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Posts Tagged ‘NSW’

NSW-_Sydney_Harbour-Opera-House

It’s hard to believe, but I have been living in Australia for a little over 2 years now. Where has all the time gone? It has taken some work, but I do believe I am finally getting the hang of living here.

Father knows best

In my opinion , Oz is a lot like America in the 1950’s, only tech savvy.  It’s a much slower pace most of the time, everyone is very friendly, and you can take most people at their word. The Aussie motto is “No worries Mate”, and they mean it. When I first got here, even though it is a different country, for me there was only a little culture shock.  Thanks to the fact that Australia is an English-speaking country (for the most part) and the fact that we get a lot of American TV here, Oz is a lot like the States.  Most Aussies could understand me, I just had to work on understanding what they were saying. Besides the Aussie accent, they do have their own lingo here that was rather confusing to me, until Gene, my own private personal interpreter, would translate.

Denero

The first time I heard that a man was “nursing” a child, I thought for sure Aussie men were very different from regular men.  I wanted to see this special male breastfeed a baby.  As it turned out, in Oz, to be “nursing” someone means you are taking care of them.

nappy

baby

Since we are on the topic of babies, a nappy is a diaper, not a short amount of sleep, and asking a baby about his/her dummy is not a question about their intellect, but instead a discussion about their pacifier.

parramatta club

If we are going to a hotel, in most cases that means we are going to a pub to drink, but it can also mean a place we could get a room for the night.  A “club” is not only for dancing, like it is in the States, but instead it is the Aussie version of a VFW hall, only a whole lot better.

slot machine

They always have a café, and most have “poker machines”, or “pokies”, which are what Americans call slot machines. I am not really a fan of these clubs, but Gene really loves them. You can get a really cheap meal, but in my opinion, all the food in all the clubs are all the same.

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Since my move here, we have had only one visitor from the States, and that was my BFF Mary, from Detroit.  In her infinite wisdom, she summed up Oz in one word.  Adequate. This is the perfect word to describe Australia.  I am not saying that being adequate is a bad thing.  Aussies get just what they need, and usually no more.  That is one reason we go food shopping 3 to 4 times a week. Why buy extra when you can make another trip to the store and get it fresh?

Unit sweet Unit

Unit sweet Unit

A lot of things are much smaller than I was used to.  Take housing.  This is a photo of our “unit”, or townhouse. There are a lot of “units” (or apartments, condos, or townhouses) everywhere, and they keep building more.  There are single family homes, but the majority of them are what we in America would call small.  Like us, it is very common to have only a one car garage, (not a 1 ½ car) even if you are a two car family.  I just want to know where they keep all their stuff.  One of Gene’s sisters’ lives in what I call an “American” house. For Aussie standards, it is large, with big front and back yards. I say it is just about right.

macca's sign

Their serving size are also much smaller here.  A large drink at “Macca’s” (pronounced mack-ers) would be considered a small in America.

Roundabout

I had to get use to everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, and all the roundabouts.  It is very strange to sit in the front seat of a car on the left side, and not have a steering wheel in front of me.  I have driven a little here, and I am not a fan of how narrow most of the lanes are. Again, the adequate thing. I keep saying I just need to get out there and practice, but for once in my life, I am enjoying having my own personal chauffeur. I just can’t get Gene to wear the little hat that goes with the uniform.

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When I’m asked what I miss most about the US, my first answer is always Taco Bell. Yeah, I know.  It should be family and friends, which I do miss, but I also miss the fact that I can’t just go through the drive thru any time of the day or night to get one of my favorite foods.  I have reserved myself to the fact that Oz is not a place for Mexican food, so I make it at home when I get a craving to make a run for the border.  I do Skype with my family and friends, so in some cases, I talk to them more now than I did when I lived there.

tomato sauce

 

Oz tom sauce

Another thing I miss is being able to find certain things in the stores.  One example is tomato sauce.  To an Aussie, tomato sauce is ketchup, and American tomato sauce does not exist in Oz. To compromise, I’ve learned to substitute tomato puree instead.

I also miss the fact that not every store gives you a bag for your purchases.

powerpoint

One thing that I will never understand, is their electrical outlets, or what they call power points.  For some reason they turn off the power points when they are not in use.  I am assuming that Aussies think the power may leak out when they are not looking, so they turn them off.

