Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It is so unbelievably wonderful to come home from work and for it to still be light outside until about 8 at night! It just makes you want to go out and do stuff - so of course we had to go to the pub for some dinner (I've been mostly pretty good this week so it's ok!)

I meant to put the link to the boat race up the other day, but forgot, so here it is. So go have a squiz at what we'll all be doing on the weekend! I'm still deciding whether to lie my loyalties with Oxford or Cambridge. Apparently Cambridge has an Aussie rowing with them, so that's good enough for me!

Just watched The Apprentice which I have slowly become addicted to. You just can't help but get addicted to trash TV here, especially when you have Sky TV and almost every channel under the sun (especially for a little uninitiatied girl like me who is just used to five channels). At least is a social plus - everyone comes over under the guise of visiting us, when really all they want to do is catch the latest episode of Americas Next Top Model..scammers.

Anyways, it's late and I need to sleep! Although I do have to say it is much easier getting up in the morning when the sun is shining in (it's really getting warmer, I'm so excited!)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Well Cardiff was....wet. Very wet. I would have liked to say that I loved Wales, but I was only there for five hours and most of that was spent trying to make sure I didn't poke any unsuspecting passerbys in the eye with my umbrella. There is a gorgeous castle in Cardiff which I would have loved to have seen the inside of, but our crap tourist skills set in and we couldn't be bothered going on the tour (which lasted 45 minutes) or paying the £6.50 (so we just had a free squiz around the grounds, trying to see something through the torrential rain!). I have consoled myself with the fact that I will go back sometime – hopefully when it's not raining – and stay fo a bit longer. it looks like there's some good pubs there and the bay would be lovely in Summer. The Millenium Stadium was also great to catch a glimpse of - next time we'll try and see a game there. The Welsh accent is just entertaining in itself as well - how cool to have an accent which sounds like you're singing a little song (I'm not being rude here, I think it's lovely - although I kept thinking I heard the Welsh designer Julian McDonald from Project Catwalk whispering in my ear).

Daylight saving kicked in over the weekend so even though it's still pretty cold, at least it's not dark anymore! It will now stay light at least until 8 or so, with the days getting longer as summer gets closer. The famous boat race between Oxford and Cambridge is on in Putney next weekend which is going to be huge - there is a massive festival and apparently about a quarter of a million people line the Thames – and my flat is smack bang in the middle of it all (from our balcony we have a prime view of the starting line).

I've added a link to the side of this page to my sister's 'European Extravaganza' blog. She's studying in Germany for a year and should have some funny tales to tell so have a look.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday at last! I have been so busy this week at work and am so glad it's almost the weekend. And it's pay day - which I am in desperate need of! Stupid me has been wondering for the past couple of weeks why my bank balance appeared to be going up.... turns out that yes, it's going up, but going up in the MINUSES and it was actually my overdraft that that was increasing...oh dear (this bout of stupidity will come as no surprise to those who know me best!) I blame the evil policy of UK banks, which allows you to withdraw money which you don't actually have from your normal bank account (what's wrong with the good old 'Sorry, you have insufficient funds!). Anyways, all has now been rectified by my precious pay day and I am back in the pluses.

Tomorrow I'm going to Cardiff! Yes, we're driving three hours to visit another country (I love being able to do that!). I know absolutely nothing about Cardiff except that there is the Millenium Stadium (pictured) and my brother lived there for a while (in Cardiff, not in the Stadium). We're just going on a little road trip there for a day or two, which should be good! So stay tuned for my opinions of the Welsh (maybe we'll run into Charlotte Church....?)

In other news, London is beside itself with predictions that this weekend temperatures will reach an all-time high of 15 DEGREES (well, highest for the past five months anyway). I can't believe I'm also getting a little excited about such a measly temperature - but it's a lot better than we've had for a while. Get out the bikini - summer's coming!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The new me

So this is what happens when you get bored - you stumble across a Yahoo site where you can make a little picture of yourself - and this is what I came up with! (see right). As you can see, this is typical of me in London - going out wearing not much clothes when it is freezing (ok, so maybe I wouldn't be caught dead in shorts that small, but you get the picture). I'm definitely never seen outdoors without a scarf (all you peoples who get my blog delivered straight to your inbox, you're just going to have to visit my site for the exciting new picture!)

