Saturday, 31 July 2010

1 Sleep To Go...10 Things About Me...

There's just one sleep to go.  One day left to complete my 41st year on the planet.  What better way to round off the year than with a few more things that make me tick:
7.  It's ALL about The Hair...the way I feel about my hair underpins how I feel about life at any given moment.

8.  When I say 'yes, you can have a bit', I only mean a LITTLE bit. 
Don't take liberties!

9. I am Half-Dutch - cute though the outfit may be, underneath there is some serious attitude - don't mess with it or you'll get 'the look'! (See 8.)
10.  Life's A Beach...gritty bits 'n' all, there's no better place to be.

So the 10 Things You Love/Hate/Need To Know About Me are:
  1. I like my laundry line-dried...just because
  2. I like teddy bears...they are better behaved than children
  3. I like food..admiring it, eating it, cooking it
  4. I like to let me
  5. I like birthdays...a lot
  6. I like being a sister...the older one
  7. I like my hair...fabulous
  8. I like sharing...a little bit
  9. I like my mixed heritage...shaken AND stirred
  10. I like the beach...anytime
Yes peeps, this post really is all about me - here endeth the lesson...

ps...if you missed Parts One and Two, click on the underlined bit and you can read them for yourself.  Or you can read them again if you liked the photos and are a bit of a nostalgic git like me.

Friday, 30 July 2010

2 Sleeps To Go...A Very Lucky Girl...

I've begun my birthday treat-to-self 4-day-weekend today. I went down the road for breakfast at A's early-ish (before she and her Mum jetted of to Rome) and have been doing a few odd admin chores, watching Loose Women and generally pottering about with the aim of getting 'stuff' done so that I can indulge myself whole-heartedly in the next 3 days.  

So I sat down to do another favourite thing of mine (blogging ah yes, how do I love thee! counting the ways shall burst forth another time...) and I felt like a bit of an empty vessel, having no idea what to write.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I looked up from my keyboard and out of the window - and there was a woman standing there with these...

...and I smiled and cried all at the same time. 

It made me think of all the cards and birthday wishes (including the glittery Happy Birthday sprinkles that threatened to fall out of one envelope) and the pretty-to-look-at and completely scrumptious birthday cake that accompanied yesterday's singing in the office.

It's not my birthday yet (only two sleeps to go...where did the time go?) and already I feel a very lucky girl.

Thanks Mum (and Alan)...the flowers arrived just when I needed them.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

7 Sleeps To Go...Delusions of Grandeur

Oil on canvasImage via Wikipedia
I was flicking through a free magazine - one of those you get inside one of the daily newspapers over here - on my bus ride home on Friday night when an article called Star Syndrome caught my eye.  

The line under the heading read:

'Big rewards for minimum effort and the endless self-obsession encouraged by Facebook have left the younger generation at the mercy of their own egos'.

Hmmm I thought.  I quite like fills the long bus trip home (besides reading blogs of course) and the games are cute/ curiosity piqued, I read on.

'it is ironic that young people are suffering from delusions of grandeur when graduates are finding it almost impossible to get jobs.'

So Facebook has become the harbinger of doom and the cause of rising unemployment amongst those poor, poor youngsters? Is this for real, I thought...but apparently this 'syndrome' has a name - Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or NPD for those that love an acronym).  And the next quote I read was the kicker:

'Will the new generation of NPD children eventually fall on their faces or will the world simply continue to keep the truth from them?'

So I say this... quaking a little at the response I might get and cloaked in that self-doubt unique to those of us who have children in our lives by association rather than as parents...I think they might have a point!

I think you will probably agree with me that you can't 'teach' resilience and it's only through life's lessons that any of us develop our own coping mechanisms and inner 'toughness'. 

So then how on earth do parents, or society at large for that matter, prepare children for the hardest lesson of all?  Life doesn't always feel good - and it's how we bounce back and deal with life's 'stuff' that's important rather than railing against the world's unfairness in not recognising what we are truly entitled to.

