Sunday, October 23, 2011

Building contract signed - woo-hoo

As most of you probably know, about 18 months ago , we bought a block of land in a development called Bingara Gorge , Wilton, NSW. It's been a rollercoaster ride, sorting out our block in SA and finalising our plans... So, finally, we have signed our building contract.

Our block of land in SA has been sold and completed and we are on the way to building our version of "our dream house".. It's probably very different to most people's idea of a dream home but we've been wanting to build as long as I can remember and to us, this will hopefully be our "final" house :-)..

The builder we decided to use is Urbanstylehomes. We had a look at the "big" builders, but to be honest, Product review, scared us off, so we went looking for local builders that had a good reputation amongst the local community. Mersina and Alex, the design consultants, are two of the most patient people we've ever met. To give you an idea, we've drawn plans three times, yep, three times from scratch! K and I had very specific ideas about what we wanted and didn't want and they have been absolutely fantastic to work with!

My aim is to post on a regular basis through the build, but I've said that before and we all know how that went down! I'll try to change my track record with this one..

On an aside note, we realised we'd left our front door unlocked for three days... and all our stuff is still here.

Going to G this afternoon to watch the rugby - should be a good one!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gadget developments...

It's been way too long since I've blogged... Somehow, life just got too busy..

I bought an iPad 2 for my wife's 30th birthday and subsequently won one myself through a draw at work, so I thought my first return to blogging would be a gadgety one...

I love my iPhone but had never really thought an iPad would offer anything I'd really use daily. I was so wrong. There are great apps offering streaming for video and any other multimedia you may have such as photos.. I have a HDHomerun which streams TV to pretty much any device on your network including Windows (Mediacenter), Mac and Ubuntu (using MythTV frontend).. Using this you can use any of these to schedule recordings and watch them. Using a brilliant app called Remote Potato, you can watch these on an iPad, iPhone or via http streaming over a LAN OR 3G connection.. This converts .wtv files on the server (PC) end and send the compressed stream across seamlessly!

Another two apps I use constantly are Buzzplayer HD and Air Video Both of which do similar except do not support wtv files. Buzz player is brilliant in that no conversion is required for avi's and you can copy content to your iPhone/iPad across the wifi to watch on the plane/train etc

A few days ago I installed Ubuntu 11.04 on an old laptop.. It installed within 30 minutes and is excellent for use as a server for media until I migrate to a real server (maybe with WHS 2011)... I like the Homegrouo thing too much and DLNA works well with our network connected Sony TV...

I love this part of the iPad, Kerry loves Kindle (installed on her phone, laptop and now, iPad), catching up with emails while cooking, IMDB, all the brainless Enews stuff and Skyping while on the go... Did I mention Kindle???

On the non gadgety side of our lives, we're still waiting for our plot of land in South Africa to sell, before we starting construction on our house here in's just taking too long now...

We return to SA in July for a two week holiday to meet our Boet and Melis's baby daughter Lizzy :-)... Very happy to have an iPad for the 17 hour trip, especially to keep Abi, our 14 month old busy..

Well, that's it for my first iPad blog from the back seat of the car on the way to a little town called Berry... More about that here From the tip of Africa...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Princes Hwy,Broughton Village,Australia

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Robyn Lea Mackrill - 25 March 1982 - 15 October 2010

Today, my 28 year old cousin Robyn is been buried. After a battle with cancer, she passed away at 8:27am on Friday 15 October 2010. She leaves behind her Mom, Dad and brother. Just over two years ago she attended the funeral of my niece, Kirstin, who was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 18.

I remember when she was a little girl, she always had an answer for everything! There's something about the Mackrill girls, they're all arty, free spirited and never have to dig to deep for a chirpy answer, but they have the softest hearts.

For me this just brings home how temporary our existence is on this earth. Our move to Australia has been one of the most difficult life experiences I had. I really dislike my job at the moment and things like this highlight how important it is to stay focused on what's important in life. When we are young, we believe we are indestructible and that we'll live forever. When a young life is extinguished, we come to realise that each day is a gift and we need to make the most of it.

After the birth of our daughter Abigail, I realised that not much else matters. Yes, we need to earn a living to survive, but it's really not important. How you live your life, bring up your children, love your family and friends is what matters. I don't know how parents survive the death of a child, as it is unnatural and incredibly cruel.

Roby, I'm sure you're partying with Kirst and Aunt Ellen and Uncle Gerald. RIP my cousin. God Bless.



