Finding Rainbows and Chess Boards in Autumnal Hobart

Continuing the theme of Scottish stereotypes you can imagine my surprise when I walked into the hostel living room to find 'Maid of Honour' on the telly. A castle wedding of course, tartan crazy with chat of bairns and Atholls (which incidentally was cleverly used to denote 'asshole’), I couldn't quite believe that of all things possible that was what I walked into!! Having discussed an Australian film called Chopper the night before, with an array of dvds available itself included, Tuesday night's viewing was sorted. Grim and somewhat disturbing in parts, my ears are still sore in compassion… Glad to have have seen it though.

Having posted an ad in the wwoof forum, with a surprising response of 6 offers on the table, in 4 different territories as you can imagine my head was a bit confused. Receiving one for Tasmania literally as I got off the plane it is hard not to take that as merely a coincidence… Loving Tassie already, I am not sure whether I will remember why I want to go north in a couple of days or not… However with a new city to explore I put that debate to one side, grabbed my jumper and jacket and headed out armed with Safari Pete's walking tour of Hobart. Headed towards the waterfront one of the first things I was met with was a very bright, arc shaped rainbow. Wow.

Tipping my head in acknowledgement, maybe Tassie is the place to be after all…. Texting my mum and sister to share the moment I ducked into Salamanca square to escape some light rain. Finding chess board number 2 on my travels I had lunch in a place called machine, a cafe with a laundrette attached. As you do.

Following Safari Pete's directions, it took me past Princes Park, which had some amazing autumnal colours on the trees. Onto some quirky, quaint little houses, St David's Park then the waterfront, a small town feel, Hobart reminds me of somewhere I've been before but I am not quite sure where. The first place I've visited where the car dominates as the main method of transport, nestled in the hills and sprawled out it kind of feels like it is just getting on with business! Wanting to find a hill to walk up, it getting a bit dark I will make sure I make it up Mt Wellington next week.

Informed by the lovely hostel receptionist that Tasmania has a town called 'penguin' where everything (yes you guessed it) is shaped like penguins I feel this is something that has to be seen to be believed and perchance achieved before I leave Tassie. An evening spent deliberating over wwoof offers, it being nearly midnight and up at 6 in the morning I must get myself to bed!


Haggis Hurling and some Australianisms

Worrying signs for my Scottish identity:

>I now call suntan lotion sunscreen and flip flops thongs

>I have an unhealthy obsession with a biscuit that has never even been heard of in the UK

>I call kirby grips bobby pins

>Asked in subway what cheese I wanted, I responded 'tasty'. As my sister would argue, cheese IS tasty rather than being branded that way!

>The frequency I say 'no worries' has become ridiculous

>Asked if I wanted to pay for my last hostel in pounds caused somewhat of a confusion as I could not work out what it cost in dollars!

On Thursday after returning to my room after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, I met a new roommate called Pam. Detecting an accent, I knew she was Scottish! The first in a dorm I've stayed in, Pam straight off a plane from Glasgow, her broad scots drawing my accent out, it was like the backpacker gods had heard my prayers!

Invited out for dinner that night, I headed east to Melbourne's suburbs. Treated to homemade curry, with my night involving a 14 minute Rappers Delight video (I still have that song in my head!), being taught the card game crib, I was asked if I had ever 'hurled a haggis'. Responding that surely people in Scotland would rather eat a haggis rather than throw it, especially something as good as a haggis, on returning back to my hostel and reading up on it, it is apparently a legitimate sport so named after folklore! The story so being that a Scottish wife had prepared haggis for her husband’s lunch (of course as that's all we hardy scottish eat 😉 ) and with her husband out working in the fields she decided to hurl the haggis to him rather than try to make her way around the 'bogs' that apparently cover most of Scotland. I have no idea how people have a stereotypical view of Scots…! 😉

