Thursday, 3 January 2013

Well it's been some time since I last blogged anything. I was hoping that this would allow me time to take stock; but if I'm honest, I'm as confused as ever.

There are many things about the place that I've grown to love. The kids are now very competitive about their sport and are much better swimmers. I do enjoy watching Y play cricket - although I am still waiting for him to score his first run of the season. Gone are the days of traffic jams, and trying to work out how we can get from home to  A to B all in one day. Now, we can get to A and B, as well as C and D if we so wish. Swimming in the sea is great in small doses.

On the other hand, the summer break has helped put a lot of things into context. When all of the schools and sports clubs are closed down there really isn't much to do other than swim. And it is all, frankly, a little boring.

So, do I hold out much hope for 2013? Probably not. There are a few challenges that lie ahead, and I don't want to look too far into the future. At present my only hope is that we can manage to stay here long enough for me to take in a bit of the Lions' Tour in July.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

You know you're in Australia when...

You know you're living in Australia when you have to buy Brut 33 anti-persiperent from the supermarket.

What's more, it actually smells quite nice - much nicer that when I last encountered it in my teens. Perhaps this has nothing to do with Australia at all. Could this simply the beginning of my second childhood?

Thursday, 27 September 2012


It must seem odd writing about Monday on a Thursday, but, all of a sudden, so little in life makes sense.

Monday 17 September:

One of the great things about life in Oz is getting to spend more quality time with my family; and whilst Monday mornings in our household would test the patience of Ma Walton, we do manage to send them off to school, hats on heads, and overloaded packs on backs without any reportable incident.

A quick journey, and I'm at work with a good ten minutes to spare. I then spent the next couple of hours praying for the phone to ring, just to break the tedium, whilst simultaneously compiling a mental list of everything that I failed to get round to doing over the weekend, whilst also checking my emails, and of course the football scores. Whilst so doing I chanced upon an article declaring Sydney to be the 17th more expensive city in the world, whereas dear old much maligned London Town was 10th. This disturbing statistic was based upon criteria such as housing costs and clothing. I would like to know how anyone around here can find accommodation for a mere $900 per month. But what I'd like even more is to have the $1900 that I apparently need each month to spend on my wardrobe.

Fast-forward a few hours. I doubt that I've done much more than 3 hours' real work (whatever that is), and I'm back home by 6pm. Just in time to spend some more quality time, coercing my kids into finishing off their homework and getting into bed without injuring each other.

Monday 24 September

It's School Holiday, so we decided to take a short flight to Melbourne, and spend a few days there. Now Melbourne was to our liking. A booming cafe culture, big shops selling familiar brands, museums, theatres, boulevards and trams. Just like a major European City in fact. I feel like a British tourist in Majorca, looking for his chips and beer. I've just crossed to the other side of the globe, and all that I want is what I've just left behind.

We spent our first day at St Kildas, and chilled-out hippyfied seaside resort. In spite of a mile-long golden beach, I'm apparently not allowed to call it a Beach. This is apparently because it does not boast any lethal-looking waves, nor posers on planks of wood. Anyway, regardless of its status, it's a great place to visit, and like Melbourne in general, is full of charming and friendly people. The rest of the time was spent exploring the City; and since there is little that I can usefully add to what is contained within any Guidebook, I shan't bother. Although the weather was much cooler than that to which we've now become accustomed, it was interesting to monitor our collective mood. We were all more relaxed, enthusiastic, and nicer to be around - probably. In fact, when it came to 'Going Home Time', A pleaded with me to find a job there. It's only a few months before the Australian Open Tennis, and then we have the British Lions Tour in June. It could happen.

Monday, 17 September 2012


The fallacy about the Aussies is that because they speak broadly the same as us, we expect them to be the same. That simply isn't fair, because we are 15,000 miles apart and have been brought up on entirely different experiences. Yes, their voices do go up at the end of sentences, and they do say, 'No Worries' and awful lot, but these are just nuances. And, after all, books have been written on the peculiar habits of the British. Yes, there are ruffians with dangerous looking dogs, as well as an unsavoury hooligan element. There are many who in England we may consider racist, when their voice their opinions on a handful of immigrants who have arrived illegally on boats. This does seem very strange in an underpopulated  land built on immigrants, and  brimming with the confidence of their enterprise. But, I have to ask myself, if I'd had the same experiences as them, would I have been any different? The answer is 'probably not'.

On a daily basis, the Aussies are patient polite and helpful. After the stresses of London life, they are a complete antedote, and I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that nothing is quite as important as I might think it is. Wherever they rush or not, everything functions and everything gets done.  They are generous with their time, and when they say 'No Worries', they genuinely mean it. Time to hit the beach and relax.


Friday, 14 September 2012


I'm not sure what I'd expected of a New South Wales winter, but I had thought that it would be reasonably fundamental that if you know it's going to get cold you do have some form of heating. I honestly don't believe that I'd been this cold since I was  a student with a single bar radiator as my only source of warmth. And everything is just as confused when the temperature rises. At the first signs of warmth on comes the air conditioning in the office, and we're back to those student days all over again.

Spring has a fairly constant dry warmth feel about it, interspersed with the odd downpour and fairly scary winds. Jen has convinced herself that this is as warm as it will get. It's in its low 20's. I've been here in the summer, so I know what to expect. I'm sure that I'll have plenty to say on the weather ovee the forthcoming months.

MISERY RATING:  :(  :(  :(

Thursday, 13 September 2012

ANIMALS:  We've all heard the horror stories about sharks, funnel-web spiders, the blueringed octopus and the positively terrifying box jellyfish, but the reality is much different. Every morning I am woken by kookaburas calling and go downstairs to see birds of paradise flaunting their beautiful feathers as they fly past my kitchen. And then, if we have time, we can walk down to the beach to watch the dolphins revelling their way  through the ocean. We have also seen kangeroos in the Bush, and recently a koala literally hanging around in a tree. The most unpleasant animal experience I have is with the flies that so assiduously harass me in the office foyer whenever I am waiting for the Lift. I concede that it will only take one confirmed shark-sighting or an over-developed arachnoid for this to change, but for the time-being, this is a Positive.


MONEY:  Now, here I do have a problem: there isn't enough of it to go round. The commentators say that the national economy is balanced on a knife edge. My personal finances are teetering on the head of a sheered needle, and I so often feel as if the Aussies have conspired to find ingenious new ways to make me pay. A classic example is their Health System, where there really is little alternative to private insurance. The effects of this, for me, are twofold. First of all, I lay awake at night, imagining ailments, in order to get my money's worth from the extortionate scheme that I have had to join. And next, it makes me so appreciative of the wonders of the British NHS.