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Posts Tagged ‘Truely Aussie’

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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.

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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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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.

oysters

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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There are not many things that can stop a whole nation dead in its tracks.  Mother Nature gives it the old college try every now and again, as she has proven many times all over the world.  Here in Australia, mom nature sent Cyclone Tasha into Queensland as a Christmas Eve present back in 2011. Then just to make sure the people who were out-of-town visiting family wouldn’t miss out on all the fun, on February 3rd, 2012, she sent Cyclone Yasi to the same area. This left 100,000 without power, over 28,000 homes were flooded, and the cost of bananas shot up to about $12.00 a kilo.  This didn’t stop the whole nation, but it did stop a huge part of it.

So what can stop a Whole nation?  Ask any Aussie, and without any hesitation whatsoever on their part, and they will say (in unison I will add), “The Melbourne Cup.” In fact, it is marketed as “the race that stops a nation,” and that saying is even trademarked. Being an American that is not really into sports that much, I had vaguely heard of it, but had no idea what it was.

As it turns out, it is a horse race, not unlike America’s Kentucky Derby.

It is held at Flemington racetrack, and is the richest “two-mile” handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. The race starts at 3 pm the first Tuesday in November (which is spring here), and the nation literally does stop to watch the race.  Just like our super bowl, there is all day coverage on TV, but instead of just one race, there are 10 held at that racecourse on that day, with The Melbourne Cup being 7th.

The Flemington track is 3.2 kilometer ( 2 miles ) long, and the race usually takes a little over 3 minutes to run.

The Kentucky Derby is known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”, but that could be because at Churchill Downs, the track is only 2 kilometers ( 1.2 miles ) long.

I decided that since I am now living here, I should see what all the hoopla was all about.  Betting is legal in Oz, so I decided to place two bets on this race.  My first bet was for “Americain,” an American-bred, French trained stallion that was the favorite. Even though they spelled his name wrong, I still bet on him.

The second bet was for “Unusual Suspect,” a nine-year old, which made him the oldest horse in that race, and was the least favorite to win.  As you can see, being an American horse, he really knows how to relax before a race. I was sure this was 5 dollars well spent. Since Melbourne is a plane ride away from Sydney, I opted for watching the festivities on TV at home, and tuned in at 10 am like the rest of the nation.

As it turns out, it’s a very spectacular event, and the whole occasion is called the Melbourne Cup Carnival, with the focal point being the race.

There were over 100,000 people there having the time of their lives. According to Google, this Carnival has also gained a reputation for fashion with a penchant for drama. It is the day to make your strongest fashion statement with an exotic or outrageous ensemble – hats are essential, as is a yellow rose, and a cup pin on the lapel.

The pin was just a little replica of the cup itself, and the yellow roses were single yellow rose boutonnieres. I was really quite surprised (and impressed I must say) to see that there was very little coverage on TV about what everyone was wearing.  Most of the broadcast was spent on either the races, or  the horses.

Like the Kentucky Derby, fashion at this event is everything, and the crowds love to strut their stuff.

The main word this year was color.  And, there was plenty of it.

This is the Melbourne Cup Fashion in the Field Designer winner Craig Braybrook’s winning design.

Looks like she decided to wear her Easter bonnet for the second time this year.

I’m guessing that all of these outfits must cost a pretty penny.  Too bad this woman could only afford the bottom half of her dress.

Don’t know about you, but this is on pair of shoulders I wouldn’t want to be crying on.

Does she really need the umbrellas???

Seeing how Australia still recognizes the British crown, like England, there were a lot of “hats” so to speak.  Or what they tried to pass off as hats.

I’m guessing that right before their ride showed up, they realized they forgot to purchase their hats for the race. What’s a girl to do?  Sure!  Christmas bows will work just fine!

I want to see the closet she keeps this one this in, and also the bird that has lost it’s home.

I’d like to know if her head would pop like a New Year’s Eve favor  if you pulled both white feathers  at the same time.

There were people from all professions at the race.  Here’s a teacher with pencils for her class.

Now THIS is a nice flower growing out of her.  Does that make her a pot head?

If Mrs. Big Bird wore a hat, THIS would be it.

Someone should have told him don’t try to out do your female partner when it comes to head wear.

As we all can see, the French ambassador even made it the race.

