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I have left London.

My room is now occupied by a (lovely) Canadian, my stuff is in boxes on route by sea to Adelaide, I have one suitcase of stuff with me, just as when I arrived and I have said too many goodbyes to too many amazing people.

I am currently sitting in a warm living room in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, taking the long way home. Many people have joked I’m going ‘the wrong way’ and I explain that I am taking the opportunity to see some people I haven’t seen in a long time, visit some new cities and generally add a small amount to my extensive debt before I get home and start trying to pay it off. But more about the cold and wintery North American continent later.

Almost two years ago I packed up my apartment, sold a whole bunch of stuff, gave stuff away, put stuff in storage, said my goodbyes to a select group of dear friends in two cities and left a life that I liked but didn’t love for an unknown adventure. I had no idea what my life would look like, if i’d survive, if i’d find work, a place to live, friends, love, new hobbies… And I was excited about that, because I knew it was going to be the best adventure of my life and that no matter what the future beyond London brought, this would be a thing that I had DONE, that I had sought out, proof that I had LIVED my life. In short, it was what I needed in so many ways.

Now I find myself equally at a loss as to picturing my life in a few weeks time and it carries the added blow of leaving a life i have absolutely and completely loved. Certainly I know where I will live, and I now, thankfully, know where I will be working at least for the foreseeable future. I have a headstart on knowing what family occasions will look like and how the seasons will turn, but the thing I don’t know is how will i feel. It seems strange, one should know how one will feel when returning home. And I am returning home. I will be living in Adelaide for the first time permanently in almost 9 years. Certainly the first time as a (mostly) independent adult. It will be very different from when I used to live there. Many of my friends have moved to various little corners of the world, as has some of my family. One big part of my family won’t be there at all. Small people who were distinctly children when I left, will now be young ladies (or not) and there are whole new small people for me to get to know. I have learnt much about what makes me happy in London and I hope I have the strength of heart and purpose to seek that out in my home town rather than fall into old, unhealthy patterns. It is a definite fear I hold and I have various ideas of what the pitfalls and solutions for my new life will be. There are definitely things I am looking forward to, but there is also an apprehension that will not be immediately eased.

In returning home there are certainly things that I will miss about living in Melbourne, my dear friends, the richmond knitters, better yarn fare (and something I only discovered in London, but originated in Melbourne – Swing Patrol), and a wider variety of standard artistic fare, but Melbourne and I always had an uneasy relationship. There were some great times, and there were some truly awful times, there were little secrets of the city I loved and corners I made my own, but on the whole I never felt at ease there, not in the way I immediately did in London and, of course, Adelaide will always be home no matter where I live.

As for leaving London… where do I start… It has been said that there are two types of Londoners. Those who are born there and never have any desire to leave, and those who come to London for the first time and know they have come home. That’s how it was for me. The first time I visited (properly) in 2009, I stayed a month, went to classes, made friends with Londoners and visitors alike and knew that I wanted to return. I felt instantly at home and comfortable in this city of rudely polite people. I love it’s contradictions, it’s wonderful art and absolute crassness, its everyday beauty and distinctive odours, its drabness and its elegance, its englishness and its multicultural ways, its ability to offer you the best bargains of your life whilst bleeding you dry, its standoffishness and welcoming arms…

But mostly I loved its people. Now there are two things that happened that made my life in London so wonderful and if either of those hadn’t happened then I have no illusion that my life would not have been as awesome as it was. Firstly, I got a job. Whilst I enjoyed it in many respects and got to work in a fantastic location right in the heart of the city, what made this remarkable was the people. I suddenly had 500+ friends who understood me, welcomed me, drank with me, laughed with me and generally made London the best place ever. I know with out a doubt that I will never work anywhere else like it. And I got into swing dancing, which gave me Sunday nights of fun, friends and fabulous dances. Through these two things I made so many friends that it is genuinely painful to leave you all. Thank goodness for the internet! Of course I now have the dilemma that there are so many places in the world I still want to visit, but when I have the time and money, London will be first on the list because there are too many people I long to hug!

