Saturday, October 29, 2005

Today I visited the famous Portobello Rd Markets - definitely one of my London highlights so far. It is just fantastic and I felt suitably cool browsing through antiques and strolling through Notting Hill. It completely lived up to my expectations, not one of those world famous sites you get to and think 'is that all?!'. As is everything else in London on a Saturday, it was completely crammed, but I'm getting used to navigating the crowds(and now post-tubewalletsnatchingincident, am used to obsessively clutching and checking my bag every five seconds).
I caught myself on several occasions humming the 'Portobello Rd, Portobello Rd' tune from Bedknobs and Broomsticks (had similar slightly embarassing experience when visiting the steps of St Paul's cathedral and got caught singing 'Feed the Birds' from Mary Poppins - damn musicals!)
As I'm writing this, fireworks are going off everywhere because people are gearing up for Guy Fawkes night next week. Last night some overzealous Aussies almost set the plants outside our flats alight. You can tell we're not used to it :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

You know you've been in London eight weeks when....
  • the tube map starts to make sense
  • you order a pint without even thinking about how much beer it actually is
  • you get interested in soccer (??)
  • you've discovered the heavenly McVitties chocolate flapjacks, and Ben and Jerry ice-cream
  • you compulsively stand to the right, at all times, for fear of getting trampled
  • you start calling the bus tour-guide groups ‘tourists’ in a smugly superior tone
  • you get your first English paycheck and stop compulsively converting when you buy lunch
  • you've accepted the English media is trash and yes, there is and will always be, a major national newspaper featuring a semi-naked ‘page three girl’
  • you start enjoying 'Wife Swap'
  • you look outside and see a miniscule ray of sunshine and think 'what a lovely day!'

Here's to my eight week anniversary!!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Here's a pic of KT Tunstall, who we went to see at the Shepherds Bush Empire, aka fantastic venue that may as well be my beloved Enmore Theatre in Newtown transplanted to London. The Empire is 10 mins from my place, and has great gigs. KT Tunstall was amazing and we had an awesome night- not sure if she has caught on massively in Oz, but she was very impressive! Better than Missy Higgins, and she gives Sarah Blasko a run for her money I reckon. Very cool.

(check out this crazy guy - pity I wasn't in Worchester!! )

Friday, October 21, 2005

Chance meetings, friendly thieves and new beginnings...

Hi all,

I've been off the planet for a few days, and so much has happened in the life of your favourite Aussie-turned-Londoner....where to begin?

Most importantly of all, I started my new job this week and it has just been fantastic! I've joined a young, vibrant company as an Editor, and I have a feeling I'm going to really enjoy myself there. There are four other Aussie girls in the company and they took me out for lunch, or 'Sheila Snack-time' as it was dubbed by everyone else in the company. Having all been in London for a different amount of time, it was interesting hearing everyone's stories, plans and experiences of being a working traveller in London and how they feel about eventually going home. Having only been here for seven weeks, I felt like a bit of a novice! Also excited about the year I have ahead of me though, and all the great things I have yet to experience. Not one traveller I've met has said anything other than that they are having the time of their lives.

Bit of bad news this week as I had my first run in with thieves on the tube. Those who know me will no doubt be surprised that I have managed this long without having something lost/stolen, and until this week, I was in similar disbelief. BUT, my credit card, debit card and 60 pounds cash were stolen from me on the Tube this week (on my first day of my new job - great timing!). At first I was ecstatic at the time, cause they had actually PUT BACK my purse after they rifled through it (don't ask me how I didn't notice) but at least I still had my Aussie cards, license etc. Here was I thinking how nice it was of them to put it back, but (and most of you will probably cotton on here), of course it is so the little buggers have more time to use your card before you report it stolen. In the time it took me to report the cards missing, I lost over 400 pounds (about AU$1000 to save you the math). Today was spent going back and forth from the police station and the bank - still don't know if I'm going to get the stuff off my credit card back - ARGH!! (it is SO easy to use other peoples cards here, even without the PIN, sometimes English authorities are so stupid).

On to happier news - by chance I've run in to four people from home in completely random places on different occasions. If you want to get away from friends from home, don't come to London!! Probably because the Aussies have basically taken over the West and South West of this city. It's a small world after all....

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Just a note to say that it is a beautiful, sunny day in London and I'm having a lovely day by the river....!! Am nursing a mini hangover but have ventured to my new haunt (the cafe where the aforementioned smoothie incident occurred), and am drinking a 'detox' juice to cleanse the system (it's got carrot, beetroot, ginger and celery- and you can also get it as a smoothie, gross! what are these people thinking?). The cafe has free Internet access though (if you have a laptop) so I think I can forgive their small smoothie transgressions.

Everyone is coming over this afternoon to check out the new flat so I have to go to the 'offie' (short for off-licence - you get bagged so much here if you say 'bottle-o'), to stock up on beer for a blissful afternoon on the balcony.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Friends, my six week sojourn of sleeping, shopping and boozing is about to come to an end; at least between the hours of 9 and 5, Monday to Friday; since I have finally gained steady, long term, respectable (and well-paid) employment in London! (Cue champagne corks and celebratory shopping spree...!!) After tentatively leaving my job as an Editor in Sydney, my next career step will be as an Editor for an educational publisher in East London, on a 12 month contract (the maximum amount of work allowed by my stingy visa). Finding permanent work with the new Visa 12 month rule is hard, but obviously do-able (it's much easier for Aussies if you can dig up a British ancestor). The main concern my new employer had about hiring a working traveller, was that they didn't want someone who was going to leave after only a short time, so basically I had to prove my worth and let them know exactly why they should hire me over anyone else and that I'm in it for the long run - so everyone back in Oz, doesn't look like I'll be home for a while!! The fun starts on Tuesday, so I'll keep you posted.

