Archive for the ‘The Good Life’ Category

Call this a winter?! :)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

It’s over a year now since we decided to move to Robertson, and I must say I’m thoroughly enjoying the place. The people are lovely, the scenery’s beautiful, it’s great having a decent-sized house and yard, and everything is so easy and laid-back. Just as we’d hoped.

One of our concerns, though, was that the winters here are supposed to be pretty cold. “If you make it through the first winter you’ll be all right,” was a common comment from the locals before we moved here.

Well we are now over half-way through our first Robertson winter and so far it’s been like an English spring! There have been a couple of frosty mornings and the odd cold wind, but much of the time I’ve been walking around in a T-shirt and sweater (not even a jacket). Also there have been days and days of blue skies with hardly any rain (which of course is bad as well as good).

Here’s a pic of our back garden on a typical winter mid-afternoon. You can see that the sun has gone behind those tall trees (a bit pesky as it puts our garden into shadow). I was actually lying on the deck in the sunshine at lunch time on this day and I got too hot!

I do wonder, though, if it’s just unseasonably warm here at the moment. (Maybe down to climate change?) There are even daffodils coming out already:

All very strange. Still I’m not complaining, as I love warm weather! 🙂 Another nice thing is that the days, though shorter than summer, are still longer and brighter than in an English winter. So I think we’re going to cope OK with the winters here.

Australia: No worries

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Ocean detailRecently I’ve broken my habit of a morning walk on the beach, thanks to the combined hectic-ness of having a baby, writing a book, and preparing for a trip to the UK. However it’s such a beautiful morning today that I decided to renew my walking habit.

I find it’s so easy to get bogged down in negative aspects of day-to-day living and lose sight of what makes living here so great. Things I loved on my walk this morning:

  • Beautiful blue skies
  • Wide streets and open spaces
  • Friendly cafe owners, shop owners, and locals saying hello to me as I walked past
  • The stunningly beautiful beach
  • Gently lapping waves in a deep turquoise sea
  • The warm sunshine on my face
  • The sounds and smells of nature
  • Panoramic views of the ocean and bush from the headland
  • People enjoying themselves on the beach and in the water

As I prepare to head off to England – which will, no doubt, be cold, wet, and dark! – I can honestly say that I am missing Australia already.

Sydney public transport is great!

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Public transport logosThis may surprise many people who live in Sydney, but your public transport system is actually really good. Compared to the UK, that is.

I’ve often heard Sydneysiders moan about packed buses, delayed trains, price increases, and so on. You know nothing. Try living in England for a year, then let’s see if you still want to moan about Sydney.

Let the train take the strain

A one-way train ticket from Sydney to the Blue Mountains – a 2-hour journey of nearly 100km – costs $11.60. A one-way train ticket from London Paddington to Reading – a 25-minute journey (assuming the train doesn’t break down) of around 40km – costs GBP 12.90, or around $32.00. (That’s the cheapest possible fare – if you travel during peak time, it’s GBP 15.60, or $39.00.) So you can stop complaining about high Sydney ticket prices.

You think Sydney trains are unreliable? Commuting to London, it would be unusual if the train wasn’t seriously delayed at least once in any given week. I’ve sat in stationary English trains for two hours, waiting for them to get moving again. (more…)

Cheap eats: Eating out in Australia

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

Plate, knife, fork and spoonOne of the things I love about Australia is that you can have a really good meal out without breaking the bank, even in big cities such as Sydney. You can easily get a decent meal for AUD $30 (£12) a head, including wine, and superb meals are available for AUD $100 a head should you feel like splashing out.

This is in marked contrast to the UK, where eating out can set you back a week’s wages. Well OK, I exaggerate, although there is a place in Reading, my old hometown in the UK, that costs over £100 (AUD $250) a head. Fantastic food, mind. And there was the time I spent 20 quid (AUD $50) for the worst meal of my life in the Beefeater outside Paddington Station in London. (The best bit was the waiter cleaning the table next to mine, flicking bits of cabbage off the table onto my plate as he went. I guess that’ll teach me to eat in a restaurant next to Paddington Station. But I digress.)

I’m not sure why eating out in Australia is relatively cheap, but I guess it’s a combination of lower rents and cheaper sales tax than the UK – 10% GST vs. 17.5% VAT. Actually it’s more expensive now than it was when I first visited Australia in 1999, as Australia had no GST back then. Those were the days.

Maybe raw ingredients are cheaper here. Maybe business taxes are lower. Or maybe Australians simply demand affordable eating out as their birthright. (If so, good for them I say.)

BYO (bring your own) alcohol licences probably help a lot. They’re a great idea. Basically, a BYO restaurant carries a BYO licence instead of a full licence to serve alcohol, and you just bring along your own wine or beer. The licence is cheaper for them – which translates to cheaper food for you – and also means you can choose from the much wider (and often cheaper) range of booze from your local bottle shop (off-licence if you’re a Pom), rather than relying on the range that the restaurant has to offer.

Whatever the reasons are, such affordable dining out makes me glad – and proud – to live in Australia. We definitely eat out more than we did in the UK, although less so these days thanks to little Isaac! Having said that, we had a fantastic meal at Emilia’s, our local veggie restaurant, last Thursday; one of Cat’s mates generously offered to babysit the little’un. If you’re ever looking for somewhere to eat out on the Northern Beaches, I can heartily recommend them. (Cheap, too!)