Slow English

Podcasts about Australia for intermediate learners of English

Podcast 141 – A Rainy Day in Melbourne

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Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack

Podcast Number 141 – A Rainy Day in Melbourne

(This podcast is 11 minutes and 21 seconds long.)

Hi,

It’s a rainy day in Melbourne. That is to be expected, as it is still winter as I make this podcast. Actually, Melbourne is known for being somewhat unreliable when it comes to the weather. There is a standing joke that, if you don’t like the weather in Melbourne, wait 5 minutes. This means that we think the weather changes quickly, and often. It seems that way, I must say. I have lived in Perth, Canberra, Sydney and lastly Melbourne, so I have seen a large sample of the weather in southern Australia. The truth is, we Melburnians like to complain about the weather. In this podcast, I would like to talk a little about rainy days in Melbourne and what people do at such times.

If you’ve heard my podcast before you may know that I’m retired. My main hobby in retirement is motorcycling, so when it rains, it affects my motorcycling. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle when it’s raining but it’s not much fun. Water seems somehow to find its way in through your protective clothing into every little nook and cranny. You need really good water-proof riding gear.

It was fine when I left, but I got caught in the rain. Here I am as I return home, not happy.

However, getting wet is not really the major problem. It is how the rain affects the riding experience that is the big disadvantage. As I explained in Podcast 135, the real fun in motorcycling is going around curves. The problem is, when riding in the rain, you have to slow down a lot, because it’s quite dangerous when you’re riding in the rain. When the road is damp or worse still wet, the amount of grip you can get between your tyres and the road is reduced. On a motorcycle it is very hard to judge how much grip you have available. When the bitumen is dry, it is amazing how much grip is available, especially if you have good quality tyres. You can lean the bike over quite steeply as you go around corners and still know that the bike will not lose its grip. However, when the road is wet, it’s another story. Go into a corner a little too hard, and suddenly your front wheel can slide out from under you, causing the bike to crash onto its side on the road, throwing you off and causing you to slide dangerously across the bitumen and into a tree trunk or off the side of the road – a bad outcome. Or alternatively, the rear wheel can slide out, also causing the bike to crash and throw the rider off. All this sounds pretty alarming, and I know that there is actually still quite a lot of grip in the wet. The problem is that you just don’t know where the limit of adhesion is. So the rule in the wet, for safe riding, is slow down. Or better still, stay home and do something else. There are better things to do on a wet day than ride your motorcycle.

Oh dear – just got back from a motorcycle ride in the rain. Not happy!

So what do people do in Australia on wet days? Staying home is popular, in order to watch videos and television on streaming services. Actually, our behaviour during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 in Australia gives us a good idea of what people do when they can’t go out. Research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has shown that the most popular activity was watching movies and television shows on free to air television, cable television and streaming services. I know I did my share of this during our lockdowns here in Melbourne. In fact, in 2021, more than 75% of homes paid for at least one streaming service, so this is a growing area of in-home entertainment in Australia. I also took up baking for fun (see Podcast 125), which, along with doing art and craft, was the second most popular group of activities done at home. The third most popular activity was playing games or puzzles. This was followed by exercise outside (which was allowed and encouraged during the lockdowns). Of course, when it’s raining, nearly everybody looks out the window and says, oh oh, it’s raining. I can’t do my exercise today. I plead guilty to that.

In fifth place was reading for pleasure. Interestingly, a survey by the Australian Council for the Arts found, in 2017, that 51% of their 3000 survey participants read between 1 and 10 books in a year, and another 41% read more than 10 books. I would be in the first group, as I don’t read as much as I should. Perhaps unexpectedly in the era of the internet and streaming services, lots of Australians still love to read books. In fact, in 2021, Australians spent around $1.3 billion buying books, which was an increase of around 2.5% over 2020. No doubt, even with our lockdowns now a thing of the past, reading is still a popular pastime on rainy days.

Now that the lockdowns are behind us, people are once more going to cafes, restaurants and theatres for their entertainment and socializing. That happens even when it’s raining. Personally, I am still a little wary of crowded indoor places, as Covid-19 infections are still happening. People, especially older people, are still dying from the pandemic each and every day. For example, I haven’t been to a cinema since 2020, after our first lockdown. I’m in the ‘at risk’ group for Covid-19 infection (because of my age) so I will continue mostly to stay at home when it is raining.

