If you've ever...

Lived in London. Visited London. Travelled the World. Lived in Australia. Visited Australia. Even longed to live in either lands. Fell in love. Nursed a broken heart. Tried to make sense of your 20s. Or if you enjoy an entertaining read, then this content has your name all over it! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

London is like an ex

So is it wrong that eight months later I can still feel the cold of winter mornings on my cheeks as I would battle the sea of dark coats on the way to work. Still feel the warmth of the heater and oven on a Sunday night when the housemates put on a feast using fresh farmer's veges from the Abbeville Road Market. Still taste the merlot lingering on my lips while the fire warmed my skin during post-work drinks at the Windmill.

But, it's not all romantic thoughts. I can still feel my eyes cast down staring at the endless lumps of blackened gum on the footpaths. I can still feel the unimpressed stares of Tesco employees as they push my humous, yoghurt and white wine through the check outs. And I can still feel the dead silence and stillness of a tube ride. Eyes down. Eye contact kept to a minimum, even if he is good looking. Continue this universal eye-language even when departing the tube, and speed up legs until you crush into the pram (or buggy...) infront, and then curse it. Even though you're not actually running late for anything, the way you're programmed makes you feel like you are anyway.

And this rush, this feeling on of being on the edge, is strangely addictive. It's like you're part of the big mechanics that makes the world go round. London is like that. I'm shamelessly addicted to the place, even though it's been eight months since I called it home. It's like an ex that you try to forget, you know it can be bad for you; it's best to move on. But at the same time flashbacks of the best memories of your life come flooding back, and you just want to see it, taste it, and experience it for all its good and bad just one more time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The greyness

I do apologise. I've been cheating on this blog with my day job (and subsequently an awesome creative industries blog www.graphicdesignblog.com.au - harmless promotion, why not?!). But really, a whole month and no posts here. My bad. My very, very bad.

And it's not as if I've been lost for words either. Sure the transition is smoother now that a routine has developed, but there's a part of me still stuck over there, and I don't know how to get it back - or perhaps do I just leave it there to grow? On the upside (only when I'm in a missing London mood, of course) Brisbane has been awash with beautiful rain, and our blue skies have turned a shade of grey. It's unfamiliar (and unwelcome) weather to Brisbane, but reminds me of the skylines of London - just minus the glorious terraced houses that line the streets, and the iconic architecture that juts out through the city, like St Pauls or the Gerkin. And it dawns on me... I can't believe I'm actually finding comfort in this dreary weather now!?!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sweating up a Storm

Three weeks left of the Australian summer ... and my GOD the humidity! I'm sat here, inside, and sweating to the extent of someone half way through a triathlon. Today's post is short because I need to seek relief in a pool or a shopping centre.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I've got an over active mind. Actually, understatement. When charged, it's like an over active mind dosed up with speed - which, for the record, my purity cannot vouch if that's in fact an accurate comment.

But, at night, my mind spills dream after dream after dream, where sometimes I wake tired despite an eight hour slumber.

It dawned on me recently, that for the past couple of months I have not been dreaming. I blamed it on my naturopath. I even blamed it on the more chilled pace of life in Brisbane.

But the dreams are back in fine form this week. No crazy nightmares, just those dreams that are a flurry of conversations, friends, situations and non-stop chatter. And I think I know why... my over active mind is going to 'mind gym' each day at my new job, feeding my hungry brain with stimuli plus. And it's glorious. It's almost bedtime, which means, I get to play in dreamland once again.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I may be cured of my H&A addiction!

Last week welcomed the long-awaited return of Home and Away (ok, I've probably lost 99.9% of readers already) to our Aussie screens. I myself was particularly amped about finding out the truth about Hugo, sussing out if Aiden really does dig Nicole (when he's not in Sydney nightclub bathrooms, allegedly) and the general goss of the Bay. But I've just come to realise that I have come to feel complacent about the Aussie soap... not unlike how one feels in a long-term relationship heading nowhere.

I've had an on-again-off-again relationship with Home and Away ever since Sally was pre-pubescent - circa 1990. This bond between H&A and I grew particularly strong when I was at Uni and again when I moved to London. Sky Plus and the Fiver Omnibus were my saving grace for a three hour H&A marathon every Saturday. Housemates (some forced others willing), cups of tea and Digestives joined the couches to rest off the mandatory hangover and teleport us directly to sunny, beautiful Palm Beach, Sydney.

The novelty of hearing Aussie accents for a few hours, cringe at some of Alf's flamin' lingo, and reminisce of sunnier climes was addictive, and gave me that little bit of Aussieness I needed to feel each week whilst living abroad.