In other spheres of life in Putney, I have discovered something dark, dire and altogether horrifying about London. I've noticed it over the past few weeks, but didn't think it could be true until I experienced it firsthand this morning thinking (and this is always dangerous) "well, everyone else seems to be doing it, it can't be that bad". Oh it is. In the UK, they make ORANGE SMOOTHIES and seem to think this is ok. Not just some kind of orange flavouring, but juicy, citrusy oranges mixed right in with yoghurt and milk and whatever else you want to add to this disgusting combination. I ended up with one this morning when I went in to a juice/smoothie bar and asked for a banana smoothie (I should have run out the door when the pimply skinny guy behind the counter looked blankly at me and said "ah..well, we don't really do those - i can't imagine that would be very nice") Um, sorry, WHAT? Isn't the Banana Smoothie where it all started? Doesn't EVERYONE know what a banana smoothie is and how good they taste? Slightly disturbed and a little confused, I just kind of pointed at something on the menu and ended up with this foul orange combination, that I can still feel curdling in my stomach.
You've all been warned.....

but yay! I got a job !!!

(and Happy Birthday to my beautiful friend Amy back home - have some champagne for me gorgeous!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Finally - introducing Le Palais Putney (or Putters as it has come to be known)

We have finally moved somewhere permanent, as you can see from the lovely photos! (That's Paul on our balcony). Ours is the apartment second from the top on the right - and we're sharing with an Aussie guy, a Brazilian girl and a South African girl, who all seem really nice. The place is called 'Ruvigny Mansions' - suitably posh for me I would say :) We've managed to score wireless Internet and Sky TV as well which is a plus (although I am developing a dangerous addiction to Sky, since at any time of day you can find either Friends or Will and Grace, or some other popcorn American comedy on). Anyway, it is sweet to finally call somewhere home and I just love it, love it, love it!

Having sustained a battle injury during the Swans Grand Final (don't laugh, but when we won I jumped up and seem to have done some kind of semi-permanent damage to my back)..anyways, I have yet to be introduced to the Health System here and am about to take myself off to my local 'Walk In Centre' because I am guzzling Nurofen like there is no tomorrow and it can' t be good. When you arrive in the UK you need to register with a doctor in your local area (I didn't do this, oops) so you can make an appointment if anything comes up (like grand-final-induced back injuries). If you haven't registered but you need to see a health professional for a minor ailment, you can go to the NHS Walk In Centre near you, and just wait to be seen (which could take ages). Go to to find your nearest local doctor or centre.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The myth that London (and England generally) has a crap cuisine has really been disproven since I have been here to be quite honest. Yes, there have been some suspicious looking bar snacks and there is something dodgy about all those pre-packaged sandwiches (the English don't get the concept of a fresh sandwich bar, everything is pre-made and wrapped in plastic), BUT I have to say that on the whole, the restaurants I've been to have been pretty good. I went to a great Lebanese with Karen on Thursday night on High Street Kensington which rivalled even my favourite Al Mustafas on Glebe Point Rd, Sydney. There are also Tapas bars everywhere, to keep my patatas bravas addiction well-fuelled.

Keeping in tune with my record as being the laziest traveller ever when it comes to living it rough, (and being homeless until tomorrow!) Paul and I checked in to a very nice hotel just off High Street Kensington for a couple of days last week (got a great, VERY cheap deal on my new darling, almost cheaper than some hostels I looked at actually). Anyways, quickly discovered that there is no quicker way to make yourself feel short, fat and altogther frumpy, than walking down High Street Kensington beside the Kate Moss lookalikes and celebrity wannabes that appear to be everywhere. Although I was on the lookout for Sienna and Jude, it just wasn't to be...but I live in hope. Am finding it very difficult to not blow all my cash shopping, especially since I am still jobless, but there's only so much a girl can take.

We also discovered great chain pub in Lambeth (en route to funky little Cuban bar) - the Camel, which was made even better by the obviously new waitress who forgot to charge us for our last round of drinks - always a plus. Although my mate Greg was very seedy having just returned from his 'Top Deck' tour of Europe (he said it was awesome and heaps better than Contiki - have a look, we had a gorgeous meal and of course, plenty of pints and lovely red wine.

Raining again today - don't want to know what the temp is back home...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This is what kept me entranced on Saturday night - the glowing, colour changing bridge in Newcastle (the amazement was no doubt enhanced by several delicious mojitos). We went up to Newcastle for the weekend to visit friends, and I was pleasantly surprised. There's a decent beach nearby (well, decent for England anyway) and even a mini replica Sydney Harbour Bridge, although they reckon they built it before we did. I tried to refute this but couldn't come up with exact dates? shame on me.

These photos were taken on Saturday night, where we sampled some of the great bars and clubs the city up north has to offer. One with a piranha tank was particularly cool. This is in the Pitcher and the Piano, one of the 'chain' bars that seem to be all over London and England. Anyways, the night wore on and much fun was had by all. If you can bothered to take the two hour train ride, you'll have a fun night (just look at the pretty colours!)

In other news, the interview process is still wearing on and I'm giving myself another little non-income earning holiday :) and the move-in date looms nearer!