A busy couple of weeks!

Trip Start Oct 13, 2007
1
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Trip End ??? ??, 2009


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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hi all--

What a busy couple of weeks we've had.  This entry is likely to be lengthy, so if you're tight on time, skip to the pictures (don't worry...I won't know!).  I'm categorizing things to make it easier to follow what's been going on (is that kind of geeky?), and just some fun things that we've been learning...

Dinner at Doyles
A couple of weeks ago, we went out with Jim's other boss.  Tim is from London, and a very cool guy.  He hired a private water taxi that took us across the bay to Doyles, a pretty famous eating establishment in Watson's Bay.  It's right on the beach, and the boys spent most of the evening building a sand castle while we dined on the front porch eating an assortment of seafood items.  Yum! 

House search & move
Our house search was a bit stressful.  Let's just say our housing allowance didn't look like it was going to get us what we wanted.  Fortunately, the last house we looked at we really liked.  It's only 18 months old, has an enormously steep drive, and overlooks "the bush."  A couple days later we rented furniture, which was actually kind of fun. 

Moving day was Halloween, which turns out is not widely celebrated here--we got one set of trick-or-treaters who got money instead of candy.  Since we opted not to rent linens, I had to make a linen run that afternoon with our buddy Chris.  Shopping is a challenge here...most stores close at 5:00.  Some even close earlier than that if they feel like it...or they kind of open when they feel like it.  A bit unpredictable!  It took us a while to get high speed internet, but we're up and running now.   Now, we're just waiting on the cable TV and our "big boxes" from home.  Then it will really feel like home!

The town is about 10 miles northwest of Sydney.  There's under 10,000 people, but it feels bigger due to a major highway that runs through the middle.  The house is about 1 mile from town--a very steep uphill walk to town.  Our grocery is Woolworths (sound familiar to some of you?).  Woolies or the Big W is what they call it.  Basically it's like a super Wal-mart (but of course, not quite the Wal-mart prices!).  The school is close if you're a bird, but the lovely bush is right between us and the school.  Still, it's a 5 minute drive, or you can walk through the bush on a trail, but the kids found that a bit scary (think jungle sounds, and those little black lizards you see in Florida). 

Flora/Fauna/Weather
The bird sounds are pretty incredible.  I have no idea what kind of birds they are--definitly some cock-a-toos and likely some kookaburras and also some parrot looking ones.  I swear sometimes it sounds like the monkey house at the zoo!  Lots of chatter and fighting sounds.  And the trees just tower here.  We're probably surrounded by the gum trees (remember that song about the kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree....) but I haven't confirmed what's what. The prettiest trees are the Jacardanda--beautiful purple blooms and we have one in our yard.  So far, haven't seen much in terms of spiders, and no snakes thankfully.  The weather has been quite rainy this past week.  Just huge storms throughout the day and night.  By the way...not much emphasis on the weather reports here.  They're much shorter on the news than back home.  And if the day is going to be sunny and nice they say "fine."  So, it's "Sydney, mostly fine, Melbourne fine with an occasional shower", etc.  Weird, huh?  We need some more "fine" days here!

School
The boys started school this week.  Aside from nerves, which is understandable, they're doing great.  There are plenty of kids in both boys' classes that are interested in helping them get acclimated.  And the uniforms turned out to not be a problem.  In the few weeks that we had been here, they saw enough kids in uniforms of one kind of another, that I think they were more prepared for them.  And every school seems to have them--private or public.  The school is smaller--about 350 maybe.  And there are separate small buildings for each grade.  In the center is a courtyard where the kids play and eat their lunch on picnic tables.  Friday is sports day, where the last couple of hours I guess is devoted to sports.  We attended a band meeting last night and it looks like Max may make a switch to saxophone.  And Sam can join too!  They start band as early as Year 2 (which is really first grade in our system).   

Driving in Oz
Having been a passenger for a while here, I was feeling pretty confident that I could do this whole "driving on the wrong side of the road."  Boy was I wrong!  Jim and I went out at 6:00 am one rainy morning for my first attempt.  Not only are you driving on the left side of the road, but the turn signals are on the right side of the wheel, turning left is flipping it up; turning right is flipping it down, the gear shift is on the left, you look up and left for your rear view mirror...you get the picture.  Oh, add to that the fact that the lanes are very narrow, people drive sometimes too fast, and I don't know where the heck I'm going.  I was a mess and convinced that I wouldn't be able to get it.  But very quickly, it started coming together, and aside from tending to drift to the left too much, I'm doing okay.  And thank God for our GPS!  If I had to figure out where to go on my own, I'd really be in trouble.  And roundabouts....well, look it up on the internet and if you figure them out, let me know.  Actually, I do sort of get them. 

Some New Terminology
Chardy = Chardonnay
Cham Bull=champagne+red bull
Tasty cheese = american cheese (but I think sometimes it's cheddar too)
Ice blocks = any kind of ice cream bars or treats
Serviettes = napkins
Crook = sick (I'm feeling kind of crook today)
Take away = carry out
Heaps = lots
Good on ya' = good for you or good job
Fortnightly = every 2 weeks
Double and triple = like if someone's phone # is 9449 6332, they say "nine double four nine six double three two"--everyone does this

Some Familiar Things with an Ozzie Twist
We've been enjoying some Aussie versions of our U.S. shows:  Australian Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Deal or No Deal and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  But I miss Matt and Meridith on the Today show.  They have a Today show, but it's just not M&M.

Those Conveniences that I'm Already Missing...
Fabric softener sheets--if you send us a Christmas card, how about throwin' one in?

Garbage disposal
--by the way, they are really big on recycling here.  You get 4 cans.  1 for regular waste, 1 for paper, 1 for cans/bottles, 1 for yard.

100-calorie snacks
(and calories are measured in kilojoules or energy)

Unwrinkled clothes
--I can't figure out of it's my dryer or the lack of softener, or what.  By the way, the use of clothes lines are commonplace, so I guess I'll start doing that.  Reminds of my childhood.

Phone numbers that make sense

Press 'N Seal--And Teri & my family know how I love my press n seal

But overall we're doing well and getting settled and into a routine.  Hopefully we'll have some more fun outings now that we're in our house and it looks like the weather's going to be fine soon.

Again, thanks for the e-mails.  It's really nice to hear what everyone's up to. 

Guess that's it for now.  For those of you who actually read the whole thing, "good on ya" and thanks for your attention!

Cheers,

Barb
 
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