Archive for the 'Australia' Category

Spring in Brissie

I’ve been a bit of a grinch about spring. It’s so easy to feel the comparison to Germany at this time of year. Winter was strictly brown, even the weeds in the pavement cracks would disappear. But the reward was a spectacular profusion of new growth when spring came at long last. It’s easy to feel here that spring doesn’t exist at all by comparison.

But it does. Spring is Jacaranda season in Brisbane. A purple canopy above the city’s head and beneath its feet. Beautiful.

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Reverse culture shock, or rockin’ the suburbs

I’m struggling quite a bit with the new life lately. To quote a blogging friend of mine, I have a Leipzig-shaped “hole in my heart”. I know I complained quite a bit about the language barrier, the climate, the homesickness and the lack of Tim Tams, but in truth there was much about life in Germany that has spoiled me. I’ve been doing lots of thinking and I’ve decided my maladjustment has less to do with moving from Germany to Australia and more with moving from city to suburbs. 

Leipzig is a city in the truest sense. Apart from the lovely streets lined with Gründerzeit buildings, the first thing I noticed was how compact it is. One can drive across the city in a matter of minutes, no suburbs clamoring around it, no feeling of endless sprawl. Living in a proper city was a whole new experience for me. I could walk to the city center, enjoy its markets, museums and wonderfully inexpensive cafes. Living in a small flat (like everyone else), we by necessity had less stuff. A car was unnecessary thanks to public transport that would make any Sydneysider sigh, but whether you’re eight weeks or eighty years old, the way to travel in Leipzig is by bike. Another aspect of city life I loved was parks. Not CBD parks, where joggers and businessmen mingle, or suburban parks where a few kids play on the Astroturf. I mean parks that are the garden of the city. On a warm day in summer, everyone is there. Communal spaces are necessary when everyone lives in a flat.

Coming back to suburban Australia has been just a little deflating. It seems a strange, unnatural life. Firstly, there’s the temptation to have stuff. Suburbia is perfectly designed to turn us all into little consumers. We don’t share things. Instead, we all buy our own. We are left to imagine what life is like on the other side of the fence and we try to keep up with the Jones’. We drive to get around. We commute to work.  We love the idea of farmers’ markets and local economies, but the capitalist system drives us towards the cheapest option: the shopping centers and supermarkets.

Suburbia can be a very lonely place for full time mum in a new town. While I do love the freedom of a patch of grass to play on and a Hills Hoist in the sun, the price can seem quite high, sometimes. Of course, the answer lies in finding ways around the isolating, consumer-oriented ways of the suburbs. Stay tuned.

In Brisbane

Queenslander:

1. Person who resides or originates from Queensland, Australia.

2. Type of timber house, popular between 1840 and WWII, designed to maximise airflow and minimise extremes of heat.

First thing that happened after we collected our bags at Brisbane airport: got stuck in an elevator for thirty minutes. Nice one Brisbane. Again, I’ve delayed blogging about this latest seismic shift for the Wright family. Reasons include: a worrying illness, a frantic househunt, my card reader not working (and my fear that photo-less posts aren’t sufficiently interesting) and I must admit, homesickness for Germany. This last one is possibly the main reason, the real reason. I’ve been unwilling to open this blog and think about where we have been and where we are now. Why am I “homesick” now that I am “home”? Perversity of nature I suppose. My nature, specifically.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about where to take this blog now that my time overseas has ended. Instead of an ancient, foreign city to see through my eyes or lens, there is only suburban Brisbane. I’ve heard it said numerous times of late that Brisbane is Australia’s new hot city. And true enough, there is plenty to discover here, and I have plenty to say about the experience of moving back. But my posts will have to be less visual, if only because a new computer is not high on the list, and also because each photo takes me a very long time to resize and upload whilst my children occupy me for a very long time each day. If anyone can solve the slow photo issues for me, I’m all ears.