Perhaps it's a cure for homesickness? I never copped a day of longing for Oz in England. Perhaps Irene's nasaly voice kept it at bay.

But now I'm left feeling like the love between me and H&A has died a little bit. Maybe it's over...

Now that I'm home, I pray I don't fall for some Brit-TV-trash like Hollyoaks.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Will 'Whinging Pom Eggs' Crack a Smile or a Whinge in the Poms?

Good old Sunny Queen Eggs have now given Poms something else to whinge about ... happy, sunny Aussies taking the piss out of Poms in the form of a grumpy breakfast egg. In Australia we wake up to happy faces stamped on our eggs, adding that extra bit of chipper to our day. Now a Whinging Pom Egg with a suitably grumpy face egg is set to make sure all Poms wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

A marketing strategy that has scored a healthy work out on the Australian PR circuit as well as boosting Sunny the Egg's fanbase on Facebook to about 35,000 - popular little thing isn't he!? - I must admit I do get a giggle from it. But will the Poms get the humour? Take offense? Or jump on board and serve up these pissed off eggs with Hovis fingers to the kids for breakfast?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lamingtons are at the Ready!

I had never baked a lamington in my life until I moved to London. Australians look at a lamington the same way the English look at a packet of Digestives. And like a Digestive, a cup of tea is the perfect partner for this coconutty-chocolately Aussie creation.

So, it's with some embarrassment that I first donned the apron and met with my inner Nigella at age 25 in my south London house on 26th January - Australia Day. You'd think I'd been whipping up a lamington storm since I was a kid, given how excited I get about them (I too blame my 'child-like Gemini enthusasim' for sheer excitement over banal things like that). But, instead, I'd indulge my penchant for this Aussie icon at lamington drives (bless the grandmas for their baking), which far beats a tray of lamington fingers from Woolies. I think any Aussie would agree with me there.

On the eve of Australia Day 2010, I have sheepishly already devoured two massive Julia-made lamingtons, and I'm proud to report they taste incredible. So instead of feasting on lamingtons for breakfast and hitting the Slug in Fulham or Gigalum in Clapham South to join forces with fellow Aussies in London, tomorrow I shall be embracing our day the authentic way - at the beach, basking in 34 degree heat. A bit different to chanting 'The Voice' while slushing around in ankle-deep snakebite at an Aussie pub in London!

But what I love about Australia Day, is that no matter where you are in the world, there's a part of you that wants to bring out the patriotic side that often lays dormant those other 364-odd days a year. So for the first time in three years, it's back to the beach, Triple J's Hottest 100, the aroma of snags on the barbie wafting through the air and a Toohey's Extra Dry to cool down from the intense summer heat. Happy Australia Day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Battling the Australian Summer

I'm in the middle of my first Australian summer in three years, and today it dawned on me, I'm struggling with reclimatising.

I thought I was coping fine. But, actually I'm not.

I forgot just how uncomfortable summer nights are when you're trying to fall asleep. I would keep my window open, but as my obsession for Dexter keeps me up late at night, I get paranoid that killers could be mere footsteps away hovering by my window, watching me asleep. So instead a plastic and very un-serial-killer-like fan oscillates in the corner, staring blankly as I drift off asleep, duvet out of sight.

Today I changed my method and carried a one litre tub of mango gelato around the house with me, and so far it seems to be doing the trick. I'm cooled. And i'm buzzing from a sugar rush. But as this is counter productive to my shedding of the Heathrow injection, I will consider this a today-only occurrence.

Even my usual icy, cold-as-death hands have taken to being warm-like - how unusual.

So, is it wrong that I am now secretly hoping winter (read: a lovely, mild Brisbane winter) marches along sooner than later? I even thought of coats, scarves and hats today. My Brit mates stuck in the middle of England's long, dark, cold winter would slap me for that!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 of my Favourite London Memories

When you get old, your memory is often the first to go.

When you stop living abroad and return home, your memory is razor sharp - possessing an ability to transport you back to that foreign land in seconds.

So, five of my favourite London memories:

1) Taking the bus (yes, red double decker - which become less a novelty when you live in London!) over Vauxhill Bridge and entering Westminster where the Houses of Parliament guard the Thames and Big Ben chimes on the hour. With Westminster Abbey to your left and Covent Garden to your right. I rode this route countless times from the Clapham office to Covent Garden for stories. And I never grew tired of the sights. Even after years, I still would take a moment to admire Big Ben each and every time I passed it.

2) Spending Saturday morning sampling the selection of meats, cheeses, sweets and breads on offer at the 250-year-old Borough Market. A foodie institution and tourist magnet, the Market is incredible for its variety, freshness and medley of aromas that dance the air. I always left with a chocolate brownie, walnut bread, and olives. Every single time.