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They have wonderful tea shops that I frequent quite a bit, and my tea collection has grown to 60+ teas.  Aussies still look at me funny when I tell them my drink of choice is Ice tea, but I am hopeful that one day they will realize that they there are other ways to have your tea besides white (with milk) or  black (no milk).

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Cockie & bridge

 

I also love the fact that there are beautiful animals here.  There are all kinds of birds all over the place, and my favorites are the rainbow lorikeets, and the cockatoos.

All dressed up for that night out!

All dressed up for that night out!

I also love the fact that fairy penguins also call Oz home.  They are the closest thing to a munchkin here, so they fit right in.

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One of the things I really enjoy doing is going to some of the wildlife parks, and have lunch with some of my truly Aussie friends.  That’s something I never got to do in America.

winter car

Some things I don’t miss are having to be at work, and bad weather. Sydney has pretty mild weather, and never gets snow, so that makes me a VERY happy camper.  When I moved here, I was thrown into an early retirement, because I was not allowed to work.

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Now I spend my days doing what I want to do, and not what a boss thinks I should do.  I like this way much better. Here’s a photo of me and the girls at one of the knitting groups I belong to.

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ferry

Nice weather makes taking public transport not seem like a bad thing.  Instead of driving a car, I do take the buses and ferries to get where I’m going, and I also do my fair share of walking. I guess now that I have the time, I don’t mind leaving the car at home.  That would have never happened back in the States.  That, or living in a house without a heating system.  Even when I lived in Las Vegas, smack dab in the middle of a desert, we had a furnace, and we used it.  Here, we don’t have one…  Yet.

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I gave Gene one winter to see if I could handle it being cold in the house, and the answer is no.  So to put off getting a heating system this year, Gene is taking me on trips while it’s winter here. I must admit I like his way of thinking.

I have gotten use to this lifestyle, and I will be the first to admit, I am really enjoying it here.  It is a slower pace, everyone is laid back, and it is a very peaceful place to live.  I do miss America at times, but that’s what the airlines are for. For now I plan on staying here as long as possible, and enjoying my new life.  Gene and I do love to have visitors use our guest room, so if you are so inclined, feel free to plan a trip down under. We would love to show you around all the places that are on my “What to show visitors” list.  And if you’re lucky, my truly Aussie friends or our munchkins will fit you into their busy schedules.

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No worries Mate

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Like any other mother or head of the household, Mother Nature likes to do some “spring cleaning” every now and again.  This time she chose summer here in Oz.  Being a woman, she is good at multi tasking, so she can take care of as much business as she can in a short amount of time.  While she turned up the heat this summer, she has also decided to add some light shows to remind us mere mortals who’s in charge.

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The Australian summer is the peak season for bushfires, and are a natural phenomenon that occur all year round. When the mercury hits over 104°F (40° C), the heat ignites wildfires that spread extensively, engulfing farms, forests, homes, and wildlife sanctuaries.

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So far this year, the states of New South Wales (the state we live in), Victoria, and Tasmania are really getting more than their fair share of fires. Gene and I live right in Sydney, so we are not in any danger, but the people who live out in the bush (that’s Aussie for the country) are having a tough time of it.

brush fires

There are firefighters from all over Australia helping to fight these fires, but Mother Nature seems to be winning.

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Like the fires out in California, there is really not much you can do if a fire is coming your way.

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You can hope and pray that the firefighters can contain the fire before it gets to your home, but in a lot of the time, that is not the case.

Devastated Bendigo resident.

So all you can do is watch your life literally go up in smoke.

 water bombing

They do all kinds of water bombing, which does help.

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Most of the guys out there on the front lines are using  hoses, just trying to keep the whole thing contained.

 bushfire roo

Majority of the plants will regenerate themselves, but there is a major concern for the wildlife.

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When firefighters do find animals, they help them any way they can.

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This poor little guy is named Sam, and he is the spokes koala for the bushfires.  He was burned on all four paws, and his nose.  There are vets working around the clock to help all of the animals that are rescued. Sam is making a full recovery and has a new home at a wildlife sanctuary.

Bushfire_damage

So, what happens now? Apparently Mother Nature got tired of the light show, so she had sent in rain to help put them all out. Most of the plants will regenerate themselves, so that process has already started.  It just  takes time.  Since there is no food source, all the animals have packed their bags, and moved to new homes.

