Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Penchant For Poirot...

I love a good whodunit. Film, book, TV, play - it doesn't matter, I love them all. Most of the time it's a guessing game trying to work out who the culprit is but sometimes it's evident quite early - whether that's via masterful deduction a good guess on my part or a through the story itself - but the thrill remains in seeing how the criminal will be exposed.

Christie 1890 - 1976

I have long been a fan of Agatha Christie and it was she who sparked my love affair with novels of the criminal kind long before modern crime writers put their graphic, and often gory, pens to paper. Her ingenious storytelling has me lifting layer after layer of delicious and dastardedly detail with every page I turn and her quirky protagonists capture my imagination with their idosyncracies and perversity.

Christie's first murder mystery was The Mysterious Affair at Styles and was published late in 1920 in the US (followed by the UK early in 1921). She went on to write over 200 of the little blighters as well as 6 novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. That's a lot of tap-tap-tapping in my world!

It all started with Parker Pyne Investigates when I was about 11 and I went on to enjoy books, films and plays - like The Mousetrap, which has been running on the West End continuously for 60 years and began life as Three Blind Mice - as Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot were brought to life for me again and again. There's the international - Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun - and the close to home - Murder at the Vicarage, 4.50 from Paddington, Pocket Full of Rye - to name just a few. And having only read/seen 31, I've still got quite a few to go.

Suchet masters Poirot's peccadillos perfectly

This weekend, ITV3 is playing Poirot movies all day every day - I am in heaven. David Suchet is absolutely brilliant as the pernickety Poirot and I've managed to add Sad Cypress and The Hollow to my seen/read list today. Death on the Nile is running now but I've seen it before and know whodunit so it's time to check out tomorrow's TV listings to see what other Christie gems I can add to my cache.

And Mrs McGinty's Dead is looking promising...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Great Southern Land...

So today is Australia Day. The day we down under celebrate the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, some 18 years after its discovery by Captain James Cook laying the claim of British Sovereignty at the threshold of a vast and unknown territory.
So what to blog about today, I thought? Could it be a potted history of our last 224 years? Or perhaps a little wander through the idiosyncracies and peccadillos of my fellow countrymen?

But then I knew - it just had to be the music. And more particularly, the music of my youth. So by clicking on all of the links below, you can take a little tour through the teenage years of a little Aussie sheila. Think BBQs, festivals, concerts, camping and much anthem-like, arms-raised, crowd-singing as you listen.

There was Australian Rock charting its course through hearts and minds with Cold Chisel, Icehouse, Little River BandAustralian Crawl, The AngelsMen At Work and personal fave, Noiseworks.

And let's not forget those upper echelons of Aussie Pop with Kylie, Savage Garden, Kate Ceberano, Bachelor Girl and Jo Camilleri (and his Black Sorrows).

But the song that always sums up that great big land down under for me is a song by little known Gangajang - listen to the words and you'll hear what I mean...

Have a bonza 'Straya' Day, peeps!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Highland Fling...

After travelling for the last couple of weeks for work, on Friday night I was looking forward to a quiet weekend, catching up on a few chores and squeezing in a bit of chilling out. But in actual fact, Saturday became one of those days that kept unraveling and unfolding as the day progressed. 

After a slight over-sleep (meaning no chores pre-departure), a planned catch up with A-down-the-hill prior to a regular appointment at the hairdressers developed into somewhat of a larger day and after an impromptu movie matinee (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows if you must know, and yes it was great!) I found myself at a Ceilidh.

'A what?!' I hear you say.

A Ceilidh.

A Ceilidh, pronounced 'kay-lee', is a traditional Scottish knees up, comprised of kilts, whisky and haggis. But mainly, it is about dancing, informal, fast-and-furious, 'catch your breath between sets' kind of dancing. So it's just as well I had come completely unprepared for a night out - flat boots, jeans, long sleeved t-shirt and not a scrap of make-up - because before long, I was sweaty and 'unkempt', and absolutely loving it!

