Saturday, July 29, 2006

Playlist

As if anyone was interested, Ian is currently...

listening to:
Lily Allen - Alright Still
Bloody rude, funny and sassy - ah, it feels like a London summer has come to Oz. Awright, darlin'?
Something for Kate - Desert Lights
Melancholic rock - a tad rawer than previous albums. Jury's still out, actually.
Gomez - How We Operate
Their best album so far? I think so...

watching:
Frasier - Series 4
You can't beat pompous, arrogant but insecure psychiatrists for a good belly-laugh. No relation to any doctors of my acquantance, by the way...
Green Wing Series 1
Like being back at school, but with added smut and omigod-did-he-really-say-that/do-that? funny.
[TV here is really, really crap]

reading:
The Turning - Tim Winton
Western Australian short stories - an evocative but bleak view of my new home.
The Word Magazine
Yikes. About eight quid a throw over here. But worth every cent/penny.

playing:
Far Cry
Better than Half-Life 2? When I'm anxious I do so like to kill things... muahahaha!
Half Life 2: Episode 1
Better than Half-Life 2? Mebbe.

Friday, July 28, 2006

AWOL?

Well, I seem to have been out of service for a while for no apparent reason. More than a month, in fact. So... sorry, just been a bit slack, and out-blogged by my lovely wif ever since. Hopefully this will change, but we'll see...

Mitigating circumstances? Mebbe. I can only say in my defence, m'lud, that I've been absolutely knackered for a few weeks now. And I've realised two things:

Firstly, my current job is faaaaar more instense and busy than my last one. Not that I didn't work hard in Cavendish, no no no... but there were at least occasional lulls where you could catch your breath. Not so in this job. It's soooooo intense and [as we say here - yes, "we"] full-on, emotionally, mentally and physically draining.

So much so, that at the end of an early shift, when the adrenaline that I've been working on finally wears off, I go into a sort of serotonin rush, if a "rush" is what you can call it - more like a kind of like near-narcoleptic state, in fact. I just stand at the bus stop, desperately trying to stave off the waves of sleepiness, propping up my eyelids with those metaphorical matches I keep in my wallet for just such an occasion. Weirdly, though, by the end of a late shift, when such a stuporific state would come in handy, I'm wired as a speed-freak. Bugger.

When I first started, lots of colleagues commented on a regular basis that "it's not usually this busy, you know..." And you know what, I think they actually believed that. But as the weeks turned into months, I [and they] realised that they were harking back to some way-distant halcyon days of yore, when things were indeed calmer and life was more chilled all round. Or maybe it was just false memory syndrome. No mention of aliens and anal probes as yet, I'm happy to report.

So, by the time I came to post something on the blog [or reply to the myriad of emails rapidly accumulating in my inbox - sorry, sorry sorry to you all!], I'd either be a pile of mush lying on the floor in our loungeroom, or trying to come down and get a good night's sleep.

The other thing I've realised is, as I mentioned a while back, I soooo need a holiday. We're going away next weekend for 4 days, down the coast to Lorne. I can't wait. A lovely view in a house by the sea, surrounded by a pile of books, CDs and my dear wif. We still haven't sorted out the proper holiday yet though, but we will, we will. I hope.

It may be complicated by the fact that I just had a job interview! Remember, way back when [February, actually], I went to see the manager of a community clinic and he advised me to get a job on a ward with a view to go into a CPN post in 6 to 12 months? Well, I'm now 4 months in to my job, and I got the heads-up a couple of weeks back that there was a job vacancy [3, in fact] at this self-same clinic, and my current boss said she'd taken a call from the guy, and that she'd support my application if I wanted to go for it...

I'd gone through my normal routine of vacillation, self-doubt and emotional downers, of course, unable to believe that I could go for it after such a short time in this post / this country. Complicated by the fact that I HATE job interviews with a passion. I get dry mouth, shakes, sweats, and lose the sensation in my legs. And my tongue and hands appear to grow to the size of watermelons. Such was my self-esteemless hell that I set the condition that I'd only go for the job if I got head-hunted. And well, it happened, so I put in my app, and they saw me today.

