Huge 3-month update!

Yet again I’ve managed to leave it WAAAY longer than I wanted before doing another news update. As such I’ll do it in a similar way to my previous update, briefly mentioning the top points from various parts of my life – sprinkled with a few photos :)

Work related news:
Work has been going okay. Slowly plodding through what needs to be done to finish my PhD. I have technically started writing some of my thesis (chapters that have complete sets of work) although I haven’t got much of it done yet. I still need to do some experiments, but I’ve set myself the target of being pretty much done by early August so hopefully that’s achievable! I also got through the “thesis review milestone,” which is the final hoop that needed jumping through before I am allowed to submit my thesis. I have at least got a reasonable idea of what will be in the thesis now.
Slightly more exciting is that I am off to a conference in San Francisco in just under 2 weeks (end of April) – MRS Spring Meet 2011 – where I will be presenting a poster of my work for all to see! I am taking a week of holiday time to look around the area with Kurt while we’re there. Got a bus tour booked to Yosemite, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon. Then a few days in San Francisco itself including a day trip to the redwoord forests. Should be good!
Ben and I have also finally finished the University of Queensland Chemistry@UQ website that we’ve been working on for a while now. It’s officially live and you can see it at www.chemistry.uq.edu.au

House related news:
Karyn and I have finally moved in to an apartment together. I say finally because we signed the leased to move in on 18th January but didn’t get keys until 1st February. There were a WHOLE LOAD of issues with the previous tenants, the state of the apartment, and some pretty slow-working rental agents which caused all the delays. The place was a bit of a mess once we moved in too. However, the apartment feels like home now and we’re pretty happy to be in there. We had a mini house-warming party the first weekend we moved in and that definitely broke the place in :) (read: red wine all over the carpet…)
We’re also *literally* just above Ben & Tilly’s apartment – which is obviously awesome fun :) Pics of the new place can be seen here.

Non-work related news:
I guess one of the major events of the year so far were the Brisbane floods! Torrential rain caused huge flooding comparable to the famous one in the 70s. Fortunately for me, my apartment at the time and the one I was moving in to are both high on hills and quite far from the river, but things still got pretty hectic. I ended up moving in with Ben & Hannah in Ben’s apartment, along with Ellen, who had evacuated her apartment which is right on the river. For a few days we weren’t able to tell the damage at Ellen’s place and it was quite stressful – we managed the stress by being off work and doing plenty of drinking / playing Ring of Fire with Hannah’s cards. Fortunately Ellen’s apartment itself was fine and much more drinking was done to celebrate.¬†Unfortunately¬†the garages of Ellen’s apartment block were not fine and Ben & I spent a couple of days doing what we could to help out cleaning the place up. It’s almost impossible to put into words the scale of the mess & cleanup – across the whole city – but it was incredibly impressive to see the community spirit during the cleanup. You would hardly be able to tell anything had happened now! Some pics from the floods are here and a pic of us after the first day of cleanup. Candied bacon, Hungry Jacks for breakfast, Ring of Fire :)
After the floods came Australia day, and a BBQ & drinking & JJJ Hot 100 was had by all at Ellen & Andy’s (not flooded) apartment.
A bunch of us had a trip to Ballina and camped about 100 m from the beach for a couple of nights. Was a really awesome weekend. The camp site was amazing and we had a large log-fired BBQ and loads of space. Beach foam & stars & drinking & body surfing & drinking & bacon :) Pics from the weekend here.
Then it was my birthday :) After last year I had a table for 25 at A Night in India for my curry and this year I managed one more to make 26! I drank a bit too much birthday wine so the later events of the evening are a little hazy, but I think a good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone who came :) Pics here.

Other reasonably big news from me is that I started seeing Hannah just before Valentine’s day. I was spending a lot of time (more than normal??) at Ben’s where Hannah was staying, and then I moved in upstairs. Things are going pretty well and I’m really happy :) We’ve spent a few of our weekends and evenings doing some fun stuff – had a few nice meals out at 3 Monkeys, Satay Hut and Groove Train; some nice meals in with spag bol/shepherd’s pie, laksa, curries & more; we saw the King’s Speech with a picnic in an outdoor cinema at the Powerhouse in New Farm (pics); we had a long look around the Gallery of Modern Art’s 21st century art exhibition, which was really good (pics).
We also had a weekend in Melbourne, staying in a really nice hotel (Bayview on the Park). Did lots of sight-seeing: saw fireworks from the top of the Eureka Skytower, had dinner & cocktails by the river and, most importantly for Hannah :), we went on the Neighbours tour to see Ramsay St, some of the studios, and meet the actress who played Janelle Timmins (who was really nice). We even treated ourselves to some room service breakfast on the Sunday morning and had Champagne waiting for us on arrival! Pics from Melbourne can be seen here. Was an aboslutely amazing weekend.

Sadly, just after Melbourne, Ben & Hannah had to go back to the UK for family reasons. Luckily for me (and them??) they’re both back out here again now and things seem to be going well. While they were back in the UK I made sure to keep myself busy with a few things – trip to the Mana bar with Jacko & friends and saw the Brisbane Lions get beaten by The Freemantle Dockers in the AFL with Sarah/Stewart/Andy/Karyn after a nice BBQ.

I think that’s most of the news for now…. We’ve started brewing again (albeit a little slower than usual because people have been quite busy) and we’ve had some really nice beers. Check out the brew site for more info! We also found a new brewing shop in Brisbane that does online ordering & delivery so we’ll definitely be using them for a lot more of our brews. They have a great range of hops & malts and were pretty helpful when we went in the other day. There’s a HUGE stout just been bottled this weekend that I cannot wait to try.

That’s it for now. I will really really try & update more frequently but the longer I leave it between updates, the more effort it is to remember & write everything down! I will try & do one after my USA trip with loads of photos :)

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