800px-Eucalypt_trees,_Australia,_15_months_after_a_bushfire

This is some typical re-growth of eucalyptus trees 15 months after a bushfire. The smaller trees (thinner stem and twigs) have not survived the bushfire, while the larger trees (thicker stem and twigs) have survived. Because the small twigs in the crown of the tree have also been burned, the trees had to sprout at a different spot; this has resulted in massive re-sprouting along the base of the tree, instead of in the crown. The inset clearly shows this re-sprouting of the tree over the whole length of the stem.

regrowth

This is a close-up of a eucalyptus tree that has already started it’s re-growth.  Seeing how this is the main diet of koalas, this is a pretty important plant in Oz.

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After a few years there will be very little evidence left that there was ever a fire. Most areas that were burnt come back stronger and fuller than they originally were.

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Word will get around to the animals (via the grapevine I’m sure) that all the restaurants are open again, and they will very happily move back into the old neighborhood. It’s like, grow it and they will come.  I guess Mom Nature knows what she’s doing.  If it’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s always listen to your mother. She knows a thing or two.

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Winter Scenery (26)

I was born and raised in Michigan, which means that the beginning of the year means cold weather. By January we would be well into winter and all she could throw at us, be it snow, cold weather, or ice storms.

snow plow

I always loved it when the snowplows would come by to clean off the roads right after you finished shoveling your driveway just to have the plows fill it up again.

winter car

Most of the time it didn’t really matter anyway, because after all that shoveling, you would soon discover that your car wouldn’t start.  Even a car doesn’t want to get out of bed to drive around in below freezing temperatures before the sun comes up. Yes, these are some of the thoughts that come to my mind when I hear the word January.

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Now that I am living in Oz, January is smack dab in the middle of summer. I will admit that I am still getting adjusted to it being warm this time of year, and it feels like half the year is gone already.

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Sydney enjoys a temperate climate with a mild winter, and has more than 340 sunny days a year. Average temperatures in the winter months of June through to August are between 48° F (9° C) and 62.5° F (17° C).  In the summer months, December, January, and February, the average summer temperatures are between 65° F (18° C) and 78°F (26°C).  So, like everyone else in Sydney, we just enjoy the weather.  Usually.

heat-exhausted-runner

This year though, on Friday, January 18th, we made history.  Seems that Mother Nature must be getting a little old, and getting a touch of forgetfulness. I am guessing that she decided to either mess with the thermostat, or do some baking here in Oz.   Either way, the temperature soared up to 114.5° F (45.8° C). The previous record of 113.F (45.3C) was set way back on January 14, 1939.

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Even though I experienced Las Vegas’ over 100° temperatures for over 3 years, I hadn’t had the joy of adding 70% humidity to go along with them.  The newsreaders here (That would be newscasters in American) did one story on how it took an ice block (Popsicle in the US) only 6.5 minutes to melt.

hot-weather-3

It took the ice cream truck only 20 minutes.

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Most of the trains were delayed by at least an hour with overhead wiring and signal problems failing to cope with the extreme heat. Some parts of the track even buckled because of the heat, and were unusable. I really didn’t believe that one until I saw the photos.

crowed beach

Most Aussies (like Gene and I) don’t have air conditioning at home, so we do what we can to keep cool.  A whole lot of over heated Aussies went to the beach.

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Gene and I opted for the mall, and made a day of it. Gene was thrilled because he got to eat at his favorite venue, the food court.

 bulldog in ice

Animals are not allowed at either the beach or the mall, so they had to come up with other ways to cool down. Nothing better than an ice bath to beat those dog days of summer.

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Not everyone can say they have an indoor swimming pool for their cat.

 dog in tub

It’s always nice to enjoy a dip with friends.

 lion & Ice block

Our friends at the zoo kept cool too.  This lioness is enjoying a Popsicle made especially for her.  I wonder if it’s zebra flavored.

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You would think that they would give him the banana-flavored iceblock.

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Now this is one way to really cool off.

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Too bad she doesn’t do competitive swimming.  With a neck like that, she would be head and shoulders above  the other swimmers.

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Nothing like your own private pool.

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Even out in the wild, the roos know how to cool down.

In the late afternoon, severe thunderstorm warnings were issued, but no rain came by us.  In the early evening, there were wind gusts of up to 65mph (104km/h) that swept through the city, as temperatures dropped by about 10 degrees in 10 minutes. Because of the wind, there was a lot of falling trees and roof damage. Then by 10 pm, Sydney was at a comfortable 73°F (23°C), and the severe thunderstorm warning were canceled.

