Friday, September 30, 2005
As all the Aussies (or just Sydney?) settle in for the long weekend, you'll all no doubt feel a smug sense of satisfaction out of the fact that the rain has come! Today is my first grey miserable day in London, and I can't say I'm loving it! (When my taxi driver tried to convince me yesterday that 15 degrees is actually pretty warm, I almost cried). It's going to be a loooooonng winter (wait, I think I see a patch of blue....)
Not to worry though - I cheered myself up by looking up some flights to Paris and Prague, where I plan to venture quite soon. Skiing in Austria would be quite nice...The thought of getting on a plane and being in Europe within a couple of hours makes it all worth it really. Paul and I are going to Newcastle this weekend to visit some friends, just for something different - not quite Prague, but it'll do for the moment.
In the past four weeks I've lived in three different places - am SO looking forward to moving in to our place in Putney; being homeless is not fun (and wreaks havoc with your wardrobe!). My stint as a receptionist also comes to an end today, so I will be unemployed again next week (homeless and unemployed? ahh the perils of a newie in London!) I had a job interview yesterday to be a Project Editor of Publishing for a museum here in London which went well (I think). So permanent employment may be on the cards soon..and my bank account is gagging for it. As a traveller on a two year visa, it's really hard getting permanent work through a recruitment agent. All the interviews I've got for permanent positions, have come from applications directly to a company (this may be different for other industries, not sure).
Anyways, less stress and more wine I say. Have a good weekend all, and hope the sun is shining for you all back in Oz.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Some Wednesday wisdoms from your resident UK traveller....
I'm temping as a receptionist this week in Westminster to pick up some extra cash (easy work, lovely view of Big Ben and the Thames, sitting here with a coffee, sure beats waiting on tables!), and had a spare moment for some quick ideas that may come in handy for working travellers:
If you are applying for a lot of jobs at once, try and print out and keep the job descriptions and contact names for the positions you've applied for, so you can jog your memory if you are called back for an interview. I applied for so many jobs at once, that when people called me on my mobile, I had to stall for time while I remembered exactly what job they were talking about (not very professional!). Often by the time you are called for an interview, the job descriptions have been taken off the Net, which can leave you in a bit of a fix if you want to appear knowledgeable in an interview (I've got one tomorrow, interview panel of three, yikes!) Your best bet for the cheapest Internet access in London are local libraries, which are usually nice and quiet and perfect for job application marathons.
You will also need a permanent mailing address before you start applying for jobs (yes, some people still communicate by snail mail, quite a few here actually). If you are living out of hostels, and don't have a friend in London who can receive your mail for you - you can collect mail free of charge from your local post office. This is also handy if you want to send things ahead of you to be picked up in the UK. The person sending you mail just has to include the following on their envelope: your full name, 'POSTE RESTANTE' or 'TO BE CALLED FOR', followed by 'POST OFFICE' and the full address of the branch. If it's only addressed to a town name, for example 'POST RESTANTE, LONDON', then it will go to the closest main Post Office branch. Go to http://www.postoffice.co.uk (Receiving Mail) for all the information. They'll hold mail sent from the UK for two weeks, and for one month if sent from abroad.
Ciao for now,
Pru (world's best receptionist)
Monday, September 26, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
I thought I would dedicate a small section of my blog to working holidaymakers in London who want to make quick (or extended) getaways to Europe. There are some great deals around at the moment, so if you're longing for mediterranean skies or craving a cafe au lait, you might find these links helpful:
www.ryanair.com - great for cheap as chips flights, but they only fly to and from regional destinations (ie usually about an hour out of the nearest major city), so do some research in to where you're flying if you only have a limited amount of time (there are always shuttles to the nearest major city available). They also have a site for cheap deals on hotels at www.ryanairhotels.com
Another helpful site is http://www.skyscanner.net which is a flight search engine where you can compare available flights from different carriers.
