Saturday, 2 July 2011

My first Saturday in Perth and comparisons with the UK

Today's plan was to find the local shops and then go on to Perth for some shopping.  The first part of the plan was not successful. 

I looked carefully at the local map before I went out and thought I knew where I was going.  I walked for about half an hour, and got to the place where I thought the shops were, but no joy, I could not find them.  The 30 bus approached, I wondered whether to get on, but decided not to, and to continue looking for the shops.  About 10 minutes later I decided I was not going to find them, looked at the timetable, carefully, and discovered the half hourly timetable I had been reading, was for weekdays, and the Saturday and Sunday 30 service was hourly.  As I sat at the bus stop, I read the bus map/timetable carefully, and realised that if I went to my usual stop, I could have a half hourly weekend service into Perth.  This is because there are two services that serve Salter Point to Perth - the 31 serves the eastern side of the housing estate and the 30 serves the west.  If I go to my usual stop, I can get one service on each side of the road, to go eastbound or westbound, and they run exactly half an hour apart.  It was only because I had 45 minutes to kill, that I realised this!  If in doubt, read the instructions!

I travelled into Perth and had a very successful shopping trip.  I bought some jeans (one size smaller than last time!) for $39 at a basic chain store.  This is c£26 which is slightly more than a similar chain store in the UK would charge.  The Borders bookshop appeared very expensive - typically $33 (£22) for an average paperback biography, whereas in the UK I would pay £7-11.  However, this was the only bookshop remaining in business.  Looks like Amazon has destroyed booksellers in Australia as well as the UK.  I saw two bookshops, both closing down, and bought 3 Australian biographies of the last 50 years for a total of $46 (60% discount).  I read this type of material in every country I visit, to get a handle on recent social history.

I have thought about why prices in Perth seem to be high.  I have read that Perth is the most isolated city in the world - huge distances to any other built up area.  So if everything has to be transported, it would account for some increased costs.  And I have noticed that lots of the fruit and veg is Australian (unlike the UK where we imports lots of stuff we can grow ourselves).  If so much produce is internally grown, I can see why Customs are so hot on preventing illegal/unintentional importation of fruit and veg, in order to protect their agriculture from pests and diseases.

I asked where to find an art shop, and someone gave me good directions to a proper art shop down a back alley, where I managed to get more watercolour paper postcards and a basic set of watercolour brushes.  Now I will be able to use my Inktense pencils and capture the wonderful colours around me.
Then I went to Woolworths (a grocery store here, not a general store as used to be in the UK) and picked up some more food.  This made me reflect on things I take for granted in the UK.  Now I am an exchange student, and don't run a car, I am restricted on what I can buy, by how much I can carry.  This may sound patently obvious but had not occurred to me previously.  All I wanted was vegetables, milk, flour, and tea.  But it was two bags full, and it was moderately heavy when combined with the books and jeans I had bought.  Fortunately I had planned my shopping to do the heavy stuff last (if you omit the unplanned book purchases!), was close to the bus station and staggered there, and collapsed onto the 30 bus.  Maybe this is why I am losing weight!!  Yippee!
When I got back, the sun came out and made the outlook from my window look great.  So I got out the pencils and water, and did a little postcard of the sky, wall, olives and roses, and washed into it with a brush.  My joy was complete. 

Now to cook dinner with all the heavy ingredients I have carried home!

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