Still, as much as I loved London, I carry the understanding that my life there was unsustainable. I lived like I had two years there and were I able to stay longer, changes would have been made that may have meant my life wasn’t as awesome. So it is impossible to feel that I am being parted from something unfairly or unjustly. Instead I recognise that life is surprising and massive upheaval brings great opportunity. And my life is what I make it and should I need to go wandering from home again I know two very important things. Firstly, I will survive and secondly, that I will always have a home to go back to.

Too many goodbyes. I will miss you all!

Too many goodbyes. I will miss you all!

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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.

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I start my new job tomorrow, so that, coinciding with a flying visit from an American friend, was the perfect excuse to do some sight seeing in my last few days as a tourist rather than a tax-payer!

Jen arrived on Wednesday and after getting her settled and clean after 17 hours of travelling (LA is far too! who knew!) we headed out to the Tower of London. Because it’s made of WIN!

This time i took some good photos on my proper camera instead of the piss-poor phone camera photos i took last time. Not willing to say these are OODLES better, but they are better.

It was, unfortunately, raining, so the Yeoman of the Guard tour was not so much a tour as a hurried walk to the chapel where we got a half hour talk. MADE OF WIN. Our Beefeater was absolutely hilarious and very informative and a great speaker, creating a real sense of sadness at some points and tension as he told of the battle of Argincourt and other epic stories. I could honestly go to the tower just to listen to the Yeomen talk since i think i will hear a new story every time. As our Beafeater explained, he was a soldier (although he was actually a medic) and now he’s a historian. Pretty cool.

The view of the Tower

The White Tower from a window under the Bloody Tower (where they have the torture exhibit!)

What the White Tower actually looks like. Still haven't been inside... Next trip!

Where the Crown Jewels are kept. Saw them this time. My favourite was the MASSIVE diamond on the Queen Mother's crown.

The Memorial on the spot where Anne Boelyn and co lost their heads

So on Thursday we got off to a later start than planned, but we headed to the Natural History Museum. I have a feeling South Kensington is quickly going to become one of my favourite places, since i was already in love with the V&A and now have a massive love for the Natural History Museum too!

Such an impressive building (and diplodocus)

There was a FANTASTIC exhibition – Animals Inside Out. sadly no photos as they weren’t allowed, but also, i don’t want to gross anyone out! It was weird, an elephant cut in half, a sectioned giraffe, a dissected horses head, all fine… but the nervous system of a cat? totally weirded me out. I felt skeezed and completely fascinated all at the same time… So elephant’s heart? bigger than it’s brain. Goats? can have up to 3 kids and they fit together in the womb like one of those wooden puzzles. Hare brain? is in face hare-brained (ie, tiny). Shark livers? MASSIVE. it was all fairly awesome!

Didn’t take a lot of pictures in the rest of the museum … but did have to snap this one – as i’m pretty sure this is the LARGEST POSSUM I HAVE EVER SEEN.

what were they feeding it? check the numbat for size comparison

Also, did find out that opossums are in face marsupials – which i did not know. I was also TERRIBLY disappointed that all the big cats were off exhibit for research 😦

The blue whale was pretty darn impressive though

The scale is a bit off in this photo as was trying to get the giraffe in, but the blue whale takes up the whole room.

On Friday we headed out to Soho to a place called The Breakfast Club. I am a bit in love and this is quite dangerous given that it’s right near my new job… but the food is AMAZING and the atmosphere is very like something you’d find in Melbourne. (must add, Time Out has not let me down for good food joints yet!)

I didn't even mind all the yellow!

Jen wanted a proper English breakky… which is what she got. I personally had pancakes and bacon and it was AMAZING

Black pudding and all... and those potatoes? THE BEST EVER!

In the afternoon we headed back to the NHM since i needed to exchange the worst umbrella ever ™ for a new one. which hopefully will last longer than a day this time. We then went to the V&A to check out the British Design exhibit and have a general poke around. I STILL need to go back though! so much to see there! I also LOVE the shop there. picked up some lovely hand painted buttons!

