Friday, 21 January 2011

Mini-break to Brisbane

So the floods have subsided and the clean-up is well underway. And it's time for me to visit my friends in Brisbane.

The people I am going to visit are actual friends. Not people I feel obliged to see because they helped me out or hungout with me. For any of those who doubted that Couch Surfing was a legit way to travel, I think I now have enough [overwhelmingly] positive experiences to request that you eat your words one letter at a time.

So where was I..... Ah yes, Thursday morning, rush hour time, Paul drops me off at Nerrang train station. A friendly ticket office guy (and when one uses 'friendly' to describe an aussie, you mean the English equivalent of your best friend, on a good day, when you have just bought them icecream) who informed me that all travel across the entire city is free due to the floods.

Brisbane Flood Graffiti

Just pause now.... and think ...................................... FREE.
So on trains and buses that cross a total area larger than London and surrey combined, free travel. And it has been free since the floods. Queensland actually thought ''Well our poor Aussie tax payers are probably gunna have a bit of a disrupted service what with the place being under water, so we won't charge them for a few weeks". Can you even imagine if that happened in London? I can't. But when I try, I'm fairly sure that TFL would add an extra flood levvy to cover the cost of fuck-knows-what. I've said it once, I'm gunna say it again: I Love This Country.

Anyway - to put back to the system, Me and Erik are going to do some volunteering today for the Big Clean Up. I'll keep you posted when I catch the inevitable water-borne life-threatening infectious disease. That's the thing though isn't it... I wondered what it was that made aussies turn up in their droves to help-out, without agenda, without any recognition. It's the fact that if a country looks after it's inhabitants, it's inhabitants will look after their country. (Ok, I could go onto a very long and ignorant/naive spiel that starts: '...with the exception of the native aboriginals who seem to be treated more as invaders than inhabitants....'   But I'll save it for another day when perhaps I am better informed and armed with a few pointless facts to throw at you.

The painstaking clear-up

So I arrive in Brisbane and Erik meets me at the station, as beautiful clothed as he was half naked. We get Starbucks, and then we shop. we shop and shop and shop. There is one shop in particular where I nearly blow my entire travel fund. It's like some clothes-designer has been secretly stalking me and has dedicated an entire shop to me. And Erik was awesome... I'd forgotten how great it is to shop with your GBF. Honest: "No darling, somethings just not working with that outfit", enthusiastic: "I love them, those shoes are doing so much for your legs, just look at your ankles!!", level headed: "If you are never going to wear that, don't spend $200 on it''. Best shopping partner ever. I settle for an anchor studded hand-made hair bow, and leave gutted that I didn't get the half-price shoes I could never wear for fear of snapping both tibia's, and grieving for the $220, 50's all in one denim flares that fit me so well (infact, they are a tad too long) they must have been made for me.
After shopping, Erik fancies McDonalds, and en route says something that nearly makes me wee myself. He tends to have this effect on me. In fact, now is a good time to give you some classic examples. If you will, dear reader, in your head, put on your best camp dutch accent whilst you read: (and may I point out, that none of what Erik says is intended to be funny, ironic, ditzy, whatever, its 100% his actual thoughts).

Erik's Classic Quotes - Top 4
  1. I loooove McDonalds. Just this morning I had my first McFlurry since the floods, cus you know, there were shortages.
  2. On the subject of the predatory gay elders of Queensland: It's great, they give me $50 to take my shirt off, and they don't even touch me!
  3. Reflecting of his sailing trip from Cairns to Brisbane: Everyone was sea-sick, but I could avoid it, you just lay really still and listen to Lady GaGa.
  4. On passing a group of just-pubescent girls at Wet'n'Wild, with "FREE HUGS" emblazoned across their flat bellies in Zinc: Free jail sentence more like.
Ok, well the last one was actually me, but Its pretty rare for me to be quick witted, so its going in.

