Monday, January 23, 2006

Song of the day

One of the things about another country that can make it feel so alien is the sounds of the place. No more so than the noises made by the local wildlife, and in particular the birdsong.

Since I was a kid, I've always had a thing about birds [insert joke here] but have never paid that much attention to their songs. I just took their songs for granted: a soundtrack for my life; a non-irritating version of muzak; pleasant lift-music.

Every time I've been to Oz, however, the difference is striking. The sheer bloody racket that a tree full of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos or Galahs [Yes, as in Alf's repeated trill: "You great galah"] make, usually at 5.30 in the morning, is quite astonishing. And, however exotic it may seem to my British ears, exoticism can soon lose its appeal, trust me...

More pleasant is the Australian Magpie [no relation to the European magpie with it's ack-ack-ack ack machine-gun chatter], whose warbling woody tones are to Claudine, the sound of Australia, and something she practically swoons to when she first hears it on her return to her homeland.

For me, the sound of Oz is the Kookaburra and its manic laughing-clown muhahahahahaha cry; and the Bellbird, which I prefer to call the bottlebird due to its distinctive sound, which you can imagine it creating by tapping its beak on a bottle, which echoes round the bush. I love it! It's exotic, weird, but strangely soothing. You can listen to the sound here if my description makes little sense to you.

We're fortunate to hear all these, as we're currently out on the edge of Melbourne, living in Hurstbridge, which is about 33km from the centre. We're staying with Claudine's brother, Stephen, and his wife Lisa, and our 15-month old nephew, Harrison. Yes, it's a little out in the sticks, with lots of utes, beards and wholefood, although we've yet to see anyone carrying a banjo.
For the moment, though, it suits us just fine, as we're with not only family but generous, welcoming people, and are also both still jobless... more of which later. Suffice to say that the Nursing Board of Victoria, the professional body I have to register with, are about as quick and efficient as the NMC. 'Nuff said.

O, and it's been sooooo HOT. Since we arrived last Tuesday the daily max. temperatures have been 24, 29, 34, 37, 41 and peaked yesterday at 42.4 degrees Celsius. Yes, that's about 108 fahrenheit. Thankfully, today is going to be a max. 26 degrees C, which will feel like a cool day after the last 2. Now where did I put that fleece?

20 miles from this...

















...to this

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