What I’d like to say is thank you, dear readers, for walking with me these last two years, when I was very far away (or close by for those in Germany). For now, I’ll keep writing when I’m able, or when it helps me, or when I have a thought to share. I’ll do my best to be interesting, and I’ll post photos when I can. Perhaps, rather than avoiding these painful feelings that accompany thoughts of Germany, I’ll make use of them here, somehow.

One a penny, two a penny

Hot cross buns are ubiquitous in Australia. From early February till Easter Monday (Tuesday if you count those reduced for quick sale), these little beauties fill every empty tummy in the hungry hours of mid-morning and afternoon. While Germany has its Osterbrots in various incarnations, none of them come close to the crusty top and sticky glaze perfection of a Hot Cross Bun. And here’s my revelation: you don’t need a local Woolies, or even a breadmaker to enjoy them. I’ve been making them semi-regularly for the past few weeks using a recipe by you know who. Sure there’s a bit of kneading involved, but the rewards are great. The combination of yeasty, milky-soft bread, musky spices, bitter peel and sweet fruit is very near perfect.

Flying South

Well my friends, I guess I had better come clean and admit my shameful expat secret. I went home!

For the past month, I’ve been in Australia. I guess it was no secret that I and the German winter had had something of a falling out. As morale dropped to critical levels, a little window of relief opened up. A series of fortunate events lead to an offer we couldn’t refuse. Home we flew, like birds, to our southern homeland.

Things I loved:

The long forgotten sensation of bare arms and legs

home grown tomatoes

peaches

magazines in english

copious amounts of BBQ’d steak

nieces and nephews

the colour green

sewing days

watching british murder mystries with my father in law

swimming

free to air Play School

Looking around me, I couldn’t help feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland. “Curiouser and curiouser” seemed to describe the familiar and yet strange world around me. And as we boarded the plane for our return journey, I couldn’t help asking; was I flying home, or away from home?

If you’re of the friends we didn’t get to see while we were home, we’re really very sorry. Our time and energy didn’t stretch nearly as far we we would have wished. To all those we did see, thank you so much for making it such a special and memorable time for us.

Australia Day

Something I’ve learned: I remember things as being better than they were. Our old house at Brownlee Street, how I cursed the missing fly-screens, plagues of roaches and never-ending dust. Now all I remember are the light-filled rooms, outdoor clothes line and incredible back yard. Our time in Stuttgart? I’m sure many of you remember my bitter complaining (see here and here). The grey carpet, the sleazy furniture, the boredom, the endless grey days. When I look back though, it’s the wondrous markets, good friends, sunny apartment and view of the forest I remember. Same applies (I assume) to January 26th. I spent Australia Day last year trying to sell piles of unwanted junk at a garage sale in North Wollongong. I remember cursing the heat, the beer drinking, the cars, the music, the groups of testosterone-heavy youths with flags emblazoned all over their bodies and clothing (if it could be called that).

Was it really like that? Wasn’t it a day of national harmony and relaxation? Wasn’t there a glorious sun with a gentle but not oppressive heat? Didn’t I swim freely in a pristine ocean before eating a leisurely meal of BBQ’d delights? Didn’t I sip cool drinks by a perfect sunset? Wasn’t everything right with the world? No?

Denim and Red Classic Playtime Baby Overalls

Playtime baby overalls by NeverEver (Sydney)

 

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She’ll be Apples letterpress cards by rubyvictoria (Hobart)

 

Hand Knitted Australian Organic Merino Beanie for Baby - Toddler 12-24M

Hand knitted organic Australian merino beanie for baby by VictoriaOC (Melbourne)

 

Laundry Birds hand printed fabric by pippijoe (Melbourne)

 

Fill your cup - Tea 3 Range - Art Deco Tea Cup Photograph

Fill Your Teacup art photograph by BuckinghamRoad (Sydney)

 

shells (organic merino cotton cowl)

“Shells” organic merino cotton cowl by artish (Newcastle)


About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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