Monday, July 27, 2009

First day of school in Australia.

Sassyface went off into the great unknown for the second time in her life. Although this time she was was trying her best to be invisible. Kids were smiling and waving at her, having remembered her from the couple times they'd sen her on our walkthroughs the school, but she blanked them and kept her head down. You'd think she was going to the gallows. I kept telling her, no matter how worried you are, hold your head high and smile and no one will know you're nervous. Meanwhile her sister was parading through the school as if she was the Queen, waving to everyone. How did I raise two diametrically opposite people? I know Sassy will loosen up and feel better by the end of the day, but I just wish she would view new experiences and people with interest and curiosity and not fear and loathing. Then again, being cautious and blowing in headlong is good too. She'll figure it all out. I juts don't want a phone call from the school asking me to come and calm her down. No panic attacks today please. Although, she started off with the right expression.

First Day of New School 003First Day of New School 005

Can you believe she's now spent half of her life in school? I wish I had my proper computer as I'd show you a first day of school picture from first grade.

We sat in on the morning assembly which was a time to catch up on notices for students and parents. The entire school fit into a small gymnasium - student body is around 280 kids. Sassy's class has 23. I hope she'll find that a positive change as her previous school had over 700 kids on a schoolground roughly the same size. The choir stood up and sang a few Abba songs which was a tad surreal because we all pick on Australia and it's love of Abba. We'll also have to learn the Australian National Anthem which isn't waltzing Matilda...at least that's not what they sang. Someone told me a fib along the way. But the lyrics are:

ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.


So of course what stuck out for me reading that is the line: Our home is girt by sea. What does that mean? Was it a typo? Well no, it's a rarely used word that is the past participle of gird, meaning to encircle or surround. I found a humorous article about it. You learn all sort on my blog.

I haven't really talked to any neighbors nor did I talk to any of the parents at the school this morning. All things in time. Let our faces be recognised a few times and then reach out. Always with a smile. I know the local shop keepers best just now. I'm content.

I really love that we get to watch Sesame Street. None of that in the UK and how woeful! I love Sesame Street. The kids now love Sesame Street. We are Street folk.

I am joyful that my iMac will be arriving on Wednesday. I have so missed my beloved 24inch screen. Also arriving will be a small amount of kitchen doodads that will be a big help as I have one pan and one frypan. Another will be welcomed warmly. My steamer arrives too, although I still don't have a microwave.

Forgot to photograph the bento this morning. Damn.


Tired now, but off to make scones.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

You Tell Me...

Who the fuck raised this poor creature because they need to be beaten.




(Thanks to my beloved Jill for sharing this on FB.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wind him up and watch him go...

I subscribe to Pat Condell because he represents the angry justice side of the religion argument in modern culture. He's sensible, he's concise, he's amazingly articulate and he's funny. He's also a tad vitriolic which appeals to me. I get angry and vitriolic but have had it purged as it puts people off and makes one unpopular. Or maybe I've mellowed. I don't know, but I love a dose of Pat to remind me that hell yes, this stuff annoys the shit out me too. I don't always agree with everything, but I like knowing the extremes of an argument and Pat is certainly extreme.

Well, Pat's latest video is quite possibly his best to date. He tears apart all the bullshit surrounding the Burqa debate, Liberal Left pussyfooting and political correctness about Islamic tolerance in Western culture. Pat Condell shines:



After spending an obscene amount of money on Sassyface's new school uniform which included a hat and backpack - the school has a "No Hat No Play!" rule - and I still have school fees to sort out which I'll have to get done this morning. I also have to get a microwave oven, a food processor and a few bits of groceries. And a hammer. And WD40.

Going to walk about 5 miles today, so better get me a shower and get started!

Have a nice weekend, friends.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shopping Til We Puke

I've been shopping. A lot. Tons of it. Filling the house with necessntials. Kind of fed up with the whole shopping thing now. It's wonderful having a huge shopping strip full of every shop you can think of and every restaurant you can think of just a few tram stops down the road. It's wonderful, really. A million times better than Princes street. Shop folks are very friendly, customer service with a smile; oh how I've missed you!!

