I did promise a proper post yesterday, so thought I had better follow through.
I feel like I've been completely scatterbrained and all over the place when it comes to blogging, hence the abundance of short and sweet posts lately. Over the last few weeks, I had fallen into a routine of getting home, updating this blog and then checking up on all of you across the evening. Since starting this new job though, the routine has been tossed to the wind and I haven't even come close to keeping up with things!
Things are going well at the current job, even if I am still finding my bearings. I'm learning their procedures, I'm working out their database and I'm trying to absorb as much as I can without being too annoying with all of my questions. I'm not used to working in an office, so I have a tendency to zone out the ringing phones, er, oops?
Worst thing is not being able to be home so early, as I'm working longer hours now. I still make it home before poor Jason does, and it's not a long commute, but I've been spoiled with the early finish that comes with being a teacher. It'll take some getting used to, but I think I can manage it. Plus, they were aware of my five weeks of USA-conquering in August/September right from the beginning, meaning they have basically been approved from scratch. I'm happy, and that's all that matters.
You'll have to bear with me for the time being, at least until I get some sort of a routine panned out again. And as for catching up on your blogs? I should be done by the end of the year fairly soon. In fact, I think I'll go and read some now. Just let me have a quick nap first, and I'll get straight on that ....
I am absolutely not too tired or lazy to write a proper entry today.
(Stop back tomorrow, I'll see if I can write an entry with actual words by then.)
1) Answer the questions below.
2) Take each answer and type it into Photobucket.
3) Take any picture from the results and post.
1. What is your occupation?
2. What is your mother's first name?
3. What kind of car do you drive?
4. What kind of car do you want to drive?
5. What is something you like to do in your spare time?
6. What thing do you collect?
7. What is your fathers first name?
8. Describe your mood right now?
9. What is your biggest fear?
10. Favorite words?
My first day went by without a hitch - the people were generally very friendly, my work station was already set up and good to go, and I've already been booked into formal training courses as of next week. Other than the general awkwardness that comes with starting a new job and not knowing anything about everything, I didn't feel completely horrid about my prospects there. In fact, I'm rather excited about it. I can't wait to get up to speed so I can just get on with things, settle in and enjoy myself.
I must say, it's rather nice to come home and not worry about what the next day will bring. That's got to be a good sign, so no complaining from me today. (Gasp!)
Now more importantly, know any primary school teachers in London that need work?
Tinned spaghetti on buttered toast.
America's Next Top Model, followed by CSI.
Snuggly pink dressing gown & a cup of tea.
Sitting with the person I love the most.
What can I say? I love the simple life. Ahh, bliss.
*As for what 'girt' meant? Surrounded. "Our home is girt by sea..."
Last December, I arrived in England. I've taught for three weeks, done a little sight seeing, had two interviews, and accepted a new job in a completely new field. Fast forward to exactly a month later, and I'm celebrating Australia Day in my new home, for the most part loving every minute of it. To celebrate, I thought I'd share a little light hearted randomness with you all. Read on and let me know how you fare at the end.
You know you're Australian if … (taken from Sydney Morning Herald)
1. You know the meaning of the word "girt".
2. You believe that stubbies can be either drunk or worn.
3. You think it's normal to have a leader called Kevin.
4. You waddle when you walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount vouchers stuffed in your wallet or purse.
5. You've made a bong out of your garden hose rather than use it for something illegal such as watering the garden.
6. You believe it is appropriate to put a rubber in your son's pencil case when he first attends school.
7. When you hear that an American "roots for his team" you wonder how often and with whom.
8. You understand that the phrase "a group of women wearing black thongs" refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds.
9. You pronounce Melbourne as "Mel-bin".
10. You pronounce Penrith as "Pen-riff".
11. You believe the "l" in the word "Australia" is optional.
12. You can translate: "Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas."
13. You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.
14. You call your best friend "a total bastard" but someone you really, truly despise is just "a bit of a bastard".
15. You think "Woolloomooloo" is a perfectly reasonable name for a place.
16. You're secretly proud of our killer wildlife.
17. You believe it makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that's twice as big as its $2 coin.
18. You understand that "Wagga Wagga" can be abbreviated to "Wagga" but "Woy Woy" can't be called "Woy".
19. You believe that cooked-down axlegrease makes a good breakfast spread.
20. You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian, until they stuff up, at which point they again become Kiwis.
21. Hamburger. Beetroot. Of course.
22. You know that certain words must, by law, be shouted out during any rendition of the Angels' song Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.
23. You believe, as an article of faith, that the confectionary known as the Wagon Wheel has become smaller with every passing year.
24. You still don't get why the "Labor" in "Australian Labor Party" is not spelt with a "u".
25. You wear ugh boots outside the house.
26. You believe, as an article of faith, that every important discovery in the world was made by an Australian but then sold off to the Yanks for a pittance.