3) Summer picnics at Clapham Common or Primrose Hill, depending on how adventurous we all felt on the day. Blanket, housemates, friends, hommus, bread stick, olives, rosé, Pimms, Bulmers, iPod dock, frisbee and suitable attire that bared our snow-white limbs. Ah, I love how the British embrace even the slightest glimpse of the sun. Something us Aussies take for granted. Ashamedly I suffered third-degree burns from the English sun during my first summer picnic in 2007. Seriously. How un-Australian is that!?

4) Taking a press tour of an empty Buckingham Palace (no tourists in sight, just 30 journos wandering Liz's). Being a citizen of a very young country, I find the history in Europe quite simply astounding. Walking through the royal's pad and breathing in the opulence, abundance and tradition is something that still sits fondly in my list of top experiences.

5) Wandering the old London streets, particularly East London, and picturing myself back in yesteryear. I would lose myself in thought of horses and carts and period attire of a life gone by. The cobble stones of that city would tell the most colourful of stories. If only they could talk.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Those three little words

I said it. Three little words that packed a punch. Caused a stir. A reaction.

Today I was pulled up for saying "Brisbane is slow".

And I don't think it's an unfair or dishonest suggestion. But I found myself having to justify it anyway.

In full context, I was referring to my settling in period of returning home to Brisbane, Australia after years abroad in London. And the first stumbling block of my transition period was in fact the re-adjusting to the Brisbane pace of life.

When you're a Brisbanite who does not venture further north than the Sunshine Coast or further south than the Gold Coast, the pace seems, well ... normal. The city seems big. After living in the Whitsundays for a couple of years, I thought of Brisbane as the biggest of smokes!

But after living in London for a couple of years, Brisbane is the tiny smoke trail left after a single candle is blown out.

But returning to my comment, it really is a challenge to put those brakes on the London mentality that's been etched within my psyche. Walk slower. Relax. Take it easy. De-stress. Life/work can be balanced (at last!). Life needn't be go-go-go to feel accomplished.

Slowing it down, while a hurdle at first, has now been a blessing in the allowing for more time to assess what is really important in life.

It's not always about the job status, the at-least-one-social-event-every-night-of-the-week calendar, or the anxiety that sets in, if heaven forbid, you're home alone in London on a Saturday night.

It's about what makes you feel content when you wake in the morning. What makes you genuinely shine. And for the moment, I'm finding this beautiful bright light within my life-long Brisbane friends and amazing family whilst slowing my pace down. It's giving me time to smell the roses and realise that it's time I actually embraced the beauty of it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm well curried out now

Curry rates pretty high as one of the staple foods of England. You can get it 24-7. Some people opt for a sloppy, brightly coloured curry slosh, wiped up with a soggy naan, at 3am after one of those horrid night bus trips from Camden to Clapham. However, as I was much more of a falafel-kebab-at-3am sort of girl, I only ate curry at some of the best places London dished out: Brick Lane and Tooting Bec. Cheap, cheerful curry is yours for a fiver. Bargain. And it's authentic.

You can haggle a 'meal deal' as such along Brick Lane, in East London, but don't ever believe the free wine they're throwing in is any good. But the curries... my goodness, are pure delight.

So after a few years of street curries to fine dining curries in London, I've now had my first 'Aussie curry' and am not entirely satisfied. I don't know if it's because it's the middle of summer and damn hot, thus curry is generally last choice. Or was it the massive bill we copped (easily could have forked out 30 quid for a table of three in Brick Lane). Or that the owner used the words "You're a legend" and "Have a good one" in one sentence on my departure.... Hmmm.

I'm going to need plenty of green tea to help digest this food baby. Think I'll stick with what Australia serves best in terms of foreign food - Thai. Now, we could teach London a lesson there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I could walk 500 miles

OK, my Dexter fetish has leaked into yet another blog, but dear reader, you are saved - for it's only one very brief line courtesy of Lila - "Londoners walk everywhere ... usually to the pub". And when I tore myself away from her accent and repeated those London-related words in my head, a raft of memories stepped right to the front of my mind.

It's true. Londoners and people living in London (typically the millions of Antipodeans - I've always felt unsure about that word, I mean, I like the way it feels when I pronounce it, but I keep linking it back to amphibians) rely on their feet to get to A to B. Hell, A to Z.