Le Suits
So Erik and I come back to Jamie's and watch Hedwig. Then Jamie, who has come down with a chest infection so cannot join us, takes us to the venue where Elliot's band are playing (there last show before Big Day Out on Sunday!). El does an awesome set, ending with the best rendition of I put a Spell on You I have ever heard. I think to myself  'Cor, whoever's up next has got a hard act to follow', then BAM! Strutting on stage to New Order's Blue Monday are Le Suits, a 7 or 8 member band with 3-piece brass section, Jack Black on keyboards, and Phil Jupitus main vox. Everyone is dancing and jumping about, Erik and I keep glancing at each other with 'I can't believe how good these guys are' stares. Next up are Tin Can Radio.... I say to Erik "Let's go, aint nuffink gunna beat that", but before we have time to leave, this band start playing. If these guys do not make it BIG in the next 18months, I will eat both my arms. There is the kind of crowd energy/atmosphere that you only get with a great band, playing a tiny venue, on the cusp of something great. I can honestly say I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a live performance so much. I was trying to explain to Erik what the word Analogy means, because I was thinking, the only way I can describe the front man's performance, or at least, how it felt to be on the receiving end, is that it was like, when an ambulance arrives at the scene of a car accident, and you're close to death on the road, you expect that paramedic to do everything to keep you alive. It's his job. You don't care if he's had a bad day, or its his last hour on call, or you are the 1000th person he's treated in a car accident. Well this front man, he was performing like it was a life-and-death situation. It was his job to make me, who has never even heard of his band, practically fall to my knees. They were so tight. the bass was so heavy. They managed to incorporate sax and trumpet without it sounding like dated ska. I implore you, check em out. The drummer. My god the drummer. I was well and truly Alive and Kicking after that performance, Tin Can Radio revived me at the roadside.

Tin Can Radio

We leave the venue, Erik stops for his 3rd McFlurry of the day (making up for lost time), and his 2nd McChicken Sandwich, and we get the train home. His house mates rule. I love them all. I wont go into why they rule, just take my word for it.

Time to help Clean UP

I am, after a very long, but rewarding day, back from my day volunteering. Me and Erik got tothe office where is works and split into two cars. We drove to a woman's house in Fairfield, which had been all but destroyed by the flood. Her name is Rosalind. We get stuck straight in, with me and the boys (Michael, Erik's boss, and Elliot, a collegue, both of whom I  am fairly sure he is sleeping with) put on outside duty, which involves wading through knee deep sludge - a mixture of mud and sewage.

The house backs onto the river, where the flood managed to dislodge a jetty... a full sized jetty that houses boats, and deposit it onto the roof. It all looks very surreal. Rosalind's house has been emptied, the walls are black up to waist-height. Those on inside duty are set to destroying the sodden walls with sledgehammers, and pulling up the floor. Poor Rosalind kind of wonders about, like you'd imagine you would if a bunch of strangers came into your home and started systematically tearing it down. I found it quite emotional - in the front porch lies all her salvaged letters, kids drawings and photos, drying.

The work outside is grueling. The stuff is heavy, cumbersome and full of sharp edges. The mud is sticky and slippery and threatens to take your boots with it at every step. The Firemen who are also working on Ros's house all day today, give us their Queensland Fire Dept. Issued leather gloves. these help a bit. I was only permitted to do the grotty work because I had my tetanus jab back in November. Good job too, lots of bumps and scrapes in toxic water. nice.

A neighbor brings us home made cookies, still warm. And one of the inside workers feeds them to us so we don't have to de-glove and wash. At 3-ish, free Nando's arrives. (some of the people helping today are volunteering from Nando's head office, including the General Manager of the state). Finally, at about 4pm, we hose ourselves down using the fire-truck.

My arms are wobbly and my hands shake when I lift my water-bottle. my back is aching. I have mosquito bites on my  face, the only place I didn't apply repellant. My feet are blistered from sodden wellies. I am exhausted. But kind of elated. The difference it made to this woman's house was immense. The sense of comradeship brilliant. And at the risk of sounding self righteous, (which, believe me, I am not. I am well aware my 8 hours cleaning is nothing compared to those that have suffered the effects of the floods - let alone some of the people for whom this is one day in a long list of days they have committed to helping free of charge, such as Erik, for whom this was his 5th day volunteering), I am very proud of myself. And glad I was able to contribute, even if in a small part, in just one of the thousands of homes affected.

