Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Interpreting the stuff we take for granted.

When I write here I am keenly aware that there are things we say and do here that aren't the same as other parts of the world. Particularly in the US!! Often I translate on the fly but I still get caught out.

For the sake of those who have asked (jerseechik, comments, last post!) and any others, here are some immediate answers, plus I shall try and paint a further picture of our little slice of life downunder at this time of year.

Many of our traditions, interests, and vernacular, hail from dear old England. The mother country and all that, you know. Cricket is a prime example. Netball, the sport my girls play, is another. Both are pretty much only played in commonwealth countries, although Canada seems to be the exception to this.

But back to questions from my last post. What is Boxing Day?.. Well, it is, simply, the 26th December, and a public holiday here. Until jerseechik asked, and I wiki'd it I had no idea it was a public holiday only in Commonwealth countries. Well, it's a public holiday unless you work in a shop. The Boxing Day sales are now a huge thing, but, as you might imagine, it's the kind of current 'tradition' that I very definitely avoid. After fighting my way through the pre-christmas hords, and after the money spent for christmas, the last place I would want to be is in a shopping centre with a kazillion other people.

As the wikipedia article notes, the two big Boxing Day events in Australia are the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the Boxing Day Test . A cricket test match is a five day game - and as someone who grew up in an anti-cricket household, I can say, having been educated since by my sport mad husband, that it isn't as boring as it sounds. Strange but true - IF you are prepared to appreciate the game for what it is. Test cricket, particularly, is a game of strategy, and it can be strangely addictive to watch, particularly when it is your national team. Unfortunately this year Australia is losing its grip as top international team. South Africa is flogging them, and despite being disappointed in the performance of our batters AND bowlers, you have to admire the way SA is playing.

Around our place, you know it's Boxing Day (and the few days following), when you've been for a swim at the beach, you're back home, kicking back on the lounge, and the Boxing Day test is on the telly. Cricket on the telly (and the radio) is just synonymous with summer.

Mind you, I'll be kind of glad when today is over. Five days is enough of monopolising the TV from 10.30 am through till stumps at 6pm. (Today it'll be over before 'tea'. Well done South Africa. They take this, the second out of three tests, and therefore the series. They have totally outplayed the Aussies, and it is a deserved win.)


Now.. to address jerseechik's other question. What are lashings? Just "lots". An abundance of. Again of British origin. It's not an expression I actually use that often. Must have been having an Enid Blyton moment! (Please tell me you have heard of Enid Blyton!)


Do you North Americans recall the Paul Hogan 'shrimp on the barbie' ads of the 1980s? As this wikipedia article accurately states, we call them prawns here, not shrimp! Cold, cooked king prawns have become a very common feature of Christmas lunches here ... and so that's what we had on Christmas day.

In Sydney you'd be queued up at the fishmarkets to buy them, but we ordered a kilo and a half from a local seafood distributor, and picked them up on Christmas Eve. Easy and yum (unless you are Caitlin, who salivates, instead, over potato salad.) Sometimes Marc will peel them for us, but this year Ali and I let him off. Time for Ali to learn how to peel a prawn!

We did actually buy a few green prawns as well, threw them in some marinade, and chucked them on the barbie for dinner that night. A very seafoody Christmas. Quite appropriate for summer holidays, beachside


This morning we had our best beach time yet. Sunny blue skies, clear water, and good waves to surf. So clear, in fact, that some other people on the beach spotted a Wobbegong shark, and warned us about it. We watched its shadow meandering further down the beach, then popped back in for another dip. Apparently they don't eat much!

Yep, going to Boxing Day sales is a tradition in this house. As is watching the Boxing Day test. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a couple of white padded batsmen walking out to the centre of the field for the first day's play at the 'G' and the crowd roaring with excitement! So blood stirring!

And you are right. Cricket is a strategy game. I have always said that it needs some type of game intelligence to play well. What a pity that our team is on a downward slide atm! *sob sob*

Oh and Christmas ain't Christmas without a couple of kilos of prawns to peel and de-vein in mouthwatering anticipation! Lol!
I will tell Mr W that prawns are a "must" for Christmas: since he enjoys all things "exotic", we adopt the tradition! And prawns are my Favorite Food!!
Having grown up on the (US) Jersey shore, I recognize most of your beach terms (except the species specific to the Pacific, like that carpet shark). In fact, our family dreaded "Nor-easters" as well!
But what are the round pieces of sand in your photo? The tag says "crabballs", but US Eastern shore crabs don't make "lashings" of balls like your photo shows...
I survived the Boxing Day sales. I went to the large mall yesterday and parked in the first available spot. The lot was packed!!!
Yesterday was the first day after Christmas that the stores were taking returns and the lines snaked through most of the clothing stores. How you would find anything as a replacement at this point is beyond me. Everything is picked over. I did manage to find 2 pairs of pants in one of the quieter stores.
I came home with a headache but the money saved was worth it.
We get those balls all over the beach here too, Tracey.

My favourite use of "lashings" is in "Five Go Mad in Dorset" - a parody of Enid Blyton.

Happy New Year!!

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