Established 1826

Only very occasionally do the various strands of my writing life converge. Usually, this blog about moving to Australia, my everyday work as a writer, and the various books I work on as side projects, all occupy different orbits. But on this rare occasion, I feel justified in allowing them to meet and to share each other’s space.

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Comparing value: Phone and internet

Last week’s mini-rant about Australia’s dominant telecommunications company, Telstra, got me thinking. Are they really ‘behind the times fleece merchants’ or am I just looking back to Europe with rose-tinted lenses?

To check if my ire was justified, I decided to compare my experiences – of cost versus quality of service – to see how Telstra stacks up against companies of a similar type in other countries.

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Trial and error

Gatherings of expats invariably lead to one conversation topic, things you wish you’d done and things you wish you hadn’t.

These aren’t confessions of the stag/hen night variety, but wistful glances back at the process of moving to Australia and learning some lessons of relocation the hard way.

So, for today’s post, 18 months after our move, I’ve put together a list of the best and worst three decisions we’ve made in our journey to a new life down under.

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Mind the language gap

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Aussie English differs from British English in all sorts of wonderful ways.

There’s an adage that the UK and the US are two countries separated by a common language and there’s many an example to illustrate the point.

I’d expected certain differences between British and Australian English too, and there are plenty. Most are readily decipherable, thanks to the absolute literalism of many, such as the wonderful phrase ‘sticky beaks’ for nosy people, or ‘footy’, for any sport that involves a large ball (except, in fact, football).

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Testing times with tradies

Becoming home-owners in Australia has not only exposed us to a new range of emotions but to a new set of challenges, the most testing of which has been the need to hire various tradesmen (or, tradies as they are known here) to help us get our house the way we want it. The results have been, shall we say, interesting.

Photo of a rangehood awaiting installation.

Forget high-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne. The greatest technological challenge in Australia today is the installation of this rangehood.

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Canberra’s energy inefficient housing

Let me start this by saying that I’m not an expert in environmental matters, but by adding that I am interested in environmental matters. I was an early adopter of LED bulbs back when they cost more than the light fitting you put them into; I set up a couple of compost heaps in our last house and reduced our weekly rubbish collection by a third; and I’m generally happy to invest in something that I think will reap longer term benefits either in efficiency or in reducing my environmental footprint.

So when we arrived in Canberra, I was interested to learn that every property is assessed according to an ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ or EER. Our year in a rental house – which is freezing in winter, boiling in summer and generates energy bills that would make a sheikh weep – only served to heighten my interest in energy efficiency when hunting for a house to buy.

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