Wednesday, September 27, 2006

£0.99 to Marrakech and a new hobby

So when you're at home all day, everyday, you tend to do things that you probably wouldn't have ever thought, or had the time, to do otherwise. So much like one chops off all their hair or has a major makeover when they break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, I got made redundant and now I'm going to Morocco!! Mind you, the fact that we got flights for 99 pence to Marrakech (with taxes it's about 15 quid - thank you RyanAir) made the impulse a whole lot easier but I'm very excited about crossing off another of the cities I have to visit before I die (it's a long list). I carefully checked average temps in November when we are going, and am delighted to report that while it will probably be rainy and grey in London, I'm heading off to blue skies and mid 20s in north Africa! To make you all jealous, I found this fab site Photos by Martin which has beautiful photos this guy took on a three week holiday in Morocco (there's also photos from Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and more). I love the ones taken in the night in the Medina which is the shopping district (see above).

Watch out Tiger - I've also got a new hobby. I decided if I am to be a true lady of leisure, there was one thing I had to learn. Golf. Yep, I'm taking lessons (my dad will be so proud!) Cath and I trundled off to the driving range on Monday night for our first of eight golfing hours. It was great fun doing something new and the instructor (happens to be a hot Aussie - what more could two aspiring ladies of leisure hope for?) says I'm a natural! OK maybe he was getting a bit ahead of himself as my flashes of brilliance were, well, just very brief flashes, but I'm definitely prepared to get into this and get better! One of the beauties of London is that there are also lessons in something or other you can take, and not too expensive either. Now all I need is a funny hat and some tartan pants...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A bonzer little gem

Another must-do for Aussies in London (and other interested parties of course) is to go and see The Vegemite Tales, which we saw on Friday night. It's a play about a share house of Aussies (and one token European, Gio the bi-sexual Italian) living in London and it is hilarious and very, very accurate. Although somewhat cringeable in parts (due to the typical portrayal of Aussie boganisms like the hapless crude surfer dude who wears socks with thongs, drinks Fosters and is generally embarrassing) it was surprisingly insightful and actually made me cry in parts! It's best summed up by the author of the play, Melanie Tait, who wrote the play when she was just 20 and living in a London sharehouse. Here's what she says:

'It's a pretty frightening thing to pack up your home, say "See you in two years" to your family, hop on a plane and find yourself at Heathrow Airport. I was lucky enough during my four and a half years in London to find the most fantastic makeshift family of friends to travel, write, put on plays, fight, love and grow up with.

The Vegemite Tales is about the family we make for ourselves when contact with our real family is limited to emails, phone calls and home-made videos. This second family let you be whoever you want to be, because they don't know any different and they are there for it all: the good times, the bad times - and like the old song goes they'll "be on your side forever more".

The play is also a salute to London - the most magnificent, exciting, diverse and alive city that i've ever had the luck to live in. In London, every opportunity is before you and while you're stil there, whatever it is you want to do, go for it 100% while enjoying it!'

So here's to London and my fab housemates! I didn't need to see a play to know I'm very lucky to have both, but it's definitely a great night out and will remind you what you love not only about London, but about your dear sweet home, Australia.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Giving Australians in London a bad name

Everyone likes Aussies right? Well, on the whole, you would say most people in the UK look favourably upon us, their antipodean cousins. Australians in London are known for being likeable, sociable, hardworking and, of course, always willing to head to the pub for Friday night drinks after work. So I was quite put out when I read a column in one of the new London metro newspapers bagging Australians out, written by (gasp) an Aussie himself!

'Most Aussies who come to London appear to have a chronic fear of being separated from other Aussies for more than a few minutes per day. This means that they live together, generating mountains of empty Fosters cans, go out on the piss together to hideous Australian bars such as the ubiquitous Walkabouts and moan endlessly about the weather/cost of living/everthing else. So much for the whingeing Poms. If it's so bad, why stay?

more drivel etc etc.... I have to admit, I was kind of thinking he had a TINY bit of a point, as snobbish and elitist as it was... until he said this...

,....'As a result, I find myself being coy about where I grew up. Luckily, I did not bring with me the broad Aussie accent that makes even bright people sound stupid. This means at least I am not automatically assumed to be Australian. It might be sacreligious to say it, but it's people like Steve Irwin who give Australians a bad name. Most of us do not want to wrestle a croc, have a barbie or go for a surf.'

Chris Johnston - shame, shame, shame! You are talking about people like me and my friends - and sure, I've been to Walkabout, maybe drank a Fosters or too, and I probably have the 'broad Aussie accent' you so abhor, but that does not give you the right to stand on your soap box and make out like you're better than us. I have (had!) a well-paying job, I travel widely (not just to Paris and Barcelona as you mock - ever been to Bulgaria, Chris?), have utilised many of the fine theatres, museums and restaurants London has to offer, and god forbid, I even have an English boyfriend. If you're so quick to deny you are Australian and therefore be lumped in the same horrid category as my wonderful group of adventurous, wordly, sophisticated and wholly likeable Australian friends; we don't want you anyway. And what kind of Australian doesn't like to have a barbeque or go for a swim in the surf - that's the sacreligious bit right there. Are you sure you are in fact Australian at all? I hope I never have the misfortune of bumping into you in London!

