Friday, December 12, 2008

Taking the inital "Next Step"

I just spent the best part of four hours writing a blog about Ascot, finding the pictures to go with it, editting it and posting it only to find out from Davina that I have already written about Ascot back in June when it actually happened. Lovely. I am very switched on and up to date obviously. So actually, I have no idea what I am up to on this blog, but will wing it and see what happens.

I am writing this entry in Sydney at my Mum's house. A series of events have lead me here but I am far from certain that this is where I should actually be. I guess only time will tell.

So how did I get here? The teacher I replaced at Telferscot Primary School decided not to return to her job after her maternity leave finished. No one was surprised by this at all. Not because she wanted to spend time with her son, but rather, she told me that she was so burnt out by the time she left that she just refused to consider returning at all. Over time this seemed to be a bit of a running theme at that school. Anyway, her job was advertised and the Head Teacher asked me to apply. I wasn't so sure. It was a permanent full time position with the school (I was employed through an agency at that point) and would mean a change in Visa and sponsorship which would limit my ability to move if I wanted to. After thought and consideration I thought you only live once and I might not even get the job anyway so I put my application in. I got an interview and sat down with the panel to answer their questions. Half way through the interview the Head Teacher asked me some really odd questions which made me think that there was more going on than I realised. I have always thought that the point of the interview process was to find the best candidate for the job. If I was the best candidate for the job I should be the one who gets it regardless of what nationality I am. Obviously I have much to learn and shouldn't be so naive. I walked away from the interview in a stunned awe. Writing this now and looking back it doesn't seem so dramatic but at the time I was just amazed that this system of doing things was so...dodgy is really the only word I can think of.

Between my interview and the outcome two very sad things happened in my class that shook me to the core. One of my children brought a gun to school; he came from a very difficult home life and he had brought it to school to show off. The second instance was a boy from my class was snatched from the playground. In both instances the school brushed the situation away with very little attempt to sort out the issue. I would rather not write up the circumstances here as it probably isn't appropriate but it left me more than a little bit shocked. I went home and downed a bottle of wine.

Two days later I was offered the full time job. But by this stage I didn't think I wanted to continue at Telferscot for another 12 months so I declined.

Another contributing factor was that my lovely co-worker Fran decided to leave to travel and then teach in Australia. She is an amazing teacher and we had a blast hanging out after hours too. Since she lived three streets away we used to have lunch or dinner at each others house with no tube travel involved. With no Fran at school how would I cope? :)

By the time school had finished and I had finished up working a few days at the holiday care camp for Sammi I had boxes everywhere in various stages of packing. Being the seasoned procrastinator that I am I went to Fran's parent's place in Devon to see her hometown and eat more "Devonshire Teas".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Silly on Scilly and the great mystery of the missing brie!

Back in January when I was living in Jo and Jonathon's flat in Tooting I had watched a program on TV called "An Island Parish". It was about an Anglican priest who had decided to take a left hand turn in his career path and take on a parish on the remote island of St Mary's in a group of small islands off the south west coast of England called the Isles of Scilly. Although it sounds like a Nana program it was actually very interesting, especially when his wife decides she can't take the remoteness anymore and grabs the kids and hot foots it back to the mainland leaving him alone and rather depressed (it rains a lot and to get anywhere you have to do it by boat, a problem for a priest who suffers extreme seasickness).

As Davina pulled out her map at the Godolphin pub in front of Michael St Mount I happened to notice that there was a small insert box highlighted at the bottom and lo and behold, there were the Isles of Scilly. I'm a bit of a doofus when it comes to TV, nothing seems real. I could see my own house on there and still have the sense of feeling that it was in a make believe world far, far away. So seeing the Isles of Scilly on a map was very exciting and after a quick trip to the Tourist Information centre we found out we could get to the Isles of Scilly several different ways. With nothing much else to do in Penzance and with the fire of excitement in my belly we made the decision to head further south and a little bit west to St Mary's. Next decision was, how do we actually get there?