It seems that Rebecca Madden, an Australian news reporter, is a Motown fan. Looks like she wore the Aussie version of     Aretha Franklin’s  hat.

Now men were not to be outdone by the women.  Majority of them were dressed in your basic dark suits, but not all of them…

This is what happens when you tell men to wear color, and  then  let them dress themselves.

This trio came prepared for drinking….

Guess he couldn’t find any matching pants.

Not wanting to be seen without their hats, Paul and Jacko decided to improvise….

Naturally, for an event of this magnitude, there were all kinds of celebrities around.

 

Kim Catrall took time off from finding sex in New York City to check out an honest to goodness stud.

 

Rebecca Judd (An Aussie model) left the catwalk behind to stroll the grounds at the track.

 

Jennifer Hawkins, an Australian model, television presenter, and  Miss Universe 2004 was there in all her glory. For some reason, she toned down her hat.

Kate Waterhouse is a journalist, media personality, radio talent, and Fashion Editor for The Sun-Herald. She is the daughter of leading thoroughbred trainer Gai Waterhouse and grand-daughter of racing legend Tommy “TJ” Smith.

Australian, Nicole Kidman was there in all her full glory. There  is a rumor that she wants to play  the part of Elisa Doolittle for the remake of My Fair Lady.  Personally I think she should get the part.  She’s already has the dress.

 Judy Jetson decided to go back in time and try to fit in.

Everyone was there, even the smurfs.

 Prince Charles and Camilla showed up and had their usual fun. They were there to represent the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

For security purposes, this time they brought along their stunt doubles just in case there was any trouble.

I thought it was really nice of the winning horse’s family to come to the race, and show their support.

 

Finally, 3:00 came, and the race everyone was waiting for started, they opened the gates, and they were off!                                    At 3:03, it was over.

Green Moon, a 6-year-old, won the richest prize in Australian sport. Not only does the owner get the purse that is over 6 million dollars, they also get the gold trophy.

The Cup is made out of 1.65 kg of 18-carat gold, has over 200 hours of work put into it, and it’s value is $125,000.  The winning trainer and jockey also receive a miniature replica of the cup and the strapper is awarded the Tommy Woodcock Trophy. A strapper is the person that looks after a racehorse, sort of like a horse nanny. Tommy” Woodcock was the handler of Australia’s most famous racehorse, Phar Lap. (Think Secretariat with an accent). In the event of a dead heat, a second cup is on hand.  My horses came in 11th and 21st out of 24 horses.

They had Camilla present the cup to the owner, but since he couldn’t make it, his son accepted the award. One thing I did notice was that they didn’t really make as a big deal out of the horse as they do at the Kentucky Derby.

One of the reasons they call the Kentucky Derby “The Run for the Roses”, is because the winning horse of the Derby gets not only a bouquet of roses, but also a blanket of roses.  Although most of the Flemington track was completely  lined with roses, the only thing the winning horse got was a bath.

The next day when Green Moon was back at home, naturally the press went out to interview the owner.  With his nanny close at the reins, Green Moon got to have lunch out of the cup he just won.

Now I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing when Green Moon got home, and into his barn, all his horse friends had a party for him for a job well done.

And I bet they all had a good laugh over all the headgear the people were wearing.

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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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Living in a different country can take a little getting used to at times.  When you want something that you are used to, and just can’t find it here, it can be a little frustrating.

The three things that come to mind are Taco Bell, (my Favorite place to eat) NyQuil, (my favorite nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, best-sleep-you-ever-got-with-a-cold medicine), and tomato sauce. You do what you can to get the fix for the things you miss. I cook Mexican at home but it’s nowhere near what the bell offers, substitute purée for tomato sauce, and I smuggle NyQuil back to Oz in my checked luggage when I make trips to the States.

Christmas morning in Oz!

One great thing though, just like Christmas morning,  there is always something new to discover.  Besides kangaroos and koalas, Oz has quite a few pretty nifty things that I have not found in America as of yet.

Remember how Goldilocks broke into the 3 bears’ house and ate all their breakfast?  Well, the story must have taken place in Oz, because we have porridge here.  Yes, honest to goodness porridge.  I will admit that it is a lot like oatmeal, but it is different, and taste really good.   Instead of just oats, it’s made from a hearty blend of oats, barley, rye, and linseed. I will admit though, when I have it for breakfast, I do keep an eye out for mama bear, just in case.