I hear a ton of "No worries." it's like the Aussie mantra. Isn't that sweet, I love it. No worries. Utopia in two words.

Went out on Monday to find the Japanese grocer I'd located on the internet only to find most shops are closed on a Monday. Went back today and Hooray! Not only open but I spent a small fortune and got all my bento basic foods and some extras too. Had a wonderful time. Loved it. I did ask if they carried bento boxes but they said no. They did once but they weren't popular so they stopped. I said I'd love to find a place like Daiso and the cashier's face went blank and then lit up with a huge smile "Daiso! Yes, great shop. You been to Japan!" I had to disappoint her by admitting I have not been, "But you know Daiso." she confirmed, as if that was enough for her to accept me.

I bought a mountain of furikake, sesame seeds, rice, miso, snacks, sweets and inari. I even got to try mochi for the first time - it was great! Weird at first but oddly it got sweeter the more I ate it. The kids loved it too which I found bizarre - red bean paste in a gooey rice ball? Kid food? White kid food at that? Yup, they loved it. ?Said they wanted to get that as a snack next time. I'm going to see if I can get some instant mochi flour and make my own next time. Thank goodness for Cooking With Dog because they have a how to video. I love CWD, one of my favourite YouTubers. So I shall be Japanese cooking Queen in no time.

I also got some books in the Borders sale. Cooking On A Shoestring, Small Food; snack sized bites to share with friends, Cheap and Cheerful. I've had a couple panic attacks about how fast I'm going through cash Where is it all going?! Hard enough having to think in a new currency again, always having to refer back to £ or US$ which I shouldn't even do as my US currency converter (as in, what I remember stuff costing) is 14 years out of date. But over $4 for a loaf of bread? Are you kidding me?? Fuck right off, thanks, and yet I can enough kangaroo meat to last three meals for $6. Toilet paper for two weeks costs as much as a loaf of bread...is that right? That doesn't seem right to me. That's weird. So I'm buying the cheapest bread. Perhaps when my books arrive I'll pull out the Julia Child baking cookbook I got from Doug and have a proper go at making my own breads. I've been a bit chicken about it. I don't like how the bread dough is all sticky and goops up my fingers. Yuck. Sticky is one thing, I can cope with sticky, but gloopy, gloppy and stinking of yeast? Maybe I'm not ready yet. Maybe I need a super food processor with a dough hook...yeah. Ahem.

...and a mini cleaver.

Was watching the news last night where we were shown what happens in Sydney when folks are drunk and disorderly and put into holding cells for the night, I forget what it was called as I was half listening and making dinner but at one point I heard "...and this young lady is being held for farting with her boyfriend." and I stopped cold: What was she doing?? "Fighting; she was fighting with her boyfriend, not farting with him, which is what you heard but not what he meant." Got to love it.

So, I'm getting a hang of the trams, getting used to the trains, slowly making it farther each day. The kids are loving Melbourne, even though they haven't found the holy grail of a Pokemon shop. I don't know where they got the idea that Australia, being closer to Japan than the UK, would have Pokemon superstores. Of course there are no Pokemon superstores and eventually Sassy will have to come to grips with that, but for now she's content in her fantasy.

I suppose I should get some plans in action to see some cultural things. So far it's been a lot of shopping and a few days in Ikea.

Oh, have I mentioned how much I love my new bed? It's heavily. It's delish. Husband got a wonderful, firm yet squashy bed and a latex pillow for me. I've not had one before and it's fabulous! I'll never have foam again. My hips aren't sore, that annoying numb patch on my thigh has disappeared and no more aching ribs. I had no clue most of my aches and pains were from the bed - I thought I was just getting old and it was normal - It's not! It was a piece of shit bed and was fucking crippling me. I'm now feeling wonderful. I love my bed. Sleeping normal hours again. Also, Australia seems to have similar sunrise/sunset times to New England so I'm feeling normal with seeing the sun at the right times again. I wonder if Husband will ever find the differences weird for him to get used to.

Australia already feels more like home than Scotland ever did.

Now to make friends.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Local Flavour

Husband went back to work yesterday and left me with a small list of errands, like getting new keys cut and dropping off his dry cleaning. So I set off to investigate the local shops.