And I took this to the extreme. Walking to work morning and night, rain, snow, sun (with a compulsory drop in to the local on the sunny stroll home of course!). My feet where my wheels. The pavement was my road. I felt I could walk anywhere, and you pretty much can in London. From Southbank to Bank. From Soho to Pimlico. From Clapham South to Battersea, which was my walk home from the office. Particularly beautiful, but only through Clapham Common, not the loud, chaos of York Road.

And on these walks, when my iPod was not draining out the London traffic, I allowed myself to shake off the stress of the day. Usually by the time I reached my terrace door, the deadlines, clients, colleague dramas were a distant memory lost in the steps I left behind. So therapeutic. So free. In a city that is controlled by the fast, it's that tiny peace of tranquil that lulls the over-active mind. Pub, parties, work, dates, if I could walk it in 30 minutes, I would avoid the Underground.

I even took this walking habit with me to Brisbane, and opted for my Havaiana-clad feet to lead the way over my new set of wheels. That was until the thick, humid, summer heat set in and the complete lack of other walkers became apparent. So I sheepishly slid back into my penchant for sharp corners and late breaking, thank you Frankie (my adorable car).

But I am proud to say I do force out a good, strong walk daily on the treadmill. In air-con. Surrounded my other walkers pounding the machines. It's walking, Brisbane style!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hit the Heartbrakes somewhere else please

Patterns... detectives follow these to draw them closer to unleashing the truth, uncovering a ghastly crime or nab the bad guy (yes, I consumed about 5 episodes of Dexter yesterday. non stop. so my brain is switched onto detective/forensic mode right now). So when patterns of the heart are concerned, is it not rather uncanny and bloody frustrating that i've had to nurse my twice broken heart in a foreign land away from the perpetrator (read: ex)?

Case number 1: break up with long term bf after five years, linger on in a quasi-relationship/aka can't quit zone until I board the plane to England for my new life. Yes it was well and truly over a long time prior, but with no closure, so the heart is still alive somewhat, beating a slow rhythm but only for the beautiful history that was. So, BAM. Thousands of miles away and I've got to face it properly, stomach it's over, move the hell on. Be single again... a very foreign concept for me.

Years pass and I thoroughly enjoy single life in the city that makes being single very cool - London.

Case number 2: Develop magic, desire and intensity with some Brit boy who I'm now trying to forget. Leave the shores of England, and the impending drama unfolds and the book has to close. And alas, I'm again thousands of miles away from him now. The distance is equal measures good and bad in the trying to forget category, but not having contact to gain proper closure is frustrating.

So... now back in Brisbane - a city that makes being single very uncool. I've got to do something about this ;)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

20-10... I Like the Sound of it Already

A shiny new year has begun, and after the reflective thoughts cast over 2009 - it's with delight and enthusiasm that I welcome 2010 (20-10, love how punchy and strong that sounds!) with open arms. Perhaps my first full year living wholly in Australia for many years - but if my clairvoyant is right (and let me tell you, she was horridly off-track re 'X'), I may be on a another plane sooner than later. Hmmm...

But, I'm happy to say that 3 months into living back in Oz, it's starting to feel normal again. Well relatively normal. The transition period is tough, and nothing can really prepare it for you. Back in London, friends, housemates, colleagues were all envious of my return back 'home'. Back to normalcy. Back to beautiful Australia. Back to where the heart is. And in theory, it sounds bloody easy. But, starting life again from scratch in a city you've called home for some 20+ years is not as smooth and easy as it sounds.

There's the:
- paper work and re-activating accounts and memberships.
- having to buy a car cos the transport system is dire, and let's face it, only to be used Monday to Friday for work.
- re-training your legs to not walk so fast and curse people who wander around without a direction.
- re-training your relationship to alcohol... there are no local pubs on each street corner, no pint culture 'just because', and luckily for me, an apparent lack of stress (so far) which means wine is not mandatory nightly.
- entering back into social circles and realising things have changed (engagements, babies, bbq's replacing nights out...), but understanding that things change because time has ticked by, and I wasn't here to witness the change.
- understanding that shop assistants who wear massive smiles, bubbly personalities, and ask "what are you doing today?!" are not prying into your life, instead, simply being friendly and up for some banter. The 'English' reserve nature had clearly rubbed off on me when I took offense to this overwhelming customer service enthusiasm ... now months in, I find it quite warming.

... oh this list grows daily, and I look forward to feeding this blog with more. It's these sorts of insights that I would have liked to prep myself for well before I boarded the one-way flight from Heathrow back home.

But, in perfect timing, a new year has arrived ... goals have been set and I have three weeks until I get to proudly be uber Australian on the 26th January for Australia Day...p rawns, Tooheys Extra Dry, BBQ, beach, mates, JJJ's hottest 100 in beautiful summer time.