Close encounters

Today after a pretty chilled start we decided to take a break from filling our flat with stuff and instead took the bus to the mount ainslie nature reserve. It’s been gorgeously sunny and warm without bring hot today so it seemed like the perfect day for a hike. As we wandered along the trail we wove in and out of ecalyptus trees, she-oak trees and other scrubs. When we rounded a bend I was really excited to spot some kangaroo poop, so excited that I was still chattering about it when I walked around the next corner and almost WALKED INTO a kangaroo!!! It was just eating some vegetation and stopped to gaze at us imperiously,  clearly not too bothered by our presence.  In fact it loped closer to get a better look at us! Suddenly I realised  (it was all a dream?) that there was another kangaroo,  much smaller, next to it.  I stood transfixed,  delighted to see these animals in their natural habitat. After a while we walked on further, anxious not to disturb the wildlife more than necessary and WALKED INTO A WHOLE TROOP of kangaroos!!! 4, 5, 6, of them then more scattered across the mountainside in front of us. They all had a good look at us both and then with the roo equivalent of a shoulder shrug went back to nibbling the local flora.  So my partner and  i decided to join them: we got out our packed lunch and sat amongst these kangaroos eating. It was surreal. And awesome. And surreal. And awesome.  

Eventually we found our way back on to the main trail and hiked up to the mountain top. This walk was clearly “the place for Canberrans to be” on a sunny Sunday. It was swarmed with families and small groups if friends, all lycra-clad. In our jeans and t-shirts we felt a little put of place. But I can see why it’s so popular. The trail was clearly marked (but you could go off piste if you wanted to), there were really really beautiful views down across the city and the lake,  and a water fountain at the summit (brilliant idea). 

After taking in the views from the top we strolled back down via the war memorial and back home- debating the merits of memorialising war. We walked through the main car park where everyone else apparently starts their mount ainslie hikes and I was really glad we’d gone our own way (entirely by accident) and stumbled across some local fauna! 
(Pics to follow, we have limited Internet atm)

Poor little rich kid

So I know I’ve been bitching like a queen. But I’m mostly over my funk. We’ve had a small infestation of cockroaches in our new flat (so endearing). So today we bought bug traps and a couple of bug bombs (which were kind of awesome) and then we left the flat to wallow in its chemically goodness for a couple of hours.  In which time we bought more stuff for the flat. My God am I glad we have a partially furnished place or I think my bank might gave cried! 

When we got back the apartment was full of an interestingly chemically smell and a fine mist.  So we opened all the doors,  turned on the heating (to get the air moving) and sat in our coats in the balcony. However, my partner had discovered an excellent bottle of fizz reduced to the magnificent price if $7, a complete steal.  So we popped a Cork an watched the roach killing death mist disperse! Wonderful! (I had got out a couple of nightlights to set the scene… and then thought that the spray was likely flammable!) 

A Tragi-Comedy of Errors in Too Many Parts

Aaaaaannndddd deep breaths all round. We are finally moved in. For a year- hopefully. And possibly maybe more. Yesterday was insanely busy and I would love to say that I swanned through it with good humour and grace. But that would be an utter lie. I stomped through it like a teenager having a tantrum.

The day started fine with just the hum of background anxiety that’s standard when you have what feels like an awful lot of things to check off your list. We packed up our stuff with relative ease- we’re getting good at this now. Getting out of the flat with three large suitcases, one small one, two backpacks and four tote bags was a bit challenging but then again we’re getting well practiced at rigging ourselves up like mules. We caught a cab to the letting agency to pick up the keys. They were of course faffing around and still not quite ready (I swear I could hear the meter in the taxi ticking…). We got from there to our flat- the cleaner is there (even though we are later than expected and he’d had oh a week to do the cleaning). So we dump our stuff and get out of his way. We send some emails and get some lunch in town, catching the free public Wi-Fi- a reminder that we won’t have Wi-Fi in our flat for a while. We pick up some basics- turns out we need quite a lot of basics- the woman on the till looks at us like we crawled out from under a rock. At this point I’m still able to laugh.

We stagger home with our purchases. The cleaner has gone but the flat smells weird! We send some more emails and do scraps of work- and then decide to go get the bits and pieces we need from Ikea before the store shuts and work this evening when we have what we need in (HA! Such idealists….!). We bus to Ikea and have a wonderful stroll around the store. We check that they do deliveries and then load up with some heavy bits and pieces and EXCITINGLY some awesome bargains from the reduced section (those of you who know my partner will know that we spent more time in the bargain section than in the whole of the rest of Ikea!!). We pay and go to arrange delivery. Turns out they won’t deliver all our stuff, despite what we were told before. They don’t deliver the “little” things (our understandings of little differ somewhat), and they will only deliver our bargain $30 outdoor sofa thing if we pay $25 to wrap it (and then the $49 for delivery). I am starting to feel cross.

