So – what happened to May?

You might think from my blog that May did not exist.  That’s not true.  We’ve been very busy.

We’ve had a whirlwind of fun things to make the most of our last 11 days in Australia.

We’ve organised and packed and dealt with all the administration of moving to the other side of the planet.

We’ve said goodbye to Australia as our great adventure came to an end.

We’ve had a week in the sun of the Cook Islands.  (Yes, this bit was less busy and just relaxing!)

We’ve retaken possession of our flat and moved back in.

We’ve re-started subscriptions to mobile phones and broadband and TV and health clubs.

And, I’ve started working again.

So, that’s what happened to May!


Greet your news with a fanfare

This is another instalment of the occasional series: things about Australia that strike me as odd or different.  Offered in a spirit of affection, not criticism.

In this case, it is the fanfare for ABC radio news.

The ABC is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  Like the UK’s BBC, it is known as Auntie in the country and it is the state-funded broadcaster.  Let them tell you more about themselves, here.

But my only point today is that on the radio, particularly on ABC RN, the news is heralded by a trumpet fanfare.

I expect it is useful for signalling to the listener that it is time for the news.  To my ears it sounds, well, like they are blowing their own trumpet!  It has taken me a year to get used to it.

It turns out that the ABC used to use the fanfare for their television news and discontinued it.  You can see the fanfare on YouTube here.  It’s only the first part that is used on the radio

Of course, that makes me think: Sky News and BBC News 24 in the UK both use rousing music to lead into their headlines and main broadcasts.  Funny how things seem different on different media – and in a new country.

I wonder what will strike me as odd when I arrive back home.

White Bay Cruise Terminal

There is a big new property development in Sydney and it’s displaced the cruise ships that visit the city.  After months of watching the work, today I’ve seen the first ship to berth at the temporary replacement.

Here she is: the Pacific Pearl.

Pacific Pearl arriving at White Bay at 7 am on 15 April 2013

Pacific Pearl arriving at White Bay at 7 am on 15 April 2013

She arrived in the early morning, sailing almost to the old terminal at Barangaroo, on the Western side of the Central Business District (CBD), before reversing into the new berth at White Bay.

Things happen quite slowly at sea.  I was too impatient to watch constantly.  I went away and did other things and just checked back periodically.  At the end though she sailed smoothly into place.  Well done to the P&O captain!

White Bay terminal is in the suburb of Balmain.  I wonder how the high rise of the ships will affect the locals’ light.  At least the ships normally stay only during the day – and not every day.

I also wonder how the cruise passengers will like it.  It is further to go to get to the terminal and the traffic coming over the ANZAC bridge can be grim.  Leave plenty of time to catch your cruise, people.

Cruise ships come into Sydney for two reasons: as a terminal at the start and finish of a cruise; and as a port of call during a cruise.  If you end up at White Bay for a port of call, you will spend a lot of time getting to and from the boat.  Perhaps they will keep those ships coming into the terminal at Circular Quay, which is right in the middle of things.

Here’s to a historic day: the day White Bay opened for business!  Raise those champagne glasses!

The carnival is over

We’re going back to the UK.

Yes, that’s right.  Our great Australian Adventure is coming to an end.

No, don’t worry, those of you who thought we were going to be here for three years or so, your mind isn’t playing time tricks on you.  It is only just over 13 months since we arrived.  The job I was doing and that sponsored me for the visa has finished much earlier than we expected.


I’m coming home. I’m coming home. Jackie’s coming home!

My feelings are rather mixed.

I focused on my job for much of my time here so when that ended I didn’t feel very much at home.  I’ve been told it can take a more than a year to settle in and I guess that is the case.  However, in the last couple of months, I’ve settled in much better so I’m increasingly sad at the idea of leaving.  Ironic, eh?

It does feel like at the end of a wonderful holiday; like when you don’t want to leave but you have to go back to real life.  That’s the thing – Australia doesn’t feel like “real life” to me.

Anyway, like it or not, it’s homeward-bound we are, arriving in the UK at the end of May.

By the way, the title is a reference to a song by Tom Springfield.  It is based on a Russian folk tune and, in 1965, he added lyrics for the Australian group The Seekers .  You can see them singing it in a farewell concert in 1968, on YouTube, by clicking here.

What I didn’t realise when I chose this title was how appropriate it was.  The Seekers used the song to close their concerts.  In the intervening 40 years, Australians have often used it to close concerts and events, including the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. So, appropriate song, then!

Goodbye, Daylight Savings! Hello, daylight, my old friend!

It is so much lighter in the mornings. And, so much darker at night!

At last, Australia has followed the world in changing its clocks.  The USA sprung forward with panache on the second Sunday of March.  Europe followed sedately as befits the old continent on the last Sunday of March.  Australia clutched the last vestiges of summertime until last Sunday, the first in April.  It’s harder when you are falling back into Autumn.

Well, I say Australia but, in fact, not all of Australia moves to daylight-savings or summer time.  Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland keep their clocks where they are.  The result of that is that in the summer there are 5 time zones across the continent.

  • NSW, Tasmania and Victoria – 11 hours ahead of GMT
  • South Australia – 10½ hours ahead of GMT
  • Queensland – 10 hours ahead of GMT
  • Northern Territory  – 9½ hours ahead of GMT
  • Western Australia – 8 hours ahead of GMT

Whereas now there are only three:

  • NSW, Queensland Tasmania and Victoria – 10 hours ahead of GMT
  • Northern Territory and South Australia – 9½ hours ahead of GMT
  • Western Australia – 8 hours ahead of GMT

To return to my original point, it is lighter in the morning again.  It was getting light here in Sydney about 7.15 and now, as you’d expect, we’ve got another hour’s daylight.  I love that.  Yes, I know the darkness will creep up on us again as the days pass but for now I relish the light and the early dawn.

Hello, daylight, my old friend!

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel and “The Sounds of Silence” – “Hello, darkness, my old friend.”  See them sing it in New York in 2009, courtesy of YouTube.

Look who came to visit!

Yes, the Queen Mary 2 was in Sydney today.

I went down to Circular Quay to see how different she looks from our usual cruise ships.

Here she is from the quayside.


She is just huge. Not just tall but also broad in the beam. She dwarfed the ferries who rushed backwards and forwards past her.

These cruise ships – and in fact all the cargo boats and ferries that I see – fascinate me. That doesn’t mean that I fancy stepping on board and sailing the deep, deep, deep oceans! But I like to see them here in port. 🙂

Hello, Autumn!

Yes, today is the first day of Autumn – and it looks like Autumn in London.  North Sydney is fading into the mist.  It’s rainy and windy.

It’s funny how entrenched are the ideas with which you grow up.  It’s the first day of March – St David’s Day – a day for daffodils and crocuses and the whiff of Spring in the air.  Even though this is my second Autumn here in Australia, I still find my instincts expect the days to be getting lighter, not darker; and I’m looking forward to Summer.

Anyway, that is my problem. Maybe I should quote Keats:

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”

I always did enjoy that poem.

Find the rest here.

Happy Autumn, everyone!