Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My Weekend Walk {Pictures}

One of my goals this year was to take 12 walks. Not commute walks but specific, set out on a path to walk a distance. When I wrote that, I really had the Thames Path in mind but realise at other times, there will be other paths to follow. I did a section a few weeks ago (Waterloo to Barnes Bridge) which covered some ground I'd previously done but also covered off some of the path I'd yet to walk.

This weekend, pushed for time (due to a lovely lie in and having to be dolled up for a 30th later on), I decided to do the nearest section of the path I'd never walked; Westferry to the Thames Barriers. The Thames Barriers mark the end of the national path, 180 miles from the source of the river. This section is full of contrasts. It's initially residential, becomes quite stunning (as you approach/pass through Greenwich) and somewhat industrial as you head out. Throughout all, there's great views of the Canary Wharf skyline as well as glimpses of the City of London. The Thames Barriers themselves are quite majestic. For something so functional, I was really quite captivated by them. First because when I saw them I knew I was nearly done and secondly, because they're shiny. Me = magpie = loves shiny things.

I didn't take many pics for the first mile or so, mainly because (a) I didn't think to and (b) it's pretty unremarkably urban. As I got close to crossing the Thames, I had my phone out to capture it. If you follow me on twitter, you would have already seen some of these pics. If you follow me on Instagram, would have seen even more. Sorry about that. IG is slightly addictive and once I started posting the pics, I wanted them all to be square and have matching (X-Pro) treatments. Also, parts of the path were pretty hidden/isolated/less salubrious so it's always nice to have a GPS record of where I last was, right? Here’s how the walk went:

Naval college (view from a detour)Strollling under the Thames #thamespath#thamespathNot all the signs are scenicWhat's the time? Greenwich Mean TimeUp close and shiny #thamespath#thamespath barriersI can see the barriers. Now just to walk to them #thamespath#thamespath {for blog}

I've walked 23 of the 180 miles so far this year. Only another 157miles to go

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A song - Against the Grain

This song is both lovely, perfectly timed for things I’m thinking and has the most captivating and nostalgic video. I have fond memories of my pencil cases like those featured.


Also, does watching this not remind you of the smell of freshly sharpened pencils?  No, ok, I’ll wonder off now…

(also guys – it’s posted by Dropbear.  Got to watch out for dropbears in Australia!)

Friday, 27 January 2012

Loves and loathes

Just so you know how to/no to push my buttons...

Some Loves

  • People who keep walking at the bottom of escalators.  Move along people, move along.
  • People that keep their hands off their nethers whilst talking to me.
  • People that let me out of the lift/tube before getting in
  • People that don’t pick their nose in my line of sight
  • People who dispose of wrappers if they eat the last cracker/biscuit/lolly/chip
  • People who get off their moblile phone whilst checking out/ordering food
  • People who walk in a (reasonably) straight line at a reasonably consisten pace
  • People who walk in single (or max double if people can still pass) file interchanging in the tube


Some Loathes

  • People who stop at the bottom of escalators.  Move along people, move along.
  • People that scratch their nethers whilst talking to me.  Especially if I’m sitting and their standing.
  • People that don’t let me out of the lift/tube before getting on
  • People that pick their nose in public (or private really, but at least I wouldn't have to see it)
  • People who eat the last cracker/biscuit/lolly/chip but leave the empty bag out.
  • People who don't get off their moblile phone whilst checking out/ordering food, slowing everyone down behind them
  • People who stop and start as they walk and those that go from side to side (making them impoossible to pass)
  • People who walk in multiple file with all who they know file interchanging in the tube or on footpaths making it impossible to overtake.


What little things are ticking you off this week?

*I guess it’s not really the people, it’s the act that they do that I loathe…

Happy Australia Day

This time last year, I was in Leeds with Dad drinking Australian wine at a chain pizza restaurant as we helped plan Grandma’s funeral.

