December 2006 Archives

Of Christmas and cricket


Christmas with the immediate family, despite the fact that it was the coldest Christmas on record, was a beautiful affair filled with crayfish, prawns, moreton bay bugs and pudding (plum or self-saucing chocolate, for people like me who refuse to eat plum). After eating all that I was surprised that I was able to make it up the stairs at the end of the day.

Boxing Day was held in very traditional way, with family and good friends and a barbecue and cricket and cards. Sylvain was made watch Shane Warne make his 700th wicket, although he confessed that he didn't see what all the fuss was about. I told him that I'm Australian and I don't see what all the fuss was about and so it was ok. We weren't going to send him back to France for that.

We visited some of my favourite relatives yesterday - my grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousins. It was only a few hours, but it was very special. My grandparents are two amazing people who I love dearly, I was delighted to see them, and my gran was very happy to see that I'd curled my hair. As a little girl, I would sit on her knee while she licked her finger and tried to curl my dead-straight hair into ringlets using her finger. She would despair to see it fall straight again within seconds. She also thrashed me in 500, but I suspect there was something dodgy going on with the scoring (Sylvain was probably well aware of where his pudding was coming from).

Driving through the country, I was shocked to see the extent of the drought. I knew that it was nearing crisis point, but I simply didn't realise how dreadful it really was. The normally lush green eucalypts looked grey and tired, with bark stripping off the trunks. The paddocks, yellow and brown as far as the horizon and beyond. The consequences are already being felt, and unless some serious rain comes soon, and in the right way, the results are going to be drastic. It was heartbreaking to see my homeland being blown away by the winds of drought.

In any case, I am grateful to be able to spend these moments with the people I care about, although I admit that I'm already fretting a little about having to go back. I do love France, but life here seems so much more laid back and easier. We have just over a week before we get on the plane again, and I wish it would last forever.

Christmas Eve


It's really rather typical that I manage to pick up the Worlds Worst Flu whilst on Holiday. Copious amounts of snot, a spectacularly chesty cough and blocked ears that mean I can't hear what people say and, in turn, I speak ten times too loud to compensate - I've got it all. I even ended up at the Emergency Department at the Hospital because I couldn't get an appointment with the doctor this close to Christmas. It's all fun and games, and I certainly don't do anything half-arsedly. But a lovely cocktail of pills and litres of orange juice later, and I'm slowly on the road to recovery. Might even be well enough to enjoy Christmas ;)

This whole cold debacle has not been helped by the weather. We spent a week adjusting to 35°C temperatures, only to experience a cold change rushing through on Friday night and to watch the temperature plummet to 20°C. Earlier this evening, it dropped to 12°C. I'm wondering whether we have entered some sort of temporal warp because last time I checked, Australia is supposed to be warm at Christmas time.

I do hope that this freak cold snap will not last too long because Sylvain is still determined to go snorkelling, and I know he'll make me go with him, and buggered if I'll be getting in the ocean if the temperatures are still hanging around the 20°C mark.

Tonight, I'm curled up on the couch in my parents house. My dad has already retired to bed, but mum and I are singing along to Carols by Candlelight, an old Christmas Eve tradition in Australia. Although to describe it a little more realitstically, I should specify that mum's humming and I'm croaking along, punctuating each refrain with a well-placed cough and sputter. And Sylvain is being educated about some of the more colourful Australian variety performers. Poor thing.

I should refill his cognac glass and make it a little less easier for him to sit through this.

Edited to add the Quote of the Night
Sylvain is watching Ray Martin do one of his spiels and comments, "I love how he says "mate" in every second sentence."

That's my boy. We'll make honorary Aussie out of him yet.

A week in Australia


A quick tour around Hong Kong and a decision to go back as soon as we can. If only because Octopus is Welcome.

Arrival in Melbourne meant excitement at seeing parental figures and copious amounts of salt'n'vinegar chips.

Delirious, happy reunions with old friends, whom it feels like we only saw yesterday. Surprising really, since there have been not one but two adorable additions to their family in the meantime. That time can have no significance is a sign of good friends, I think.