Not much happens on Tuesdays in London for me, as it is OC night. Yes, I am happy to admit that I will forgo social activites to settle in for a good hour of Ryan, Summer, Marissa and Seth viewing. Last night we went out for Trivia (I sacrificed Monday night TV viewing which is America's Next Top Model), but we got embarrassingly beaten at our local and couldn't even manage a measly place! i don't think we will ever be able to show our faces again. Ray let the team down naming the most expensive music video in history as Backstreet Boys as opposed to Michael Jackson's Scream. We always knew he had a penchant for the Backstreet Boys.... :) (just kidding Ray, we love you!)

News in London is that it's Spring, although you can't really tell yet! But we're hanging out for the heat, we know it's coming (we hope it's coming!). We've even registered for an outdoor netball competition in the summer to battle that Heathrow Injection we've all got coming on. Antipodean sporting opportunities are alive and well in London - everywhere you look there is an AFL or football team trying to sigh you up - usually accompanied by free vouchers to the nearest Walkabout. What have we got ourselves in for.......

Sunday, March 19, 2006

T' be sure, T'be sure

St Paddy's day in London was 'grand!' Lots of guiness, irish jigs and big stupid leprechaun hats - and of course lots of drunk people (and, if you were hanging around the southwest of London, most of them were Aussies).

Any pub beginning with an 'O' was filled-up and U2 songs were getting way too much airplay - but it was all in good fun (except the all-out street brawl I witnessed on the way home from the pub, full of people wearing the afore-mentioned leprechaun hats, who had indulged in too much brew!). For one second there, I felt like I was back home at the Castle Hill Tavern...

The rest of my weekend has been very quiet, since I don't get paid until next week and my little soiree to Venice this month left me slightly short of cash! (ok, and maybe I bought a few pairs of shoes, maybe a handbag here or there...all necessities). So we had a cheap poker night last night which is always a laugh, and as usual my brother cleaned up the table, taking home grand winnings of £14 (we only put in a fiver each - that's how poor we all are at the moment!).

I've mostly been sitting at home today not doing much, desperately hoping in vain when I look outside to see some kind of springish weather. Ah well. I'm not in the mood for much as I've been reading this book called 'Lucky' by Alice Sebold (who wrote Lovely Bones), and it's a little bit harrowing to say the least, but worth the read (it's a true life story about her rape and assault when she was in college - it's not a sob story though, but a poignant analysis of human nature and how the assault affected her life and the people around her). Anyways, so I'm not exactly bouncing off the walls with energy after reading that one! I've actually been even more nerdy lately and checking out this Bookswapping site where you can send and receive books to people all over the world who want to read them. I think it's a great idea (for all those closet book geeks out there like me!)

So anyways, back to the UK. I've been craving fish and chips all day so I think tonight we're going to make our first visit to a traditional London chippie for some cod. It's no barramundi, but it will do me fine :) We're all still waiting for a nice occassion to open our wallets and visit the Sea Cow in Fulham, so we're going to do that when Shell lands her first UK job. Ray (Shell's boyfriend, who is a personal trainer) has found a job working with the guy who trains Madonna and Guy Ritchie which we are all quite impressed by! He worked out of a gym in Sydney and he came over to London and basically just approached football clubs and people that he wanted to work for, and now it's all turned out really well. So good news for all those personal trainers out there wanting to move to the UK....You could be training the Material Girl herself..

ok, i think it's fish and chips time now...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Only in the UK could you be sitting on a Tuesday night watching a clip of Bananarama singing 'Robert DeNiro's waiting'.....brilliant! or maybe that's just me being a pov Aussie who grew up with the maximum five channels of the regular Aussie household (everyone laughs at me when I tell them we only have five channels at home). I'm trying to convince Paul to switch over to the grand finale of Beauty and the Geeks but he's having none of it (god I love crap UK TV).

Today I faced the challenge of organising my holiday to Croatia with my partner-in-crime who is soon to arrive in the UK and increase my Aussie-London contingent - Simone. Who would have thought it was so difficult to find out how to get from Trieste in Italy to Rovinj in Croatia, when I speak neither Italian or Croatian? Do tiny bus companies in regional Italy not cater for annoying British/American/Australian tourists like myself - how inconvenient! :) I found myself today translating bus timetables from German, but I think I have finally figured it out and I'm getting somewhere. I'm going in May and really can't wait - as I also can't wait for my beautiful blonde buddy Sim to join me in all the London craziness.