Now I know that hamburgers are as American as, well hamburgers, but the Aussies put a little different twist on them.  In a lot of the little dinners that are all over the place, you can get a burger with “The Works” which is short for “Works and Jerks” which is an Aussie expression that is used around here quite a bit. (It means the whole enchilada) What you get is a hamburger patty on a bun that has bacon, tomato, lettuce, tomato sauce (that’s what Aussies call ketchup), fried onions, aioli (a garlic mayonnaise which is really good), beetroot (or just beets in American), a fried egg, and a  slice of pineapple.  If you want cheese on that, it will be “Tasty” cheese, which is Aussie white cheddar.  As with almost every other meal, chips, or what Americans call fries, usually come with the meal. I have had more than one of these wonderful burgers, and I will admit that like their cheese, they are quite tasty.

Now not to be outdone, McDonald’s has gotten into the act. Like everywhere else in the world, Australia does have McDonald’s.(Which by the way is called “Macca’s” pronounced “mack-a’s)  Being the Savvy business-clown that Ronald is, he likes to cater to his customers. Since Australia is the leading producer of wool in the world, we have a lot of sheep here.  So, Aussies tend to eat a lot of lamb. Therefore, it only makes sense to have lamb on the menu.  What doesn’t make sense is that they don’t call it the McLamb.  They call their lamb burger a “Lamb Taster”, and it’s a really big seller here in Oz.  The only things missing are the pineapple, cheese, and bacon. And the wool coat of course.

They also have a Lamb Taster wrap for those times when you have a craving for just a little lamb instead of a whole sheep.

Another great meal is a kebab, which is sort of like a Turkish burrito. They cook beef, chicken, and lamb on huge spits, and shave the meat off as orders are placed. The kebabs usually have meat, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, tabouli, sauce, (like ketchup, BBQ, hummus, or my favorite, garlic) all wrapped up in flat Turkish bread, and then grilled in a sandwich press.  It is a lot like a Gyro, but having it all wrapped up, it’s a lot easier to eat.

Sweets are a big deal here in Oz.  The unofficial national dessert of Australia is Pavlova, which is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian/Australian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. Way back in the 1920’s, a New Zealand chef created the dish for Anna during one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand.  It is Very sweet, and the Aussies just love it.  It is way too sweet for my taste, but they are very pretty to look at.

Seeing how Aussies are really into really sweet desserts, (that would be my guess as to why they call them “sweets” instead of desserts), their version of Aussie apple pie makes perfect sense.  They have what is known as apple charlotte.  Basically, it’s apple pie with frosting on the top crust.

Again, not my favorite, but Gene just loves it.

Now, we must not leave the kiddies out.   Here they have what is known as Fairy Bread, but don’t let the name fool you.  Kids take this bread VERY seriously.  So serious in fact, that restaurants are even serving it.  If you are short of your daily requirement of fat and sugar, this is a great way to get it into your system and build your levels up.

What they do is spread butter on bread (pretty thick I might add), then put some kind of sugar sprinkles (or “hundreds and thousands” in Aussie speak) on top of the butter.  I recall a long time ago, my mother made me some of this type of bread, but we just called it “The bread with all the pretty colored sprinkles on it” bread.  When I asked where the peanut butter and jelly was, all I got was a weird look.  Seems they don’t have those kinds of sandwiches here.  They will have either peanut butter, OR jelly (or as they call it, jam) sandwiches, and they think it’s gross to mix the two. Wonder what they would think of peanut butter and banana sandwiches….

Need something to wash down all these Aussie finds?  How about a cup of bubble tea?  Being a tea drinker, I thought I had heard of most kinds of tea before.  This was one I hadn’t, so I had to try it. There are only a few places that sell it, but there is one stand at the mall that carries them.  It is a Thai drink, and this is one place that they sell fresh brewed ice tea.  You pick what type of ice tea you want, and then they add the bubbles.

The “bubbles” are really tapioca pearls, and can be a lot of different colors, but so far, I have only seen them in black.  The straw is really fat, so you have no trouble sucking up the bubbles while you are drinking your tea.  I will admit that this tea can be a lot of work because the bubbles are rather chewy, but it is good.  This was the first time I ever had chunky-style ice tea.

