Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Curse the damn exchange rate! The poor little Aussie dollar

If the international foreign exchange market was a playground, the Great British pounds would be the big bully cool kids, the Euros would be the slightly less-cool kids that hang around with the pounds for street cred, and the Aussie dollars would be the wimpy little kids getting picked on in the corner (probably holding on to the Kiwi dollars for support). I am a little bitter since I did an international money transfer today (through my most favourite discovery ever Tranzfers) and I was feeling all rich with my $4,000 AUD... until I turned it into GBP 1,592.80. How depressing. But, it could be worse I suppose. I'll never forget when, en route to London from Sydney for this trip, I stopped over in Bahrain for three hours. My dad had given me $10AUD so I could get something to eat when I stopped over (bless him :) but upon my arrival in Bahrain I found that 10 aussie dollars could not even get me a cup of coffee! How very embarrassing.. :) It's a good thing this trip (or lifetime interlude) has given me experiences money can't buy...else I'd be demanding a big refund! (I do have to admit, it's entirely doable to live here comfortably when you're actually earning pounds - or if you have saved up more dollars than I had when I first arrived!!).

In other news - have found a couple of geeky sites people moving over here might find useful. So you don't have to eternally ask "what time is it over there" when your parents/friends call, here is a very handy Time Zone converter (I need this all the time) and on a completely unrelated topic, I found this good blog which tells you how much your take-home pay in the UK will be after tax - Net Salary Calculator

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another day, another internet cafe (and how to find the perfect media job)

Another Saturday and another internet cafe - i've never appreciated having an internet connection at home as much as i do now. It is scary how much my life relies on having access on demand to the web - I previously have derided people who haven't cottoned on yet to the joys of internet banking, online payments, e-mail etc. Well, they're probably laughing at me now as they stand in their bank queues. At least their life isn't thrown into turmoil when their neighbour decides to cut off their Net connection.

ANYWAY, the reason I am writing today is that someone posted me a message and asked me to put online some of the agencies/resources I used when I originally came to London in search of the 'perfect media/publishing job'. I actually first got my job through the Guardian media supplement, which has hundreds of media/editorial/publishing jobs every Monday. The corresponding site is here. If you are after subbing/editorial work on lifestyle magazines and newspapers, a good (small) agency who placed a friend of mine is Folio Recruitment. Another good couple of websites are the Media/Creative section of Reed, if you want to work for a giant magazine publishing house EMAP then go to Find a Media Job or if you want to work in new media try NMA. For other industries (and all the info you need when you are moving to the UK, WORKgateways is a recruitment/info site which can definitely help you).

For everyone back home (and in other parts of the world) I would also like to make the point that the UK is unseasonably warm and pleasant for October and everyone is enjoying the elongated summer. Probably not the best indication for the world in terms of global warming, but at least I can still wear my thongs (ie flip flops, not the other sort) outside. Have a nice weekend all!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

One stressful week later

What a week - I think this is the longest time I've gone in the UK without posting some drivel or another! The reasons are good though. The first being, that my Highly Skilled Migrant Visa application is now GONE, in the post, out of my hands, towards some little old immigration worker in Sheffield somewhere. I will wait to see if I am successful before I start spouting advice about how you should, or shouldn't make this application (as I did it myself to avoid the £800 agency fees - a smart move? we will see). But suffice to say, if you do this application yourself, and it doesn't take you hours of hard work sweating over meticulous detail and stressing about getting every little piece of evidence you can, then you haven't worked hard enough! Mine had header pages, an appendix, blood samples, everything! (ok, maybe not blood samples, but it wouldn't surprise me if they'd asked). This past week I've been between banks, past employers, a notary lawyer, the library, the post office etc more times than i care to remember. All I can say is, lucky I am unemployed and don't have to find time out of an office job to get all this done! (relax Pru, breathe in). Anyways, it is now gone, and my fate now lies with the gods....cross everything for me!

The second reason why my posts have been sporadic of late, is that, being big bad poor working travellers in Putney,. we have for three happy months been, well, shall we say 'borrowing', our neighbours unsecured wireless internet connection. And you wouldn't believe the inconsideration, but they've gone and slapped a password on the damn thing! (the boys are adamant that no-one has been surfing porn, but we can't think of any other explanation as to how we were busted). Anyways, any person who has lived in England for any amount of time will know that getting any kind of service man to connect you to anything can take a stupid amount of time, so I have taken to frequenting the 'wireless internet' scene in Putney. This means prostituting myself around all the various cafe's which offer wireless internet and seeing just how long I can make one pot of tea last so as not to appear i am sponging off their services (even though it is completely clear that I am doing so - the other day I sat on one cappuccino for five hours).

