Monday, March 28, 2011

Funny Foods

Nancy & Dean - Sydney Australia

One thing I'm noticing is it's easy to live a "sustainable life" here in Australia. Most if not all foods and products are grown and manufactured locally. There is a much stronger respect for organic and ethically farmed foods and overall I find the efforts pay off as the food has more flavour and quality is noticeable.

While on the topic of food. Here are some funny foods I've come across so far:

Meat Pies from 'Pie Face' - These single serving pies make a great late night snack on the street.  Pie face is a chain that sells a variety of meat and sweet pies each with unique little faces drawn on them. Best enjoyed with a blob of mashed potato, mushy peas and gravy smothered on top.

Kangaroo Kebabs- kangaroo meat is obviously produced in Australia and since 2010 is now exported to more than 55 countries.

While shopping at the weekend Farmer's market I stumbled across this yummy stand selling muffins and pastries. You can't see the name tag in this photo but it reads "Spotted Dick"  Excuse me? 

Wikipedia explanation:
Spotted dick is a steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit (usually currants) commonly served with custardSpotted refers to the dried fruit (which resemble spots) and dick may be a contraction or corruption of the word pudding (from the last syllable)

Vegemite Scrolls- not quite as scrumptious as a cinnamon roll but I will respect and continue to not participate in the love of Vegemite.

Golden Bananas -  at $11.98/kg the banana is not a staple fruit in my household anymore. I bought two for smoothies and they came to $4.00!!  I found out later that this is not normal for Australian banana's. Due to the floods in the north the banana farmers crops were devastated causing banana and some other produce prices to sky rocket.  A friend of Dean's said "No one buys banana's now, except tourists maybe." no comment.

Happy Cappuccino - my mornings begins on the right note with a home made cappuccino. Thanks Dean! This guy even has eyebrows.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Initiation

Nancy & Dean- Sydney Australia

After an uneventful 23 hour flight I arrived safely in Sydney early Friday morning (Australian time). Dean was waiting at the arrival gate with flowers and a  big smile on his face. Finally the long wait was over and now we can start our adventures together here in Australia.

First, we loaded my hundreds of pounds of luggage into the car and headed home to check out our new place!  I LOVE our home! It's roomy but not too big, clean, modern and so novel to be living in a house instead of a high rise building for once. It instantly felt like home and was exciting to be re-united with all my possessions that set sea way back in December. Even Railey's bed is here ready and waiting for his arrival. Next week I'll begin to decorate, hang pictures and find a place for everything.

Dean took me on a short walk around the hood so I could get my bearings. It feels so strange to have no clue where you are or how to get around. I imagine I'll feel a bit displaced for a while.

I could barely wait to go to the beach.. so we pulled on our bathing suits, hopped in the car and headed to Bondi Beach. We walked up the rocky coasted trail from Bondi to Tamarama Beach, sat on the rock cliff and watched the surfers below battle the waves while we chatted and caught up on some of the events of the past few months apart. I noticed flags down on the beach below.. "what do you think those flags mean?" I asked Dean. "Oh probably no surfing or something?" After about an hour or so we walked back down to Bondi beach and decided it being my first day in Oz, I needed to be initiated to the ocean. It wasn't the warmest day so the water was quite cold but we both bravely ran in, jumped the waves and eventually became fully submerged. It was all fun and games until there was a sudden change of events.

I noticed on shore a blue lifeguard cart and one of the guards yelling at us with a loud speaker but I could not hear a thing he said. I figured it must be dangerous where we were swimming, "We have to go in Dean, swim in"  I yelled and began to swim in toward the lifeguards. Suddenly I couldn't touch bottom and the currents seemed to get stronger. Dean who seemed calm and collected but admits later he was freaking kept yelling to me "swim sideways" but I was beginning to struggle in the water with the current and the large waves crashing over me.

We were stuck in a rip tide, and no matter how hard we kicked we were not moving, if anything we were being sucked out further.  I consider myself a strong swimmer but began to panic as I was struggled to keep afloat and began to get quite tired from the effort of kicking in such strong water.  It wasn't long until I saw someone appear in front of me on a surf board. "Climb on" he said. It was the lifeguard who came to save the day and thank god he did otherwise I think we would have been fish food. Even on the surf board the waves made the return back to shore a challenge.

I soon noticed there was a guy with a video camera and on the beach stood a dude with a boom and microphone.  "What's with the video equipment?" I asked. "Oh we are filming for a show called Bondi Rescue, a real life lifeguard rescue show" (Which apparently airs in Canada too, so if your flipping through the channels and think you see us being pulled from the ocean on Australia's version of Bay Watch, yes that's really is us.)

Once we were both safe on shore again, they asked us to do a short interview about our experience. We explained what happened and honestly I felt pretty stupid to say I'm from Canada and this is my first day in Australia. However, another part of me thought it was pretty funny that we had become such spectacles the first time in the ocean.

