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This week is Depression Awareness Week in the UK, driven by the Depression Alliance

As many of you know, I struggle with depression and anxiety from time to time.

So, in honour of the occasion and to help raise awareness, I have released my song, Better than Blue, on Bandcamp.

Better Then Blue was written in 2011 when i was in one of the worst states i’ve ever been in for what seemed like endless months. But I knew there would be an other side to it all, and i refused to give into the sickness, the doubt, the tears, the thoughts, the chaos and the lethargy. Instead, I wrote a song, I sought help and I changed my life a bit (read a lot) to reinvigorate my little ol’ soul.

I’m listing this song as a free download for the rest of the month, and hope you will pass it along to anyone who might take comfort from it, or who might glean some understanding of what mental illness can be like.

I also want to be clear that this is merely my experience. Mental illness has so many different forms and startlingly different effects on people. but this is my fight and my feelings and i’m sharing them with the world to raise awareness and help erase the stigma of mental illness.

thank you and enjoy.

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SNOW DAY!

first off – happy new year everyone!

I went home for Christmas and New Year’s which was awesome – got to see all my loved ones and meet some new loved ones! Like the offspring of vintagenettles and her hubby

Meet the adorable Miss Nova! She and i have totally bonded.

And I got to snuggle my kitties!!! While I can talk to my parents, family, friends and sundry over Skype, the cats are not big fans. Binka gets annoyed cos she can hear me but i’m not patting her and Lilah just gets confused.

I think they were pretty happy to see me!

I won’t talk too much about Aus, since most of the readers of this blog were there… I’ll just say I got to see my family and my knitters and my friends and all the babbies and new pets and it was awesome!

Anyone with a basic understanding of geography and meteorology will appreciate that i flew from sunny (and starting to get very warm) Australia back to the heart of an English winter. While this should be terribly depressing, apart from getting used to the 2.3 hours of daylight again, it’s actually been pretty awesome…

BECAUSE IT’S BEEN SNOWING!

much to the amazement of my UK/Canadian/European/American friends, I’ve only seen snow once prior to coming to the UK, on a lovely spring day with Katie when we drove to Mt Bulla. It was awesome.

So on Monday, on a day when i could blissfully sleep in, it was terribly exciting to watch it start snowing at around 11am! I opened up the curtains and watched from my bed with a cuppa as magical whisps of snow floated down in soft little flurries. The only downside? as the first day of snow it all melted pretty much on contact, so it had the basic effect of rain, but much prettier!

Then the next few mornings on the way to work there was a soft dusting on things… it looked as though someone had sprinkled icing sugar on all the plants and fences. But i had no time to take photos.

So today, my next day off, I was absolutely delighted to see it SNOWING. Proper, staying-on-things, making-things-white, probably-a-real-pain-if-i-had-to-go-anywhere snow! Actually,  I did have to go somewhere, the supermarket, so i rugged up – Hunters, Handknit jumper, shawl, hat and mittens, hoodie and raincoat – and detoured through finsbury park to try to capture what to an Adelaidean like me is the pure magic of snow.

The hedge outside our front door.

Rosemary on my street – there’s something wonderful about this colour combination!

Finsbury Park. The Brits do parks VERY well.

My Hunters getting a workout! So worth it!

LOOKIT! the lake is freezing over! There’s a duck WALKING ON WATER! heehee

I am loving how objects look in the snow – these benches, wrought iron fences, trees, EVERYTHING!

See? street signs + snow = pretty!

I was so happy to come out of Sainsbury’s carpark and see this vast expanse of clean white snow – and then of course i had to kick it up and walk through it. It’s a compulsion!

I TOTALLY MADE A SNOWLADY YOU GUYS! (she looks kinda shocked to be here… maybe she doesn’t like the cold? also, the rocks on the ground look like a face… maybe she’s come across a crime scene? … I need to read more calvin and hobbes)

So that’s been my day today! It’s been FREAKING AWESOME! I stopped at the cafe near the supermarket and had a peppermint hot chocolate and lemon and poppyseed muffin, since it seemed appropriate, came home and have had a nice long hot bath.

I am fully aware that this snow will, first of all, turn to slippery ice, determined to see me fall arse over tit, and then to grey, gross, slush, but right now?

I can’t stop giggling and grinning like a kid!