A sobering view of the reality of the bushfires, of the drought. It is one thing to watch it happening from overseas, another to smell the smoke and feel the dry grass crackling under my feet.

Less than 24 hours later, and a week in Queensland.
An endless hug with my baby sister, not to mention enduring lots of sibling teasing and the usual jabs from my father.
Trees and flowers straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
New friends becoming old friends within minutes. As is the tradition with Australians. Or adopted Australians.
Endless blue skies, beaches and splendid thunderstorms.
Rock pools replete with zebra fish, crabs and shrimp.
Fresh air, filled with the scents of eucalyptus, and rolling hills dotted with trees. Splendid illawarra flame trees.
Blue jellyfish around my knees in the water and finding one washed up on the beach and having to supress my desire to poke it.
Finding a leech attached to my leg in the rainforest and shrieking until someone poured salt (kindly provided by the lady at the entrance of the national park) on it and pulled it off. I still have a big red blotch on my leg and I was Very Lucky Indeed That I Didn't Die On The Spot (photographic evidence will follow shortly).
An obligatory tour of Australia Zoo and an unexpected brewery visit.
Warm and wonderful waves that dumped me on the bottom of the ocean with a mouthful of salty water and a grin from ear to ear.
Laughing so hard until I hiccupped. Countless times.
Some precious hours with my future brother-in-law, a gem of a man who I care about tremendously, despite the Boonie 'tache.
Long slow evenings and quiet moments with the people I love.

And Bare Feet. Whenever possible.

Of course, in typical Aussie Lass form, I managed to pick up a cold that send me to bed early most nights and had me snotty and coughing for the majority of the time. Lovely.

Despite that, a week of moments that I will cherish.

It goes by so fast. I can't wait to see my sister again later this year, at her wedding, and I just wish there was a way I could see her more often.

Anyway. There are plenty more photos where they came from. And more to come. Make sure you ooh and ahh over the wombats. I love wombats.

And it feels so good to be back.

Oh, and episode 14. How did we find the time to do it whilst gallavanting around the world? We didn't, we pre-recorded. Aren't we clever?

Hong Kong


Hoorah for free wifi at the Hong Kong Airport!

We've been on our journey for 26 hours now, from the moment we stepped out of our front door and blew a kiss goodbye to Symphony to right now, sitting on a comfy yellow couch in the Hong Kong Airport. We still have a little over three hours to go before we board the plane for our flight to Melbourne, and the fatigue is starting to take its toll.

We had a nice surprise this morning, however, when we were told (contrary to what I'd been told over the phone by the reservation agent in France) that we were more than welcome to leave the airport for a few hours instead of waiting 12 hours in the transit lounge. So, despite the intense fatigue we were suffering from the first leg of our flight, we set off on an impromptu adventure in Hong Kong, and gallavanted around this amazing city until we were even more red-eyed and exhausted than we had been before. But what a way to tire ourselves out. After poking around the open-air markets, haggling with shopkeepers, gawking at the enormous buildings that really did scrape the sky, being impressed by the cleanliness, the orderlieness and chowing down on real fair dinkum' chow, I feel so lucky. France is thousands of kilometres away, and two weeks early, I've already turned the page on 2006.

I feel like we're truly on holiday, and we haven't even arrived in Australia yet!



It's hard for me to grasp the fact that finally, I'm going back to Australia. For the first time in three years.

It seems like such a long time. So much has changed - here, there, everywhere. There is a big knot in my stomach. Nervousness. Anticipation. Excitement.

As I hunt through my drawers for my bathers (to no avail, they must have disintegrated from disuse), I almost feel like pinching myself. Is it really happening? Are we really getting on a plane tomorrow, after talking about it for weeks, months, years?

It's surprising that, given the circumstances, we are not camped out at the airport already.

One more day


As the train glides through the city, I strain to see in the lit windows of the office buildings. Mirrored walls, during the day anonymous fortresses, at night show computer screens, hatracks and shoes underneath desks.

I love this moment of the day, this brief glimpse into the lives of others. Even when I come home late, there always seems to be someone else, along the way, who is working later than I.

I breathe. One more day.

A night at the Opera, perhaps?


