Sunday, January 29, 2006

Viva Bris-Vegas!

Viva Bris – Vegas...indeed

Well here I am in Brisbane Queensland. I’ve been here a week. This week has been a torrid affair. Traversing all the local suburbs and their Real estate companies is no mean feat. Especially as they couldn’t be less helpful if the stabbed you in the face with their biro, that’s of course assuming the can bother to actually look up from their CPU’s.

The jury is out on Brisbane thus far, but I’ll chalk that down to the ongoing stress of finding suitable accommodation….for now at least. The process of getting accommodation is a mystery unto itself. Once you’ve found a house that looks like it was actually built with human inhabitation in mind then one is expected to make an ‘application’. The application involves filling out quite a lengthy form (understandably) whilst also providing numerous forms of I.D. (driving liscense and Passport) extensive bank statements, confirmation of your earnings and birth and marriage certificates, it’s a wonder you don’t have to provide a urine sample and a swab of your DNA! I won’t mock too much as I may just have to. Along with your certified autobiography you have to provide a weeks rent as a deposit. This is fine but does hinder the ability of apply to multiple properties. In a business where you’re living arrangements are at the whim of some unscrupulous landlord who can disregard your application if he doesn’t like the colour of the ink you filled it out with does set your nerves on edge.

Okay, *steps off soapbox* its my first day of work tomorrow … again. Lets just hope I can last the week without seeing a severance notice. Okay I think im getting a little tired of being out of my 'comfort zone', comfort zones ARE good, thats why they are comfortable.

By the way, the spiders in Brissy are HUGE and I’ve stepped over numerous poisonous cane toads taking the form of road kill….nice! I think the flora of Australia deserve an entry to themself so stay tuned.

Watch this space for a more levelheaded update.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Is Frodo home?

Apparently the Shire is in Adelaide.....
... and they do not take kindly to knock down ginger

Victoria Square Fountain - Adelaide

The Fountain in Victoria Square Adelaide, An example of embracing the new with the old

Adelaide - My two cents

Local?..Yeah we're local!

After spending six turbulent weeks in Adelaide I feel a sense of duty in giving my account of this strange but rather charming place.

The best way to sum Adelaide up is, it’s a big small place.

Adelaide is the capital of South Australia but firstly let me make something clear. Australia as we are all aware, is a big, no scratch that… VAST place. I’m not telling anyone anything new, I know this. So with this in mind when I say the capital of South Australia It’s not a region, it’s virtually a separate country, hell it even has its own politicians.

Adelaide manages to tick all the proverbial boxes of both a city and a town. It has the museums and art galleries you’d expect from a major city whilst having numerous independent café’s, bakeries and restaurants that you would expect from a small town in Italy or France. The Central Business District (CBD) is laid out on a grid system with roman efficiency but with a mere 20 minute tram journey you’d be at the seaside suburb of Glenelg. Let’s get this straight too, this was no ‘surf dude haven’ the last thing it was, was trendy. It was like 70’s Brighton on acid. I went to the local Cinema and Christ in a sidecar looking at the electric blue asymmetrical patterned carpet I thought I was on acid!

Only after six weeks we felt like we had ‘mastered’ Adelaide, we knew the places to be and the places not to be. Don’t get me wrong there wasn’t a lot to master. It’s a pretty sleepy town but it definitely had charm. It has sun, sea and an affordable lifestyle. Which oddly enough is very rare in Australia. Melbourne, doesn’t have particularly good weather (by Oz standard at least) Brisbane, has the sub tropical climate but no beach very near by and Sydney has good whether (apparently …see my last blog) it has a the famous bondi beach but its expensive to live there.

People make places, and the people in Adelaide were to the rest of Australia what the Irish are to the English. By that gross generalization I mean that they always had time to chat. I’d never made conversation which as many complete strangers at bus tops in my life, if it wasn’t at bus tops it was in the local bottle shop (English translation – Off License) or the surf shop/travel agent. Even in the shops there was an air of sincerity that is often lacking elsewhere.