It seemed to go OK, but I blanked a couple of times, wittered on more than once, failed to understand the question on a few more occasions. But I know how hard I am on myself, so I need to balance that against my job interview ineptness. Net result = goodness knows if I'll get it, if I did well or appallingly. Watch this space.

Now... on to those emails I've been so remiss with... did I say sorry?

Watch this...

...and be angry but very, very sad.

Fear had many faces today

I was.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The 100th Post!

I just noticed that we have written 99 posts so far. If you average that over the days we have had this blog it does not look good really.

Blogger calls each entry in your blog a 'post'. I'm not so keen on the word myself. They are more like little windows really. Windows into our life, glimpses into our world as we try to paint a picture of what we see day to day.

I remember being on the train in London once, it was the DLR from Bank heading to Lewisham where I lived. It was winter, early evening and as the train rumbled along I caught myself straining to see inside the many windows of the houses that lined the railway tracks. All those different lives, separated by walls and doors, all carving out a tiny piece of peace and warmth in that cold, busy, noisy city. I felt like I was looking into a bee hive in some ways where inside each compartment there was movement, industry and life.

Its like that when you correspond with people who live elsewhere. Their emails are like pockets of insight into what they are doing, seeing and feeling. I like the immediacy of email but it does lack substance and I am always left wanting more. I guess that is why I leave emailing until I have lots to say. Then of course, I realise I have lots of people to say it to so I cut and paste like my life depended on it.

While this blog is a good way of keeping friends back in the UK in touch with our coming and going, it still does not feel like enough. We've missed phone calls from friends recently and I overlooked a rather important email from another friend, not reading it for 2 weeks. I seems like my efforts to keep abreast of what is happening in the lives of those in England are sadly falling behind.

I've been thinking about how long it took me to settle properly into life in England. At what point did I stop comparing everything I saw and heard to things back in Melbourne? How long before brands in the supermarkets became more familiar and easier to recall than brands I had lived with all my life? It took a while but it did happen.

I was talking to a colleague today about chocolate and she said that they had gotten boxes of chocolates for a work function from Thorntons. I had to think for a moment before I realised that she had flipped back to her time in London and I laughed telling her as much. We then both struggled to remember what the name of the stores here in Melbourne were called (Haigs & Koko Black if you are interested).

I guess what I am trying to say is that I have to start letting go of the idea that I can live 2 lives in 2 places. The reality is that I have left behind a life, a set of wonderful friends and a fairly good grasp of Englishness that will most likely be harder to relinquish. I do not want to. I just think I need to.

Ian and I actually watched telly for a short while last night. It was all utter crap of course (with the exception of the wonderful world TV station, SBS and the BBC looky-likey ABC) but we actually flipped channels. Nothing out of the ordinary but as we did that I could not shake the feeling that we are here, this is it, home, for good.

It was not a hard thing to come to terms with really. For I do love our life here. But as I said to Ian on the weekend I feel like all the things I loved about and pined for in Melbourne have changed and shifted. I think that is because for the past 6 months I have felt like, heck I have been, a stranger here. But as the strangeness peels away I find myself falling in love with Melbourne all over again. And for different reasons this time - reasons that reflect back to me my life in England.

I love the sun in winter that warms my face. I love the people who smile at you when you meet their eye and, if you are lucky, they say hello. I love that sense of space and light that permeates every fibre of my being and allows me to breathe again. I stood in the middle of Lygon Street on Saturday after we had picked up our brunch from the fabulous, Filou's P√Ętisserie. Lygon Street at that point is so wide - it encompasses 4 lanes of traffic and tram tracks and standing there in the gorgeous winter sun gaping at the clear blue sky I just had to stand there and take it in.

