Archive for the ‘homesickness’ Category

[To everyone who’s been complaining about my lack of postings – at least the no news was good news! To everyone who is reading about this for the first time and freaking out, sorry.] 

I’ve learnt a few things this week:

  • Emergency medical care in London under the NHS is awesome as well as free;
  • despite being very worried about it at the time, I didn’t need to worry about my passport, Medicare card, health insurance, etc;
  • I should have taken more reading material, teeth cleaning stuff and slippers;
  • calling your Mum from a clean, safe, excellent hospital after a minor accident does NOT make her any more confident you’re OK; and
  • even in hospital you can get your five cups of tea a day here.

So what happened? (Kate, skip this paragraph) In short, I fell over at home and cracked open the bridge of my nose, loosing blood and flesh (sorry Damo, I know you’d just done the mopping) in the wee hours. I rode in an ambulance to University College Hospital London, and then was seen by an awesome Maxillofacial surgeon and then spent the night up on wards while they decided that I was OK in the head injury department. 4 stitches inside and 6 on the outside.

I refused to pay for TV in hospital, but got through two days of the Guardian cover to cover. I caught up on sleep, was treated so kindly and professionally and all without payment or any questions about my status in the UK as an immigrant/visitor. They sent me home, four meals heavier, with a bevvy of medication, toiletries and some treatment materials. Winner.

After stressing my Mum out (despite playing it mostly tough/cool, I was wishing she was closer) a bit, I am just now laying low, vowing to blog more often and missing work a lot. Very bored at home and frustrated that all this sleep is hidden by grotesque bruising on my face – will post photos when I look more normal (and less like a Star Trek extra…)


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Regular readers of my blog (now numbering onto a second hand!) will have noticed that I haven’t been posting of late – a combination of work, travel, work, homesickness, and well work (with a whack of exhaustion and apathy, mostly caused by work) have conspired against me.

On Sunday morning I am off to Turkey with Alex for a much-needed 10-day break, so in the meantime I am going to ambitiously attempt to jump down off the no-blogging wagon by updating the following areas:

  • Travel (or Cat Empire in Paris and the Durham Open)
  • Work (or the box truss and other pressures)
  • Homesickness (or the £2.50 Twisties and the worst mango ever)
  • Interesting Ideas (or Facebook is for snobs and The Grand Tour)
  • Politics (or voting in the UK and depressing news from home)
  • Visitors (or Alex and Lauryn, and soon Christina, Nic and Alex)
  • Random Stuff (Pommy engineer’s happiness and clothes sent from home)

Clearly the above  gives away most of it – but promise to try and embellish when I post tomorrow and Saturday, while completing mammoth lists of work, packing and socialising!

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The NSW RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority)’s newest ad campaign to tackle speeding, “Speeding. No-one Thinks Big of You“, has been reported by both the BBC (here) and Jezebel (here), my newest favourite source of trashy news. [As an aside, Jezebel’s ‘Snap Judgment’ posts are gold.] I was surprised to learn that the little finger wagging it features was not an international sign of male inadequacy, with both outlets feeling the need to explain it. I guess it is a rather Australian way to tackle issues of speeding, something we’ve been doing for a long time. (If anyone can get proud about being the world leader in traffic ads, it’d be us…)

(American) Jezebel was pretty openly surprised:

“apparently, insulting an Aussie’s manhood is a more effective way to shame him into slowing down than images of death and dismemberment.”

Getting people to slow down is about as hard as getting them to drive less – though perhaps cheaper and easier . The RTA has said elsewhere that shock tactics aren’t working, so hopefully a fresh approach will have some impact.

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Was walking to Uni (for Spanish, Monday nights) this week and saw this headline:

AFL Scandal


Turns out this did not involve an AFL footballer (and former Magpie,) rather it was the bloke who hosts “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” here in the UK, but certainly made me stop in the street. (The fact that Australia’s Chris Tarrant used to play for a man who hosts the same show is just the kind of thing that could make for a cute column.)

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Alarmingly, over the last few days I’ve realised how completely changed I am when it comes to obscene prices in London. On arrival in the UK, I stopped converting everything mostly just to retain my sanity and deal with my guilt at such expensive living (if you keep thinking of prices in Aussie dollars, you’d be huddling inside, in the cold and the dark, never leaving the house.)

After all, I had savings (and some Christmas money) to live off until I started earning pounds. And now that I do earn the funny money, I have a comfortable income (without being obscene or anything – I constantly remind myself that lots of Londoners are living on less.)

So how the crap did I find myself hovering with a mouse this morning, almost buying a pair of Havaiana ‘flip flops’ (aka thongs in the old language) on-line that were a ghastly £18?? They’re about that in $AUD!! [Yes Mum, this is your cue to go get me some metallic Havis in a 35/36, and post them…] All this sunshine has made me mildly giddy, but that is nuts. There is no reason for the price hike here – other than the willingness of locals to spend silly amounts of money on things. I spend crazy amounts on the most trivial things – my morning coffee (on the days I get one) is AUD $3.70 (!!) and while our washing machine is still broken, each load of washing I was and dry costs AUD $17 (crikey!)