I think the south Australian government should get a shout out. They really are the blueprint on how to bring a flagging region up to date. For instance, there are free bus services around the city, not all, but some and they even have the audacity to run on time (do you hear Britain!) and to add insult to injury they are gas powered! On New Years Eve the local authorities stumped up and paid for a comprehensive free bus service after midnight so everyone could get home safely. In Britain, when ordering a cab at 9pm on new years eve you’d hear the muffled laughter of the controller lying through her teeth telling you it would be ’10 minutes’ in Adelaide I waited a lengthy 3 minutes. It should also be noted that when the word got out that my company was going under the south Australian authorities contacted the company to ask if they could assist. This comes from a government who was actually in the black come budget time, yep you read that correctly, there were contemplating a tax rebate for everyone.

Adelaide was not without its drawbacks. The food by and large was pretty ordinary to put it the nicest way I can, we never felt compelled to go back to a single place, though the red wine as you'd expect was fantastic. Barely a weekend would go by without someone getting into dramas (English translation - having an unfortunate situation with) with a white pointer (English translation – great white shark) oh yeah the coast was rife with them. There were the ultimate annoyance that were the sandflies, almost unbearlable in their sole pursuit of getting in ones mouth..nice! Oh yeah and before I forget the local TV adverts that looked like they had the budget of 6 pack of four x but to make up for their apparent lack of sophistication and quality were played and repeated again and again to a level that I wanted to go into the said carpet shop, beat the guy to a bloody mess on his own range of rugs and then tell him it was still okay to haggle.

I guess the real point is that the Adelaide people are proud of who they are, as one super market banner states ‘proudly south Australian’ with no hint of the white van man we associate with national pride.

The Channel 9 slogan really sums it up ‘local? Yeah we’re local’

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Here's the view from the top of the Harbour Bridge and here's my wife (left) doing her absolute best not to look terrified.

Cool Suits huh?!

Harbour Lights

No not the 90’s BBC show starring Tina Hobley and Nick (every loser wins) Berry

This is about Sydney. Having time on my hands before I take up my new job in Brisbane I decided to make the most of it and see one of the most famous cities in the world.

Okay, I’ll be up front about this, it rained. In fact it rained for about 3 whole days. Surely this is weather of Noah proportions in Australia, what are the chances? I was disappointed that much is true, but I had a window of exactly how beautiful and accessible Sydney can be.

On the first evening we decided to take a walk around Circular Quays (the place where the Opera house and the Harbour bridge is to you and me) In the times of TV and Internet it could be easy to feel certain anticlimax when faced with such iconic structures. This I can assure you was not the case. I felt in awe looking at the Harbour Bridge. Not so much with the actual Bridge, but what it represented to me. It was a symbol of how far I’ve come. There was no escaping it I was in Australia and really it was at that point it really hit home.

That evening I had one of the best dining experiences since I ate a three-course gourmet lunch in a directors box at Anfield. I, not being able to repress my Britishness ordered fish and chips, though there wasn’t a wooden chip fork or newspaper in sight. The food was excellent but it was the whole experience that made it special. The Sun had decided to come out and play, I was looking out onto the harbour bridge, the smell of jasmine was wafting through the evening breeze and by chance, there was a busker playing classical guitar, he DID play some Abba but neither Fernando or Waterloo could break this moment. As I was experiencing it I knew I would remember this for the rest of my life.

Later that evening I had a chance to get to know the Harbour bridge first hand. I was doing the famous Bridge climb. This is an elaborate trek up to the apex of the structure via numerous catwalks, ladders and plinths. The was no chance of taking this lightly. I had to wear safety equipment that was more akin to a sky dive, though I did look cool in jumpsuit make no mistake.

The Climb took about three hours and it was quite a physical exertion especially as I had been on the go since 4am and the climb was at 8pm. Once we were up there (134 meters above sea level ) it was all worth it. The view of the night lit Sydney cityscape was amazing. I feel I should give a special thanks to my wonderful wife for overcoming her fear of heights and accompanying me on this experience. Though I do fear she’ll never be the same :)

Apart from the Opera house and the harbour bridge it’s quite tricky to think of other obvious attractions in Sydney. There are a few.