Yes, Sydney does get some hot weather, but so does everywhere else in the world.  I like the fact that it may be really hot one day, but will cool down the next.  We don’t’ get snow, so I don’t have to shovel anything, or scrape ice off my windscreen (that’s Aussie for windshield).  On the really hot days, I’ll just sit back, in the shade, eating an ice block.  That is of course if the truck hasn’t melted.

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NewYearsEve1

As this year  finally comes to a close, as in most other parts of the world, down here in Oz we celebrate. After all, we are the first country to greet the New Year, so we know that the whole world is looking to us to see how to ring in the New Year right.  Well, technically New Zealand IS first, but as everyone knows, New Zealand is really rather small compared to Australia.  So we here in Sydney we consider ourselves the first MAJOR city in the world to ring in the New Year.

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Seeing how everyone in Oz knows the world will be watching, what better setting for fireworks than our iconic Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge?  Ask any Aussie, and they will tell you there is no better backdrop for fireworks in the world.

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If there’s one thing that Aussies know how to do is party.  They are a lot more laid back than Americans are, so to them, celebrating is considered one of the basic food groups.

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Even the natives get into a good party.

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From the air, you can see that it seems like most of Sydney turns out for this yearly party, which would equal a lot of fun!

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But when you get down at party level, there’s not that much room to even get up to get a beer. Even that fact won’t stop an Aussie from parting.

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Even before they shoot off the fireworks, the harbour is full of life and lights.

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Seeing how there are so many people who want to celebrate, the city came up with a great way for everyone to see the fireworks without actually coming down to the Opera House, which is at Circular Quay (That would be circular Key in American).  They have synchronized fireworks all down the harbour in five different places.  The yellow star bursts on the map show where they are. Last year we were invited to a party that had a view of all 5 sets of fireworks. I will say that it was VERY impressive!

NYE kids

Since Aussies are very family oriented, they have 2 different sets of fireworks.  One at nine so all the little kids can enjoy them, and then the second ones at midnight so all the big kids can try to remember them the next day.

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You would think that they would start out sort of slow, but no, they just go for it.

Now, just sit back, and enjoy the show….

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OOOOO!

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AAAAAAHHHH!

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WOW!!!!

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I Love the colors!

APTOPIX Hong Kong New Year

Basic white is also nice!

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Those lips in the middle of the bridge did the count down to midnight.

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I love the bursts of color all over the place!

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This one has a “waterfall” of fireworks coming off the bridge.

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The boats have the best view, and they are a floating party!

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More OOOOO’s

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More AAAAAHHHHH’s

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Just another average night down at Sydney Harbour.

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Happy New Year everyone!

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christmas-koala-bear

Well it’s that time of year again.  Most of the world is all white with snow, Jack Frost is busy painting the scenery and nipping noses, icicles sparkle in the sunlight, and kids are trying to get their halos as straight as possible before the big guy makes his deliveries. Yes, it’s Christmas time.

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Being born and bred in the northern hemisphere, I am quite used to living in the cold and having to wear tons of layers of clothes just to go out to get the mail.

My beautiful picture

This is an actual photo of one of Christmases we would have in the States. Huge fully decked out tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care, garland all over the place, and the scent of Christmas cookies in the air.

xmas house

Many Americans would decorate their homes both inside and out, with some making sure Santa couldn’t miss theirs even if he tried.

My beautiful picture

If you were good all year, Santa might even pay you an early visit just to make sure you were getting your daily intake of candy canes. (For those of you old enough to remember, that’s my dad under that big mass of cotton of a beard)

Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I have learned that you need to go with the flow, and accept change.  Seeing how it is summer here in this part of the world, things are done a little differently than what I’m used to.

1 horse open sleigh

You won’t see any number of horses  pulling any sleighs of any kind, be they open or not, because there is no snow. Yes, look all you want, but the only flakes you will find here are in your cereal bowl.

xmas beach

The schools do have a break at this time of the year, so a lot of families go over the river and through the burbs to swim at the wonderful beaches we have here.

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As you can see, Gene and I got all decked out in our Christmas finery to celebrate the season.

