We’ve officially moved!
Two weeks ago, a colleague of mine was so so kind and lent us his car for the day so we could move our ever-growing collection of belongings to our new place. His car is a Holden Commodore, a very Australian iconic kind of boat of a car. All our stuff fit easily in the boot (that’s UK/Aussie for trunk) and backseat. The most exciting part was Pretty Boy getting to drive on the left side of the road for the first time. I think I was way more anxious about it than he was. Every time we turned, I would say, “Ok, we’re making a left turn into the left lane.” “Now we’re making a right turn into the left lane.” But he was a champ and rocked it.
We’ve been at our new place for two weeks now. It is a HUGE, furnished studio room with a private bathroom in the backyard of a house in Dickson, three blocks away from the Dickson shops and restaurants and 5 km away from the ANU campus and city center. There is a woman that lives in the house, Cher, and three dogs, Moët (small, male, white poodle), Dom (small, male, black poodle), and Lulu (female, Chihuahua-like mix – smaller than the poodles but larger than a standard Chihuahua). We have a TV, mini-fridge, microwave, and kettle in the studio, but go into the main house to use the big and fully-equipped kitchen, laundry, and TV too. Its been a bit of an adjustment living in Cher’s house and sharing her space (mostly for often less-social me), but she’s super nice and friendly and has a lot of experience renting so she is making the transition easier. She even made us dinner a few nights. And Pretty Boy is making fast friends with the dogs!
It’s been so nice to really unpack and get things set up and organized. (I love organized!) When we moved in, all the shelves and medicine cabinets needed to be wiped off, the blinds needed dusting, and the carpet need to be vacuumed, but Pretty Boy was luckily still on Easter/ANZAC holiday so he was able to do all that shortly after we got there. We have a lot of storage space and not so much stuff so we were able to set things up in a nice and functional way.
Last September, my advisor offered to include some of our boxes in with his things when his household was shipped to Australia. I had a really hard time figuring out what to pack at the time, but in the end, I sent some cups, plates, dishes, flat ware, a cast iron pan, tea pot, clothes hanger, towels, sheets, a blanket, some school and other house things, and my food processor with him. My advisor dropped off the boxes a week ago, and it was crazy unpacking them and being reunited with our stuff after 7 months! And I’m happy to say, I think I did a really good job packing them. Everything has been either really useful to have or really comforting or both.
Though we haven’t been there long, our schedule during the week has been coffee and small brekky (Aussie for breakfast) in our studio in the morning and then we go into the house to cook dinner and lunch for the next day and eat dinner at the big table and chat with Cher if she’s around. We’re starting to think of Cher as our Australian mom – she asks us if we have enough blankets and tells us to be careful on our bikes and asks Pretty Boy to lift heavy stuff, things like that. Its comforting to know we have people like Cher and my colleagues at school to help us out if we need it.
The list of little things we need to get keeps growing (storage containers, hand soap, more hangers, etc.), but we’re getting into a routine, and it is starting to feel like home. I have a bunch of ideas for paper crafts to do to decorate our new little home, and I want to start getting houseplants and maybe something to hang on the walls. And more kitchen stuff! One step at a time.
Cher has four grown daughter who have all left bicycles at home, so we were borrowing bikes for commuting and getting around town. Its really made everything more accessible, since the alternative—walking or busing everywhere—took a lot of time. The commute to campus is a really nice 4.5 km ride down the bike path right to the university. Pretty Boy’s commute to his welding job in Queanbeyan, NSW is a rather more-involved 18 km ride past the Australian War Memorial, Canberra airport, and a motorsports park (WHAT!?). Helmets are legally required here, and there are lots of bike lanes. Its considered very bike friendly, but still, its no Minneapolis.
I say we were borrowing bikes because, while I am still borrowing a bike, Pretty Boy no longer is. We just bought a really nice, Giant-brand road bike from a researcher in my department who is moving to Malaysia and subsequently selling all his stuff. It was more than I wanted to spend on a bike for Pretty Boy, but exactly the type of bike (read nice and expensive) that he wanted. It is his birthday coming up later in May and the researcher offered us a pretty good deal on the bike (and a few boxes of other housewares thrown in with the deal—more kitchen stuff!), so even though it was more money than I wanted to spend, I couldn’t pass up the deal and the opportunity to get Pretty Boy the perfect birthday present.
Winter has just about arrived in Canberra, with temperature dropping down near freezing overnight. We are staying pretty comfortable in our new place. It has a gas heater that we usually turn on while we’re getting up in the morning and in the evening before bed. I needed a hat and gloves and some layers biking in this week, but the sun is out and temperatures still get up to almost 60 during the day. Its still winter, just a very different winter from what we’re used to. Unfortunately my office does not have heating so while 55-60 degrees outside is really nice for winter, 55-60 degrees all day sitting in my office is less nice for winter. I’m still working on dealing with that (and I just learned the facilities management is also working on it so we might get heat in the office soon). I’ll report more as the winter develops.