We went to the Sydney Aquarium, which was pretty cool and had an excellent walk-though tank which surrounded you with Sharks and Turtles

Despite the weather we felt compelled to visit the world-renowned Bondi Beach. It was not like I had expected. I thought you wouldn’t be able to move for Starbucks, Macca’s ( as the call MacDonalds here) and portentous boutiques all eager to cash on the ‘surf’ dollar. The vibe was true to the surf spirit, there was a bohemian 70’s air to the place that was very cool, though I doubt the rent reflected 70’s prices. There was an adjoining skate park and the surrounding walls were illustrated with graffiti tributes to friends and families that the surf had claimed. I didn’t stay too long, but I did make time to have an ice coffee and some Vegi-mite on toast whilst watching the surfers erm….surf.

So the weather was rubbish but I saw enough to know exactly how awesome Sydney can be and I’ll be sure to go back to sample the famous New Year festivities.

…And there was no Nicky Berry in sight!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

They Say the TV Sucks....

..And they couldn't be more RIGHT!

Before we left one of the first things people us about was the fact that Australain TV sucked. Surely it could'nt be that bad?


In a nutshell its like three main channels that are sky one! It's all imported U.S. stuff. That's not even mentioning the U.S. style ad breaks every 8 freekin' minutes.

Pretty much all prime-time stuff is either US comedy a la king of queens, everybody loves Raymond and Simpsons or high production, over earnest TV drama a la Surface, supernatural and lost. Now I like these shows BUT NOT ALL THE TIME. Man, dont get me started on the homegrown stuff. It's amazing how ones standards drop. Now I find myself laughing like an idiot at Coupling, yes coupling! and Hardware Jesus help me.

I guess its not all that bad, but the 'light entertainment' lacks variety and if you talk yourself 'round to watch a film (which incidently tonights veritable delight is 'Twins') an hour and half film turns into a 3 hour ridley scott epic with all the ad breaks! Braveheart is also on tonight, I dont have a spare 7 hours to watch it. I guess though what with the weather and beaches TV is not high on everyone's list.

So gripe over, but there is one thing that has baffled me though. Sean Mcguire (he of Grange Hill fame) IS alive and well and starring in US sitcom 'Eve' who'd have thunk it?

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Story So Far......

To bring you up to speed....

It was always a goal of mine to work abroad for a period of time in my life. So Last year I decided to finally take the plunge and shake myself out of the proverbial comfort zone. I left a safe, if not exciting job, sold my italian sports car only a fiat coupe but nice nevertheless (which incidently was another 'goal' of mine) rented out my home to a complete stranger, spent a kings ransom on preparing my boxer pup to come to Oz with me and uprooted my wife to take a gamble on an 'experience' of a lifetime. Afterall what could possibly go wrong? I had a job all lined up, surely the hard word had been done?

So after a teary good bye to my family and friends on the 5th of December we finally flew out to Australia, Adelaide to be precise. Once we arrived on the 7th of December we checked into a nice hotel and, well, slept....slept alot in fact.

Monday the 10th December I started my new job, which, for anyone who cares is a 3d artist for a computer games company. The first day I started with the caution of begining a new life deserved. It went well, very well. Everyone was friendly, the game looked cool and I thought "yeah, I can get with this". The next day I bounced into work with an air of enthusiasm I hadnt felt for several years. The day panned out much like another day, except in the afternoon. There was a company meeting called. I thought this was protocal I was mistaken. It was at this meeting the CEO from America delivered the news that was further from my mind. The sudio was to be closed down, thus making everyone who worked there redundant! I couldnt believe it, it was all happening in slow motion.

They did offer to fly me home, that was not the point, I hadnt even unpacked! Besides it wasn't as straightforward as that. My house was rented out, we sold lots of luxury goods and our cars, thats not to mention the shame of going home without so much as a suntan. No I wasnt about to take the easy option. The other option for me was to find other employment within 28 days of my redundancy otherwise I'd be kicked back to blighty.

I had a number of interviews and put alot of irons in fires but it was the week leading up to xmas so time was not on my side.

To make my long story ..well slightly less long, I have taken an offer of a job in Brisbane Queensland. I still havnt an address or a car and my dog is due over in a week with 30 days at the Australian governments pleasure (quarentine) So there is still plenty to do!

Stay 'tuned' to read my experiences in Australia, both good and bad with a few movie reviews thrown in plus some good ol' fashioned bitchin' thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


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