A taste of home

About a year ago, as part of a writing course, I was tasked with writing a passage about the food that most reminded me of being a little boy. I chose my mum’s rice pudding, the scent of which would fill the house for hours before it was ready. The wait was agonising.

A few weeks ago, Mini-CBRbound decided that, for his own school writing project, he would blog about his favourite foods from his childhood in Denmark. Watching him rediscover all those tastes has been a wonderful experience.

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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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Caught in the net of Telstra

Telstra

‘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.

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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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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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Intrepid explorers

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The first of many trips laden with boxes.

Last week, we moved home, and what with several days of lumping boxes around and a hiatus in our internet connection while Telstra pressed a few buttons at their secret underground mission control bunker, it’s been longer than usual since my last post.

It feels good to finally bid farewell to our rented accommodation. It served us well while we found our feet in Australia but there really is nothing like having a place to call your own and I’ve taken great delight this week in banging in nails, putting up shelves and drilling holes wherever I feel like. Continue reading