Archive for January, 2007

Has been a good day so far – text messages early in the day were exciting (benefits of not having to get up early for work continue to reveal themselves!) and then woke up properly to chat with Mum and learn that the English Cricket team continue to be an embarrassment. (They are outrageously bad, all things considered- when will the ICC step in and strip them of their one-day status? They should be giving their match fees to grassroots English cricket, or at least to fly some more talented but selfish Saffas to England for cricket contracts…)

Weather was fab this morning (where fab=not snowing,) so I took my Tim Cahill Socceroos jersey for a Canal run, which seemed to be appreciated by the locals. Got some good fake Aussie accents from cafe staff and then went to an Internet cafe to hear some of the Hottest 100. That was when the homesickness kicked in- the accents, references to a Sydney outdoor music event, the Js and the music where a potent combo. Tears were welling – so ate Vegemite on a spoon. Felt better.

This arvo I am planning to have a few quiet ones in a pub with some locals where they are replaying the Hottest 100, then will be off to Oxford tomorrow to see both DD/Dave and SimonQ in the morning. Will risk being a tragic young professional trying to relive my student glory days at Oxford-style Australia Day events: a lunch time BBQ and then a “bop” in the evening.

Have sent off lots of correspondence today, so regular fans should stand-by their letter boxes…. Missing everyone more than I thought I might, and waaay to much considering I’ve only been away from home for such a short time! Have finally sorted out work (contract in the mail) and so just waiting on answers on a few flat applications, but hopefully the medicinal properties of beer and delayed radiocasts will work wonders.

V x


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Just a quick post – not much on today, but I did awake to find snow on the ground, railings and steps out the front, and covering the garden out back. Was more than a little silly, and did do a public jimmy jams run to be a complete tourist. Snow and I have a few more steps to go – I do hope to see it actually fall, make snow man, get a day off due to snow, etc – but a great start any way.

Have been to the British Library this morning (closest free bit of culture) to see a most amazing exhibit about London Maps, both fascinating and nerdy/technical – bliss. Showed both the evolution of maps (few old maps survive, and weren’t really used a few hundred years ago by people – they just asked locals where to go!) as well as the events of London’s history well. Will hopefully go back a few more times – both with my own maps to better understand the maps I have seen today, and also to raid the gift shop when I have more pounds.

All the news re: final job decision and related life plans to follow, but I have decided I will definately go to see DD (as well as Simon and Andrew) in Oxford on Saturday as part of my Australia Day festivities, so am clearly feeling better about the world. Not sure how I will get the Triple J Hottest 100, as most Internet Cafes will be closed during the night… suppose the CD compilation will have to do.

One of my interviews tomorrow is out in ZONE 6 – I went out as far as Zone 3 for one yesterday, so am really becoming a well-travelled lass. I hadn’t really left Zones 1 and 2 (except for trip to Greenwich) before then, so really going places now. The interview will cost a real whack – imagine spending about $AUD60 to go to the ends of the earth at crack of dawn, only to be asked what it is like to be a female engineer. Will seriously go spare if the interviewer even tries it.

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While I was snuggling up in my down-sleeping bag last night, dreaming that I was dancing in the snow inadequately dressed (a la Bridget Jones Diary – but my eyes opened properly…) something magic happened. Have awoken this morning to find that life is a little magic – am clearly rather employable, and things are happening on the work front. One offer in this morning, another likely this arvo – hooray for choice! The flirty BBC London weather man on the telly is promising some of these snow flurries, and just the thought of something to do and a little bit of routine has done wonders for the mood.

Unclear at this stage what turned my luck, but it was one of the following three things:

  1. I performed an ancient (OK, Basser College days) ritual I learned from my bestie Emma, by buying underpants (Marks & Sparks, naturally) instead of doing laundry (this called down the ancient Gods of Eastgardens, and related goodtimes);
  2. I also was so optimism-tinged-with-doubt last night that I watched horrid British telly (University Challenge re-runs, Jade’s P.A. and the most disturbing episode of Junior Mastermind, featuring a grinning lad whose area of expertise was Take That); and
  3. I had a small binge on stodgy pity food (chocolate biscuits [not to self: insert name here for historical accuracy] and related fried goods.)

Luckily for me, life is looking up now, but many be required to repeat above if karma waivers. Thanks for all the good luck text messages, and glad to hear Dad’s operation went well.