Pining for Paris? If you've got a bit more to spend, the Eurostar is a quick, easy and comfortable way to whisk you directly to the heart of the city of lurve... www.eurostar.com At the moment they have 'City Break' deals from £77pp. I did it in January, and it was amazing!
In the past, I've picked up great deals from www.lastminute.com like cheap hotels, flights etc. It's worth a look if you're feeling spontaneous (or if someone forgot to book accommodation).
If a bus full of young antipodeans fuelled by excitement, hormones and alcohol is your thing, I've heard good things about Busabout from other travellers here (http://www.busabout.co.uk) You get to go at your own pace and prices for a two week pass start at £259.
Staying in London?
There's still plenty of excitement to be had. While checking out www.visitlondon.com I found it's a really good site for what's on around town, including a section dedicated to free stuff! I'm very excited about the Oxford Street 'Dress to Impress' festival next weekend, touted as being 'the high street fashion event of the year'. For the first time in history the street will be closed off to traffic, so if I get completely overwhelmed by the 'shopping celebration' and performance by Charlotte Church (joy), I can always park in the middle of a main street in London for a nap...
Thursday, September 22, 2005
OK, I may be the only one to get excited about this, but I met Brum! You know that cute little car that had his own TV show on the ABC a few years ago?! It was alongside other English greats (and personal favourites) such as Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and Thomas. I met Brum in a Motor Museum in his home town, Bourton-on-the-Water (dubbed the 'Venice of the Cotswolds' by locals because of the picturesque river running through it). I had to include a photo for you all...
(I know you're probably wondering why I went in to a Motor Museum in the first place, but hey, I was getting in to the tourist spirit! This gorgeous town, about 2 hours out of London, was so pretty and quintessentially English, it just made you want to sit down and have tea and scones)
Back in London, I have started a temp job as a receptionist for a week or so to pick up some extra cash while I'm looking for a long term position. I had to take a test on my Word, Powerpoint, Excel and typing skills which was a bit scary - so a warning to everyone out there not to tell fibs on your CV!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
It's my three week anniversary in London today, and I've marked it by securing my first paid employment - woohoo! I've decided to do some temping to bring in some extra cash while I'm searching around for a job in the area I really want to work in (publishing). I'll be doing easy temp stuff for around 10 pounds an hour for the next week or so. I have a job interview for an Editorial position tomorrow - but cash is getting short, and who knows how long it will take the publishing giants here to realise how brilliant I am and how much they really want to hire me?!
Some recruitment agencies are reluctant to take people for permanent positions who are only on the two-year working visa (of which you are only permitted to work 12 months), so that is a little difficult as well. Ancestry visas are fine, however. It can be disheartening, but just keep searching around, because I have met with a couple of agencies who were happy to take me on regardless - so I guess you just have to find the right ones. Check out the agencies which are suited to your industry at http://www.workgateways.com/agencies.php
You'll also need a National Insurance Number once you start working. You have to make time to go to an 'identity interview' at your local job centre. Read all about it at:
In other news, I'm still copping flak about the Ashes, but am in high spirits because my beloved Sydney Swans made it to the AFL grand final!! I'm just running off now to buy tickets to The Puzzle, a pub inHammersmith, where for 10 quid we get to watch the game live (at 5am) and get a six pack and a meat pie. Bless.....
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I just included this because I thought it was a nice photo of the Houses of Parliament in London, which I visited in my wanderings yesterday (don't yawn, it's an awesome building). I also went to the Tate Britain which is a great museum (and free too, which makes it so much more appealing! :) That's me enjoying the sunshine in the park, with Parliament in the background.
Also wanted to update you all on the job front. I have had two meetings with recruitment agents which have been positive (they say you should usually have about three people looking for work for you, but I haven't got that far yet). I'm trying to get a job in publishing over here, and found that Media Recruitment agencies are not usually listed on sites or resources aimed at working travellers (if anyone would like to know the agencies I've found, post a comment and I'll let you know). I've applied for a few jobs straight out of the media jobs section (out every Monday in the Guardian), but not too sure how successful that will be since they probably get thousands of applicants.