27. You believe that the more you shorten someone's name the more you like them.
28. Whatever your linguistic skills, you find yourself able to order takeaway fluently in every Asian language.
29. You understand that "excuse me" can sound rude, while "scuse me" is always polite.
30. You know what it's like to swallow a fly, on occasion via your nose.
31. You understand that "you" has a plural and that it's "youse".
32. You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle.
33. Your biggest family argument over the summer concerned the rules for beach cricket.
34. You shake your head in horror when companies try to market what they call "Anzac cookies".
35. You still think of Kylie as "that girl off Neighbours".
36. When returning home from overseas, you expect to be brutally strip-searched by Customs - just in case you're trying to sneak in fruit.
37. You believe the phrase "smart casual" refers to a pair of black tracky-daks, suitably laundered.
38. You understand that all train timetables are works of fiction.
39. When working on a bar, you understand male customers will feel the need to offer an excuse whenever they order low-alcohol beer.
40. You get choked up with emotion by the first verse of the national anthem and then have trouble remembering the second.
41. You find yourself ignorant of nearly all the facts deemed essential in the government's new test for migrants.
42. You know, whatever the tourist books say, that no one says "cobber".
43. And you will immediately forward this list to other Australians, here and overseas, realising that only they will understand.
I got the job.
I start on Monday.
Today was my last day working as a teacher ... for now.
You do remember my post from a few days back, the cryptic one rambing on about needing positive vibes about some things that were up in the air? (You know, this one?)
Well, obviously all of the good thoughts paid off, because things are looking good.
A few nights ago, I was talking to Jason about how I wasn't feeling a hundred percent happy with the teaching situation here in London. The schools have been average, the attitudes have been average, and the experiences with dealing with the educational recruitment agencies have also been, you guessed it, average. It hasn't been unbearable, but it hasn't been fantastic either. And it certainly wasn't turning into something I want to do for the next two years whilst living here.
I happened to be skimming a random job website, when I came across a position that was being advertised for educational recruitment: working within a popular job agency which recruits and places primary school teachers. In a nutshell, I'd be having a complete role reversal. They called me back, and yesterday I had a first interview. This afternoon, I had a follow up interview. All in all? I'm still hopeful.
It's the start of a huge change - give me another day and I'll hopefully be able to share a little more information with you. This could be just what I'm looking for.
I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled blogging today to wish a special someone from back home a happy birthday. Sadly I can't give afford the plane fare to give you a real hug, but at least I can have Elmo do it for me. Have a great day moo, wrinkles and all.
Happy Birthday Jen!
There are some strange stirrings in the air at the moment.
I'm not entirely sure where they're leading, and I'm not entirely sure if they'll work out, but I'm hopeful. Being hopeful is a good thing, it stops me from stressing.
If they don't work out, I will be fine.
I will not be stressed.
I will continue to be calm.
I will be laidback and will try not to think too much.
I will keep on slogging it out.
Bear with me for now, even though I'm being a bit cryptic. And send positive vibes!
Alright blogging friends, I need your expert opinions.
I've never lived in a country where I've needed a winter hat before, and to be perfectly honest? I've never even considered buying one. At the moment though, I think I'm the only person living in London who doesn't own one, and my ears are paying the price.
At the markets in Greenwich yesterday, we found a stall selling hats. Because I couldn't decide on my own, I modelled for a few and figured you guys could be my style gurus and choose me a style. All weird facial expressions aside, which hat doesn't make me look like a moron? Feel free to let me know if I look like a dork in all three styles, though.
(As long as you do it nicely, I promise I'll try not to cry. Too much, anyway.)
Leave your choice in the comments, if you have time. Or, if they are all hideous, feel free to suggest a different style which might suit me a wee bit more. Thanks, lovelies!
Phew - what a weekend!
You'll be proud of me, folks. I had a fantastic time last night, met some nice people and ate pierogi in a Polish club opposite the Museum of Natural History. I even began the evening with a shot of cherry flavoured vodka! Before the meal, everyone was ordering drinks, and I decided to stick to my goal of having some sort of alcoholic beverage. The drinks soon arrived: an orange juice, a few beers and much to my horror (and everyone else's amusement) a vodka shot. Turns out my cherry flavoured vodka was straight up! Here's to starting off the dinner with a bang, eh? Cheers!
After dinner, we wandered around South Kensington for a while, before catching a tube back to Covent Garden. We enjoyed a couple more drinks and some good conversation until the pub (and trains) closed at midnight, when we headed home. All in all, I really enjoyed myself and it was great to get out on the town a bit. Are you impressed?
I dragged myself out of bed early this morning, as I was doing a little more sightseeing, with some blogger stalking on the side. Today I met up with the fabulous Grunge Dandy, who took me exploring in Greenwich. How much do I love playing tourist?
