17 January 2016

Aussie Lingo

The Australian Accent

Americans love our Aussie accent, they tell us all the time. Not that they can always understand us, sometimes it's the accent, sometimes it's just what we say, and we all have a big laugh.

So where does our accent come from?

The Aussie accent is quite unlike anything else in the world. New Zealanders and South Africans sound similar but slightly different. Even I need them to say a few sentences before I can ascertain which country they are from. It’s our vowels that stand out, like a kind of irritable vowel syndrome.

In Australian TV shows a few decades ago, they used to embellish their Australian accent as they didn’t think they had one. On the other hand we have many Aussie actors in Hollywood who seem to be able to perfect the perfect American accent, so that even the Americans can’t pick them.

Then there’s the way we play with words and cut them short. In the movie "my life in ruins", the Greek tourist guide says “the Australians are really nice but you can’t understand a thing they say”. It's not the accent they can't understand it's the phrases and the words we use. So where does this all come from?

Convicts, Officers and their families from Britain arrived on our shores about 60,000 years after our aboriginals, just over 227 years ago. America had closed its doors to taking convicts after the Boston tea party incident, so England had to find somewhere else to dump them. Why not down under? It was pretty easy to become a convict in those days; poverty was everywhere and laws were strict. They were a mixed mob of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. Even though they all spoke English, they all had different dialects, different accents and different words for the same thing – think of Eliza Doolittle practicing her vowels. People rarely travelled outside of their town, so they had never heard these differences. To make themselves more understood in this new land they had to make small changes to the way they spoke – more slowly and clearly with more careful enunciation. They rounded off the rough edges. Then their children and their children moulded the language even more. They say it takes about 50 years, two generations to create a new accent. Most people started out in Sydney, so a uniform accent spread across the country. In contrast Americans settled in their own separate distinct groups, so created their own local accents. There are three categories of Australian accent – broad, general and cultivated. Most of us speak with the general accent, what I would call “normal”. Cultivated would be a plumb in your mouth and broad would be what we would call “ocker”, which is harder to understand.

A broad accent would be Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee. A general one would be Russell Crowe in anything as he doesn’t seem to do accents. Yes, I know he’s a Kiwi, but he’s spent enough time in Australia to speak like us. Cultivated – that’s a hard one, probably Malcolm Fraser.

We shorten words, it's called hypocoristics, usually putting ie or o on the end of a shortened version of the word - Brekkie (breakfast), Arvo (afternoon), Ute (utility truck), Bookie (bookmaker), Postie (postman), Berko (berserk), Smoko (cigarette break), Carbie (carburetor), Cardie (cardigan), Chewie (chewing gum), Blowie (blow fly), Cab Sav (cabernet sauvignon), Sav Blanc (sauvignon blanc), Spag Bol (spaghetti bolognese)

Aussie Slang

Here are some Aussie slang words and phrases, most likely concocted from our heritage.

A Wog - a cold

Arvo - afternoon

Aussie -Australian

Barbie - a barbecue

Beaut - great, fantastic

Billy - bush kettle

Blood oath! - that's certainly true

Blotto - inebriated

Blue, they had a - argument

Bonzer - great, ripper

Bottler - something excellent

Brumbies - wild horses

Buckley's chance (you've got) - no chance

Bull dust - rubbish, not true

Bushwalking - hiking

Bush Week – “what do you think this is, bush week” – fat chance

Bushed - tired

Cactus, it’s - dead, broken

Cark it - to die, stop working

Chocka, chokas - full up

Chook - chicken

Cleaned out - everything was stolen

Come good, it will - turn out ok

Cooee, not within - figuratively a long way away

Cost big bikkies - expensive

Creek - small stream

Croak - die

Damper - bush bread

Deadset - true / the truth

Dickhead - idot

Digger - Australian soldier, usually WWI & II

Dinkum / fair dinkum - true, real, genuine

Dinky-di - the real thing, genuine

Docket - a bill, receipt

Doco - documentary

Dodgy - not kosher, not right, illegal

Dud - something that doesn’t work – it’s a dud

Exy - expensive

Fair dinkum - true, genuine

Fair go - a chance / break

Fossick - to look for something

Furphy - rumour

G'Day - hello!

Give it a burl - try it, have a go

Good onya - well done

Gully - narrow valley

Heaps - a lot

Iffy - see dodgy

Kick the bucket - to die

Knock back - refuse

Mate's discount - cheaper than usual for a friend

Mate's rate - cheaper than usual for a friend

Mob - group

Muggy - humid

No worries! - no problem / its okay

Nong - idiot

Pig's arse! - I don't agree

Plate, bring a - Instruction to bring a plate of food to a party

Pozzy - position, usually a seat, a spot

Quid, to make a - earn a living

Rack off - get lost! get out of here!

