OZ: Week One.

Aside from the fact that the first week of any holiday is a time for adjusting, relaxing and getting a semi-comfortable routine sorted out, when you have travelled from one hemisphere to another, you also have to factor in the jet lag/crazy sleep patterns (call it what you will). Waking up at 5:30am is the norm for a few days, and your bedtime is at 7pm promptly; only halfway through the week does the madness simmer down and gradually the bedtime gets later and the waking time gets less ridiculous. Right now, I am pretty damn pleased with myself for sticking it out through the droopy eyelids/hallucinating phase and getting to bed at 10:20pm last night – however, given that as a lazy student I am typically waking up at 11am most days at home, 8am is a serious shock to the system.

Sleep matters aside, I can say that I am loving this trip so far; the bright fresh sunshine coming through my window every morning is as unfamiliar as it is welcome (which is VERY, oh my gosh THE SUN), and the ability to walk down the street barefoot is just magical. Now I’m aware that I say this every time I come out here, but it never stops being true – the people are so wonderful; chilled out, laid back, relaxed to the max of course, and just OTT friendly, but in a good way rather than a creepy way.

   The unfortunate habit of mine to unintentionally imitate the accent or vague quirks in speech of the person I’m talking to is out of control here in Oz; those of you who hear me chatter away on a daily basis will know that my voice is already slightly unusual, in fact it is a unique blend of Sussex gal and Australian chick, but when I’m over here the Australian chick sees her chance to silence the Sussex gal. My funny little words that I “don’t say quite right” like ‘exciting’ (ex-YYY-ding), ‘vitamin’ (VY-damm-in) and ‘yoghurt’ (YO-gurt) are lost in a sea of upward inflections and extended vowels. I hear myself doing it, but I can’t stop. It’s fine, though, I’m sure a week or so after I’m home I’ll be back to saying ‘bloody good’ and ‘oh my gosh’. I may keep on saying ‘how you goin’?’ and ‘darl’ though.
One of the great things about being here is, oddly, the fact that I’ve been here before. It’s strange, because normally I love seeing new things and exploring new places, but I love how familiar everything is here. Surfers Paradise is just as cheerful as ever, and it still holds those good memories for me; the club I went to with my cousins when I turned eighteen is still there, as is the pizza place where I had my first ever drunk food. Australia Fair shopping centre is as tacky and crazy as I remember, however it is still the awesome place where I bought a bright pink poncho when I was eleven, and for that it will always be special. Mount Tambourine is Heaven if you want souvenirs, wine, dream catchers or fudge. Marina Mirage and the Spit beach are relentlessly beautiful, Main Beach is half washed away due to the floods and storms, but it’s still a little bit of paradise. Kurrawa Surf Club does good chips and has the best views, Southport surfers are the friendliest, Mermaid is fabulous, and Byron Bay is a wonderland of market stalls and hippy chic coffee places. Vegetarian cuisine is abundant here, and gluten free food is a new craze, with so many choices on the menu and several specialist restaurants just a short drive away. Ferry Road market is the best place for boxes of stuffed olives, bags of tea and a cup of coffee; actually, the coffee here is just generally awesome. My beloved lattes are typically served in glasses with that heart swirl done impeccably in the foam on top.

Now, tomorrow is The Wedding, and tonight is The Girly Prep Sleepover; my auntie gets married on Burleigh Heads beach (incidentally one of my top 5 beaches) at 10:30am tomorrow, and the last few days have been a flurry of pre-wedding activity and last-minute favours... I’ve been asked to do photography (no pressure), we were running around the Reject Shops yesterday to find kids’ bow ties and a flower basket, we’ve been informed that the wedding dinner will consist of pizza (hello, genius!) at The Crust, Burleigh, a venue which we have booked from 11am ‘til midnight, and Sangria cocktails are the drink of choice for the guests (I can roll with that). The bride herself seems remarkably chilled, which means we’re more chilled.
   I’ve realised just how little wedding stuff I’ve encountered before, how few people I’ve known have got married since I’ve known them and how few family members have had weddings... I know I’m nearly twenty, practically a baby, so the fact that none of my friends have gotten married yet is probably a good thing and so completely normal, but still. Also, babies. I have hardly any experience with babies and little people in general. There are no wee ones or toddlers in my immediate British family, and (thank goodness, again) none of my friends have kids yet, meaning when my baby cousin is handed to me for ‘cuddles’, I am flying completely blind and at the same time loving the novelty of having this tiny person in my arms. My two year-old cousin is running around singing ‘Wheels On The Bus’ and watching Dora, and rather than it irritating me (which I’ll be honest, kid stuff normally does), I find it insanely awesome and cute, and I’m even joining in. It’s a revelation. Also, I don’t know, it’s just cool having a little kid run up to you and shout your name like they’ve been waiting to see you forever, when really you just left the room for five seconds.
Anyway, *clears throat in a slightly manly and totally carefree manner*, that’s this week. Sunday, post-wedding, we hit Byron Bay for some market browsing and sun worshipping, also hopefully to revisit some memories of my eighteenth birthday – whoa, that feels like a while ago. Drive-in movie theatres are actually a thing here, and we’re hoping to go next week. Also, we’re planning sleepovers with the relatives and girly nail-painting and facials. Stay tuned.

I wouldn’t call this a holiday; I’d say it’s an epic family trip.


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