We had a coffee before wandering around a few different markets - six second hand books for 3 quid. Needhless to say, I was already impressed, love cheap books!
Afterwards, we headed into the sprawling Greenwich Park for a bit of a wander.
It was cloudy and overcast today which made for some fairly miserable pictures, but was still beautiful. We walked up a massive hill to get to the Royal Observatory. The first night I spent here in the flat, I noticed a green laser beam up in the sky over the Thames. I later found out that it was the home of the Prime Meridian, and have been meaning to visit ever since. Here I am, standing at the centre of time.
There were loads of people walking their dogs (and children) and to my delight, squirrels! G came prepared with a whole stack of walnuts. Look at the wee little buggers, aren't they completely adorable? I'm a trifle smitten with them.
It was a fantastic day and I had a ball. Thanks to G for the tours, and another big thankyou to whoever nominated me for a 20-Something Bloggers award! I'm chuffed to be up there as a 'Big Blog'; I don't know if I'd call it that but it's still exciting.
... Almost as exciting as this tree I photographed. Doesn't it look like a foot?
It's easy to feel like I'm playing house lately, with all of these changes that have been going on. Coming home to a house that doesn't miraculously clean itself, having to cook dinner, clean, shop, pay bills, it's still a novelty to me. Even grocery shopping doesn't seem real: it's just me and the other half, deciding what we want to do for food this week. It's bizarre. I'm not used to it yet.
One thing I wanted to achieve being here, was to live a little.
To get out of my comfort zone, to experience life on the other side of the world, to get out and have some fun while I can! Despite the fact that I'm not 100% happy with the work situation, I'm trying my best to do those things.
Tonight we're going out for dinner to a Polish restaurant with some of Jason's work friends. My goal is a) Not to stress about meeting new people and acting like an arse, b) Indulge in at least one alcoholic beverage of my choice and c) To eat the food without freaking out about what is in it. (I'm incredibly nervous meeting new people, and there seems to be a lot of pressure when the people involved are your partner's friends. And other than a glass of wine with dinner a few weeks ago, I've not had a sip of alcohol since stepping on English shores. Oh, and I'm the world's fussiest eater.)
Wish me luck!
By now, I'm sure most of you are well aware of my obsession with Threadless tees.
(If you're not, just do a quick search of my blog. I'll admit it: I'm hooked.)
I love the witty slogan tees. I love the cute tees. I love ones that people don't 'get'.
So without further ado, here's my most recent purchase.
It's aptly named: "You Really Grate on Me." What are your thoughts: Love or Hate? :)
Surely one must have absolutely nothing else to talk about if they're mentioning the weather as the blog topic of the day, but honestly, I'm not that completely boring.
(It's either the weather, or my whinging about the second head cold I am experiencing of 2008, because ha! I am sick! Again! Curses to my half-arsed immune system.)
One thing that's incredible about living in London, is how quickly the weather changes.
Even when nothing noteable happens involving the weather and it's just a regular winter morning, the clouds are generally racing across the sky at immense speeds - I've done a lot of sky gazing in my days, and never have I seen a cloud move so quickly.
As we reside in a ground floor flat in our apartment complex, our blinds are closed alot due to being at street level. This means that of a morning, it's pitch black indoors. Being that I am absolutely not a morning person, I generally stumble about getting ready and disappear out the door without peering outside the window, meaning that the weather conditions outside are generally a surprise. (Not smart considering I live in a country where it's raining every time you look outside, but I'm still adjusting.)
This morning on the light rail on my way to work, I observed the most beautiful sunrise across the city. For some reason, even though I've been getting up and leaving early every day, this is the first one I remember seeing. The day dawned bright and beautiful, nippy but without a cloud in the sky. Fast forward to an hour later, and it was overcast and grey. Back and forth it went, with a light drizzle of rain followed by sunshine.
Waiting for the bus in the afternoon, I found myself staring at the sky once again.
The clouds were back and this time, they were scary looking clouds. Ten minutes later, we were in the midst of a huge thunderstorm, complete with hail stones and lightening flashes that lit up the sky. Half an hour later, after emerging from the tube? Sunshine on one side of the train tracks, threatening storm clouds on the other.
The weather here is crazy, and everchanging. But you know what? I'm getting rather fond of it. In fact, it reminds me of myself right now; constantly moving, jumping from class to class, chopping, changing and fumbling my way around this whole experience.
My finger feels much, much better today. It's still sore to bend, but the swelling has gone a whole lot and unless I poke and prod it, it's not even all that noticeable. (Of course, you can bet your bottom dollar that I have been poking it every so often just to see if it still hurts, because I am a very clever wee person, you know. And still a wimp.)
A few people were wondering just how many fingers I've broken in the past and a quick search informed me that I hadn't actually blogged about it before. I went through a very accident prone stage when I was younger - thankfully it was all but finished by the time I hit high school. I remember many a kicked toe that felt as though it were broken, but avoided the doctors for those ones because, well, they were toes.