I popped into the pharmacy for a few provisions, like anti-bac hand cleaner for the bathrooms, cotton buds, loo roll - typical stuff one needs for the home. I popped into the charity shop and picked up some port glasses and cups for putting tooth brushes in. Met the local butcher who was a very friendly man; and why wouldn't he be when it was reported yesterday that butchers have the best sex lives of all jobsmen. He took pity on me because I had no idea what I wanted to make for dinner, and still feel a bit weird about the cost of things because I have no idea if anything is a good price or not and I still don't know the value of all the coins, so I look silly dithering about with my playmoney and checking the values of my small change. Why is the $2 coin smaller than the $1 coin?? Why are there no pennies and yet things still cost .99 cents?? Eventually Sean the Butcher suggested I try some of his home-made beef sausages and I bought six. Then popped next door to the fresh fruit-n-veg market and got some potatoes, salad leaves, garlic with cloves the size of shallots and a very lovely mild, sweet taste, two huge apples for the girls to munch on the walk home, and a bag of coconut covered apricot balls. All for less than $5 which I think *was* a brilliant deal as the veg is far superior to what I've had in Scotland which is small and scarily overpriced.

Unfortunately my newly cut keys didn't work, so I walked back down and asked the guy to try again, he talked to me for a while about his motorbiking adventures in Ireland and we laughed about how the Brits always end up burning themselves in the summer because they think they don't need sunscreen. See, I grew up in hot summers; I know. Not to be outdone, I'm constantly warned with a mischievous smile, "Just you wait."

I keep noticing small things that amuse me, like tea bags are called Tea Cup Bags, not teacup bags nor simply teabags but tea cup bags. Also I was watching a sport report about how someone was "Sickened" and thought, poor guy puked on the field, and it took me a moment before I figured out she meant Second. Husband says if I laugh too much about the accent I'll get beaten up, but I know from experience, I'll get back what I give out. Heck I'll get it even if I don't give back so why not enjoy my own digs? Also, they use, on the news anyways, the word "Nailed" a lot, especially in sport when someone was tackled, they were nailed instead. Someone caught in an untruth is also nailed. I haven't heard it used yet in a sexual phrasing which is how I'm used to hearing it. All this nailing makes me reconsider the conservative label I've been led to believe about Australians. The Costco sized sex toy store out near the airport was an eye opener too.

I took the kids for a walk through the local park which was full of eucalyptus and pretty pink lawn flowers and all kinds of trees I've never seen. A lot have no leaves and there's one in particular that looks like some kind of chestnut which is covered in dangling spiked balls. There's this other tree that have seeds/nuts that are about the size of a huge acorn with a deep triangle shaped dent in the bottom which we've discovered makes an amazing whistle - way better than an acorn cap. I only hope they don't turn out to be something painfully toxic, but I don't think so as I noticed birds picking at the ones that had fallen and split. The hard green ones - awesome, loud whistles. (You know to use your thumbs to make a tiny triangle shape and blow on an acorn cap to make a high pitched whistle, right?). We saw lots of magpies, myna birds and those red and green parrots I think are Eastern Rosellas. I had one bird come and sit next to me while the kids were in the park, and I don't know what it was. Once he realized I didn't have any food for him, he went back into the tree and began to strip the bark off the trunk. Just a tad passive-aggressive don't you think?

Today I'm out to try a different key cutter and see if we can get me a key to this house. I have no other plans outside of that, so I'll meander the streets, find interesting things to look at and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine we've got this morning. Oh, and try not to get swine flu. Seems to be media hyped that the flu is now out to nail all of healthy younger adults (I still count as a young adult, don't I?) and it's even taking down (Like we're a herd of elephants and the flu has us at gunpoint) people with no pre-existing health concerns. Better lock myself in! Hide from anyone and everyone. Sanitize the mail!

