Monthly Archives: July 2014

Adaption

I’ve mentioned before that moving abroad in the way that I have is something that was a very alien concept to me. I like to have routines and know exactly what is happening and when, I like to know that I have a job to go to and friends I can call upon to do things with when I want to. Another thing I really liked about my old life was having all of the equipment I needed in order to cook the meals I had become accustomed to.

As a traveller, generally you will not have the money, nor the inclination to eat out constantly. This paves the way for cooking in the home or hostel you are residing in, but that means that you have to extend your ‘make do’ attitude to the things you are making because of the limited kitchen equipment you will have at your disposal.

During my first week here, while I was staying with Erin, I made pizza. Now pizza is one of those things which I have refused to buy from the supermarket since I learned how to make bread. This is largely due to the fact that supermarket-bought pizzas not only have a lot of salt in them, but they are also quite sickly to the taste and very unhealthy. It’s much better to know what you are putting into your food, but also for the food you are eating to actually taste nice.

photo 1

When I was fourteen, we made pizza from scratch in Food Tech at school. From then on I used to make pizza very frequently, putting my own toppings on and trying to make different types of crusts. I think my friends would say, it became a specialty of mine. When I was nineteen, I began working for Thermomix, and one of the first things I made in the Thermomix was the pizza, this included making the tomato sauce.

When I got to Australia, having been using a Thermomix for about 4 years, I felt a bit lost on the cooking front. I also found that the same things aren’t available here and shopping in Coles is different to shopping in Waitrose because everything is in a different place.

Eventually, I got together all of the right ingredients I needed, and took them home. I found the correct bowl and I kneaded all of the ingredients together by hand (which took about 12 minutes as opposed to the Thermomix’s 3). I then encountered my first real problem; the house was too cold for the yeast to work. Problem easily solved by covering the dough and putting it in the oven on a very low heat.

IMG_0118

The next issue that I arrived at was that there was no rolling pin. No fear, as this time we’d already had half a bottle of wine (… each) and the empty bottle could be used as a rolling pin! Hooray, perfectly rolled pizza.

Obstacle number three was the lack of baking trays. Usually I would combat this by using baking paper to cook the pizza on with the oven rack serving as a skeleton for the paper. We didn’t have any baking paper so I ended up using heavily floured casserole dishes, of varying size, for each pizza. I then decorated as accordingly.

IMG_0150

One thing I will say is that cheese is much more expensive over here, and isn’t as good. The mozzarella here is not sold in water as it is in the UK – it’s vacuum packed and isn’t made up in the same way so doesn’t shred as well.

The pizza was pretty damn fine, even if I do say so myself. Maybe I’ll put the recipe up for you sometime…

Another recipe I would usually do in the Thermomix is nacho cheese sauce (for nachos) because I like to make it with very fine pieces of onion, jalapeño and tomato. The base of the sauces is a white sauce, which requires constant stirring and whisking to make sure it’s a smooth as possible. It needs to have all of the flour completely incorporated so that you can’t taste it, so I would cook it for around 10 minutes in the Thermomix; on the hob it took about half an hour.

photo 4

One thing I will say I love about Coles, or Australian supermarkets in general, is the vegetable and fruit section because the avocados (well, produce in general) in Australia are amazing; they are always ripe so if you want to make something with an avocado, you don’t have to preempt yourself by a week in order for it to be ripe in time.  I bought the avocados and on the same day, I made an amazing, vividly green, guacamole which I can’t remember having ever made from scratch before. So, at the end of the day, I suppose it’s all about adaption.

 

A Seasonal Shift

 

photo

I don’t want to be predictable but I need to talk about the weather. It is cold in Melbourne.

The Northern and Southern hemispheres always experience opposite seasons which means Australia is currently in the middle of winter. I was aware of this before I arrived in Australia having spent a few months living with my grandmother in Queensland during July, August and September (Australian winter). What I hadn’t counted on though was that Queensland and Victoria experience very different climates.

At first, I reasoned that having arrived from English summer, it would probably just take me a couple of days to acclimatise – a bit like jet-lag. I decided that, because I am English, I won’t need to worry about a coat or even that many jumpers – how cold could it get in Australia? This is Australia we’re talking about.

I have been in Australia for two weeks and I am still freezing cold.

P1000312

I bought a selection of winter clothes and summer clothes with me, knowing that I will most definitely need the summer clothes come October, but I hadn’t counted on needing more than three jumpers (and the ones I packed aren’t particularly thick). I’m British; I don’t get cold when it’s 10°C. Spoiler alert, we’re living in a solid 6°C here and it’s not getting warmer.

