Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O Tannenbaum

This morning before work Vaughn and I braved the cold and the market stallers' vans trying to squeeze through ridiculously small spaces with little regard for any mere humans in the way, and came home with a Christmas tree. Luckily for Vaughn, who plans to hit the gym tonight, I have grocery shopping to do and a friend to visit on the way home, or I'm not sure I'd have the control not to start decorating without him.


Ch-ch-chilly London

The forecast for the next five days is fog, with temperatures ranging from -2 to 5. All of a sudden, it's quite chilly here in London town. Breath is visible even in the middle of the day, and my very selective frugalness is rapidly beginning to subside in the realisation that I need a winter coat. Pronto.

In the meantime, I'm well and truly in holiday mode after four days in Berlin. I'm counting down to Friday lunchtime and the 10 day break.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Friendly folk

We've been in our new place for a bit over three weeks now, and I'm liking the area more and more. It's not as green and beautiful as Islington. There are no lovely Victorian terrace houses. It's a bit dirty. But the people are much more friendly.

A few days after we moved in I did a really big grocery shop after work. It was a bit silly to try to do it by myself, but I had only really meant to get a few things and then got carried away. A shopowner in our street saw me struggling and left his shop unattended to carry home my groceries for me. I'd struggled from Waitrose in Canary Wharf, to the DLR station, and then from Deptford Bridge DLR to our street. I'd been stopping overy 20 metres or so to put down the bags, trying to regain feeling in my fingers, and by the time I passed his shop I was really tired. My arms were aching and my hands were numb. It was only about 50 metres to our flat, but I was so grateful.

On Sunday, fresh off the plane from Berlin, I was on a mission to find the last of the ingredients I needed for the Christmas puddings (I'm making two - one for me and one for S in return for a Christmas cake for which I bought some delicious marzipan in Berlin). Luckily, there is a few grocery places on our street - nice little corner store type places, with eclectic mixes of Asian (in the Australian sense of the word), African, Carribean and British food. Walking into one of these stores, I heard a man call out from across the street 'Alright' (English for how are you). He sounded like he was calling out to a friend, so I didn't turn around.
'Are you shopping for one or two?'
I thought it was a little strange to be continuing the one-sided conversation, but since he clearly wasn't talking to me, I went on my merry way. The next thing I knew, the voice was right behind me and this time clearly was talking to me. How was I? Was I having a good day? What was my name? Was I cooking for Sunday lunch? Oh, for Christmas pudding. Could he have some too?

It was all a bit surreal, but very friendly and cheerful. And as he was leaving the shop he called out 'Bye, Margie Margie Margie'.

By the time I left the store, the shop assistant, who greeted me by name having overheard the conversation, had also invited himself to Christmas pudding.

I'm also now a celebrity in the local curry joint, where I got takeaway last night. I have no idea why, but they wanted to take my photo with all the staff to put up on the wall. It'd make sense if it were a new restaurant, or if there were already photos of happy customers, but as it is it's a bit of a mystery. But £2.50 for a curry, I wasn't complaining.

I like Deptford, and, despite Vaughn's Crazy, I like the people.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Political luv

Somehow my job as an 'information professional' (cough) hasn't kept me very up to date on Australian events. The glorious news of Keven Rudd taking up the Labor leadership, and Peter Garrett being promoted to the front bench (as Environment Minister no less), has only recently found its way on to my radar. Happy, happy days! I feel a warm glow just thinking about it.

Each interview I read cheers me. Nice clear statements of priorities and policies. A political figure with a firm grasp on the language, talking about some of the things I've been wanting to hear about: a bill of rights, reconciliation, climate change, foreign aid.

I think I'm in political luv. If the ALP wins next year's election, I may just faint from excitement.

Our new place

Hi to anyone reading this.

I know I haven't been the most prolific blogger of late, but Margie's been doing such a bang up job of it that I haven't really felt as though the story of my life hasn't been getting out there for any interested people to read about.

So what do I have to add that Margie hasn't said already? We've moved into a great new flat. It has almost no storage room, and a bedroom the size of a shoebox, but its a great space overall and we're both now happy with where all the big stuff and decorations go. Since we were able to arrange and decorate our house with almost no disagreement whatsoever, we are following the next logical step and driving each other crazy with an ongoing war about where the various cleaning products should be stored.

The flat is pretty convenient, ie. it takes no more than an hour to the places we normally go. It's on a main street which holds a market 3 times a week. While this will probably be convenient for shopping for things like fresh fish, meat, vegetables, cheap terrible clothes and broken electical appliances, it certainly wasn't convenient on the day we were moving.

Knowing nothing about the market we arrived in a van we were hiring by the minute only to find out we had no access to our street. So we parked on an adjacent street, emptied all our stuff out of the van and began doing a relay race between all our worldly possessions and our new place. Of course, as soon as we got all the stuff out of the van it started to pour down with rain.

Being an optimist I see it as a reminder not to get too attached to your material possessions. I imagine a lot of other people might have seen it as incredibly bad luck. That said although everything got pretty wet, nothing seemed to suffer much damage, and it was all pretty funny, if a bit frantic at the time.