Tonight, I am meeting up with Ben who took me to the Hinterlands. Tomorrow he will drop me home, Sunday is BDO, cannot wait. Monday recovery day. Tuesday, lingering anticipation. Wednesday, Australia Day. And that means...... the long awaited arrival of my dealry beloved. Booked transfers from the airport so he should be rocking up at Viv and Pauls sometime wednesday night. We will all no doubt be shitfaced already. Which he will love. AND, I've booked the flights to Airlie Beach for Friday where Wendy and Phil will collect us from the airport. So very excited!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A proper good week ...oz style

We’ve been treated to some amazing aussie weather the last couple of weeks, total bliss. Spent most of last week just basking  in the sun by the pool, reading, listening to music and painting my nails! Simple pleasures.

The weekend was one of my best to date. On Friday, Julie (Viv’s sister), who I haven’t seen since 1997, took me and Viv to Mirage Marina for a look round the shops and fish and chips. They dropped me at Nicola’s to get ready for the ‘Mates in Need’ fundraising street party flood appeal thing.

I met Nic’s friends from work who were lovely, and we bumped into Marge and all went for a drink. Morgan, (one of said work mates), dropped us back at Nic’s where we proceeded, just the two of us, to drink both bottles of pink champagne we’d bought, and then gorged ourselves on Ben’n’Jerry’s Phish Food (Most aussies have never seen or heard of B’n’J’s!).

So sodding hungover Saturday. After obligatory hangover brekkie, we headed straight for main beach, where we soothed our fuzzy heads with beautiful sea air and trashy chick mags. We even snuck into the posh hotel to sneak a dip and de-sand ourselves.

Out hangovers abated, we fooled around like maniac children in Nic’s pool, taking about a billion underwater shots of ourselves. Then off to Viv and Pauls to get dolled up for a small gathering round Sarah’s house.

Sarah is one of Nic’s bezzies, she’s a darl. I’ve met her a few times round here, where she calls viv and paul, mum and dad. She’s the one who managed to get us the Big Day Out tickets – legend. She has an awesome full back piece tat and is just generally a nice lass. So I knew I’d be in good company when Nic invited me to hers for the night.

Me and Amy at Sarah's - check the faux wood paneling!
We had to stop off at one of Nic’s old school fiends on route to Sarah’s, and I was reminded why I hated Roseberry school so much. I’m sure these girls are lovely individually, but 6 of them together and I suddenly feel like a different species; I can’t decipher a single word from the high pitched squarks emanating from the flapping gaggle of  designer clad princesses. I feel super aware of the fact that, whilst they are dressed in the on-trend muted beige and khakis’ of the season, I look like some kind of circus act with red hotpants, white men’s shirt, (thanks Elliot), red, white and blue men’s braces and a nautical neck scarf (thanks op shop). I didn’t have to feel self conscious for long though, cus we made a fairly swift exit and drove to Sarah’s.

Sarah, Brady & Amy
Her apartment is awesome. Super retro. On the waterfront, faux wood paneling throughout, complete with bar in the lounge. Her housemate, Ash, is a hairdresser from brighton, super friendly, first words to me are ‘I love your lipstick!’ (he is, in fact, straight, but I guess 7 years hairdressing in Brighton modifies a man). Stacey is the next to arrive, blue/black long hair, awesome red talons and dressed in leopard print. I am among friends. Next in are Brady and Amy, who I actually love. Brady looks like he meditates for 17 hours out of every day and is dressed in linen yoga clothes. Amy is tall and beautiful and boyish with a bowl do with shaved under-cut, nose ring, straight trousers, men’s black buckled shoes, and best tattoo I have ever seen (simple wire coathanger, dunno why I love it so much).

We have such an easy going, fun, relaxed and enjoyable evening. I’m not sure what time we went to bed. But Me Nic and Ell woke early and headed to Viv and Paul’s for recovery.

I got a text Sunday night from Jamie, the CS guy who had cancelled our Wet’n’Wild date last week due to the floods: “Are you up for W’nW tomorrow?”, Me: “Keen as a bean, 10am out front?”, Jamie: “It’s a plan stan”.

I am still astounded by how easy everything is, I don’t know if its being away from home, or Australia in general, but I’m sure in England, planning a day out takes eons of time and countless rounds of text tennis to establish the right time, place, appropriate dress etc.

So anyway, sure enough, Jamie, and his couch surfer Eric (or as I laterf found out, real name Hendrick – far cooler!), met me there and we proceeded to have one of the most fun days of my trip to date.

