Friday, January 12, 2018

Driving Lessons

I have now driven in 3 countries. The U.S. (of course) Canada, and now Australia. Canada almost doesn't count as a separate country as it is just like driving in the States except with that kilometer thing.  My Aussie husband has driven in lots more countries, Italy being his "favorite". He says that any non-Italian who drives there has to be crazy as there are so many unwritten rules of the road.
As he was born in Australia and learned to drive here, he has become my driving instructor. Australia being it's own land mass can make up whatever rules it wants to for driving, so they drive on the left (British) side of the road. In Melbourne there are all sorts of rules about how to drive with trams, as they use the same lanes as cars and the tracks run down the middle of the streets. They have stops every other block it seems, and you are not allowed to pass them while they are letting passengers on or off. Your only chance is to pull up next to them at an intersection and beat them out of the gate when the light turns green. I love the tram system, when I am riding on one. Driving behind one? Not so much. 
Back to my instruction. My husband, not wanting to add to his grey hair suggests that Sunday mornings would be a good time for me to get behind the wheel and work on my driving skills. Not too much traffic, and people aren't quite in as much of a hurry to get places, he says. Sounds good to me! So we set off, following streets that are near and familiar to me. My confidence building, I head for a main street with a tram line. Of course I time it perfectly and turn in right after a tram has passed. What should have been a quick 10 minute drive now stretches into an eternity, with me anxiously looking for an opportunity to pass the tram, and my husband sweating in the passenger seat, praying that the tram does not make any stops for the next 10 kilometers. Fortunately for all involved we arrived at the road that goes to our place, I turn left off the tram line, and my husband can breathe again. Strangely, he has not suggested another driving lesson for me...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

More Language Confusion

So I moved from the United States to Australia. Easy, right? Both countries speak English! I won't have any problem understanding them, or them understanding me. Piece of cake? Not exactly...
They speak English, yes, but have a whole lot of different words for things and that confuses me daily.
Am I walking on the sidewalk? NO! It is a footpath. Do I put gas in my car? Of course not - it is petrol. Post, not Mail. Splash back, not back splash in the kitchen. A pie is most often savory and filled with meat, not something you get with a scoop of ice cream at the end of your meal. A Hotel is not a place you can get a room for the night, it is a pub. Actually it is like a Sports Bar, as they all have a million TV screens showing different races you can bet on, and often rows of slot machines or "Pokies". However they also have Chicken Parma specials with which you get platters of food bigger than your head for very reasonable prices, so I can overlook the other things... 
And my favorite? Cotton balls are called "cotton wool".  I think they are confused, as it cannot be cotton and wool at the same time.


And don't even get me started on the spelling differences! Harbour. Colour. Authorise. My spellcheck goes crazy every time I try to type anything. It is going to take some time to assimilate.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hunting for good beer

The apartment we just moved into is right above a shopping center. We have a grocery store, drug store, dry cleaner, Chinese massage, several places to grab a bite to eat, and a Liquor Store - Bottle Shop as they are called here. I have wine at my fingertips! Want a cocktail, but don't have all the ingredients? Why, you can just pop down and pick up whatever you need. It is all just an elevator ride away. Except decent beer. The Bottle Shop has a woefully mainstream selection, where Golden Ales are deemed strong, and a Craft Beer is Sierra Nevada. (odd thing to import!) My poor Aussie husband was very disappointed. I felt bad. And so I went on an expedition through the nearby shopping districts. All the main roads have at least a block-long grouping of shops and restaurants on them, so it was just a matter of finding the right type of shop on any given main road.
One day last week after a visit to the Australia Post shop, I almost bumped into a sandwich board advertising beer on sale for Father's Day. (it is the first weekend in September here, not June) I walked in and was surrounded by Beer Nirvana. They had an amazing selection of Stouts, shelves of actual IPAs, and even stocked selections from Moon Dog, our new favorite brewery. I couldn't wait to bring my husband there! We have to leave our complex to get the good stuff, but it is worth the 15 minute walk. NOW we have everything we need!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sniff...Sniff

Apparently people in Melbourne are very worried about toilet odors, During our apartment search, I noticed something I thought was rather odd - the bathroom extractor fans were all above the toilet. Not anywhere close to the shower, which is what I would expect when you want to prevent moisture from hanging around. No, it is above the toilet. I finally asked a real estate agent about it, and he exclaimed "to get rid of the smell"! Okay then... There is even a product on the market called "VIPoo" which according to the TV commercial (during prime time!) you spray into the toilet before you "drop your devil donuts" to "seal in the smell".  I am not kidding.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Almost Moving Day!

The Moving Gods are smiling upon us! We have only one possible day to move into our "real" apartment, and we have been able to schedule everything on that day. Everything!
Our very important appliances- refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer, and TV - will all be delivered. Our beautiful container that has spent weeks at sea will be delivered and unpacked. I cannot wait to see my treasured pots and pans.
My Aussie husband will be happy to see the container for different reasons as he will be able to sleep in his own bed once again. And he will have more than 7 changes of clothes. OK - so that is something I am happy for, maybe more than my husband. And SHOES! I will have all my shoes.
We only brought 3 checked bags with us so wardrobes have been limited, with emphasis on work attire for him. Emphasis on clothes that would pad the carefully packed bottles of Madeira for me.  Priorities!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Winter in July? Bah Humbug.

I have only been in Australia a few weeks but already I am thinking that the Northern Hemisphere is a better place to be in winter, especially if you celebrate Christmas. Christmas has lights and presents and parties, and you hardly know it is dark and the weather is crappy as you flit from one cheerful gathering to the next.
In the Southern Hemisphere during the darkest days and the worst weather, you have...nothing.

OK, so there is a half-hearted attempt at frivolity with a few scattered "Christmas in July" activities, but they seem to be held at the equivalent of a Rotary Club and involve people much older than I am.
Not exactly my idea of something to clear my calendar for.
They tell me it is awesome to have Christmas during the Summer as you can have pool parties and picnics on the beach and everyone wears Santa hats with their swimsuits and it is all very jolly. I experienced Christmas in Australia once, but I'm pretty sure I was too jet-lagged to appreciate the finer points as we had just arrived in the country Christmas morning about 6:00 am.
I'm sure it will be wonderful. In four and a half months.
In the meantime, I am scouting out anything that advertises wine and warm food so I can at least try to enjoy being thrown back into Winter. Spring is coming soon, isn't it? Please?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Home Appliances = White Goods

I am learning so much about appliances or "White Goods" as they are called here. What if you want a different finish on them? Do they call them "Stainless Steel Goods"? Probably not...
We have sorted out the refrigerator issue as the current tenant of our soon-to-be home has graciously supplied the measurements of her current fridge. (which she is taking with her) Yay! Now we can get something reasonably big and be assured that it will fit. As I am an American, I will of course insist on a Big American Refrigerator. So, one appliance down, many, MANY more to go.
Electric plugs and voltage are different here, so none of the dozens of kitchen gadgets we had in the States will work. Sadly we had to bid goodby to the Cuisinart. The KitchenAid. The handheld blender. My beloved rice cooker. Vacuums, lamps, fans, they all went.
Fortunately my Aussie husband understands the importance of getting new kitchen gadgets STAT! We will be shopping this weekend. =)

The other thing that is different here is that electricity has peak usage periods throughout the day and you are charged different rates depending on when you use it. Maybe there are other places that do that too, I have never really paid attention. I will be paying more than just "attention" if I don't shop for appliances that have a high Energy Star rating. I got all excited about the awesome features on a washing machine until my husband pointed out it only had 2 Energy Stars. It has been crossed off the list. I might be down at the river with a washboard at this rate...