Having a bedroom overlooking the market is kind of interesting too, although living almost right next to a fishmonger does result in an interesting smell sometimes, and the market store holders aren't exactly the quietest people in the world when they are setting up in the morning. Also, as we discovered on the weekend the area isn't totally free of crazies, but no where really is. It's just unfortunate that red hair seems to be the strongest Crazy magnet known to mankind. There's nothing like having some Crazy take issue with you when you've done nothing more than step outside of your apartment onto the street. Of course my old 1-2-1-2 combo followed by my patented jumping double spin kick made short work of that unfortunate fellow. (NB one of the sentences in this paragraph is not true)

As Margie has mentioned we're going to Berlin tomorrow. More blogs and photos will no doubt follow shortly.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Exciting times

I'm always excited in the weeks leading up to Christmas, but this year I'm especially excited. To start with, I'm just generally excited by having our own place at long last. It's brilliant. Even having to deal with the most incompetent rental agency in the world isn't detracting from its fabulousness. (Aren't I glad in hindsight I didn't link to the agency listing of our unit when we got it - now I can bag them till my heart's content.)

And if having our very own, fabulous unit weren't enough, on Thursday we're going to Berlin for 3 days. Vaughn, the lucky thing, was there last year for a conference, but this will be the first time I will have been back there since mum and I moved to Oz when I was teeny tiny. I'm looking forward to wandering our our old neighbourhood and seeing the place I lived in for the earliest bit of my life. I'm also really looking forward to the Christmas Markets! Oooooooh! Decorations for the tree, and pyramids, and gingerbread houses. And then when we get home we can get a Christmas tree. I LOVE Christmas.

And possibly most exciting of all, I chatted with a very dear friend earlier today whom I haven't heard from in about a year and a half. And though our lives have taken us in different directions, it was amazing how similar our last 1-2 years have been. Like me, she met and married the perfect man, and unlike me, she had a beautiful baby boy last week, Konstantinos Andreas. Now we'll just have to have a trip to Athens to meet him!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bizarre weather

There was a tornado this morning in north west London. Yes, really. Bizarre. For me, on the other side of the city. I imagine those actually affected by it feel somewhat differently.

From the 35th floor in Canary Wharf, though, the weather has been very impressive today. We've gone from blue skies to fierce winds, rain, thunder and lightning, to blue skies and back again within a couple of hours. Right now there are black and threatening clouds immediately above the city, while above that the sky is perfectly clear and losing its colour as the sun goes down. It's really quite spectacular.

One of the things I like about my new job is the office. We have amazing views over London city and the Thames, and get quite lovely sunsets.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Feeling toasty

Having been in our unit for a bit over a week, we thought Sunday was the perfect time to have a house-warming party. A week seemed like enough time to unpack everything and get a bit settled, and having a deadline like a party is incentive to actually doing all the stuff that needs doing.

Sunday was a beautiful day here in London Town - clear blue skies and warm weather, and we were chuffed that so many of our friends cheerfully gave up the last couple of hours daylight to celebrate with us. Our little unit is now feeling comfortably toasty and well-loved.

After 3 years of sharehousing (2 years with Vaughn), I'm loving having our own space. Having more than one room to make my own, being able to walk from the bathroom to the bedroom sans towel, not coming home to other people's mess, being able to play whatever music I want in the living room. It's bliss.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy Friday!

It's the end of my first week at my new job, and almost a week since we moved in to our new flat, and I'm exhausted. It's been a week of hiccoughs and uncertainties on all fronts, which, I'm pleased to say, now look to be subsiding.

The clinically neutral, mostly veneer furniture which we had been promised would not be in our unit and which actually was in our unit when we arrived, has now been taken away. And the furniture we bought for the place is now in the place. For the last 5 days our new neighbours, Sam and Sean have been kindly housing the beautiful Jarrah bookcase we couldn't fit up the stairs. (Or at least the bits of it that made it that far. We've got some repair work to do. ) Yesterday, the builder, who was around anyway, kindly offered to move it for us. I wasn't there to see it, but I imagine it was very impressive - he and his assistant lifting it from the balcony beneath us, up to our place.

And speaking of our new neighbours, I think we've hit the jackpot. Sam works for a food company and has been showering us with chocolate. I must have done something right in a previous life - the gods are clearly smiling on me!

I'm looking forward to having a day at home tomorrow, sorting out the last of the boxes, putting together our furniture and arranging things to our liking. I'm also looking forward to spending a couple of hours in the kitchen preparing for our housewarming on Sunday. Our last place had quite a nice kitchen, but somehow it just feels different having my own - one one else's mess around, ingredients where I can reach them (this is an ongoing problem - in our last place I needed a stand on a chair to get to most of our food. Here I can reach the food because I've put it in the cupboard meant for saucepans, but I struggle to reach most other things. I thought about getting a step ladder, but then remembered I have a husband :) ) and the incentive of a party. It's been years since I've had my own place, to throw parties in whenever I like. I'm hoping this will be a return to the days of McIlwraith Ave, where we had regular parties for no good reason - the washing machine warming party, is one that springs to mind.