Sunday, 9 December 2007

Honey I'm home!

Back to the real world, a cold and wet Britain haha. The house felt strangely odd, even though now it seems normal again, and driving to church this morning also felt bizarre.

The flight was fine, we all managed to sleep alot which we were pleased about. And for the few hours that I was awake... I made some cards haha! Crafty people - have you heard of Amy Butler? There is a huge buzz around her at the moment for her textile designs and she has bag patterns that alot of crafters are following. Her lines are now creeping into the papercraft market too and I brought some cute card kits in Singapore to keep me occupied on the flight home.

The patterns are really cute aren't they? They were very simple card packs with die-cut panels, rub-ons and pre-patterned card blanks which were perfect to do on a small seat on a plane, not the kind of kit I would usually buy though. I just love the patterns on the card blanks!

So I've unpacked the backpack and stored it safely away (again!) and caught up on alot of washing. Let's see what Monday brings for me! Good luck for the girls that are back to work tomorrow, a harsh strike of reality for you two - boo hoo. Happy week off for you Katie! And lucky travels for you Julie!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Wet through


For fundraising info on Dad, click here

We have left Pauline and Neil's and arrived safely. It was really sad to leave them and I got a bit emotional!

We are staying in the most random place, it looks like a high rise council block from outside, yet the top floor, floor 25, is renovated into about five apartment rooms and it is really nice. Very strange!

It has not stopped pouring with rain all day though so you should not be too jealous of us. Deb and I got lost coming back from the tube station, got totally drenched through and then no cabs would stop for us and noone knew where our place was when we asked! Eventually we got a cabby to stop but it was a bit of a drama. We are supposed to off out tonight to Raffles hotel for a Singapore Sling! If we can make it to find a cab that is...

Singapore Sling!

For fundraising information on Dad, click here. The story for our fundraising made the front cover of the Barking and Dagenham recorder today, although in true newspaper style it is quite bluntly put, but hopefully it will raise awareness for both the drug and our fundraising.

The newspaper story is here

Seems a bit more trivial now, but our update for our last night or two in Singapore...

We had a very eventful evening at the Raffles hotel last night - and quite unexpected! We set off in our best clothes (it says in the guide book they turf you out if you look like rif raf haha) and got a taxi to one of the most famous hotels we know. It was amazing! The hotel was decorated with elaborate Christmas decorations and as we walked into the hotel it had the most amazing Christmas tree - it looked just like the house in the film, Annie.

Deb put on her poshest voice and told the waitor "We are here for a Singapore Sling" which we found hilarious, and they showed us to some seats in their bar. It was lovely. And so were the Singapore Sling drinks which we weren't expecting! So we had more than one haha. We had a lovely evening, chatting and being very civilised, enjoying an evening of luxury - but much more was to follow, little did we know!

When we were ready to leave, like true tourists we took a few photos in the lobby when a guy at the other bar in there asked if we wanted him to take a group one. As we were preparing to leave afterwards the waitor (who is now our mate Gary!) came over and said the gentleman at the bar would like to buy us a drink. After much deliberation (we had our sensible heads on parents of course) we decided why not, as we were in the most expensive hotel in town and we are backpacking! So we were shown to a table and presented with champagne. And not just any old champagne, oh no, but a $580 bottle of Dom Perignon which is about 200 pounds! I am not sure but that might well be the most expensive drink we have ever been brought! Until later...

We were soaking up the luxury and later were introduced to Brett and his boss George, who are regulars at the Raffles hotel when they are in town on business, oh er. And actually, you would expect them to be very cheesy but they were very nice guys from Papua New Guinea. We were also presented with a bowl of strawberries to go with our lovely champagne, who could refuse. The pianist had been playing happy birthday earlier so we decided it would be fun to pretend it was Debbie's birthday today! So that got her a cheeseboard too as she managed to slip into the conversation that she would choose cheese over a birthday cake any day haha.

