30 September 2007

At A Moment's Notice

A few months ago,
given an excuse: say, my goldfish had died
I would have given London the royal one finger salute and in precisely an hour, depending on delays on the Picadilly line,
I would at Heathrow airport and after two more hours of customs,
I most definitely would have been on the next plane home.

That finger would have been for you, millions of anonymous unsmiling faces,
for you, endless rolling grey skies
for every piece of litter on the street because there are no bins because of the bombs
for every suicide announced in cold voices on the underground.

I wouldn't have missed the homeless sitting in alcoves with heads bowed and paper cups,
the drunks and their scary not-quite-with-it faces and their loud angry voices
or the news headlines announcing the latest stabbings.

there was no excuse.
Nobody called up, needed me in Australia at an hour's notice depending on delays on the Picadilly line.

And now, given an excuse: say my goldfish had died
well actually I'd be very sad but
what about
our very nice flatmates
where would I get my baklava from, it couldn't possibly be the same as that little shop just down the road where the lady knows who I am now and she smiles at me and asks if I like pistachios (of course I do, lady! What's not to love!)
I can't LEAVE, who would pay the rent
and I couldn't let anybody else live in MY HOUSE and watch the leaves turn red and fall off the vines on the back fence.

I haven't...
I'm not quite...

I can't possibly go home yet.

28 September 2007

Take Courage

Take Courage
Taken out of a train window, South East London

I see this building every time I take the train to my Uncle's. I loved it for five months, thinking it was a British war slogan. Every time I passed it, I would take courage and perk up a little bit, thinking of all the brave people in the war.

When he was visiting in August, my dad said "You know where the sign comes from, don't you?"
"It's a British war slogan, isn't it?"
"There used to be a kind of beer called Courage," he said.

It's a beer ad! When I went to Amsterdam, I saw an ad for Courage beer, so now I know for sure. I still think it's a great sign. It still makes me feel courageous, but now it also makes me think of beer.

26 September 2007

Three Things

The Thames, Last Sunday

1. I'm a little fuzzy around the edges at the moment. My brain is all fluffed up like candy floss. If I had two words to describe the past two days I would say: loud and full. Loud as in children and full as in my brain cannot fit anything more in. Until tomorrow at least.

2. There was a squirrel in the hall today. It ran at the (closed) door to escape and bounced off it like in a cartoon. I have to confess that I am smitten with squirrels. Vermin they may be, but at least they have fluffy tails, not scummy bald tails like rats.

3. To me, the Thames is beautiful and slightly surreal. Like the photo above. I love the way the photo turned out because I think it fits closely with the way I see it. I wonder if we are all seeing things differently and the only way we could know how someone else sees things is by looking at their photos.

23 September 2007

The Big Swimmer

I went to Borough Market this morning, ostensibly to get myself something tasty for lunch but honestly to distract myself from Starting-A-New-Job-Nerves. After scoffing some great food, I was walking along the Thames - which I think is the most beautiful part of London - when I stumbled across The Big Swimmer.

Big Swimmer

What is this guy doing here? Is it something to do with Lewis Pugh's swim up the entire (dirty and polluted!) length of the Thames in order to raise awareness of global warming?

Big Swimmer The Big Swimmer

Nothing so noble. This very excellent swimmer is an ad for the TV show London Ink. Maybe you've seen the American version, Miami Ink? It's basically a tv show about a tattoo parlour and all the people who get tattoos. You can see the ad on the big swimmer's shoulder - in the form of a tattoo. You've got to admire the advertising people who came up with this one.

21 September 2007


The thing I loved about working as a temp in an office was that at 5.30pm my work was done. Finished. Fabulous. I could walk home with my mind full of ideas completely unrelated to office work.

So I spent a lot of the summer painting. The Bambi picture above is one that I did after the series of leaf paintings for the postcard swap. Bambi is actually on three separate A5-sized pieces of paper. In real life, his head lines up perfectly with his body.

I'm posting this now because, well, for the next few months I think my brain will be full of teaching and there may not be much room for paintings and, well, I just wanted to share it with you.

19 September 2007

The Newest Beginning

Things are good right now. I have three days left of holidays before beginning a new job on Monday, a teaching job, one that surprised me. In a good school, a nice place, with an age group that is about right for me. I'll be working with the class teacher for a week before she goes on maternity leave. This new job means: lots of work, quite a bit of commuting (takes about an hour to get there), and money. Hooray for money. Freedom to book holidays without worrying about being able to afford them, to go out for dinner, to go to the movies knowing that my bank balance will cope. Money means nice clothes and haircuts before my hair gets so long that it gives me a headache.

This new job means you might hear less from me, so the gap between London and Tasmania will widen a little bit. Sometimes I feel like I've disappeared altogether, that gap is so big. I suppose this is how it is, when you move away from home. A gradual forgetting and disappearing from one place and an appearing and re-defining in the other.

New Haircut

Yesterday I got my hair cut. About five or six inches of orange hair fell on the shiny floor in the hairdresser's. I feel lighter. New beginnings all around.

The Country that Stole Land from the Sea

I was going to write something all technical about how amazed I was by the Netherlands and all their canals and dams, but since the details of such things elude me and I always seem to slightly destroy the accuracy of my facts... let's just say I loved the Netherlands.

LOVED them!

It was a completely surprising thing that Lauch and Robbert met online five-ish years ago, somehow struck up a friendship and began a business together. And then, how completely amazing that Robbert and his wife Esther should turn out to be very friendly and nice people and not internet stalker types at all. So nice, in fact, that they let us both stay at their house for the weekend, eat cheese fondue with them and Esther showed me all around the countryside.

