As we descended towards the runway, I felt like a Japanese tourist who had never seen wide open, empty space before. I was fascinated, mesmerised even, by the beauty of the flat, grassy paddocks that lined the runway. I felt compelled to get off the plane and race over to the green and brown plains. I wanted to roll around in the lush, green grass like I did as a child. I was overwhelmed by a desire to take my shoes off and feel the cool, soft greenery beneath my feet.
The fasten seatbelt sign, which was still lit, fortunately brought me out of my slightly manic, 24-hour flight-induced state, so I could exit the plane like a normal person.
But while the urge to make snow angels in the grass subsided, not even the queues at immigration, baggage collection and customs could wipe the happy-as-a-pig-in-mud smile from my face.
After a week had passed, I’d well and truly left my inner-tourist behind and felt more like Darryl.
For the first time ever, I embraced the peace and quiet of Albury-Wodonga, the self-proclaimed “regional city” on the NSW-Victorian border where my family lives.
Each morning I jumped out of bed, flung open the curtains and the window and thought to myself, ‘How’s the serenity?’
Waking up to the smell of gum trees and freshly mowed grass and the sound of kookaburras is truly refreshing and exhilarating when you have been away for so long. And it’s a far cry from the sirens, planes, buses and pollution that I woke up to in London for the best part of two years.
Sure enough though, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to miss London and its hectic lifestyle, and be longing for a new adventure. But in that precious time back at home, embrace your ‘newly discovered country’ loving ways.
Seeing the beauty of Australia through the eyes of a tourist, or the naivety and innocence of a Darryl Kerrigan, is just one of the many great lessons you learn from living overseas.]]>
I saw the house where Bernadette Soubirous lived. Bernadette, who was canonised in 1933, many years after her early death at 35 in 1879, is said to have seen Marian apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary when she was a girl of 14 in 1858.
While sceptical of such matters, I nonetheless was attracted to Lourdes, a town of 15,000 in the lower Pyrenees with a cool climate. A popular destination with pilgrims, it has more hotels than any other city in France outside of Paris.
I stayed for several nights in a modest bed and breakfast when one day I was struck down with very severe abdominal pains which left me unable to stand. I had to be helped to a local medical centre where my lack of French was soon very apparent as the staff had virtually no English and I had made the brilliant mistake of leaving my French phrase book at home.
Lourdes help me!
After hours of tests they put me in an ambulance to be taken to the big hospital `Centre Hospitalier de Bigorre` in the nearby larger airport town of Tarbes.
It was there my frightening experience began as none of the nurses or even the doctor or surgeon could seem to speak any English. The infirmières (nurses) is their white ice cream trouser suits were pretty and sympathetic but there was little or no verbal communication due to the language barrier. The same held true even for senior doctors and surgeons. The one device which came to my rescue was my laptop with its translation tool. The Spanish doctor seemed very keen, over keen in fact to cut me open and take out my gall bladder, at which I balked. I declined much to his dissatisfaction and opted for a course of antibiotics.
The first two days of my treatment for the suspected gall bladder infection involved being hooked up to innumerable intravenous drips. I felt more like a pin cushion than a patient with bags of fluid rehydration salts, antibiotics, antidiarrheal solution and goodness knows what else. I had to carry these drips bags attached to a pole everywhere I went and even sleep in them. I managed to do some typing using one free finger.
I hadn’t eaten for six days and was not even allowed orange juice or coffee with milk. I was constantly biliously vomiting and purging and the sight of yellow bile in the toilet bowl was alarming as it is reminiscent of those awful water borne diseases cholera and dysentery.
It looked as if the anti-biotics weren’t going to work and that meant surgery. I wasn’t too brave at that proposition – especially as the Spanish Doctor was extremely anxious to go ahead with an operation – for what reason I know not – he was a real Mack the knife.
Room with a view
I had the consolation of a comfortable room in a state of the art hospital and every morning I had a splendid view of the snow-capped Pyrenees which go up to about 11,000 feet high and form the traditional border between France and Spain. By contrast the Australian Snowy Mountains only go up to a maximum of around 7,300 feet.
