And the winner is ...
We've made a couple of lists of things we enjoy about being here, and the things about Australia that we really miss.
First, the things I miss:
• You guys! And Marnie, Simon and Mack.
• Clean, empty beaches - with no footprints on the sand, and when the sea is that clear turquoise. Cate sent me this pic (below) of the beach at Eagle Bay - and I just love it.
• Kookaburras, parrots, magpies and mourning doves.
• Rokeby Road
• Clean air
• The smell of plants - especially eucalyptus. You can't smell it here, though there are eucalypts all over the place
• The dawn chorus of birdsong
• The Southern Cross at night
• Absolutely everything to do with footy, all week, every team, every sports column inch, every radio talkback show, absolutely everything.
We both miss:
• Being among the people we love - our 'support network' is so very, very far away!
• Silence - you have no idea how much background noise there is here. Planes, helicopters, freeways in the distance, cars everywhere. Dave reckons that when he was back in Subi in January, the silence was astonishing.
• Australian efficiency, particularly when it comes to things like banking, or insurance - and health insurance. Sometimes the systems here are so big, and have become so complicated, that even people working in them can't explain what's going on. And often the systems seem incredibly old-fashioned - lots of paper. People still send faxes!
• The ABC in all its manifestations. And Kerry O'Brien, Margaret Throsby, Triple J, radio news, and evening news on the telly. PBS doesn't come close - while earnest, and good in parts, it's also old-fashioned. And while we're on the subject - we miss decent, news and current affairs shows that aren't pushing agendas. We know Aunty gets slagged for its leftist leanings, but honestly - that's nothing to what goes to air here.
• Simple pleasures: decent bread, butter, bacon, chocolate, Madura tea, Vittoria coffee, tomato sauce, apple and guava juice, good lollies - especially mints ...
And these are some of the things I love about living here:
• That the Barnes & Noble store in our local shopping centre is open every day from 10am to 10pm, and it's good.
• The postal system. I love buying stamps online and having them delivered to my mailbox, and I can post things in my own mailbox too!
• The shopping. From Marshall's discount stores to the suavest, glossiest boutiques on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and all the Mexican stuff.
• Showing San Diego to people from home.
• Being able to tell people here all about Australia.
• The sheer number and range of prestige and super-cars - 'cars from the royal family' as he puts it.
Above: A very fancy tangerine Porsche and a silver McLaren Mercedes, parked in Rodeo Drive. Will reckons there's over a million dollars' worth just in these two! Madness! You should have heard the noise when the orange one took off!
• 'The forest of the Pacific North West, where I live. I can't imagine living without the forest, and after a shitty day being able to walk through the trees to the beach (see all the pics on the Flick'r badge on the right of this blog).'
• 'That the idea of a hippy state really exists here - and that I live in one. Washington and Vermont are the two big hippy states.'
• 'Being able to see great touring bands - tickets here are about $15 rather than $70 or $80 back home. If you pay $20, that's expensive. I paid $120 for a Sasquatch Music Festival ticket and half the bands are headliners, like Bjork, and the Beastie Boys. It's on for two days next month, at a place called the Gorge, in George - that's George as in Washington!'
We all love:
• The climate - no extreme Aussie-style summers.
• Feeling that we are part of the world. (Lily adds here that she loves the fact that there's this enormous continent and you can get in your car and drive anywhere and everywhere - plus she loves being an hour out of Mexico when she's in San Diego, and three hours out of Canada when she's at college.)
• The fabulous landscape here - canyons, hills, and seeing mountains in the distance.
• Mobility - the freeways and the ease of getting about. The freeway system is amazing, and it works - okay, there are snarls, but it is also brilliantly designed and engineered, and I love it.
• Cheap fares within the US, and cheap fares ($232 to London return I saw this week) to the rest of the world are a thrill.
• Cheap subscriptions to fabulous magazines: Dave gets the New Yorker for 95 cents an issue; we get Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Esquire ... and they cost next to nothing if you subscribe.
• Everything about baseball!
• Live entertainment - last year we went to about 16 concerts, from Jerry Seinfeld doing stand-up to Steely Dan. Just wonderful.
• That Hollywood is just up the road, so world entertainment news is local news, reported well and articulately. The 'Calendar' lift-out in the LA Times runs an incredible list of phenomenal shows - more than you can take in. The entertainment reporting, unlike the day-to-day current affairs, is often brilliant, with great reviews and interviews.
• The friendliness of the Californians.