Happy Australia Day!

Apologies for my silence on the blog front - we've been on Kangaroo Island for the past week, which I'll write more about after I've uploaded a few photos.

I was thinking the other day about how I identify myself as Australian. This was because of the book I was reading on holiday (Barracuda) which has that as a bit of a sub theme. I think for me, I only realised how Australian I was when I went away.

The year I spent in London showed me in fairly sharp relief how different we were from the Brits. As modern Australia was settled by the English, and I myself have a fairly dull (non interesting migrant or even interesting convict) background of English forebears, I had thought given that as I'd grown up watching "The Magic Roundabout", "The Goodies" and "Doctor Who" on tv that there wasn't a lot of difference between us.


Isn't it nice they were all given OBE's in 2011?

The first hint I found of this assumption being completely incorrect occured at Heathrow when I had to queue up with the Rest of the World in immigration, despite having the Queen as our head of state. But more to the point after 4 months in London listening to steady stream of sugary pop on high repeat on the radio stations, I realised that aside from all the sayings we use that are particularly Australian (tell someone they've got "Buckley's chance", or that something was a bit of a "Furphy", or that you were "fossicking" for something, and be prepared for the blank looks in response), our music is also poles apart (just for a start).

After doing a bit of travel, I decided that despite the speed at which music moves around the world, every country has its own unique sound. One night, while out in London with some of my school friends from home, we went to a pub one of them chose somewhere in Soho. I was busy chatting and didn't pay a lot of attention to where we were. After a while, I became aware that the pub was playing great music - every song was fantastic. Then I heard this,



looked up above the bar and saw - Oh, the Horror- I was in an ex pat bar, and really enjoying it. The walls were festooned with Australian, New Zealand and South African flags and memorabilia. Far from assimilating so seamlessly with the native population, I'd clearly been craving home all along.

So, Happy Australia Day to all the Aussies out there reading, and hope you're all enjoying a lamington, BBQ or Pavlova in honour of our National Day

58 comments:

  1. I bitterly resent the rest of the world queue at Heathrow. If you want our soldiers in the Boer war, the Somme/western front and places like frigging Libya facing down Rommel's tanks in the 40s then you should give us a a special Commonwealth line. When my sister moved to Ldn in the 90s she couldn't figure out why a girl was so friendly…then she realised she was from NZ! Happy AD to you xxx

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    1. The Rest of the World queue made me a Republican - for all those reasons you mention. Quite a lot of the English people I met weren't happy about it too - they disliked the EU being given preference over the Commonwealth at immigration. Hilarious re the girl & your sister! xx

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    2. Just curious, as I've never been to Australia... on arrival is there a queue for Australians and then one for everyone else?

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    3. No! There's just one queue for everyone. Last time I passed through from overseas we were stuck behind a Japanese soccer team, who were all individually processed on some special (non tourist) visa... it took forever. There is now a separate lane for Australians with smart passports - they're a newer passport with a chip in them, and you scan the passport and the machine does a facial recognition scan with lasers to match it. Someone supervises the machine, and pulls you over if the computer doesn't feel you match up with your passport. It's quite a quick process, but as passports last 10 years it will be a while before everyone has one of them.

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  2. "As Australia was settled by the English.." What an ignorant and racist remark, and on today of all days.

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    1. I was referring to white settlement. I was not referring to the 40,000 years of Aboriginal habitation prior to Australia Day.... as Australia Day actually celebrates the arrival of the English on these shores. Your comment is unnecessarily divisive.

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    2. Additionally, there are better ways of phrasing a comment that puts your view politely, and if you'd offered an alternative suggestion to my phrasing that you personally find acceptable it would be more helpful than merely leaving an abusive comment.

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    3. Heidi - you are very gracious to publish the comments - many wouldn't bother. I have to say that lately I am finding commenting or writing posts a little bit laboured because a comment or phrase can be miscontrued at will or without context of the person. But then qualifying every comment can also be tiresome. But I think your regular readers know better! x

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    4. I have started deleting a few of late. Agree with you about misconstruing a phrase. I think the people that get upset and write responses like this don't blog, therefore are applying standards that they would have for a newspaper/ magazine etc. I write my posts very quickly, due to small children and a busy life, and am usually fairly tired when I do so. Sometimes things come out the wrong way. Sometimes I pick up a typo, rephrase something etc an hour or two after publishing the post - and often I don't. A bit of latitude from readers would be kinder. x

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    5. Do you think all those anonymous comments are from the same person ?

