Monday, July 31, 2006

West Wing Addict

I'm a self-professed West Wing addict. And I've got Vaughn hooked too. We've been working our way through the series and are now up to series 6, the box set of which we bought in Malaysia. Of course, being one of those market 'authentics', there are episodes which won't play and, in one case, an entire disk which is being disagreeable. We've been sourcing these episodes as quickly as we can, but three months after our Malaysia trip we still haven't finished the series. And I'm fine with that. But today I was looking through the papers and there were a couple of articles about the West Wing, prompted by the final episode being screened recently. And I know it was stupid, but I read them. And they completely gave away the outcome of the election, the focus of the series we're currently watching :(

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Ok, so as Margie pointed out, it's been a while since we've updated this thing. However, seeing as she has already ably summarised what we've been up to over the past couple of weeks, I might just mention what we've been up to in the last weekend.

On the Saturday we went out to the Brasil Brasileiro festival. What seemed like it might just have been a small local festival of Brazilian Culture instead turned out to be a massive carnivale style parade, complete with dancing girls with giant headdresses, pigs armed with giant cutlery attacking the crowd, giant drum troupes, and giant puppets. In case you haven't picked up on it, the thing was giant, and it seems Brazilians (or English people getting into the whole Brazilian thing) don't do things by half measures. Then again, we knew that already after seeing how crazy the Brazilian soccer fans were during the world cup! I was going to put up photos of all the crazy goings on at the festival, but Blogger seems to be against that idea and isn’t letting me put up any photos at all, so you may not be seeing photos of any type for a while.

We started Sunday by doing a test ride down to Margie's work to see how long it would take her to ride to work in the mornings. It took about 20 minutes, a fair sight less than the hour and a half it has been known to take her to get there on the bus in the mornings. Ah
London traffic. I dare say she'll be riding into work whenever possible.

Next we rode around the centre of town and saw a bunch of random things including a bunch of kids practicing parkour, free running or something similar. For those who've never heard of either of these before, they basically involve running around doing a whole lot of leaping and crazy acrobatics in environments which could easily kill you if you messed things up. The kids we saw were practicing under a bridge in a variety of places including jumping and up and down stairs, off walls, doing back flips on the pavement and jumping between walls with a 3 or 4 metre drop to into the Themes between them. It's obviously a really unforgiving environment to learn in, but I guess it encourages you to learn quickly! Crazy kids, but cool to watch. For anyone with broadband I'd recommend having a look at some videos of this stuff on the web including this. I never knew that it was actually possible to do what the Prince of Persia does in those video games, but it seems that it is!

Other things we happened to pass included a big dance festival in
Trafalgar Square with workshops on how to do various types of dances. We saw workshops on African, Israeli, and swing dancing, but didn’t take part in them as, this being London, there was no where to chain up our bikes, so we just watched from the sidelines, storing away those dance moves for later busting out on the dance floor. One thing I thought was interesting was that the Israeli dance was move for move a total rip off of the heel toe polka we all had to learn in primary school in Australia! Someone's stealing someone else's dance moves, a la the B-grade movie "Bring It On" and I want to know who's responsible!

In other news I've just been given a job offer for an interesting looking job which I guess brings to an end my life of idle luxury and ever increasing housebound boredom. More on that one later!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A music festival, a BBQ and back to work

For Christmas last year my Grandfather gave Vaughn and me a diary with a beautiful letter saying 'these will be some of the biggest moments of your lives. Write them down before you forget as I have.' I remind myself of that each time I procrastinate about updating this blog, which I see as a kind of diary, albeit public.

There's been so much in the last couple of weeks worthy of a post, but there's a funny thing about this medium: perhaps because it's so instant (no delay in publication, everyone has instant access), it feels funny writing about anything that hasn't happened very recently.

Two weeks ago we went to the Rise festival, in Finsbury Park just down the road from us. It was a free public event organised by the Mayor of London to celebrate diversity. It was massive and there were stages dedicated to African, South American and Asian (in the British sense of the word - India and surrounds) music, as well as the main stage which loads of different performers, including The Wailers of Bob Marley fame and Common, who was great. Apart from the music, my favourite moments of the day were having a wonderful African meal after queuing 90 minutes for it (I feel initiated into the British culture now), getting finger puppets and the first few moments of the ride we went on before I realised I'm a Grumpy Old Woman. At first I was all 'I love rides, this is great' but by about half way through when we kept getting faster and faster I kept having visions of disaster - a bolt falling loose and up plummeting to our painful deaths, the slow down switch breaking and us being stuck up there for an eternity of very fast and loud ride, with the controller calling out 'scream if you want to go faster' and me wishing everyone would just be quiet, etc. Vaughn later compared the experience to being in a washing machine, and admitted to the same feelings of impending doom. We're a Grumpy Old Couple.
Common on stage

Finger puppets!

Last weekend we went to Fleet for a bbq at a friend's place (friends of friends count as friends, I assume), which was brilliant fun. There was giant jenga and very large bbq with great food, juggling balls, fire twirling stuff and everything else you'd need to entertain a bunch of 9 year olds at a birthday party. And best of all we saw Lauren and met her very charming boyfriend.

Lauren and Charlie

The threat of heavy wooden blocks
falling on my head added to the tension

The jugglers discuss technique

Next time we got to Fleet I want to see where John Donne was imprisoned.

