Sorry have been quiet for a bit. I've been swapping countries. I'm now in a place where "Bread Pat" is the actor out of Seven and "Jungle Bills" is a Christmas carol.
Yes, I am now in New Zealand. Home of the Maoris, Crowded House and Russell Crowe. The first English speaking country to see the new day, the first country to give women the vote and last country I'll probably visit on my worldwide jaunt.
I arrived in Auckland a week ago, but lets rewind to the last few days in Oz.
After 1770 I arrived in Brisbane with the express intention of visiting Moreton Island after Lou's recommendation. Clearly my intentions were not sufficiently express as I'd left it too late to phone and the tours were all full. My fault, but a lack of signal in 1770 and a lack of accommodation in Brisbane meant my attention was elsewhere for a few days.
Speaking of accommodation, Cloud 9 in Brisbane, where I ended up staying, was a last minute choice, and I certainly paid the price for it when, really, I would have preferred them to pay me to stay there. Grubby, sweaty pits for rooms, toilets in darkness and a "DVD lounge" comprising a chair with no back and a sofa with clouds of yellow stuffing billowing from holes in the PVC. Both chairs were pointed at the TV in a rather perfuctory effort. The room looked like it had previously been used as an arena for fighting pitbulls.
Brisbane itself was like Leicester. Generic, unimpressive and utterly acceptable: one main high street with regulation McD's, HMV and Dick Smiths (Oz equiv of Dixons). So no Moreton Island trip meant no point in hanging around a town whose chief accolade was that it wasn't particularly awful.
Actually, since you ask, though not mentioned on this blog, I did visit Canberra before Christmas and although it attracts much criticism for being "dead" and "boring" and "dead boring", let me tell you, it was far more interesting than Adelaide and Brisbane put together.
I returned to Sydney two and bit days early and stayed in Claire's flat which, after the hoo-hah of wondering whether you would be sharing your room with a bunch of hard-drinking Geordies or drink-hardened Glaswegians, came as a relief.
When I put things down, they stayed put down. No one woke me up unzipping their rucksack into its 49,3287 constituent parts, and no one came into the room at 4am, turned on the light, and treated everyone to a lesson in how to take your jeans off whilst drunk.
Then it was back to the Pink House for a few days to be reunited with the my giant red suitcase, and triple the amount of pants and socks at my disposal.
On the Monday I was off. Goodbye Australia. Hello New Zealand.
Wizard of NZ
I arrived in Auckland about 6pm and grabbed the shuttle bus which dropped me at the door of the Browm Kiwi, my hostel, all being well, for the next couple of months.
Initially I was apprehensive as choosing somewhere to be your home for 10 weeks without actually seeing it is a risk. But luckily Chris's recommendation was spot on; the Brown Kiwi is clean, quaint, quiet and well-resourced and most of all friendly. It's almost a cross between a backpackers and a B&B, with it's huge kitchen table around which the "family" gather.
Its receptionist, despite talking of his "ex-wife", is clearly no stranger to the music of George Michael, and has a keen wit. He's like a cross between John Inman and Pete Waterman, and fires off one-liners for his own edification. When I commented the NZ money contains the Queens face, he replied with lightning speed "Oh, we all love a Queen in Auckland, darling".
Despite people's warning of the soullessnees and dinge of Auckland, I've warmed to it quite quickly. Not the best place for a tourist destination, but it seems fine for a base for a couple of months.
And so all that remains is for me to go through the ritual rigmarole of getting a job. The emails have been sent, the phone calls made, the agencies contacted. All I have to do now is wait. And if it's anything like Sydney, I should have a job by this time 2012......