Touching Base

Q. What's the definition of weird?
A. Sitting in a pub in London with 20 friends from Perth watching the Australia vs. South Africa rugby match!

Having recently relocated to London, I'm finding this place a little bizarre. Being so far away has made me realise how Australian I really am. I've finally tracked down a jar of vegemite, but have yet to find any Twisties, Cheezles or Milo. What I'd give for a decent Aussie snack.

My friends and family have been keeping Telstra in business, phoning me constantly. (I once came home to three messages from my Mum singing to AC/DC on the answering machine), and everyone posts care packages of photos, and the final Big Brother episodes on video (ONYA BEN!).

There are some hilarious misconceptions the English have of Australia. I wish I had a pound for every time someone asked me if we really say things like "strewth" or "you flamin' gallah" in Oz. Unfortunately the English pay too much attention to Alf Stewart in Home and Away. It's taking some convincing to persuade otherwise, but I'm working on it. People also seem to think Kangaroos run down suburban streets and that there are so few people in Australia, I might even know someone they knew who moved to Oz 10 years ago. Hmmmmm?

The preferred mode of transport here is the tube (underground train system), and in rush hour, it's a nightmare. Carriages are packed full of people, pressed against windows looking like sardine cabbage patch dolls. Not pretty, and it stinks.

I once missed the first three trains before summoning the courage to adopt a rugby player pose and barge my way onto the sardine mobile. Riding on the tube is like riding in the elevator. Nobody speaks or makes eye contact. Don't expect an apology if anyone squashes or treads on you, its not the done thing.

Life in London is taking some getting used to, and some toughening up is in order, but overall, it's an exciting city full of character, charm and a constant buzz of frantic energy. By the way, the Queen sends her regards, she makes terrific cucumber sandwiches, but I still haven't been able to get all the corgi hair off my black pants!

- Rachael