Monday, October 30, 2006

It starts

We gave notice yesterday and so have started in earnest the business of house hunting. I've been vaguely looking for a while now, but not to the extent that I had called any agents before this last weekend. The few I managed to get through to (what is it with real estate agencies not being open on weekends? When do they expect people to be able to view the properties? Or do much in the way of looking? Honestly, they want people in full time work, but make it almost impossible for us. /rant) said the properties, which had been up on the websites for a grand total of half a day, had been let. I get the feeling London's might be a tough rental market.

On the up side, tomorrow and Wednesday after work (leaving work early - did you really think the estate agents would work late? Sorry, it just slipped out. I guess I hadn't really finished ranting) we're going to see a couple of nice looking flats. I'm looking forward to having our own place and going decorating crazy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The travel bug

There's no doubt about it. I've got the travel bug. To begin with, the symptoms were quite mild, with the usual itchy feet and looking at travel websites and books. But over the last couple of months I've had many, many friends go to wonderful places and come back with travel stories and photos. Greece, France, America, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Finland, Scotland. And each time I see a photo or hear a story my symptoms increase, until now I compulsively check travel websites at least once a day and check friends' photo sites to see if there are any news pictures and to tempt myself just a little bit more. We're going to Berlin in December for four days, and I'm really looking forward to it, but it's not enough. I've got the travel bug. I've got to go to more places more often. One day soon, I can tell, the bug is going to take over any sense of fiscal and professional responsibility I have and I'm going to arrive home with my arms laden with tickets to 15 places in three months with no idea how I'm going to pay for it or get time off work.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jumping in

We've been talking about many things recently that will have a great effect on our lives if they come to pass, moving house and changing career being just two of them. Sometimes I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a pool, knowing I'm going to be in there soon swimming but am waiting for something. I wish I could just jump in and get started.

Friends from Oz

We had a lovely evening yesterday with old friends of mine from Australia, catching up over some delicious Japanese food. It's so nice to be in the company of people I feel relaxed with and have shared history and interests with. I'm looking forward to having more of those times as we make more friends here and have more visitors from Australia.

The other thing I enjoyed about last night was spending time with the wife of a dear friend of mine. I'd like to count her as a friend in her own right but I get the impression we're still treading carefully around each other. They have been married for several years, but until now we've lived in different cities and haven't spent much time together. I'm glad that's changing.

I hesitated about writing this last bit because I know she reads this blog, but I decided not to let that put me off.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

English reserve

Ok, so I don't know where the reputation for English people being reserved originated, but I think the odds of it coming from London are slim to non existent. Take the other night for example: I'd just walked down to our local recycling drop off station to throw out the cardboard packaging for our new bed. (I figure that working for an organisation whose sole purpose is to increase recycling in London that I should perhaps myself occasionally recycle.) On the way back, as I was walking past one of our local restaurants a guy sitting at one of the tables called out to me, "Oi mate!" I turned around to see what this friendly new mate of mine had to say to me, only to be informed, "You sure got one massive 'ead on ya!"

Now while I must begrudgingly congratulate this gentleman on his powers of observation - it generally takes people more than 10 seconds to realise that the percentage of hats large enough to accommodate my noggin is small indeed - at the time I found myself staring at him confused as to how to respond to his somewhat unorthodox ice breaker. So I turned to leave. And I'm pretty sure that as I was leaving, one of his friends called out to me to ask whether I had a spare cigarette. Best though out plan for getting a spare cigarette? No. Reserved? I think not.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fish and Chip Friday

I like traditions. I enjoy doing new things and challenging myself, but I like the comfort of traditions. Food at Christmas time and when you bake the Christmas cake. Sunday brunches. Mulled wine and hot cross buns after the Canticum Good Friday concert.

Fish and Chip Friday is a tradition I was happy to start at my last job where the restaurant had fish and chips every Friday. I've just discovered the restaurant at my new work also has fish and chips on Fridays. What could I do but continue the tradition?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Our new bed arrived on Tuesday. It's gloriously flat and the mattress is wonderful - a very firm, woollen/cotton futon. Not only have I slept through the night the last two nights, I can stand up straight in the mornings, my joints don't pop and crack with every movement, and I'm not constantly yawning. It's a good, good feeling.

Separation of spheres

I've been toying with the idea of blogging about things that interest me professionally. I read a lot of knowledge management, law and library blogs. Some of them are combined personal/professional blogs and some just professional. I'm in two minds about whether to start a separate blog or just include that stuff here. I kind of like the idea of one blog representing both sides of me, on the other hand I recognise this is Vaughn's blog too, and also that many of you who currently read this blog are unlikely to be interested in folksonomies and communities of practice and current awareness. I know some of you have professional blogs and many of you have personal blogs. What do you think?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Last day

It's my last day at the law firm I've been working at for the last three months, and I'm feeling a bit sad. Three months is just long enough to really have your head around a job and to be at the stage when you can start improving existing systems. And just long enough to start considering some of the people you work with day in day out as friends. I'm sad to be leaving before I've really had a chance to make good friends here or make much of a difference.

