Floods and Friends

Februar 6th, 2011

Already in December the northern part of Queensland got inundated, and it was just a matter of time when the floods would reach Brisbane. After further torrential rainfalls the flood came on Tuesday, 11 January. Our company asked us to leave the offices at noon time because the management wanted to make sure that everybody would be able to make it home safely back to their families. The water level went up steadily, however they finally  remained under the levels of the big flood of 1974. The garage of our company building became flooded, and the energy supplier disconnected the entire area from power. If I remember correctly approx. 20,000 buildings became disconnected from power over the rest of the week, most properties became reconnected after a couple of days. Our company’s power generator did not engage, we stayed at home for two days until we were able to return back into the office on Friday.

The devastation in the areas near the river was shocking. All ferry terminals were destroyed, unmanned yachts, pontoons, a floating restaurant were washed down the river and crashed against bridges. Homes were flooded, cars went under, families lost their homes and thousands of people spent several nights in evacuation centres.

Christmas in Summer

November 11th, 2010

This is just the start of my lengthier Christmas post, but nevertheless I wanted to give it a start. My dear friends back at home in good old Germany, as fast as you are approaching winter with temperatures around or below zero, we are approaching summer here. This does not exactly put me into Christmas mood, so I was a bit surprised, that at the end of spring I see Christmas decoration popping up everywhere in the city now. The fassade of “my” supermarket was decorated with plastic pine tree banches, shiny balls and oversized bows, plastic Christmas trees in shops, in the mall, just everywhere. I will keep you posted, but for now I just had to let you know that this feels STRANGE!

It makes me aware again, that my “biological” clock is still a bit askew. After experiencing autumn and winter back in Germany, I traveled around the world just to arrive back in autumn again. So I had autum – winter – autum – winter, and now it is finally spring with summer looming at the horizon. Please do not expect me to have anything that might come near an emotional Christmas state. It’s just not happening. This is sun, t-shirts and shorts, beach weather, beer and barbies. No “dreaming of a white Christmas…”, “jingle bells, jingle bells…” and so forth, it’s just not happening here mates!

I happened to mention to our wonderful team assistant, that I am not in the  right Christmas mood because I need snow or at least temperatures around freezing. Well, the very next day I had snowflakes lying on my desk and my chair. Ellie, our assistant’s daughter, had so much sympathy for me that she decided to cut snowflakes out of white paper, just for me to help me feel that Christmas is here. “Your wish came true because Michelle and Ellie made it come true” this wonderful little girl wrote. This has been the most moving Christmas present I have ever received in my entire life.

My fabulous friends knew that the Germans have their most important Christmas celebration at Christmas eve. We can’t leave Marcus alone on Christmas Eve they decided, and so they organised a surprise Christmas dinner at the German Black Forest Restaurant in Dutton Park. It was fantastic, and I had a great Christmas dinner together with my wonderful friends. The roasted duck with red cabbage and potato dumplings was delicious, and in combination with a glass of genuine Schneider Weisse it couldn’t get any better.

On Christmas day Greg took me over to very good friends of his for Christmas lunch. Fabulous people who just said “Greg’s friends are our friends”, absolutely uncomplicated, relaxed, laid back. They lived in the wonderful suburb of The Gap, on Christmas day it rained a bit, but we had a wonderful time. Everybody contributed something to the Christmas lunch (I made Italian-style antipasti), it was such a relaxing afternoon.

Christmas in 2010 was different, very different, but I enjoyed every single bit of it, and I realized again what a wonderful circle of friends I was allowed to meet, and what great people the Australians are.

Kookaburra – update

Oktober 17th, 2010

My new friend, the kookaburra (I named him “Kooky” as a form of endearment), hasn’t given up yet. After he still continued to attack his own reflection in the big window pane downstairs (hence continued to crash against the window), Geoffrey covered the window with a cloth. However this just diverted the poor bird that took to attack his reflection in the car’s side window and the toilet window upstairs. Well, how can I put it, I was completely shocked when I was using the toilet and did what people with a functioning digestion system have to do every now and then, when something crashed against the window above me and I thought the window pane would be smashed to smithereens. I immediately knew that Kooky had found a new target.

Kooky, you are just the craziest bird I have ever seen in my entire life.

Brisbane goes Oktoberfest

Oktober 17th, 2010

O’zapft is… more or less, even in Brisbane!

Well, the Oktoberfest in Brisbane is just a wee bit smaller than the original in Munich, however they did made an effort here! The Oktoberfest was staged at the RNA Showgrounds, they put up one big tent and sold (near) traditional German food at some food stalls outside the tent. Despite the rain (it was pouring cats and dogs…) there was a nice atmosphere at the venue, they had even flown in a music band from Munich, did some yodeling performances and involved the visitors in some Bavarian-style dance-shows. It was more of a family get-together than anything, and I liked it. The “King of Cakes”, a Bavarian bakery, supplied pretzels and pastries, German bratwurst was served with kraut in bread rolls and decent beer was on offer ranging from lager to wheat beer. It was a real pity that it was just raining, I would have loved to sit outside where they had put up benches and tables (the real “Bierzeltgarnituren”) underneath beautiful, exotic trees. It was my first Oktoberfest far away from home, with ibis birds walking around and beer served in half-liter glasses only. I thought it was fun.

Brisbane goes Oktoberfest!

http://www.brisbaneoktoberfest.com.au/

http://www.kingofcakes.com.au/custom.php

Springtime in Brisbane

Oktober 9th, 2010

I know I am repeating myself again (and again and again), but things are simply different here. It’s not enough that we experience an offset of six months in our seasons compared to the northern hemisphere. I understand that and I will eventually get adjusted, I promise. But, as we are in Australia, spring doesn’t start on 21 September, oh no, my Australian host country simply declared the official start of spring to be on 1 September. No relation to solstice or equinox, no, why should we follow what the rest of the world does, this is Australia. And don’t get me wrong, I still find it very charming and agreeable to live here. Things are just – different.

Now, winter here was not a real winter, even if people were talking about chilly mornings, put on their warmest coats, gloves and scarves. Coming from central Europe, a day with daytime temperatures up to 24°C and 7-8°C during the night cannot be regarded as a winter day.

The interesting thing is, that with beginning of September you really noticed an increase in daytime temperatures – and unfortunately also in humidity. And this is just the beginning. By December/January it will be unbearably hot and humid, just when people celebrate Christmas. I am already looking forward to it!