We arrived with A-down-the-hill's Scottish contingent (McHubster is from north of the border you see), snaffled a table and the boys went off to queue for drinks and a spot of haggis. I had grand intentions getting my vegetarian haggis later in the evening but, well, I got rather busy. You see, the music started and the caller invited everyone to take the floor. After a walk through of the dance - usually comprised of a series of steps set to 16 bars which is then just repeated - we were off. And that's pretty much the way the night went...all night.

The first dance was The Gay Gordons (don't ask!) and then a little into the second dance, I was delighted to find I had just renewed my acquaintance with The Virginia Reel, a dance I learnt in primary school.

Three and half hours flew by. There was The Dashing White Sergeant, Strip The Willow, The Flying Scotsman, The Canadian Barndance, The Eightsome Reel and a few that we didn't catch the name of, made stuff up (because we had no idea what we were doing) and had a laugh anyway. The haggis was piped in (and I do mean bagpiped) half way through the evening and Burns' Address To A Haggis read with due ceremony, much theatre and sense of occasion (for those of you who don't know, Burns' Night falls this Wednesday on January 25th).

It was a fantastic night - young and old alike took the floor and it was a refreshing change to see the guys itching to get onto the dance floor to strut their stuff. There was a sense of joyful abandon in the hall - maybe the flow of whisky helped a little - but this was just a great, old-fashioned knees up and the best thing to do was leap off the deep end and give it a whirl.

If you are interested in finding out more you can click here for upcoming ceilidhs in London and here if you feel you really must swot up on a few of the steps.

But there's really no need...sometimes a little improv. makes the best fun of all!

Friday, 20 January 2012

In-Flight Safety...Time To Man U(p)!

So this week's travels found me in Turkey for the first time. And this little sojourn also yielded my first association with the best airline in Europe, Turkish Airlines.

Normally the airline experience is all much of a much-ness for me. The pre-boarding is usually long-winded and inconvenient - what with the cursory strip and scan required by security - and the comfort once on-board is measured in a matter of millimetres.

And on the face of it, Turkish Airlines, was to be no different.

Until, that is, they screened their in-flight safety video.

You see Turkish Airlines are one of the many sponsors of Manchester United and they've roped in six of their finest to help them promote a little in-flight health and safety...

You may think it a bit ridiculous, those boys from Man U playing silly buggars with safety on-board, but let me tell you, it was the first on-board safety video I've watched in a long time.

And let's face it, a little mile-high giggle can never be a bad thing, right?

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Dating Game...

Source: pinterest
As a single lass whose broken heart has been carefully glued back together over the last year or so, I am starting to notice more and more avenues  available for me to meet my next conquest, the man of my dreams, a fella.

Being quite an open-minded sort, in the past I have ogled the online options, given the introduction agency scene a whirl and speed-dated (the rapid, not drug-induced, kind) with assistance of locks and keys. No, not like that - that would be another type of blog entirely. It's actually quite harmless fun, until you realise you are - at 34 - the oldest in the room by a long way. And that was 8 years ago.

Today I read about a new method for the time-poor and travel-rich. Those clever pragmatists over at KLM have developed Meet and Seat which allows you to choose your on-board neighbours based on LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. They say it is an ideal opportunity for 'networking' but some pundits suggest it will be used more for matchmaking, whether that be between long term relationship seekers or those looking for the more abridged variety. I will use it to avoid crying babies and large, smelly people.

There's been a ground swell of news and opinion about purposeful singledom too. Each week, I read Hannah Betts' 'Things You Only Know If You're Single' column in The Times Magazine (which you will have to pay to read for yourself thanks to bad Uncle Rupert). Last week's was '...that one should forget dating sites in favour of realism.' Nuff said on that score. She also writes stuff for The Telegraph which I fall over intermittently and which you can read online for free.