Fireworks Fail

Remember, remember, the 5th of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot. I can see no good reason, why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot…

Last night was Guy Fawkes night (bonfire night) and i was quite excited to head out to Waltham Forrest townhall with  my housemates to see what the festivities would be like.

Unfortunately, we all managed to forget just how many people are in London, and with the cutting down of the number of fireworks displays around London, everyone in the entire NE of London was in Waltham Forest. This meant that a bus trip that should have taken 5 minutes, took us about 20 and didn’t even get us to the town hall before we gave up and walked. We literally got to the town hall just in time to see the last firework go off and get crushed by the mass exodus…

FAIL! 

we did see some of the pretties on our way and we could definitely hear and smell them. they let people a lot closer to the fireworks themselves than they do back home! We hung out for a bit and walked around the muddy trampled field (which made Rebecca at least feel like it was a proper bonfire night) and Cat had a hotdog (which made her feel like it was a proper bonfire night) and I had a second dinner of hog roast (why not??) and a toffee apple and then i bought candy floss (Fairy floss!!) to share. So we got muddy boots and a sugar high before heading home!

We did get a bit of a personal fireworks display walking back from the bus though – there were two different sets of fireworks going off near our house, which we could see as we walked home. It was like duelling fireworks – red and green in one spot, then red and green in another, little rockets in one spot, then little rockets in another. they went on WELL into the night.

I still have a toffee apple to eat (what, it’s totally one of my 5 a day!) and i can smell fireworks smoke in my hair. I’m sad we missed the proper display (what we did see was pretty epic) and even sadder there was no proper bonfire, but still, it was an adventure and it was fun to see this strange autumnal event!

I still need to get me some bonfire toffee though!

(yes, it’s all about the food…)

Autumnal Amsterdam

Autumn has well and truly set in. It’s been rather cold this month, though i’m still finding that temperatures i would be absolutely rugged up in back home are tolerable here – this bodes well for winter as i’m not wearing ALL the things yet. Haven’t even bought thermals yet!

I had four days off in a row and the lovely Sarah, who i met on the plane moving over here had some holiday so we booked a last minute trip to Amsterdam, a city neither of us had been to. As you all know, I’m quite happy travelling on my own, but it was wonderful to have a travelling companion!

We headed off on a saturday afternoon at a very reasonable hour, but it was still sort of dinner time by the time we got there, headed to the hostel, checked in etc. Amsterdam greeted us with rain… and more rain… but it was still deliciously pretty and full of trams and canals, both of which make me happy. We stopped in at the the Apple store which was pretty much round the corner from our hostel and asked a staff member (after chatting about working for the same company  – later discovered a friend of mine trained her at covent garden!) where she would recommend eating. she gave us the names of a few places, one, Cafe de Koe, was very close by and we headed there – it was a proper local place, not a tourist in sight. I had (belgian) cherry beer (not at all beery and totally delicious) and Venison and we had a great chat with the bartender and our waitress giggled at our attempts to translate the dutch menu (we got some of it right)

The hostel was a complete dive, but again, not such an issue when you’re with a travelling companion, but it’s really not worth discussing – except it was cheap and easy to get to, but i wouldn’t recommend it really.

The Sunday was our most accomplished day. We booked the free walking tour with new europe tours, who came recommended to me and i would HIGHLY recommend to others. They operate all over Europe and I fully intend to at least do the free tours in as many cities as i can! They work on tips so they make sure they are very informative and entertaining. Our guide Kendra was rocking and walk took us through the red light district, to the edge of the Jewish quarter, back through Dam Square, over the 4 main canals, to the Jordaan area where we finished up and had a delicious traditional lunch or mash with onion and carrots, a sausage (or meatball) and gravy and i had a mulled wine. Perfect comfort food after walking in the rain!

The Old Church, right in the heart of the Red Light District. Because sailors like sex. then they like to repent about the sex. When this was a catholic church it sold chits of forgiveness for the sin of adultery that sailors could buy BEFORE sampling the wares of the area. those business savvy Dutch!

The Royal Palace in Dam Square

The very phallic WWII monument in Dam Square

When telling us about the East India Trading Company (and the West India trading company and a whole bunch of interesting stories) Kendra gave us the choice of being out of the rain in a bicycle shed… we said yes, but it was also actually REALLY cool!

This guy was a bit of a Michael Moore of his time, exposing the 1% in a VERY boring book…

Narrowest house in Amsterdam. Crazy.

