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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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Last wednesday marked 18 month since moving to the UK.

*sigh* I really do love it here, but I wonder how much of that is because it’s summer right now and I do LOVE a British Summer.

I went to Hampstead Heath today, finally, with a friend from Aus (Hi Pete!) which was just lovely. We sat in a secluded bit of the Heath that made it feel like we were in a rural forest, and talked about life and love and all those things, then we wandered around the open paths, and around the pools… I kinda really want to go swimming there! There probably won’t be another day like today where i have the time to go though. Also, I don’t actually like swimming! But the water looked cool and inviting, and i think it would remind me of the river-swimming I did enjoy in the Murray as a child.

I didn’t take masses of photos, but here’s a few.

IMG_1920 2 IMG_1921 2   IMG_1926 2

Such a glorious day for aimless wandering, fresh air, peace and quiet (honestly, despite the people it’s so quiet!), some friendly pats with dogs and some cider and berries and a good ol’ chat.

Sadly, though, I now have just over 5 months before my visa is up. And so my thoughts must turn to planning how and when I get home. And where home will be.

At this stage I will probably move back to Adelaide, though I’m thinking of detouring via Canada and Seattle USA for a short spell on the way back to Aus (the advantage of being on the other side of the world is that absolutely everywhere is on the way home. Except Antarctica.) I want to visit my darling Miriam, since being in London constantly reminds me of her, then head over to the West Coast which I missed last time, then down to Seattle to see my family there.

I am a bit saddened by the realisation that I will probably have to leave the UK before my 33rd birthday. My visa expires on the 13th of Feb, and unless I try reentry on a tourist visa (which can be tricky, despite being legal) I need to leave by then. This is heartbreaking as I REALLY want to celebrate my birthday with all my London friends.

I have also discovered that my Great-Grandmother was indeed born in Scotland, but sadly that is one generation too far to get an ancestry visa. It really is frustrating as I don’t want to stay forever, just another summer, but it’s pretty impossible unless I get married or get another job, and loving my job and the people I work with is a big part of why I want to stay.

Like I said. *sigh*

But I have 5 more months to enjoy, a few more cities in Europe to visit (Bruge, Stockholm and Rome are all on the list, plus getting down to  France again to see friends and say goodbye to Paris), some British sights to see (I’m looking at you Harrogate), the most to make out of my Historical Palaces pass and a winter christmas and new year’s to experience.

Bring it London. I’m ready!

 

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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!

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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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