

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Colonial Echos

We rather smugly thought we’d beaten the jet lag and had gotten our bodies into its new routine smoothly. However 4:00am in the morning found us both wide awake so we resigned ourselves to a few more wakeful hours until we would get up for breakfast … 8 hours later though we woke up decidedly confused at 12:30 in the afternoon! Determined not to waste any time we headed out as soon as we could by taxi to that most famous epitome of colonial rule, Raffles Hotel. As we glided up to the front entrance we were met by an Indian concierge dressed in full Raj regalia. As he opened the door of the cab the sense of Imperial decadence I was feeling at this point was somewhat dented when he asked if we were guests, upon which we duly replied ‘No’ and we’re then shown round the back. We had come to Raffles to soak up a little of the atmosphere that must have pervaded Singapore when it was a British colony and of course drink the famous ‘Singapore Sling’ cocktail in the Long Bar. We weren’t disappointed and it wasn’t hard to imagine the British upper classes along with other Europeans languidly enjoying the comforts of the hotel, their footsteps and conversations echoing down the cool marble corridors and upper walkways of the hotel. The Singapore sling was developed by the barman at the Raffles Long bar in 1915. I’ve tried a few in different cocktail bars but the one mixed at Raffles is without doubt the smoothest and best I’ve ever tasted. It’s hardly surprising though as our barman told us that they’d served approximately 150-200 on that day alone … so practice really does make...

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Singapore … A ‘fine’ city

Mar 14, 12

Urban legend … a form of modern folklore consisting of stories usually believed by their tellers to be true A lot of what we “know” to be true can sometimes turn out to be no more than an ‘urban legend’ .So what you you reckon to the claims below … fact or fiction ? Chewing gum is a controlled substance in Singapore It’s annoying isn’t it, when you’re on the Tube and grasp the handrail, only to have your fingers close on a revolting old piece of gum stuck to the underside In such moments, it would be great if you could just outlaw chewing gum altogether. Answer... TRUE : In 1992 that’s exactly what Singapore did, partly due to the authorities’ general annoyance at the cleaning costs and partly due to specific concerns around chewing gum interfering with automatic sensors on the train doors of the city’s Mass Rapid Transit system. An outright ban remained in place for twelve years, and affected ‘the substance usually known as chewing gum, bubble gum or dental chewing gum, or any like substance prepared from a gum base of vegetable or synthetic origin and intended for chewing’. The legislation was backed up by some pretty tough fines. If you don’t have a licence to sell gum for hygiene or dental reasons then you can be fined up to S$2,000 (in the region of £700 or US$1,300) for selling or advertising chewing gum. In Singapore it’s illegal to eat and drink in public. Don’t you just hate it when you see litter or McDonalds wrappers and food being eaten in the street … but surely you can’t ban this most basic of freedoms … can you?. Answer... TRUE : Eating and drinking in pubic is prohibited. This was the law, much to my chagrin, I inadvertently broke whilst on a Singaporean bus. The bus driver who had a camera to watch the top deck saw me taking an innocent swig from my can of coke and then announced...

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