George had been trying to impress a wine conoisseur at the bar he said and so ordered 'a bottle of their finest' except he didnt realise until later that the finest indeed was the finest, coming inat a total of $12,000 a bottle! He offered Stacey a glass of this red so she drank a glass worth about 800 pounds we worked out haha. How funny!As we were leaving we were told their was a bus booked for us to take us girls on a little sightseeing tour of Singapore and then home, all expenses paid.

We were going to take our own taxi instead but our mate Gary told us the company was very safe and they would get us home safely so as it is paid for we would be fine. So we took a little tour of Singapore, sang a bit of karaoke and rolled up home about 2am in the end. Well we certainly had a great time and it was a highlight of the trip - how great to be spoilt like that.

Today we just looked around the markets and had an easy day after the night before. Tonight we went out for something to eat with a travelling buddy, Pete, who the girls met in New Zealand. That was our last night really except for tomorrow evening when we meet Julie and James for one final meal before they head off on more travels and we leave for home.

We will see you all at the weekend!

What a wonderful world...

That's it - we are all packed and ready to come home! My bag is, er, just a tad heavier than when I left home but hey, that's what shopping in Singapore does for you. We all did different things today - I headed off to a shopping centre that had been recommended to me by a crafting buddy as a couple of great craft shops - and they weren't wrong! The display of one of them was done out like a sweet shop, it was so cute.

We just chilled in a restaurant by the river which was really nice, it did rain alot but hey, what else do we expect! We ended up there for hours as we had til very late that night for our flight, and Pete joined us again.

I've had a great time, and even though my trip has been alot shorter than originally planned, I am so glad I joined the girls and we have crammed so much in, it couldn't have been any more fun! So many highlights - sailing around the Whitsunday Islands, Kroombit cattle station, Surf camp, swimming with dolphins, seeing Pauline and Neil in Perth - the list goes on. And I'm so glad I did it with the girls too as that made it all the more special!

So we are off ready for our 14 hour flight from Singapore home - see you all soon and thanks for all your comments along the way!

Jenny x

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Fundraising for a good cause

Hi everyone

As many of you will know, my dad is currently having treatment for bowel cancer, and he is coping very well with it so far. There is another drug which he can have to go alongside his chemotherapy which the doctors think will be of benefit, called Avastin, but it will not be funded on the NHS so we are going to raise the money ourselves. The total we need to raise for a full course of the drug is 18,000 pounds.

We have formed a fund to start collecting already although we have not got facilities to donate online just yet (we are trying to set it up now), and we will be doing fundraising over the next few months.

The first event is a sponsored walk that the four grandchildren are doing - this is to be held at Eastbrook End Country Park Millennium Centre in Dagenham, at 2.30pm on Sunday 16th Dec.

If anybody would like to either sponsor the children or donate in general, we would really appreciate any help, large or small, that you can give. For family/close friends who are local to us, you can pledge a sponsor to the children and we can collect it later following the event. Alternatively the fund is being held by our church to make the accountancy side of it simple so you can send a cheque through to us at home made out to "St. Erkenwalds PCC" marked on the back as "Jeff Cocks". Please include a cover note saying if you are a tax payer stating so, along with your full name and address so they the fund can claim back an extra 28% as Gift Aid.

Please email me on for information and my home address.

If you want to know anything else please feel free to ask away and I realise not everyone will be able to support in terms of donations, but we appreciate your support in all ways. I will be home on Saturday from travelling to get stuck in with all of this alongside my two sisters.

Thanks to everyone for all your support so far with the family too

Jenny x

Rottest Island

When I came to stay with Pauline and Neil last time with my mum, we visited Rottnest Island and I had been telling the girls how lovely it was - my memories did not disappoint me! It is just so gorgeous, the only place that has rivaled the beaches for me so far is Whitehaven Bay at the Whitsunday Islands. It is just beautiful.

We hired bikes for the day and met Julie and James over there - we spent the day cycling around the bays a little, having a swin (in the freezing waters!) and a little lay on the beach.

