Monday, July 31, 2006

Stansted Saturdays, Barbie Sundays and 'The Defender of the Universe'!!

Having a great weekend always comes back to bite you when you have to go back to work on Monday morning. Going to work this morning was horrible, but only cause I had a fab weekend! Friday night started out with a bang - we went to the Fest (a German bar) for our inaugural netball awards ceremony, which would have been a bit of a fizzer except that Paul hilariously bagged the player-vote for 'Defender of the Universe' and came home with a trophy! I've known this man for about three years and I have honestly never seen him so elated. Just look at that smile! Our last game is tomorrow - but the Putney Pirates will live on when we start our next comp next week (we just can't get enough of netty!).

Saturday was spent driving to and from Stansted which – although it was lovely as my friends from Germany, Katrin and Karl, were coming to visit – turned out to be the ultimate traffic nightmare. Everyone beware if you are booking flights to and from Stansted that it is NOT that close to London and since there are roadworks up until October, driving there is an absolute nightmare. It's annoying for us because although there is a perfectly good train going to Stansted from Liverpool St Station - that is the opposite side of London from where we live and often you are getting stupidly early flights! Anyways, that's enough of my rant - after we made it home (four hours later - no kidding!) we had a lovely arvo in Chelsea then went out in Southbank for Bec's birthday - more piccies to come later! Sunday was a lovely English sunny afternoon barbie in the park – I hope this summer never ends!

Also, to give you all a bit of a laugh - here is an incredibly unattractive pic of me sleep-drooling my way from Freiburg (Germany) to Basel (Switzerland) last week. This is what happens when my dad gets his hands on a digital camera (and when I have had a little too much radler the night before).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The new pad (what you've all been waiting for..)

So I won't lie - flat/house hunting in London can be a bit of a nightmare - but probably only if you're the fussiest person in the world like myself! But after the weeks of stress, and a week of crashing on friends couches (thanks Kate and Ben!) we are finally getting settled in to our new house - me, Paul, Shell and Ray. And it is gorgeous, and we love it! After a trip to Ikea we will have it suited and booted (the homewares shops in posh Putney are a little beyond our budget).

La nueva casa (the blurry living room):

Our bedroom - the view from outside:

The funky kitchen - complete with beautiful appliances:

isn't it lovely (you can't really see much I know!)

In other news, found this interesting/quirky (and award-winning!) blog on travelling on the London Underground. Something to while the hours away.... Going Underground

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The heatwave continues, but Germany and Switzerland were calling

hi all...sorry for the lack in communication over the past couple of days. I´m still reeling in shock from the LONDON HEATWAVE! Yes the rising thermometer struck again and this week I was even sent home early TWICE from work as temperatures were too hot for the Poms to handle (how great if that rule was implemented in Australia!)Ice cream trucks, warnings to carry water and bikins in the park were once again abounding...and there was talk that one day was one of the hottest ever recorded in Britain (crayz talk! but yes, it was quite hot). It was only once or twice I found myself opening my mouth to complain (probably as the sweat was pooling on my chair in my unairconditioned office ..nice!) but then I remembered my Aussie roots, and what the winter felt like, and I promptly shut up.

The other exciting thing from this week is that I am now in Germany again! I came to meet up with my parents, my sister and our friends who live in Germany, for the weekend so it has been a bit of a reunion. It has been one of the best weekends I´ve probably ever had in Germany, cause the weather is gorgeous and it is the first time I have really experiences the scorching German sun. I am in Freiburg and since I have only ever been here in the Winter before, it has been great taking all the walks through the forest, visitng the Titisee and swimming in the lake, drinking radler in beer gardens...ahh. This country should be like this all year round! Last night was the opening of the annual Kirchzarten beer festival, which although small, was heaps of fun and today we made the short train trip to Basel, Switzerland for a day in the gorgeous city by the Rhein river.

I had also only ever been to Basel in the winter before, so it was great to see all the people swimming in the river and out sunbaking. You could buy this waterproof, inflatable bag for 15 euro and put all your stuff in it, then hop in the river and float down it a couple of kilometres, with your bag keeping you afloat! There were dozens of people doing it ..we might go back tomorrow. It beats digging a hole on the beach for your valuables and cunningly placing a towel over it like I did back home, then hoping the whole time that noone would nick off with your wallet while you´re swimming. Anyways Basel is a beautiful town, with so much culture and history. Definitely also better in the summer!