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    6. Mostly the same person, but there are a couple of others that have thrown in one or two in the last few months.

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    7. I don't understand where anon is coming from - the British colonized Australia, but everyone knows that the Aboriginals were there for thousands of years beforehand. It is similar to Canada, which was inhabited by Native Americans and the Inuit, and colonized by the French and later, the British. We still refer to France and Great Britain as our founding nations. Anyway, I would ignore the comment - very generous of you to publish it, most would delete it.

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    8. We tiptoe around Columbus Day here in A-MURR-ica, we now know that he didn't "discover" the Western Hemisphere after all but merely was part of a wave of greedy proto-imperialist exploratory expeditions. Yet we still have Columbus Day parades (accompanied by protesters) and Columbus Day Sales (v. few protests).

      I am trying to think of a country whose history does not contain troublesome and shameful times.

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    9. Laughing at the lack of protest of the Columbus Day Sales. Fortunately Australia Day seems to be reasonably inclusive, despite the date celebrating the arrival of the white man to colonise the country with a bunch of hapless criminals from Britain.
      Agree with you re the history too.

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  3. Happy Australia Day! Living in France for a year some time ago made me realise how similar yet different we are and I can therefore understand exactly what you mean here. Absolutely true too about music and countries having their own sound. I'm curious about 'Furphy' and 'fossicking' so I shall Google now.
    Have a great day!

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  4. Thanks Miss B! Furphy was the name on the side of the water tanks that carried water in the trenches of WW1 - so they carried rumours and gossip that was often incorrect. So if something is a Furphy it's probably not true. Fossicking is a mining term for rifling through something looking for the the gold (or whatever) - comes from our mining past. xx

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    1. Never knew that about furphy ..you are a mine of information

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    2. a mine of trivia you mean!

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  5. Happy Aussie day!! So funny because you are right about this evolving notion of being an Aussie. Because of my mixed heritage I am not your typical Aussie and yet there are parts of me that is so Australian. Like you I never felt Aussie until I came to London. Divided by a common language and all that. My father having left Australia in 1970 was like one of those English expats who live away but still remember the glory days and remains true blue so I think that is partly the reason. Although he never could make me say rubbish bin instead of trash can!! I also have been through that rest of immigration queue at Heathrow with resentment to be honest and I also voted for the Republic a decade ago. We get absolutely not rights except we do get to vote in the elections! xx

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    1. So funny with your Americanisms thrown in - I remember having a ridiculous conversation with a woman on a New York hotel desk. She literally couldn't understand me, and started speaking to me very slowly as if I was an idiot (things I asked included "where was the rubbish to go?" and also when I told her the bath plug didn't work. She had no idea what a bath was or what a rubbish bin was).
      You've also reminded me of friends with Italian heritage, who told me that their father (born in Australia in the 1940's, but the household spoke Italian at home) is treated like an alien when he goes back to Italy as he speaks fluent 1930's Italian to them all. xx

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    2. Reminds me of my brother's 3rd ex wife. She came from a White Russian family that escaped the revolution through Harbin and Hong Kong and finally made their way to Australia. She was born here of course and had never been to Russia although they always spoke Russian within the family. Some years ago they all got together and with friends and other Russians chartered a plane to take them to Moscow. They came back reporting how rude and nasty everyone in Moscow and St Petersburg was. It turns out they were still speaking the Russian of pre-Revolutionary times and were immediately identifiable to all Russians as emigres. People apparently resented that they'd had it easy in Oz and escaped all the terrible times of purges and famines and war. She warned me to expect really nasty people when we were visiting, not much later. But it was completely different for us as Anglo-Aussies (carefully phrased, I hope). People everywhere (except a couple of airport officials) were friendly and helpful - and one man told us it was his dream to visit Oz.
      Belated Happy Australia day! We didn't do anything very Australian, except in the evening finished off with a grilled steak sandwich with BEETROOT (not at Maccas - that's another puzzle for overseas readers).
      But we saw the most wonderful movie (Italian) I've seen in a very long time: "The Great Beauty". RUN DON'T WALK!!!! Pammie xx

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    3. Ugh - sadly I never manage to get to the movies. Think my record is about 1-2 a year at the moment. But I will look out for it on Foxtel!
      Great story about the Russian too Pammie. It's amazing how language moves on so quickly - I'm always reminded of my late Grandfather in Law, who spoke very "English" sounding English with lots of 1920's slang from his University days thrown in. I suppose if I were to try to speak like that in England now everyone would think I was from another planet...! xx