There are 3 main forms of transport to the Isles of Scilly.
1) By ferry boat. It takes 3 hours to get there and with the slightest wind, tends to render any and all passengers green around the edges and permanently attached to the sick bag. This was the cheapest option.
2) By sea plane. This seemed the most popular form of transportation and travel time was limited to 45 minutes. It was a a small Cessna type aircraft with seating for approximately 40 people. It made 6 daily trips out to the islands and back and cost about £90.
3) By helicopter. Travel time was 25 minutes and you could fly to 4 different islands as it was not limited to the runway at the St Mary's airport. The helicopter charter company offered day trips where they would fly you out and back in one day with lunch on the island of your choice. It cost about £150. Or you could use them as a flight only and stay out on the island.
You can guess which one the budget travellers Davina and I were chose, can't you? Helicopters all the way!!!! They were large corporate helicopters, like one ones used to ferry celebrities and politicians around in. Inside was trimmed with cream leather with plush cream carpeting and an air hostess to explain the finer details of how to unfasten your seat belt when you are hanging upside down submerged in water after you crash.

Flying into Scilly, the first 15 minutes are just water views, with no land in sight at all. And then popping up over the horizon you can see a dot of green surrounded by even smaller dots. The Isles of Scilly are made up of six inhabited islands and numerous other small rocky islets (around 140 in total) lying 45 km off the coast of Land's End at the bottom of Cornwall. The four main inhabited islands are St Mary's, Tresco, St Martin's and St Agnes. Because of their global position the islands are more often than not battered by fierce rain storms, but very rarely see ice and snow. As a result they have a booming flower farming industry which supplies the mainland with flowers, especially daffodils, long before any of the flower farms up there have a chance of growing anything. Scilly has been inhabited since the Stone Age and people have been making a living off the land and the sea there ever since. Farming and fishing continue today, but the main industry now is tourism.

Davina and I caught an island taxi (someone has cleaned out an old Kombi like van and added a few extra rickety seats) into town for the hefty price of £3 each. We had booked the only remaining room on the island at a B&B (everyone's house is a B&B between May and October) and had had visions of being squished into a single bed together but were pleasantly surprised to find a room with two beds and an ensuite, even if the room tilted on a 30ยบ angle!

As with Penzance, there is not much to do in Scilly. The shops that line the main street in Maintown (yep, that's the largest town's name) are geared towards tourists as you would expect. Davina found a fabulous dress which she later wore to Royal Ascot and I picked up a windbreaker vest to ward off the chill as it was on sale. I will probably find it too hot to wear anywhere else in the world, but it was perfect for the hike I did later on. I went up and about one of the walking tracks that took you around the main island. It was beautiful scenery and I felt something akin to the feeling I had at Nord Kapp last year, of standing on the edge of the earth and out there somewhere is a vast drop off into the unknown. I also ended up feeling sunburnt and managed to create a wonderful set of huge panda eyes where my skin had white sunglasses marks!

Around the top of one of the headland there is a nature reserve. You can open the gates and walk through it without too much hassle, but someone on the island decided to play a joke a while ago and put horses in there too. Now wild horses roam the nature reserves along with the tourist trekkers and they seem quiet and relaxed enough but I wasn't game to pat any of them. I later found out that the park ranger keeps them well fed and groomed although is reluctant to take them on officially.

For lunch Davina had her obligatory Cornish pasty as the Isles of Scilly come under the jurisdiction of the Duke of Cornwall (aka Charles, Prince of Wales) and when in Cornwall... After which we did what any self respecting traveller with time on their hands does - went to the pub for a quiet ale with the locals and a read of the well creased and dog-eared novel you carry at the bottom of your bag. Because in the end, it is at the pub that you hear the best gossip and keep up to date with the news of the town and it is also where Davina and I heard about the local quiz night being held at the pub near the wharf.

