Monday, 17 August 2015

The year that flies

Can someone please tell me how it came to be August of the year 2015 already?

No, I mean it. It was Christmas about 15 minutes ago, and I was just coming up to my 6 month anniversary in London. All of a sudden it’s August and we are powering our way to my second Christmas abroad, and I am panicking over where the time is going.

This post is serving as a bit of a catch up of all the little things I either forgot, never finished, or ran out of time to write about going all the way back to the end of March.

Sunday, 27 March: Oxbridge Boat Race
Held between old rivals Oxford and Cambridge, the boat race is a rowing event along more than 4 miles of the Thames, starting in Putney and ending in Mortlake. The race is a big deal around London, and is broadcast live. This year, for the first time, the women’s race was held not only on the same day, but directly before the men’s finals. We’re getting there, ladies.

Many of the pubs along the river hosted an event for spectators, and myself and a group of friends set ourselves up at The Old Ship, perched on the concrete baricade to watch the rowers go by. The weather held up: cold but beautifully clear and the ciders (and sneaky vodka in a water bottle) helped to keep us warm. This year, Oxford won, bringing the total tally to 79 Oxford - 81 Cambridge.

Easter Long weekend, April: Cambridge, dinner parties and Windsor
Cory, Nicole and I had attempted organising a weekend away through the countryside but ended up leaving it too late. Instead, we decided to have make several day trips, which afforded us days out exploring the greater UK with the added bonus of coming home to the the comfort of our own beds.

Saturday: Cambridge. It was quite a grey day, but I was able to debut my new coat and finally put away the marshmallow. On arrival, we joined a free walking tour of the same variety I did in Oxford, which gave us a broad overview of the layout of Cambridge.

It was, dare I say, rather similar to “that other place” Oxford but very beautiful in its own right. We stood for a while atop a bridge watching the punters crash effortlessly into the walls and into each other as they floated down the river. I think I remain Team Oxford, partly because it was bright and sunshiney that day, where as Cambridge was quite a grey, inside-a-cozy-pub kind of day.

Sunday: Easter dinner party at Cory’s. As the adultier adult of the group (despite me being the oldest), Chef Cory cooked us a delicious roast dinner and we felt extremely grown up and sophisticated. It was a lovely evening with friends and a chance to reflect on our time in the UK, how far we’ve come and where we would be going to next. As the red wine started to settle, we played Drunken Future Predictions which we have sealed into a bottle and will open in 10 years time.

Easter Monday: Windsor. We gathered again, this time at a different train station for a day out to Windsor, Queen Lizzie’s other home. I remember vividly that today was 17C, beautiful and sunny, and I was wearing a tshirt.

Message from my mum that day: It’s 17C here in Adelaide! I’m wearing two jumpers and have the heater on! I’m freezing!
My reply: It’s 17C here in Windsor! The sun is shining and I’m wearing a tshirt!

It’s funny how one acclimatises.

We stood in the queue for over an hour (which wasn’t so bad actually because it gave us a chance to soak up some much needed vitamin D). Inside, we marvelled at the gorgeous gardens, took photos in areas we weren’t supposed to, felt poor and made fun of the guards in their funny costumes. Because Windsor is largely a a homage to Lizzie’s wealth which she lets the peasants have a peek at for a few months of the year. Never-the-less, it was very pretty and a glorious day to be outside.

Saturday, 26 April: Anzac Day 
Shamefully, I had never been to an Anzac service before. I never fully understood the significance of the day and was admittedly happier for having a day off than anything else. This year, being away from home and the 100 year centenary of the Anzacs landing at Gallipoli, I was filled with national pride and started digging around my family history.  I learnt many people in my extended family fought or were affected by both the first and second world wars. This put the day far more into context for me and meant that I would be getting up at 2am (yes, getting up) so I could go to the memorial in Hyde Park for the dawn service.

We were told to get there early as the line would become very long, and this proved to be true. Not long after we easily sauntered in and took up position, the line folded back on itself and around the corner and we were thankful for our early morning start.

The service itself was moving (despite the terrible rendition of the New Zealand national anthem) and I was most affected by the 2 minutes silence: how they managed to create two minutes total silence, with a few thousand attendees, in the middle of London (and no traffic noises what-so-ever), was remarkable and a sign of true respect. Not a sneeze, not a shuffle, not a cough, not a mutter.

At the end of the service, my friends and I went to an Aussie bar for breakfast and breakfast drinks. I made it to midday…just. I think. I don't really remember.

Saturday, 21 June: Ascot Races 
I had landed in London just a couple of days after Ascot Races in 2014, and was adamant I was going to attend the British institution this year as it would be my only opportunity. I had spent months looking for a new dress, but ended up settling on something I already owned and the day before purchased the cheapest possible fascinator I could find.

Akin to the Adelaide Cup, the Ascot Races, more than anything else, is an opportunity to get ridiculously inebriated whilst looking as posh as possible and hoping you see a horse at least once during the day. I joined 3 busloads of Britbounders on the day trip up to Ascot and, while the day was pretty dreary and rained considerably, it was still a fantastically fun day.

I don't know how much champagne I imbibed, seeing as my glass was constantly refilled while I wasn't looking, I certainly did not win any money on the bets I placed, and I definitely did see the Queen as she rode past in a horse and carriage at the start of the day, wearing a delicious apricot flavoured outfit.

July update
My home situation has been interesting to say the least - we recently battled bed bugs in two of the three bedrooms. I highly recommend that no one EVER GETS BED BUGS because it is a nightmare to get rid of them. It involves washing absolutely everything you own at over 90C, stripping all of your furniture and bagging it up, fumigating your house and then leaving everything bagged for two weeks while the chemicals kill the little fuckers. Just…try not to get bedbugs. It seems to have worked however, and we are now rid of them. Fingers crossed there's no creepy crawlies in our future!

Apparently, the most common place to pick up the little buggers is the tube. So basically, we're all screwed.

As of the second of July, I started a new job with a not-for-profit called The Elders. I tossed up between this one and one at a finance firm and, while this one pays a bit less, my soul felt happier working for a charity and I had for a while wanted to break into the not-for-profit sector. As of the time of this post, I've been there approximately 6 weeks and while it certainly is challenging, I am largely enjoying myself.

So, there you go! My next few months are incredibly crazy, with a number of theatre productions booked in (I haven't seen anything since February and I'm champing at the bit!), and trips to the Edinburgh Fringe and Oktoberfest organised. Stay tuned for more updates!