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    4. Not sure how well it will translate to small screen, OK, no longer so small these days, but still. Think quite a bit will be lost. Some key aspects of the film's impact and all the complex emotions it arouses are the achingly beautiful cinematography where the city of Rome interacts with the characters and action - and the wonderful soundtrack.
      Yes, your Grandfather-in-law would almost certainly be virtually incomprehensible now to Gen Y, even in England, and they to him probably. One of my Grandfathers was English but he was killed in an accident when I was quite young so don't remember him very well. He came to Australia to escape an arranged marriage.
      Agree about the rest of the world queue but have become inured to it over time, though have always hated Heathrow. A republican too! Pammie xx

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    5. Oh, Rome on the big screen - that does sound wonderful. Maybe I'll try to book a movie in then...
      Heathrow is the pits. Although it's marginally better than JFK or LA airport. But none of them are a patch on the Asian airports. Funny considering that Asia holds the third world..... xx

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    6. Rome !!!!!! i was so excited when I got there my son had to ask what was the matter with me

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  6. Happy Aussie Day! There is a republican bent in Canada, but not so strong as in Australia I think. My grandmother was a kiwi and always loved the Queen! ;-)

    Canucks think that Aussies are like them, only with bigger personalities!

    I am interested that it is a Sunday. Do you get Monday off work?

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    1. I have heard that the Canadians like the Queen and are not as Republican as the Aussies as they want to keep their identity separate from the USA? Is this right?
      We are similar to the Canadians to some extent, but that French element definitely creates some differences between us. I think another marker for National Identity is the collective sense of Humour. And we seem to share that with Canadians. We do get Monday off! - Australia Day is always on the 26th of Jan, and if it falls on a weekend they'll give us the Monday off. xx

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    2. I believe Canada is the comparable country to Australia. size, population , history, government i.e the Westminster system, legal system etc

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  7. Kangaroo Island - what great name, I have become entranced by a programme about an Australian called Brolga who rescues Kangaroos an during sup Joeys who have been abandoned. I want a Joey, they are adorable.

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  8. ugh, I saw messy typos just as that flew off.

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    1. I've heard of that guy - heard he's a huge hit overseas, but don't think the show is on here! There were a lot of Kangaroos on the Island.. jumping everywhere. We had one once as a pet too (this is not common in Australia in general though - just so you don't get the wrong idea!), got him as a joey after his mother was killed, but it's like having a newborn baby. You have to get up in the night to give it a bottle of kangaroo formula and they sleep with a little electric blanket. He did grow quite quickly though, and ended up enormous. Could jump our fence easily (which was when he moved to a farm). xx

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  9. What an interesting post and Happy Australia Day. I'd agree that Expats really do hang onto their traditions and then feel alien when they return 'home'. My parents have been in the far east since the mid 80s and I worry about how different they will find England when they return (which they plan to do). Especially for my father because my mother would come over here for half terms when my brother and I were at boarding school and now to see my children, for long-ish spells of time so she has seen more of a gradual change. My husband will probably find the same thing if we ever move to the States (he has been in London 10 plus years now).
    Sorry to hear that you get negative comments. I didn't think that your phrasing was insensitive. x

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    1. As long as your parent's don't move back to London - that really would be a shock. I was shocked at how different it was in London when I went back 2 years ago, having not been there since I left 12 years before. All the Polish people working in the bars and shops, the Russians shopping up a storm in the nicer areas... it was much more Europe than England (although that was already starting to happen when I left). The negative comments have been on the increase lately. Thankfully I have a fairly thick skin, but it's not nice. I don't understand why people have to be so rude in how they write things. xx

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  10. I really enjoyed this post, Heidi! I hope that you had a nice holiday.

    As a Canadian-American, I have my own mess of identity politics, and then yes, we Canadian have a confusing relationship to the UK as well.

    I live in Europe now, and being closer to England and also having some perspective from being "away," I see that Canadians do seem rather fond of the Queen. I never noticed it before, honestly. But everything is named "Queen Elizabeth" this and "Royal" that. My husband (not Canadian) says "you guys really love the Queen." I agree with what you said above, that it helps us differentiate ourselves from the Americans. But lately I've been thinking a lot about the Revolutionary War and how incredible it is that it was fought, while the rest of us linger on with our British ties.