Canal Beside the Highway The Lovely Esther
Volendam Houses Windmill Near the Sea, Volendam

I took the photos above and below on Saturday. Esther took me around Amsterdam, to the Van Gogh museum (which is great and poor old Van Gogh had a hard life), and out to this really old village called Volendam.

Volendam Harbour Cute Shops in Volendam
Volendam Harbour Ice Cream Man, Volendam

Esther says Volendam is famous for its eels, but sadly we didn't find any to sample that day. Or maybe not so sadly.

The thing that amazes me about the Netherlands is the connection with the sea and the water. There are canals everywhere - all over Amsterdam, along the highway and one village we saw had a moat right around it. Volendam is on the edge of a big inland lake that used to be the sea. And if you look at the photos, you get the feeling that it IS the sea. Except that this water has been dammed for so long that Robbert says it has become fresh water.

On Sunday we took Thijs, who is five, to pick up his little brother Nils from his Grandma's house. On the way there I learned what "Are we there yet?" sounds like in Dutch. I laughed when Esther told Thijs that when the clock hand turned to a quarter to (she pointed to show him) we would be there. A few seconds later, Thijs said "It's not moving! It's broken!"

Esther on the Pirate Ship Esther and Nils Exploring

We drove with the boys to see the replica of the ship the Batavia. Maybe you've heard the sordid story of the original Batavia - a ship that sailed until there was a mutiny off Western Australia.

The Crow's Nest of the Batavia Replica The Poop Deck, Batavia Replica Batavia Replica

Did you notice the orange thing in the photo above? That's a toilet. And if you look down into the hole you notice that there's nothing between your bum and the sea. Maybe this part of the ship should be named the poop deck.

It was a shame to leave the chilled-out Netherlands and come home. Thanks heaps Robbert and Esther for a brilliant weekend. I hope to come back to the Netherlands some time and explore the funky shops in Amsterdam, eat Edam cheese and maybe even some eel.

18 September 2007


In all the distance, it seems that there's a lot sometimes that doesn't get said. You know, all the half-conversations you have when you see someone all the time. Hi, how are you. And how is that argument going with so and so? And are you still in love with him? How's that all going?
So maybe this could be a post full of nothing but the half-conversations. A half-conversation posted into the black hole that is the internet.

Hi. How's that argument going with so and so? And are you still in love with him? I went to a job interview today. Had all the nervous stuff going, was freaking out because there were supposed to be delays on the bus route and it was all taking so LONG but then of course there I was, fifteen minutes early, plenty of time to then worry about the ten minutes of teaching I had to do. Seriously. Who shakes during interviews? After having, like, six of them this year? Yes. I know. I do.

I'm meeting a friend tomorrow for lunch. She is a fabulous South African girl I met when I was a very glamorous Data Entry Clerk a few weeks ago.
And last week, I was something similar working for a very cool sunglasses company. On Friday we got a shipment of the new Bvlgari sunglasses - 2008 models, you realise - and I got the job of unpacking them. I got caught trying them on and was a bit embarrassed. Tried to be all professional after that.

Anyway I have to go. Lauch has just got home from the Netherlands.
See you tomorrow...

10 September 2007

The Elephants are Coming

Feeding the Swans
Children on the Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park.

I noticed on 'Week in Pictures' that there were some life-sized cane sculptures of elephants in Hyde Park this week. So of course I dragged Lauch out to go and have a look at them. Luke said they were near the Princess Diana memorial fountain. Several kilometres of walking later, we arrived at the extremely popular Diana tribute. No elephants.

The thing I should probably mention is that Hyde Park is utterly huge and gigantic. A five minute search on Google cannot give me exact proportions but I know it takes me at least half an hour to walk its width and at least an hour to walk its length.

Just as we were getting despondent at the lack of elephants, there it was. An arrow-shaped sign that had fallen to the ground, pointing to "Elephant Family."

Elephant Family

And there they were. A million human children and their mothers, crowded around the amazing life-sized herd of 12 elephants. I thought the baby elephants were the cutest.

Elephant Baby

8 September 2007

This Week in Pictures

There's a feature that I love on the BBC news website called 'Week in Pictures.' It's basically what it says - a group of interesting photos from the past week, from all over the world. Check out this week's - click on number six to see the two-headed turtle celebrating his birthday. So cute!

7 September 2007


When my dad visited in August, he took me several hours west of London to visit my Grandma. On the way we went through my favourite English town so far. Maybe even more favourite than London. It has the cutest buildings, all grey and creamy yellow stone, sagging tiled rooves and oozing with history. Here are my favourite photos.

The Bridge Teahouse
The Bridge Teahouse. Dad and I had a fantastic Cream Tea here - that's the same as a Devonshire Tea. With Earl Grey tea and scones, jam and clotted cream. You have to spread clotted cream with a knife, it's so thick.

The Swan Hotel
The Swan Hotel - I love the poster on the left-hand wall. Check out the date: 1500AD.

Cute Streets
Cute little winding streets.

St Margaret's St
St Margaret's St - just around the corner from The Bridge.

6 September 2007

Space on Earth

The Spiky Astronaut
The Spiky Astronaut, Hammersmith

He hovers in a corporate building
and as the suit-clad workers flood past every morning
I wonder if I am the only one who looks up
and worries that he will not be able to breathe out there in space
with all those spikes.

4 September 2007

Autumn Falling

Autumn Begins

Autumn is here. The first leaves on the vine on the back fence are turning brilliant red. There is the first hint of a chill in the air as I walk home. This morning I noticed that suddenly there are oak leaves blowing around everywhere, all brown and scrunchy.

It is not the dramatic change I imagined, an instant rain of red and orange leaves. Autumn has crept up on me like our six month anniversary of being here. Grown and changed quietly, like that feeling that travel gives me – a strange expansion and a feeling that inside I have changed and will never be the same.