Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I've been tagged

It only took me a month to realise, but I've been tagged. I didn't realise, and in fact didn't even know what this 'tagging' phenomenon was, until I was browsing over the Kiwi's blog and saw - hey that's me! And since I am constantly filling up these pages with drivel anyway, I thought I would abide by this virtual chain letter and bore/excite/annoy you all with 'the FIVE things you don't know about me'. Drumroll please....

1. I'm not a real blonde. (haha - REALLY surprised you all with that one didn't I!). I actually have no idea what my real hair colour is although I imagine it would be a sludgy light browny colour (lovely!) after all the peroxiding, stripping and highlighting that has been done to it since I discovered the wonders of NAPRO Live Colour in Year 8. It was only a matter of time until I then discovered the wanton pleasures of the hairdressing salon when a dye job by a high school buddy went wrong and i had to somehow fix my fluouro orange locks. Thousands of dollars and many, many years later, my hair is my greatest indulgence. Vain, moi??!!

2. I pervesely enjoy watching shark attack documentaries. OK, not exceedingly normal to enjoy watching people getting their limbs ripped off however something about these huge animals (the bigger the better obviously) simultaneously fascinates and terrifies me. Survival stories are the best, complete with bad reanactments and hilarious commentary: 'Bob had no idea when he dived beneath the waves that fateful morning, that something menacing was lurking in the waters that would change his life forever....' Cue Jaws soundtrack, flurry of movement where you can't actually see anything and then see water coloured red with food dye....brilliant!

3. I was a child thespian. Well, kind of. My aunt is in production and happened to have Life Education as a client (you know, of Happy Healthy Harold ilk?). I therefore starred, pink fluoro t-shirt and 80s headband and all, in a Life Education video when i was about seven, which then proceeded to be shown in every primary school in the state. After I'd made my screen debut, i also had a cameo on Heartbreak High - casually sipping a milkshake in the local hangout (forget what it was called - Shark Bar?). How cool can you get!

hmmmm, that's all i can think of for now. I think i'm supposed to tag other people now but that would involve more thinking which i am not inclined to do at the moment! PLUS, it's my second last day in Australia!!! Why on earth am i sitting at a computer - yes it's a bit sad isn't it. I'm killing time before heading off to Opera Bar in a couple of hours for some drinks under the watchful arch of the Harbour Bridge. I'll try and write some last Aussie words tomorrow.

Friday, February 23, 2007

From Africa to Australia

No I didn't just nip off to Africa while you weren't looking....but my friends Shannon and Simone just got back from a trip to the east coast of Kenya where they worked on a volunteer project for 10 days. Simone was doing it as her last trip before heading home for good to Australia, while Shannon is now back in cozy London re-embarking on her working holiday. They both said it was an amazing experience which I'm sure has thoroughly changed their viewpoints on the important things in life. Anyway, before Sim left London, Paul and I gave her some gifts to take to the kids in the school - just stickers, colouring books, crayons, pencils and stuff like that. Sim brought me back this photo of their new friend Ziggy enjoying his brand new colouring book! :)

And this is just a gorgeous pic of some of the kids they met.

I can't remember the name of the organisation which they worked with, but it's a wonderful thing to do. And so much closer to the UK than from Australia or NZ, so when working travellers head over to the UK perhaps it is something everyone should think about doing.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How to cram an Aussie summer into four weeks

Cricket, footy, tennis, beaching, white water rafting - who knew I was so sporty? I resolved when I got here to do as many Aussie-flavoured activities as possible while I could and I've ended up spending half the time watching/playing sport! (when I'm not out at a bar or in a restaurant that is).

The weather has been lovely - definitely a nice change from the snow London has been getting. I feel a bit guilty as everyone else is praying for rain because of the drought, and I'm whinging if it doesn't go above 25 degrees. I watched England beat the Aussies at the SCG last weekend after a Saturday of impromptu tennis, watched the Swans play a practice game on Friday night against Collingwood (beer and the footy - not many things more Aussie than that) and next weekend we're going white water rafting.

But there has been plenty of time for non-sporting activites. It was great to be back at Opera Bar last week sipping champagne under the Opera House overlooked by the Sydney Harbour Bridge (you definitely know you're back in Australia when everyone is calling sparkling wine 'champagne' again). Sunday night was also one of my favourite Aussie traditions - Tropfest. What could be better than sitting in the Domain (big park in the centre of Sydney city), on a rug with friends with nibbles and a glass of champagne? (ahem, sparkling wine).

I've been trying to upload photos but the internet connection is not befriending me and won't let me do it - so you'll all just have to wait!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Four months later.... the news is good!

