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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An education

Moving to a new country is a giant juggling act. You can’t know everything about your new home from the moment you arrive but you strive to gather enough information about the essentials so that nothing critical falls to the ground and smashes.

Occasionally, you miss something – like when using the wrong type of tick treatment cost Mr Pup an extra three weeks in quarantine. And a few weeks ago, we missed something else that we probably should have known about, but didn’t.

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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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The Canberra Weekly property section.

Dealing with Canberra’s undesirables

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.

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Ask the family: Mrs CBRbound

Of all the family, it’s fair to say that Mrs CBRbound is the most home-loving. And when I say home, I mean Britain, because that’s what it will always be to her. So it was with curiosity and not the occasional lump in my throat that I read her thoughts on our big move and what it has meant to her.

A close-up pic of Mrs CBRbound.

This week’s guest blogger is Mrs CBRbound.

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Ask the family: Mr Pup speaks

A cockerpoo dog.

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

Ask the family: Our youngest shares his thoughts

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.

A boy leans against the side of a bed while filling out a questionnaire.

Mini-CBRbound adopts a curious writing position to share his views of a year in Canberra.

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