In other news, I started work a couple of weeks ago. Not only have I not been struggling with getting up in the morning as I thought I would after three months of being able to sleep in, but I've really been enjoying it! I'm working as a researcher in the litigation team of one of the Magic Circle firms. It's only a three month contract, but it's a position that was created for me - they realised that I'd be terrible for the business research position they interviewed me for but luckily liked me so much they created what is essentially my dream job. So far I've mainly been doing all the induction training, but I really like the feel of the place and the little bit of proper research work I've done has been great. And the people are really nice.

Last week, on my way back to work from a training session, I was walking along Fleet St with one of the very nice people. We saw a couple standing in front of a double decker bus yelling at the driver, and then the guy kicked the window and it broke. I found the different reactions to this scene funny: (me) 'I can't believe that just happened'; (paralegal) 'I can't believe that happened on Fleet Street'. Ah, London.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Funny Vaughn

A couple of hours ago Vaughn made some hot chocolate. He had let the milk boil so when we went to drink it it had formed a skin. Vaughn was heard to comment "it's like drinking a crocodile".

We caught the tube over to Camden and wandered around

Yep, bet you're all going to be singing that for the rest of the day now.

These last few days have been dedicated to all things touristy as we've played host to Andrew, our flatmate from Canberra. We spent much of yesterday at the Tower of London, seeing the The Beauchamp and Bloody Towers where Sir Walter Raleigh wrote his A Historie of the World and the young Princes Edward and Richard were allegedly murdered, as well as the tower where various Queens and Queens-to-be were imprisoned and the Chapel where two of them were later buried.

And prompting the title of this post, we met up with friends of Andrew's in Camden for dinner and to catch the Germany-Italy game, which had a disappointing but amazing final few minutes (Italy scored twice in the final two minutes of extra time; it had been 0-0 until then).

Until this week we've done relatively little sight-seeing and now that I start work next week I think I'm hooked. Tomorrow we're going to evensong at St Paul's Cathedral, which is in remembrance of those lost in the bombings 7 July last year, and we'll be able to explore the church and see the effigy of John Donne, one time Dean of St Pauls and poet extraordinaire.

In Australian news, it's good to see the State of Origin trophy return to the better team after four long years. Hooray, Queensland!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Anyone for a leisurely stroll through the cemetery?

Ok, call me weird. Or maybe just call me my mum's son (not that I'm saying that she's weird of course, but rather that some of the stuff she does sometimes may seem weird to the untrained observer), but I spent a large part of yesterday wandering around a very large totally overgrown cemetery. A very big large totally overgrown cemetery. At one stage I though I was never going to be able to find my way out. And then I did. True story.

As you can see I wasn't exaggerating when I said the cemetery was overgrown. In some places you'd think you were looking at undisturbed woods until you looked a little closer and realised that there were actaully tombstones all around you, just hidden under a lot of undergrowth.

Yesterday was not just about wandering around finding peace in the morbid final resting place of those who have departed this mortal coil. It was also about clowns. See below for a group of clowns also living in our neighbourhood.

As best as I can judge, when these happy character die, they head over to the Greenwich Docklands and look a little something like this:

And on a final note, below we have a somewhat unusual tree which can be found in Clissold Park, just near our apartment and said clowns and ghosts.


It seems Flickr does renew quotas at the beginning of the month, so I've now posted some more photos to our site there, this time with lower resolution photos so I could fit more in. There's still not much there, but I'm working on it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The 5 pound haircut - you get what you pay for.

So after weeks of hearing nothing from anyone on the job front all of a sudden I have 3 interviews in the coming week. Given that the "unkempt bum" look is fine for wooing potential employers with my "demonstrated written communication skills" and my oh so smooth phone manner but not so great in face to face interviews, I decided to get a haircut.

Thinking we'd stumbled onto a good thing Margie and I headed on down to a place advertising all its haircuts (for both men and women) to be had at the low low price of 5 pounds. It seems that for 5 pounds, you get a hairdresser who has only bothered to learn one type of haircut and figures it pretty much works for all people, and that regardless of what they say they want, they actually want that one haircut. For my hairdresser that one haircut was the good ol' short back and sides - the conversation with him went something like this:

Him: How would you like your hair cut (ingeniously making it seem like I had a choice)
Me: Don't take too much off it- I'm looking for something funky and young yet professional.
Him: Ok - I think maybe short back and sides.
Me: Ummmm, no I really don't want too much taken off. And I'd like it to look kind funky too (just in case he hadn't heard me the first time)
Him: Oh no, how can it be funky and professional? I definitely think short back and sides.
Me (thinking it best not to pressure a person about to cut my hair into executing a type of haircut they've never performed before) : Uh, sure, work your magic.

I think we can all guess at the result - a hair cut worth all of about 5 pounds. Margie didn't fair to much better customer service wise. She didn't end up with a short back and sides (although I must admit I'm finding it hard not to laugh just thinking about Margie with short back and sides), but was a little taken a back at the abrupt manner in which her hair cut was determined to be complete. Having wetted her hair to defrizz it, then cut it, the hair dresser just left and went "There's a towel over there if you want to dry your hair."

And just to rub it in, when we got home, our flatmate (who had just had his hair cut that day too) informed us that students at the Toni and Guy Academy do haircuts for free under the supervision of 7th dan hair cutting masters. At least one person in our apartment ended up with funky yet professional hair - if only it was the one with the job interviews this week.

Ok- I think that's enough excessive whining about something of mild inconvenience.