Have I mentioned that the Aussie media is fucking insane? No really, these morning lite news shows are swinging between nitpicking the stories and warping them into something out of control - case in point being the all day reporting of a UK midwife saying women should endure natural childbirth and not expect an epidural. Which later became "UK Dr tells women to toughen up!" and "Toughen up Girls, it's just labor!" and onward spinning in order to create a furor when the man actually was advising women not to expect an epidural to be a saviour and that it should be used in case of dangerous or troubled deliveries. When I later asked my friend in the UK what the Brits' take on this story was, she'd not heard a thing about it. Then we get segued to another story about health and fitness that turns out to be an infomercial about some Pilates machine. What is with the on-set infomercials? Truly annoying. I liked it better when the infomercials were all clumped together in their own channels at the far end of the satellite channel selections. It just makes me click over to something else, which I must wonder if I'm alone in that. Having these obvious adverts during showtime must really bite into their ratings, right?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We're Here!!

We arrived on Friday night after our 25 hour flight (that's including layovers) to a rather cloudy but brightly lit, Melbourne. First impressions from the sky is that it's a very well laid out city, not a rabbit warren of weird streets and alleys like London or Edinburgh to a small extent. The streets use orange lights on the main roads, but the older white lights on the side streets, which I prefer. It's like having moonlight in your room every night.

Driving to the house we passed some interesting buildings, like a massive sex toy store which I'm told there are lots of, a large glittering rolled up newspaper outside The Age newspaper, several business signs were pretend hot air balloons. Palm trees, wires overhead and the psych-out of lightning which were really sparks from the trams.

Our first meal when we got to the new house was Pizza Hut. The house is huge, but as it's a rental there are many "Do Not" things, which include blue tack. That's dumb. No posters in the kid's rooms, have to ask permission to hang any pictures. Sigh. It's sparsely decorated and we'll need several thing yet before it feels more homely. Spent most of the night with the eerie feeling of still being on the plane whenever I walked. Air legs. like sea legs, but from a plane instead and it was a pretty turbulent flight on the second leg of the journey as there were a lot of storms over the Phillipines. I had only had about 3 hours sleep on Wednesday night, and did not sleep at all for the flight. I also had eaten very little as the food was pretty awful. Halfway through the first leg of the flight, my lips got that annoying dry, tingling sensation of dehydration that if you lick will make it worse. I had packed some hand lotion and spent the flight applying tons to my face and hands. Was so thirsty, begged for water constantly, They must have thought I was a camel.

First day here I was up bright at my usual 7am and took that as a good sign. Had a small breakfast, and headed out to the tram, then to the train into the Central Business District (CBD). Wandered about looking like a tourist with my chin in the air as I stared up the height of the buildings. I love that a lot of the old Victorian architecture and plasterwork are evident. Although strange to see a statue of a stately gent alongside an Aboriginal spear. We had lunch at a sushi restaurant with the conveyor belt delivery system. Shorty had never seen it before as Yo Sushi bagged out of Edinburgh, and she found it a great experience. In fact, the plenitude of Japanese restaurants is amazing - I'm in foodie heaven. And yet no bento stores?? Why?!

Sunday we meandered around the biggest mall I've ever seen where Husband bought a new suit and coat for work, the kids got new toys and I got a small bottle of Coco Chanel to hold me over until our belongings arrive in another 2 months. Seriously - huge mall. Not Mall of America huge, but bigger than anything in Scotland.

Hubs had today off work and we took the public transport into Melbs and visited the Aquarium and then meandered about the riverside (Pictures up at Flickr) and then through Chinatown, which was mostly restaurants and not much shopping stuff, but we are sick of shopping. I did pick up a book of Australian birds because the fact the only bird I recognise is the mangy pigeon and UK Blackbird, every other type is a mystery. The songs are all different and it's a bit of sensory overload with all the different sounds. Between the trams, tin roof being pounded with rain, bird songs, wind humming through the overhead lines, the fact that crosswalks don't beep or buzz but click instead and even though we have a green man there's still traffic coming at you because they have right of way too - yeah how dumb is that? My head gets a bit woozy and we need to take a break. Visually it's also a bit interesting as many of the trees make me think of Dr. Seuss books, daffodils are blooming again, the green of a green light is more lime than Kelly green (unless they're newer LED ones) and have I mentioned the parrots? There are parrots out there. Small green and red ones. The food halls are infested with wee sparrows - so cute and yet, they fly within inches of your head and I keep wondering how often they poop on people.