Today, I baked Australian goods (hedgehog slice and ANZAC biscuits) for my colleagues and enjoyed a yum cha lunch to celebrate Chinese New Year/Burns Night/Australia Day/Indian Republic day with my Singaporean, Scottish, Australian and Indian colleagues (joined by our English, Kiwi, Israeli, Pakistani, Greek and Korean colleagues to).

Maybe next year I shall be at a BBQ, in the sun, listening to the Triple J Hottest 100 Countdown and having a cold beer.

Who knows – a year is a long time – but regardless, this day means something. Happy Australia Day readers

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Bedtime

Do you have a set time?  Not like when you were a kid and you were being told what to do, obviously but do you try and get into bed by a certain time? lights out?

With all the best intentions, I can’t seem to have an early night.  A quiet night, sure, but then I just procrastinate or get caught on the web or read or something and rarely head to sleep before midnight.  Lately that’s crept out to 1am. 

A little earlier, say 11pm would be better.  Not every night but just those nights when I’m in, I should.  I’m a sleeper.  I love my sleep and can never have enough.  Considering sleeping in the morning isn't really an option, I guess I need to work on the nights. I’ve been trying it this week but I have no routine and haven’t been doing very well.

What works for you?



These are just four of the many bedspreads from Urbanoutfitters that I'm lusting after.  I'm very very tempted to order the chevron one. But then, maybe I like the fourth one better? hmmm... indecision is saving me money  (Australian readers - did you know UO now has an Australian online store -that's where these have come from).

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

High Times at High Tea

As I mentioned, Kathryn and Tristan were in town for the weekend.  It was wonderful.  WONDERFUL.  We chatted and laughed whilst they met my London crew, drank warm beers, had a curry, saw a play (ok, we were didn’t chat during this), sampled my favourite coffee stops and just touristed about.  It was beyond wonderful actually.

The highlight though was high tea.  Kat and I had spoken about it before, we knew it was something we would do.  It was part of my wedding present to them.  After seeking recommendations, I booked at The Dorchester for late Saturday afternoon (4.45pm sitting).

It was wonderful from the get go.  We arrived early, not wanting to be late, and decided to enjoy a drink from the bar whilst we waited.  A gin & tonic for sir and two Sipsmith’s Tea Time Martinis for us ladies. 

Afternoon tea in itself started with a choice of champagne (Laurent Perrier rose or Laurent Perrier NV Brut).  We all chose the brut (dry).

Finger sandwiches were then served; vegetarian for me and meatier ones for the newlyweds.  Fillings included the traditional cucumber; egg & cress, chicken & wholegrain mustard, cheese and chutney, tomato & mozzarella with pesto, smoked salmon and more.  All of them served on specialty breads.  Our favourites were the two that were served on the basil bread (cheese and chutney for me, chicken & mustard for Tristan, both for Kat).  Once we ate our sandwiches, they brought more.  It  would have been easy to fill up on the sandwiches alone, but no, we needed room for sweets.

We then had our teas, chosen prior.  They were served once we’d finished our champagne so we could better enjoy them.  When selecting the, Kathryn’s choice of English breakfast was met with a very stern “no” that had us in fits of giggles, until we realised it was for real.  Our waiter’s point was that English Breakfast is widely available and when there was such an extensive tea menu, it seemed a shame not to try something else.  Guided by Kat liking EB with milk, he made the suggestion of the Dorchester Blend (Ceylon & Assam). I chose their Paris blend (it was suggested as it contains bergamot and I asked for guidance based on liking Earl Grey but also had a hint of caramel) whilst Tristan had one of their blends who’s name and ingredients both escape me.

Sweets were soon served.  Scones (both plain and fruit) with a jam (strawberry or apricot & ginger) and cream as well as a selection of desserts.  Something with coffee & chocolate, a dark chocolate & orange one, mandarin tart, mango & pistachio mousse and a coconut & cassis delight.  Deciding which dessert to try first proved hard but really, it needn’t of for once they were gone, more of the same were brought.

The staff were fantastic – so helpful, polite and patient.  It was obvious we weren't the hotel’s target audience but they must be very use to it with their high tea as we were made to feel like we were the only guests.