PS Don't even get me started on the Steve Irwin comment... shame, shame, shame on you!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Over exercise, wine will always triumph

For all those who regularly read these fascinating pages, you may have noticed that I mentioned a while back that I will be running in a half marathon sometime in the future. You may have also noticed that it was the first and last time anything of the exercise/marathon nature has been mentioned. I realised this week (since i now have a lot of extra time on my hands!) that the marathon is in a matter of weeks (ie about three) and I have done a total of ZERO training. I think I may have got out of bed early a couple of times a few months back to half-heartedly run around the block, but that's as far as I have got. I am in BIG trouble.

Perhaps one of the reasons I am so lazy, is that I enjoy sitting around eating and drinking too much! Hence last weekend, we ventured to the wine-lovers Mecca - Vinopolis, an epicurian oasis in London by the Thames (I definitely would have mentioned this gem earlier if it wasn't for the events that transpired earlier this week). The name conjures up images of giant pillars of champage, copius olive branches and gargantuan mountains of wine, and as you can see from the photos below - I was not disappointed! It was a fitting birthday celebration for my best friend, and queen wino, Michelle, and is a great group day out. For £20, we went on a wine tour (which included various tastings, premium wines, as well as beer, whisky, absinth tastings and a Bombay Sapphire cocktail), had a wine tasting session with a cute Italian sommelier and even got a (somewhat cheesy) T-Shirt and corkscrew at the end! With special sections of the tour dedicated to wines from all over the world (from Thailand to Israel, South Africa to Oz) as well as unique delights such as chocolate beer and ice wine from Canada, there's something for everyone and this place should definitely be added to the list of 'must-sees' in London.
The glowing tower of wine
The girls could die happy after their Tattinger champagne

My brother Mike (who was in London for a week) enjoying a cocktail with me
Everyone with their gin! Happy Birthday Shell!

This weekend, Paul's sister is getting married so we are off for a country weekend i9n the Cotwolds. The reception is in a castle - I'm so going to be a shameless Aussie gawping tourist! Even though I am now without a London job, I still scraped together the cash to get a spray tan and my hair done. A girl has to have priorities....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Unessential? Unwanted? Me??!! :)
This is where the 'Trials' part of my UK working holiday comes into it...

I can't complain really - I've had a very good run of my working holiday in London so far - no major hiccups and a brilliant year actually. And then, this week, I got made redundant. Brilliant! Now I am in London, without a job, no savings, holidays booked (but not paid for), and rent to pay, and, because I was on a contract, no redundancy pay! Now I am realising just how good I had it before (good job, great pay) - and even though I was pretty much worked to the bone this summer, everything looks so much rosier when you're on the other side doesn't it!! :)

Anyways, for all my dear friends out there, and for all the regular subscribers to my blog, know that I will pull through, the little trooper that I am. I've been at home by myself for two days so far (too scared to go out and spend money from my dwindling supplies) and have been getting reacquainted with daytime TV, eating cereal at 10am, wearing trackies until 2pm, ducking out out for chocolate at's just like my uni days - oh dear, something must be done soon!

Getting made redundant though, (such a nice way of saying 'you're sacked!') is not the worst thing in the world and at least I am in London having a blast with all my friends, with so many opportunities and adventures just around the corner. Your working holiday is definitely what you make of it, and I'm not planning on letting this little 'mishap' cause more trouble than it's worth. I may feel different after a couple of weeks of daytime Jerry Springer, but that's how I'm getting through at the moment.

Any comments of support and kindness will be muchly appreciated - see this little icon below this post? (Comments - 0??) Fill it up people! I need some love! :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey! Thanks for the memories, Steve

When I walked into my office this morning, one of the other Aussie girls cried out "Pru! Have you heard the news?!" And so I came to learn that the much loved Aussie icon, Steve Irwin, is dead. Killed by a stingray while filming a deep sea documentary no less.. what a way to go. As much as everyone used to pay this guy out, I think everyone had a genuine soft stop for his embarrassing, but oh so entertaining, ways. And he certainly has done a lot more for conservation and wildlife then many of us will ever do. I'm sure Steve will live on, even in the UK where repeats of Crocodile Hunter make good hangover TV on Sundays, and I'm sure all those who majorly overreacted when he dangled his baby in front of that croc are feeling a little guilty. May he long be wrestling with the big crocs in the sky...

I've found a couple of sites which people moving to the UK might be interested in:

Bound for England is the blog of a teacher from the US who moved to the UK in August this year after successfully applying for a work permit through a recruitment agency. Very helpful for info about making the big move.

Nicole in London: tales of a Los Angeles expat: the entertaining escapades of an American who moved to London for work, got married and became a fully-fledged expat.

Camden Kiwi: snippets from the life of a Kiwi living in Camden, London.

And one for the romantics (since apparently online dating is not as freaky/abnormal anymore!)

Antipodate - meeting Aussies, Kiwis and Saffas in the UK: the online/speed dating site for antipodeans in the UK (hhmmm, yes, move to another country and choose to just hang out with people from your own country? not that i can really talk....!!)