Tuesday, October 27, 2009

M4 Toll Cash Back

OK, been probably 10mths since I wrote about local news in Australia and you're all probably sick of my banal tales of Dubai etc, so here is something to hark back to my old roots of why this blog existed.

This article is one such article that makes my blood boil... when I lived in Sydney, the M4 was an unbearable mess and the traffic grind to get from the mountains to Sydney (well Strathfield, where the M4 inexplicably ends some 20km short of the city) was ridiculous.  Having seen roads in Dubai where highways are anything between 4 and 7 lanes, the 2-3 lane M4 is a nightmare and worse still you had to pay for it.

I do acknowledge however that of all the toll roads, its cheaper and that the traffic is not as bad as say the M2 in morning peek, however it was still a bad road.

Then this article... in which finally the toll will be removed, and they claim (and who are 'they'?) that the "effect of removing the toll will see an additional 2000 cars an hour on the road".

But read the detail again... 1500 of that is from "natural growth"... 500 cars for the toll lift itself.  So "they" are wrong. Exaggerated headlines profiling doom and gloom if we stop giving $2.50 a trip.  What a load of crap.

A word of advice to the NSW government... build the M4 East.  Make it 6 lanes and demolish everything in its path.  Widen the existing M4 and M2 to also 6 lanes (each way!) and again, demolish everything it its path.

The costs to buy real estate and compensate those directly effected will be minimal when considering you will future proof Sydney for the next 100+ yrs.  How much money has been sucked up by 3x3 cent petrol taxes and PPP driven toll charges over the past 30 years?  And what have we got for it?  Proverbial side streets in which speeds of 30km/h are deemed as "flying along".

Current infrastructure planning in Sydney needs a good overhaul!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Family Business

Hey all,

Apologies for the delay, but it has been a very hectic fortnight in which I traveled to London and am now in the middle of a family visit from home.  Niki's parents are in town from Sydney and also our nephew is staying as well and he has flown in from London.  So we have the House Full sign up!

Have had many great experiences though this past week with the highlights being a trip to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and my first foray into sand dune 4WD'ing.... got some great pictures from those two excursions which I will post up soon.

The family will be here for another 2 weeks and including that time I have secured tickets for the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.  The tickets include access to the Beyonce, Kings of Leon and Aerosmith concerts.... not sure which of these we'll be going to yet, but we'll be trying to organise something to go.

So sorry once again for the lack of posts, will try and get some time in front of the home PC soon to knock out some pictures.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mobile Post From London

Hopefully this works but a blackberry post from London.

Am undergoing an extensive test in endurance today as I have flown to
London for the day.

As an Australian, that statement is very disconcerting. In a small bag
I packed a shirt, a change of underpants and a toothbrush.

I left Abu Dhabi last night on the 2:30am flight and landed in London
at 7:30am. Then to meetings in St James Park in London and am now in a
car to the airport for an evening flight back. Landing time in Abu
Dhabi is at 7:30am just 29hrs after leaving.

Feeling tired and am still in UAE time zone so hopefully jet lag won't
be an issue but the lack of sleep is a bigger problem.

Lucky though I am working from home tomorrow and will keep an eye on
emails. Ironically I will have a telephone meeting at 6pm tomorrow
night with a guy from London.

I still can't believe how central the UAE is for travel but it does
mean these trips to Europe are now easy...

Sent from my mobile device

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flights Booked... JUST!

We've hit a bit of a snag... all the flights at Xmas time have filled up and we have been in a bit of a panic, but through my work I was able to book some flights back to Sydney.

Not sure how it happened, but I have been perusing flights online and seemingly had no issues but when we went to book this weekend we were being blocked every which way we turned.  Niki even walked into a travel agent to get an over the counter quote and was simply told "there are no more flights available!".


But I got our internal work people to connect via their system and even though the raw cost was a bit of a premium, I got a company discount and that got me somewhere in the middle of the price range.  PHEW!

So, we'll be in Sydney landing early morning on Dec 11 and flying out the night of Jan 3.  Means I will spend my birthday in the air too... mmm... interesting concept.

And we wont leave it until last minute next time... but who knew 2 months in advance was last minute!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

International Schooling

We're really enjoying the kids' new school.  Thats a simple statement, but is accurate and the reason I say this is that the school here seems to be much more in sync with modern life and living.

For one, its uses the International curriculum and methodology called "IB". An IB school focuses on learning through participation and hands on activities rather than text book based rote learning.  Both the girls are each day doing things and are encouraged to not only express themselves but are also assessed on that expression.

And in addition, whilst it hasnt been easy, the school day starts very early with kids in their classrooms by 7:50am each day.  This means I can take the girls to school and be a bit more involved.  It also means that family breakfast is able to be had, although its hardly a sit down meal... we're in a rush still!

What prompted me to write this post today was that this morning I was able to go to the school and see Kate's first presentation of their major projects.  After a unit of work on the environment and recycling etc, the kids had to make a building or an animal or a plant that has adapted to the environment as global warming takes hold.  There was lots of plaster of paris, cardboard, styrofoam and painting etc and I was able to be at the school at 8am, see Kate and her classmates projects, and have the presentation and then head to the office and be in by 10am here.

In Sydney, I would never have been able to do that and would have missed it. 

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hello World!

Long time no posting... my excuse is flimsy, but I have been rather busy on the work front and gained my 2nd staff member to my 'massive' team this week.  Problem is with a new starter, you have to spend alot of time in getting them familiar with things, getting them involved in projects etc etc and you have less time to do your things and then less time for everything else!  So, my apologies.

Quick run down on all things...

Zoe the Dog is doing "ok" and has improved with anti-inflammatory drugs but that can only be kept up for a week or so.  She has improved to basically having a limp instead of her rear leg being totally spastic and floppy but we're worried that she'll deteriorate when the medicine has to stop.

Life in the Green Community is very busy as we've quickly developed a social life!  We saw some live comedy on Thursday night and we had a BBQ on Friday night and the kids have been having parties for school friends and sleep overs with kids in our street.  All been very busy, but really feeling like home now.  I also ran my second session of D&D this month and that went very well and Niki stepped in and really stole the show with some great play.

We're also counting the days down to our first visitors from home!  Niki's parents arrive in less than 2 weeks now to stay with us for three weeks and also our nephew Scottie is coming over from London to meet them as well.  We've booked another trip to The Atlantis and we're also planning things to do when they're here.  I will be taking the first week off work as well, so that will be a good break for me too.

Niki has ventured further in her driving.  Brooke had a birthday party at the next housing community north of us, some 20mins drive away and Niki drove with me riding shotgun.  She negotiated some three lane round-abouts and the trucks etc on the highway and did really well.  She needs to now get to our local shopping mall (Ibn Battutta Mall) and park the big 4WD there.

On our own touristing stuff, we visited the Dubai Marina for the first time this weekend.  I thought it was just a big conglomerate of high rise towers, but its actually a very stylish cafe precinct and beach area.  We went for lunch there on the weekend, but we'll pack the swimmers too next time!  Also, we went to the industrial area of Sharjah on the weekend to a furniture warehouse.  Many people had recommended it and it was good looking furniture and very cheap.  We picked up a massive coffee table, and two side tables plus some ornamental pots for just 2300 Dhs.  That should now complete our major housing furniture purchases!

But we also need to buy a BBQ.  It is getting cooler (if you call 37 celcius cool!) and its now BBQ season.  That should be the next purchase, but we just want a little webber or something, rather than a massive BBQ.

And finally, we're looking at booking our flights home for Xmas!  We'll be back in Oz in mid December through to early January.