But the rain doesn’t always keep people at home. For example, in winter we play Australian Rules Football, which is very popular as a spectator sport here in Melbourne (see Podcast 2). Even on the coldest and wettest days, if there is a football match on at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), a fairly big crowd will turn up to watch it. While it is true that there are many seats which are under cover at the MCG, you can still see diehard fans with their plastic ponchos all sitting out in the rain close to the boundary fence, cheering on their favourite team. That is dedication. Me, I prefer to stay at home and watch the game on television. One thing is for sure – if it is raining, I certainly won’t be out riding my motorbike.

If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at rob@slowenglish.info. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. I will write back to you, in English of course. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.

Rob

Podcast 141 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?

You can take the quiz as many times as you like.

Vocabulary

adhesion = grip

alternatively = another example

amazing = almost hard to believe

art and craft = hobby activities where you make things with your hands

behaviour = what people and animals do

billion = 1,000 million

bitumen = the black or blue material that roads are made of

boundary fence = the fence between the playing field and the spectators

cable television = when TV and movies are sent down a wire to your house e.g. Foxtel

complain = when you are not happy with something and you tell someone else

crash = when a car or motorbike has an accident

curves = the shape of the road as it bends around a corner

damp = when something is only slightly wet

dedication = when you will continue doing something even though it is very difficult

diehard = people who believe in something strongly, even if it is difficult or hopeless

disadvantage = the bad things about an idea, object or process

encouraged = when people are told that they should do something, but you still have a choice

entertainment = when you are watch something which makes you happy. For example, a film

era = a period of time (usually many years)

expected = what you or others think will happen or should happen

fairly = a reasonable amount, not a big amount, not a small amount

grip = when things stick together

infections = when you catch a sickness

lean = not upright, at an angle (a motorbike must lean to go around a corner)

Melburnians = people who live in Melbourne. Notice the ‘o’ is missing

motorcycling = riding a motorcycle (a two wheeled vehicle)

nook and cranny = everywhere, in every place, especially the places hard to get to

outcome = the result

participants = people who take part in an activity

pastime = something people do for pleasure when they are not working

plead guilty = (here) I do that too, and I’m not proud of it

pleasure = when something makes you pleased or happy

ponchos = thin plastic cover which goes over your head and chest

pretty alarming = when something makes you worried or scared, but not too much

protective = it protects you from danger

rear = behind

reduced = made smaller, made less

retired = no longer working, no longer has a job

sample = a piece of something

slide = when you slip and lose your grip

socializing = meeting and talking with friends and family

somewhat = a small amount, a little

standing joke = a joke which everyone knows

steeply = at a large angle

streaming services = examples include Netflix, Stan, Disney+, Amazon Prime

survey = when people are asked questions about a topic

trunk = the large, round part of the tree which goes up from the ground

tyres = the rubber part of the wheels on cars, trucks and motorcycles

unreliable = cannot be predicted, will not always do what is expected

wary = when you are afraid of something bad happening, you are looking for danger

water-proof riding gear = (here) motorcycle clothing which water can’t get through


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2 Comments

  1. Wow, I am so lucky to be the first one to comment. I live in Brisbane and have ever been to Melbourne several times. To be honest, I do not like the weather there. We often say there are five seasons during one day in Melbourne. You have to wear thick warm clothing in the morning and only one T-shirt at noon. And when you go out home you must have an umbrella if you do not want to be wet, even though it is sunny without any clouds in the sky at that time.

    Riding a motorcycle on a rainy day is an absolutely bad experience. I must add one disadvantage, that is the rain will hide your sights, especially when you wear a helmet and glasses. (I noticed you wore the glasses in the picture you posted.) You can not use your hand to clean just like the wiper doing for the windscreen. And the worse thing is the fog constantly appearing on eye lenses. That is a deadly nightmare. So staying at home is a good idea when it is rainy.

    Today is also a rainy day in Brisbane. So I can sit in front of the screen and write so long comments.

    Thank you so much, Rob. I have learned your slow English for more than one year and I study one article every one or two days. It is almost done. I have heard many interesting things about Australia and Aussies through your podcast, which I think can make me get well along with Aussies easily. After all, we need to know more about each other when we have different cultural backgrounds.

    In the end, I hope you and your family all are well. We can hear your news and new podcasts often.

    • Hi Leon,
      Many thanks for your very thoughtful comment. You are certainly right about the fogging up inside your helmet. I have an anti-fog lens insert which really helps to keep my visor clear. However, the glasses can still get foggy when it is cold and that can be scary, as you say. I open up my helmet visor when that happens, in order to let the air get rid of the mist, but if it is raining, that can be problematic. But a wet face is better than running off the road!!lol.

      Thanks for your kind words about my podcast. I am glad that you find it useful.
      Have a great day (and stay out of the rain!).
      Rob

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