Highly skilled

After a stressful 3 months of waiting, my Tier 1 highly skill migrant visa for the UK was finally approved!  As soon as the approval email appeared in my inbox, I ran around the house squealing with excitement, although when I told my mum her face fell with disappointment at the realisation that I would soon be back on the other side of the world.

Not trusting that the British High Commission would send my passport back in time for me to make the Chamonix ski trip that I had planned, I flew down to Canberra for all of 2 hours just to personally pick up my passport, and within 6 days of receiving my approval email, I was back in London!

It was great to be back in the social atmosphere of the Expedia office, where everyone had apparently deeply missed my boisterous laughter.  For three days I had people coming up and telling me how much they missed my smile and laugh!!  It was so nice to have people interaction after three months of working from home.

However, my stay in London was very brief, as I jetted off to France for a week of skiing.  There had just been a dump of fresh powder before I arrived, so the skiing was just fantastic.  I have also finally been converted to the joys of listening to music whilst carving up the slopes, and there was just nothing more amazing than hitting powdery black runs on the side of Mont Blanc to the beats of Lady Gaga, Basement Jaxx, Pendulum and Crystal Castles!

 

 

I am spending the Easter long weekend being a tourist in London, with trips planned to Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Palace.  This is all an attempt to save some money before I head out to Malaysia for three weeks on Tuesday, which includes spending an indulgent 9 days diving and relaxing at the very awesome Kapalai island resort!

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A test of patience

Having spent the last seven weeks in the glorious Australian summer, it’s just so easy to fall back in love with all the aspects of the country that I missed when I was in London.  Being so close to friends and family is wonderful, as well as enjoying endless weeks of sunshine, the laid back culture, the fantastic fresh food and wine, and did I mention the weather??

While I’ve been impatiently waiting for the British Consulate to check a few boxes and hopefully approve my visa, I’ve been considering the possibility of having my visa rejected yet again, and formulating an alternative plan.  Needless to say, if my visa gets rejected again, I will find it incredibly hard to justify throwing more money on top of the almost $2000 that I’ve already spent on visas.

Brainstorming an alternative plan has actually been really quite stimulating, and to be honest, it is so exciting that I’m beginning to become a little indifferent as to whether I head back to the UK or not!  I would buy a round-the-world ticket, backpack for up to 6 months in the cheaper parts of the world (Asia, Central America, South America) via London, to pack up all my stuff and ship it home.  No doubt I would then be nearing my 30th birthday, which I would love to celebrate by doing something completely crazy, or just being in a really special place like Mount Kilimanjaro or Iguazu Falls.  Then I could return to Sydney and look to kick off my business idea, return to taekwondo training and also possibly start my own class.

Now you see why I would be excited right??

Having said all that though, I really am looking forward to returning to London.  I miss the big city life, London’s melting pot of culture, the European travel, and just wanting to live out my dream of living abroad for an extended period of time.  I know that if I didn’t make it back to London then it would be something that I’d always regret.

Still, it does rile me that some unskilled worker from Poland can so easily enter and work in the UK, whereas I’m highly qualified and experienced and will no doubt be paying a lot more taxes to the British government and therefore contributing more to the culture and society there.  It just doesn’t make sense does it?  But then again, since when was government bureaucracy rational?

Lady of leisure

I finished up my 6 month contract at the pharmaceutical company on Friday and am officially unemployed whilst I’m looking for my next contract.  I did manage to find a new house share in East Acton, where I’ll be moving to next week and shall be living with Christine, my good mate from uni.  I must say that it was an incredible relief to get away from my previous psycho flatmate, even though the Notting Hill location was just absolutely perfect.

Before I finished up at my old job, I was invited to attend the company’s Accountant’s Conference, which really was as boring as it sounds.  The important thing to know is that it was in Malta – do I hear some of you say junket???  Well, it was a complete junket, with a lot more play than work, lots of feasting, and we even did a tour of Mdina (the old capital of Malta) and of the nearby islands, Comino and Gozo.

Today I went out for a brief visit of the British Museum.  It must be impossible to get a good look at it in one go, so I’m hoping to get there a few times whilst I’m here to check out the whole place as thoroughly as I can.  Then I went for a stroll along the banks of the Thames, past the London Eye to the Houses of Parliament.

And until I find my next job, it’s free sights and cheap nights in with a box of goon!

An adventure in Belgian cuisine

At long last, my dear little bro arrived in London and I promptly whisked him away to a weekend in Belgium on the Eurostar.  We have both long been fans of mussels, chips with mayonnaise, Belgian beer and Belgian chocolate, and we weren’t disappointed on our visit here.

Bruges is very touristy, and it’s no surprise why when you see the beautiful medieval architecture and cobblestoned streets.  It didn’t take us long to find a decent-looking place that served mussels, and that set the tone for the weekend – mass feasting!

We took time out to do some exercise though, and our hotel had complimentary bicycle hire for its guests.  It seems like a romantic idea – cycling through cobblestoned streets – but in actual fact, the whole ordeal is just quite painful.  All that bouncing around on bikes without any suspension or seat padding results in a very sore arse!

Diving in the Med

My manager was kind enough to grant me a week off, so last week I winged my way to Murcia for a week in the sun and some diving off the Mediterranean coast.

I had a gorgeous week of sunshine, with barely a cloud in the sky.  Needless to say, having missed the Aussie summer and now being utterly complacent with sun protection, I got fried to a crisp on the very first day unintentionally whilst having lunch!  Then i spent the rest of the week trying to even up my tan.

I dived out of Cabo del Palos, which is predominantly a fishing port.  It goes without saying that seafood is a feature along this coast, and the produce is just so fresh and delicious! The strangest thing I tried was hueva de maruca, which are salted and preserved eggs of blue ling – a bit like fish-flavoured jerky and not bad!

The diving was quite good, even though the visibility was poor.  My dive guide and buddy, Javier, said that the 3-5m vis that we had most days was the worst that he’d ever seen! What great timing. The water was also a chilly 14C, which is damn cold by my Sydney standards! It’s definitely the coldest water I’ve dived in, and I wished that my drysuit was ready for this trip (it’s currently being made!).

I spent most evenings relaxing, reading, and watching Spanish cooking television, but let my hair down on the last couple of nights in Cabo de Palos.  The friendly folk from the dive shop Planeta Azul took me out for tapas, drinks and dancing around Cabo de Palos, Los Belones and La Manga.  The Spanish seem to have a high-protein diet here with very few vegetables in sight.  I think that, over the course of the week, I managed to eat my bodyweight in delicious jamón serrano and queso!

The guys from Planeta Azul were absolutely fantastic – really friendly and hospitable, and they organised my accommodation and showed me a great time!  I’m already planning my next trip to Spain, as I’m thinking of volunteering to teach English for a week in August through Vaughantown near Madrid, and then going back to Cabo de Palos for some warm water diving when the water temperature is a much more Ev-friendly 24-26C!