'' It has been the warmest December in many years in .... '' announces the TV presenter.
I'm back in Oz , watching TV. Can't believe I'm here. Summer in December and that. Wow.
''...in the North Hemisphere'' he continues
F**** Europe I say out loud, wrapped in my blanket,with my Winter socks on, sneezing for the 3rd time. Been the coldest Christmas in Oz for years. How freaking unfair is that. 22hours on a plane to spend Xmas in Summer and the Sun takes the opposite trip and goes to ENGLAND . Seriously.
'' But we still have a couple of days to chill out between xmas and New Year''
CHILL OUT. National Aussie expression. I've been back 7 days and I heard it about 200 times.
CHILL OUT. it means different things in different countries around the world. In Germany '' to chill out '' means showing up on time at some appointment and NOT 10 minutes early. In France , a chilled out person is a lazy young pot smoker with no job. In England , chilling out involves a cuppa tea. In Spain they don't know because they are ALL chilled out. In Thailand , it's something to do with sitting Buddah . And I've been to all these countries . As a citizen of the world, let me be a little lost over the meaning of it.
'' Annabelle, chill out , you're on Aussie time!'' . Sure. I don't want to ask what they mean so I assume it has to mean 1/ sleep. 2/ Watch Bondi Vet on telly 3/ Talk about Julia Gillard's new hair cut.
Me and my dear Scottish Aussie sister Pip ( not my real sister of course , I don't even have sibblings. But when you're a citizen of the world , you can pick your own family. Mine is HUGE ) went Xmas shooping at Coles on Xmas eve. That , I thought , was the opposite of ''chilling out'' whatever it meant.
In France , shopping on xmas eve is Hell. You have to be mad to venture out shopping in a crowd of stressed , restess people who want the rest of the planet dead so they don't have to queue anywhere.. But we all do it. We moan at the traffic , the prices, the bitch who took the last Wrapping paper roll , we push people, swear at other drivers. Perfect french Xmas spirit. ( and we blame the governement for it too)
So I walk into Coles with the intention of not letting other people's stress get to me. What did I see? People strolling around bare foot, nicely chatting to each other and laughing really loud while happily purchasing their food for their Xmas barbie.
'' Please go first , mate '' someone tells me at the till , smiling.
WHAT 'S WRONG WITH THEM ???????
In France we would call them ''spaced out''. And we would probably go on strike because it's all too slow for us.
But it's not. Shopping was all done in an hour . We did not kill or even wanted to kills anyone. Wow. I even got a pair of new thongs , everyone tells me I look good in them. Australia : the only country where everyone can see your thongs and it's still ok ( England is the second country but those ones are sticking out of trousers or mini skirts and it usually does not look that good) Yes,in Austraaaalian thongs=flip flops. ( it's always good to know. It avoids misunderstandings)
My first hot Christmas.... was just amazing. Spending it with Brits in the Sun was just priceless. We has cups of teas, mince pies ( they DO taste better in Australia. ) xmas crackers with British jokes, and salads. All that, outside, in 25 degrees. ( it should have been hotter but as I said it was the coldest December in many years)
Christmas morning I even got french croissants. I thought I'd add vegemite to make it look more ''real'' but , no mate, still don't like it ( I'm still trying though ,promise)
I even had a priceless conversation with my favourite 7 year old Aussie about Santa. Why the hell does he wear that big jacket here. Seriously.
'' He does not HAVE TO wear it'' he says '' He's allowed to wear a Tee shirt but he likes his winter coat too much''
HOW CUTE IS THAT.
I started believing in Santa again that day ( did I ever stop?)because he made my Christmas so beautiful , he gave me another ''family of the world'' and a taste of '' chilling out'' Although it sort of still meant ''being lazy'' to me.
So I took the dog for a walk. A 10 year old Aussie dog for 1 hour walk in the Sun. It took her 1 full day to recover.
Am I doing too much?
'' Yes, chill out!!!''
What the does chill out mean? My mind was still on '' Do-sleep-do-sleep'' mode. That's how you wake up with your phone in your hand , your facebook status half updated. And I still had 2 facebook pages to update ( every hour) and photos to take. Chill out is not for me. I'm a professional traveller ( I like the sound of that one , don't you? )
So I went back to work on Boxing Day.What other french would do that?
I agreed to mind my Aussie parents' ( other members of my family of the world) Bed and Breakfast in Mount Burrell for 5 days while they were taking a well deserved break with their Grand kids on the Gold Coast.
'' This is Annie our new woofer, she'll be helping you. You'll be fantastic Annabelle, chill out!''
And then they were gone.
So.... I was going to manage a 5 star Bed and Breakfast in the bush with no car and a person whom I've never met. She has been here for 1 week. I've been away for 5 months. SURE. Something tells me that chill out does not mean sleeping in this case.The first guests are coming in an hour. And they can order home made pizzas. Did I tell you I can't cook? And I'm disorganized?
But GOD( or is it Santa?) sent me a ..... GERMAN woofer. ( ie organized, hard working, ponctual woofer)
3 days later
''Annie , guests are coming over for dessert tonight''
'' No worries I'll make something up'' she says with a smile.
'' 1 latte , 1 cappucino'' I announce as I was happily making coffees from a proper coffee machine. ( wanna know the truth? I can't tell the difference betweeen Latte and Cappuccino. Last time an italian barrister attempted to explain I ended up sleeping with him. BAD.GIRL. So I made 2 of my infamous '' Lattucinos'' . And Guests loved it.
In 2 days Annie and I made home made pizzas, moved scared guests to another room at 10pm , looked after our friend Karen's new born while she went shopping for us , chatted to the guests, got the tractor out of the mud, cleaned, did the laundry and still had time to become super good friends, watch movies and talk about how slow time is in OZ.
We had found the meaning of chilling out. Chilling out is being in the present moment and see what awesome things we can make out of it. That's how you can slow time down.
My 48h break from facebook ( call it strike if you want, I'm french after all) did help.
It's crazy how much time we waste on that thing ( you can still visit my facebook page about my new challenge called '' Citizen of the world'' and like it. Thanks!!!). Time we could use to walk 5km up and down a hill in the Aussie Sun with a new german friend to go for coffee together . Chilling out Is's not about being lazy ,it's about Being.
That's the effect the Aussie bush has on me. Better than drugs. I did think about moving here permanently , in a tent outside my friend 's Karen 's cottage, grow a beard and be in communion with Nature but hey ,I'm a traveller, I should keep going,mate.
Now watching French news on SBS . About those Aussie tourist spending New Years' in Paris. What a stupid thing to do. Do they REALLY want to spend that evening squeezed between hundreds of people in a big city , with no possibilty to wee in any free toilet , just to see a stupid firework that is going to last for 4 minutes? Bloody tourists they don't know how to chill out.
What? Where do I spend MY New Year's Eve? Somewhere not cliche at all. Sydney, mate, Sydney.
Chilling out is not a place, It's an attitude.
But it IS easier in Summer.