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    1. Agree with you about the Revolutionary war Abby - it was pretty amazing. I actually find it quite sad that Australia hasn't broken ties yet. I suppose a lot of people don't like change, but I tend to think that we don't get a lot of value from our historical tie to Britain - Immigration at Heathrow being one as I said, but also we might get a quick tax payer funded trip over from a royal every 4 years or so and that's about it. I think we could find someone to cut a few ribbons a bit cheaper. I noticed when I was living there that it was seen as inevitable that Australia would become a Republic, and also that the British (at that time) seemed more inclined towards Republicanism than Australia. That was the period when Diana had just died, so the mood was very much against the Royals. I'm not anti Royals, I just don't see it's all that relevant in modern Australia. But clearly the majority still don't agree with me!
      I find the whole subject of cultural identity quite interesting. Particularly in the modern age where many people marry across countries and cultures more so than they did in the past (and also choose where they go to then live, as you have). xx

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    2. Im always amazed at the number of US stories, articles and general excitement the royals create in the US.

      As to naming places the UK based names are all pretty old. Interesting how many of the same names in Canada and Australia

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    3. I've always found the royal love the US do quite funny too smr - and it's always interested me how similar our place names are. Maps can seem very familiar xx

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    4. I always laugh when I realize that a place name that I think is local is, of course, also (and originally) somewhere in the UK.

      I really didn't realize how British-influenced we are in Canada until I moved to the US. I had to explain, more than once, what an electric tea kettle was and why one might want to use one. At my first job there, we had a kettle and drank tea all day. I didn't realize until later that this was because one of my coworkers had lived in Dublin for a while!

      My parents are American, and I grew up with my mother drinking tea. I only recently found out that she set out, after a few years in the country, to start trying to drink tea because "these Canadians are always drinking tea."

      As for cultural identity, I agree with you that it is very interesting. My husband is also a dual national, and was born in a third country, of which he is not a citizen (born to foreign parents). I think that our shared sense of being of more than one place is part of why we clicked in the first place. And now, if we have a kid over here, it will be tri-national but not be a citizen of where we live!

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    5. That's very funny with your mother forcing herself to drink tea to assimilate! I seem to remember that you're in Switzerland? They're very strict with who becomes a citizen (3 generations or something ridiculous?).

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    6. Yes, Switzerland. You can apply for citizenship after a while - I think it's ten years - of living in the same canton (which are like provinces/states, but tiny). Kids who are born here to foreign parents are known as "secondos" - some of them get citizenship and some choose to never apply. They still have mandatory military service here, so some people avoid citizenship for that reason.

      Are you automatically Australian if you're born there, even to non-Australians?

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  11. I must get to Australia, but then again I might never leave if I do. I echo Wendy in that I think of Aussies as being very like us but with bigger and brighter personalities. Canadians do seem to love the Queen, well I like her, she is an excellent dresser, but I don't identify as a Brit (though I am a bit Scottish). I am part French and my family settled here over 300 years ago, a very old family with Roman Catholic ties and that was always a big part of our identity, combined with being partly Irish-American... in the end we don't identify with anyone really! That's very American, that independence, which I like.
    And as to your "anon" comment, these people never use their name and email and seem to need to leave little bombs of poorly thought-out criticism, I mean really they are just trying to be upsetting. Very sad for them and too bad they can't participate in a conversation in a real way. Your description was in no way racist, we have an important aboriginal population here but we still say we were settled by the English and the French. I'm sorry you had to deal with this comment, I love your blog Heidi and I think you write thoughtfully and with intelligence and charm.xox

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Dani.

      I must get to Canada again - it's been a very long time since I was last there (I was 9!). I have noticed the Canadians are perhaps more attached to the Royals than we are, but then we do love a Royal visit here too. You've got a very interesting family heritage Dani - I tend to feel sorry for my children as there are regular "Bring something in from your families heritage" at school things, and we have nothing interesting to send them in with. Others have all sorts of different countries and cultures to pick from for their show and tell. xx

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  12. So agree about music and that each country has its unique sound which is a good thing, as the world would be a dull place if we all liked the same thing.

    Enjoy your blog so much; you are curious about the world and generously share your substantial professional expertise. Take those snarky anonymous comments as a badge of honour, they show you have something interesting to say.

    Wishing you a happy week.

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    1. I agree with Claire, I don't comment often but I absolutely love reading your blog. As a fellow Architect, fashion lover and a mum, everything you post interests me!

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    2. Thank you Claire and Cybill, your kind comments mean a lot xx

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  13. Im a descendant of many convicts including a first fleeter ...and really proud of it ..they would have had the shock of their lives when they arrived in Sydney harbour after the 8 months voyage and many of them did quite well here.