Yes, I can try and give you glimpses of life here in Melbourne. Tell you tales of what we do and where we go. But each time I do that I realise I must surrender a little more space inside me where England once lived. I tuck away those things I have hung onto in an effort to keep in touch and replace them with another piece of life here.

Like the part of me that knows that the last week in January is when the days start to get longer in Manchester. Well, I need to replace that now with the knowledge that the last week in August is when the days start getting longer here in Melbourne. For as I look out the window here at just after half past 5 I am delighted to see the sky is still light and know that I won't be trudging home in the dark.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Row, Row, Row My Boat!

I completed my first 2 'Learn to Row' lessons on the weekend.

And.

I.

Loved.

It!

The lessons run for 1.5hrs on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm. It rained pretty much all day on Saturday so I guessed we would just train on the ergos (indoor rowing machines) so I did not bring anything remotely waterproof. My mistake.

There are usually 4 students in each class but two people dropped out during the week. That left just one other girl, Ricky and I. Our coach, Vincent, got us started on the ergos to show us what we should and should not be doing when rowing. He was impressed enough with our natural ability [my paraphrase] that we were out on the water in no time. Well it took a while to get the boat out of the shed, over the grass, down the slippery decking and into the rather rancid Yarra River.

I enjoyed it enough to feel comfortable in the situation and confident enough to think that maybe I will take up the next stage and enrol in the Development Squad. That means 2 training sessions a week for a minimum commitment of 8 weeks - all for the lowly sum of $200. That will bring me to the point where if I want to join the club and row at my leisure I can or if I want to start entering competitions with the squad I trained with I can.

I can honestly say that I wish I had done this years ago. The only reason I actually am rowing is I happened to ask the right person how does one get into rowing as we both stood gazing down at the Yarra one pretty autumn evening. People were already out on the water and in the golden waning daylight it looked like such a wonderful place to be. So I turned to my colleague, Catherine and asked her - fortunately, she had asked someone the same question this time last year and has been rowing ever since. She was actually named Oarswoman of the Year at the Melbourne Rowing Club's annual award's night last month.

I have 2 more lessons this weekend which I am looking forward to and then I'll decide what is next. What with rowing, my personal trainer and a membership to the gym I may actually get fit one day soon!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Seen in places where Italians Congregate...



It seems we Aussies took this particular World Cup a little more seriously.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Update No. 3 - Social stuff

There are hardly any vegetables in the vegetable crisper these days because I'm not cooking much. I still can not get into that routine most of my friends seem to be in where they go to the Victoria Market on a Saturday to get their veggies, cheese and seafood. During the week they'll top up at the supermarket and always have store cupboard items to hand to knock up a healthy, scrumptious meal.

Not sure what is going wrong other than we eat out loads more than we ever did in Manchester. A combination of great places to eat outside our door, cheap, cheap bloody cheap meals and utter laziness on my part when it comes to the cooking.

In an effort to rememdy this I'm sure, my sister sent me a link to a website that sells kitcheny, housey stuff at knock down prices. I recently bought a Le Crueset baking dish, a Circulon French Skillet and a Circulon saucepan for just over $100. Now if your maths is good you will have calculated that amount into pounds and realised that is around £43 - in any country that is cheap.

I then bought a lovely Emile Henry [not to be confused with Emile Heskey - further comments removed following legal advice - Ian] salt pig and a gorgeous red enamel milk pan and an oil drizzler and God I could go on. All of it in an effort to spend more time in the kitchen but I'm out of practice and out of synch with the rest of the wives in the world. I just can not seem to get my act together. Any tips welcome!

Anyway, this was a social update. Well, we went to the movies the weekend before last and saw Wah Wah which we both enjoyed. I suspect because the humour was so very British as was the entire cast. It helps with the home sickness, trust me.

As I mentioned above, we eat out at the lovely Vietnamese and Thai restaurants that are literally down the road from us. However a little favorite for eating in (you have to book weeks ahead otherwise you only get a seat at the bar) and for take out is Ladro on Gertrude Street. It is stupidly expensive for a pizza but if Ian will part with $19 for a mushroom pizza you know it has to be sublime.