From there we walked to Albert Hall, along Hyde park and then down to Buckingham Palace – proper sight seeing. I was fricking buggered at the end of it though, so we walked just a little further and ate delicious noodles at Wagamama in Victoria since Jen had never been there. we ended up ordering the same thing – hilarious!

The Royal Albert Hall

Hyde Park at dusk

The sun sets on Buckingham Palace

As we walked through Hyde Park corner I went to check out the Australian War Memorial i had been told was there. I will be very very busy on Anzac day, but it was a goodly reminder to take stock. It’s a very impressive monument, if simple. The back wall ‘weeps’ and all those words are actually made up of the names of Australian towns and suburbs, presumably those that suffered losses… I spotted Sydenham, Modbury, Woolongong, North Brisbane, Fraser Island, Torrens Island, Brighton… too many to take in…

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them.

So that was the last week… yesterday i stayed in bed, caught up on my shows and finished my Aeolian shawl (blogging it soon on my other blog) and today i will head to the shops and then go to the airport to meet a friend who is bringing me 13KG of STUFF! so excited!

Tomorrow i start training at Apple!! wish me luck!

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Today i did something a little different…

The lovely J+D invited me to go walking with them… they are serious walking enthusiasts and I was a bit dubious to be honest, but it sounded interesting. They are walking the Union Canal, from the Thames to it’s origin (i believe in Birmingham) a little at a time. They’d already walked from the Thames, up through Hackney, through Camden (probably the most famous point on the canals) and to Warwick Avenue. The best part about this walk is that at pretty much any time, you can leave the canal, hop on some mode of PT and finish up for the day… A perfect excursion for the faint at heart like myself.

So today I met J+D at Warwick Avenue (yes the Duffy song was in my head constantly) and saw little venice (very little, not really venice like at all), where we hit the tow-path (where the horses would have walked to tow the barges) and headed up river. I was informed by a friendly river-boater, that the canals are about 5 foot deep with slim to no chance of pirates.

There were many interesting sites a long the way and quite a bit of wildlife!

I like to think that this cat is watching these geese thinking... wow, that's a lot of dinner...

It was overcast, but not too cold. I kept all my warm things on without getting too overheated, but also didn’t have frozen ears or nose. It drizzled a bit and i did cave and get my umbrella out (my raincoat is still in transit!) but didn’t really need it. But it is definitely spring…

It’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but at one point the canal goes OVER a ROAD (and a river, but that actually wasn’t as impressive as you would think.) This is where we walked over the north circular (i think that’s what road it was. It’s a massive motorway regardless).

I did take a little video – let me know if you want further proof.

At Perivale, we did some ‘serious’ walking. There’s a very large hill – Horseden Hill – that’s very old and well preserved for all sorts of reasons. we climbed to the summit (i climbed a stile!) and J explained all about the trig point and the mapping of the UK and we looked at planes taking off and landing at Heathrow, had a cuppa and enjoed the very fresh air. The tops of hills are QUITE chilly!

It really didn’t feel like being in one of the world’s largest cities. felt VERY rural. Here are some bluebells!

And this… well, this is London!

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable walk. I was a little tired (ok, quite tired) by the end of it and I’ve since had a rest and a soak in a hot bath. Sadly my knee did not enjoy the walk as much as i did, so i may not be able to join J+D on further canal adventures, but it was definitely a different side of london and now i REALLY want to go on a canal houseboat for a holiday!!

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So today was a GOOD day.

I officially have been offered a job at Apple, details TBC, but most likely about 20-25 hours a week at the Regent Street store

AND I have a place to live! I move in tomorrow to a beautiful big room in Manor House.