What do you think?  Just how much self-esteem is too much?
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ps...there are only 7 sleeps to go 'til the Big Birthday Plus 1. I'm sure that must entitle me to something...after all, one of the 'signs' of the Narcissism is having one's own blog...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

8 Sleeps To Go...I Want A Pony...

My lil' sister (fondly known as Chicky) has had a tough week and it's one of the times that living over here feels especially far away.  So in an effort to make her smile and to honour our special 'Big-Chicky-to-Lil-Chicky' relationship, this post captures some more of those defining moments from my childhood but in an 'advice from a big sister' kind of way:

I know you're not sure what the cake with the little crib on it is all about...but smile anyway!

I know it's your first birthday...but it's good to share! 

This Marching Girls caper is pretty easy...but you are supposed to be looking straight ahead, not chatting! elbow in the cake...don't worry, it won't be the first time...

I know it's a birthday but should you be having THIS much fun in a matching dress?

And the most important piece of advice of all...

Sisters always look out for each other...

BTW, the Chicky-and-Husband parcel arrived last night and quite apart from the anticipation of opening my present on the 1st (strict family rule not to open one's present until the birthday day itself), the card (family rule does not apply), as quite possibly the most appropriate card ever given to me, simply demonstrates how well she knows me...

8 sleeps to go people, 8 sleeps...can't wait to ride my pony!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

12 Sleeps To Go...Another Blogger, ex-'Girt By Sea' ...

I was getting my weekly 'Australian Times' e-letter fix on the bus on the way home tonight when I stumbled across a blog by a fellow expat that made me laugh out loud at her take on the ACRONYMS of the English education system. 

(Not that I am particularly well-versed in these but everyone knows that OFSTED is just another word for 'wielding a hefty ruler about and threatening to rap naughty schools across the knuckles if they doesn't behave as they ought to!')

What made me laugh the most was when she said: 

'If you’re thinking ‘WTF’, you’re not alone. Acronyms are the bane of my existence, and it doesn’t help that nobody has ever communicated (oh, the irony!) what most of these letters stand for'. 

Classic!!  I'm not even a teacher and this rang absolutely true.  Maybe it's a test? 

Oh and if you haven't quite worked out 'WTF', you clearly need to use a little expletive imagination.  Come to think of it, maybe that's an even better test for potential immigrants to the UK - 'WTF-ness' happens a lot when you first get here.  And let's face it, there are times when, if you don't WTF and laugh, you'd have a bloody good cry!  So pack loads of it if you're coming over...

Anyway, inspired by this, I read all 12 posts since her UK teaching career began (12 weeks ago).  You may think it sad to read about someone I don't know but it's a long ride home and I'll do anything to while it away particularly if it involves using my new sexy phone...

If you want to check out another Aussie expat's ramblings, click here and you'll be there in a jiffy...

And if you haven't checked out my interview on Seen The Elephant yet, shame on you.  Click here at once!

Yes peeps, it's still all about me...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

14 Sleeps To Go...Is Home Really Where The Heart Is?

My sister has been travelling for work in the last week and she's been posting some amazing pics of her drive through North Queensland (Australia) on Facebook.  The winding roads along the coast from Cairns and inland through the range, hugging the mountain sides and meandering past quiet beaches, brought back memories for both of us not only of the time we lived there as kids but also of the many visits back post our parents' separation.  And it made me ask myself, how many places can have a hold over one's heart? 

This week, I've been interviewed for a blog called Seen The Elephant.  The author is an American woman I met through J, who has lived in both the UK and Japan before returning to the States where she now lives in New York.  Her fascination is with people like herself, who move away from their 'home' country and choose an expat life...away from family and all of those indelibly established traditions, friendships, habits and opinions that we combine to create our 'life'.

For those who've never felt that longing to emigrate, it probably appears that we 'throw it away' to embark on some new adventure with little obvious reason to do so...and becoming an expat definitely creates both physical and emotional (at least for a time) distance as both sides deal with the rising crescendo of unanswered questions like 'Why did you leave?' 'Why don't you want to stay close to your family and friends?' and '(When) Are you coming home?'

