It's been a while! What with work here, freelance stuff from the UK, social stuff - this feels like my first night off in ages! Not a lot has changed from England! So I forewarn you, you're about to read an essay....
Homesickness has kicked in - beside the lack of chips ("hot chips" here, unless you want people to think you're moaning about the lack of good crisps), the crap beer (European beer is scarce and expensive, and the exportation makes it taste rubbish anyway) - the fact that I'm not getting out my hat and gloves is odd too. There's something wrong about seeing Christmas decorations go up (and some have been up since September when I arrived - apalling!) and not feeling the cold.
What with the home-sickness, I've started doing silly things (more than usual...) - Our 'landlords' - Glen's family friends - are the ones with the bath - so I go round there's when I want to treat myself to a UK-style wash! They've been in Thailand the last 3wk, so I went to have a bath about a fortnight ago mid-afternoon when no one was in - and the hot tap fell out of the wall..
It wasn't my fault! But as it was hot water, I couldn't screw it back in, and had to run through BUSH in the back garden to turn off the house's water, re-attach the tap, turn the water back on, and then cross my fingers that it wouldn't gall out again and the water all over the bathroom would dry quickly! I haven't braved a bath since!
And then there was the small incident of dropping someone else's keys down a drain! I've been borrowing a mate's car for a month (before I got my new one) and the car doors don't lock (remember the cars are never worth fixing over here...) - so you lock it with a steering wheel lock. That key was separate from the ignition keys, and I fell over when I was rushing to catch my 5:45am train one morning- and the steering wheel key lock fell (in slow motion it seemed) into a storm drain. I just got on the train not wanting to believe what had happened! And then I phoned GLen, starting the conversation "are you busy this afternoon...?"
Luckily a spare key was found, and so no locksmith was needed - phew! But i've been even more clumsy than usual recently! You've got to laugh!
If there was sun I'd get over it, but its cloudy, rainy and stormy, and hot! At least the storms are entertaining - it's like instead of drops of rain, it comes down in buckets! You'd think they'd have invented road cambre's out here so that it would drain, but no - it just sits there... Water planing galore! And i'm awaiting the hale stones, which frequently dent cars apparently! Joy!
But at least I now have a car! It's the same as my old one (a Toyota Yaris 2002 - called a Toyota Echo here), but maroon and without sunroof, CD player, central locking and all the other useful stuff Nancy used to have... But I've got wheels and can listen to all my old cassettes (bring on Now 29!) which is nice.
I haven't tried to signal with my windscreen wipes for about a week (the indicators/lights and windscreen wipers are the opposite way round here) and I'm getting used to the hazardous driving. Here you do not legally have to have proper insurance - so being 3rd party means that after a crash you don't fix it if it still works! Hence, most cars are dented and scarpheaps anyway - so they drive it without a care! But because everyone seems to pull out in front of everyone, it seems there's an equilibrium - everyone's expecting it anyway.
Glen also has his car - big and with 5 doors - and he went out and got a stereo system which will let his phone ring through the system - a good idea since he spends 3hr driving a day and is always on the phone... At least petrol is cheaper here - in the UK my Yaris cost £40+ to fill, here it costs about £19... Glen uses a lot of petrol still, but here they have yet another way of reducing petrol costs!
If you go shopping for food (so the equivalent of Tescos, Sainsburys) instead of the rare promotions of 'if you spend £50 we will give you 4p off every litre of fuel', everytime (as in all year round - standard practice!) you spend $30 (<£15) on food here, you get 4 cents off petrol - and if you go to liquor land and spend $50, you get 20cents off petrol per litre!! Drinking and driving is obviously the way!
Spring is gorgeous here. Other than the weather being disappointing, the colours of the plants are amazing! In particular there are the Jackarandas... they are like blossom trees, but flower a lilac colour - and throughout the views on the train to work you can see these gorgeous lavender patches which are amazing, I have also seen one bright red one which must be very rare...
Work is still going well - they're letting me write a bit, and we've spoken about a permenant position. I'm not sure whether I will stay there, and have my ear to the ground for other opportunities, so we'll see what happens in January!
House-wise - we're still in our tiny granny flat - wall-to-wall with boxes - we're not getting much out as we're hoping to move again over the next couple of months, and so unpacking and then packing again feels pointless... Not that we have the room here anyway!
I think the consensus at the moment is that we're going to move into Glen's old family home. Glen's dad is/was a builder - and built the home he grew up in. The current tenants' lease runs out in Jan, and so its ours from the first wk in Feb... Great! Apart from the fact its for 5 bedrooms... Glen does the housework most of the time anyway! So i'll leave it to him...
Socially - we've been here there and everywhere as usual! A highlight was Glen's mate's wedding! His colleague from the UK emigrated here with his Aussie girlfriend last November - they had a beautiful ceremony in a park on the harbour (flukely the sun was out!) and then we took a water taxi across to the bridge where the reception was held - underneath the bridge!
It was an interesting mix - the bride, Caz, was Australian, but her family is very Russian - and then Hoady is English - instead of sugared almonds at out places, we received shot glasses with their names engraved - and there was vodka poured continually. And on top of the fact that all Australian wedding include free alcohol (the grooms' family's contribution to costs) it ended up a messy evening! Glen and I stayed in a hotel in the city, him going to work an hr after going to bed (he starts at 3am at the mo) and me getting an hr lie in! ( i didn't have to travel 2hrs to work for a change!)
I just want to pause to raise a huge issue I have with Australia! NO ARGOS!!!
I feel like there is a huge hole in my bookcase where an Argos catalogue should be... We're needing to buy things like plates and stuff, and where does one normally look? ARGOS!!! If not to buy, at least have a look at what's out there, price ranges etc... There is NOTHING like that here - so all you in the UK - DO NOT TAKE ARGOS FOR GRANTED! When you next find yourself flicking through your Argos catalogue, just remember what a luxury you have!
I had the pleasure of catching up with my Uncle Chris, Aunt Janice and Cousin Jamie the other week - they had just got back from Cairns and unfortunately weren't getting the best weather - but it was good to see them all - nothing changes - it's like when dad used to live in Moscow, everytime you see someone/speak to them again it's like you never left.
Our dear family friends, Joanie and Brian, are out this week - so fingers crossed we can catch up with them this weekend.
Other than all of that (!), my train route to work has track work next week, I have a Tuppeware party on Saturday and I've started trampolining on Mondays. I've also got Glen his Christmas/birthday present (i didn't get him anything for his 26th in August as we were moving in 2 weeks...) so we now have a Wii! I also got the wii fit (selfishly) so I get to do keep-fit and yoga everyday - it's very well done, and does motivate you, with lots of challenges, and a sensor board you stand on that tells you (by your weight/centre-of balance measurement) whether you're doing an exercise correctly. I highly recommend it.
So I will leave you guys to enjoy your cold weather, your hot chips and Argos... And I'll update you on the Tuppeware party next time...