    Actually been looking into the South Australian connection ..my grandmother's grandparents ..married in Adelaide in I think 1846

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    1. They were early settlers then in Adelaide, as SA was founded in 1836. My husbands' Great Great Great Grandmother was on the first boat in. She wrote a diary that's now in the State Library, and it describes the local aboriginies, what the landscape looked like, and life in tents setting up the colony. Fascinating!

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    2. They may have known each other who knows? I do know my grandmother's father came from Truruo SA..

      Would love to read the dairy ..they had it really tough the first settlers. This year is 200 years since 4 times great grandfather irked on the road to the Blue mountains ..he was then emancipated .

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  14. I really really want to hear about Kangaroo Island.
    I have a british passport so I can swan on through the arrivals in LHR.
    the longest bit at the airport is waiting for the luggage.
    Re: narky comments, I don't allow anonymous comments on the blog. I have not had any nasty comments but if/when I do, I want people to show their face.
    I like the stance on rude comments on the next post.
    People need not to use blogs (particularly light hearted ones like this) as a punching bag, and should use the same courtesy as they would in person.

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    1. You should go to KI! You'd have a different experience to us, as ours is definitely a family holiday. It's so beautiful, I love it so much there.
      Lucky you re the arrivals at Heathrow!! That also makes life easier anywhere in the EU too. Am jealous!
      I allow anon comments as I often get questions about things that are from people who don't have google accounts, I mostly have had to moderate just to keep the spam out of the website. But unfortunately I seem to have attracted a few rude commenters along the way. I don't understand why people can't just be polite. I come across plenty of blogs that I don't agree with/ like or find offensive. I don't feel the need to write to them to tell them why though...

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  15. Sorry I am a day late to this, but Happy Australia Day! Too funny about the Men at Work song - that one is such a classic. I was born in Australia, but we moved to Canada when I was very young so I don't have too many memories of the place, except that it was sunny and warm most of the time. However, the Australian children's books made a big impact on me as I read them at a formative age - Blinky Bill, Snugglepot & Cuddlepie, and The Magic Pudding. These books are so unique to the country. I hope to return some day so my children can see it for themselves.

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    1. The clip is so cringe worthy too! You can see they made the whole thing in a day with some props from their homes. Video clips have changed a lot!
      I was reading The Magic Pudding to my oldest a year ago, and found it so hard to read to him - the language is so different now. All the old Aussie slang is just not heard like that anymore... even in the country areas. But I must get Snugglepot and Cuddlepie out for E, as I'm sure she'd love it. I think it's an anniversary of it this year - there's a lot of toys and book reissues about in the shops. xx

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  16. I moved away from Australia in 2002 to marry and settle in NYC. I miss my life in Canberra. We are hoping to move back as a family in about 10 years. I really miss a lot of the Australian lifestyle....especailly the weather. I really love your blog....belated happy Australia Day.

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    1. Thanks anon! Happy Australia day to you too. Hope you got to eat something Australian - one of my friends lives in NY too, and she always makes lamingtons, although as it's so cold in NY at the moment you've had a very different day to us. She would have moved there around the same time as you too. I hope you make it home one day. xx

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  17. Happy long weekend! I missed this yesterday, sorry to read that silly anon comment... People can be terrible cowards, can't they?
    I am not yet Australian! but both my children are, so I really must get my act together and fill in the forms this year - J and I are both wanting to become Aus, but are very lazy with the admin....!

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    1. You need to do your citizenship. You get a gum tree sapling, didn't you know?! Happy Australia Day to you anyway Ruth! xx

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  18. Hi Heidi! It's Deb C, fellow Adelaide-ian (although I am moving to Newcastle, NSW!) I don't prolifically comment (on anyone's blog), but just wanted to say in response to your post ('rude comments') THANK YOU for continuing to share your life to us via your blog despite the minority who find pleasure in making trouble online, behind an 'anonymous' veil. I, and I am sure hundreds of your readers very much enjoy your journey with your family as you build your house and create your home; your holidays and other wonderful things. I enjoy that you love beautiful things including fashion and it would not be the same if you didn't share these things with us - so thank you! Blogging takes time and dedication and it is such a huge shame that anyone needs to go out of their way to make mean and spiteful comments that don't have any useful criticism at all.

    Thanks again! xox

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    1. Hi Deborah, thank you so much for your lovely and thoughtful comment, I've really appreciated the nice things people have written to me this week. It's been a fairly tricky week for a lot of reasons... I've fairly dreaded opening the comments for moderation. So it's been very nice to hear from readers whom I don't usually hear from and who have taken the time to write something kind xx

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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