Monday, 2 November 2009

Getting Settled

It’s now exactly a week since we landed in Australia and an immigration official reviewed our visas before greeting us with, “Welcome home!”. Australia didn’t quite feel like home then, but we’ve spent the past 7 days trying to make it so.

Our first and most important task has been to find somewhere to live. This can be quite daunting in a new city, but we had done a lot of research prior to arriving in Melbourne, and were lucky enough to have the assistance of a relocation agent, Helen, provided by my work. Her help was invaluable, and I had underestimated how helpful the assistance of a local would be. We viewed 9 properties in one day with Helen, and although we didn’t find quite the right property for us, we did come to the conclusion that Port Melbourne is the suburb that we want to live in.

Port Melbourne, as the name describes, is a costal suburb that is home to a sandy beach and Station Pier, the original landing point for gold seekers and settlers in the mid to late 1800s. Nowadays it is host to the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, as well as the odd cruise ship in peak season. Aside from the beach, we are attracted to Port Melbourne for the shops and cafes on nearby Bay Street, the waterfront restaurants, the well equipped gym, and the number 109 tram line which takes you to the centre of Melbourne in less than 20 minutes, plus has air conditioning!

We are continuing to view properties for rent in Port Melbourne, and have put in an application for a flat near the pier. We know that there is at least one other party who have also applied however, so please keep your fingers crossed for us!

The next task on the list was a job for Tom, and he had made considerable efforts before our arrival in Melbourne to set up some interviews. The first of two interviews that he had secured was last Thursday – 3 days after we arrived. By Friday lunchtime he had been offered the job and accepted! He will be working in brand strategy for a small consultancy firm with centrally located offices and very friendly colleagues.

The weather didn’t look too good last Friday, so we weren’t too sure what we wanted to do. Still on the “shopping list” after a flat and job for Tom was a car however, so we set out to scour the car dealerships and forecourts of Melbourne. Luckily these are all located on one street, which is convenient for those travelling on foot. We traipsed from place to place and looked at lots of different cars, before finding the car of our dreams... a Ford Focus!! (This might be quite amusing to those of you that knew we had a Ford Focus in the UK.) So we have shunned the Aussie brand Holden (sorry locals) in favour of our tried and trusted Ford. We will hopefully be collecting the car next week so will post some photos!

Melbourne is plastered with posters for This Is It – the Michael Jackson concert rehearsal film. Given that Tom and I had tickets for one of the concerts, we were really keen to see the film. Going to the cinema here made our stay so far seem less like a holiday and more like real life – it was one of the first “normal” things we’ve done in Melbourne compared to lots of touristy things. Needless to say, the film was captivating and what a show it would have been if Michael Jackson had made it to the 02. If you’re a fan, we’d recommend this film.

We might have missed out on MJ, but we aren’t missing out on X-Factor! This is thanks to the wonders of technology and the new verb in our lives.. “to sling” – meaning to capture TV on one side of the world, and transmit it via the internet to another part of the world. Before leaving the UK we purchased a Slingbox Pro, which is connected to a TV aerial and a modem at my parent’s house. The Slingbox receives the UK TV signal and allows us, from our laptops in Australia to log on to the signal and watch any TV channel we want! To solve any issues with time differences we have a hard disc recorder set up alongside our Slingbox to record the shows we want to watch. We can then playback at our leisure. An amazing gadget for anyone moving overseas....

As usual I’ll finish with a few photos, plus the news that Percy Pigs are not quite as exclusive to M&S as we might have thought! You may recall from an earlier blog entry (see “The cookie that made me crumble”) that my girlfriends bought me some M&S Percy Pigs to remind me of home. Well, as evidenced by the picture below, the Percy Pigs *did* make it as far as Australia, and have now been joined by a bag of Peggy Pigs from Coles supermarket! It turns out both are made in Germany... oh well!

Percy and Peggy - separated at birth?

Watching the 2009 Melbourne Cup parade through the city. No horses unfortunately - all the jockeys were in cars!

Tom chilling in the botanical gardens


Cake - they do it well here! (No I didn't eat all of that, or any of it!)

More cake!

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