Fearing I wouldn’t actually make it to Canberra in the worst turbulence, I clutched on with dear life to an extended friendly hand, peering out of the window at rolling hills and a rather odd shaped looking dam. Though I didn’t know it yet the dam would be close to my new home and even more stunning on the ground, yet high up in the air (aside from hoping I didn’t die) I couldn’t help but wonder where all the buildings were given that we were only 5 minutes from landing.
Skipping through the airport excited to be reunited with my long distance lover, S (as he will now be known in true Bond style), I noted that Canberra airport had all the markings of what would be expected from a capital city but none of the people. However this didn’t bother me, as I was only looking for one person who scooped me up and whisked me away to unpack and get ready for a traditional evening of Australian fun…er, Ocktoberfest.
Can “lets get fu@!ked up” berra
On the drive back a few things became apparent. Canberra was very flat, sprawling and had no skyline. In absence of tall buildings I started to panic, ‘where is everything?!’ I demanded of S, yet he assured me that there was a city, it just probably wouldn’t be what I’m used to. Hmm, I was dubious, and as we passed more and more houses that looked like they came from the same factory I started to wonder if I had entered some strange Stepford world.
Still, Ocktoberfest beckoned and as we approached the front gate a scene of utter carnage fell before my very eyes: vomit on lederhosen, staggering stein clad girls and one unfortunate chap who was being wheeled on to an stretcher with blood all down his face.
Now I must have stayed too long in nanny state Victoria as my brain started to bleat ‘how is everyone so messed up? whatever happened to the responsible sale of alcohol?!’. However such views were promptly silenced by my native Manchester brain which started to feel all warm and fuzzy, like i’d just stumbled across derby day in a pub in Piccadilly. They like to party, I think i’m going to like it here…
As two sore heads emerged the next day, S substantially more than I (owing to my steely northern blood), it was time to get ready for the farm. Stopping off at Lake Burley Griffin I was still concerned over a lack of buildings and felt sick with worry about what awaited me on the farm. I was well and truly out of my comfort zone with Melbourne feeling as far away as London, and as we drove up the driveway I started to cry.
An English Country Manor
My melodrama was however completely unfounded. The house, perched on a beautiful hill top surrounded by hills, geese and horses is owned by the loveliest couple who as it happened are British!
Take away the kookaburras and cockatoos and this could be an English country manor in the Oxfordshire countryside with BBC Radio 4 on tap and enough tea to service a small army.
Work started the next day with feeding the animals, cultivating crops and spraying a whole load of weeds with a quad bike, certainly different to anything I have done before. More would come in the weeks which followed from nursing baby chicks back to life, chasing baby pigs and building (then subsequently leaning on) a fence, which I am told is one of life’s great pleasures.
Though initially the quiet unnerved me I have grown to love my country life, the familiar gaggle of geese outside my window and being woken up by the cock with the dodgy crow (he sounds like he’s being strangled).
In many respects its a kitsch existence, very 1940’s, like the war is on and I’ve been evacuated to my Aunt and Uncles in the countryside, and with S regularly trundling up the driveway to whisk me away for picnics and BBQ’s in the city a very romantic one too.
But its not all work then lounging about, I still had my other goal to achieve once my farm work for the day was done, becoming an Australian lawyer.
Only a week in and I was leaving for the weekend to enrol at Sydney University, or Hogwarts as christened by S who insisted on humming the theme tune all weekend. Though more than happy with studying at Nottingham Trent a whole (gulp) nine years ago, I had always been attracted to the Red Brick University, though didn’t get the grades to go. On arriving on campus at Sydney, Australia’s oldest university, I was thrilled with the old buildings, student ovals and impressive law building. I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to study again and vowed to give it 100%.
So one month in my farmer law student gig is going well with fence building by day and federal law by night. And with the arrival of a French couple who are also working and meeting some of S’s friends i’ve had some company and my yearning for the buildings is slowly waning….maybe I am finding my country legs after all 🙂