The pub near the wharf had recently (as in that day) finished it's major overhaul and refurbishment. I am not sure what it looked like before the overhaul but it was still odd looking after it. Everyone sat perched on these old and wobbly stools around tables that were equally strange looking. It added such a fabulous atmosphere to the place. A real eating adventure unlike anything I had ever done or am likely to do again.

I'm going to remember that place (even if I can't remember the name) for three very distinct reasons - 1) the fact that Davina and I scored the lowest quiz score out of everyone there and it was announced on the microphone, 2) Davina ordered a deep fried brie from the menu and when she cut into it there was no brie. Where did the brie go? and 3) there was a lady who brought her ferret to the pub for quiz night. When questioned by management about the inclusion of an animal in her party she replied "Your sign says 'No Dogs' and this is quite clearly not a dog!" Needless to say the ferret stayed. As did the dog who had been wandering in and around the tables all night without a mention or query at all.

The next day, after sleeping on an angle that night, Davina and I set sail on a tour of some of the other islands in the group. We got to see Puffins and some other different marine and bird life that flock to these islands as a safe haven. The best part however was getting close up to a seal as it ducked in and out of the combined wash of the boat and the waves that crashed up against the rocks. I have exactly 3 photographs of this water tour as it turn out my stomach and I do not agree on what is "good form" on the water. I had an excellent time and my devonshire tea lunch did not come back to haunt me later but it was touch and go there for quite some time (ok, until we got back to the wharf). But not to worry, the ice cream I had straight after sorted me out! :)

Not long after we got back to dry land we had to speed up to the airport in the island taxi again and lift off to get back to Penzance to meet my 6pm train to London Paddington (6.5hrs, ick!). Luckily I am much better in the air and on a train than I am on water!
I recommend the Isles of Scilly 100%. Going there was a spur of the moment decision based on a TV show I had seen 6 months earlier. It was wonderful walking around and seeing the places I recognised from the show and taking time out to slow down and absorb the culture of a society almost always forgot about by mainlanders. But apart from that, and the exclusiveness of the fact that not many people can say that they have walked the shores of Scilly, it felt good putting my money into an economy that so desperately needs it. More people move away from Scilly each year because of the hardship of trying to make a living there. Last year the tourist season was a write-off as the planes, boats and helicopters were grounded for the majority of summer due to weather and everyone on the islands suffered. I've been on Contiki trips and poured my money into the booming economies of Europe and Scandinavia, but this felt so much better and whilst I didn't see the big sights I did on those commercial trips, I felt so much more on those islands than I have in a very long time (and technically on their water too but I get the impression that might have been for a completely different reason!).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pirates aplenty in Penzance

Back onto the First Great Western train to Penzance Davina and I found ourselves reading, sleeping, chatting to while away the four or so hours to Penzance. Penzance has always been a mythical place to me. A place you hear of in fantasy and fairy tales where Pirates reside and shenanigans are aplenty in public houses that line the wooden foreshore docks. I never really expected it to be real. But real it was and unfortunately rather disappointing. It is grey, dull and I want to say concreted. The town wraps itself around a port in a sweeping motion that, as you walk to the bottom end, draws you into a run down and long forgotten tip of England.

Davina found us a great B&B in Alexandra Street. It was beautifully renovated and the owners were welcoming and attentive. It gave me hope that perhaps the real shine of Penzance wasn't its shell or it's notoriety but the kind and open-hearted people. Maybe I am over dramatising it all, but it was a kick in the guts to see what Penzance actually was. Totally not what I expected and a bit of a let down. But it did have its highlights and I give credit to Davina for picking some fantastic things to see - The Michael St Mount, the Minack theatre and the fish and chippie joint that made us laugh.

Michael St Mount is at the northern part of the town. You pass it on the train coming in and on the bus going out. The castle stands tall and proud off the coast and seems both isolating and enticing at the same time. When the tide is in it is accessible only by boat. But when the tide goes out the true magic happens. Almost like a scaly dragon rising from the deep, a cobblestone walkway emerges from the water allowing people to walk across from the mainland to the church and surrounding buildings. Davina rolled up her trousers and took off, one foot in front of the other, hoping and praying the middle section wouldn't be too deep. Me? I did what any sane Australian does when faced with a breath-taking scene and a setting sun...headed to the Godolphin pub to appreciate it with a cold beverage!