I´m flying back to London tomorrow night (another late night arrival at a regional London airport miles out of town!) and I get to go home to my beautiful new house! which I just realised I haven´t written anything about here yet. After much drama we have a new home and it is gorgeous (two bedrooms, garden, SPA bath and WINE CELLAR all five mins off the high street). I was a little worried thouzgh as Paul messaged me yesterday and said they had cordoned off the street as apparently someone had found an unexploded World War 2 BOMB in our front yard!?? (what the??!!!). While I was sitting here imagining our wonderful new house blown to smithereens, Paul messaged to say that a police and bomb squad visit later, it was deduced that the object in question was in fact an old weight for blinds. Oh hilarious though! All the exciting stuff happens when i´m not of the new pad to come soon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

What could be wrong with a beach bar in a parking lot?

I've finally discovered the awesome beach bar in Brick Lane - a sand and beach-chair oasis perfectly situated in a parking lot in the middle of London. After weeks of hearing about it (surely there couldn't really be sand and palm trees?) we made the short walk down Brick Lane after work and stumbled across this funky little summer drinking spot. I got myself a Pims with mint and cucumber, grabbed a beach chair, reclined in the sun on the sand, and I could have been on Freshwater Beach...well, kind of! It was a nice change from a jam-packed smokey, dark bar and perfect for a gorgeous summer evening. When I slipped my thongs off (aka Flip Flops! urgh - what a horrible phrase) and I stepped on to the sand and it dribbled through my toes, I even felt a wave of homesickness. It's always the littlest things you miss! Anyways, i'm sure you've realised that the photo here is the same bar - not sure what the car-wreck inspired decorating is all about, but it's still wonderful :)

This next photo is not related to anything in particular but I just thought it was so beautiful. It's a photo one of mate's sent from his recent trip to Ireland. Absolutely breathtaking. And it wasn't just this one - all the photos he sent were amazing. I haven't been dying to go to Ireland, but it's definitely on my list. Hopefully I will get there one day! Heaps of Aussies always end up there when their working visas run out - perhaps it is my destiny :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Britain's greatest mediaeval experience"

ok, it might have been a little cheesy but the folks are in town and on our country weekend we visited Warwick Castle in the Cotswolds - and I loved it! It is a huge historic castle (obviously) which was inhabited by the Earls of Warwick for centuries, and has seen more than a few royals passing it's gates. It is a breathtaking castle, with gorgeous grounds and quirky displays (such as a dungeon which still has the writings on the walls of people who were imprisoned there for years in the 16oos).

The best part is that the attraction is now owned by the Tussauds Group and the castle and it's displays are decorated by fabulous (if a little eerie) wax figures. The only problem is that there are also real people dressed up in the costumes of the time wandering around and at more than one occasion I would be peering at a 'statue' in a display only to have a slight heart attack when they smiled and winked at me. If you're down this way, I would definitely pay it a visit
(it's cheaper than Madame Tussauds, a great dose of good old tourist cheese!)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The 'heatwave' finally came.....and then went

I have been waiting and waiting for this thing they call the UK summer - and last week put on a fine show. Yes, it does actually go above 30 over here! While everyone else has been sweltering in the office and complaining about the heat - I am just so grateful to get a taste of home! When I moved here last year, I had effectively done three winters in a row (as I came to Europe for six weeks in the last Aussie summer) so I am just loving the heat and humidity so much I just can't stop smiling :)
How i have missed walking around barefoot in skirts and shorts and getting iceblocks (or 'iced lollies' as they are called here) for lunch cause it's too hot for anything else- now, if only I could find a Narrabeen-style beach somewhere....:)

Unfortunately, the temp has fallen today to a more normal 24 degrees, and will probably rain on the weekend (especially since my parents are arriving from Sydney to come and visit me then!). The ice-cream man has disappeared from outside our office building which I am more disappointed about. I live in hope that there is more of the summer to come! (it's so funny - every time it goes above 28, newspapers actually label it a 'heatwave' and warn everyone to carry bottles of water with wonder all the Poms roast when they visit Bondi - there's no-one there to tell them they should be putting suncream on because it's actually quite hot...) Ahhhh, bless them. I do love the English tradition of sunbaking in bikinis and bare chests in parks, even when there is no pool/beach/any kind of water feature nearby. And of course, what is better than sitting in a beergarden of a pub by the Thames, drinking chilled jugs of Pimms with mint, cucumber and strawberries marinated in it!

The World Cup is coming to a close and I am declaring my allegiance to France (nothing to do with the fact that Thierry Henry is gorgeous of course). I just think that if Italy win, it would be too much of a slap in the Socceroos' face. When Grosso (the perpertrator of THAT last minute dive) scored for Italy against Germany the other night, I think every Aussie thought that we should have been there instead of them! Oh well - we will wait and see.

I've finally loaded some more photos from our trip to France (another reason why I am supporting them on Sunday - we had such a fab time on our holiday and I feel I owe it to them!). Check out my France photos here