It really was a treat but one I’d really recommend. Especially if you get to enjoy with some of your best friends.

An excellent afternoon at the DorchesterCocktail time

I loved the setting as well – silvery/gold rimmed greeny plates.  I would get some but at  £650 for a tea set for two, it’s just a treat too far.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

This girl is here

This weekend, this person is here.


That's Kathryn and I at her recent wedding. Being all class on the top table. (thanks Penny for the pic)


This punk's with her as well. That's Tristan. Her hubby. I'm rather pleased he's here with her, it being their honeymoon and all. They've been traipsing around Europe and they're in London this weekend.

We've curry, high tea, coffee, markets and a show lined up so far but really, I'm just excited to see them.

Happy weekend friends!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Floating away



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Parasailing with my brother, Simon, on Moreton Island, Queensland.  
The most peaceful experience in recent memory 
Smiles all around.  

Have you been parasailing?  Were you surprised at how calming it is? Is it something you’d like to do?

Pieces of Me - January 2012

Relaxing family time at Temple Newsam, Leeds, Sunday 15 January

After a year off from this meme, I'm back in the game. The original host no longer blogs (nor has a blog) so I've no where to link it to but I'm going to do it anyway. It's a simple little meme but one I like, that prompts me to think about things that are important to me.


I like: Good coffee. No surprise there, right? An Australian owned place has just opened in the wharf and I'm a little bit in love. It tastes like home. It's lovely. And the sell lamingtons and ANZACs as well. It's like a real little possum magic in there.So good.


I don't like: The dark days. I know the days are getting longer but I really am struggling with the early darkness this year. And the dark that comes with early darkness. Boo to that as well. Spring can't come soon enough.


I want you to know: That I went to Leeds this last weekend and visited with Granddad.  For the first time in nearly a year. For the first time since Grandma's funeral. I know, bad Granddaughter. And that I love him but visiting with him is not easy.  The upside was he was so pleased to see me and didn't comment on how long it had been.  Another upside was spending some time with my cousin (well, second cousin once removed) and her family though.  That's her, with me, in the pic at the top. 


I’ve planned: To go see the Pyramids. Egypt has never really been on my radar as somewhere I wanted to go. Seeing lots of my friends pics had no impact on me. Then watching the Egypt episode of An Idiot Abroad made me stop and think about them. They're pretty amazing, aren't they? So when a trip I'd planned to Cuba didn't work out, I booked a different one. To Jordan (where I've long wanted to go) and Egypt. Not a lot of either country but some. I shall float in the Dead Sea, see Petra, camp at Wadi Rum, climb Mt Sinai, swim in the Red Sea and then hang about in Cairo an extra day or two to see the Pyramids.


I want to say to someone special: um, I don't know. I'm as uninspired as they come right now so I'm just trying to keep quiet, lest it be contagious.


What about you?  What do you like/dislike/have planned/want me to know/want to say to someone special?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Blue

PICT0044

I've been "home" in London for two weeks now. And this time, it doesn't feel like home. Not right now at least.


I don't know if I've got a case of post holiday blues (common), the lonelies, SAD (it's damn dark when I get my afternoon coffee) or just straight out home sickness but it's sucky.

Maybe it's Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I've heard of SAD and read about SAD and all that but previously the dark winter days haven't bothered me much. I'm not a fan of them but I don't go into a slump over them either. I'm trying to think why that might be different this year. Maybe because the dark afternoons are gradual. They creep up on you, just taking a teensy bit of a jump come the end of daylight savings each year. And my winter holidays have previously been to winter places. So I've eased in and out of winter.  Compare that to spending a few weeks in Australia (or anywhere in the southern hemisphere) and returning home in the week of the solstice. Going from the most daylight possible to the least. The contrast is huge. And upsetting. So maybe it's SAD.