Today we learnt valuable lessons. Obviously we didn't understand the true meaning of flags on the beach is to swim between the flags because the other areas are too dangerous not Dean's version of 'do not surf on beaches with flags'. Also, we learnt the power of a rip tide and strength of the ocean. Although this was an unfortunate event, I consider us lucky to have experienced it sooner than later and on a beach where there were watchful lifeguards there to help us.

Exhausted by the day's events we drove home laughing about the fact we will be on Bondi Rescue, but shaken by such a close call.

Living in Australia 101:  Lesson of the day - swim between the flags and never underestimate the power of the ocean.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is it...

Nancy- Toronto Canada

So this is it. My bags are packed, my apartment is sold, signed and pretty much cleared out, the seemingly endless "To Do" list is about 97% complete. I have three more sleeps in Canada, one last day at work and one final meal with my family then I'm off to explore my new life and home in Australia. Believe it or not, it still has not really hit me that this is actually a move not just another vacation or trip.

Yet again here's a picture of my skilled packing. I've managed to widdle my possessions down to 4 bags for the first trip and a small pile that can wait until I return at Christmas or possibly sooner for a visit.

Oh how I wish I could fit Railey in my carry on. I'm going to miss that little wiggly fur ball sooooo much and pray that everything goes smooth with his flight in May. I don't think I'll be able to feel settled until all of us are safe in Australia.

With India and the work trip to Italy it has been a rushed departure. However, I'm feeling very thankful for all my friends and family who have found the time to hang out one last time before I go.  I feel really fortunate to have such amazing people in my life and I'm going to miss you all very much. Thankfully social media can keep us connected in the mean time until we see each other again.

I have no idea what my "new life" will be like in Australia, it's exciting and scary all at the same time. But one thing I learned in India is to trust myself and the ability to handle whatever life throws at me. No point worrying about it, I'll figure it out... and intend to have a tone of fun in the process. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Home And New Wheels!!

Dean - Glebe, Australia

I missed a week on our blog, a lot has happened in a short time. After seven frustrating weeks, countless inspections, we finally have a home. It has been a difficult journey, but well worth the wait. It may seem odd for some people that this has been such a big deal, but lot's was stacked against me. A shortage of rental units, lot's of immigrants, hot economy, no rental history here, our great little dog Railey, and my pickiness. All these together meant a very difficult time getting someone to accept us. Lucky enough, I found this great place in inner west Sydney called Glebe.

The house is what is called a terrace, which is basically a row house with a small back area. It is in a great location where we can walk to markets, local shops, parks, and even the water where there is a trail system. It really feels like home to me. It is under 10 KM from my office which can be reached easily by car or transit. It is 3 bedroom with lots of space so we can spread out and have lot's of room for visitors. The owners are really nice people that ironically have the same first names as Nancy's parents.

I was also able to get our shipping container delivered last Friday. So all our belongings we said good bye to way back in December for the long trip here arrived. Amazingly, over 14,000 KMs of shipping by train then boat, out of the entire container, there was only one broken wine glass. The Australian quarantine service (AQIS) opened a few boxes that had shoes and our bikes in them, presumably looking for soil, etc.

I am extremely happy and will be able to start cooking again for myself and soon Nancy. Best of all I can finally sleep in my own bed. I am very lucky that new friends and new co-workers here were extremely helpful to me, lending a hand, offering a couch and giving great advice.

To add to the completeness of this week, I was able to pick up our car, so I am now mobile. Nancy and I are proud owners of a 2011 VW Golf. A great practical car which will get us around town and on some road trips comfortably.  It was a bit of an adventure learning how the whole system works with car registration and insurance. Every car must be registered with regulated CTP (compulsory third party) insurance, which basically covers any third party liability to other driver's health only. Then you add comprehensive insurance which covers damage to your vehicle and others. The two forms of insurance can be purchased from two different insurance companies. The insurance can be done completely online, as it was the morning I picked it up, and no special slips are required. Car registration ("rego") is done by placing a special sticker in the windshield. Here is a shot of our car and the cool "euro" style plates they have here.

I'm driving a bit like a grandma now, left hand side of the road, roundabouts, and a maze of inner city streets all keep me a bit nervous. I am sure it won't take long to get used to it. I also have to rely on my iPhone GPS to get around as the streets are very confusing.

Good thing about this car is it's easy on the gas (petrol). Next time you pull up to the gas station and think it's expensive, think of what I pay. For any of my American friends who may be reading this, that's about $5 per gallon.

So next steps are getting some essentials for home, like a BBQ, TV, and a coffee machine. I am working hard to have everything sorted for when Nancy gets here in just 11 days. Seeing Nancy after two long months will complete my happiness :-)