Four months of agonising waiting and many weeks of preparation before that have finally come to an end. I got a call this week from my housemates in London who told me the postman I have been waiting for for weeks finally came, with a letter telling me I have qualified for a Highly Skilled Migrant Visa. This means that I have six months to switch into my new immigration category from my current working holiday visa. Which means that my time in the UK has been extended past my August deadline for up to another two years!

It still doesn't seem real since I have been waiting for so long to find out what's going to happen to me this year! I didn't think when I went to see a visa representative a year ago that it would take this long, with this many ups and downs!First I was getting sponsored, then I was made redundant, then I had to quickly (ha!) apply for HSMP, then the criteria changed, then it got rejected, then I appealed...and now I've got it! I still have to apply for my Entry Clearance and pay them a shedload more cash (another £350 or something thanks very much) but it looks like I'm finally on the home stretch. The good news for many out there is that I did my application myself - so you don't always have to pay hundreds for a representative (this really depends on your situation though!). And believe me, it was hard work and lots of research!

Being back home has definitely made me think a lot about what it would be like to move back here and it feels strange now to have so many new options presented to me. I don't know how long I want to stay in the UK, but it is definitely very nice (and a huge relief) to know that I no longer have the deadline of the 31st August looming over me - and no more work restrictions!

I would love to share my knowledge and experience of applying for this visa with anyone who needs help and advice - and I can do this either through this blog or through the forum I moderate for WORKgateways. Even though the criteria has changed since I applied, I still know a lot about it and might be able to help you. So if you have a question, drop in and hopefully I can offer some assistance, or at least tell you where else you can go. Visit the WORKgateways forum.

Lastly, thanks to all the people who have offered their love, support, assistance and advice over the past six months during my visa sagas. To all the people who read over my application, wrote letters for me, posted encouraging comments on my blog or just listened to my whining - I couldn't have done it without you all! Oh, and thanks to UK immigration :)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Speaking of...

OK, so I was a little bored today (it's too hot to move and/or go outside!) and I was browsing YouTube (ok, very nerdy but oh well) and I found this really random video of this old American dude doing surprisingly good impressions of the various English accents. I'm fascinated by the fact that in England/UK you just drive a couple of hours and suddenly everyone sounds different (and I said the other day that this is one of the things I would miss about the UK). This often presents problems for Aussies/Kiwis etc cause some accents are impossible to understand - the first time I met my boyfriend's grandmother, I had absolutely no idea what she was saying to me. Paul entertains me for hours on end with his impersonations, but I reckon this guy might even be a little better - although sadly my favourite Scottish and Irish accents are not represented. (Warning: there's a bit of language so be warned and please don't be offended)

More to come on Pru's Aussie Adventures later

Monday, February 05, 2007

Home versus Home

"London? Why would you want to live there? It's so bloody cold!". The conversation I had with a lifeguard on Maroubra Beach on Saturday went on like this for about 20 minutes (he must have decided I looked like a friendly person who was up for a chat). I've been getting that a lot in the past week since I've been back. Fair enough though - since we're in the prime of the Australian summer, beaches are packed, BBQs are in full swing, sun-soaked revellers sit at outdoor tables in cafes and restaurants, tropical fruits are ripe and luscious....why wouldn't you want to stay here forever? Lots of people just can't understand why there are thousands of Australians, Kiwis, Saffas etc trekking over to 'cold, grey, rainy, miserable England' (my lifeguard certainly couldn't). But the fact is, there are. There ARE thousands of working travellers making the break from the sun, surf and sand to head to the UK. So, what's so good about it and why are we all heading over there?

Well, anyone who has been reading this blog over the past year and a half, hopefully have got some idea of why I'm still living there! I was a little worried that coming home would make me start to resent England from keeping me away from all this Australianess, but it has only made me even fonder of both my homes. Of course I love Sydney and it's indescribably wonderful to be back with my family, friends, eating watermelon, hearing the cicadas, feeling the sand between your toes, getting sunburnt, hearing Aussie accents on the radio, shopping at Coles, eating chips and gravy; I'm also missing my other home in London and all the great things there that people who haven't lived there wouldn't understand (and plenty of reasons they would understand if they knew about them!).

While I'm back home I'm waiting to hear about a UK visa I have applied for and although coming home for good this year is a very real possibility and something I definitely could get used to; I would definitely be sad to leave my London home so soon (never thought I would say two years would be so soon!). I can't wait this summer for trips to Europe and the US, sunny afternoons in pubs by the Thames drinking Pimms, country Cotswold weekends, picnics in the park while dodging the Queen's deer, high street shopping in Chelsea (or Brighton!), musicals in Covent Garden, surfing in Cornwall (hopefully i'll get down there this summer!), McVitties chocolate flapjacks, £3 French wine, comaraderie between travellers away from home and the hugely varied Pommy accent. All these things I would miss!

Nothing compares to home, but who said you can't have more than one?