The young French nurses in their neat white trouser suits were pleasant and charming though we didn’t communicate language wise too well. Unfortunately, the same went for the French doctors and surgeons who spoke virtually no English. It has made me realise how limited my French is – apart from the lyrics of songs by Mireille Mathieu, Jeanne Moreau and Juliette Greco – an ancient `O level` in French and a few excerpts from some well-known French films I’m afraid I struggle with even basic conversational French.
So what would happen when the doctor came round that morning and decided the anti-biotics hadn’t worked? It looked like a straight choice between surgery and its risks or a pilgrimage back to Lourdes – which is 20 kilometres distant from Tarbes.
Young doctors of old
I started to think of the Aussie dimension. Readers of a certain vintage will remember the long running series `The Young Doctors` which reached 1,396 episodes (then a record) and spawned numerous fan clubs and humorous imitations and was seen worldwide. It was named ‘Los Jovenes Doctores’ which had a brief stint on TVE1 shortly after the launch of Morning television in Spain. In France it was aired as ‘Jeunes Docteurs Pour La Vie’ (Young Doctors For Life) on France’s second national-wide channel Antenne 2 at 08:30 am, from 21 March 1986 until February 1988. The Series was also broadcast in Trinidad, Barbados, Angola, the Netherlands and Canada.
Apparently in the making of the series the nurses injected their needles not in to people but in to oranges! I only wish they had done that to me in my real life young doctor/nurse situation. Those intravenous drips were murder.
I wonder what nasty Dr John Forrest (Alan Dale portrayed him and who went on to star in `Neighbours’) of `The Young Doctors` would have said and would his nemesis Sister Vivienne Jeffries (Diana McLean) be sympathetic and feminine or bossy and unfeeling with some gibe like “Get a grip on yourself.”
I actually got in touch with Diana. She is quite a character – very exuberant and always laughing and joking and still very active in her 70’s. She recently toured Australia in a production of the play `4,000 Miles` travelling as far as Darwin in the Northern Territories and going on a helicopter flight over Ayres Rock on the way. Her character in the `Young Doctors`, the no-nonsense Sister Vivienne Jeffries , frequently had clashes with the big, bullying Dr John. She would stand up to him and say “Have you been upsetting my nurses again?” and then slap the big rugby playing intimidator in the face.
Diana also appeared in `Boney` in the early 70’s and as a schizophrenic in the classic 70’s sexy series `Number 96`. She also played the part of `Bess O’Brien` in `Neighbours` and was the lead role in a film called `Early Frost` which despite initial bad reviews has gained some credibility in recent years.
When I contacted Diana she expressed great concern for my predicament being in a strange country and not speaking the language and arranged for a bilingual friend of hers from the area to phone me up and help me with my translation.
Well wishes from Aussie legends
I also had messages from actor Allen Bickford who played the thug `Collins` in the 1981 film `The Killing of Angel Street` starring John Hargreaves and directed by Donald Crombie. He was wishing for my recovery as well as he had been ill in his Queensland home not too long before. He has appeared in roles as diverse as `Man at the Top`, `Homicide`, `Bluey` `Jason King` and `Matlock Police`.
I had compliments from Mercia Deane Johns who has been such a robust part of Australian Cinema, Theatre and TV for 40 years. She appeared with Richard Moir in `Heatwave`, Bryan Brown in `Winter of Our Dreams`, in the comedy `Chances` `Home and Away, `Blue Heelers` and last year’s hit `Last Cab to Darwin`. She is currently busying filming but found time to send me all the best for a speedy recovery.
I even had a get well card from Tony Bonner who many of you will remember as the helicopter pilot Jerry King in the long running children’s series `Skippy` which sold all over the world even in the old Soviet Union. A really nice guy, he also appeared in ` Matlock Police` `Bluey` and the film `Money Movers` as well as the series `Anzacs`.
Roving reporter John Pilger sent his regards too – he was in Australia at the time and is now on his way to America to finalise his latest documentary on the coming conflict between the US and China.
Clare Binney who was one of the stars of the 1976 classic `Don’s Party` playing 19-year-old student Susan sent good wishes as did editor of this website, Australian Times’s Bryce Lowry.
