‘No internet’. Welcome to the world of Telstra.
There are still occasional elements of life in Australia that leave me befuddled. Like yesterday’s discovery that Woolworths, one of the big two grocery chains over here, is one of the most profitable supermarket businesses in the world.
Just think about that for a moment the next time you’re wondering why there are no cucumbers, or you are sorting through bags of limp pre-washed salad trying to decide which one is the least offensive – you are interacting with one of the most successful businesses of its type in the world.
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.
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).
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.
Forget high-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne. The greatest technological challenge in Australia today is the installation of this rangehood.
We are preparing to move house. On Friday, we finally move into our own home, the one we ‘won’ at auction a few months ago.
In ferrying various belongings between our rented house and the new place, I’ve have plenty of time to consider the significance of the word home and what it means to us.
We had tears in the CBRbound household the other night. For the past year, Mini-CBRbound has been asking when we can visit Denmark again as a family. He particularly misses his old football team and the team’s trainers, with whom he built up a close camaraderie over four years of junior football.
There’s quite a funny song that appeared on the British TV comedy show ‘Spitting Image’ many years ago, entitled ‘I’ve Never Met A Nice South African’ and it provides a suitable backdrop for the trouble I’ve had with writing this post.
Originally, this piece had an introduction along the lines of: “Every city has their undesirables and Canberra is no exception. In London, it’s investment bankers, in Copenhagen, it’s the hipsters, while in Canberra, it’s estate agents.”
But, just like the Spitting Image song, this sweeping claim troubled me. For the record, I’ve met plenty of lovely South Africans. I actually know an investment banker who’s a pretty good guy. And I even know an estate agent whom I believe to be ethical and principled.
Mr Pup still shudders when he thinks of his time in quarantine.
The member of the family who had the most difficult journey to Australia was our family dog Mr Pup. The many weeks of quarantine were particularly hard on him, not to mention us. A full year later, I asked him about his first year in Australia and whether the upheaval has been worth it. Continue reading
In the second of my guest blogs, nine-year old Mini-CBRbound uses his best handwriting to share his thoughts experiences from his first year as a Canberran. It’s not for the faint-hearted, he paints a good picture of deprivation in the early months after our move, but it perks up towards the end. Mini’s participation bribe was an extra hour on the Xbox – I can hear the squeals of excitement from the rumpus room right now.
Mini-CBRbound adopts a curious writing position to share his views of a year in Canberra.
For more than a year now, you’ve been reading about my thoughts and feelings on our move to Canberra. But, as I have mentioned, there are other members of the CBRbound family too, so over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing their views of our move and our new life here in a series of craftily incentivised questionnaires. First up is 12-year old Maxi-CBRbound, who was bribed into participation with the promise of a bowl of snacks.
Maxi-CBRbound deals with what he termed: “Extra homework.”