Maybe it's the post holiday blues. I haven't shared all the details with you of my trip yet but it was fantastic. Even get didn't suck (well, it totally did but it meant down time at the farm getting looked after by my folks so it was pretty indulgent). My friends wedding was lovely. An emotional day but so full of love. And fun. We had the giggles during the ceremony (yeah, I laugh at inappropriate times). And time with family. Cuddles and games and bubbles and hugs galore with my niece and nephew, who I love more than I knew I could. And the sunshine. Parasailing, swimming and sand tobogganing on an island off the coast of Queensland? Yes please. And the friends? Yep, don't need to say much more. It was a fabulous holiday. So maybe it's the post holiday blues.

Maybe it's the lonelies. My best friends are in Melbourne (and Sydney). They have been the whole time I've been here and that's been ok. I haven't got "a person" here, my go to. But I have always had a great group of friends, such that I haven't needed one. But now? Some people have moved home at the same time a few others have found love. And I find myself a little lonelier than I've ever been here. And maybe, I need to put myself out there more, more chance of meeting people, especially a person. But I don't know that I'm invested in that idea. Before I left Melbourne, for a good 12-18months when I knew that's what I was going to do, I held back a lot. Especially in affairs of the heart. And I think I'm beginning to do that here. So maybe I'm lonely?

Maybe it's homesickness. Melbourne is great. I loved knowing where things were. I loved heading to a coffee shop or a favourite pub, and it being unchanged. I tweeted about how I wasn't ready to live there yet whilst I was there, but now that I'm back here (in the cold and dark), I've been thinking about why. I think a lot of the reasons are tied up in travel I want to do and experiences I want to have. I don't think the reasons are tied up in wanting to work a 9-7 office job in London. Sure, financially, it's rewarding and secure (well, as secure as short term contracting work is in the financial industry right now).  So maybe it's homesickness?

And maybe it's just the straight out blues, because we all have times like that, don't we? How do you deal with the cold and the dark? Or the blues? Or how do you meet new people, as an adult?

I'm off to listen to The Waifs now and seek comfort in soup (feel free to suggest a more upbeat song…)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Goodbye Hammond Road

Farm Photos 016

Last Friday my parents settled their old farm having moved to their new one earlier in the week. I'm really excited about the new place - it's a 100+ year old miners cottage and whilst a property of that age will need some work/maintenance, it is a lovely place. There's a good feel at the new place, there's lots of outbuildings to explore, the views lovely (it's further up in the hills) and it just excites me.

That said, I was still a little sad about them selling the old place. Whilst it never was my family home (they moved there in my final year at university and none of us kids ever lived there), it was "home". It's where we gathered for Easter egg hunts, Christmas, other family occasions and just because. It was a bolt hole for me and my friends when needed and it was where I'd return to each time I headed back to Australia.

They made the decision to sell mid-to-late last year (based on land requirements and encroaching town developments etc) but thankfully they had a long settlement period meaning Christmas was there one last time. I was able to say good bye to the old place and hello to the new place whilst I was recently home.

My folks rebuilt the house when they bought the place has it had fallen into disrepair, but they kept the original fire places and a few fittings and built to a very similar floor plan. When the house was being framed out all those years ago, there were two brick fireplaces in the midst of it. The original house that had fallen into disrepair had been in the family many years ago. It's where he was taken home from hospital to, and where he spent his formative years until his mum remarried (after his dad passed away) and they moved into the next town over.

I loved the drive down their street, a gum tree lined dirt road (they were at the very end of it), I love the view out over the Bunyip HilIs and the pastures in between. I love the garden (Lynne's hard work, for aside from the palms there was nothing there to begin), I loved the bathtub (so big and deep it had inbuilt arm rests halfway up) and most of all, I love the veranda, a big wrap around veranda. Most of my favourite memories of that place are on the veranda (beer tasting, sparkler sparkling, gin n tonic drinking, bubble blowing, playing, reading, sitting, watching storms roll in, watching the sunsets and the sunrises and just sitting, being.

Goodbye Hammond Road.

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And here it is in its early days, being built
longwarry 25nov03 2