The only thing that was missing was Judy Davis appearing in my room as a singing telegram – still you can’t have everything.
There was no doubt the many good wishes from Down Under lifted me.
On the mend
As I looked out the window at the majestic Pyrenees mountains which from the natural frontier between France and Spain I reflected on how maybe the situation was not as bad as I had first feared.
I was going to live and maybe meet some of these Aussie stars in person – well, I have met John Pilger many times and corresponded with the others over a number of years.
I suppose you have to laugh at the ludicrous situation of falling badly ill in Lourdes of all the places in the world.
After a week of successful antibiotic treatment, I was allowed to leave and though still feeling weak and tired and looking very pale, I rested a few days in a guest house in the pleasant town of Tarbes with a landlady who could speak some English.
I then I made my 1,000-mile journey (largely by rail) from the Pyrenees back home to the cooler, damper climes of Edinburgh via Bordeaux, Paris, Calais, Dover, Folkestone and London.
The number of the platform of my train to Edinburgh at London’s King’s Cross station was platform zero – what a number! The platform that doesn’t exist! The ghost train or whatever train it was got me back home.
Thank you, Aussie stage and screen
I’m glad to be alive and still able to write and I’d like to say to all Australian film, theatre and TV fans – don’t knock your home grown talent, it’s really very good.
In recent decades as Australia has become more Americanised “I reckon.” has become “I guess.” Well, I reckon Australian cinema – especially that marvellous new age period of the late 70’s and early 80’s – are all well worth watching or having a second look if you haven’t already seen them.
Finally cheers to Clare, Tony, Diana, Allen, Mercia, Bryce Lowry and John Pilger. I guess… no, I reckon, Oz saved my life in the Pyrenees.
TOP IMAGE: Via Shutterstock.com]]>
“We wanted you to be the first to know that the five of us are planning to do some gigs in Australia and overseas during 2017. It will probably be at least the end of this year before we know exactly where or when,” a post on The Oil’s Facebook page read on Thursday.
“We know it’s been a while but we wanted to tell you that the five of us are finally making plans to get together again for some gigs next year,” the statement on the band’s official website says.
“We’re looking forward to hopefully playing overseas and touring our homeland for the first time since 2002.
“We won’t know exactly when, where and what we’ll be doing before next January at the earliest so in the meantime please just ignore any rumours. Unless and until you hear about something from us you can safely assume that it’s not yet confirmed.”
Midnight Oil disbanded in 2002 after more than two decades of touring and chart success, both in Australia and abroad, with seminal albums such as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining.
Lead singer Peter Garrett pursued a career in federal politics, becoming a senior minister in the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments from 2007 to 2013 when he announced he would not seek re-election. Meanwhile, the other four members of the group pursued various other music projects, regularly collaborating.
According to the band’s website, Peter Garret will be releasing a solo album soon, marking his first return to recording since the last Midnight Oil album, 2002’s Capricornia.
Midnight Oil reformed breifly in January 2005 to perform at the WaveAid benefit concert for victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The band also came together in March 2009 to headline the Melbourne half of the Sound Relief benefit concerts, raising money for vitims of the previous month’s disasterous bushfires in Victoria.
Oils fans will just have to wait and see if there is a particular motivation for the guys getting together again this time around, or if its just to make some good music again. Will there be another album? Does “some gigs” overseas include London, or perhaps even Glastonbury 2017?
Transferring money overseas is something Aussie expats are very familiar with. The experience can often be slow, stressful and a bit of a money-sucker.
That’s why Australian Times has teamed up with OFX to provide our readers with a money-saving alternative to international bank transfers. OFX.com is great for comparing the Australian dollar with the British pound, Euro, US dollar and many other major international currencies worldwide.
Use the OFX Currency Converter here (on the right) to view live exchange rates.
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It also looks like a subject Jullien’s quite fond of: Brightside reported that his favorite subject is the ways in which modern society’s increasing dependence on phones and social networks is often interpreted mistakenly as signs of a real connection between people.
In the illustrations below you will see him mocking technology users in a wonderfully sarcastic way and you will be able to relate because we see it around us everyday – (we’re all culprits in some way or another in any case).
