On the move again

Over the last few years I’ve become accustomed to packing up all my belongings and moving house.  When I was in London I moved house at least every six months.

My first flat in London was in the lovely suburb of Notting Hill with my then boyfriend.  But after that relationship imploded within 3 weeks of us moving to London, I moved into a flat share with an Aussie guy who had lived in London for quite a number of years.  After 6 months and too many occasions catching him smoking in the flat, even though he had promised that he would only ever smoke on the balcony, the final straw that made me move out was coming home one night and finding him drunk (again) with a mate.  I was in the kitchen making myself a bagel when he came over to me and ranting about what an asshole his mate was before grabbing a pair of kitchen scissors and trying to cut himself in front of me.

The next flat I lived in was with my friend Christine, where we shared a house with a lovely Aussie guy called Mike and a Welshman, who thought of himself as quite the ladies’ man.  He would often show us Facebook photos of all his girlfriends in Thailand, where he would visit a couple of times a year, usually to visit some “new girlfriend”.  Creepy.

The next few places I lived in were wonderful, and it made me realise how happy one could be if you lived with good friends who were considerate flat mates.  Even though London flats are small and the rooms even smaller, it was comforting and a relief after a long day at work to come home to a warm home and smiling faces.

When I returned to Sydney last year, I moved back into my own little flat in the cafe suburb of Balmain.  Although I missed the company of flat mates, it was also nice to have your own space, your own mess, and not having to worry about wandering around the place nude.

Now, a little over a year later, I’m moving again!  I’m leaving the bachelorette pad and moving in with my man.  A new chapter of my life, and hopefully no more packing and moving for a while!

Boxes and moving house

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The year that was

As 2011 nears its end, I thought it might be time to reflect on what amazing things I saw or did during the year, and what crap things occurred that I hope to have learnt from!

The biggest thing that happened in the year was moving back to Sydney from London. It was pretty tough settling back into a routine and giving up the nomad lifestyle, but now that I’ve an established a bunch of friends that enjoy catching up for socials and food tours, and am loving being back in my Balmain flat, things are getting easier. It doesn’t mean that I don’t contemplate moving back to London, which I would do in a heartbeat if a) the economy and job market were in better shape, and b) if the salaries in London weren’t so stupidly crap.

Considering that I spent most of the year in Australia, it actually wasn’t a bad year for travelling. I welcomed in the new year skiing in Italy, then made some short trips to Iceland, Poland, Turkey, Lebanon, Singapore, and New Zealand. I will be sending off the year in Japan!

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There is nothing at all to report on the relationship front. Yet more harassment from the parentals as to the whereabouts of my future husband (there was some part of me that wanted to stay abroad!), but sadly for them, there seems to be a shortage of available, nice, interesting and intelligent men in Sydney. I think that 2012 might be the year of Internet dating!

So all in all, I’d give 2011 a rating of 7 out of 10. I wish that I could have figured out what I want out of my career by now, and I wish I had a few more friends that were up for some fun days or weekends away (trying to get people to come to music festivals, diving and ski trips this year has been an impossibility) but otherwise I’m financially secure and have very few cares in the world. The issues above are very definitely First World Problems!!

How would you rate your 2011? What do you hope for 2012?

The adjustment period

Almost every single Australian that heads to the UK intends to return Down Under.  Some return after their one-year working holiday, pulling beers at their local pub and then blowing all the money they earned on a shitty flatshare in Shepherd’s Bush and a few Contiki tours.  For others, they end up settling into British life and staying longer than they had initially planned, until they get sick of the weather, and of moaning constantly about how things are better in Australia.

I was one of the latter antipodeans, and returned after three-and-a-bit years away.  Having been back in Australia for nine months now, all I can do is reminisce fondly about is how life was better in London.  Sure the weather was a bit crap, and people always mocked me for saying “thongs”, and “DAH-tah” instead of “DAY-tah”, but it’s only after coming back that I’ve realised in what an expensive, isolated, and history-deprived country we live.  Grocery shopping is a depressing experience when you realise that everything costs twice as much as the UK.  On my second day back in the country, my brother took me to a cafe where an almond croissant cost $5.50 and all I could think about was how it would only cost me £1.70 (less than $3!) in Paul.  Jumping in a plane for 2 hours will get you from London to Barcelona for a weekend city break, but doesn’t even get you from Sydney to Auckland.  And in the UK, you can visit cities that were formerly Norse kingdoms, and ancient Pagan stone circles.  In Australia, we have a some cave drawings in remote parts of the country, and Heritage-listed buildings that are only 100 years old.

Before you all tell me to bugger off back to Engerland, there are of course upsides to living in Australia.  It goes without saying that the weather is rather more pleasant, we have proper beaches, and we have great Asian food.  Our economy is still putting along rather nicely, and incomes are a damn sight better than they are in troubled UK economy.  The newspapers don’t just contain headlines about which married footballer was caught with his pants down with some seedy WAG wannabe.  And our transport system doesn’t grind to a halt from dumpings of snow:

 

It has taken me a little time to adjust back to Sydney life, but things are going well.  I have a new job and a new car, I’m back living in my little Balmain flat, and I have quite a few travel plans in the pipeline.  So all in all, life is good!  How are you guys going?

When’s the next trip?

Has it really been almost 5 months since my travels ceased and I was plunged back into routine London life??  Back to the familiarity of the local language, being able to throw toilet paper into the toilet, and more dining variety than beans and rice.  However, it was also back to paying a day’s travel budget for a bottle of beer, customer service without a smile, and being packed onto the London Underground like sardines.

What has happened since I’ve been back?

  • Managed to snag a job back at Expedia for a few months
  • Saw Muse rock out Wembley Stadium (quite possibly the best concert ever!) and Pendulum at the Wembley Arena
  • Bathing was forgone for a few days while I indulged my inner hippie at Glastonbury festival

  • Drove a Lamborghini Gallardo and a Ferrari 360 Spider around a race track, which was quite a scary and unnerving experience

  • Met Merv Hughes outside Moet & Chandon champagne house in Epernay – he is big bloke

  • Met Heston Blumenthal after an extravagant lunch at the Fat Duck

  • Didn’t see much from the top of Mt Snowdon in Wales through the rain and fog
  • Saw some great comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe
  • Enjoyed the music and colours of the Notting Hill Carnival.

I am currently a lady of leisure while I look for a new job, the lifestyle of which involves sleeping in, sightseeing around the free sights of London, and baking cupcakes!

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!