Monday, 28 May 2007


We went back to the Victoria & Albert museum today, as an antidote to another nasty London spring day. It's a brilliant place, and I think after today it ties with the British museum as my favourite place in London. There are so many cool little collections of stuff - islamic art, wrought iron, stained glass windows, sculpture, casts of european architecture, medieval carvings, contemporary fashion exhibitions, it's just a cool place. Unfortunately today, on the Monday of spring bank holiday, it was also a very crowded place... And like anywhere else in London when it's crowded you always cop plenty of elbows and shoulders. So we didn't stay there too long - we'll have to visit again another day before we leave. Here's a pic of one of the stained glass cathedral windows. And here's one of Mark on one of the staircases.

We went out in Islington yesterday at one of what's apparently 3 very similar Turkish restaurants all called Gallipolli, to have lunch and some drinks for the birthday of a friend's mate. It was pretty cool, then we went out to this bar afterwards, where I had a coconut Fruli. Fruli's this great beer made with strawberries, which I haven't had since I was in London last time. This bar we were at had a coconut version advertised, so since I love coconut and Fruli, it made sense to give this a try. It was too much of a good thing though - way too sweet and rich somehow. What a shame. There was also a banana version though, which someone else tried and judging by the smell if it that would have been way too much. Think the flavour of lots of those fake banana lollies, not actual banana flavour. All in a beer too mind you. Now I just need to track down some pear cider that I was hooked on last time and my alcohol experience here will be complete...

We also did some cooking the other night, or at least Mark did. He made some absolutely fantastic semi-smoked salmon, with rocket and balsamic salad, with a starter of bread with olive oil and balsamic - so yummo!! To capture Mark cooking for posterity, here's a pic.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Near miss with Madonna

Well, despite a couple of slow walks past the movie set downstairs today, yet again I didn't see Madonna. Annoyingly, Matthew at work went downstairs to get a coffee for a meeting, and saw her buying brownies at a stall in the Friday markets. Here's one of the pics he took on his phone. I work just around the corner behind Madonna. She looked small and old evidently. All the papparazzi around the place were hilarious. Some guy with an enormous camera came up and asked us where "she" was, and Elize (somewhat optimistically) asked him to email his photos to her. Evidentally he couldn't, but only because the photos "go straight to the office"...

On the way home tonight, Mark and I also stopped by Trafalgar Square, where to promote tourism in the "villages" surrounding the city, they had laid turf all over what's normally a concrete surface in Trafalgar Square. It was kind of cool, but a bit underwhelming overall - they'd already started to take it up when we were there, and it was only covering the central bit and already starting to go a bit brown where people had walked the most. I took a pic on my mobile, but don't think I can get it off the mobile and onto the laptop right now, so will have to post it later.


Friday morning. Cup of coffee. Nothing to do.


(I was going to say "What could be better?", but thent I thought if I was having this coffee in Oxford, after a quick fang up some nice B-roads, well, that would be better wouldn't it?!)

The immigration guy at the airport was a bit concerned about me. I showed him my itinerary:

Immigration Guy: Why are you here for so long?
Me: I'm on holiday.
Immigration Guy: Are you going to Europe?
Me: No.
Immigration Guy: What are you going to do for three months?!?
Me: Umm. See London.
Immigration Guy: Are you working? What are you going to do for money?
Me: Ah, my girl is supporting me.

Anyway, you get the picture. He made me realise that, from their point of view, it's probably a poor decision to let into the country. No job. Here for three months. My girlfriend is supporting me becuase I have no money. - I bet they love people like me! haha!

So! Today, I'm not sure what I'm doing. I'm still "bringing myself up to speed". Working out what I'm going to be spending my time on for three months. Difficult choices ahead!

Do I:
a. Take my CISA study materials down to a local library and learn about IT Governance, intrusion detection systems and IT general controls? or do I
b. Fall out of bed at 11am, stroll down to Soho and get a coffee and a bacon and egg roll, wander off to a pub in Marylebone (full of pratts no doubt) and stagger my way home at 2am?

Difficult choices indeed! Maybe I should ask the Immigration Guy.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

"Filth and Wisdom"

Today I saw Madonna... 's trailer. She's directing a short movie called "Filth and Wisdom", and they're shooting a couple of scenes around the corner from my building in this dodgy little chemist shop today and tomorrow, so all day there were crowds of people all around the place with lots of really big cameras. The equipment trailers were in the street outside my building, along with supposedly Madonna's trailer, where she was having lunch at one point with this crowd of people at the end of the street staring down at it. It was kind of funny. What a pain in the butt to be a celebrity and have to put up with that everywhere you go.