To quote Wikipedia, “'Haggis hurling' is a Scottish sport involving the hurling of a haggis as far as possible for distance and accuracy from atop a platform (usually a whisky barrel).” Not one to take Wikipedia as the source of knowledge on important matters like scottish stereotypes, I felt a data quality assessment was advisable. A number of different websites informed me that in 1977, Robin Dunseath placed an advert in a Scottish newspaper announcing the revival of the 'ancient' scottish sport of haggis hurling for the gathering of the clans that year (Don't get me started on that one…!). Competitions were established as well as the World Haggis Hurling Association, of which Dunseath was president. He even wrote a book called the Complete Haggis Hurler, outlining the history and rules of the sport. However, and an important however at that, in 2004 he revealed it was all a hoax, set up to test gullibility. Somewhat ironically by that stage it was too late – people around the world loved it and the sport had been born!

The rules of haggis hurling for those of you who are interested are that it must be of traditional construction and recipe and boiled for three hours; must weigh 500 grams, with a maximum diameter of 18 cm and length of 22 cm (the 'heavyweight' event allows up to 1kg in weight); firming agents are not allowed to be used and the haggis must be packed tight and secure, with no extra “skin” or “flab” and the haggis must be edible after landing. The record is 217 feet and wikipedia tells me that the current champion is a man from Bo'ness, Edinburgh (do you think I should telll them Bo'ness isn't actually in Edinburgh?!). Loving knowing this information, I will see if I can find somewhere in Australia I can hurl a haggis…!

Exploring Moomba and Dispelling Scottish stereotypes

After a week of half hearted job hunting (I feel next week will be more productive!) me and some roommates redeemed the free drinks vouchers given to us upon arrival at the hostel on thursday night. An eclectic bunch with a South Korean, a Swede, a Finn, an Italian, an English boy and me, there was some interesting chat involved. Drinks in hand, I was asked by the Finn whether we wore kilts everyday… Having answered this question more than once already on my trip I explained that we do in fact wear normal clothes! I sold the Scottish wedding tradition of ceilidh's and explained tartans and clans. Films, with a lot to answer for with Scottish stereotypes, no word of a lie, I was asked whether we still have the tradition of using competitions portrayed in 'Brave' to find potential boyfriends…. Despite the fact this was clearly for a royal family and how that would practicably work in today's society, I played along for a couple of minutes! Reassuring them that we date the same way as anybody else, the Italian then asked if all of scotland was considered the highlands – cue an explanation of the central belt whilst singing Loch Lomond in my head!!! Venturing into the city, I stumbled upon a man from Glasgow who had been at the kiss concert. A Scot finding a Scot, easy chat was had.

Sleeping in late the morning after, I missed the free breakfast for the fifth time this week. Note to self – must buy some breakfast food! Heading to Victoria Market after lunch, buying some fruit and veg, trying to maintain a healthyish lifestyle, I also bought some trevalley (though epically I managed to buy $10 worth instead of one fillet…! Guess what i’m eating for dinner next week…!) Another day in the 30s, I returned to the hostel to refrigerate my purchases before heading to Lygon St for the dreaded CV walk… Only finding a couple of bars, soul destroyed, I admitted defeat at 5pm.

The Moomba festival having started in the city, we ventured to the river to see what what was on offer. Amusement park rides abounding, the city lit up by night, the buzz of the city was great. Walking home, seeing people sitting relaxing and chatting, we commented that the same would not happen in the UK. Similar numbers perhaps, but most definitely a lot drunker!!! Too hot on return to the hostel, we sat outside and chatted. Questions of scottish independence and Team GB arose, and us all learning about poms instead of pommes, a previous conversation on Straddie finally made sense!!

Cloud Atlas

Having researched the city's cheaper cinema days and found it was Monday and Tuesday, after sourcing cheap fruit at Victoria Market and spending an afternoon completing Victoria's Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) course, I decided to tick Cloud Atlas off my list. Paying only $11, I think it is the cheapest film I have seen in Australia so far! Checking the running time before entering at 2hrs and 52 minutes I prepared myself for an epic film…! Continue reading