I vaguely recall an ankle injury of some sort, because I can still see myself on crutches and remember how mortifying it was to have to hike up the demountable stairs in primary school. Not sure if it was a break, or just some sort of a sprain.
The worst culprits were my wrists, and I managed a fair few fractures in my time. Sadly most were on my left hand, so I didn't even get out of doing school work - terrible. As a result, to this day I have the weakest wrists in the world. (I can't even do a girly-style push up on them, just ask Jason. He is disgusted by this fact.)
I think the first time I broke a bone was falling over whilst roller skating out on the street, I remember trying to awkwardly shuffle home without moving my arm too much because it really, really hurt! I broke that wrist several more times, with the fractures tending to be around the same place. I actually didn't mind wearing the cast.
The broken wrist I remember most clearly was one of the last ones, though. I was outside bouncing a basketball with a friend, and we were just bouncing and catching the ball back and forth. I caught the ball with both hands at chest level, and felt the familiar pain; straight away, I knew what had happened. I recall wandering inside to talk to mum and telling her that we needed to go to the doctor, that my wrist was broken. I'm fairly sure she was watching television, but whatever it was she was doing, she was not impressed to be interrupted by me and told me it couldn't possibly be broken, I'd probably just jarred it. I insisted, and she eventually dragged me to the medical centre: one hairline fracture and casted arm later, I think she admitted defeat.
The fingers I've broken have been my pinkies, and they're both crooked as a result of it. I remember playing volleyball at school, and hitting the ball at an awkward angle which hurt like crazy. Turned out that my finger was broken in two places; the doctor had to inject it with numbing anaesthetic in six different spots, and then physically crack both knuckles back into place. Anyone who meets me, feel free to take a look at the wonky pinky finger on my right hand, and see what a dodgy job he did.
Hopefully my accident prone stage is over now ... as of yesterday, anyway.
And to finish off in a completely random fashion, I've discovered a new favourite snack: nutella covered bagels. Heaven! How have I never enjoyed these before?
I think I broke my finger today.
Or if it's not broken, it's at least badly swollen or jarred or sprained.
All I know is that I managed to slam it in door at school.
And then get it stuck behind the door handle.
And then twist it to get it free.
I heard a weird crunching sound and felt some numbness.
Twelve hours later, it still hurts like the dickens.
And it's a wee bit red and puffy.
Edit: I've broken a few fingers in the past, so I'm all set to splint it to my ring finger. Thanks for the advice, and yes, the hugs are still appreciated because I? Am a wimp.
What the hell is going on with Britney Spears lately?
I'll admit it, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for downward spiral Britney, but it's getting to the point where lately I feel more concerned for her mental health than amused by the limitless supply of tragic outfits she deems appropriate to wear in public.
(And does anyone else feel a wee bit worried for all of the random puppies she totes around? I can't even imagine what life in that household must be like. Wouldn't it be interesting to be a fly on the wall for a short while?*)
I think this paparazzi guy is just using her whole messy situation for his personal gain.
I think that there is no way that Britney will ever get full custody of her kids again.
And sadly, I don't think this is the end for Britney. I think there's more to come.
So here I am, horrified by the whole thing, yet still peeking through my fingers to watch the craziness. Please tell me I'm not the only one who's watching and waiting to see what happens next .. or what kind of dog she's going to make a public appearance with.
*Until all the talk of favourite sexual positions begins, that is. Too much information; I don't want to know. And haven't we all heard that before anyway?
Hrm, what to blog about today?
I could blog about the fact that I'm the wimpiest eater on the planet, with a mild green curry resulting in me pulling lots of strange faces while Jason looked at me blankly.
I could blog about how we finally have a dvd player and how excited that makes me.
I could blog about how I had good intentions of using one of my London Walk cards to explore somewhere in the city today, but due to some city tubes being out of order and my overall laziness, never got around to it. Perhaps next weekend? We'll see!
But instead, I thought I would do something I've been meaning to change since arriving here - revamping my 100 things list. If you're new to these digs, or if you're just plain bored, feel free to check it out. Let me know if I've forgotten to add anything.
Aly's 100 Things - Check them out!
Since arriving here, I've been utterly spoiled when it comes to evening meals. Jason is proving himself to be very capable of whipping up stirfries and healthy dinners, and we've sort of fallen into a routine when it comes to cooking and cleaning.
Tonight though, we had a few minor mishaps.
Jason left the tags on the new frypan while cooking our dinner, resulting in our smoke alarm going insane and us frantically running around trying to figure how to shut it off.
As for me? I managed to drop the serrated kitchen knife while in the midst of chopping the bread rolls, narrowly avoiding* chopping off my toe and instead slicing my ankle.
The end result was a batch of really yummy homemade hamburgers though, so all was not lost. And after all, we can't be perfectly domesticated at all times, can we?
