Friday, November 12, 2010

Dag Blog Followers, Tot Ziens Nederlands and Hello Australia

I’m missing my kissing! My three kisses to be exact. I recently landed back in Australia with the lion and lamb (and the Dutchman curiously missing due to work commitments – likely story). After 25 hours of travelling, I was overjoyed to be greeted by my parents at Perth airport, and expressed this like an incoherent drunk (albeit sober due to the Joey in the pouch) and we reunited with a hug and a kiss, yes just one, and I felt like there was something missing in our reunion. So we’ve been back two weeks now and I’ve also reunited with old friends, and can definitely confirm I miss three kisses. One kiss just isn’t enough.

When I was getting ready to leave the Netherlands I knew there would be things that I would miss and things I would prefer in Australia. Surprisingly some of the differences I didn’t expect, and I need to jot them down before they quickly leave my placenta addled mind. So in this last blog of an Aussie in Holland, I thought I’d give you a quick summary.

Driving in the Netherlands was initially a challenge, particularly on snow affected roads. I expected to have trouble adjusting to driving in Oz but apart from a few heart palpitating moments at roundabouts, I’ve been fine driving on the left. What I have had trouble with is sticking to the speed limit. It is ridiculously slow, 100km per hour on enormous deluxe highways and freeways. There is room to have about four lanes in what has been dedicated to two, and you can only putt along at 100km per hour. Then there are other roads in the middle of nowhere with little traffic and speed limits of 70km per hour. I think the Dutch system of 30km per hour in built up residential areas and then 120 km per hour on freeways is far better.

Shopping. I was so ready to say good riddance to the old bags at Albert Heijn and a big hello to Australian supermarkets and an abundance of choice. But I must say after my first visit to the Woolworths I went up and down every aisle and was completely overwhelmed and couldn’t decide what to buy, I was also surprised at how expensive everything was. I don’t think it will take me long to enjoy all the choices we have here, but I sure will miss walking to the supermarket and walking back home again with my shopping trolley. Most things are accessed by car here.

Meat. My old friend meat, hello and so good to see you again. I have eaten the most delicious meat since I’ve been back in Australia. Beautiful organic beef steaks, lamb, lamb and more lamb. Meat that resembles well meat actually. I will not miss the poor excuse for meat that is served up in Holland and I should be easily able to keep my vow to never eat another piece of pork. Of course not unless it’s bacon, ridiculously yummy bacon or leg ham, deliciously carved off the bone. Very glad to be back in the land of meat eating carnivores with enough space for our cows to room free.

Call Centres. Okay no differences to report here. In the Netherlands I managed to navigate my way through the answering systems and speak to people in my dodgy Dutch and English mix, I had to spell everything out. Same same in Oz, sure it’s much easier to negotiate the IVR’s but you still have to spell everything out because you are speaking to a person in a Call Centre in India.

Brown versus Green. One of the best things about the Netherlands is the gorgeous green, flat, lush, countryside. And while I have travelled from a water logged green land to the desert (Perth is built on sand dunes), I also don’t mind the brown. It’s sort of welcoming like an old friend. This morning I pictured a galah out the front of our house. The land may be harsh but the bird life is fantastic. We are loving having a big suburban back yard, with a distance from our neighbours, and blue skies, ahhh the blue skies and sunshine, always soothing on the soul. Sure 37 degrees in “Spring” is a lot hotter than we ever experienced in Holland, but it is fabulous to get the washing dry.

Escalators going the “wrong” way, no skinny and ridiculously steep stairways to contend with, fantastic customer service, the distinct lack of incidental exercise, big cars with big engines but you can’t use them, always searching for the plug to get the power cables to fit, it’s all different and it’s all good. I’m delighted to be back in Australia. We loved our 14 plus months in the Netherlands, we will always look back on the time with fond memories. The door is open for returning some day. As we have a mixed Dutch/Australian family there will always be flights back and forth.

Thanks to all the fellow bloggers and readers for reading this blog and providing encouragement along the way. I’ve enjoyed the writing process and recording some memories of our time abroad. I’m thinking of blogging again, and with the pending birth of the Joey in the pouch (only five weeks to go) I might go for a mummy theme.

Tot ziens, dag, see ya later.