The past three months has flown…
Well here I am. It’s been three months since my last blog post. Spider Boy and I
are moving back have moved back to Canberra. Yeah, I started writing this post in January, right before we moved!
In my previous post I wrote about the science of new year’s resolutions, I gushed about “…my exciting plans for 2016” and how I would catch you up “…in the next one or two days”. Well make that one or
two three months because here I am in MARCH APRIL! ANZAC Day in fact. But let me briefly catch you up.
Late December and early January passed in a haze of sweat, dust, stubbed toes, paper cuts, boxes, butchers paper, a shoddy tape gun and backaches. There was Christmas, New Year, family, friends and trying to keep Spider Boy amused between bouts of packing, and weather involving intense heat and extreme rain. There was too much screen time and not enough beach time. I’m sorry, Spider Boy.
Settling into a new life
I don’t blame my new, busy, full-time job for my lack of blogging since moving to Canberra. I don’t blame settling Spider Boy into a new school and setting up a home for us. I blame my Internet Service Provider and the faulty modem they sent me. Then finally, four weeks after “connecting the internet”, it finally worked! After numerous laborious phone calls to the call centre and a technician visit, we had Wifi lift off. But by then I’d lost my blogging groove.
Why am I in Canberra again?
For the past 6 years, since Spider Boy was was 2, we’d been living in Sydney, where I grew up, close to my family and long-time friends. But now it’s time to be back to the city Spider Boy was born in, where his father lives, so he can see his dad regularly. It’s the main reason I moved back. I wanted the logistics of my son spending time with his father, to be easier. And I also have good work opportunities here. And real-estate is a bit more affordable.
We have been promised lots of visits from our family and friends, and we have had some already, which makes us very happy. The time we spend with loved ones and the situations we see them in may have been reconfigured, but they are still in our hearts every day. And even though I feel a connection with Canberra, I’ll always be a Bondi girl.
Moving to Canberra was easier the second-time around
I may hail from a trendy beach-side suburb, but I was never the kale-inhaling, chain-smoking, bikini-top wearing type sitting on a crate outside the Paris Go cafe. But I did schlepp up and down Hall Street for 27 years. Three of those years were spent in a part-time job helping tourists and celebrities buy postage stamps, cigarettes, scratchies and bus tickets at Bondi Beach Newsagency. (I sold a pack of Camels to Noah Taylor once.)
When I first told my dad back in 2012 I was thinking of moving back to Canberra, he said, “But you’re such a Sydney person.” The ocean gets under your skin. The first time I moved to Canberra, I dreamed of the beach and harbour every night for months. But I haven’t had those dreams this time around. Maybe because moving to Canberra for the second time isn’t such a culture shock. But the first time it really was.
The culture-shock of the Capital
When I first moved to the Capital in January 2004, although I immediately loved the mountain vistas, wildlife and people I met, there were things I struggled with:
- the language – did everyone speak Acronym?
- no beach
- not being able to just run down to the beach
- the dry, baking heat of January
- dry dusty earth and gum leaves everywhere
- the reliance on cars
- the whole “town centre” concept with long stretches of road in between
- brutalist architecture
- weird 70s bus-stops
- unmowed grass hiding the “footpaths”
- The realisation that the Woden Plaza/bus interchange of the mid 2000’s was just like the Bondi Junction of my 70s childhood
I remember a visit back home to Sydney when I was pregnant with Spider Boy. I went to a Tupperware party at Señorita Margarita’s house. The Tupperware demonstrator happened to come from Canberra. “Yeah, I escaped” she said gleefully. I felt like hitting her over the head with her food storage solutions. Her glee at escaping served as unwitting mockery of where I now lived, and I felt resentful I had to go back there.
The beginnings of my Canberrafication
But then after I did leave Canberra almost 6 years ago, it gradually dawned on me that there were things I missed about this city with its developing quiet confidence.
I didn’t realise it until after I’d left, but I’d actually become a bit Canberrafied. And during my visits back to Canberra with Spider Boy, I realised I was missing:
- fresh air
- proximity to snow and rural areas
- mountain vistas
- the ability to park your car not only in front of your house, but on your own property
- green space and trees
- crisp and sunny winter days
- blossoming fruit trees in spring
- Braddon’s vibrant coffee culture and cool shops
- the burgeoning food and wine scene
- great little hidden-treasure suburban coffee shops
- the birds, so many birds
- kangaroos in surburbia and on the walking tracks that weave through the city
- hot air balloons slowly rising and descending on crisp Autumn mornings
- all the amazing national institutions, exhibitions and events
- farmer’s markets
- the great community feeling
And other things that make it a great place for Spider Boy:
- sporty places – bike paths, ovals, sports clubs, ice-skating rink, the Australian Institute of Sport etc
- educational opportunities
These lists just scratch the surface.
View of Telstra Tower from the National Arboretum.
So for the past few years, I’ve been promoting Canberra’s joys to Sydneysiders. On Christmas day I said to Señorita Margarita: “You have to come and stay in Canberra! To see us, but also to see all the things in Canberra. Canberra has things.”
“Oh, here we go, the Canberra has things speech,” she said with an eye-roll.
Converting family and friends (trying to)
Yes, the Señorita has come to stay and we are already planning her next visit in May. Friend Lou-Lou has stayed for a weekend, and my mum (aka BatGran) has also come to stay twice (and is here right now) even though she says she hates Canberra. I’m hoping to change her mind. Thanks for giving it a go Mum.
My Dad was also here last week. He got into the spirit of the Bush Capital by buying a sausage at the local Bunnings sausage sizzle and eating it in the carpark in his Akubra hat. He sees Canberra’s opportunities and possibilities. And whenever he visits he brings bags of my things that I didn’t quite get around to packing. Thanks Dad.
The Alexcellent Life was a little quiet for a few
weeks months while the actual Alexcellent life got settled. So it wasn’t entirely my ISP’s fault.
We are at the start of a new chapter, and it feels exciting. So here’s to our Canberrafication. But I’ll always have a soft spot for Bondi.
Bondi Baths. Photo taken by my clever and talented sister, Señorita Margarita. This hangs on my wall.