Ratbag - rascal, a person creating havoc

Reckon, I - for sure

Ridgy-didge, that’s - original, genuine

Right - okay

Ripper - Great

Rooted, it’s - ruined, broken

Rug up - put on a coat or warm clothes

She'll be apples - It'll be all right

She'll be right - it'll be okay

Spit the dummy or throw a wobbly – tantrum (a dummy is a baby’s pacifier)

Strewth - exclamation

Stuffed, I'll be - expression of surprise or

Stuffed, I’m - exhausted

Swag - combination of a tent and a sleeping bag for sleeping in out in the bush

To Bolt – to run away

To go bush - to escape your life, disappear

To potter - constructively wasting time

To rubbish someone is to insult them

Too right - definitely

Up the road – could mean 400 kms away

Whinge - complain

Yabby - a miniature fresh water crayfish

Yakka - hard work

Yarn - a story, a tale

2 January 2016

Pack Smarter

medium cube

Packing Cubes

I’ve often wondered how some people manage to travel with just a carry on – I think part of their secret must be packing cubes.

Why are they so good?

You will be amazed how much more you can fit into your suitcase using these cubes. They are made of lightweight material with mesh tops, so you can see what is inside them, but don’t add much weight to your overall luggage.

An added bonus is that you don’t mess up your packing when you are just trying to get one item out.

Some people have one cube for “bottoms”, one for “tops” and one for “underwear”. Others put whole outfits for each day in a separate cube if they are going away for a short time, so they only have to open one cube a day.

There is a label when you buy them that says “Beware: Packing cubes can be addictive”. I don’t doubt it!

Where do I buy them?

I bought the eBags brand from Amazon as they had good reviews and use YKK zippers which are the best there is. They come in different colours, so you can have different colours for different types of clothes or different members of your family. There are many brands on Amazon to choose from. They put them on sale around big sale days eg Black Friday. Sometimes the manufacturer will have specials on their website. eBay also sells some.

What size?

The eBags brand has a number of different sizes. So to start with I got a set of 3 medium and a set of 3 small. Two small fit into the same space as a medium. That worked for me and I bought a second set of medium and small for my husband, in a different colour. There is also a ‘slim’ which could fit down the side or in between the handle rails at the bottom of your case. You can also buy a set of mixed sizes, which would give you a large, medium and small. Most people say the large is too big, and I found the medium is as big as I needed. As a basic rule – you need the medium one for jeans, long pants and jackets. Nearly everything else will fit into a small one. But as you get a set of three in each pack, you can use an otherwise unused medium and fill it with the contents of two small ones.

To fold or roll?

For a t-shirt or shirt – fold the width in thirds so that you fit the width of the packing cube, then fold the length in half, then roll
  • For jumpers and jackets, I found it easier to just fold into the shape of the cube
  • For jeans, pants and shorts – fold until you get the width of the packing cube, then roll
  • If you need extra ideas, there are some You Tube clips which show you how to do it

A medium cube will hold the following female clothes:

  • 2 x jeans, 1 x shorts; or
  • 1 x jeans, 2 x shorts, 1 x outdoor pants (zipper legs); or
  • 5 t-shirts, 4 x long sleeve shirts; or
  • 1 x polar fleece jacket; or
  • 3 x t-shirts, 2 x jumper (pullover); or
  • 2 x jeans, 2 thin pants, 1 x nighty, 1 x shorts
small cube - 5 female t-shirts

A small cube will hold the following female clothes:

  • 7 x knickers, 3 x pr socks, 2 x bras; or
  • 5 x t-shirts; or
  • 4 x long sleeve shirt; or
  • 2 x jumpers; or
  • Items from two small cubes can then be transferred to a medium cube
closed small cube

A medium cube will hold the following male clothes:

  • 2 x long sleeve shirts, 3 x shirts; or
  • 1 x polar fleece jacket; or
  • 2 x jeans, 3 x shorts

A small cube will hold the following male clothes:

  • 6 x pr socks; or
  • 7 x boxers
I found that I could fit all my clothes for travelling into 3 medium and 2 small cubes and the same for my husband, so while his clothes take up more space – he doesn’t take as many items.

My carry on would fit 3 x medium and 1 x small or 2 x medium and 3 x small – but there would be no room for anything else.

My larger case is too big for carry on – it will fit 1 x medium cube and 2 x small cubes in the bottom section which is 65cm x 36cm x 9cm.