As any Aussie traveller will attest to - you travel 100,000 miles to meet Australians and Penzance is no different. Whilst I sat back and took in the "serenity" at the pub overlooking Michael St Mount I overheard a familiar accent and ended up talking to Ben from Umina whilst his kids had running races from the wall of the pub to the receding tide. Ben and his family were doing a house swap with a family from Penzance. For 4 months they swapped complete lives, from schools to cars to houses to jobs. It was a fascinating way to see the other side of the world and allow your kids to expand their minds with experiences and history not available at home. I also had to admire the youngest child's ingenuity when a mud throwing match broke out with his older siblings. Unable to sling the mud as far as the others, he perfected the art of catapulting seaweed by whipping it around his head a few times first. :)

Davina, queen of finding strange, unusual and often life altering things to see and do, had heard about a theatre that had been carved into the sheer cliffs outside of Penzance. The Minack Theatre was designed, built and financed by a woman named Rowena Cade in the 50s and 60s. It was her lifelong dream to see plays performed with nature as the dramatic backdrop. "Minack" in Cornish means a rocky place and the theatre does not disappoint. The patrons sit on slabs of rock tiered up from a split stage. The actors and actresses work on two main levels - a spot light section up to the left of the main stage and the stage itself.

Getting to the theatre is an adventure unto itself. We caught the only bus that goes up and out of Penzance from the top of our B&B's street. It is old and although double storey you may be taking your life into your own hands heading up top. Keen adventurers that we were, we gave it a shot but most people stayed downstairs. The bus itself doesn't have a death wish so much as there is no stopping, slowing down or even allowing others to pass. It just hurtles along the ever increasingly smaller country roads, up jagged hills and down twisting and turning paths. When the roads became gravel rather than bitumen you know you are heading to the sticks. We made it in one piece 50 minutes later and then glanced up to realise that the biggest hill has been left to last and this one we had to hike up as the bus wouldn't make it. Nothing like a bit of exercise!

The play showing that night was Cinderella and despite it being a children's play, I'm never to old for a fairytale. We ended up sitting next to the family of the actress who played Cinderella. Immediately to my left was Nanna who came prepared with shortbread biscuits and fruit pastilles. All throughout the play she kept insisting that Davina and I eat because we had travelled so far. I think perhaps she thought that we had flown in from Sydney that evening just for the 7 o'clock performance! She was an absolutely lovely lady and made me miss my Grandma very much. She spoke so lovingly of her grand-daughter and was eagerly anticipating her wedding that Autumn. But it was Cinderella's dad who brought a glisten to my eye. At the end of the performance he stood and gave the loudest, most raucous applause and a standing ovation to his daughter. I can't be sure but I think he may have been the instigator of the beginning of a Mexican wave too!

After negotiating the mega hill down to the bus stop we boarded the bus back to Penzance and our B&B room (complete with hanging stuffed monkey from the ceiling - we think it was a child's room). It was well after midnight by the time we reached "home" and we both crashed into an immediate Cinderella filled slumber.

Having visited Michael St Mount, drunk at the pub, walked along the main street and hot footing it to the Minack theatre I think it was safe to say we had seen Penzance. Whilst devouring an ice-cream and watching the ships docking and unloading their goods in the harbour I couldn't help feeling proud of the fact that I had made it to the southern most part of England...or had I?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spur of the moment memories of gold