Check it out:
With round one coinciding with the AFL Europe Anzac Cup in France, a handful of AFL London players were absent, representing Australia in Villers-Bretonneux.
Despite missing a few players the Demons were off from the bounce, being on top in the midfield and making the most of the clean possessions going forward to Geoffrey Rouse.
The first half had the Wildcats on the back foot, with the ball being repelled by Lloyd Williams and Max Renfrey out of the backline but the Cats struggled to get the ball past half forward.
The ferocity was just as intense heading into the second half with a few big hits having the crowd excited and on their feet. A lot of back-to-forward passages from both sides lead to only a few goals being scored.
With not much in it going into the fourth, Wandsworth dug deep and put the game beyond doubt. Demon, Kevin O’Brien made his mark on the match by slotting four of the 11 goals.
Some good, solid football saw the game eventually run out 17 points in favour of the Demons, presenting themselves as the benchmark side early in 2016.
WEST LONDON WILDCATS 8.5.53 def. by WANDSWORTH DEMONS 11.4.70
West London Wildcats 8.5.53 def by Wandsworth Demons 11.4.70
Putney Magpies 3.7.25 def. by Wimbledon Hawks 9.6.60
North London Lions 12.9.81 def. London Swans 6.4.40
Shepherds Bush Raiders 8.17.65 def. Clapham Demons 2.2.14
North London Lions 7.6.48 def. by London Swans 7.7.49
Ealing Emus 2.6.18 def. by South London Demons 7.5.47
Wimbledon Hawks 5.7.37 def. Putney Magpies 4.5.29
South East London Giants 5.8.38 def. Reading Roos 3.6.24
Photos: Danny Radis Photography]]>
At 43 years young, Schwarzer is the second string keeper for the fantastic Foxes, whose fairy tale came true on Monday when they became champions of English football (soccer).
Not only that, but he also earned a winner’s medal last season as a back-up keeper for Chelsea.
Remarkably, Schwarzer did not start a single premier league match for either club during their respective championship runs. He did start for a number of FA Cup and League Cup matches however – typically where the back-up lads get a run.
It also makes him the only goal-keeper in league history to win consecutive titles with different clubs.
Leicester City were crowned champions when their only remaining rivals for the league, Tottenham Hotspur, were held to a 2-2 draw by Schwarzer’s former club Chelsea on Monday.
After gaining promotion again to the Premier League at the end of last season, Leicester’s team of misfits and has-beens started the 2015-16 season at 5000/1 odds with some bookies to win the title.
IMAGE: Mark Schwarzer in goal for Leicester City. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)]]>
Under previous UK Home Office guidance, the period between entry clearance issue and entering the UK could only be counted toward the qualifying period if the applicant entered the UK within 90 days of the entry clearance issue date.
In new UK Home Office guidance published on 25 April 2016, it changes the position so that the period between entry clearance issue and entering the UK can now be counted toward the qualifying period, regardless of when entry took place(so even if the applicant entered after 3 or 4 months for example). The days entered late will, however, form part of the applicants’ allowable 180 days absence in the relevant 12 month period, so it still gets taken into consideration, just in a more flexible manner.
• The time between the entry clearance being granted and the actual entry into the UK can be included as part of the continuous period in the UK.
• The absences between the date entry clearance is granted and the date you enter the UK are treated as an absence from the UK. This absence will form part of the 180 days allowed within the relevant 12-month period.
The UK Home Office, however, warns about the implications in the way absences are calculated by providing the following example; If you entered the United Kingdom 100 days after you obtained entry clearance and had a further 81 days absence during the remainder of that 12-month period, a person would have exceeded the number of absences permitted from the United Kingdom.
The UK Home Office guidance clarifies that an applicant does not need to provide evidence to demonstrate the reason for delayed entry.
For more information, please contact your BIC consultant.
www.bic-immigration.com or email@example.com
TOP IMAGE: Shutterstock.com]]>
This blaze of colour, while the tulips are in bloom, is Keukenhof in South Holland that also has the biggest concentration of draining mills as well as the famous Falcon in Leyden, mostly overlooking canals and rivers linked to the North Sea. Yet the province’s western part is usually called the land of sand-dunes and bulb-fields.