While in the top section I can fit
  • 4 x medium cubes, or 
  • 2 x medium and 4 x small cubes; or
  • 3 x medium and 2 x small cubes
Of course I haven’t mentioned shoes or toiletries, hair dryers etc. But there is plenty of room for these, as I don’t need that many cubes.

small cube - 4 female long sleeve tops

Medium cube - contents of two small cubes
For odds and ends, use zip lock bags

1 January 2016

A very different place for us

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

view from our rooftop terrace
A year ago while spending winter on Vancouver Island in Canada, as the temperature dipped closer to zero and the clouds covered the sun, it wasn’t surprising that we started thinking about where we wanted to go for the following winter. One of my favourite TV channels is HGTV – Househunter’s International, Beach Flip, Income Property – I love them all. We saw an episode on two gays guys buying a condo down in sunny Puerto Vallarta Mexico. It looked very inviting, so we did a little research and decided that would be where we would spend the winter of 2016.

the other 3 buildings in our complex of 26 condos

I found a condo in the Romantica zone; Old Town which would give us the feel of Mexico, and booked it for mid Feb to mid April. Then we realised that we needed to be out of the USA for longer but we couldn’t extend where I had booked so we found another place, this time, south of town.

Old town, all the streets are made up of river stones - great for shock absorbers!

It was our first time on an American airline. We went down with United and are coming back with Alaskan. It was a new experience with self-check in where you drop off your bags to go underneath. Everything is done on a screen, including asking you if any of your bags are overweight? Really, who would agree to that? All the airline staff member does is take your bags. The flight only took two and a half hours and we were in a warm tropical paradise.

lots of street stalls, we've yet to try one

I booked an airport transfer to our condo through Puerto Vallarta tours, so they were waiting for us when we arrived.

New Year's Eve's fireworks

The owner met us at the condo and went through some basics. We can get the 20L water bottle replaced for $35 pesos from Oscar. At least that saves us getting water. Our maid comes once a week but doesn’t do our washing. She does, it turns out though, change our sheets, wash our sheets and towels, cleans the floors and tidies up after us, even inside the fridge! The first time she came it took us hours to find the avocados we left on the bench. The second time, we lost the rubbish bin for a day. I’m not used to having hired help! She rattles off in Spanish at a million miles an hour expecting us to understand her, even if I could understand, I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Where the Mexicans shop

We have a washer/dryer in the condo and of course all the menus on the dials are in Spanish. Using a translator I managed to work out how to put on a cotton wash. After downloading the user guide in Spanish I was able to copy/paste the section for the dryer as well. I’m not that impressed with the dryer mode, so I think our clothes would be better off air-drying on a chair or a coathanger. 

Around town

On the owner’s instructions we waited outside the complex for a green and white bus to take us to Walmart, as this was the only supermarket we were aware of when we arrived. After waiting an hour, we gave up and got a taxi. We have now found a number of local supermarkets, the fresh food Mexican market, the Saturday, let’s have a market for all the tourists, market. Our local family grocery stores and Oxxo, which is like 7-Eleven, perfect for milk. You can get bread and other yummy morsels at the bakery on Basilio or the supermarkets. We are slowly finding our way around, exploring our new environment.

Even some birds for Lindsay to photograph, a Great Kiskadee

All our food tasted a bit funny for the first week or so until Lindsay realised that the oil we had bought smelled funny, like it was scented. Googling it’s name didn’t help, it’s normal oil, but not as we know it. We haven’t been able to find taco seasoning, so we thought we’d make our own, except we can’t find all the ingredients either. I can understand now why on border control reality TV people bring food from home to other countries. 

the short cut to the beach, not so bad going down, ugly coming up!

Our current abode is about a ten-minute walk south of town, up a hill, make that two hills. It makes a very good calf muscle and aerobic workout. 

Saturday market

For some reason our Australian mobiles won’t log onto any networks here which is a pain as it means I can’t do any internet banking. So if we get any unforeseen bills that can’t be paid by credit card in the next few months, they will have to wait! We normally have to make a call/SMS on our phones every three months to keep our accounts active, which of course we won’t be able to do either. So we contacted our carrier to let them know of our dilemma and they have promised not to make any changes to our accounts without emailing us. Fingers crossed. There is nothing else they can do. We managed to get some money put into our Citibank Plus account which is what I use to withdraw cash internationally, so we are not destitute. You can’t use your credit card for everything here as we do elsewhere.

Lots of colourful pottery

The weather here is lovely, as long as you’re not walking up that hill. If you are, then you feel all the humidity compounded and have to have another shower when you get home. Most of the time, I leave my shower until after we have been into town, because I always need to have a shower after walking up that hill.

It’s now mid January and the new year crowds have gone. The beaches are nearly empty and I feel a bit sorry for the locals, business must really drop. From talking to other people we have chosen the right locations to stay. As we thought, there are many American and Canadian’s either holidaying or are here for the winter. Everyone is very friendly as we are all in the same boat, swapping tips or places to go. It's been a long time since we have been to a beachside holiday destination. We are going to enjoy our time down here.

Other Puerto Vallarta Posts:

2. Life's a beach
3. Living in Old Town
4. A seaside village only accessible by boat
5. Wrapping up Puerto Vallarta
7. Puerto Vallarta Essentials