Saturday, 5 May 2012

Hairnets and home truths: the blog is back

So, where were we? In the far south-western corner of Australia as I recall; walking on long piers, gazing lazily across sky-blue inlets and eating over-priced snacks in tourist-hungry coffee shops.

That all seems a long time ago now.

After a sleepless overnight flight from Perth back to Melbourne (boisterous football fans, overbearing stewardesses and two passengers who required emergency oxygen) we made the three-hour drive back to Albury while the sun was still rising. From holiday bliss to real life in the heavy blink of an eye.

And from Western Australia's Indian summer directly into the heart of autumn on the New South Wales-Victoria border. Leaves now crunch underfoot, the sun vanishes by 6pm - no real dusk period here - and our house is cold. Most of the time, it's colder inside than out. We have no radiators and this wood burning stove is our only riposte against the advancing chill. It's quite good fun building and feeding the fire of an evening, but the warmth emanates no further than the lounge. Fortunately, Rachel acted quickly and bought an electric blanket for our bed.

My shifts at the Danone yoghurt factory in Tangambalanga resumed following our return from WA. A week of night shifts (11pm-7.30am) took some getting used to, but moving to afternoons (3-11.30pm) this week has probably been tougher, as between Monday morning and Friday night, Rachel and I barely crossed paths.

The work itself has varied slightly from packing to taking yoghurt samples and learning the basics of how the machinery works. Of more interest, though, may be this picture showing the hairnet and earplugs we have to wear for the entirety of each shift. As there is no photography allowed inside the factory, the best I could do for you was to bring these home and look slightly foolish in the confines of our house.

While our holiday exploits served up some good pictures and tales to re-tell on this blog, I can now take almost as much satisfaction by dispelling the popular myth that 'the Australian pace of life is gentler than in England'. Nonsense. Bills need paying on both sides of the world and our respective jobs have left us hugely relieved to reach the weekend. Shift rotation does mean I'm on days (7am-3.30pm) from Monday, which should be kinder on the body-clock.


I was asked some great questions this week. They included: "Is Amsterdam in England?"

Seemingly all Australian stereotypes are accurate. Everyone greets you by saying "g'day", my supervisor (a gruff-voiced man in his fifties) wears Ugg boots and one of my co-workers was called a "flaming galah" for incorrectly loading boxes into a machine.

I write this blog on FA Cup Final day. Even stranger than having to get up at 2am to watch the action from Wembley is the fact that the Premier League season is not finished yet. Another tradition slides by.

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