Exploration has begun.
Beyond than the banalities of activating our bank account, registering at the medical centre and investigating the purchase of Australian sim cards at Telstra, we have made discoveries around Albury.
Friends had recommended a local church to check out on Sunday morning. The meeting took place in the main hall of a high school and we were given a thoroughly warm welcome, which extended to a lunch invitation. The meal was a picnic to the east of town at Lake Hume Village [probably worth keeping Google Maps open during all blog readings], next to the impressive Hume Weir. Among the food on offer was a whole hot chook (chicken) - good purchase. As per usual, the sun was beating down with some intensity, although we have now learned to apply sunscreen even when driving, as the rays can burn you through the glass. Later in the afternoon, we reconvened with a few members of the group for a swim in the Murray River at Mungabareena Island. The water is fairly rapid so we used sausage-shaped floats known as woggles/noodles to keep our heads above water. One lap was enough for me - hidden tree stumps and the mysterious squelchiness walking up the return bank made sure of that. Fish have rivers and we have swimming pools. I will continue to abide by those boundaries.
Every time we open the front door in daylight hours, we are greeted by the sound of a hundred pneumatic drills. Up in the trees are creatures called cicadas, who seemingly live to make noise. Imagine our harmless crickets - but on steroids. You're halfway there. Go to their Wikipedia page and you can listen to a recording of their racket.
Tennis has dominated the sporting agenda since we landed Down Under, with the Aussie media lending typically strong backing to their home hopes at the Australian Open. For a fortnight, Sam Stosur, Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt push the cricketers off the back page, although as I write this, Hewitt - the last Aussie left in - looks to be on his way out against Novak Djokovic. Matches go on well beyond 11pm most nights, so we've been pretty late to bed more often than not. I couldn't quite keep myself awake to follow the weekend's football back in England (the majority of games start at 2am our time) but I have found a brilliant website which shows the highlights, as they appear on Match of the Day. I knew I would miss watching football live - both going to games and watching on TV - but I can stay up to date fairly effectively. Twitter coverage of the trial involving Spurs manager Harry Redknapp will also command my attention over the next two weeks.
The house is starting to look more like a home, thanks in part to the number of our photos plastered to the front of the fridge-freezer. The largest exhibit is a 2012 calendar featuring the smiling face of our nephew Haydn (top left), who has played an enthusiastic part in several Skype calls since our arrival. It is brilliant to have such an array of friendly faces surveying the kitchen. We would have even more, but the camera we carried around with us before Christmas has been stolen, along with approximately 80 pictures. Therefore, we are on the hunt for replacement snaps and you can help by posting or emailing some of you. The aim is to cover the whole fridge, so get sending... I'll give a progress report further down the line.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNT ABOUT AUSTRALIAN FOOD
*Peppers are called capsicums
*Vegemite is nothing like, and far inferior to, Marmite. It looks like chocolate spread.
*Weet-Bix is the 'breakfast of champions'
*Sweetcorn is called corn kernels