Hang out the flags

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I have a difficult relationship with flags and the past few weeks haven’t helped. From the loutish behaviour of a few English football supporters in Marseille, to the feverish nationalism surrounding the Brexit vote, to the trampling of flags following the exit of the England football team from Euro 2016. Flags have a lot to answer for.

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Drive like a Canberran: 5 quick tips

Taking to the road in a new country can have its challenges. Imagine that you passed your driving test in rural Iowa and then move to Cairo, or that you grew up in the Welsh countryside and then move to the centre of Paris. Daunting, right?

Wherever you come from originally, there are bound to be some aspects of motoring in Canberra that catch you off guard, so here are my five top tips for driving like a local when you first arrive in Australia’s capital.

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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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Being un-Australian

I have a small confession to make. Well, actually, quite a big one, and one that I fear may result in our Australian visas being cancelled and see us ushered onto the first flight out of the country by clench-teethed officials.

You see, despite living here for more than a year. Despite our professed love of the Aussie way of life. Despite our attempts to assimilate into the Canberra community, there’s one thing that marks us out as not quite belonging.

We don’t actually own a barbecue.

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Christmas in the middle of summer

Christmas tree baubles from multiple countries.

Christmas for migrants often means a mix of traditions from several places.

We’re coming up for our second Christmas in Australia and, just like last year, as native Europeans, it’s hard to reconcile the time of year with the weather outdoors. If this feels like familiar ground, then you’d be right – I wrote a post about this ‘Tis the season… except it’s not’, this time last year.

I’m revisiting the point though because of an old newspaper article I chanced across which, I have to say, makes my own uncertainty pale with its agonising over a mid-summer Christmas, and concludes that the only thing to do is to move Australia’s Christmas to 25 June. I kid you not.

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