I always used to fantastise about living like this when i had an office job.. ie sip cappuccinos in cafe's all day...but let me tell you it is not all it is cracked up to be. For one thing, I've never noticed just how many young mums and therefore, screaming children, there are in Putney. Millions! And they all seem to sit right beside me. Always. One little toddler spent a good five minutes poking my bum yesterday. And you have to smile and say 'oh isn't he cute' and give that knowing smile to the mum who looks kinda embarrassed even though you really just want them to leave you the hell alone. Actually, when I looked at the mother of the bum-poker, she looked shocked and in a high-pitch squeak said "it wasn't me"! well, duh! Am i sounding really awful? Blame it on the stress of a visa application!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Miracles can happen...
62 minutes...i made it

I can't believe it - I'm still in shock. I somehow managed, through no training whatsoever and a steady diet of red wine and curries, to run 10km yesterday in 62 minutes, 19 seconds. Not the best time when you consider how fast other people can do it in, but considering that I was certain my attempt at this run would end in...
a) me being carted off in an ambulance - either sucking lifelessly on my Ventolin or completely passed out
b) me figuring out the best mode of escape off the running route so as to avoid the embarrassment of coming dead last, three hours behind everyone else....
I'm pretty damn proud of myself and, i'm even a little hesitant to admit this, I actually had a bit of fun (shhhh, don't tell anyone).

ok, so maybe out of 22,ooo people I came in the bottom half (16, 992nd to be exact!) but I'm sure at least 10,000 of those people are those crazy runners I see doing laps of the Thames at 6am every morning.. You can watch my glorious finish here but instead of typing in my name, you have to type in 'Paul Seddon' cause Paul and I got our electronic tags mixed up (my ingenious plan to get a better time - he ran it in 52 mins, 59 secs). I'm the one you will see looking very rough and putting her hands on her hips in disbelief she didn't cark it along the way (in a green T-short - unfortunately due to lack of spaces we had to disloyally defect and run for the North team).

For everyone back home who know these people - our honour board runs as follows:

Me (last of our group but not complaining): 62 mins 19 seconds
Shell (a big time for those little legs and killer calves!): 61 mins, 39 seconds
Ben (unfortunately losing a £50 bet with Paul - much to all our dismay): 55 mins, 19 seconds - special mention for coming in the top 50% of runners
Paul (with no training, even though we'll never hear the end of it and Ben will never live it down): 52 mins, 59 seconds
and the well-deserved winner was
Ray (personal trainer extraordinaire) with a hugely impressive 42 minutes. Way to make the rest of us feel sludgy!

Here are Shell and Paul getting tough before the big race - go Team!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Pirates go down in a blaze of glory - well kind of...

I guess we were asking for it, calling ourselves possibly the lamest name ever (the Putney Pirates!!) but our glorious netball season ended very unceremoniously on Tuesday night in the rain, two players down, in a crushing defeat. We didn't do so badly this season really - made it into the top 4 even - but when it came to the crunch every game, we always seemed to choke. You know those Mighty Ducks-style teams from American movies that always seem to triumph against all odds, perform outstandingly when the pressure is on and ultimately the hard work, sweat and tears pay off with triumph? Not us. I've never been part of one of those teams! It was a great season though - I loved it - although I think a lot of the times everyone was silently sending me death wishes that I had dragged them all out on another Tuesday night! Deep down they all thank me for it, I'm sure :) The social aspect is great and the fact it makes you get out and do something when you might ordinarily just sit at home watching MTV is the best. It's definitely the only exercise I've done all year! The fact you can join as a team or individually is also a plus, which means for anyone just arrived in London, it's a really good way to get to know people (lovely people like us!). Highly recommended.
Now I'm on to improving my golf swing!

Countdown to Run London: 3 days - oh no.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Swannies - how we love you, our dear old Swannies....the AFL grand final hits London, again

What on earth would the motorists who happened to swing by any Walkabout or antipodoean watering hole at 5am on Saturday morning have thought? Everywhere was packed with sleepy-eyed Aussies drinking VB and eating meat pies in celebration of the good old Aussie footy (AFL) grand final. How else could you ever get an Aussie backpacker out of bed that early? The Sydney Swans put in a sterling effort and made us very proud, but since they are so generous, they decided to give West Coast a go, and let them win (by one damn point!). It was a consolation that we beat them last year - everyone deserves a fair go after all, hey? It's all about sharing and caring :) Brisbane Broncos took out the NRL grand final this morning - but no way was I getting up again to watch that one.

Some of you may have remembered I'm supposed to be running 10km next Sunday- i have done a total of zero training. "Run London"? More like "keel over and die while trying to Run London"' I'm in big trouble.