*Thanks Enny, I missed chopping off my toe. All appendages are intact.
I've managed a week teaching the kidlets here in London.
The week has been a tough one, and it's had me jumping in the deep end and experiencing a whole stack of things I would usually run screaming from back home. I've been yoinked out of my comfort zone, and have taught kids from preschool all the way up to grade five - panicking on the inside but surviving in the long run.
The children have tested me, that's for sure. They have seen their share of supply teachers, they're not phased by my accent, and they're just.. different from the children at home. Their routines are different. The curriculum is different. A lot of things are different, but they're all helping me learn new things.
I don't have a set plan at the moment when it comes to teaching. I'm happy enough working at the current school daily at the moment, and we'll see what happens. For now though, it's good to be able to arrive at the school, teach whatever is left for me, and head straight home when school is done. I just need to get used to the tiredness that comes hand in hand with the lack of sunlight over here, and I'm sure things will be fine.
Apparently we're in the midst of another public delurkification, a day which brings joy to bloggers everywhere as they awake to find comments streaming into their humble inboxes. Having said that, it's completely plausible that I'm only talking about myself here - after all, not all of you are as nerdy as I am when it comes to blogging. And heck, some of you even have lives!* Ah well. I'm comfortable embracing my inner dork.
Speaking of dorks though, that leads me the topic of the day - because all good delurkification blogs should entice their readers with a thought provoking totally lame question. Today's mission, should you choose to accept it (and I'm sure that you will!) is to holler at me in the comments - answer the following question, and amuse us all:
What's the dorkiest thing you've ever said or done?
If the question alone isn't enough to get you gas-bagging, I can always take the 'guilt trip' approach. How 'bout I remind you of how how lonely I am here in this freezing cold country, with all of my friends thousands of miles away? Or, I could tell you that everytime I see my Gmail light up, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling that makes the loneliness float away in the gentle breeze gail-force winds.
Did it work? Are your insides weakening, and your fingers taking you towards the 'comment' button? Or do I have to work on the art of persuasian a little more? A girl's gotta try. Happy delurking day, everyone. I'm off to do some delurking of my own.
*I jest with the sarcasm, I am loving life at the moment, though I admit that during this first week of work the last thing I've felt like doing was getting out there and exploring this fine city. I think that my sightseeing list will have to wait until the weekends.
I've never lived with anyone before.
Other than at home with my parents, that is. Or sharing a room whilst on holiday.
Having been dating Jason for a long time, I suppose I assumed that I would move in with him when the time was right, though I wouldn't have predicted doing it in a country other than Australia. It's already been over a fortnight since I've been here (crazy!) and I think that for a couple living together for the first time, we're doing well.
I daresay the novelty of finally settling down hasn't worn off, but I really am loving it.
I love waking up in the morning and grumbling about him turning the lights on while I'm still trying to get my fifteen extra minutes of shut-eye. I love him giving me a quick peck on the cheek before he leaves. I love being here when he comes home and working out what we're going to cook for dinner. I love saying goodnight to him and knowing he's next to me when I fall asleep. I love stealing all the covers.
I love it just being us.**
We're alot alike. We don't go out a lot. We save dinners out for special occasions - though there was that one time last week where we ended up in Chinatown by chance and treated ourselves to a dinner for the sake of it. We're quite alright with laying low and relaxing after work. If we're not chatting about something, we're comfortable doing our own thing. We are quite happy sitting side by side on cushions on the floor with our laptops out, typing away in companionable silence.
(My vice is blogging and scrabulous, his vice is sports news and lurking on my blog. Ha.)
Don't get me wrong, I know it's not always sunshine and rainbows. But I've known for a while that this is something I've wanted to do, and our personalities are a really good match. If we have issues, we'll sort them out. All I know is that working out routines for who cooks, cleans up, or checks the mailbox: they've never been more fun.
**Hi Mum! I do miss you guys, of course.
A big thankyou to everyone for your supportive comments over yesterday's dilemna. I'm not much of a quitter by nature, so I thought about it all night - and realised that I'm happy with the decision I made. It wasn't for me, and that's that.
Today's travel time was about 45 minutes door to door, so wasn't too bad at all, and the school was nice and cozy. Unlike most schools, this school is really quite small, and the kidlets call all the staff by their first names, teachers included. It was so weird hearing Aly... called out across the day, but nice and relaxed too. This school has one teacher's assistant based in each classroom, which is much less stressful. I covered a year three class for half a day, and a year five class for the other half of the day - and I definitely prefer working with the littlies, that's for sure. I survived, though.
I'm back again tomorrow, where I'll be having a chat to the deputy head teacher since I didn't see much of him today. Not sure what I'll be doing, but will be covering classes again. If I'm offered a more permanent role in this class, I'm not sure yet what my answer will be: I suppose a pros/cons list is in order! What are your thoughts?