I had an awesome time last night and I didn't even have to travel further than 200m from my house. First up, I spent a good day at Play Group at the school I have just finished teaching at. I left with a very negative outlook but a nice day with 10 kids of varying ages has given me a little positive influence. Then I came home and walked to Sainsbury's with Andy, somehow convincing him to cook me dinner on the way, which was an absolute bonus because I was just going to Sainsbury's for a bottle of wine. Then had a laugh on the way back reciting old 12th Man cricket jokes. After dinner, Vanessa, Andy I took our glasses of wine and the Boules set Vic gave me for my 27th birthday to the Common at the end of the street and we played a few games of Boules. Vanessa, being Vanessa, decided to make the game a little bit more interesting and added a new rule that the bowler needed sing a couple of lines of a cheesy 90s pop song as they threw their ball and the other 2 had to guess what song it was from. May sound dodgy to you, but I have to say that it was a fantastic and relaxing, but most of all, enjoyable evening. Certainly something I am going to remember with a huge smile on my face for the rest of my life as a "London moment". :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On my way to St Ives...

I'm currently sporting the latest in steel grey hospital issue crutch fashion as I have managed to do some damage to the ligaments in my right foot. It is now twice the size it should be and I am house bound because I am slower on crutches than a tortoise on slow motion replay. As a result I thought I would procrastinate no longer about blogging my trip to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly during the May school holidays.

I found myself in the unusual position of actually having some money to spend at the same time as the school holidays decended and so spent an agonising four days trying to choose a destination. I finally settled on Los Angeles as I could get a great deal to fly there and back (under 400 quid) and I really wanted to see my friend Rachael who is living there at the moment. Unfortunately Rach was not going to be there as she was heading away for the memorial day long weekend.

Instead of boarding a US bound flight I changed my mind completely found myself standing at London Paddington Train Station on Monday morning buying a one way ticket to Torquay in Cornwall. The South West of England was the one area I had not yet discovered and since I had a week and some coin to splurge on I boarded the first train I could. Turns out it was meant to be as I made a call to Davina who was camping in Devon. Her camping adventure had been a wash out so she headed to Torquay too and we planned to rendezvous at 1300hrs.

Torquay is a very hip and happening place with lots to do...if you are over 65. There is a beach and a pier but even though it was school holidays the whole place was like a ghost town. Even the carnival that had set up its tents in the park was deserted. We wandered around the town and stopped in at some old pubs that really highlight how much "pubbing" is a grand British institution. We ate our weight in food at the oldest pub in Torquay, The Jolly Roger, and Davina still raves about the steak!

Every year when I was a kid my Mum, brother, Grandma and I would go for a winter holiday to the Blue Mountains. My grandmother would always insist that we have a Devonshire Tea (scones, cream, jam + cup of tea) at one of the small cafes that line the main street in Katoomba. Since I was in Devon I thought it would be a great travesty if I didn't at least sit down once and eat a Cream Tea, as they are called here, in her honour. Davina had already sussed out a great little place called "The Tea Kettle" and so before heading to the train station to continue to our next destination we sat down to eat the most enormous scones I have seen in ages slathered with jam and cream and followed by some tried and true English Breakfast tea. Sure, they weren't flowerpot scones but these were so much better. They were true Devonshire scones in a Cream Tea in Devon itself.

Davina and I met in Shepherds Bush, London through our mutual friend Simon. She grew up in Turramurra and I grew up in Terrey Hills but it wasn't until we were thousands of miles from home did we become friends. When consulting the map to decide on our next stop, we found that if we caught the train for a few hours and then changed for a coastal train we would be able to visit St Ives - the real one. I went to high school in St. Ives in Sydney and Turramurra is the next suburb along from it. It had to be our next stop. And we were rewarded greatly for our choice too. St.Ives gave us our first glimpses of sunlight, white sandy beaches and the smell of salt in the air.

I really love the English St. Ives. It is a small coastal port that is nestled into the edge of England. It's the kind of place that, in my fantasies, I could settle down and teach at the local primary school, raise kids and enjoy the English "life". It is never going to happen but for the moments when I close my eyes and dream, it feels like a possibility.