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Despite the grind of job-finding hideousness, have had a few adventures in London, albeit mostly of the low-cost variety:

  • Shitty weather continues – 11 people died last week due to the debris from storms, and a lot of damage was caused (more than 1 billion £s) – now it gets colder (a max of 6 today in London, then 4 tomorrow,) and people are talking about ‘snow flurries’ which sound super exciting. Will need more cold weather gear I think…
  • I had a day trip to Greenwich, for some GMT line jumping, market browsing, hot spiced apple drinking and general outdoor insanity. I took a long bus ride home and saw an endless expanse of council estates, fairly stark contrast to the Canary Wharf views from the DLR on the way there.
  • Caught up with my cousin Lyrene and her friend Phil to go to both the Spitalfields Market and the Caledonian Road Flower Market yesterday – mentally nabbed a few items I’d love to have if I had somewhere to nest in. Ate a delicious brekky at Canteen, and got my general funky area I probably can’t afford’s worth too.
  • Still lots more walking and riding the buses – getting my bearings and enjoying the familiar and the new. For a few hours I stressed out when I couldn’t find any child-size work boots, but looks like work will provide these. Have delayed any plans to go to Madrid until I at least have a job, if not a flat (hello Zara Home!)
  • Went to the local pub yesterday arvo to watch Everton beat Wigan 2-0. Felt a bit self-conscious as I ended up going alone, but was also the only girl in the pub, and the only person in Everton gear, so being alone was the least of my worries. Not a great performance by my Toffees, and a worrying injury to Andy Johnson, but managed to resist the urge to meat-binge, which is the real worry with drinking.

So doing OK here, just waiting for something truly ace to happen next! My adorable Moo cards arrived, so will tuck a few into letters this afternoon.

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Am not really enjoying the roller-coaster ride of recruitment – aside from such amazing alliteration, I am finding the on going uncertainty in my life a little draining. Quite ready for the domestic bliss of a job and all the pleasures that follow – ability to get a flat, a bank account and related memberships, etc. I recognise that the sooner I get them, the sooner they can bore me! Have realised from all this how much I hate talking about certain trite topics – in particular, if I have to talk about what it is like to be a female engineer with people who are using it as an icebreaker topic one more time, I really will loose it!

The warmer I am, the better I feel about this, but am generally over talking about myself and trying to work out what people want from me. It takes a lot of energy to ignore how much I loved my old job, but at least one job looks pretty good. So far, the only successful interview was the only job I don’t really want, and I felt the interviewer was just being nice to me during said session because he knew that I was going to be truly miserable in the job if successful. Sigh. At times I feel like the perfect job for me is just around the corner, and can happily make lists of post-certainty life tasks (trip to Madrid to go to Zara home, etc) and others I feel I should start sending my old boss gifts!

Tomorrow is the final component of the three-part interview of the job I really want, and after that will know how that has gone, as well as get news back from a few others. Am doing all I can to resist the agency route, but am only a few days off cracking.

As a little aside: (cheery news in following post) – have had to change (OK, anglicise) my CV here, and been using this awesome template I found on Lifehacker. Handy indeed.

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Well I’m in London – and it sure is cold. The bracing cold is a refreshing change from all the HK smog, and I took a photo of a patch of blue sky that briefly appeared yesterday. Somewhere north of here, it is snowing, not in London, but on the same landmass anyway. The wind is so extreme that the ports across the south of England are closed – no ferries to Calais, the trains are on speed restrictions (big delays) and Kings Cross station, my local (again) was closed due to rain-something. Bizarre that crap weather should knock out so many systems, but there you go.

Singin’ (along to my iPod) in the rain

The good news (staying positive is my thing now) is that the wind is minimal in Central London, so am managing with just thermal underwear, a long sleeve bonds T, a woolen scarf and a wind fleece vest. For now, my enthusiasm is enough to find the rare patches of sky exciting and the cold weather, the thing I fear the most here, has been no worries. Am getting out and about, walking a lot to get my bearings in N1, so the weather is no big worry. Attempts to run didn’t go as well, but think I just need more clothing on.

The other weapon in the arsenal is my Oyster card- when the walking starts to chill me and my hands no longer respond to hot beverages, I can just ride the tube or buses until I feel OK. Am certain these waterproof Salomon shoes from HK, despite making me look like a mega tourist, are the smartest thing out. Really comfy, but also perfect for the complete lack of adequate drainage in London. I would imagine that the local council engineers were anticipating some rain, but it appears not.