I probably won't have to do a great deal of prep, as I'm covering for teachers.
Travel is okay - I can leave at 7.20am to be there just after 8am.
Means I won't have to worry about going through agencies, and can settle down.
I get to become familiar with the little school, and the kidlets will get to know me too.\
I'm still a bit new to being the supply teacher - I'm used to being in charge!
I'm working with all grades, rather than sticking to the infants where I'm comfortable.
I haven't gotten to know the school yet, and am still sussing it out and trying to fit in.
There could be something better out there, that I haven't discovered yet ...
I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings - but good news is, I didn't need to invest in any remedial vodka. There were a few things that made me smile today, actually:
# A little old lady politely thank the bus driver as she slowly left the bus on her walker.
# Hearing the kidlets call out my name in their gorgeous accents.
# Receiving a postcard from Kirby, and a telegram from my Nanna. Bless!
# Having a man give up his seat for me on the busy tube ride home.
# Picking up Jason and I's joint bank cards. We're a real team, now.
And last but not least, realising that regardless of what happens at school, I get to leave it all behind and come home to an apartment I love with the person I love. Swoon.**
**Complimentary vomit bag included in case the mushy talk induces nausea.
Today was a really disappointing first day.
It was a student-free day today, meaning that the day was spent in staff meetings and planning and that I could arrive before 9am. Being the paranoid freak that I am (I am always early and panic when I'm late) I left home at 7am anyway, just to give myself some time to get my bearings. I'm glad I left early though, because one tube station had malfunctioning escalators and I had to walk the perimeter of the building to connect to my overland train, and because my bus simply didn't turn up. I arrived at 8:45am.
Surprisingly, the transport wasn't the part that bothered me. I'm getting much more accustomed to heading anywhere on the tube, the overland, the bus system - so I'm not super worried about that. I actually enjoy being able to zone out and take a breather every now and again. (Although depending on who you are sitting next to, sometimes breathing isn't the best way to go.) No, the trek wasn't the problem.
The school just wasn't what I was expecting. It wasn't particularly welcoming, there was no real orientation, and get this: there were to be five teachers (plus me!) based in the one classroom, because the student behaviours were so extreme. After an awkward day spent shuffling around trying to find out basic information like where the ladies room was, and where the kidlets put their bags, let alone how the school deals with behaviour management, the final straw came when they refused to sign my timesheet daily.
I'm not going back.
Luckily, I lined up a day to day teaching relief for tomorrow and possibly the day after, where the work is planned for me and I rotate between different classes while teachers have time off - and despite going to a completely different school in an unknown area, I feel much more relieved.
I'm following my gut instinct and I feel remarkably calm about this changein plans - I'm guessing that's a good thing. Life's too short to be unhappy, so hopefully tomorrow I'll come home with a smile on my face. If not, I think I'll have to invest in a bottle of vodka on the way home.
A few days ago, Michelle started a wee game on her blog: and being the good sheep that I am, I'm jumping on the bandwagon - albeit a few days late.
After reading my answers, your job is to:
1.) Claim one of my "nevers" that you have done.
2.) Answer it yourself: Never have you ever ____?
Go on, give it a shot. Let's be nosy!
Never have I ever:
- Gone skinnydipping. And I never will. Not pretty for anyone involved.
- Drank beer and liked it. Taking a sip and turning up my nose doesn't really count as drinking it and enjoying it. Surely I should work on this, living in England?
- Had a facial, manicure or pedicure. I'd love to, though.
- Watched a Star Wars movie. When I was younger, my parents took me to see one of the movies at the drive-in. I snored the entire way through it.
- Had Jason comment on my blog without me nagging him. Hint, hint.
- Been out for an entire night. I'm secretly a grandma in disguise.
- Made a perfect pancake. We attempted this today. We failed. Miserably.
- Gone house hunting. I was kind of sad that I missed out on choosing a rental place in London, but because Jason did such a wonderful job on our place, I forgive him.
- Been engaged/married. But a girl can dream, right?
- Committed a crime. Am innocent!
- Gotten a tattoo. I don't particularly like a lot of tattoos, but if I were to ever get one I know what it would be. As for where it would go? I'll never tell!
- Been quite so nervous about taking a job. I know it will be fine, but damn, I'm terrified. I did the journey today, and it's a long one ... wish me luck!
Some random things I've observed in London over the past few weeks;
- Jason becoming trapped in an automatic revolving door, leaving me giggling like a crazy person while he gestured madly trying to shove his way out.
- Speaking of shoving, most people around here are very good at shoving their way through crowds. Except for me. I do not do shoving well.
- Children here have the most adorable English accents.
- Cold air outside + blasting heaters inside = sickness. Crazy Brits.
- Fire escape doors lock when they are closed. (I figured this one out, whilst taking the garbage out to the dumpster and ending up locked outside in the carpark.)