The best cheese shop in Amsterdam. I sampled the wares. I very much liked it! (bicycle not included)

Westerkirk (west church – the Dutch are CRAZY with how they name things)
This is right next to the Anne Frank House

We were so impressed with the tour that we decided to purchase tickets for one of the paid tours as well as tickets for a canal trip recommended by the company. The tour was at 7, so we took a good tip and headed to the Anne Frank House at 5,30ish to try and avoid queues. We didn’t completely manage to do that, but we were in pretty quickly. It was a remarkable experience. I cried. I don’t know how to explain here the effect being in that house had on me, except to say it made me incredibly sad and angry and heartbroken for mankind. I have never read Anne Frank’s Diary, but i will now, knowing just what a strong young lady she was.

The paid tour we went on was the Red Light District tour. It was INCREDIBLY fascinating! It was definitely titillating to walk past all the windows and see the women working them, but the information on the history of the area and the social and financial impact of the area and the business was really interesting, especially for someone like me who absolutely believes that prostitution should be legalised (at least in some form). Amsterdam proves a few of my beliefs about the benefits of legal prostitution. Namely, protecting the participants (both procurers and clients) and providing funds for the community through taxation.

The tour also talked about the generally accepting atmosphere of Amsterdam and we discussed the place of gay clubs, bdsm clubs/stores and other niche markets. Each sexual movement has its own flag and each has it’s place in Amsterdam. It’s remarkable how open this city is.

The canals in the Red Light District – complete with swans.

After the red light tour we took up another of Kendra’s recommendations by heading to a coffeeshop. Well we were in Amsterdam! 3.50 Euros later and Sarah and i had managed to smoke half a joint between us and were very happy. we then walked to the best burger place in Amsterdam (again, thanks to Kendra) and I DEVOURED an incredibly overpriced but terribly delicious burger and fries. We got into our hostel room at around 12 and crashed out!

On Sunday we got to a slow start having both slept VERY well, and walked along the Prinsengraacht to a highly recommended (by both Kendra and our Apple friend) pancake house. We were early so we wandered through some markets and took FAR too many photos of the canals (The sun was finally shining!!) before going back. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure the pancake i ate (knew i should have chosen sweet over savoury!), compounded with the boat ride we went on afterwards, did not agree with me and i began to feel quite nauseous. Other than that, the canal trip was gorgeous and we picked up even more info on Amsterdam and it’s secrets and history!

Prinsengraacht

canals, complete with trio of buskers

are you sick of canal photos yet? I’m not!

After we left the boat I was feeling quite queasy, so we took it pretty easy, but stopped into the Sex Museum up near Amsterdam Centraal. It was really interesting (and rather arousing!). It was a refreshing experience to be somewhere where curiosity about others’ sexual habits is a good thing and all those questions you would never dare ask are answered. Also? people have had dirty minds for a VERY VERY long time! I was particularly fascinated by how many pornographic items are from the Victorian era! And pornography is totally worldwide – there is not a single culture without its sexual expression! One thing i was surprised by though was the lack of sex toys… anyway! I didn’t like the gimmicky stuff in there though – i think the actual exhibited items speak for themselves.

We wandered around a little more – stopped into some shops, checked out the Magna Plaza (stunning building, couldn’lt believe it was a shopping centre!) before heading to the final restaurant recommended to us – Cafe de Klos

The Main street, leading from Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal

Magna Plaza
Even commercialism is stunning in Amsterdam.

I needed to include this photo as they managed to erect an entire funfair, including ferris wheel, in Dam Square OVERNIGHT.

Despite managing to eat a rather decent dinner and getting to bed early, I was, unfortunately, sick as a dog all monday night. I greeted Tuesday completely exhausted and still nauseous. And of course we had to check out of our room at 10, with our flight home booked for 9! I was devastated and particularly concerned about ruining Sarah’s last day in Amsterdam. I was DETERMINED to get the most out of my time there so we dropped our stuff in the lockers at the train station and headed to the Rijksmuseum with the hope that being inside out of the rain and the cold and quietly taking in some culture might suit my sickly disposition. It did and it didn’t. It’s really hard to take in art while you’re trying not to throw up! The good new is i didn’t throw up again that day, the bad news is that by the time i saw the famous Night Watch by Rembrandt, I could barely take in anything around me so i don’t remember it particularly well! There are some things i do remember really liking, and the info on the history of the Dutch golden age was great. I have decided i really like Jan Steen and it was great to see what gave Rembrandt his reputation. His portraiture was indeed superb. I just wish i could have focussed. At least there were a lot of stools around! I almost fell asleep waiting for Sarah to enjoy the museum (I really didn’t want to rush her and i was sitting, so i was ok) but it was still only 1pm!! We found a cafe where i had a little lie down on a bench and some peppermint tea and some sparkling water and Sarah had lunch. I was a mess and we couldn’t find anywhere to leave me while Sarah explored, so we decided to chuck it in and head to the airport early.

