Things I’ve Learnt This Week

#1: Surprises are good.

We told no one over here (apart from the bride-to-be) that we were on our way over to Australia for our friends’ wedding and Sal’s dad’s birthday. We turned up on Sal’s parents’ doorstep in Melbourne at 8:30 AM the other Friday morning and just rang the doorbell.

“Hello”, we said. “We were just in the neighbourhood and thought we’d drop in…”

#2: The Aus Dollar is bloody expensive these days.

When I first came to Australia, back in 2001, the pound bought nearly 3 aussie dollars. This time I was getting only just over 2. Not that that makes a massive difference if you’re only here on holiday for a couple of weeks, but it might be a big deal in the hypothetical scenario that someone needed to transfer their life savings across in the future…

#3: 7 Years is a Long Time.

Real cutlery appears to have made a return for inflight dining. How times have changed: I can’t take liquids on the plane and have to have my shoes X-Rayed, but I can be given a real knife. Hmm…

In other flying news, on the way back from Melbourne to Singapore on the way home we were on one of Singapore Airlines’ new 777s with their upgraded KrisWorld inflight entertainment system (this is the same one that they’ve put in the A380). Even in economy, the seat back TVs are huge (10.6″, apparently), although the entire system did crash just after takeoff (just as I tried to select Reckoner off of In Rainbows to listen to, but I suspect that that wasn’t the root cause), resulting in the slightly surreal experience of sitting on the plane watching Linux boot up on the back of everyone’s seat. “Can you understand the computer language?” asked Sal as the seat in front of me verified its memory and allocated itself an IP address.

When it was back up, I watched the excellent No Country For Old Men.

#4: It’s hard to see everyone.

With such a short time here, and as we hadn’t told anyone we were coming (and therfore hadn’t pre-planned anything) we struggled to get to see everyone. I think we did our best. And anyone we missed we will see the next time we’re in town.

#5: It’s surprisingly easy to fill a 2GB memory card in the space of a week.

It may take me some time to upload the 500 odd photos I’ve taken while we’ve been here.

#6: Melbourne weather is not all it’s cracked up to be (and Melburnians don’t half like to talk about it…)

Let’s just say I needed my jeans a fair bit more than I would have expected to, what with it being “summer” over here and all (although the sun did finally choose to make an appearance for our final weekend).

#7: Racecourses Are Cool

With the F1 Grand Prix coming up shortly, the authorities in Melbourne had already set up the grandstand and other assorted paraphernalia around the Albert Park course. As this is simply a public road for the rest of the year, you can just drive around it. So I did.

Sadly the limit on the road had been reduced to 40KM/hour, but I still got a strange childish satisfaction out of driving our tiny hire care around underneath the hoardings.