It's getting late and Beauty and the Geeks is really not doing it for me! (yep i convinced him). Everything in the UK is played about a million times a week so I'm sure I can catch it soon (the OC is played six times a week here - love it! Channel 10 in Sydney could take a few tips)

Cheers guys - will write more soon - including updates on St Pat's celebrations...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lazy London weekends are the best - you always intend to get so much stuff done and it never ever happens cause you end up just sitting around drinking tea. I went to a house party near Clapham last night then Thai Square, a thai restaurant in Putney which is the only place that stays open until 2, so attracts everyone after 12 and turns the little restaurant into a packed bar. It's pretty good, and practically next door to my house so very handy. The house party was cool too - although we felt a bit like 16-year-olds getting our booze from Tesco then hopping on the train with clinking bottles.

Today I wanted to get out of the house so got all geekified and went to the Natural History Museum with my brother, which was actually quite good (could you go wrong with a giant animatronic T-Rex, complete with smoke, lights and sound effects?? hmmmmm). It was the first touristy thing I've done in a while, so it got me back to my backpacker roots (and it's a free museum which is always a plus).

Here are my long-awaited photos from Venice It's such a beautiful city - shame the sky wasn't a bit bluer in some of the photos though! You can also tell how cold it was!

For all my loyal subscribers - sorry you haven't been receiving any of my posts. There was something wrong with the feed, but I think I've fixed it so it should be working now!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Venetian adventures

How appropriate that when we woke up at an obscene hour for our trip to Venice on Friday morning, we looked out the window and found that the Thames had flooded and our road had literally turned into a canal. Our building was completely surrounded by water, and we had to wade through the water and jump over a couple of fences to get to our taxi which was waiting a block away. Although it was 4am, bloody freezing, and we were all barely awake (but jogging through Putney to make the cab that was parked a block away), it was really one of those times you couldn't help but laugh at the stupidity of it all :)
And of course, we were all excited because we were going to VENICE! On the whole I loved it, and although we had some questionable encounters with not-so-hospitable Italian hospitality staff and yes, the city is a little bit squiffy (and those pigeons??!) , I definitely recommend it to anyone. It is a beautiful, fantasy city, and getting lost in the winding Venetian passageways, crossing blue canals manned by hunky gondola drivers, and gorging on massive portions of Italian pizzas, pastas and risottos, and fine Tuscan wine, is just divine. We were there for three days, which I think was enough to see most of the sights (although I could have definitely stayed to eat Italian food forever). Piazza San Marco, the Basilica and visits to the islands Burano and Murano are a must if you only have a short time - and if you're anything like me, you'll need quite a while to sample the delights of the shopping (I was quite restrained and only bought one bag and some beads, as my budget didn't quite stretch to Louis Vuitton and Dolce and Gabbana - ah, i can always dream though). I think the most important Italian lesson I learnt was 'Quanto costano delle scarpe?' (how much do these shoes cost?)
The city is expensive if you're not careful. I don't even want to think about how much money I spent. On Saturday I almost hit a grinning little Italian waiter when he gleefully brought us our bill with my SIX EURO cokes on it. Who checks the price of coke on a menu? I had two, so in total spent 12 euro on coke, that's about 8 pounds and almost 20 Aussie dollars. I still feel a bit sick :) you can tell i'm still a little bit bitter.
On the plus side, we had the best hot chocolates and wine I've ever had and our hotel was the cutest little gem (see the photo). The thousands of pigeons in Piazza San Marco grossed us out a bit, but the view from the top of the tower is amazing. So I guess there were a few negatives, but dozens of postives to outweigh them. And it's Venice! No trip to Europe would be complete without seeing it and now I can tick it off my (very long) list!
My photos will be coming here soon....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Snow in the newly sprung spring

I was elated when I woke up this morning. The sun was shining through the window, it was light when I woke up (which has not happened for about five months), and it's the first day of spring. I had made it through winter, and surely it can only get better from here? Then I got to work and it STARTED TO SNOW. No joke, an arctic shift has hit the UK and London is absolutely bloody freezing. I'm not just talking snowflakes here and there, I'm talking heavy, falling snow. Here am I thinking that Spring is immediately going to be green paddocks, new flowers and gambolling lambs, and it's snowing outside! I think i'm going to have to wait a little longer than I thought for that suntan! But it will come eventually, I'm sure of it!

Tonight I just couldn't be bothered cooking (that happens a lot when you move out of home for the first time), so Paul and I went out for Wagamamas, which has become a favourite. I think we are slowly but surely eating our way through Putney and Fulham :) There's a new place called The Sea Cow in Fulham, which apparently has 'the taste of the Pyrmont Fish Markets in Sydney' which is very exciting for me as a Sydney girl who has spent many a lazy Sunday eating fish and chips from Pyrmont in the park by the water watching everyone play soccer. There's just so many places to eat, and not enough time to eat at all of them!
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