The strange little creatures here are called Quokka's and I think they are like half kangeroo and half rat haha.

I can't believe that we are leaving Pauline and Neil's today. Last night we went over to Julie's relatives for a bbq which was lovely, and then we came back for our last eve at Pauline and Neil's. I am really sad to leave as we have had a lovely time here. It is now onwards as Singapore is calling for a few days then home!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

A touch of craft...

Here are just a few of the quick cards I have started making while I am here. I couldn't resist once I had brought some supplies! They are of course just cut and stick ones - no chance for good techniques with a limited supply of tools including scissors, glue and tape haha. I have also brought some of the good aussies mags too for inspiration - Scrapbook Creations, Stamping and Papercraft and For Keeps. They are doing alot of offers where you buy the current mag and get one or even two back issues free - great for me! Can't wait to get making things again when I get home.

Brits on tour

Yesterday we went on a little visit to the Swan Valley vineyards to see how the finest vino is made. As it wasn't harvest time we didn't actually see any of the making process but they gave us a tour of the factory before we headed back to the wine bar for a little tasting of each wine on the menu!
They brought out the cheese and crackers for us too (they must know us so well!) and it was actually very interesting to learn about the different wines.

It was quite late by the time we left there so we headed to Cottesloe Beach for some traditional fish and chips by the sea - Brits on tour! Snapper is the local fish here so we all had that with chips and sat on the windy sea front. Cottesloe Beach is the one where GMTV film every year at Christmas for all the relatives living in Australia to wave to their relies at home. Neil and Pauline haven't ever done that though, charming haha. Neil assures us this year...

We headed down to Freemantle harbour in the evening to meet back up with Julie and James again and some of their relations for a drink - it is a really nice place in the evening, a good buzzing atmosphere. We went to 'Little Creatures' which is a brewery/pub and it was really funky.

This morning we had a very lazy Sunday morning starting with a lie in before we were treated to a bbq breakfast! The first for many of the girls and it was really nice. Pauline and Neil really have been very kind to us looking after us so well.

After a slow start we left to visit Hilary's Harbour which is a gorgeous little tourist place to visit. The sun was shining, we looked in a few souvenir shops and grabbed a little lunch.

After that we went to check out the markets in Fremantle but we were a little late haha, so we had an ice cream instead. That's about it so far and we are all shattered!

We told Neil he should become a photographer, what do you reckon? Only as his second job of course, being a tour guide should be his first haha! I am gonna be in trouble if he reads this during this week haha.

Friday, 30 November 2007


Oh wow, today I did one of my dreams - I swam with wild dolphins! And not just swam with them anywhere, but out in the ocean, and it was amazing.

We took a tour to Rockingham (our last shocking 6am start of the holiday as only a week til we are home - gulp!) and boarded a boat in the cold and windy weather. I was a bit grumpy not being at my very best at that time, you understand, but once we swam with them it was totally worth it.

We were given wetsuits and snorkels again and had to get ready before we left as once they spot the dolphins, it is straight in the water in groups to swim with them. We weren't actually allowed to swim as such though as it disturbs them so we all had to wear belts and hold on in a line to each others belt with one hand, while our instructor leads with a scooter (motorised yellow machine that moves us).

One instructor would swim down and guide them but they do not feed them and we werent allowed to touch them. It was just breathtaking and they made lots of noises as they swam about. On our final spot of the day we swam amongst a group of about ten of them, and it was just awesome.

This sounds funny but as we have done so many tours I didnt think too much about today. Not until we had these breathtaking moments at the end did I suddenly realise, this is something I have always wanted to do and just done it! And to swim with them in the wild rather than an enclosure was just so much better. A highlight definitely!

These are photos that James (Julie's boyfriend) took as he brought an underwater camera. Unfortunately he was quite sick during the day but somehow he managed to take some stunning photos anyway!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Creativity is back!