Thursday, April 01, 2010

Life changing moments

People always speak about life changing moments. We moved to the UK, moved back to SA and then finally (hopefully) to Australia. Moves like these are one thing and have some challenges like missing our family and friends, but we adapt and settle eventually.

In July 2008, we lost my beloved niece Kirstin in a tragic accident. I think of her everyday and will probably never fully understand the reason for this. Why God decided it was time to take her when she had so much to offer, I don't know. The saying goes time heals.. but we are left with deep scars from events like these, and it changes your outlook on life, making you acutely aware of what is truly important.

Tonight was another life changing moment - my daughter Abigail Kirstin Mackrill was born today Wendesday 31 March 2010 at 17:36. To see the result of the love between my wife and myself expressed in such a beautiful little person is just astounding. This little lady who is completely dependant on us for everything now, will develop and grow into her own independent person with her own aspirations and dreams.

We have been happily married for almost nine years and parents always told us that everything changes when you have children and my parents say the same for grandchildren. I didn't realise the gravity of their statement or how instantanious that change is. Nothing else matters anymore, only the wellbeing of your child matters. The instictive feeling that makes you want to care and protect them at any cost.

In retrospect, I realise now that at the time I couldn't have known what my sister was going through when my niece passed away. We were and still are broken hearted, but to some extent, I can now understand the gravity of her sadness.

Holding that little new life in my hands today wipes out all the pain and suffering that goes on in the world today. I do not look forward to her first scratched elbow or knee, but I know that it will all turn out alright in the end as it's all in God's plan for her.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hartenbos.. last visit for a while ...

We finally received our PR visa for Aus last month and are due to fly out on the 30 August.. Suddenly the months of waiting are past and the impeding "deadline" is looming!

My brother and his wife left on the 3 August for Sydney and seem to already have settled quite nicely. He starts his job tomorrow and his wife will continue her job hunting, this time from within Aus.

Life seems to be flying by and so much needs to be done in such a little time. I will be working up to the day before we fly, so I'm lucky to have a very efficient PA ;-) to organise everything!

As a last get away with our friends C&M, we decided to visit Hartenbos for the last time for a while.. We took a drive to the Cango Wildlife Ranch and I have posted some pics I took..

Monday, May 04, 2009

Barton Le Clay, 650km on....

We arrived in Barton Le Clay last night at around 9pm, after driving from Amsterdam through Belgium, France and the Euro tunnel.. The campervan tops out at about 120km/h, doesn't exactly handle like a Quattro, so it's built for comfort not for speed!

more details here..

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Time goes by..

It’s been almost 10 months since my niece passed away and about the same since I have blogged, partly due to time constraints, but more so due to not being in the right frame of mind to blog.

Over the last few months so much has happened I don’t where to start. The bad: my 27 year cousin has been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. A friends eight year old child with Marfan’s syndrome ( ) passed away last week. She has suffered badly over the past six months and things like these just don’t make sense to me. It just seems so pointless and cruel to the parents and families.. What can you say to the parents to even attempt to console them?

The good: we have been assigned a case officer for our immigration into Australia and have completed our medicals. The only thing left is our police clearance certificate from the UK, so things after 9 months of waiting, things are finally moving along..

On a happy note my brother, his wife, my wife and I are off to Europe later tonight for a campervan holiday and I thought I'd use the opportunity to restart my blogging, so I will attempt to post a short blog and photo daily, for duration of the trip – i.e. the next two weeks. My brother will post some somewhat deeper, more meaningful blogs via his one at and I will try and take some half descent photo's.. Hopefully somewhat better than these old ones in this post taken with my old digital. My new baby is a Canon 450D :-).. We leave from Johannesburg tonight and arrive in Amsterdam tomorrow morning, we then drive to Calais, cross the channel via the Eurotunnel and head up to my wife’s family in Barton Le Clay. We then go from the UK -> Brussels -> Paris -> Lyon -> Rome -> Venice -> Zurich -> Munich -> Stuttgart and finally back to Amsterdam! We’re generally not people who rough it on holiday’s, so we begin this trip with some scepticism! It should be interesting staying in a campervan having to clean the chemical loo (still looking for volunteers ;-) )...I especially look forward to the German autobahns ..not

The one photo is a shot of Table Mountain from Robben Island taken in December and the other one is of Russ with our passports – one day I will explain his inclusion in the trip... it’s complicated ;-)

Today Johannesburg... tomorrow Amsterdam..