All these attractions can be reached within an hour from the lively resort of Katwijk aan Zee that is old enough to have a Roman lighthouse. Fishermen’s cottages are a reminder that it once had the largest herring fleet in the Netherlands, and the local museum has the best fisheries exhibition on the coast.
Katwijk Museum also has a wide collection of seascapes and other paintings, because the resort has long attracted artists. They have their own gallery on the sea-front where Angela Robson, an Australian painter whose father lectures at Leyden University, is due to exhibit. (There is a Marionne van Katwijk who does seascapes on the Central Coast, NSW.)
From the promenade are paved paths through dunes to one of the largest beaches along the Dutch coast. Away from the stretch of white sands, Katwijk’s yachting marina is on a narrow, shallow branch of the Rhine.
It flows from Leyden through the ancient village of Rijnsburg where Spinoza, the Jewish philosopher, lived. His family had been expelled from Portugal about the same time as the persecuted Pilgrim Fathers fled via Hull to Holland before going on to America in 1620.
They dwelt in what remains the oldest building in Leyden (near the Saturday cheese market) whose 12 other museums include yet a third preserved home – the miller’s rooms inside the Falcon. One of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens is also in Leyden where the first tulip was imported from Turkey in 1593.
This semi-tropical garden by a winding canal is part of Holland’s first university that, founded in 1573, soon established a medical school with an anatomical theatre. Besides an exchange programme with Monash, the university has a south-east Asian faculty. Appropriately, there are 11 Indonesian restaurants in the Leyden area.
From the station, a special bus goes to Keukenhof, whose 32 hectares are a showcase for 100 growers of seven million bulbs. There are 800 varieties of tulips whose display is complimented by daffodils, hyacinths and orchids as well as carnations. Other blooms include 15,000 lilies of 300 types.
Rows of tulips and other flowers can be seen in the surrounding fields from Keukenhof’s windmill that once stood in Groningen. South of Leyden lies Schiedam whose five windmills are the world’s highest, led by the North one at almost 27 metres. In times past, there were 20, most of which ground corn for as many as 188 local distilleries.
There is an exhibition of the whole process at the rebuilt Palm-tree mill, while the Whale built in 1794 has a shop selling flour, sugar and spices. Almost opposite, across the Schie river, is the old Melcher distillery, now a museum, where you can watch mashing, and taste a dram of Dutch gin (40% proof).
Holland can be reached by either rail or air, but here is an alternative for avoiding possible disruption at Calais and Brussels or a total of six hours’ waiting, due to security, flying between London and Schiphol.
Virgin East Coast trains from London (King’s Cross) take about 2½ hours to Hull where a luxurious P&O car-ferry with 546 cabins, goes overnight to Europoort. The Pride of Hull and Pride of Rotterdam each has three bars and three restaurants as well as two cinemas and shops.
There are transfers into Rotterdam or northward to Amsterdam, and P&O even offers a £79 mini-cruise that allows a full day ashore, ample time to see Keukenhof or Schiedam. In fact, one could just about visit the latter as well as see the 19 windmills that drained the polder of Kinderdijk on the other side of Rotterdam.
For stays of at least three nights, choose one of Vakantiepark Koningshof’s three enclosed sites in Katwijk and Rijnsburg that include holiday chalets, caravan parking and camp-pitches. The facilities include launderettes, showers, swimming-baths and supermarkets (stocking cheese from nearby Gouda) as well as bars, takeaways, restaurants, TV, wifi, entertainment and excursions to Delft and Amsterdam.
Tennis and swimming, fishing and cycling are also available. The owner, Philip Kromhout, says that Australian back-packers also use the huts for four that cost 47.50 euros per night.
With thanks to:
IMAGES: JB Burke and Shutterstock.com]]>
As an Aussie in London specialising in Education Recruitment I often get asked by Australian qualified teachers – “where is the best place is to start?” Having completed your teaching degree in Australia you can start work as soon as you arrive. Teaching Personnel can support you to find full-time, or flexible day to day supply work. Did someone say Europe?
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By Joe Treadwell, Recruitment Consultant at Teaching Personnel]]>