Well, it was the best decision, because EasyJet came to the party for once and allowed us to switch to an earlier flight for no charge! so instead of flying out at 9, we left lovely Amsterdam at 5 and i was in bed by 8 – still queasy and completely and utterly exhausted. I still don’t know exactly what made me sick, but i felt rotten and it took me a good three days to get my appetite back properly.

Despite the disappointing ending to my trip, I absolutely loved Amsterdam. I would definitely go again. It is a strange city, but so beautiful. It is thoughtful and thought-provoking, open and inviting and accepting, but private as well. It is completely fascinating and I really enjoyed (most of) my time there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick update

Life marches on! I can’t believe it’s already 2/3rds of the way through september!

I’ve spent a bit of time recovering from Edinburgh, but i’ve also been doing things like acting courses, working as a simulated patient, going to auditions (ok, only one audition, but still) and preparing for a major work event (which i ended up missing out on really due to all the other things)!

The Thames from Limehouse/Canary Wharf: One of the last sunny days in London?

I am socialising like crazy, which is awesome, but i’ve had a few down days since i got back from edinburgh. Whether that’s due to post-fringe blues, or the fact that i’m sharing my original songs online for the first time (and it’s scary) or because i’m now over a quarter of the way through my visa and i don’t want this ride to end (17 months is going to fly!), it’s been a nagging anxiety, which i’m mostly on top of thanks to awesome friends, housemate, cuddles and tea!

I have also been able to see Ursula in recent days and will see her again on tuesday, which is wonderful! we are planning a yarny adventure at Loop and this time i will take photos!

I haven’t done too many exciting ‘touristy’ things since i got back, though i did go to the Tate Modern, finally, just in time to catch the Damien Hirst exhibit. It was remarkable (if more than a little disturbing). My favourite thing was the butterflies. both the live ones and the paintings using butterfly wings. They were very evocative. Glad to say i’ve been to the Tate Modern now, though i don’t like the building itself. It’s quite imposing and i feel very uncomfortable in it. Still might go and see the Munch exhibit before it ends next month though!

St Pauls from Millenium bridge – one of my absolute favourite sights in London.

I’ve never written a Bucket List, but if i had, then i would be currently crossing an experience off it with great pleasure.

I have returned from my first ever appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

While the show was met with mixed sentiment and was not as successful or well attended as i’d hoped, it was by no means a failure (not by Ed fringe standards!) and was an amazing experience.

I was performing my first ever solo show, a piece i’d based on a short story i wrote back in 2007. I did pitch it as a storytelling piece, as it’s not a ‘play’ as such, but still, there was a debate from reviewers as to whether it worked as a theatre piece. That being sad, most of the audiences i spoke to really loved it, were moved and touched by it.

One viewer was moved enough to write me a personal email

“…two productions that stood out superbly against all the rest; and yours was one of them. 

A beautifully crafted piece. Superbly written. Wonderfully performed, and marvelously staged. My only negative thought was, that at the end I was left feeling rather sad that it was over. 

… I would not hesitate to book for anything you may write in the future, and if again you are also performing it, then I would count myself twice blessed”

I have never met this person and was so genuinely moved by this response. The experience would have been worth the effort, time and money i’d put in, but this was the thing that absolutely justified it.

The venue was amazing – a little underground vault, built in the basement of a church and the stage was framed by an arch and we projected onto the bare white back wall. It was such a great space for it! The venue staff were super awesome (and probably made up half my audience to be honest, but they all loved it, so it’s all good) and really friendly and i’m really sad that by the time Sunday nights rolled around John and I were too exhausted to go out with them! We had every intention of joining the venue drinks night, but we were just buggered!

I really hated flyering... points for creative marketing?

