Friday, March 17, 2006

While I was out...

Many things have changed since I last lived in Melbourne. So much so that even after 3 months (to the day!) since we arrived and 4 weeks of work in the city, I still feel a little bit like a newbie.

Obviously, there are things that have not changed. Coffee for starters. Yes, yes I know but this is my lonely furrow so bear with me. As I rode up the escalator at Parliament Station this morning, the heady aroma of fresh coffee wafting around me, a thought leapt into my head ... What if I was told I could never drink coffee again? I shuddered, threw up a quick prayer and headed with purpose to get my morning strong, skinny latte, deftly ignoring every side-effect that prolonged caffeine consumption induces.


So, things that have not changed. Women in their droves still trot around before and after work in their sneakers (trainers) which makes an amusing accessory to their corporate attire. Eating out is still affordable. You can still spend a day wandering around town and find lots of free or cheap things to do. People are still friendly and happy to help although I can't help but perceive a very slight paranoia that seems to have seeped into the national psyche but that is fodder for a whole other post.

The differences are slight but obvious. Here's one. Australia seems to have become a no-plastic-bag zone. If you go to the supermarket here without your own green bags (in colour and in purpose), you get the feeling that those around you, checkout chick included, are frowning subtly at your environmental ignorance.

These bags are fabby really, provided you get into the habit of taking them with you when you go grocery shopping. Which we have. Sort of. Anyway, these bags (which I should explain are made out of some sort of strong but light fabric) are not just picked up from supermarkets where you pay from 99c - $1.00 each. No, many clothing stores use them in lieu of plastic bags and even places like hospitals design trendy tote bags and sell them for a dollar each. So not only are you being environmentally responsible, you are supporting a charity. Well done you!

So on the train this morning I observed many well heeled women, suited and sculpted carrying lovely leather handbags that matched their shoes who also carried a variety of these enviro-happy bags. Each of these bags were loaded up with all the paraphernalia needed for a train journey and the working day ahead. For example, books, magazines, spare pairs of shoes, make-up bags, lunch boxes, snacks, water bottles etc. etc.

Methinks designers and makers of handbags have missed out on a huge opportunity here to create a bag-for-the-things-that-do-not-fit-into-your-ridiculously-small-and-outrageously-expensive-handbag. For let's face it ladies, there is NEVER enough room in your handbag for everything you need and plastic carrier bags are so, well, baglady-ish.

Okay, enough waffling. Back to coffee. Again on the train today (I have a lot of time to think as it takes an hour to get from Hurstbridge to the city) I was thinking about my first coffee of the day. I had been buying a large skinny latte but found it was too milky even if I ordered a strong. So I went to Cafe Alcaston as per usual and the guy there pre-empted my order and asked if I wanted a large. I said no, as all that milk took away from the taste of the coffee and he heartily congratulated me on coming to my senses, seeing the enlightened path to true coffee drinking and had he been on my side of the counter, I am sure he would have slapped me on the back.

Told you people here are a bit mental about coffee...


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