On Monday I start a new job at a new firm for another 3 month contract. I hope it goes well enough that I will feel this sad at the end of that contract, but I'm getting sick of leaving places and people I love after such a short amount of time. It seems an all too common theme over the last few years.

On a more positive note, our new bed arrives on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to being able to stand up straight in the morning and sleep through the night. If the existing bed was ours I'd have a ritual burning, but sadly we're handing it back to our landlady who will doubtless inflict it on the next tenants.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We Need To Talk About Kevin

One of the things I really like about London is the amount of advertising for books and learning. Each time I've been on a tube over the last couple of months I've seen ads for a book by Lionel Shriver called We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Recently, with the threat of a two hour wait for a train in Oxford, we finally succumbed to the pressure and Vaughn bought a copy. From start to finish and even now several days after finishing it I'm struck by the strength of the book. It's a fictional series of letters from a woman to her estranged husband following their son's killing spree at his high school. It relives her life to that point, relating stories of their lives together, 'telling incidents' of Kevin's childhood along the way.

It's not a nice book by any stretch of the imagination, and in many ways it's quite shocking - without giving away the story line it's difficult to describe it too much - but more than many other books I've read I found, perhaps because it's written in the first person, that I felt that I was the person all this was happening to. By the end of the book I felt shellshocked, emotionally drained and lost. None of that sounds very nice, I know, but it isn't often I read a book that affects me so much. Well worth reading if you haven't already.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New look

You might have noticed a new feature on our blog recently: a selection of our Flickr photos down the bottom of the page. Hope you like it! If there are photos of you that you'd rather weren't included (either on this page or in Flickr), please let me know and I can remove them. I'm aiming for a whole new look for this blog by the end of the year (not an ambitious target, I realise), so if there are particular things you'd like me to include make a suggestion and I'll see if my very poor coding skills can deal with it.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fulfilling expectations

When you think of 'baddies', what picture do you get in your head? I'm not talking about those involved in corporate crime or art theft or espionage, but your common all garden local criminals. Me, I envision overweight, middle-aged men with bad skin and dodgy facial hair. Evidence, schmevidence, I bet these guys were picked up for their looks.

And, further to Vaughn's post last week, Green Lanes is just around the corner from our place.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

To everything there is a season

Autumn has finally arrived. Leaves have very slowly been changing colour and falling the last few weeks, and this morning, for the first time this year, I could see my breath. I love this time of year, when the chill in the air is still refreshing after a long summer (in our case, a very long summer, having left an Brisbane autumn (which, of course, is not an autumn at all in any of the usual senses of the word, but you've got to call that time of year something) to come to a London spring), and being able to see your breath in the morning is still exciting. It's a time of change - for the pantry, stocking up on ingredients for soup and porridge and steamed pudding - for the wardrobe, packing away the summer singlets and skirts and digging out the jumpers and coats - for the gardens, as the late summer flowers have their last burst of glory for the year, and the leaves on the trees gradually turn green-yellow-orange-red-brown and finally fall and crunch deliciously underfeet. I love this time of year.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oh frabjous day!

I'm an excitable kind of person, and the last few days having been as filled with exciting things as they have been, I'm just about bubbling over.

To start with, it's October. Now I know that doesn't sound all that exciting, but this is the month of making Christmas cakes and puddings, which means Christmas is coming. And if there's one thing I like more than birthdays, it's Christmases.

Secondly, also on the note of Christmases, I went to Ikea the other night, and they have the dearest Christmas decorations. (Mum, I bought an extra set for you.)

Thirdly, I had a job interview on Friday and half an hour after I walked out the door they were on the phone with an offer. Five minutes later they had an offer I liked. Assuming the contract is all good I have employment until the end of the year.

Fourthly, and this is possibly the one I'm most excited about, tonight after work we are buying a mattress. For the last four months we've been sleeping on the bed which came with our apartment. The bed is unbelievably bad. The top of the divan base looks like a waffle and the innerspring mattress rolls up. Seriously. I haven't yet managed to sleep through a night, and we've been having 'whose body cracks more' competitions. (We're about even on that front, but last week's flu, combined with the mattress turned me into a cripple for a few rather unenjoyable days, so I figure I'm ahead on the general suffering count - and certainly on the making the most noise about it front.)

Oh frabjous day.