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I am finding that it makes the holidays much less stressful by letting a lot of things slide. I no longer live in a house that even elves look at with awe. This is a photo of all of our holiday decorations.  That’s it.  One 7” red sparkle tree.  I love it because it’s all ready decorated, and for the second year in a row, no needles to sweep up.  It takes me a grand total of about 30 seconds to have our home totally decorated for the holidays.

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When I get in the mood to see some holiday decorations, I just head out the malls like everyone else.

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There are all sorts of wonderful holiday things to see.  All you have to do is just look around.

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They have them outdoors.

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And indoors of course.

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Each shop showing its holiday spirit.

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Don’t forget to look up!

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See, Gene and I are not the only ones that don’t have a tree that drops it’s needles.

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One of the big draws to the CBD (that would be downtown in American) are the window displays.  They are beautiful!

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They reminded me of the shop windows when I was a kid.

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I would love looking at them, and I can see the kids in Oz love it too.

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One thing that REALLY impresses me is they still say “Merry Christmas” instead of happy holidays. They even have the manger scene where everyone could see it.  It’s a nice change. One of the best parts is that you can see all this without having to wear a heavy coat or boots.

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The family Christmas get together in Oz are pretty much the same as in America, but with a little Aussie twist. At each place setting, they have what is known as Christmas crackers. You pull on each end, and they make a popping or cracking noise, and inside are some goodies.  They all have a paper crown that everyone wears during dinner, a toy, some sweets (read that chocolate), and a sheet with some jokes on it. We got a little picture frame, and a very small deck of playing cards in ours this year.

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Since it is so hot this time of year, a lot of families have a Christmas BBQ.  Turkey or ham is common as the main part of the dinner, but seafood is big here, so you are sure to find it on most Aussie holiday tables.

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It seems that most Aussies like oysters, even the kids.   I can (and do) live without them.

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Some families will even have prawns, (shrimp in American) for dinner.  Seems the only problem is finding plates and silverware that are small enough. This gives sitting at the little table a whole new meaning.

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If they serve prawns as part of the meal, they usually are served cold, with their heads still on.  I personally don’t like their beady little eyes looking at me, so Gene, being the gentleman that he is, is the one that will behead them for me.  Other than that, they are always really tasty.

Nutella-pudding

Since Oz is part of the British Commonwealth, there are some things here that are very British.  One is pudding. The first time someone offered me some, I was expecting a nice smooth, creamy bowl of yum that I was use to. I was in for a blast of Aussie reality.

plum pudding

What I got was a plate of what is known as Christmas pudding.  In my American eyes, it was not a pudding in any way, shape or form.  It was a slice of cake like substance, under a cream-colored sauce, that was the consistency of yogurt.  It tasted like it was a type of moist fruitcake, and the sauce was very rich, creamy, and sweet, which was a wonderful contrast to the cake. As it turned out, this was a plum pudding with a custard sauce, which is a very traditional dessert for the holiday.  Now I have a better understanding of what everyone was eating in all the old classic English Christmas stories.  Unlike the fruitcake we have in America, I noticed that most of the Aussie diners would ask for this fruitcake willingly, and they would eat it, instead of using it for a doorstop like we do in America.

All in all, I must say I do enjoy an Aussie Christmas.  Where else can you eat Christmas dinner in shorts and flip-flops, spend some time at the beach, and open your presents from Santa all in the same day?  I don’t miss the snow at all, and it was nice to see everything in bloom all around the city.  I guess the only thing I’m going to miss is my yearly gift of a new doorstop, but I can live with that.

Merry Christmas Mate, and God bless us, every one!

kanga christmas

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Tea for Two, and Tea for Me

Even though I am an American, I am not a coffee drinker.  Never have been, never will be.  I am a diehard tea drinker, and it’s time we tea drinkers spoke up.  Coffee drinkers have it pretty easy nowadays.  It doesn’t matter what country you go to, there is a coffee shop on every corner, and they always claim to have the best coffee in town.

They usually offer coffee in about five thousand different ways to choose from, and they always make sure they make pretty little pictures out of the frothy milk they put in it.

Some are very fancy

Some are very creative.

Other times they are  cute

or even whimsical.

 And sometimes they are just out of this world.

Yes, when you order coffee, you are special in the eyes of your own personal barrista. Order tea, and it’s a whole different story.

