Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Still in holiday mode

Although we have been home for 17 days, I still feel as though I'm in holiday mode. I've been sleeping unusually well, going to bed around 11 pm and not waking until about 6-6:30 am, which is very unusual for me.

The cold weather, plus the fact that we have a roller blind in our bedroom that blackens the room completely and the lack of free singing from mosques, is responsible. I guess I'm also relaxed about being home and back in my own bed. No place like home eh?

We wake up for a leisurely breakfast of rolled oats or toast with marmalade or vegemite and then sit and decide what we are going to tackle for the day. Today we tackled our ensuite cleaning it from top to bottom and shortly I am to return to the garage to repack my trunk, the contents of which I pulled out last night finding stuff I never knew I had.

Yesterday I pumped up the tyres of my beloved bike and relocated a couple of bookshelves.

Tory's bedroom has become my office. Most mornings I go there, shut the door and turn on one of our small heaters and work on the computer until Chris gets up an hour or so later. When the sun rises around 7 am, it shines through the window making it a glorious place to be while the rest of the house is cold.

Friday we have a guy coming to discuss installation of two new split-level, reverse cycle airconditioners that will make heating the place a bit easier. They will also be handy for the hot weather when it hits in the next couple of months.

Tomorrow Christina is off to the hospital to complete all the paperwork for her return to work on 21 August and I'm off to Meredith's place to install some blinds. It's all go here.

We won't be really settled in our house until our container arrives on 13 August with our lounge and spare chairs and some additional clothing.

Before we know it it will be Christmas.

Stay well and if you are on holidays from the UAE, enjoy the rest of your leave and have a safe return journey.


PS: We found out recently that there is a Northern Territory election on 9 August, so we are having to get up to date with local political issues so we can cast our votes for the best candidate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wonderful Homecoming, but Cold!

After an interesting three weeks at Durban, Stellenbosch and Cape Town in South Africa, it was good to feel the wheels hit the Alice Springs Airport runway at 4 pm last Saturday.

As we approached from the west, it occurred to me that Australia is so large, with most of the land being inhospitable and not much good for anything but flying over. Thousands of kilometres of nothing.

At one stage I imagined how we could move Israel to some part of outback Western Australia and let the Israelis live peacefully in our centre. Unfortunately, the religious artifacts that are part of their problem with Palestine and their extensive history couldn't be moved, so it's not likely to happen real soon. And maybe they wouldn't want to come here.

I also solved the problem South African whites have in not wanting to live in a country where the infrastructure and systems are declining and crime is increasing rapidly; they could leave the country to the blacks by moving all whites to Australia (anyone with criminal records, no useful job prospects etc excluded, we have enough fools of our own). There's not very many of them and we'd pick up some excellent talent and some really good people whose culture is similar to ours.

As a trade-off, we would give each of our 300,000 Aborigines a million dollars and send them to South Africa where they could be surrounded by their close relatives and live a life of luxury free of the scourge of the white man (The AUD buys 7.? SA Rand, so we could even reduce the million substantially).

That way, the problems of Aboriginal society and the huge, ongoing burden to Australian taxpayers would be eliminated. Australia could truly "Advance Australia Fair".

Of course, all dreams come to an end and when I came back to reality, I realised how ridiculous these ideas were. Probably no less ridiculous than the Australian Government's recent claim that it needs to set up yet another government department to administer indigenous affairs. Ho hum, I can recall at least four in the last 20 years that were said to have failed miserably, two of which I spent 15 years of my working life with.

Alice Springs Airport from the air is unimpressive with flat, sandy country with stunted (arid land) vegetation. Despite that, it's a nice township with generally friendly, good natured people and it's a nice place to live and bring up kids.

Our kids, now 33 and 30 respectively and our grandson Tory met us at the airport and we travelled home for the first time in two years finding our house, four wheel drive and other stuff much the same as we had left it.

We have much to do to resettle, but we've made the first step and all we have to do now is cope with another couple of months of freezing weather (after the 50 degrees of Al Ain) and we'll be fine. Actually it's only freezing at morning and evening ... the days are sunny and warm.


Friday, July 04, 2008

G'day from Cape Town, South Africa

G'day from Cape Town, South Africa

Working at the Al Ain Women's College for the past three years has had one particular peculiarity that I thought of recently. That is, when the summer holidays begin, most of your friends (HCT and elsewhere) head off to exotic international destinations in a variety of different airlines from Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Expats really are a spoilt bunch.

I've never worked anywhere else where, as soon as the summer break begins, everyone heads off to an international destination. Like rats off a sinking ship. Or in this case, people wanting an escape from the 50 degree heat, the strictures of the local culture, and of course, take the opportunity to see loved ones and old friends.

Christina and I have done more travel in the past three years than we have done in our lifetimes. Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Scotland, England, Cyprus, Jordan, Syria, Holland, and now South Africa. This time will be different though.

Instead of returning to our UAE home and our friends and colleagues, we will finish our journey at our Australian home ... a spacious four bedroom house in one of The Alice's best streets with a view of The Gap and the pristine MacDonnell Ranges, sparkling blue skies, and a very laid-back lifestyle.

I wonder how very ordinary it will seem after being a globetrotter for these past three years. Alice Springs with 25,000 people and 1500 km from the nearest city compared with Al Ain with 400,000 people and Dubai and Abu Dhabi a stone's throw away or Muscat a little farther. Will we find it a disappointment?

I'll tell you later, but right now I have to help Christina plan our tours of the Stellenbosch vineyards and go for a steak dinner at the Protea Hotel's restaurant. It's a tough life, but someone has to do it and who better than an ex-expat?