The tide retreats during the middle of the day leaving many small boats stranded for the afternoon whilst children scream with delight as they use them for hide and seek places. Tourists slurp at dripping ice creams as locals weave their way through the obstacles of baby buggies and discarded buckets and spades to get to their intended destinations. People can be heard laughing and chatting in the beer gardens of the seaside pubs and the fish and chip joints make a roaring profit from gullible visitors.

St. Ives is an ambling town - a place where you spend your time wandering up and down the tiny cobbled streets poking your head in and out of tiny shops that have stood there for centuries. You buy postcards from an old fashioned newsagency that can only accommodate 4 people at a time. Ice creams are sold from a small cart that is wheeled along the promenade by a man who looks as old as the weary wooden boards that have weathered many storms. Davina found a warm and sunny spot on the beach to read her book and was not there 10 minutes before she was approached by two little boys wanting her to play frisbee. So we spent the next hour of so throwing the frisbee to and fro.

It's almost as if time stands still in St. Ives. In times gone by children were confident in approaching strangers to play games on the beach or to help them build sandcastles. Unfortunately now days you can't trust anyone. It would be a nightmare to look up and see your child walking down the beach with a random person they picked up on the sand. But it seemed normal and safe in St Ives throwing that frisbee back and forth with these kids and you can't help but smiling and appreciating that innocence and trust is not completely banished to yesteryear.

For dinner Davina and I stumbled upon this awesome restaurant that is situated on top of the first row of shops back from the harbour. I think it was called Coast but I can't quite remember. It was super cheap and the food was amazing. The owner is this delightful pregnant lady who thinks nothing of stopping by your table to discuss your travel plans and anything else you wish to chat about. At the end of the meal they bring you the bill and a comment card for you to let the staff know what you think of the dining experience you had. We ticked all the excellent boxes and wrote about how pleased we were to have sampled not only good food but wonderful customer service and that they should advertise in more visual places so that more people could experience what we had. Just as we were leaving we heard the wait staff talking about the comment not knowing it came from us and they seemed so proud, not of themselves but of the fact that their little restaurant had made an impact on someone. Call me sentimental, but when was the last time that happened in "Here's your hat, there's the door" London?

St. Ives did have an impact on us. So much so that we stayed an extra night. But, as much as I wanted to stay forever, we were drawn to search for pirates and wenches in Penzance and so found ourselves bound for the train station the next morning...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good things happen to those who get screwed over.

This week was totally screwed up but it is a boring story and I have no desire to retell it plus I really should have known better than to go to Wimbledon on "British Day". :)

But good things happen after all and when I answered my phone even though I didn't recognise the number (they are usually Carphone Warehouse telemarketers) I was rewarded big time. Rachael was calling from work to ask me if I wanted Matt's extra ticket to go and see Bon Jovi for their second to last concert on their European "All roads lead to London" tour. Awesome! (Photo - Me, Rach, Matt and Alex)

I can't claim that I am a Bon Jovi supporter from way back. I like a handful of their songs but couldn't name you more than 3 at most. However, I was totally impressed by the fact that they remained on stage for more than 2 hours straight! And I am now converter to being a fan (I even bought the t-shirt to prove it!)

One other thing I did come away with was an added appreciation of being tall. I know I whinge about the fact that British bus seats are too close together and that I have to pay extra for airline tickets to get more leg room because I don't fit in the normal ones, but being tall really came into its own on Friday night as I could see everything even from the back of the "pit". I had to feel for Rach, who's no taller than my shoulder at the best of times! ;)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Royal Ascot

My posts are a bit out of order here as I still have to blog about my trip through Cornwall and onto the Isles of Scilly but I went to Royal Ascot yesterday and since that is at the front of my mind I'm going to start there and work backwards and sideways later. (Photo right - Ascot Train Station)

There is something synonymous with England and the horse races. Maybe it is because their Crown Princess looks like one or simply the fact that aristocracy has traditionally treated their horses better than their household staff, I'm not sure. But I am not one to argue with an age old tradition (*cough, cough*) and when I found myself staring at the word "Ascot" on my "Things I need to do before I go home" list I knew I needed to don the hat and frock and head south.