Jamie is a 23 year old, tall, smart, thoughtful, interesting, afro-ie Tool fan. Hendrick is an 18 year old, eurotrash loving, ass wiggling, Dutch queer. And he is beautiful, with a personality that lives up to the hype of his face. An unlikely match, the three of us, but we get along as if it has just always been that way, the three of us in a water park.

I love him.
The rides are amazing, One in particular, had me nearly weeing in my bikini. It is a vertical tube, many many meters high (about 12 flights of stairs). All the while you are watching the people in front take their turns, and hear their screams, genuine screams of terror, the volume of which drops frighteningly quickly as they fall at speed away from the top platform, where you await your turn. It’s time. You stand in the tube, it closes like you are being cryogenically frozen, then there is a count down “3…..2…..1….” and the floor you are standing on is pulled from beneath your feet and you free fall down this massive vertical pipe, with enough force and slip from the water that you do a 360 degree lopp’de’loop, emerging at ground level with your bikini bottoms probably visible through your mouth, if it was open wide enough.  Which mine was, because I too, screamed unashamedly for my life. It was amazing. But I am never doing it again.

Viv picked me up from the water park at 6pm. After a quick shower, I test-drove the new Mount Tambourine dress at Jahni’s gig. She was as good as Elliot had described. It was a lovely evening, but poor Vivvy is still in too much pain so she had to miss it out. Just me, Nic, Elliot (and his band mate Andy) and Paul.

Me, Hendrick, and Jamie :)

Yesterday was much the same as I started this blog, a well deserved day listening to tunes, doing my nails, and reading by the pool. Bliss.

I’m off to Brisbane tomorrow to see Hendrick and Jamie, and Ben who I went to the Hinterlands with. Then next week Simon arrives! SO you may not hear from me for a while.

Speak soon my little blogettes.


Jahni doing her thing at the gig
Me and Nic post gig

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Springbrook national park up in the hinterlands

Not much has been happening but I fancy a blog.

Poor ol’ Vivian has what we think is a broken rib. So she’s off work and outta action. The rain has been unremitting (except for a rare blast of sun this morning - cue me to jump out of bed and leg it to the pool before the rain returned!). It’s probably making world news - the weather. The floods are not that far north of here, so there’s that lingering sense of natural-disaster-fatigue among everyone really. I was supposed to be going to a water-park with a chap from CS today, but alas! He is flooded in, in Brisbane. An irony that Simon delighted in pointing out to me. I must be losing my English wit, because it hadn’t occurred to me until that message, how mocking an excuse the poor weather was for cancelling our Wet’n’Wild date! The ultimate paradox: 'I can't come to the water park, I’m afraid, it's raining'.

I jest. Tis’ the automatic state that all brits revert to in a state of crisis. I may quip about the ridiculous Queensland summer I seem to have arrived in, but, in all seriousness, it’s pretty bad. So if you are feeling generous, do donate to the appeal.

The Kings Speech
So anyway, the weekend was pretty quiet - although - quite does not equate to peaceful! Friday night I made Viv and Paul watch Hedwig. (I think they liked it!). Woke Saturday and just pottered, then went to Auntie Val and Uncle Reg’s for his infamous lemonade scones (delicious! Totally made up for the shit scones we had at Mt Tambourine!). Then we went to the pictures, just the 3 of us - v romantic! To see The Kings Speech. Loved it! We all did! Stopped on the way home to get gourmet pizza. Had to wait 20 mins…. I suggested we play a game to pass the time, but realized (out loud), that the only games I know are drinking ones. At which point Paul immediately vacated the vehicle only to reappear seconds later with a 6 pack (and after being shoved out the car a second time) A midori and lemonade for Viv! (Si, I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, you’re gunna love Paul).

That evening, dunno if I was hormonal, or just tired, or what, but I got upset about a whole heap a stuff that I don’t think needs airing in a blog. What’s important is it is sorted now. I guess it was always bound to happen. Between planning this trip and actually coming out here, I fell hopelessly in love (*puke*), and that was always going to put a different spin on things. Vivien was fantastic. She let me cry, she hugged me, she listened to me repeat myself a billion times, she made me tea first of all, then upon my realising it was gunna take a while, I requested the wine she’d offered first time round; the wine was too peppery, so she opened other wine. She gave me good advice which I followed, and subsequently after a long talk with the lover in question - I felt much better. Only slept for about 4 hours however as had to get up early for my Bushwalk with a Couchsurfer named Ben!

