Thursday, February 23, 2006

Observations on Down Under from on high...

Happy to be here...

I guess the one thing that I have not said here is how happy I am to actually BE in Melbourne. I do not know how many of you have lived somewhere other than your home town. I guess many of the English among you, who have gone to University, will all know how it feels to be away from a place you know intimately for a few years.

Unlike most Aussies who leave for the adventure and excitement of a life abroad, leaving Melbourne was not an escape. True, I was bored and needed a challenge but I did not leave shaking the dust of my shoes hoping never to return. I even spent the last few months of my time in Melbourne relishing everything from the way the late afternoon sun shimmered and danced on the bay to radio personalities that almost seemed part of my circle of friends. Leaving all that was a wrench I was not prepared for.

I know this is some kind of reverse nostalgia that overcomes one as they prepare to leave a place. So I am under no misguided illusions regarding Melbourne. What I am trying to paint is a picture of my town that I loved, left and missed terribly.

There were times I would wake up in our bed in Manchester and my immediate thought, upon opening my eyes, would be that I was in the house I grew up in. I could see in my minds eye the willow tree in our front yard, the houses across the street and sometimes I would have to physically open the curtains to convince my head that I was in Manchester, not St Albans* sometime in 1984.

Does anyone else have those split second ‘wake dreams’ where you find yourself seeing, in your mind’s eye, a place you are not actually in, but for some reason have recalled? I do that often. I can be watching telly and for some reason the unbidden memory of a side street in the Barrio Gotico in Barcelona flashes through my mind. Why does that happen?

I digress. Again.

Back to my love affair with Melbourne. As I sit here looking out my window where I note the blue of the sky blurs nicely with the blue of the sea (although that could just be pollution) I can not help but get excited. There are so many things I want to do and even more places I want to go.

The weekend...

I am toying with the wonderful feeling invoked by the prospect of a weekend in Melbourne. We are having a barbie for my brother’s birthday on Saturday which should be fun. However, that still leaves Friday night and all day Sunday to indulge. We could go for breakfast to any number of excellent café’s in and around town or save ourselves for a late lunch somewhere near the beach. We could even drive down the coast and admire the view back to Melbourne from Rye or Sorrento even.

Although we are some 30kms from the city, it is not really uncommon to head clear across town for a latte / gelato / souvlaki or even a view. We Melbournians will drive anywhere to sample fare that is hailed as ‘the best ever' or an experience 'not to be missed'!

So if the weather is fine I may drag Ian out for a lazy brunch and the Sunday papers. We could then go for a mooch in St Kilda as we’ve not done that yet. We can take in the Sunday market along the Esplanade and grab another coffee (I confess I have been tippling too often of the dark liquid which is keeping me awake and twitching till the wee hours) and maybe, if energy is not an issue – walk along the beach for a few kilometres.


As I am now working in the city, I am scouring the laneways for new places to eat and shop. Melbourne is a bit like Barcelona in that there is a plethora of shops where you are sure to find that one-off (affordable) handbag / pair of shoes / necklace and know that at least one person will exclaim Where did you get that?!

Unlike the UK where a quick look along the high street you find all the shops are churning out the same fodder. You just know that if you are female and you work then inevitably, a colleague will roll up at work in your exact same top (3 sizes smaller even) from either Next, M&S or Topshop**. Of course if you earn upwards of £50K you will most certainly find many one-off items but you will pay through your teeth for them.

I do not want to be dissing the UK now I am here but I did have gripes and those of you who knew me, knew what they were. Surely you did?!

Anyway, speaking of shopping I’m heading out now to look for another jacket for work. Much to my dismay, most of the corporates here are still stuck in bloody ‘corporate’ attire which means I needed to rush out and buy, at the very least, a jacket last week. Which, it has to be said, my husband most graciously paid for. It also has to be said that he was fairly trollied at the time!

*Not St Albans in Hertfordshire but the St Albans of Western Suburbs Melbourne fame – or Snorbans as it is affectionately referred to here.

**Apologies to my girls in back in the UK who disagree but I promise to take you shopping when you get here – especially you Miss J, you know who you are!


Anonymous Clare said...

I am just posting this so you get the impression that we are your own personal pair of internet stalkers. Neat eh?

(and well done you immensely employable people!)

Friday, 24 February, 2006  
Blogger claudy said...

Thanks Clare! Love your work too. We only managed to go through the most wonderful things you and James made for Ian's scrapbook when we got here - Ian was most touched and very amused. When the scrapbook hits the coast of Australia sometime next week and I've hunted through 73 boxes to find it, I will ensure they are all pasted safely inside it.
Hope you are well ... c x

Friday, 24 February, 2006  

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