Finding said frock and hat was a mission unto itself. I have all these beautiful outifts at home in Sydney but didn't think to pack one when moving here as it would have meant forsaking my third pair of themals, my second jumper and my nineteenth scarf! :) Luciky for me, my friend Fran is a seasoned frock shopper and she had me up at Debenhams, Monsoon and Oasis on Oxford Street trying on dress after dress after dress, at the risk of great financial disaster. Who knew that a piece of fluff masquerading as a hat could set you back more than the national debt of a third world country? They won't this week though, since I can smell a hat sale in the air. In the end we were successful in the great dress hunt and I walked away with a blue dress that didn't set me back too many £££. I wasn't so successful in the hat department and had to make a mercy dash over to Clapham Junction, down to Wandsworth Town and back up to Clapham Junction at 8pm on Friday night. (Photo above - Serena, Pippa and Mel)

My flatmate Vanessa and I got dressed and flocked with the other frocked up people to Clapham Junction to catch the train out to Ascot early on Saturday morning. By sheer luck Davina, Rachael, Michelle, Kylie and Angela got held back from the first train and we found them on the platform. We also found Mel, Serena and Pippa standing in the croissant shop on the platform too. The next train was ours for the taking and although Pippa fainted due to the sardine like conditions, we made it to Ascot 45 minutes later. (Photo right - Vanessa with her winnings and Barry in his "helpful to spot him" orange jumper behind her.)

I could have honestly sat at the train station and watched the ladies walk passed in their outfits all day. It was really interesting to see what people were wearing and whether I recognised the hats or dresses from my own hunting and gathering. Although I did see the g-string of a rather large girl in an extremely short white dress from the underneath and it put me off the whole frock watching from that point on. It was an "Ah my eyes, my eyes!" moment. (Photo left - Me and Karen)

Getting into the Silver Ring, where we had tickets for, was a hike and a half, but when the whole crowd is getting into the swing of things, you can't help but be pulled along into the jovial mood of the start of the day. The men, in their top hats and tails, were very striking and kept us amused with their thoughts on what the top hat could come in handy for later as the day progressed and we managed to dodge the cheese that had fallen out of someone's picnic basket on the way up to the "Top of the Hill".

Kylie was a forward thinker and brought along some picnic rugs and although it threatened to rain the most it actually dropped was a few spits here and there. I had a bet on 3 out of the 5 races but only managed bring home some £ in the last race - the Queen Alexandra race - when I backed the winner and second place. Rach had better luck and so did Kylie, who was celebrating her birthday so it made for a nice birthday present. (Photo left - Kylie)

There was about 15 of us all up. 14 girls and Will, who I must say, probably thought he was in heaven and had the most fun out of all of us. We spent the afternoon drinking champagne with strawberries and eating our picnic lunch in between putting a few bets on. I kept going back to the same bookie who was nice enough to explain what to do to bet i.e. pick a number and give him money (a MENSA student I am not). (Photo right - Will and Thesea)

Surprisingly, the day went really quickly. As with all things you look forward to, you tend to over do the excitement stakes and it takes it's toll. Both Davina and Rachael had a quick kip on the lawn but we couldn't take too much of the mickey as we soon saw the races "bogan of the day" passed out on the grass on the way back to the train station. As with most rowdy incidents, he will find himself the subject of many a Facebook photo with people standing over him and posing in lewd acts. It was hilarious. Especially when his girlfriend saw what was going on and launched into a tirade of abuse at the crowd. (Photo - Passed out guy on the way to the train station).

To top the day off, Vanessa and I stopped in for Thai takeaway on the way home and we finished off our Saturday watching dodgy 90s films in our PJs. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What have I come to?

Here's some food for my thought...

I have just finished having dinner with my flatmates. We were talking about what happened today at work. Vanessa is going to work on a photo shoot, Katie is working out visas and KK is working with more numbers but when it got to my turn I said "Nothing much happening. It was an okay day. Oh but one of my kids sent another one to hospital". That in itself is worrying but you know what the truly disturbing thing is? I actually didn't think it was really a big deal, like it is normal, an everyday occurance.