Anyway Elize at work and I had a look out the window every so often to see if Madonna was wandering around the street or anything, but funnily enough she wasn't. Evidently her movie-directing outfit is a bright green tracksuit the colour of those Woolies shopping bags, with a matching hat. Stylish stuff hey? The movie she's making is apparently based on her life experiences. I think I'm more likely to watch it to see the street I work in than I am for the movie itself. Who knows, maybe we'll get it out on dvd one day back in Sydney.

Made It

As Ellie said, I made it.

Flight was OK. Didn't get much sleep. Still tired. Movies on the plane were OK. Stanger Than Fiction and The Dead Girl were good. They did make me think - What is it about humans that makes us so interested in tragedies?

The weather yesterday was fantastic. Too hot if you can believe it! Ellie and I got a little burnt while we were having lunch. I remember a South African telling us on our last visit that you know you've been in England for too long when you get sun burnt here.

There's only one thing that's brought me down a little since I arrived - the high pitch of an in-line four screaming up a distant street. Three months without a bike! I'll have to console myself with a trip to the WSBK at Brands Hatch in August. Can't wait!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Mark got here!

Mark made it here this morning, with 3 hrs of sleep on the plane, and a whole stack of dodgy movies that he'd watched along the way. He's busy screwing up his body clock right now (7pm), passed out in my wall-bed. In a minute I'll wake him up and drag him out to one of the restaurants I can hear buzzing downstairs. Sorry dearest, I'm not letting you sleep through your first night of all those great restaurants that I've been hanging out for over the past week, not even if I have to prop your eyes open at the table to keep you awake :) Let's go!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Mark's on his way!

Yay! Next time I talk to Mark it will be when I see him at Heathrow - how exciting! Babe, hope you have a safe comfy flight, and make sure you watch Happy Feet, and don't watch Borat so we can watch it together later. And get an aisle seat. And drink plenty of water. And take your shoes off while you're on the plane. And try to keep the plane on time for me... ;) Oh, and it looks like you might have a couple of days of sunshine when you get here, lucky thing. Love you xox

pics of apartments

Here we go - I did remember the power cord when I left work, and I do have a cord to connect the camera now too. So, here are a couple of my dodgy Hackney apartment. My living room, complete with suitcase-and-cardboard-box furniture covered with my spare bed linen.

And this is the panoramic view from the window.

Now, just for comparison, here's my living room in my nice new place (which is here, btw).

And here's the front view of my place from the other side of the street. It's on the 1st floor, with the grassy flax plants in the window boxes.

Hot water... aaahhhhh....

Everything's coming up roses now - not only do I have a great new apartment, but I have hot water too! After 3 days of being unwashed, the plumber eventually arrived this morning (an hr and a half late), fiddled with the boiler thingy in the kitchen, and miraculously made the hot water work. His advice to me was that the boiler was stuffed, so don't touch the switch again or I might break the dodgy connection and lose my hot water all over again. So I'm not going anywhere near it. And now I'm clean - aaahhh.

I still don't have pics to put up - after diligently bringing the camera to work so that I can upload the pics from it here where I have a power cord for my laptop so it doesn't cark (sp??) it half way through, I managed to forget the cord that connects the camera to the laptop. I was just so happy to have hot water that everything else paled into insignificance. :) I'll give it another go tonight though, and when I go home I WILL remember to find a spare power cord and take it home. I'll write myself a note right now.

I found out today that the Chelsea Flower show, which I thought I might as well check out since I was here at the right time and which starts today or tomorrow and goes until Saturday, has completely sold out of tickets. Having not even gotten far enough to realise I needed to buy a ticket beforehand, I'm a bit disappointed, but not to worry - it would have been a weekend thing anyway and I can't see Mark being too keen to spend his first Saturday here looking at a bunch of flowers! Sorry dearest :)

Now it's time to get out of this office and go find some food. 1 more sleep till Mark leaves (or sort of half a sleep actually), and 2 more until he's here! Woohoo! And fore-sightedly I have notified the guys at work that I may be late in on Wed because I'm going to pick him up from the airport - with any luck we'll have time for a nice cafe brekkie after we get to the aptmt (now that I'm in an area where we might be able to find a nice cafe brekkie!).

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Oxford St

Woohoo - I've been saved from Hackney and am now at the other end of the ladder - living right smack bang in the middle of London, just off Oxford St, which is the major shopping area in the city. I'm in a tiny but great apartment in James St, right near Bond St tube station, upstairs from a heaps of great looking restaurants and cafes. Safe at last! ;) Now if only my apartment had hot water... but hopefully that will be sorted out soon, cos I don't want to go towork tomorrow without having had a shower since Friday!

I'm typing this on my laptop in the apartment, since I now have internet connection as well. Unfortunately I forgot to bring a power cord from work, and my laptop has a pathetically tiny battery life, so this is going to be another short post. I think it's going to die any second, so pics from the old and new apartments will have to wait until I'm plugged in tomorrow.