Most coffee houses  will offer 3, maybe 4 different types of tea, and it doesn’t really matter which one you get, because for some strange reason, they all taste the same.  Sort of blah, with no real distinguishing flavor. Or they all taste like mint.  Instead of a cup of beautifully hand-crafted coffee, what you get is a paper to-go cup of hot water with a bag in it. No cute pictures, no fanfare, just a little tag hanging out of the side.

In these coffee cafes, tea is thought of like the Minnie Pearl of the coffee world. Old fashioned, unrefined, and a little bit corny.

 

It seems that I had to go all the way to Australia to find an answer to this problem.  Now I’m sure that there are tea houses in America, but I just never found any.  I was walking around one of the malls here,  I came to a shop with a definite Chinese influence.

At first, I thought it was just another one of those shops that sell a lot of junk from China (there are a lot of those shops here).  However, upon closer inspection, I saw that I was totally wrong.  Low and behold, there right in front of me, was T2, and it’s  an honest to goodness tea house! As it turns out, ” T2 offers Australia’s biggest range of beautiful, fragrant teas from all around the world” (to quote their website), and they have shops all around the country.  Seems I hit the mother lode.

I ventured in, and sure enough, there were all kinds of teas to choose from.  They had most of their teas out on display so you could become intoxicated by their sight and aroma. To please your taste buds, they also had about 6 different teapots with different samples of the tea just calling out to you to be sampled.

They had walls of tea!  I was in heaven.

 

Everywhere you looked was every type of tea you could imagine, and then some. The sales people take their tea very seriously, so they know their stuff.  If you bring in a sample of tea, they can usually figure out what would be a really close match.

Besides tea, they also have almost every kind of tea accessory you could want, like tea balls, pots, cozies, warmers, and even videos about tea. The only thing  that they were lacking, was an ice tea maker like I used back in the States.  Since Aussies have never thought of drinking tea cold, they don’t have them here.  Believe me, I’ve looked.

Once I finally finished checking out the whole shop, it was pointed out to me that there was another part of the shop that I hadn’t seen.  It seems they have a café that serves not only tea, but also food.  And better yet, they sell fresh brewed ice tea! This is a really bold move, seeing how most Aussies consider drinking tea cold an unnatural act. I’m glad this company is taking a stand and trying to make a tea statement. I can do my part to help bring an ice tea consciousness to the people of Oz!  Seeing how ice tea is my drink of choice, I have decided that this is now my café of choice.

The Chinese theme is also carried into the cafe part of the store, and none of the furniture matched.  Instead of the regular types of chairs most restaurants have, most of the chairs were overstuffed, and very comfy.

When you order your chosen brew, it comes in a nice hot teapot

AND, you get to drink the tea out of pretty, real china, tea cups, unlike the coffee houses.

Like any café or coffee-house, they do serve wonderful desserts (or sweets in Aussie), but they also serve regular food that is perfect for lunch.  My best friend Mary is almost a tea aficionado, so when Mary was here, I made sure to make this one of the stops on her whirlwind tour of Sydney. She thought it was the best tea house she had ever been to. (If you want a direct quote, she said, “This is the best tea house I’ve ever been to!”)

Discovering T2 has put yet another check in the “Things I love about Oz” column. It’s nice to know that there is a nice café that a tea lover can go to and just be.  I have started my tea collection once again, and right now I have over 28 of T2’s wonderful teas.  I have also started collecting teas when we travel. Poor Gene doesn’t understand my enthusiasm over a  beverage.  I will admit that I don’t understand it either, but it’s something that is a simple pleasure in life, and that makes me smile.  We all need more  simple pleasures in life, so I’ll take mine over ice with a slice of orange please.

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Here in Australia, the end of August signals the end of winter. Seeing how Sydney does not get any snow, the winters here are rather mild. So mild in fact, that there have been many a year that the weatherman just never got around to reminding Mother Nature that spring  doesn’t not show up until September 1st.  Seeing how Mother Nature doesn’t really have a boss to report to, she does what she wants.  So this year, she decided to have just some of the flowering trees come into bloom early. After much deliberation, Mom decided on the cherry tree.  As it turns out, cherry trees are only in bloom for about 2 weeks out of the year, so time is of the essence.

Even though there are a lot of botanic gardens in the area, the Auburn Botanic Garden has the most cherry trees. So every year, they host a cherry blossom time, and remind the public just how short this season is.

Since we have been cooped up for most of the winter, we decided that this would make a nice Sunday outing, and besides, we could use this time to become one with nature.