It's been a wild three days.

One last thing - the people are awesome. So friendly. Just fabulous - this is why I wanted to come here.

Next time I'll talk about Australian Rules Football and ask Why does Aussie TV have infomercials during the Today show??

Monday, July 06, 2009

Countdown...

I'm leaving for Australia in three days. Three days! I'm starting to get a bit panicky. what have I forgotten? Do I really not need actual tickets? I'm not sure I trust this new "It's linked to your passport" stuff. I like having the tickets in my hand. What if I get there and they're all like "Nope sorry, no booking for you." and I'm effectively homeless.

I've been packing, re-packing, weighing the suitcases, are they under 23kilos? Shuffle this to that one, move this thing here...now? Will need to buy locks.

I suddenly have so much to do and have missed having a car more than ever. Just for the economy of time. I have to go to the shop, go to the estate agents, have to be back for 4pm so the movers can pack up the computer. I'm going to be without a computer from tomorrow! I don't know how I'll cope.

So this may be the last post from Scotland! Pastures new coming soon.

I'm out to buy the cheapest rolls of toilet paper I can, a couple computer games, and locks. Musn't forget locks!

How is Must not not Mustn't??

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Stuff Stuff Stuff!

So I think my days of having my ear glued to the phone waiting in endless call center queues has, finally ended. Last call was made today....ok wait I have one more tomorrow but then that will be my absolute last. In fact, I wonder if I can cram it in a day early? Would feel properly clean to have them all shed these direct debits, regular payments and mysterious payment I don't have any clue about. Phantom paypal payment as a direct debit? I think not! You are canceled and can just sing for it.

....just made one more phone call. Removals people for the stuff we're not taking. They'll sell what they can in auction and give the proceeds to charity. Who says Atheists aren't generous?! In fact the guy was a bit "Are you sure?" and I'm like "Yup." because normal people just do that kind of thing. But I can't afford regular charitable contributions and I never have change anymore, in fact I rarely carry cash at all and live by the card so folks with their coin boxes are shit out of luck and I'm guilt ridden because I'd love to chuck a quid or two to a decent charity.

Frigging credit card company are becoming a rash across my ass, calling me daily to ask for Husband - call him for fuck's sake and leave me alone! They can't tell me anything about his card, but they don't think to call him no matter how many times I tell them he's available on his number right now - call him NOW and then they don't. They expect him to rematerialize in my living room. From now on I'm telling them to email him. Why aren't they emailing him? They should email him - it's an internet bank for the loveapete. Not very keen on communicating via the internet for an internet bank.

So I'm really confused - how do we make a white cake with white frosting? The only white cake I can manage is angel food cake, but the frosting is a complete impossibility. There are no white baking fats in the UK as they all have beta-carotene added. So no white fluffy coconut frosting, they all look yellowed and waxy. Unless I want to use lard, which I don't. Lard frosting - blech! Missing crisco.

Can't wait to go, can't wait to go.

Had a bit of a cry as it was Shorty's last day of school today and getting hugs from the Mums was hard enough and saying goodbye to all the kids, but when the head teacher gave me a hug, I got misty and bolted before I made a spectacle, and then cried a bit in the woods on the walk home, claiming it was hot and I was just sweaty. The kids don't like it when I cry and will start to cry themselves. I used to be the same whenever I saw my Dad cry, in particular. It's a stilling moment.

Having friends and rowdy kids over for pizza and drinks (not for the kids, but us adults who are overwrought at realization of having the kids around for the next 6 weeks non-stop) and fun and who knows what. Probably annoy the neighbors.

Has anyone else ever watched the cartoon Chowder? It's hysterical and completely weird! I love it, but don't tell the kids. I think it's the actual kid-voice doing Chowder that makes me laugh the most. I like it even better than Billy and Mandy's Grim Adventures.


OH oh! I forgot to add the buyer signed all the paperwork this week so the house is totally sold and she can't back out and I can't back out and there will be money in the bank on the 17th and Hell Yeah!!