Ben, me and Sarah up in the Hinterlands
It poured down all day in the Hinterlands, and it was bloody fantastic. Ben collected me at 10am, along with his friend Sarah (who I suspect, although is taken, has, or maybe had, some kind of thing with Ben). Anyway, despite this chemistry, I felt completely included and could be myself right from the off. The walk was phenomenal. The falls were like nothing I have ever seen before. We swam in the less aggressive pools. We got leeches. We ate a packed lunch. We found a giant snail, and all the while a constant, effortless conversation streamed, from sex education, to personal philosophies, parenting, to travel plans, Job prospects to thrill seeking adventures. All in all, an action packed day, with awesome company.

Purlingbrook falls

It was surprisingly cold up in the mountains, so we stopped for fudge and hot chocolate. Delish.

Ben dropped me home, and I ate the fattest roast ever. Paul, like Pete, likes to double-meat. Chicken AND lamb. A great combo. Viv did cauliflower cheese, pumpkin, roast tatties, veggies, stuffing, the works. First roast in months, and it did not disappoint!

V big snail.

I guess I must have been emotionally and physically exhausted; cus I slept in on Monday til about midday, with mojo snuggled next to me (first time she’s done this - isn’t it funny how dogs just seem to know when you’re down?). Viv was back to work and so was Paul, so not much to get up for and no plans. However, at about the time me and mojo got up, Viv got a lift home from work with a colleague because she’d had an accident involving a door and had seemingly fractured a rib! For most people, sitting and watching movies all day is heaven, but not poor Viv, who suffers the same all encompassing house-proudness that Mum does. So, understanding this condition, if not fully empathising with it, I tried my best to be helpful and keep things clean and tidy!

Um Bongo skirt. Caught the Sun a bit!
In the afternoon, Elliot took me to the Op Shop. This is essentially a warehouse of second hand vintage clothes and furniture. I was in heaven. I could have spent HOURS in there, but after the first one, I realized Ell was probably ready to leave. I was ok with this, as I had already found an amazing green knee length skirt, and my star item, a beautiful, weird, simple cotton mini skirt, made from the most cool material. It looks like a carton of Um Bongo. Complete with lion, monkey, giraffe, hippo. AND the lining is made from same material, different print, with weird kiddy-style dog’s n stuff. The kinda skirt dreams are made of. I also found matching green tops! Think Ell was slightly perturbed by my response to this outing: somewhere between a crack-whore getting a long awaited hit, and a child being told its ice-cream for dinner. He can’t have been too fussed though, cus today, whilst we were out to get Viv’s X-ray results, he took me to another one. And this time I got the most amazing blue, red and white striped braces (that were in the fancydress section for Christ’s sake! Are they mad?!), a beautiful cashmere red and white jumper and a nautical neck scarf. RESULT! 
Reminder of Um Bongo

Elliot bought along his “not my girlfriend” girlfriend. Jarney, or Jahnny, I dunno how it’s spelt, but it’s pronounced exactly how when Baby calls for Johnny right at the end of Dirty Dancing when he’s about to leave in the car.  Anyway, she is 14. Think of all the things you think of when someone says '14 year old gir', and then erase every single one of those assumptions. It’s made me realise what people were always banging on about when I was that age and younger. Everyone was always so astonished about how I didn’t seem my age - and I never thought that could really be possible. Looking back I was sure I seemed 14. But Christ, if I was anything like this girl, then I LITERALLY (and you know I don’t like to use that word lightly) was not 14. She’s a singer/songwriter, she doesn’t go to school, she’s funny and smart and totally confident (I was none of those things, but that’s not the point). I cannot believe she’s ten years younger than me. So I say, to hell with the Law. Good on Ell, he’s pulled a cracker.

On an unrelated note, I just watched The Hangover. Why did no one make me watch this film earlier? I did a little wee!

Until next time faithful followers. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 7 January 2011

Doing 2011 in Cararrarararara with The Westons - in and around Surfers Paradise

Well we were treated to a sunny few days leading up to New Year, mostly spent by the pool, doing nails etc. all very taxing! NYE was awesome, Viv had to work, so it was just me and Paul (who's taxi failed to arrive, so Viv had to drive us in!). We met up with the banks boys (AJ and Nick), and cousin Adam once inside. Elliots band were AMAZING (Oceanics if you wanna check em out). I even had a song dedicated to me - at which point I spotaniously flung my arms in the air and said "that's me, he's talking about me" - oh the shame! Several fans came over to greet me as the front man's cousin. I'm practically famous.