In the past few weeks I’ve spent a small fortune on some cinema tickets (for the same money in Australia, I’d need help to carry the food I could buy with the change, even at candy-bar prices rather than servo-sneak-ins,) and the equivalent of Australia’s foreign aid budget on three books at Books etc. I don’t earn that much more here than I did back in Sydney, but wow I spend a lot – hardly in the lap of luxury, but scary how quick your base prices adjust… I noticed while in Spain that I’m already one of those powerful-currency-losers who delights in converting things to their minuscule cost in pounds! Aggh! Keen not to loose touch with how much money I make in relative terms, but everyone else is living crazy.

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I’ve had my first, shocking, oh-my-I’m-turning-into-them moment over the glorious Easter long weekend. I am turning into a Pommy-sun-loving-tragic, and I love it.

Over the gorgeous Spring weekend (since when was 18-24 so magic? Since it snowed and was dark – my standards have been reset!) I wore sandals, a sundress, a knee length skirt, etc – and had a chat about how nice “getting your legs out” is with a lady in my local.

So how exactly did this happen?

Back on the Thursday before Easter, I was chatting with one of my English flatmates about English food and English supermarkets. I made a list for him of all the foods and produce that are better in England – which is something like this:

  1. Bacon.
  2. Bacon again – the English really know what they’re doing in this department.
  3. Gü and Frü puddings.
  4. Losely yoghurt (refuse to use the word yoghourt yet.)
  5. Ale
  6. Cider

(Actually, this list is an alarming insight into what I’ve eaten in addition to regular healthy fare since I arrived – no idea why I’m loosing weight…. worms?) I’ve always been ready to add my voice loudly to something flippant, but back then I didn’t realise that the English have, rather stealthily, got this summer/sunshine down pat. Us Aussies have had it too good for too long!

Rules for Enjoying Spring & Summer in London, like a real Pom

1. Get your kit off whenever the mercury tops 18°C

    Do not waste a single drop of sunshine – if it is warm, or just warmer than it’s been lately, get amongst it. Take off as much clothing as seems suitable (see also #2 below) and lie, walk, bake, bask, display. Smile more, have an ice cream, wear daggy resort wear – who knows (even with global warming) when you will see the sun again. I have finally seen the genius of this rule – and stopped my silly, better-sun-will-come ways acquired back home. Sundress, Easter Sunday. Hot.

    2. There is no such thing as unsuitable for display – body or clothes.

      The Australian concept of certain parts of skin being too-pale, too-hairy and too-lumpy – gone. Missing this rule sometimes, but it goes well with #1 above, and is fairer. Sunshine democracy. But nothing excuses the lying around during lunchtime in boxer shorts, often with string vests. Nothing. Put it away!

      3. Only ever apply sunscreen once each day

        This Ozone layer is bang-up brilliant. It’s very hard to burn for me now, especially if SPF40+ or SPF50+ sunscreen is applied with brekky. No wonder so many Poms go the lobster look at Bondi – they have no concept of re-application. None required.

        4. Check to see who’s worse off

          Love this – the highlight of the weather on BBC London last night was not the glorious sunshine (relegated to item two by the following) – more importantly, most of Southern England was warmer than Spain, one of the most popular OS destinations for Poms. The references to Scotland/Northern Ireland (thankfully) aren’t quite as cutting or condescending, but generally these people are fiends for relative warmth, much like the relative happiness crew.

          5. Warmer weather makes cold snaps worse

            Lastly, because warmer-than-average days remove normal weather complaining (aka whingeing…), one is forced to save all this up – and go totally berserk during the cold snaps. It doesn’t follow that warm weather before cold is better than cold weather before more cold – even if it should. Thicker doona (also holding out on the word duvet,) pulling out the warmer coat, etc – just as tiring as you’d think!

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            HMSO Keep Calm and Carry On

            Had an amazing dinner in Pimlico with Kate-o last night – just like we’d seen each other far more recently, with lots of giggles and a nice recharge in energy. She managed to share so many interesting ideas, and empathise with my my-accent-is-sometimes-unintelligible woes. Very recharging and good indeed – AND she bought with her (via the US, major brownie points) two tubes of Vegemite. Bless. True to form, we stood in the street trying to say our goodbyes for far too long. Total flash backs to our Thai dinners in Kirribilli, but with coats and the tube.
            Kate/Rock reads my blog via her del.icio.us account, which is the parent of ma.gnolia, which I use – this is cool as it means I can see when she’s reading things (hello Rock!), but also means (and this is why you, interesting friend, should be sharing bookmarks through one option or the other) I can look at all the gorgeous, creative blogs she reads.

            Keen for another hit of Kate this morning, I went looking through her links to find Hop Skip Jump, and from there this gorgeous poster. Although it is a reprint of an HMSO original during WW2, it is just as relevant for me today! It’s now on order, for just a few pounds, and will make a nice reminder in the morning. The trip to Ikea for a frame will require a few weeks until I have the strength – my nearest store is so popular that it’s dangerous.

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