The last days in Hong Kong before the (Boarding Pass) hand-over

Since my first post in HK I admit some more shopping went down. I drove some wicked bartering deals in Mong Kok’s Ladies markets on some super-fake Le Sportsac type bags (because as everyone knows, more bags is clearly what I needed!) and some super cute paper punches, soon to feature on my mail. I also got some awesome Uniball pens for about $1 Australian – as they say (or at least as DCC says,) you couldn’t get the materials for that.
For my last night I ate in Home Cooking, the restaurant in the G.O.D.store, dangerously close to the Muji store. I tried hot coke with lemon and ginger. I liked it. They had so many beautiful things at G.O.D. that I resisted temptation by reasoning that I if couldn’t carry everything I wanted, so nothing got to come with me. Yes, I did binge at Muji, despite being only seconds away from London where they have more stores, but it was just a small one to fight the cravings, and I felt very guilty afterwards.
I ventured up to the peak of Mt Victoria, and out to the giant Buddha on Lantau Island. Feats of engineering abounded, all very swoon-worthy. The chairlift from Tung Chung out to the Buddha and nearby monastery was 5 or so kilometres of excitement. Think childhood enthusiasm for the Arthur’s Seat chair lift in a 20-something form. The tram down from the peak is also cool, and finishes up near the Bank of China building, my current favourite in HK.

In short I really liked HK (will definitely return soon, with more room in my bags and a lot of money, as well as with time to go to Shenzen) – was sad to leave, at least in past as I had to jettison some stuff.

Everything came together – a Zen moment

Will save some musings on Brits and London til tomorrow, to attempt to keep the length of these things readable, and get away from hideous orange of the Internet cafe. Thought it was worth adding though that in the end, getting here was easy. When all my worrying, thinking, list-making, stressing was finished, I just got on the MTR and rode out to the airport, got on a plane and landed in London. The guy at immigration was friendly, and didn’t interview me for long. I got on the train, and got to town no worries. I felt calmer doing the business end then all the preparation! Perhaps I need to reduce all future transitions to less than 48 hours? Off to heat up some soup – big interview tomorrow!

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[Updated now that I can use the internet without the interruption of bratty ex-pat kids in a small cafe…] 

That’s my shocking Cantonese when trying to ask “How much is this?” It’s just after lunch on my first full day here in HK and am already having some big wins in the shops. Small shoe paradise. Have an awesome new pair of Salomon trail runners made from Goretex, so they’re water-proof. Ready for HK walking trails and many blocks of wet London. Sadly, no luck on the Asics front – I now blame the Tiger people, so retailers who don’t import small sizes get off for now.

 I’m really liking it here, despite the pollution and the number of rude people who’ve pushed me, or pushed in front of me already. Similar to India, I’ve had to overide a few personal behaviours to avoid waiting forever – standing there indignant when pushed is not a winning strategy. The best thing about all the personal space trade-offs and rudeness abruptness is that I am normal size here – can reach handrails, touch the floor on bus seats, see over crowds (well sort of, can more see while in a crowd, a bit…) Had something of an awkward moment this morning on the tram into Central for breakfast when a small boy sitting next to me on his Mum’s lap groped me. She tried to politely explain that I had big ones, so it was totally natural for him to be curious- not sure it helped my personal space, already feeling a bit down.

 Loving the public transport and eating very well – trying to stay away from too many more shops.. but off to TST and Mong Kok after this, so little chance. Will definitely be leaving some clothes behind here. On one hand, London is soo expensive, but on the other, I am over 20kg already and need to save a few beans.

For my more technical/nerdy readers, flew in with an interesting HK Architect who is working on the Crown Casino in Macau – had an interesting conversation about the advantages of bamboo scaffolding. Was largely convinced until he admitted he’d never go out on it, but was convinced it was safe for labourers.

Am getting booted from this computer (at Pacific Coffee Co in Stanley) – so some personal comments that should have been emails: Kate/Bubbles/Shoba – had a Dino Muchado experience between Auckland and Bris Vegas yesterday morning; M – have Hummingbird, it is hot; Robbo/J/Mish – working on some high degree of difficulty photos of HK, Petronas-style.

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