Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Italy in August

It's difficult to achieve anything in Italy in August. Like buying a bed, for example. Unless you regard endlessly flitting from one furniture shop to another in a futile effort to find one that is open as a achievement. No, on balance, it's best not to bother. Even if you do find one that is not physically shuttered, it will be but a show-room and a caretaker. The elderly individual will brush off any attempts to so much as place an order, telling you to come back in September. Your sleeping on the floor 'til then my friend.

This goes beyond frustrating. Your western-consumerist mind will tell you that it HAS to be possible to give people money in exchange for goods and services. But alas, no. Your Euros (or dollars, old Lira, Ringgits, whatever) are no good to you in Italy in August. So you might as well kick back, make your own coffee and bask in the certain knowledge that sleeping on terracotta tiles is your fate for the rest of August.

And so it is in Sydney in January. At least if you're trying to view residential property. This city is utterly bereft, entirely devoid of real estate agents for the whole month. Seriously, there's not one to be found. I phoned up one place and actually got an answer, only to be told that all the agents were away until after Australia Day (January 26th).

My Euros are no good here.

So I might as well kick back, pour my own beer and relax in the certain knowledge that an absence of estate agents makes this city even more desirable in January.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


There are perhaps three cities that are world famous for their New Year's Eve celebrations. Edinburgh has Hogmanay, New York has a crystal ball but Sydney has the biggest fireworks show in the world.

When three metric tonnes of explosives go into the air this is what it looks like
Happy New Year!
It's hard not to be impressed!

To get this shot I had to queue up from 7:30 in the morning and wait for sixteen and a half hours. The absolute best spots were already taken, but I was still more than content with the position we had.

The day was spent with Hamish, Fiona and friends. In effect it was one long extended picnic, culminating with the pyrotechnics at midnight.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Turkey in the Sun

I was warned about home sickness by a friend who had emigrated to Ireland. It hits you about four months in, I was warned. Around that time, the novelty of your new city will have worn off, you'll be working (which will, on occasions at least, be a drudge), and you will still not have an abundance of friends.

This was doubly worrying for me because I arrived in Australia on September the 23rd. "Four months in", meant I could expect my big home sickness bout to kick in right in the run-up to Christmas. So, not wanting to end up in some Irish pub crying into my Guinness at 3pm on Christmas Day, I steeled myself against a difficult time. In the event it was actually very pleasant.

As I said here, Christmas is really about your own traditions. With Australia being so completely different from Ireland at this time of year I simply did not feel Christmas was happening at all. Or rather, I felt it was happening, but happening somewhere else. On the day, I walked with friends along Bondi Beach in the Sun and enjoyed a sumptuous barbecue. There was drink too - but not to excess. This will, I hope, be something of a template for Australian Christmases to come. It's not a "real" Christmas, but it's a lot better than salty Guinness.