Wonderul Viv picked us up at about 2 am I think, by which time we were all very very drunk. I played the tamborine in the street and hugged strangers - just how every new year should be entered!
Spent all of new years day in bed, suprise suprise! As did most of the household. Spent the first week of 2011 just chilling really.

Elliot took me up to Burleigh, (Nick and AJ joined us), where we climbed up a hill and accross scary massive boulders, to find 'cock rock' - a massive phallic rock that juts out of the cliff face overlooking the ocean. it was stunning, and boiling hot. If somewhat terrifying. Then we had a good ol swim at burleigh beach, but, being bank holiday monday, it was packed, so made a swift exit.

Sunbathing on Cock Rock
On tuesday, Me and Viv went up to Mount Tamburine to have devonshire tea but the scones were shit, so we're going to try again next week sometime. Whilst there though, we went to a cheese factory and brewary which was awesome, and I bought the most beutiful dress man ever created. so a success!

Worried that I was imposing myself a bit too much on the day-to-day living of the Westons (no excuses like christmas or new years by the first week of January!), I posted up a message on the Couch Surfing site, begging for friends. ...Well, boy did I have an awesome response. I think about 15 poeple wanna hang out!

So on wednesday, I met up with a lovely, smart, camp, good looking Canadian, Abraham (28, armenian, financial advisor, here on a months holiday on his own). Instantly hit it off. I stepped off the bus and he presented me with an ice-cold can of beer - my god does he know the way to my heart! We chatted on the beach, then went for dinner and wine at a burger bar, where we were joined by his two korean hostel-room-mates. Lovely Elliot picked me up in the evening and we went to the Golf Club as a family (Viv, Paul, me and ell).

Thursday was a play-date with Jason (Australian, 32, Real Estate, surfer). He lives near Coolanagatta, (spent a fair bit of time in the UK, and 12 months in Leeds, god knows why! Sorry Caro!). Viv dropped me at Kierra, and he took me for breakfast at an awesome little cafe called The Lido. From there we decided the weather was goo shitty to surf, so we went to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. What an awesome day! The animals were great. I held a snake, fed a kangaroo, saw a little joey squiggling around in and out of his mothers pouch. exciting stuff! Then we decided to do the 'Green Challenge'. This turned out to be a somewhat terrifying assault course consisting of ever-increasingly challenging high-rope obstacles, zip wires, ropeladders etc. With my fear of hights, and geberal lack of balance and co-ordination, this was somewhat of a personal challenge! I was relieved to see that Jase was about as terrified as I was.

We really got into the spirit of things though, and the sense of achievment was fantastic. We decided against attempting the advanced 'black course', which our fellow monkeys, (3 californians on the course), completed in the same time it took me and Jase to do the 'family friendly' course! Haha! We were very hot and sweaty from the overalls and general feeling of constant gripping fear, so we drove straight to the ocean for a quick dip to cool off. Jase drove me home (god bless the boy), and I collapsed after delicous Lasagne A'la Vivian! (Although, I have challenged her to a Lasagne-off!)

Friday (yesterday as I write this), Nicola and I (who is FINALLY back from Melbourne, god I missed that girl!), went for delicious Sushi, followed by a bit of shopping and a thai massage (don't try and deny it to yourselves, this is the life. THIS IS THE LIFE. I know i'm supposed to say that I want to work hard for a career and a nice house and raise my children, but what I want, what I really really want out of life, is sushi, shopping and thai ladies walking all over my back).

Finally the weekend is here - after such a gruelling week! I'm off to watch friends on the couch and then maybe i'll go the gym, and then for a swim. if it brightens up (which is looking promising), me and Nic will go to the beach!


I would like to include in this blog, a special message of love, for Wayne and Margot, my lovely hosts in rockhampton, who are currently affected by the floods, that are, believe it or not, the size of france and germany combined. And extra special love to Wendy and Phil, who are stuck on their way back home to Airlie, and even more love to poor Brady who is stuck at home without his Ma (Brades, party?!). Seriously though guys - there is an appeal if you wanna donate.