Melbourne has a very changeable climate, which is largely due to its location between hot inland areas and the cool southern ocean. It is often said that Melbourne can experience all four seasons in one day and I have seen glimmers of this; it can be pouring with rain, bright sunshine, blue skies but freezing or snowing. This is the first time since 2005 that there has been snow in the outer suburbs of the city. What a time for me to move…

IMG_0067

In order to combat the winter, we have done several things. The first is to borrow a coat from an Australian (what a concept!) – equipped with the coat I can now venture out of doors – exercise, nature’s natural warmth. The next is to follow the warmth to establishments. Last week we took a trip into the CBD (city centre) and visited Siglo, a rooftop bar overlooking the Victorian Parliament building.

Siglo is perfect for winter drinks because even though it’s a rooftop bar, the area has a cosy atmosphere as well as being scattered with mushroom heaters. We sat on a little circular table facing Parliament House – gorgeously lit up at night with the Australian and Victorian flags flying above it. There were only two of us that evening, but it would be a great place to go with a group of friends as there are a variety of different sized seating areas and tables.

P1000358

Once seated, you are presented with what is essentially a novella of alcoholic beverages; champagnes, wines, gins, whiskeys, vodkas, rums, the list goes on. For what you get, the drinks are very reasonable. Hard liquor – another great way to stay warm! Erin also commented that the food is good, so we will definitely be going back to sample.

Houses in Melbourne are not well equipped for the winter months as most are built to stay cool in the heat of the summer. Unfortunately that means that when it’s this cold in the winter, the house is not just cool, but cooler than outside temperature. Most houses are equipped with duct heating, which is expensive the run and so under used. I therefore recommend plenty of scarves, blankets and jumpers; available from local ‘op shops’ (charity shops) reasonably cheaply. I also raided a couple of shops which has their winter sales on and came up with some bargains.

P1030616

On Thursday I will move into my new house  was built by an Englishman who made sure it was doubled bricked and triple glazed. Hopefully this means that the extra blankets I have will not need to be used quite so much. More on that later in the week!

 

Why Australia?

 P1020883My good friend Erin is an Australian, from Aldinga Beach in South Australia (near Adelaide), but I met her when we were both Au Pairing in Ascot in 2011. Erin is a free spirit; while she was in the UK she lived in a handful of different places whilst in London, including a barge boat and a flat in Bethnal Green with ‘jail-time stairs’ as she called them. After two years living in England it was time for Erin to return home.We stayed in touch from opposite sides of the globe and then I decided it was time to go and visit Erin in Australia.

On 26th December, I set off from Gatwick airport.

After a twelve hour delay in Dubai, and having travelled via Melbourne in order to get on the earliest flight available, I arrived in Adelaide and was reunited with my Australian best friend.

 The plan was to travel from Aldinga Beach to Hervey Bay during the two weeks that I was staying in Australia. My grandfather lives in Hervey Bay and I hadn’t seen him since my last visit to Australia in 2010, so a road trip really was the only way to play it, avoiding the expensee of flights or coaches.

I was in Australia for 15 days; we travelled 2,200 miles by car, through four different states, staying in four different hostels from the clean and airy to the downright nasty. I survived one bout of illness which almost had me in the local hospital along with nearly being carried out to sea in Byron Bay.

P1020783It was nothing like any holiday I had ever been before, but I hadn’t felt so relaxed in such a long time. Travelling along the long and sparse roads in Australia got me to reflecting about the way of life I could have out there. For the first time in a long time, I was relaxed; I wasn’t worried about things that we’re out of my control, and I wasn’t wondering what my future held. I was so chilled out man.

I decided that moving to the other side of the world wouldn’t actually be so bad. I promised myself I would go back, probably taking some time to save up more money so that I could do it in style. It was a far-off thought, I convinced myself it wouldn’t be immediate, that there was no way I could move imminently.

Through an interesting and exhausting course of events, I decided that the move was closer than I thought. On the 13th April, I booked my flight and started preparing for the next chapter of my life. As much as leaving my life in Ascot is, at times, totally heart wrenching, the natural progression of life suggest that this will be a good move for me.

P1030017

Australia is such a beautiful country; I don’t know how anyone could say that they don’t want to visit at least once in their lives. I have been fortunate enough to go to Australia 4 times in the past and now I will be living there for 1-2 years. I hope to travel around, find new experiences, meet new people and make the most of this opportunity I have made for myself.

I know I cannot help but be changed by the experience, so watch this space…