Wednesday, July 30


Sometimes, you need to take your mind off things. I went for a walk at lunchtime the other day and took a trip up to the Skydeck at the Eureka tower.

The tallest residential tower in the southern hemisphere, it's got some amazing views of Melbourne from the 88th floor.

South East over the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance:

North West over Docklands and the Telstra Dome:

South over Albert Park and St Kilda:

East over the Royal Botanical Gardens, Olympic Park and the MCG:

In fact, despite the cold temperatures early in the morning, it's really pleasant in the city at the moment. I'm not sure how to describe it, I guess it's just like an English spring really with some beautiful crisp bright days, and the odd grey, rainy, soggy day. Well, I say 'like', as in, we have the same kinds of days, but in slightly different proportions.

Flinders street looking East:

The Yarra towards the MCG, with the Boat Houses on the southbank:

It's a very pleasant place to be :)

It fell off the back of a truck, Guv'nor

You may or may not have heard of my interesting experience back in March involving a refrigerator, a trailer and the tarmac of the Frankston Freeway.

While I was looking for the essentials for the place I'm renting, I managed to find a place in Moorabbin selling factory seconds, and they had some very good value refrigerators and washing machines. Deciding that they were a good deal, Les and I went up there to collect them with Lea and Peter's trailer.

Despite our discussion with the salesman who said that I could lay the fridge down as long as I let it stand for a few hours before plugging it in, when another guy brought it out for us he insisted it had to stay upright. I guess at this point I should have realised what would happen and ignored him, but we loaded both the washer and the fridge into the trailer and lashed them as tightly as possible.

Everything went well on the way back, as I was trying to be as careful as possible, but faced with the choice of stop-start traffic lights (and the likelihood of cars being right behind me when accelerating away) or the smooth tarmac of the Frankston Freeway, I chose the freeway. Unfortunately, despite me only doing 80km/h, the inevitable happened. We hit a dip and the trailer bucked the back of the car. Looking in the rear view mirror, I could see the fridge flipping over the back of the trailer, and had visions of the fridge exploding into several hundred one-dollar coins all over the freeway.

Luckily, it landed on the back of the fridge, and despite some pretty major cosmetic damage, it was only in a handful of pieces (most of which would later pop straight back on). If it had landed on the front, then the doors would have been ripped off and it would have been game over.

So, lucky that it was midday and there wasn't much traffic around, we stood the fridge up, moved it to the side of the road, apologised to the drivers who'd just nearly had heart attacks behind us, and lugged it the hundred yards to the car (backing a trailer is bad enough at the best of times, but along a freeway it's just a bad plan all things considered).

I was quite surprised when, after I rewired it, it appeared to work fine. It took a long time to get the temperature stabilised, and it still has the odd strop now and again where the temperature rises or drops to the point of freezing the milk, but I'll throw away a few cartons of milk in exchange for not having to buy a new fridge thank you very much.

So yes, it's a bit more 'second' than it was when I paid for it, but it's doing a good turn.

Monday, July 21


Do you ever have those days where your productiveness should be measured in the number of emails you sent?

Today I racked up 46 work-related emails, none of which were circulars. What do I win?

Tonight's "Monday Night Football", the NRL game between the Melbourne Storm and the St. George Illawara Dragons, descended into chaos when the Dragons started actually pushing in the scrum - shock horror! The resulting mass brawl involved pretty much all the players on the ground (and some off the ground) and saw three players sin-binned. Another push in the scrum soon after saw Jason Ryles sent off for lashing out at Cameron Smith.

To put this in perspective, only 5 players have been sin-binned over the last 19 rounds of the NRL this year!

I far prefer watching League over Rugby Union because of the speed and openness of the game, but seriously, League scrums are such a farce.

In other news, Martin finally realises he hasn't posted pictures from Day 7 and Day 8 of the big tour last year and, 1 year late, uploads them.

Monday, July 14

3-2-1-Clear! *BZZZZZT!*

Ouch. 7 months. That's a long time to fail to update your blog. Well, I'm resuscitating it now and hopefully it'll not get forgotten in future.

So much has happened since I last posted, it's just not funny, and I'm not going to cover it all in this post. I'll try to catch up on things over time.

Anyway, here I am, 6 months into my stay in Australia. "Whaddya think of it so far?" you say - well, I'm having a great time in general. The whole point of coming over here was to see what it was like to live in the country on a day-to-day basis, to understand the social and economic situation and to see if I could live here permanently. I need to give it the full year before I can answer that particular $64,000 question, but I'm very positive about it currently.

I'm being guarded in these comments, and for a good reason. I can see so many parallels with the UK that I'd hoped I wouldn't see, such as a problem with alcohol, a generation of young people that seem to be slightly detached from the reality of the world they're living in, and a new government that can't stop coming up with new initiatives and isn't seeming to deliver anything. There's a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the suburbs (Sydney more so, to the point that young families are sleeping in their cars) and public transport is shocking.

So pretty much the same old same old then? No. Where I'm staying, in Frankston, is about a 1 hour commute into Melbourne by either train or car. Yes, I can commute to work in the heart of the city by car. I've done it a number of times, and the longest it's taken me is 1h 20m, as opposed to 55 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. In fact, at some points in the morning (say, if I'm stumbling out the door at 8:00) it's quicker to drive, because of the way the trains work (or don't).

Public transport is so much cheaper than in the UK, for instance, a daily travel card equivalent from Frankston (end of the line) to the city covering buses and trams as well will set me back $10.10, which is as near to £5 as makes no difference. But, while it's good int he mornings, there's annoying gaps in the timetable at just the times I like to travel, and the trains are about as fast as an average Piccadilly line. So it's a bit like getting on at Heathrow and snoozing all the way to Finsbury Park. Oh well.

To be honest, while Australia's got things that are just as frustrating as back in the UK, it's got many good points, and at the end of the day the weather's just that much better ...