On Saturday just gone we went to a cocktail party a colleague of Ian's threw at her home. I only realised as we were walking down her street that it was to celebrate her birthday however Ian didn't think it mattered that we didn't even have a card! Men. So we took some beer and a bottle of nice red wine for me. Needless to say the red wine remained undrunk (lets face it, unopened) while I played in the kitchen with the hostess and her lovely sidekick and made copious cocktails, sampling each and sensing a little too late in the night that I should have eaten more and drunk less. I paid for my oversight for most of Sunday. But gosh it was fun!

The best part of the night were the moments where I got collared by Ian's work mates who were constantly speaking highly of him. They already love him to bits and were vocal in their appreciation of his skill, his manner and the calm that pervades when he is in charge of a shift. I had to pinch myself at this point for hearing the words calm and Ian in the same sentence was laughable but apparently it is true! His explains to me that the appearance of calm is akin to a duck gliding across a pond, all well if you look from the shore. However, if you look beneath the surface of the pond you would see that ducks little legs kicking frantically and desperately in an effort to keep moving.

Update No. 2 - Apartment

We continue to buy little additions for our lovely apartment. We are still sans sofa and dining room table simply because the friends we are buying them from have been waiting to sell their house. The sofa in particular is a trendy little L-shaped thing with a chaise longue on one end and they have needed it to 'dress' the house. Once it sells, the sofa is ours!

I spend my lunch times wandering around house type shops buying pizza stones (they were today's bargains!) and spice jars and storage jars etc etc. All the things we wanted and or needed in the months leading up to our departure but could not justify buying. Just as well really as things here are a lot cheaper on the whole - particularly towards the end of June which is when all the end of financial year sales happen. I love those sales!

Yesterday we wandered around town looking for a VHS player believe it or not. Ian wants to buy a recordable DVD player thingy but wants one with a hard drive. However we left our VHS player in Manchester thinking we'd pick one up here when we landed. We have loads of videos of UK programs we want to watch so in the end we thought we'd best get one now before they become extinct!

So, we love our apartment and enjoy living there. It is nice to come home to our space that takes no time at all to clean and looks so spanking new! I can't wait to get the dining room table as it means we can start having dinner parties again. And those of you who ever staggered home from a Berri Dinner Party will remember them well (or not as the case may be)!

Update No. 1 - Work

I want to make these updates brief as I am aware we have not been very communicative of late - hence the lack of new words on the blog.

I had a bit of a it never rains but it pours moment a couple of weeks back when I was offered 2 permanent roles within a 24 hours period. And can I say at this juncture that someone offering you a job does wonders for your self-esteem.

So, in short, the COO of the largest NGO in Australia saw my CV and asked to meet me. He wanted me to set up his entire project management space here in Melbourne, pulling in every aspect of the organisation to run out of the one project management office (PMO) run by me.

Yikes.

So we talked it over a coffee one Thursday evening after work and he convinced me of the job and my ability to do the job. I was flattered beyond belief and encouraged that someone looked through the words on my CV, and the lack of degree and declared that I was a leader and someone able to take something in its raw form and make something of it. It was a tremendous boost.

The following morning I had a breakfast meeting with the head of the department I moved to recently, Risk Technology, who promptly offered me a very similar role, albeit on a smaller scale. And so my quandary began. I spent that weekend oscillating between the 2 roles. The pros and the cons. The good and the bad. I have not had to decide between 2 jobs for, well, ever really so the process in deciding was seemingly complex and fraught.

To try and articulate the decision making process here would bore you all to death. I guess it is best left said that I decided to take the role at the bank. Reasons as follows;

* I am familiar with the people, processes and culture of the bank.

* I am comfortable that my colleagues know my capabilities and respect my opinion and experience.

* Despite being a bank, the bank does good stuff in the community.

* I do not have to drive to work. I would have had to drive if I took the NGO job.

* It felt like the right thing to do...