Christmas in Australia

South Beach – beware of the Sharks!

Well, here I am Down Under in Western Australia again – for Christmas and New Year this time -where the idea for my blog began (hence the url!) almost two years ago. It’s still hot and super sunny in Perth’s midsummer, and the climate is much appreciated after messages from home have included descriptions of friends having to hold onto the gatepost to keep upright while trying to go out shopping, in the wild UK weather. Having said that, the Fremantle Doctor (the famous onshore afternoon breeze we get every day) – can get very frisky indeed.

Dingo dog

I flew here on Christmas Day on Cathay Pacific and, while I appreciate that this is a Hong Kong airline, I was expecting at least a nod to the great day which all of Britain has been making a stupendous fuss about for at least a couple of months. Maybe a miniature airline version of a turkey dinner? Or at least a bit of Christmas pudding or cake or a Christmas film? Not a bit of it. The pilot, who was English announced, ‘For all of you that don’t celebrate ‘this day’ this is irrelevant anyway, and for those of you who do celebrate ‘this day’ I’m sure you’d rather be somewhere else rather than sitting on a plane for hours!’ Outrageous! He couldn’t even bring himself to say ‘Christmas Day’ or to wish everyone a Merry Christmas anyway. This political correctness makes my blood boil and is possibly enough for me to go all out on the festivities next year, join the church and start spreading the gospel..

Cathay Pacific Christmas – a subdued affair..

I am staying with friends who left the North East to come and work over here in the construction industry. If you are an engineer or a miner you will never be unemployed in Australia which has the greatest variety of natural resources in the world. Their new flat has views of the impossibly turquoise Indian Ocean and it takes them the same time to get to the beach as it does for me to get to the post box at home. Our slightly belated Christmas dinner was Tasmanian salmon and shark steaks cooked on the ‘barbie’ and was very tasty indeed.

No sprouts to be seen    

We took a stroll down by the beach and saw some Indigenous people (we used to call them Aborigines) having a bit of a boxing day altercation. Two large, aggressive, women were squaring up to each other and actually put their fists up in a boxing stance which was quite appropriate considering it was December 26th, although there was some slapping and hair pulling going on too. We surmised it could be a love triangle situation but we can’t confirm that, and after a while six armed policemen turned up to disperse the crowd. Perhaps there wasn’t much crime going on elsewhere..

Australian humour

We met a friendly very weathered character walking a small borrowed poodle called Harry Belafonte (the dog that is) along the beach walk. He came up to us as he heard our English accents and, without standing on ceremony, told us his whole life story in under fifteen minutes. This included stowing away on a ship in the sixties (the Canberra) to get in to Australia illegally. ‘I just walked in!’ he said. How things have changed.Then there was more ship stowing to Sri Lanka and India and Singapore and a nasty incident in the Congo where he was captured, badly beaten and threatened with a firing squad in a emptied swimming pool. He’d met Tom Jones while working on a building site in Splott (South Wales) and was planning a grand return to the UK to surprise his family in Wiltshire after his many years of adventures around the world. It was all very Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The National Hotel in Fremantle

We had a delightful jug of Sangria in the newly refurbished National Hotel, a fine late Victorian building, with a sort of New Orleans vibe going on, which must have welcomed many a traveller from days gone by. We also sampled the most exotic and gorgeous ice cream lolly I have ever tasted in my life. It was a salted caramel Mexican Icy Pole. It was so nice we went back an hour later and had another one.

Mexican Ice Poles – taste bud heaven

I’m deciding whether to go in the sea or not for a swim soon, as a dip in the light blue sea would be most welcome in this heat. However there are quite a lot of sharks along this coast and two or three people have been eaten in the last year so this has given me some cause for concern. If there aren’t any more blogs from me in the next few days you’ll know why…

If you get sick of the beach..

 

Assorted sausage options