So, as you can see, I am adapting quite well. I am finding new things to love, and trying to find replacements for the things I can’t find here.  If  I don’t find replacements, I can load up when we make our yearly trip back to the States.  As for now, I hear the fairies calling, so I must stop to make them some bread.  Now where did I put those hundreds and thousands ….

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Even though there are a lot of starving people in the world, Sydney is one place where you would have to work at not finding something to eat.  I could say that there is a café on every corner, but I would be lying.

 The fact is there is usually more than one, and most times, they are only a few feet away from each other.

 

They are everywhere. In case you needed something to drink while you are filling up with petrol, the Aussies have you covered.

Need a break at the office?  Check out the lobby of your office building.  There is sure to be a café there.

 

Is that café in your building busy?  No problem, just go to the one that is right across the hall from it.

 

Even if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, Aussies will make sure that a café will get to you just so you won’t miss tea time.

The Aussies are big on their “tea” time, so there is a need for cafes. There is both a morning and afternoon tea, (what Americans call a coffee break) and most Aussies do partake. (Personally, I think it is an unwritten law here.)

Even though Gene is no longer in the workforce, he does have his morning and afternoon tea, even though it’s always coffee that he drinks.

I am sure that unwritten law also requires all Aussies to have a “Biscuit” to go along with their “tea.” (In American, a biscuit is a cookie)  Seeing how Gene is the model Aussie citizen, he is having an “Anzac Biscuit”, which is the national biscuit of Oz.  He says he would rather not have a biscuit during tea time, but that would put him in the unpatriotic category. So, every tea time, he makes the sacrifice for his queen and country, and has a biscuit.  What a guy.

Now, just because they call it “teatime” does not mean you are required to drink tea. There is a whole lota cappuccino being consumed at these times.  What I have observed is, it doesn’t matter what you drink, so long as you took the time to sit down and drink something.

Now of course, you need something to go with that drink, so there are all sorts of wonderful little things to nibble on with your drink of choice.  One thing I have noticed is no one dunks here.  Guess that’s an American thing.

Sometimes the cafes are not out in plain sight, so there are all kinds of signs directing you to every kind of café you could ever want.

There are a lot of Asians here that don’t really understand English very well, so they have problems coming up with a good name for their establishment.

Some just decide to go the direct route, and just call a spade a spade.

 

Now most of these places are rather cozy (read that tiny).

 

Seeing how there isn’t much room inside, they do use whatever space they have, so most shops that provide food do have an outside eating area.

Most of the “foot paths” (or sidewalks in American) are rather large, so there is room for all the tables and chairs.

 

It is rather pleasant to sit outside and enjoy the weather when it is nice. Even though you are sitting right out there about a foot or two from all the traffic in the street, it is still kind of relaxing.

It’s even better when you are in the CBD (Aussie for downtown), because you are by the water.

 

Not only do you get a meal, but you also get a show of watching all the boats.

 

Now this is all well and good when it’s summer.  The problem comes in the winter when it’s cold outside. The businesses still need to use the outdoor seating, so most business will use plastic walls to keep the heat in.

To warm the enclosed area, they use big outdoor heaters.

 

Even the nicer restaurants do this.  It does make it sort of cozy, and the plastic walls do help some, but when it comes right down to it, you are still outside. It’s still cold, and in many cases windy.  I for one am not a fan of having to eat dinner while wearing my coat and gloves. Besides, my wine gets spilled because of all the shivering I’m doing. Have you ever tried to get red wine stains out of leather?

One thing I have noticed, is that here in Oz, Starbucks in not king. There are a few around, but you really have to look for them.  The reining coffee monarch in Oz is Gloria Jeans.

They are sort of like a really laid back Starbucks, and like all Aussies here, are big on the “No worries Mate” attitude.  They have really nice “nibbles” aka “biscuits” aka “sweets” aka “cookies,” and their tea is much better than Starbucks.

Having morning and afternoon tea is a really nice ritual that I have taken up since I’ve been here. It breaks up your day, gives you a rest, and it gives you an excuse to try out a new sweet.  So when all of you come to visit Oz, you can count on being taken to one of these many cafes. Twice a day. We wouldn’t want to break the law and miss tea time, now would we?

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