Amazing store working reveals an alternative option- we can sign up for GoGet (a kind of car rental thingy) and use one of their vans which is parked at Ikea- brilliant! We don’t have to pay for delivery and we don’t have to pay for wrapping. We sign up. We book our van. We take our stuff to our van, unlock and load. Feeling smug we drive away…. no, no, wait, we don’t. The van won’t start. I call GoGet- I spend an inordinate amount of time on hold (which given that I’m paying $14.00 per hour for the privilege of this van I’m a tad peeved about). The man on the end of the phone tells me the van’s battery is flat and that there are no other vans in our area. Ikea is now closing. We call a taxi company and ask for a big taxi, they won’t take our furniture. GoGet suggests we wait for the NRMA (the equivalent of the AA/RAC), with no other option we do. For nearly an hour. GoGet agrees to extend our booking and refund the cost (my blood pressure decreases). The NRMA quickly jump starts the van and we set off. The van won’t go over 50km, this is fun in a 60km area at commuter time.

We unpack the van, lug everything upstairs with bodies exhausted from hauling stuff around all day… (it feels like all week!). I get in the van to take it back. The battery is dead again. I call GoGet. I am now tired and fed up. Imbecile answers the phone and patronises the sh*t out of me. This is a bad move. Imbecile informs me I must wait for the NRMA again and then take the van back. I flatly refuse- because of this delay I will now miss the last bus back from Ikea. Imbecile says he’s sorry but I must. I refuse and ask to speak to a manager, or even the man I spoke to earlier (who had thanked me for being so patient the first time around). Imbecile informs me that there are no managers on any more, they have all gone home, and so has my previous buddy. I insist I speak to some one else. Imbecile leaves on me on hold for quite a long time (I feel this may be an error but I am TRYING to keep my temper). Imbecile and I eventually come to an agreement whereby I wait for the NRMA and move the car to a spot to be picked up by their fleet operators in the morning.

NRMA jumpstarts the crippled van again and I find a parking spot where it won’t get fined. I call GoGet to tell them where I’ve parked it, as per imbecile’s instructions. Another person answers the phone, I leave a message for imbecile. New person informs me I am responsible for taking the van back to Ikea. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. It is entirely possible I may explode with frustration at this point. I ask her to pass on the message and say that she needs to get updated on the long and frustrating conversation. Also apparently, NONE of the employees at GoGet can spell our road name. It’s not complicated. Also apparently, I don’t get good signal on my mobile phone in our new flat. Yay for extra fun!

So, you think we’re done?! Oh you fool! Exhausted we stagger into the flat. My darling partner goes out to get milk and a pizza. I start to unpack and unfrizzle the rage at incompetence. Partner returns with milk but without pizza- there are none he wants to eat in the store. We’ll get a take away. We find a takeaway and spend too long deciding what to order- take away is now no longer delivering. It is too far to talk. We look for alternative take-aways to deliver. #error:This is Canberra, things close early! I have now gone through the stages of rage, frustration and despair (because I am a complete drama queen) to feeling b*gger all- which is handy. We stroll into town for some food, I anticipate that all the restaurants will now either be closed or no longer serving- it is 9pm after all this fun and games. Fortunately- there is food. We eat some. We stagger home. Now, there’s time to get on with the work… actually, instead we disintegrate in front of Independence day with a glass of fizz (thank you darling!). (This weekend we will be working!). Christ, don’t make me do that again in a hurry!!

So, in true Shakespearean style will eventually, tortuously, and ludicrously killed off our enemies (imbeciles and mis-information). I just hope the sodding furniture is worth it! Pictures to follow.

nope

Social butterflies 

In addition to moving home, we’ve packed lots of social entertainment into this weekend. Friday night we had the neighbours of our previous home, on our last night there, round for dinner. They brought their sweet little dog with them and met my partner. We had a lovely evening with plenty of food, wine and chatter it was great. Saturday we packed up and moved into another temp apartment (See previous post) but topped off a pretty dull morning of tidying with a visit from my partner’s brother and his partner. They both live in Sydney and we wanted to show them that Canberra is better than people think. Although in some of our efforts Canberra did not help itself!  