How do you explain that you have found 'home', a place to belong somewhere else?  The place that fulfills you like no other, in spite of all the pieces of your heart held captive by other times and places?  Where, for some unknown reason, you 'fit'?

When I left Melbourne six and a half years ago, I could never have imagined the journey ahead. Maybe what drove me was that yearning to belong, to find my true self unencumbered by the expectations and pressures of the life I'd established for myself.  

And from things I read and people I speak to, the permutations and combinations of reasons are as endless and varied and ever-changing for all of us. For some, the search is a lifelong one.  And when we do find 'it', it seems less to do with one particular thing but rather a melting pot of environment, circumstance and new choices that, if taken on their own, would never be enough.

But truth be told, there probably is no 'answer' for me or anyone else...just that eternal rollercoaster of peace and restlessness and peace again as we alternately push against our boundaries and bask in moments of rare contentment.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

15 Sleeps To Go...It's all About Me...

In a burst of nostalgia this morning, I have been trawling through some old photos (some pre-digital and painstakingly scanned to capture their posterity forever)...and found some rather cracking pics that I didn't know about.  (How do mothers do that?  Do they sneak around with camera in hand ready to catch every moment?....I can hear mother's reading this everywhere shouting a resounding "YES!" right now)

Given the looming of The Big Birthday - Plus 1 in 15 sleeps (yes, only 15 peeps!), I thought I'd share some of the most defining of these pictorial moments with you.  Yes these pictures of my formative years go a long way towards explaining the following:

1. My fixation with line-dried washing (it just smells and feels so good!)...

2.  My passion for bears (Mum has A LOT to answer for here!)...

3. My obsession with food...

4.  My need to help (for those that don't know, this is me helping Opa roll the gravel driveway...and is one of my fave pics of the two of us)...

and 5. My love of birthdays!

Oh and did I mention there were only 15 sleeps until my birthday...that's more cake and candles for me...Wheeee!

ps...speaking of birthdays, my itinerant old man (his words, not mine!) and erstwhile wifely companion, Bev, win this year's Birthday Derby with their card arriving last Wednesday 14th July...that's pretty impressive planning guys...

Sunday, 11 July 2010

21 Sleeps To Go...Better Latte Than Never...

A couple of posts ago, I was bemoaning Australia's lack of sporting lustre on the world sporting stage but I am delighted to report that there has been a redemption, a pushing forth into the limelight as Australia took the prize... as the best coffee-making nation at the World Barista Championships in London this year.

Yes, Aussies are top of the heap when it comes to making coffee!  And not just the instant or espresso kind either...we are world-renowned in Latte Art (and if you don't know what Latte Art is, I've included some pics for you).  I am not sure this qualifies as a sport as such and I almost daren't utter these blasphemous words BUT (sotto voce) this strikes me as the occupation of people with too much time on their hands...

But it's pretty/facsinating/amusing to admire and I am sure it provides latte-wielding baristas with a cathartic outlet for their passion and a little buzz when their erstwhile latte-lovers exclaim with delight over their foaming flights of fancy. 
There are also several How To videos floating about the net so if you are feeling inspired to indulge in a little latte frenzy of your own,  there's plenty out there to help you on your way...

So quite frankly, I don't want to hear another word about you having nothing to do.  I'll have a double shot mocha soy latte with a pretty picture on top...and make it snappy!
ps...21 sleeps people, 21 sleeps...don't let time get away from you...

Saturday, 10 July 2010

22 Sleeps To Go...Objects of My Desire...

Let's all take a little respite from World Cup mania for a moment and chat about a couple of very exciting occurrences in the GiddayfromtheUK house today:

Firstly, I have FINALLY upgraded my mobile phone (after my G1 was stolen in March and the contract ran out in May etc).  

Eeeeeeeeeeee!!! (that was a squeal of delight escaping) 

Sitting beside my blogging-elbow is a sleek and sexy HTC Desire - aptly named as it has just become the object of my Desire...I may be in love....sigh!!!  Is it wrong to want to sit and play with it to the exclusion of the glorious day outside?

