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Living in Brisbane

Brisbane as seen through the eye of Shirley Ferguson, a serial expat who left Scotland many years ago and has been hopping around the world ever since

We lived in Brisbane for nearly three years and found the culture and the way of life to be like a sunnier, friendlier Britain. There were enough similarities to make us feel quickly at home.

There were a lot of lovely things about living in Brisbane ; the countless cool , breezy but sunny days and the way everyone was lured to the park by this  and played sports or cycled .  Even better, you could set out on a walk without kindly motorists slowing down to offer you a lift, assuming you had broken down!  My husband thoroughly enjoyed cycling into work and having time to swim at lunch (reached by a stroll through The Botanic Gardens) before cycling home. It is something that is hard to replicate in Houston and he feels his quality of life is the poorer for it.

Loved the coffee shops too; Australians have discovered the art of relaxing with a latte and not simply filling up a huge flask to have on the go!  In the city you would see men in shirt sleeves having a coffee break with colleagues in the coffee shops that were in their office buildings. I loved the way people on gluten free diets were catered to; not only was lovely baking available in the stores but it was also offered in coffee shops and big chains like Muffin Break .

Dining out, I noticed another thing I loved about living in Brisbane; you weren’t under pressure to tip but if you did, your name was remembered the next time and you were treated like a queen!  I even had a waitress follow me out of the coffee shop, convinced I had dropped a $5on the table by accident.

The public transport was another perk of life over there; you could catch a bus that came on time, was beautifully clean and had bus drivers happy to advise you which stop you needed! All rare events back home!  Twenty minutes would find me in the middle of the city secure in the knowledge I could make it home in time for the all important school run.  Even better a thirty minute ferry ride brought you there and it was lovely to stand by the front rails and watch Brisbane roll by on the river.

Talking of school, the principal at my son’s public school played cricket with the boys in the front yard and the kids were free to have their packed lunch anywhere in the surrounding fields of the school.  Life was more informal there in general and the children given a lot more freedom. They also had a uniform which cut out the pressure for cool and trendy clothing to impress their peers.  I remember one day watching 17 year olds alighting from the bus wearing regulation broad brimmed hats, knee length gray socks and full uniform too.  That just would not happen in a British or American state school.

Apart from being constantly mistaken for being Irish and being regaled with stories of strangers’ ancestral Irish roots as a consequence,   there were no drawbacks to life in Brisbane.  We loved the parks the museums, the theatres and the leisurely, relaxed pace of life. The food was highly influenced by the proximity to the East; Thai restaurants abounded as did furniture stores with knick knacks from Bali, Singapore or Thailand.  The Australian and far Eastern styles melded into an unusual but ‘pleasing to the eye’ style.