We had dinner at The Bent Spoke, a microbrewery / all round beer place with great chips! Or “hot chips” as they’re known here.  We then walked across town to The White Rabbit,  which turned out was being used for a private function until 10, so we strolled into the area around the main uni here to test out The Wig and Pen which lots of people had recommended to us. It was closed. As we’re all the bars around the uni. Maybe it’s because it’s easter break but bads being closed  on a Saturday night is a bit baffling. We stumbled across a minimalist beer place, all grey walls, concrete, and wooden tables and had a drink. I can’t remember what it was called but I’ll try to look it up when I’m next in town. As it was now after 10, we went back to The White Rabbit, which was gloriously rowdy. And then wandered into the city centre to a first floor bar called Hippo Company, which did some interesting cocktails and provided great people-watching of the various groups and individuals coming and going through the plaza type area below. 

This morning we were all feeling a touch fragile and repaired to The Elk and Pea for some huge and quite costly brunches. I am now thinking I’m rather glad thus place has a pool and gym so I can try to work some of this booze and food off! 

Musical homes

Saturday we moved out of our previous flat and into a new one, for four days. We are now packing pros. I wasn’t looking forward to the change, we’ve done so much moving around over the last month (my partner even more do) that it’s left us feeling a bit… unstuck. I really liked staying in our last place, I loved the patio and plants in particular. Also we’re staying for these days on a much busier road,  slightly further from Braddon and the town centre, and more of a tricky journey into the office. So it was a pleasant surprise just how sweet this place is. The owners had left lots of instructions and a little basket if goodies. There is a balcony on both sides and a gym and a pool on site.  Some perks we didn’t know about. So I’ve tried to stow my bitching and reflect how lucky we are to be able to stay in these lovely places 🙂 and in 4 days we’ll be moving into a place longer term and maybe Canberra will start to feel slightly less like a place we’re visiting and more like somewhere we’re living. 

Munchies

I’ve got my first questionable bite!  Definitely not mozzie,  but so far my leg hasn’t dropped off and I’ve haven’t died or developed an instant allergy to wine or anything awful like that…. so I just need it to stop itching now!  I tried my mozzie relief cream on it… BAD idea! 

Candid Canberra

Some more piccies from around the city…

Clockwise from top left: The view this morning through the trees in what is unfortunately known locally as ‘Rape-y Park’, I actually have no idea what its real name is, but its lovely in daylight. A questionable piece of art from just outside my office door- is the naked lady breast feeding the cat? What is going on here? Why is it in my work place?! Stained glass windows at the National Library cafe. The jazziest fire engine ever! Seriously, how cool are they?! Cool/weird architecture at the National Museum.

 

In praise of bus drivers

I’ve ragged on the buses a bit since I’ve got here, for not being regular enough, particularly at the weekends, for being a bit rickety at times. By my goodness, are the drivers here lovely, lovely souls. Where British bus drivers seem to have a revolting level of glee about seeing you sprinting for the bus in their rear view mirror and pulling away just before you get to the stop, the drivers here are wonderful. I saw a bus pull up on the opposite side of the road that I wanted and pelted across, knowing it would pull away just before I could get to it. But it didn’t. When I got on the bus I thanked the driver who said “If I see you running I’ll wait.” And they do this for loads of people, picking people, especially the elderly up from spots just before or just after the stop to make it easier for them. They always, always greet you as you get on- ‘How are you going?’ ‘Hi there’ ‘How are you’- and I always now say hello and how are you- it just makes the day more human.

Another example, a bit involved, but bear with me. The other day, because the tap on/tap off card reader on the bus to work wasn’t working (happens a couple of times, the drivers just give you a free ride), my card had run out of juice for the return trip and there was nowhere on campus to top it up (this is the ridiculous bit-there’s barely anywhere you can top up in person which baffles me), so I had to pay cash. I’d been worried I might have run low so I’d gone to the cash point to get some money out, but there was a problem with my credit card (fun times with money abroad) so I hadn’t been able to get any. I had checked on the webpage and it seemed to suggest that I could pay by card on the bus (twice as expensive as the tap on/tap off rate) but obviously was happy to pay- it’s not a walkable home distance! BUT I’d read the website wrong, and you can’t pay by card, and I had no cash and no way of getting it out. Well, I had a little cash. The adult fare is $4.80 cash ($2 something with your travel card) and I had abut $2.60… And the driver dug around, found the 0.20 extra I needed to get a concession fare and let me on. Now in the UK I don’t know what it’s like everywhere, but in London- oh HELL no would that ever happen. It was just such a nice, small piece of kindness- which I thanked him for sincerely- and the next day put a large wadge of money on my card and set up auto-top up online so I won’t run out in future.

Anyways, I might be making too much out of nothing, but… these little bits make the world go round. And whilst I sit on the bus to work (which had initially felt like a bit of a ball ache) I actually really enjoy watching the world go by. Sometimes I get to watch these guys hanging out in their tree:

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Two of the approximate MILLION cockatoos here in Canberra.