- I can't find the perfect pair of boots ANYWHERE. I'm after a pair of black leather knee high boots, that have a low flat heel and a square toe. I thought I had found the perfect pair, but not for $165 pounds. That's over $300 Aussie dollars for a pair of shoes... er, no. I love Carrie Bradshaw, but can't afford to be her.
- People don't make eye contact here. Even shop assisants. It's weird.
- Broken escalators in tube stations suck. And I mean they really suck.
- I look stupid in hats.
I can't believe I start working the day after tomorrow. Wish this could be just one big giant extended holiday - where I could sleep in every morning, and wander around the city taking pictures. And have someone pay me for doing it, of course.
Anyone care to sponsor me?
I was really excited after reading the forecast for yesterday's weather: light snow was supposedly on the agenda for London! I wondered what to do with myself, should I stay warm at home ready to jump on the balcony and experience the snow should it fall? Or should I brave the chill and go out, and hopefully be able to capture the snow falling?
The novelty of staying warm at home didn't last long, so I decided I'd head out - this time I knew exactly where I wanted to go, though: the Tower of London. I visited here last time I was in England with Jason, and we did the standard tour and enjoyed the sights for a while - but for some reason, ever since arriving back on these shores, I've wanted to do it again. Jason wasn't particularly fussed, so I had already put it aside for one of my solo tourist days. Today worked out perfectly, a nice little half day outing.
It only took about 15 minutes to get there from home, as I caught the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) from my doorstep, straight there. The weather wasn't just cold, it was icy cold. Definitely different from every other cold morning I'd experienced here so far, and seemed perfect for snow. It quickly went from cold to freezing, I was wishing I'd put on a few scarves and extra layers! Cloudy skies, but no snow to be seen.
As I was waiting in the queue, these tourists behind me kept on trying to shove their way past me. I put on my best football linebacker stance, with my legs spread apart and my arms in my pocket, to block them from squeezing ahead of me, and thankfully it worked. I can't stand people who cut queues! I paid for my 16 quid ticket, and then hovered inside te gates out of the wind waiting for one of the Yeoman Warders.
This is the White Tower in all of it's glory. Can you spy any ravens in this photograph?
It was the same old tour, even with the same old jokes, but I still loved every second of it. I love all of the grizzly historical facts, I love exploring the old rooms, and I love standing in a place so old. In other words? I am a nerd. Forgive me?
The beef-eaters made jokes about it snowing, but alas.. snow it did not. It was still mighty cold though; and the guide I took a picture with made a joke about my fitting in with the snow should it start to fall, obviously because I am the palest Australian in the history of the world. (Even Englishmen are more tanned than I am!)
I spent a fair amount of time hiding inside the buildings within the Tower, because it was so bloody cold I could hardly think straight. Saw the Crown Jewels, the Armoury, some of the old quarters, and a few very expensive souvenir shops, before I decided I was done. Once exiting the site, there are some beautiful views of the Thames and London bridge, but sadly there was still no snow in sight.
I noticed a family a little further down the path that were taking pictures in front of London Bridge, and offered to take a picture for them. Thankfully I didn't drop their pretty camera, because my hands felt like chunks of ice at this stage. They repaid the debt, and took a picture of my whole body standing in front of the bridge.
And you thought I was just a giant floating head... tsk tsk.
I didn't see any snow, though. When I got back to the apartment, I thought it had begun to snow, but when I opened the window, it was drizzling instead. I also managed to break the window handle too, because I am a genius. I blame the snow.. or lack thereof.
While I have been roughly planning my touristy days, I realised that aside from the more well-known spots, I really don't know what to do with myself in London. There are so many things to do in this city that I know absolutely nothing about.
RA suggested that I take requests for things to see/do/photograph whilst I'm here - because let's face it, despite the fact that I'll be soon starting a routine of work, eat, sleep during the week, the novelty of being a tourist in this country is going to stick around for a while. And what else are weekends for, but for sleeping sight-seeing!?
So, I humbly ask the following questions ...
- Have you been to London before and know some good spots in the city?
- Have you never been, but know what you would do if you were here?
- Have you got any photographic requests for me to try to capture?
By the way, these are the suggestions that RA came up with. I'll add more to the list, as soon as you leave them in the comments. It's like 'The List', only UK style!
Tate Modern Art Museum
Theatre show: The Mousetrap
Walk over the Millennium Bridge
Watch a football game a pub
Ride the London Eye
Take pictures with/at: Piccadilly Circus, a red telelphone booth, platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station, a beefeater.
What else can I do for you? (I live to serve.)
I can't believe I've been living and breathing London for over a week already.
It's been amazing having Jason off work since Christmas; making up five months of conversations, giggles and hugs is hard work, you know. But the luxury ended today, since he started work - leaving me five days of freedom before I start my own new teaching job. (I'm pretending it doesn't exist right now because I'm a trifle nervous.)
Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I threw myself in the deep end again and decided to put on my 'solo tourist' hat and go for another wander around the town. I managed to get my way around locally, but this time it was all about the city.
(Looking back, Big Ben seems to be suspiciously lurking in a lot of today's pictures, I think I was being stalked by a huge ancient clock. Look for yourself!)
Today was a typically damp and dreary day, and I only saw the sun a few times. I started in Trafalgar Square, which looked decidely miserable today: construction workers everywhere, empty water fountains and a sad looking Christmas tree. There was hardly anyone there, which was a completely different experience to the last time I visited.
After wandering around aimlessly for a few minutes taking pictures, I decided to head towards Buckingham Palace. I love St James Park, it is very peaceful there despite the hundreds of people ambling around. Plus, it is home to chipmunky squirrel creatures!
Despite having been here before, I still got rather excited standing in front of Buckingham Palace. It's just one of those landmarks that you have got to experience. Being there makes me all giddy. And then puffed, because the road to get there? Is the longest road in the world, or at least it feels that way. (Yes, I am unfit.)
Being a solo traveller = being double jointed and taking one's own photographs.
(I told you it was grey and miserable!) I was in St James Park at the perfect time, it seemed. The changing of the guard was taking place as I was walking innocently along, so that's what all the people were hanging around for. Right! I knew that, of course.
After watching the guards for a short while, I decided to keep on walking around on foot rather than head back to the tube. I ended up at the beautiful Westminster Abbey.
And right across the street, my favourite building. Look kids, Big Ben! Parliament!
When I had finished snapping my obligatory tourist photos and was deciding where to go next, a guy bumped into me while standing at a pedestrian crossing. He apologised, and then asked if I was Danish. I shook my head and mumbled something incoherent, and he then proceeded to tell me that I looked like I was Danish, and did I have any Danish relatives? I said I was Australian as the lights changed and began to cross the road; the guy followed me, telling me he was French, lived in London and was heading to work. As I approached the tube station and went to walk down the stairs, he stopped me and asked if I would like to meet up for drinks later - to which I thanked him, but mentioned I was seeing someone. I then scurried to the station, and jumped onto a train.
Don't ask me why I was so weirded out by the casual invitiation: the guy was sweet about it all. It's just that I've not once, ever in my entire life, been asked out by anyone randomly before; let alone on a sidewalk. I suppose there is a first time for everything.
I just wasn't sure what to say: and I hope I ended the conversation the right way. What is the proper etiquette for declining a drinks invitation? Help!
Anyway, I ended up at Bond Street, where I grabbed a coffee and wandered around the street for a while. I walked for a bit and eventually realised I was standing on Oxford Street - again, that explains the crowds! Right! (I'm the worst tourist in the world.) I bought a couple of cheap shirts, and decided I was done for the day.
A little more wandering around Canary Wharf, a couple of grocery bags on the way home, and here I am sitting all squishy in my pink dressing gown/robe.
I still can't believe I'm really here, or that I'm brave enough to traipse around a foreign country on my own. One of my resolutions for 2008 was to stop worrying, and I think I'm making a bit of headway on that already. So what if I miss the tube? I can always just get on the next one. I'm here, I'm happy, and I'm damn proud of myself.
Here we are, already beginning 2008: in London time, anyway. We spent our evening nice and cozy indoors; Jason cooked me a (spicy!) red curry dish, he watched some Heroes, I watched some Sex & the City, and we opened a shared bank account for the first time. It was a shame we didn't get to spend Christmas together last year, but I'm thankful I was able to bring in the new year with him. I can't remember being happier.
Last year, I created a few resolutions; you can read about them for yourself here. Here are my new ones for 2008; have you got any goals of your own for the coming year?
- Quit worrying
If there is one thing that I do better than most people, it's worry. You would think that after having a transcontinental move, I would be a bit of a wreck, but surprisingly I'm feeling fairly okay about things so far. That's my biggest goal for this year, to keep myself worry-free as much as possible.
- Look after myself
I've given up thinking that I'm going to wake up one morning and have found the easy answer to being comfortable with myself. I don't know that I'll ever have the answer, to be perfectly honest. But I know what I'm capable of, and I know that I can push myself. This year, it's all about being happy with me.
- Live it up
How often does one get the chance to experience life from a different perspective? I want to take this year as it comes, and enjoy whatever lies ahead! Even if this whole adventure doesn't work out perfectly, I'm still stepping outside the box just by being where I am today. Bring on the travelling!
- Continue blogging
With the exception of being away on holidays, I've always managed to blog daily. It's not always deep and/or meaningful, but it's therapeutic. I'm going to do my best to keep at it this year, hopefully recording my experiences of living in a foreign country, so I hope you can stick around for the ride.