And that brings us to a nice segue to exciting occurrence number two - the glorious day outside.  It's hot peeps, gorgeously and gloriously, sunshine-y, top-down and heat-on-my-face hot...enough for me to have finally taken the fan I bought 2 years ago out of its box last night and assembled it (tapping into my IKEA skills from way back only sans allan key).  I am now enjoying its soft background whirr after much pondering about whether it would actually work...

...which segues beautifully into a long-awaited News From The Patch announcement (speaking of wondering about things)... the strawberries are coming!  Yes, a couple of tender green berries have appeared amongst the greenery - we are checking on them daily like a couple of proud parents, largely to try to avoid a repeat of last year's berry-napping incident, but also because we are saddos and can't help ourselves!

And although not part of The Patch as such, the other exciting news is that the mini-jet rose bush that J gave me 4 years ago (on our first Valentine's Day together), after blooming marvellously in Year 1 and then stubbornly refusing to be bloomin' anything since, has graced us with two luscious, velvety-red blooms.  Could this be a sign, I wonder...persistence, patience and a bit of tough love overcoming the odds to glory in the end?

We could do with a bit of that here!

There are now only 22 sleeps to go people - that's 21 days if you are here in the UK or in Australia - to what I have come to call with considerable affection, 'The Big Birthday - Plus 1'.  I have already arranged my first birthday present to myself too - taking a four day weekend!  I love weekend birthdays...

Sunday, 4 July 2010

28 Sleeps To Go...Allegiances

I just watched Rafael Nadal pretty much demolish Tomas Berdych to win the Wimbledon Mens Final and Spain is through to the next round of the World Cup...tha last time I thought Spain was this prolific in the sporting world was when Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez were on the tennis circuit...

Coming from a nation who has some history of sporting success I am now wondering what happened with Leyton Hewitt (I am sure he was still doing ok?), Australian cricket (the world's most boring game though it may be) and Harry Kewell (red-carded in the Ghana game...what the #@!!?!).  Are we regrouping in preparation for London 2012 or just a little tired of the sporting limelight? 

It's a convoluted web determining loyalties when your automatic allegiances are not an I am now torn between Germany (money on them in the sweep at work) and Holland (heritage thing you know) to reign supreme at the World Cup. 

Other than that, it another sunny Sunday afternoon here on Kingston Hill.  A bit breezier than others of late but still managing to dapple my front path with light and dark and light again.  What's not to love about that?

There are only 28 sleeps to get yourself a pen and mark that first day of August on your calendars, in your diaries and tap-tap-tap it into your phones and computers.  I wouldn't want you to miss it...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Life in London... Through the Lens

During the visit of Mum & her partner, we managed to get around all sorts of parts of London and I found myself getting a little snap-happy before forgetting that I do live here and do not have to capture every moment tourist-style...and I got all sorts of fab shots but there are some particular faves I want to share (or rather show-off about)...check these out!

I loved the lonely Narnia-style streetlamp in Lewes...

...this snippet of English quaintness in Fleet Street from the top deck of the hop-on-hop-off bus...

...the wicked reflection of this building down a side street opposite The Old Shades in the previous shot (so stoked the pic turned out!)...

...crossing Tower Bridge...things are looking up...

...the Elephant at the Tower (of London)...

...the slightly faded show of English support (not unlike their World Cup performance actually?!)...

...another taste of Narnia finding Aslan in repose at Trafalgar Square... well as the message in a bottle on the 4th plinth...

...and finally the long & winding road/path through Richmond Park.

How could I possibly live anywhere else when surrounded by such inspiration?

And speaking of inspiration, it has come to that special time of year where I must remind you that there are only 28 shopping days before my first birthday since that 'big one' last year.  That's 28 days to be inspired by some interesting, thoughtful and completely unnecessary gift..what a gift it is indeed for you to have a partner/daughter/sister/ friend/et al so helpful in jogging your memory about such important occasions...

Only 29 sleeps to go...