Only 3 sleeps until Mark's here!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Well, I managed to get here somehow, despite coming down with a cold on the flight and spending the next few days passed out in my hotel room until I had a home. The hotel room was on the 3rd floor I might add, which was a pain in the bottom when there was no lift and I could barely get out of bed let alone climb 3 flights of steep London stairs.

But I got over it and am now living in the centre of seediness in London - Hackney! It's not really that bad, but I was a bit disturbed by a sign in the foyer posting discussion at a resident's meeting last year of all the prostitution, pimp and drug activities around the area (and right underneath my bedroom window! luckily I am on the 4th floor...). So after putting up with the yelling and screaming downstairs over the weekend, I'm now in the process of moving apartments, after the guys at my company were appalled at how it had turned out. So at least that's something, and with any luck I'll end up not too far away from Angel (that's the Angel Islington if you're playing monopoly).

I've settled in at work. It's not the most scintillating work I've ever done, but I was explicit that I didn't want to get involved in any of the political crap that goes on in this place, so I'm quite content, and they're paying me well for it too.

The only thing left is to get Mark over here quick smart. It's 7 sleeps to go now until he's here at 6am next Wed morning - woohoo! :)

No photos to post yet as I haven't taken any. Maybe I'll take some of my apartment just to commemorate the dodginess of it. And also my brilliant makeshift furniture which I made out of cardboard boxes and my suitcase... I'm actually really happy with it, it's a good addition to my otherwise bare apartment.

The only other thing to complain about is that it's pretty much rained non-stop since I got here, and they keep telling me that it was hot and sunny for 3 weeks up until I arrived. :P This is meant to be summer!! There, now I've completed my transformation back into a whinging Pom.

That's all for now, more soon!

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Cockatoo Island

Since it was such a stunning day today, and we'll be out of Sydney soon, today we did our ferry trip to Cockatoo Island. I read about it ages ago and thought it sounded interesting, and we've meant to do it many times since then but never quite got there, so it was good to check it out finally today.

After grappling with the ferry ticketing/scheduling system (you can tell we're real Sydney-siders now cos we're bitching about the public transport all the time...), we eventually got out there, to discover that it was basically an empty old manufacturing island - not really what we were expecting somehow. In a way, it reminded us of Junee/Albury, I think just because it's so rare to be anywhere empty and a bit run down in the centre of Sydney! Here's Mark standing within the blue lines on the other side of the island on these railway lines that they used to use to move the ship-lifting cranes along the dry docks.

The top bit of the island had all these old sandstone buildings that were originally convict buildings. There were all of these bizarre installation artworks in the different rooms - we didn't know there was an exhibition on, so we were a bit confused by the first one we saw, which was a big stone closet in the middle of this roofless old sandstone room, with a mirror just visible through the slightly ajar doors of the closet. I was baffled until we saw a skeleton climbing into some boxes in the next room, when I assumed was way out enough that it could only be an artwork... Here's me near the closet room - you can just see it inside the room behind me.

Then we went back over to darling harbour and had some drinks before we went home a bit tipsy (I was anyway...). What a great day!


We went to see the New Romantics ballet performance by the Australian Ballet at the opera house the other night, and I thought it was brilliant. I hadn't thought too much about it before, but I think that's the kind of dance that I like the most - contemporary, but beautiful and harmonious, rather than some of the "cutting-edge" harsh, ugly stuff that's out there.

The third ballet in particular of the three was stunning - After The Rain by Christopher Wheeldon, with Kirsty Martin. The second part of it was a pas de deux to this amazing violin and piano music called Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part, and it was so delicate and moving, it made me cry. I'll have to see if I can track down a recording of the music at some stage. There's a pic above from the AB site of a part of it.

The whole night was great, we had a fantastic night, despite being thwarted again in trying to get into the city via public transport. After the bus being late, we waited until it came and then tried to flag it down but the stupid bus driver went right past us, then we decided to get a cab and while we were walking up the street the next bus went past us!! So we just had some dinner and cabbed it in eventually - you've just gotta laugh at that stuff sometimes... Here's a couple of our pics from the night:

Here's me outside before the ballet started:

And Mark "enjoying" his coffee in the 1st interval...

And here's both of us mucking round in the 2nd interval:

New blog...

This is a new blog so that Mark and I can post what we're getting up to, in Sydney and in our upcoming trip to London.

London's yet to be fully sorted out, although it's looking like I'll be heading off in the next week or so possibly, and Mark a few weeks after that. It should be exciting - it would be better to go over together but this way will be OK, so Mark can sort out his motorbike before he goes and get his parents set up for our place.