Right now there are more pressing issues to deal with however, as I am off to the pub to meet a friend for a drink. Ciao! :)
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Let's play 'pick the Aussie traveller who just returned from sunny Greece' in the above pic! My pasty complexion next to my beautifully tanned friend Jo has left me with a serious hankering for some European travels. This photo was taken last week at a bar in Fulham, as I caught up with friends from home (and my brother, also in the photo) over some snakebites (no, not a painful reptilian experience, but a delicious mix of beer, grenadine and cider).
Although the Autumn chill will be coming soon, heaps of people I've spoken to are heading off to take advantage of the European sun, and Oktoberfest. I wistfully watch them go, with the knowledge that once I get settled with a job, I'm going to become the queen of 'mini-breaks'.
The other photo above is the room I'm currently living in, in a share-house in Fulham. Although it's a great room in a fabulous location, living with seven other people is a bit much (and you can imagine the bathroom, very soggy!). The girl who's room we are dossing in, is coming back on Sunday, so we have to be out anyway. I currently have nothing organised yet, so stay tuned to hear more about my crazy (and hopefully, not homeless) adventures....
Monday, September 12, 2005
Just a quick one today to fill you in on finding a flat in London. Luckily for me, I had a beautiful pre-arranged room waiting for me when I got to London (was going to attach another photo here, but forgot to bring my USB cable to the Internet Cafe, oops, will do it in the near future). I have been dossing (UK term, translates to 'crashing') in this room for a couple of weeks, but have to vacate next week when the Aussie we're renting from returns. Basically all you need to find a room, whether you're pre-arranging, or finding your next flat, is the godsend website www.gumtree.com. This site is predominantly used by Aussie, Kiwi and South African travellers (but lots more as well), to advertise rooms in all areas of London on all budgets. At the moment for a double room in South West London we are paying 130 pounds a week, which is about average.
After I leave this share-house in Fulham, I'm very excited to announce that I will be living right on the Thames! We've found a great apartment in Putney, with a balcony overlooking the river, for 170 pounds a week (plus bills which are minimal once shared), and we are sharing with a Brazilian girl, an Aussie guy and a Kiwi girl. Flat hunting is not fun, and you will meet some weirdos for sure, but it's all worth it once you find the place which will witness your many coming adventures as a working traveller in this great city!
If anyone else has found a better (or just as good) website than gumtree.com, please do tell!
Thursday, September 08, 2005
One of the most surprisingly lovely things to happen since I have been here is the English sun! I was prepared for the worst, but the weather has been gorgeous. This is a pic of me enjoying the sunshine on a day trip to Windsor last week to visit Queen Lizzie....
The Londoners are all out in force, squeezing what they can out of the sun before the autumn chill hits. On Sunday the Regent Street festival was great - the street was closed off and thousands of people were enjoying market stalls, rides or parking themselves on the fake grass laid down the centre of the street (any opportunity for a sunbathe, and guys here just rip off their shirts and lie down for a nap - I guess you have to make the most of it while you can!)
The most handy thing this week has been my 'London A - Z'; any newie to London should definitely pick this up to avoid getting hopelessly lost as I have on a couple of occasions! You can pick them up from practically any newsagent in London - or if you're running short of cash and don't need one immediately, you can get a TNT Streetfinder for free from the website www.tntmagazine.com/streetfinder Soon you'll be trekking London like a pro.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
My adventures will be being brought to you by WORKgateways, who provide excellent recruitment advice for working travellers, as well as essential links and advice. Check out their site and the regular travellers newsletters (featuring contributions by yours truly) at www.workgateways.com
Let me know if you have any questions, ideas, or just want to say a general hello! Mi blog es su blog!
More to come....