BECAUSE! we saw so many shows!! Adam Hills, Ali McGregor, Lady Sings it Better, Scales of the Unexpected, Piff the Magic Dragon, Fascinating Aida, Sammy J and Randy, Nina Conti, Hannah Gadsby, DeAnne Smith, Dead Cat Bounce, Axis of Awesome, Gilbert and Sullivan in Brief, Des Bishop, Baby Wants Candy, Josie Long, Bec Hill, The Economist, Comic Strip, The Thinking Drinkers Guide to Alcohol, Carl-Einer Häckner, Terror on Presley Beach (an Adorbs show mostly by highschoolers) some improv shows (of dubious quality) and some new comic talent in my friend’s DeadBadger duo. Not as many shows as last time, but still, but the end of it i was absolutely showed-out. honestly. the last day John and I just sat on the couch until it was cocktail time!

Me Schmoozing with the lovely Ali McGregor

Speaking of Cocktails – who knew Edinburgh was a hive of brilliant bartending skills for a very reasonable price! On Saturday, John and I discovered a wonderful bar, sort of by accident, called Treacle on Broughton Street (as much for my reference as to tell you all to GO THERE). There they had a 4 page cocktail menu, with Finlandia as their house vodka (to speak to the quality) with all sorts of great rums, vodkas, gins and liquers. I started with the Sherbet Martini, MADE WITH ACTUAL SHERBET!

It’s garnished with a LOLLIPOP you guys!

The next on the list was the Rose and Lavender Crusta

omg, what it is? an UNINSTAGRAMMED PHOTO! of a really yummy cocktail!

Aaaand after that i was too busy drinking to take photos, though i did have a Silver Fern (42Below Kiwi, St Germain and mojito-y flavours and my favourite for the night), a Raspberry and Pear Mojito, A Beach Bum Grog and an Antoine 42. John had a Violet and Pear something, a mandarin smash, something that tasted like marmalade, a few other things here and there and a Zombie. Now the zombie has about 10 ingredients, 8 of which are alcoholic and is topped with a lime half, squeezed out, filled with rum and set alight… And we still managed to walk home!

Revolution was the other place we discovered, which much to our delight is a chain across the UK so we can continue our sampling of the many infused vodkas here in London!

Yesterday was our last day so we did do a few touristy things, including Hollyrood palace, but i didn’t take a lot of scenery photos this time round. Two reasons, firstly I was busy and while i did take note of the beautiful land and city scapes often, I wasn’t doing a lot of touristy things or stopping to get my camera out. Secondly, I have photos of a lot of Edinburgh from 2009!

still, here are some for your viewing pleasure

The Forecourt of Hollyrood Palace

John was trying very hard to ruin this photo… luckily he failed 🙂

The View across the Meadows, walking back to our apartment

Feeling Good

Somehow, within 2 months of arriving, I managed to bag myself a bit of a dream job.

While i have worked in retail for most of my adult life in one way or another, I’ve never really valued it as a profession, nor my skills as a retail service provider. It has always been a means to an end.

Then in 2008 I began working in one of the loveliest and most fun jobs of my life – working in a yarn store. I got to feed my passion for craft, be around beautiful textures and colours and meet a whole lot of fascinating people- and more importantly, take the time to connect with those people.

Last year, I was hired very quickly by a leading designer clothing brand. I realised for the first time that my retail skills, whilst seeming obvious to me, were highly valued by other people. It was a nice feeling. And while i still don’t rank ‘being good at retail’ particularly highly for myself, it was nice to know that others WOULD value it highly.

So now I get to work for a company which is almost universally considered the best retailer in the world. I get to work in the busiest store for that company in the world on one of the most beautiful, coolest, busiest streets in London.

 

AND IT ROCKS!

First off, the atmosphere is amazing. I get to work in one of the most beautiful buildings on Regent Street with all of Soho and Piccadilly and Oxford Street just nearby for playtime

Secondly, the company i work for values creatives. It recognises that creative people a) are the people who generally use their products, b) have the communication skills and personality types valued by the company and c) are the kind of people that created the company in the first place. So I get to work with over 600 really awesome people – musicians, designers, directors, actors, photographers… It’s pretty wicked.

Thirdly, I get to have a chat with really cool people from all over the world every time i’m in at work.

Fourthly, I feel valued and special and prized and exceptional all at once. And while this feeling may wear off, at the moment I am loving it.

All in all, I have not felt this at home, this socially secure, this alive and excited on a daily basis since Uni.

So thank you universe, for a pretty fucking awesome Plan B.

 

 

 

PS: I got a call from an agency on monday, so the plan A may be going alright too!