It's been a year since we've taken any real holiday time, and it's taking its toll. We are both tired. Situations that might normally be taken with a sense of humour are frustrating, and we are starting to get antsy about packing our bags and jumping on a plane.

We are chatting about our upcoming sejour in Queensland, as part of our larger trip to Australia. Discovery. Beaches. Sun. Rock pools. Salty seawater and sand between our toes.

"Can we get glasses?" Sylvain asks me, excited. "And a tuba?"

It takes me a few seconds to realise he's asking if we can go snorkelling.

The Frenchman did give me permission to recount this story, as he always does.



An email from a commenter here on my blog the other day made me think. I hope he'll forgive me for quoting him, although I'm sure he'd be happy to see his comment made me think :

I know when you live in a city it becomes a bit blase' at times, but please open your field of vision every now and again to appreciate how fortunate you are to be able to combine the love of your life with an amazing adventure in a beautiful city.

I wonder if the impression I give on my blog is that I am horribly ungrateful for the situation that I'm in. I'll take this opportunity to delcare that it couldn't be further from the truth... I love this city, this country. I love the quirky streets, the wonky buildings, the random corners, the history soaked into every nook and cranny, the rolling hills and the wonderful food. I spent some extremely priveliged moments this last weekend immersed in the beauty and rich heritage of this country and its culture, and I loved every moment.

That said, I know that don't want to spend my entire life here in France, but I enjoy and appreciate living here. Today. For now.

One of the things that living here has taught me is how lucky I am to call myself an Australian, and how good a country Australia is, albeit its imperfections.

Tonight, I stomp through puddles. My feet are soaking already, so a little bit more water won't hurt. I feel a little guilty, though, as I squelch across the doorstep of my 6 o'clock rendez-vous.

Half an hour later and I find myself in the drizzle again. The darkness of winter seems to suck all the energy out of the city, and even the neon lights buzzing around me appear to be less bright in the haze of rain. Everyone walks, head down, long coats skimming their ankles and umbrellas on a slight angle as they try to stop the rain from sweeping underneath the rim.

I stomp in another puddle, trying to rid myself of the frustration of a long day.

Stomp stomp stomp. Splash.

I could be in any city in the world, at any time. But it's December, work is stressful, it's winter, and it's raining. And I can think of better places to be. Such as Australia, where it's summer. And in 8 sleeps, we'll be on our way there.

We are lucky. And I am grateful.

Oh, and episode 12.

The dark side of being a big sister


When I was young, I spent much of my spare time torturing my sister. The usual stuff, for a big sister. It was fairly reciprocal, and despite the three year age difference, she quickly grew stronger than me, and could pin me down better than I could her. We hit. We bit. We kicked. We tore each others hair. Gave chinese burns. Physically and mentally, the onslaught could be brutal. And ten minutes later, we would be playing together again, as thick as thieves.

But sometimes, I was just plain mean.

I look back on those times and wish that I could step into the snapshot in my mind, sweep her up and protect her from myself.


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Now that I have new glasses, I can actually see out of the window as we drive across country to and from my in-laws house. To my surprise, I spotted around 30 chateaux and 3 deer. For quite some time, such things were beyond my (2 metre) sphere of vision, and it is such a pleasure to finally be able to see again.

I wonder what else I've missed out on...

12 sleeps to go

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As I count the days on my calendar, wondering how I'm going to get everything done in time, I squirm in my seat with excitement, and feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to arrive. And in reality, I am waiting for Christmas to arrive. Santa in his board shorts. Everything that makes the French stare at me in wonder, as they try to imagine a Christmas day bathed in sunshine. I've promised some of my colleagues that I'll take a photo of us on the beach on Christmas day - I wouldn't want to break the stereotype and disappoint them.

There is much to be done between now and then. We have been busy bees, with some massive Thanksgiving celebrations this past weekend, and I have much work to do, presents to find, people to see, lists to make...

This is almost the funnest part of the whole trip. The preparations. The anticipation. The excitement.

With this in mind, I try to push everything else that's going on out of my head, to stop being anxious about things I can't control.

It's all about priorities.

Oh, and episodes 10 and 11.


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This page is an archive of entries from December 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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