After my last update we did go to sunbathe in the garden and spent a few hours dipping in and out of the pool. Lovely. I don't suppose we would use one much if we had our own but it is a novelty and as it hot here, we love it! We didn't make it to the shopping centre as we were having too much fun haha.

In the evening we decided to treat Pauline and Neil to the ritual that is... nachos and chicken fahita's! Dad - you would have loved it haha. I am not sure they will become a tradition here as they are at home for us but they did enjoy them, we are assured.

We haven't laughed so much in ages though - after taking lessons on fahita wrapping from Debbie, and being reassured by Katie that he didn't need to watch that carefully, I think Neil made himself a sour cream and guacamole wrap with a dash of chicken!!! He had sauce coming out of all of the sides and he couldn't eat it all as he had so much in, it wouldn't wrap up haha. He is the new King of Fahita's!

This morning Neil was treated to a day out with the girls while sadly, Pauline had to work. We ventured out to Cottesloe Beach and then onto Yanchep National Park. Here our guide told us all about the trees, the lake, the koala's and the kangeroo's - and we don't believe a word of it haha. I think Neil is getting our sense of humour ;o) We had a lovely outdoor bbq in the park, I love the fact that they have them in their parks.

And my creativeness has finally caught up with me! After four weeks of trying to block out my creative spirit, at least in the craft sense, a few work emails asking me to do projects when I get home has set me off and so I brought some crafty bits from K-Mart yesterday and made a few cards! They will follow soon - so hoorah for all you creative people who log on to read for that side of it, sorry for those that are just logging on for our travelling stories haha.

On the way home today I was treated to a little visit to a HUGE scrapbook store too! Yippee! Thanks Neil. I didnt know where to start as it was about six times the size of Artbase, if not bigger, and it still had a huge classroom. I wish I lived near there! This is a lovely selection of what I brought.

Tomorrow we should be a bit more back to our adventurous selves and might do something more exciting for you again...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

One for the ladies I forget to mention...

Sightseeing at Rainbow Beach...

(Our kayaking instructor!)

We made it to Pauline and Neil's!

We flew out of Alice Springs on Monday morning and a few hours later we were at Perth airport where it was lovely to see Pauline and Neil, my aunt and uncle. Julie's relatives were also there to meet her and she left us with them to go and collect James from the international airport, he has flown to join her now until we leave, when they then head onto Malaysia.

So Pauline and Neil took us back to their house (I have been here once before) and it is so nice to be in a family environment. As it is lovely and sunny here we all sat in the garden and chatted for hours, and had dinner outside too, ah bliss.

We had a good family catch up and enjoyed the evening, I was filling them in on all the family news that had been overlooked recently. We had a lovely evening, they are so nice and especially so kind to be letting four of us stay!

Yes the houses really do look like they do in Neighbours, and they have a lovely pool too. I haven't actually been in it yet though!!

We have just chilled since we got here really, the effects of doing so much before I guess! we have watched a DVD this morning and are going to sit in the garden now. We will do some more stuff soon though!

Sunday, 25 November 2007


We took our domestic flight from Cairns and arrived in Alice Springs and we could see the desert (it isn't technically a desert but you know what I mean) just stretch for miles and miles with nothing around as we landed. And it is hot! But not too bad as quite a nice breeze. Kate, Deb and I went for a wander around the town while the other two used the pool at the hostel and we found the kangeroo rescue centre. It was so cute, we got to hold Joey's!

They are baby kangeroos that are rescued when the adult ones are found dead, but often the Joey's survive in the pouch, so they rescue them and nurse them in a pillow case until they are ready to be set free. How cute are they???

The next morning it was a 5.30am pick up, yuk, though that turned out to be the lie in of the tour! We were booked onto a three day tour of Uluru (Ayers Rock) area. We drove out to where we needed to be, so a few hours drive with a bit of shut eye on the way. We stopped at a camel farm for refreshments too so Kate and Deb had a little ride, we didn't as we had done it before. They liked it haha. After a stop at the tiny town, we went to our camp for lunch which was more canvas cabins, they are quite cute really, then onto a three hour walk of Katu Tjuta, the Valley of the Winds. It was pretty intense heat as it wasn't the best time of day but we all did it fine and our guide, Spud, was a great laugh.