When we got to the gardens, it seemed that everyone within a 50 kilometer radius had the same idea. Seeing how the trees are only in bloom for about 2 weeks, and we were now coming upon day 13, it was today, or wait until next year’s show. The weather was nice, we were already there, and we found a parking place that was only 7 blocks away, so we decided to check it out.

They have the park divided into different types of gardens, and they give you a map so you can make your way around on your self-guided tour. We decided to go opposite the flow of heavy traffic, so we started in the Australian natural garden.

They had some wallabies and other Aussie animals to look at and take photos of.

Being a garden, they also had  some really nice plants that were showing their best side for the camera and saying cheese.

From there, we ventured into the Rainforest.

 

Because of the heat and humidity, plants that are found in a rainforest generally grow really large. I had to tear Gene away from reading his map to stand next to one of these plants just to show the massive size. (That would be of the plants, not Gene)

They even had a slow-moving river that was a very deep bluish-green.  I kept looking around for fairies, because this setting is exactly what fairies are looking for in a forest.

Next we came to a very large open space, but soon realized that this area was the seating area for the open air theater.

Naturally Gene had to get on stage and try out a little to be or not to be. It was more of a “not to be” type of performance seeing how none of the birds that were in the audience did any tweeting about his act.

Even though these gardens are mostly Aussie gardens, one thing we noticed  was that the majority of the people there were Asian.

We also noticed that they all had cameras, but even though they are surrounded by nature, they are too busy taking photos of each other to notice all the beauty around them.

It didn’t matter what age the subject was, all they shot were the people they were with.

Some of them even dressed for the occasion, and wore fancy silk kimonos.

 

As we continued our walk, we came upon the rose garden.  Seeing how it was the tail end of winter, the roses were just getting ready to bloom.  To make up for the dormant rose bushes, the paths were lined with really nice and colorful flowers.

It was all really well maintained, so it’s still lovely even in the off-season.

Seeing how this is Oz, when they come to a fork in the road, they turn it into a roundabout instead.  I was very surprised to see one on a footpath. Guess the road guys don’t want to have any accidents of any kind.  As you can see, Gene is still trying to figure out which way to go.

Along the way, they have a lot of little types of gardens to check out. Some without water,

 

And some over water.

 

It seemed that around almost every turn, we would come across yet another kimono.

 

Seeing how these are gardens, there are flowers all over the place. They had huge bushes of bird of paradise.

 

Lovely daisy bushes.

 

And a whole bunch of these little flowers in both white and pinkish purple.

 

As we rounded a bend, we came across what looked like a miniature Stonehenge sort of display.  Turned out to be a sundial and believe it or not, it really worked. Best part was we didn’t have to wind it or change the battery.

As we made our way to the Japanese Gardens, there were more flowers to enjoy

and beautiful plants. This is a Hoya, and we use these as houseplants in Michigan.

 

Kimonos  were all over the place…

 

The garden is very nice and very peaceful even though there were a lot of people there. To get to the little bridge, you need to follow the path of rocks.

The only thing is that the path is through the water.

 

But, once you make it to the other side, the view is very nice.

As we continued our walk, there were even more flowers to see.

It was amazing to see so many plants in bloom when it wasn’t even spring yet.

More animals and fish to feed,

 

And even some things to try to figure out. I guess she decided to wear her full fur tail instead of her summer tail. After all, it was still winter.  Guess her kimono was at the cleaners.

As we continued to walk the footpath, we finally made it to the area that had most of the cherry trees.  Like the rest of the park, it was filled with people all wanting to take a look

It was a very nice change from the drabness of winter, and all the color really lifted everyone’s spirits.

 

Seeing how we were there at the tail end of the blooming season, all of the trees were only about half full of blooms.  But, the show was still quite nice, and very lovely.

 

As we made our way out of the park, there were more flowers

All kinds of colors

Just smiling and greeting spring.

More waterfalls

 

And bridges.  These of course are Gene’s favorites seeing how he is a bridge guy.

As we walked to our car, I noticed that spring fever had hit other garden visitors.  This car had a flower that would do a little dance for you.

It was really nice to be able to get outside and not have to really bundle up for a change. Spring is here in Oz, and I am going to take full advantage of the nice weather. No more heavy sweaters or winter coats are needed for a Sydney spring.  The only thing left for me to do is get my kimono and tail out of storage and send them to the cleaners.

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