It’s a bit odd, because if i think about who i am, then it’s kinda perfect, a quiet house, with three studious and sedate girls, 2 in publishing and one doing a Geology PHD, but that’s kinda why i was a bit reluctant. I’m trying to break out of my comfortable self so was hoping to live somewhere a little more lively. BUT I guess i will just have to create my own liveliness! Besides it’s a three month let to start so there’s always room to move (LOL). I will post photos of my new room and house tomorrow, including my garden 🙂

I’ve been staying with Bronwen, a friend of Ren’s who has been ABSOLUTELY wonderful and has put me up last night and tonight. She also gave me wine!

I have to also thank the lovely girls in Stoke Newington who made me feel quite at home for my first 4 weeks in London. Becca, Lucia and Loukia you are lovely! and Penny, thanks for letting me live in your room!

this is how i celebrated today…

I went and saw The Pirates: An Adventure with Scientists and the icecream was Turkish delight and Pralines and Cream. NOM

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I had my first major freak out today, which given that it’s a week til i leave is pretty good going for someone with an anxiety disorder!

Today I told my agent that i’m leaving and instead of just saying, ok, i’ll take you off the books, take care, good luck, she told me that had i told her earlier she would have helped me out, but now it was too late.

A few people asked why i didn’t tell her earlier… well, I was scared. there are lots of little excuses for why, but the crux of it is i didn’t want her to not work for me the way she did over the last few months, to not put the effort in since she knew i was going. A few other people have pointed out that SHE works for ME, not the other way round, but it’s pretty easy to be slack when you’re not getting paid. the fact of the matter is she hasn’t made a cent from me in 18 months. and while she got me a LOT more auditions than my last agent, I never expected her to go above and beyond for a low return prospect. hence not saying anything.

so when she played the ‘too late now!’ card i was a bit panicked for a few reasons. Firstly i HATE upsetting people and the passive aggressive bullshit that goes with it. I hate the feeling of i should have done this or that instead. And also in our brief conversation she said it would be too hard to contact agents right now because it’s (US) Pilot season and the castings are global and everyone’s too busy. which of course means i’m sitting here freaking out that agents will be too busy to see me when i get there.

Now that being said, Drama School graduates in australia are usually agent hunting in Jan- March as they work out where they want to live and who they want to get. (if they didn’t get picked up in Nov). And two of my three agents i got at around this time. So i know that busy does not equal not interested.

Still it’s frustrating to think that there might have been help available that i can’t get now.

But! in the list of things done and things to look forward to…

I have a place to live! yes, living in Stoke Newington for 4 weeks which gives me a little buffer to find further accomodation!

I have signed up for a casting director course with actors platform, so the day i arrive i shall be meeting the casting director of Law and Order UK (amongst other things) exciting!

I have a bank account and a meeting with the bank to get my cards the day after i arrive.

I have applied to 2 places (so far! ) for work (yes, both yarn stores) and signed up for job alerts with Harrods and Liberty

In things completed and done here in aus…

The apartment is sold. I am now homeless! (sort of) and all my stuff is in storage (except for what’s in SA so mum and dad can post it in a pinch)

My songs are recorded and being edited by the incredibly talented Adam Rudegeair so very soon i shall have my first original album (of sorts)

My in development production of a new original solo show based on a short story i wrote went REALLY WELL and i shall be registering it for the Edinburgh Fringe this week! My director and i had a drink and said, do we think we can do this in 4 weeks? and crazily said, yes we can! so we did! We did 2 shows only at the Owl and the Pussycat and i’m really happy with the feedback. So Edinburgh here i come (I promised myself i wouldn’t go back til i had a show!)

And my 31st birthday was SUPERFUN AND AMAZING! I had 5 separate celebrations (i have friends! who knew!) Drinks at Naked for Satan (mmm vodka), A PERFECT high tea at Miss Molly’s in South Melbourne with my melbourne besties (with three bonus babies!), Delicious Dinner at Hellenic Republic with Katie, Dea and Mum (so nommy), A Haphazard Games night with my adelaide besties and a family BBQ with, well, my family. I have definitely celebrated the occassion! Nothing makes you feel so loved as going away!

@ Miss Molly's

So really, it’s not surprising i finally shed some tears today!

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