From the Murray brothers to the Murray river. Two days ago, we were swamped by tennis fans at the Australian Open in the heart of Melbourne, and now we sit on the veranda at our new house in rural Albury, just across the New South Wales border. Without wishing to over-play the weather card, the heat is even more intense here, cranking up to 37C at times, which means it is just too hot for us to be out of the shade, even with sunblock on. The supermarkets have erected tent-like shelters to keep the sun off your cars, something Tesco will never have to worry about.
We travelled up here in the car with Rob & Jan, leaving Melbourne at 9am on Friday. I imagined the journey to be effectively one straight sun-baked road, passing little more than trees and scorched grass on either side - and I was right. Door to door, the trip takes about four hours and once you emerge from the Melbourne suburbs, there is little to see. In service station news, we stopped near Wangaratta and ate at McDonald's, which featured the Oz Burger (with beetroot instead of gherkin) and a terrific array of cakes in the McCafe.
Two of Rachel's new colleagues, friends of our exchange partner Kath, gave us a quickfire tour of the house when we arrived. Like most houses in Australia, it's all on one floor, although I'm not sure the term 'bungalow' is one they use. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. It's a good size and I think we will enjoy living here. There is a hanging windchime out on the veranda which reminds me of the Mel Gibson film 'Signs'. We are more at risk from spiders than aliens here, but it still sounds spooky. Although this is more of an audio feature, I have included a picture which shows the chimes and our back yard.
The car will stay in the garage as much as possible to keep it out of the sun. It's an automatic - as are the majority over here - so it took a little bit of getting used to, but I reckon I've cracked it now. We drove into town to sort out our Medicare (a bit like the NHS). It was more like a post office than a doctors' surgery but the lady behind the counter seemed satisfied with our documents and we ended up having a conversation aboout playing Battleships in Maths lessons.
For all the previous blog entries, we've been in holiday mode. Our time in Singapore and Melbourne was super-relaxed and it was a treat to visit the places we did. However, when we arrived at the front door in Albury for the first time, it was like crashing into a wall of reality, realising that we aren't hopping back on a plane to show off our tans, we are here to live, to do every-day stuff thousands of miles from home. Don't get me wrong, we are blessed to have landed a house like this and to have the sun shining down every day. But most of our friends are on the other side of the world and we are outsiders here, just finding our way.
Therefore, every time someone calls us on Skype, comments on the blog, sends us a message, it reminds us we are not doing this on our own. This is a big adventure for us, we will continue to keep you posted via the blog and we want this to be a two-way thing, to hear your news.
When we are watching Andy Murray in the tennis on Saturday evening, you'll probably be waking up to start your weekend. Send us your breakfast news. I had sausage, eggs and toast this morning, while Rachel opted for the eclectic mix of cream cheese, cucumber and sweet chilli sauce on toast. Strewth.