I think there is something very wrong with that. What have London schools done to me?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Farewell Skeet

My flatmate Skeet has gone back home to Perth to help his Dad out on the farm. He'll be back but not for a while. So we had a house dinner to send him off in style.
Photo - (going clockwise) Charlie (in red), Andrea, Katie, Vanessa, KK, Skeet and Me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The things that happened in April.

April, for the most part was full of me procrastinating about doing things and then not really doing much at all. It did snow on the first Sunday of the holidays, so I walked through the Common. See my earlier post for more on that.

I did do a school club day on the first Friday because they didn't have anyone else to do it. It was a swimming day (that would be why) so I walked 21 kids to the bus stop (20 mins) then took the bus (25 mins) got off the bus and walked to the pool (20 mins) then got them changed (30 mins + extra whinging) and then swam with them for 1.5 hours then repeated the whole process backwards for the trip home. But I actually had a fabulous time and it was interesting to see how the group of mixed ages from 12 to 4 interacted together. I walked with Hannah, aged 5, who speaks Japanese, English and French fluently and insisted on informing me about where she "came from" (think reproduction here people). She tells me, and I quote, "I'm only little so I am still learning..." I didn't take any photos because, as the trip wasn't actually a school function, it was illegal - to take photos, not go swimming.

For my birthday last year I was in New York City climbing the Empire State Building. That is very hard to beat and since I stayed in London this year I decided to do the most strangest and weirdest thing I could find. So...I went to...THE DOCTOR WHO EXHIBITION! Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. I'd only ever seen one Doctor Who episode (the week before) since it returned to the BBC. I used to watch when I was a kid and get scared silly. It wasn't illegal to take photos of that. Will post some more of them up soon but here is the Face of Boe.

Then after a very quiet second week, see earlier post about procrastinating about the dishwasher, this last weekend was pretty jam packed. Friday night I went to the movies with my flatmates Charlie and Andrea as well as Sarah, my friend I met in Scandinavia last year who was staying with us. Saturday I helped Sarah move to Standford Brook where she was going to stay before heading off on her Top Deck training tour. Sarah was training with Contiki but they asked her to leave when they got to Prague after 45 days because she was "too nice". What a crock! Anyway, Top Deck Tours snapped her up and she is now traipsing around Europe once again.

Saturday night was spent at Rachael's house party. When I first met Davina she lived at 62 Minford Gardens a.k.a "62MG". She has since moved out, but when Rach was looking for a new place to live a room was available there and she moved in. 62MG is the location of many great house parties and so, Deevs passed the hostess tag onto Rach. Saturday night saw Rach's first 62MG party and I went and hung out with Rachael, Jan (Rach's boyfriend) and his German friends visiting from Hanover. We did manage to have a very lively and interesting conversation about Inspector Rex (a German show shown on SBS TV at home). Oh and I did know about their Prince who is married to Princess Caroline of Monaco. But they didn't. Oh, that and we chatted about hats! Theresa is a milliner! I didn't realise people still made hats by hand. I thought that they were all done by machines now. Der me!

On Sunday I met a few friends at the Revolutions Bar in Richmond for some beverages and brunch by the river. It was lovely going back to West London and spending some time at a bar next to the river like I used to when I lived over there with Karen. Once again I was blown away by the fact that half the people there I didn't actually know at this time last year. Katie, Charlie and Andrea came along too, which was great.

And then there was Monday. Monday was a back to school. Phew! But no kiddies. We had a Inservice Day where we had to think about what learning means to us and then build it out of willow sticks. My group built a tree complete with leaves and a butterfly. One group made a treasure box with stars in it and another made a hot air balloon. Fran made a stealth turtle. The turtle itself wasn't stealth, rather she wasn't supposed to be making it so had to make it on the sly under the table when the instructor wasn't looking our way. :)