From here we were taken over to Uluru (Ayers Rock) to watch the sunset and it was beautiful. We shared the experience with about 20 other tour buses but it added to the atmosphere, and we had champagne and nibbles, it was so nice! A really good thing to see.
That night we headed back to camp for a nice dinner, they are doing lots of bbq'd meats and salad which is good. And Stace and I enjoyed the experience of a little visit from Julie in our cabin, only to find once she had gone off for her shower that she had locked us in!!! Took us a while to get someone to get us out too and she hadn't even realised haha. I bet she wouldnt have come back til morning either!

Day two was a 4am start, ouch, but worth it to see the sun rise over Ayers Rock and get some more stunning photos.

Then we did a two and a half hour walk around the base of it and it was good to miss the worst heat of the day. Onto a cultural centre then lunch, and then we drove to another nice camp that had a lovely swimming pool, just what we needed! That wasn't where we stayed but we headed off into bush camp for the night, more basic but just as nice as the first one. And Stace and Deb decided to sleep out under the stars in a swag bag after all - beware of the dingos, mice and all sorts! They survived the night though and are back safe with us. We had a glass of wine around the camp fire and had another go at playing the didgeridoo haha, our guide was great at that.

Today was up again at 5am - whats with the early mornings! Another hike, this time a three and a half hour one at Kings Canyon, that got pretty hot by the end but was good fun. Then it was lunch and all that kind of stuff then back to our hostel and the end of the tour.

Everyone really enjoyed it! We might go for a cheeky Thai tonight then it is crash into bed as we fly to Perth tomorrow to stay with Pauline and Neil, my aunt and uncle - I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Finding nemo

We had an amazing day today - we did our snorkelling trip at the Great Barrier Reef and saw some stunning coral and fish. But first we had to endure a very choppy ride out to sea, it did not make Wendy and I feel good, I can tell you! Poor Wendy was ill from the minute we left, I wasn't actually sick but suffered more sea sickness than ever before and on our way back really thought I was about to be, but managed to keep it at bay. The weather had been quite changeable so the current was very strong and it did not make a good boat ride.

This first photo is like where's wally - who can you spot??? Answers on a comment please!

But that aside, we had a brilliant time! Our first snorkel stop was a bit hairaising for us, well me for certain, I was actually quite scared. The waves were hitting us hard and the ocean was so strong that it frightened me, even though we didnt go far from the boat really. Once we got over that though we swam among some wonderful fish and the coral is just so colourful and pretty! It was so deep in places that I kept wondering what might jump up from beneath the ocean and get us!

This is me with Katie if you can't tell.

The second stop was more of the same but much calmer a spot so more enjoyable, and third was just as calm thank goodness. Our third one we had a eco tour from our guide and he snorkelled around with us, pointing things out and explaining them. He picked up lots of fish that we could hold and that was such an experience! Bright blue star fish - so pretty, this 'pineapple caterpillar fish' or something like that which was bright red and like a pineapple to touch but it slowly wrapped itself around your hand the longer you held it, it was so cute. And a black caterpillar fish that looked like a giant aubergine or sausage! I have forgotten the others, RUBBISH!

We had another hairraising boat ride back as I said, I was almost sick and couldn't wait to get off though I had been ok during the middle part of the day as we weren't hitting the waves hard with the boat. We had a little look around the shops then the barman here cooked us all a lovely meal on his night off! (and Stacey and Wendy had champagne and oysters again last night, what has happened to this backpacking lifestyle???).

Kate and I were snorkelling buddies for today.

Tomorrow we are heading off for our flight to Alice Springs, ready to do a three day tour of Ayers Rock. So we maybe absent for a little while - au revoir!