Expat update: Month 8

And just like that, we’re officially three quarters of the way through our first year living in Australia. What now.

It was definitely an action packed month, as I think most people’s Decembers probably were. Without further ado, here’s the good, bad and [sign up for the] ugly of our 8th month as expats.

The Good

Moar visitors ¦¦ The visitor train continues! This month we had a visit from one of our Bedford friends, who just so happens to be Australian. She was visiting her family for Christmas and kindly made space in her schedule for us to take her to our favourite Vietnamese restaurant. It was so good to catch up with her and hear news from Bedford and our church there.

My niece’s first birthday party ¦¦ We were so happy to be able to celebrate the first birthday of our niece, who also happens to be our goddaughter. I pinched Sam‘s idea of making the birthday cakes of our godchildren (so far we just have the one so we’re getting off quite lightly I think) and ended up getting a bit carried away on Pinterest. The results were…

A monkey cake, as requested by her 3 year old brother, because her favourite toy is a cuddly monkey:

Some banana biscuits, because all monkeys need bananas (and hiding in the background you can see some gluten free sausage rolls with animal picks in them courtesy of Daiso, and Cheezels, because apparently they are every child’s crack):

The Great Devourer:

And a general jungly/wild animals theme with masks, straws, and jungle juice. It was great fun and I was glad to be able to help out.

An Aussie Christmas ¦¦ Including al fresco carols where everyone isn’t totally freezing but can enjoy being outside for an extended period, bringing a picnic, etc. Such things are unimaginable in the UK.

Getting to know the country ¦¦ S is a big fan of hikes and me… generally not so much. I love them only under certain circumstances so poor S has his work cut out in persuading me to go. However, we hiked to the cascades in the Garigal National Park and it was a lot of fun. Shame it was so hot and I ended up with a total tomato face, but it was worth it.

A surprise trip to Tassie ¦¦ We had such a good time! More on that here.

The Bad

My cousin left ¦¦ I have so enjoyed having my lovely cousin in Sydney and being able to see her on a semi-regular basis without too much planning or expense. Well now she’s gone and left and I’m bereft! Saying goodbye is the worst. Here we are looking like weirdos at the airport because #related (sorry, Emma!)

Visa medicals ¦¦ This potentially doesn’t belong in this category because the appointment went smoothly, however the fact remains we had to take 4 hours out of our day and pay an obscene amount of money to be stuck with needles, palpated, and questioned about some fairly personal things. Hopefully we have a positive outcome… I guess we’ll find out in 9-15 months.

Sidenote: I have notoriously tricky veins. Everyone else strolled out with one small plaster – me, not so much.

Hot Christmas is weird ¦¦ Yes it’s a novelty, yes it feels like the best summer holiday ever, but no it does not feel like Christmas. There’s just no getting away from that. We had a great time getting away with family, and then to Tassie, but it just feels like a nice bonus summer holiday. To be honest, I’m fine with that. Christmas can easily get All Too Much if you ask me and a chance to break the mould and start over is probably a good thing.

The heat ¦¦ The heat has really hit with a few days on the trot of temperatures over 35°C. Over in the far west of the city it got up to 42°C or something ridiculous. Remind me never to move to the west. We managed, but were very grateful for the air conditioning in our flat and car, and the ability to escape to a shopping mall when even our ac struggled to keep the flat reasonable. I like warm weather, but over 35°C just begins to get inconvenient.

The Ugly

In case you’re new around here, I’m sharing The Ugly side of things via email so I can be more honest on things that I’d rather not splash up here for all to see.

So if you want to know The Ugly, just put your email address in the box and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll get mail from me a few days after you see this post, just to give everyone a chance to sign up who wants to.

As you may be able to tell I’m a teeny bit late on these updates, so expect to see Month 9 rather soon!


See previous months’ updates here


I've been an expat in Sydney, Australia for 8 months now. Here are the highs and lows of the month.



  1. 11th January 2018 / 17:15

    Waah! That monkey cake is the cutest! And love the banana cookies!!

    I totally hear you on how strange it is to have a hot Christmas. Most of the time, I forget Christmas is even coming until I see a tree and I’m like, OH! But I’m pretty lucky that I usually end up going home for the hols and I get my wintry Christmas!

    Ah boo, sorry to hear your cousin has left!! I’ve had so many really good friends leave last year, I’m now not sure what to do with myself!!

  2. 11th January 2018 / 19:43

    Isn’t it nice to have visitors?! And that cake is awesome… I should try something a bit more creative for my son’s next bday. Good luck with your immigration process!

  3. 11th January 2018 / 22:57

    Well done on that cake, you should be seriously proud! 🙂 I’m totally with you on the hot Christmas front, I find it so weird and don’t get that magical Christmas feeling, it just feels like a special summer’s day to me!

  4. Jen
    12th January 2018 / 07:21

    That monkey cake is so adorable!!!! 🙂

  5. 13th January 2018 / 06:59

    Wow that is the cutest snake sandwich I’ve ever seen, haha. And you did such a good job on the monkey cake! I loooove decorating cakes. It’s so fun! And yes, hot Christmas would be so weird, but I actually hope to try it some year. My fiance’s family lives in Australia and we keep saying we should go for 3 weeks over Christmas! I’d love to. Maybe next year! And why do you have to wait so long for those test results?? Is this a requirement when you extend your visa?

  6. Trudy
    13th January 2018 / 12:07

    Haha I have lived in NZ all my life, and to me a cold Xmas seem strange! I had Xmas in England a few years ago and it was lovely, but to me Xmas is all about the beach and swimming and family and pohutakawas and cold beers and a 2 week break from work. Don’t know how you cope with Aussie temperatures though, I start melting around 30°C!

  7. 13th January 2018 / 22:38

    Oh that monkey cake is awesome! 🙂 I’m going to have to think about the cake for baby boy’s birthday, the train cake I did last year for his big brother was far too involved and I would rather not repeat that again, haha! Might go the store-bought route again. You can make some very nice things from a basic Woolie’s mudcake!

    I’m glad that your first Aussie Christmas went well, although I’m with you on the heat. It’s been 36 today and it’s going to get up to 38 tomorrow, and our air con just isn’t equipped to handle it. Can’t wait to get a new place with air con that works, and insulation to keep the heat out (body corporate won’t allow us to make changes…).

    Hope that you are having a lovely weekend!

    Away From The Blue Blog

  8. 14th January 2018 / 21:04

    You totally aced the birthday party food – and that cake!! So fun!

    It has been hot lately – but the random cold snaps are totally messing with my brain. Today was so cold and windy!!

  9. 16th January 2018 / 03:12

    While you were sweating in blistering heat, we were shivering in brutal cold! Our rivers here in Virginia were even freezing over (very rare), but my friend in Geelong was telling me how bad it was there. She only has one air conditioned room, which I can’t even imagine!

  10. 16th January 2018 / 03:51

    Hold up. YOU MADE THAT CAKE?! It turned out so well!!!! So cute!! I love it!! The cookies are adorable, too. As far as blood draws, I’m with you. I have feisty veins that like to hide from needles.

  11. 16th January 2018 / 07:11

    That was so nice of you to do the cake and whatnot. And that you’re close by! (We’ve missed every milestone our niece has had, so I get it.)
    Can’t wait to read The Ugly!

  12. 26th January 2018 / 00:09

    Nice work on the baking and general theme food – looks awesome! And what a beautiful spot for a hike…

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