And just prior to Christmas, Elizabeth Tannen shared her thoughts on the whole scene over at The Huffington Post in Five Excuses For Being Single  By the way, Elizabeth has written a fab post called 'Letting Your Silly Out' on her own blog but I digress...again.

So this led me to think about dating. My approach in the past has been underpinned by the philosophy that if you open your eyes/mind, 'the universe provides'. But I've also read things which suggest we should treat finding a partner in the same way as finding a job. Know your 'audience', targeted selection, tailor your 'CV'. It just doesn't seem to have that joyous and romantic ring to it, does it? Nor does it sound fun.

My theory is that life happens the way it happens and if we remain open along the way, we stand a chance in spite of the pitfalls.

But I'm not quite sure what you would put on this CV.

My last relationship began as a friendship with my next door neighbour and, if I exclude the last couple of months, went on for five and a half very happy years. I've met others through common interests (there were a few of these during my ballroom dancing days), chance encounters at bus stops and all sorts of liaisons in between. There have been the short and sweets, the long and lingerings, the quick fizzers - and then the gaps in between where I get to immerse myself in all the things I love to do without any of the negotiation or compromise.

And there, in that unequivocal indulgence of all the things I love, lies the rub...

Source: pinterest

The defence rests.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Postcard from Valencia...Ole!

Hola peeps! 

This week I have been in Valencia. And this being my first trip, I decided to Armchair Tour you around what I got up to. You should note, however, that this does not mean I did the tourist trail thing - if you are planning a little Spanish sojourn of your own to the region and want to read up more, you should click here.

First things first: Valencia is home to the mighty paella, a rice dish cooked over an open flame in a large pan of the same name. We tend to consider paella as the country's national dish but in Spain, paella is a regional dish from Valencia. Ask a Valencian and they will tell you that there is only one paella - made from white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, duck, chicken), land snails, beans and seasoning, and nothing else. All others are  pretenders: 'seafood' paella is not paella at all, but rather rice with vegetables and seafood.

Traditional paella - apparently all other comers are frauds and should be referred to as 'rice with...' .
Oh and yes, I had some - it was delicious!

So now we've cleared that up, let's move on to activities of the meandering kind.

Evening in Spain begins quite late and most nights, we were starving meeting for dinner at 9pm. On our second night, our Regional Director was keen to show us something of his original hometown so we wandered through Valencia's city centre with a few stops along the way. This is largely how it went:

So much gorgeous architecture in Valencia
The Tower and La Catedral
La Catedral
Gothic architecture at La Catedral
(In case you were wondering, I really liked the Cathedral)
Still walking - quite thirsty work!
So we stopped here for a beer...bottoms up!
Another lovely street scene, but by now we were wondering when we were going to get to eat
Our dinner destination at last - where we ate, drank and be'd merry
Gin is a HUGE deal in Spain with a good bar stocking somewhere between 20-30 different varieties. Knowing my prediliction for the stuff, said Regional Manager introduced me to his friend, The Owner, who gave us a tipple of his 'best'!
Absolutely stuffed with good food and wine, we waddled along more streets in search of a calorie-burning nightcap...
...which we found here as well as a bit of a boogie-on-down.
Walking back to the hotel later on, we passed this monument. I  could not for the life of me find out who it was, despite passing it 4 times throughout the 2 and a half day trip - but it remained an inspiration in spite of its anonymity...
Yes, it's a blurry pic but I was really 'giving it some welly' and the lass behind the lens had been with us all night. Nuff said!
So that was the night before but the armchair tour doesn't stop here. After our meeting was finished, we had some time before our flights back to...well, wherever home was for us all so it was Valencia's sunny skies that beckoned - and a rather unique lunch venue.

The City of Arts and Sciences is a collection of five areas created in the dry river bed of the diverted River Turia. The work began in 1996 under the stewardship of architect and local-lad-made-good, Santiago Calatrava, and is very modern compared with the city tour of the night before. There is the Opera House and Performing Arts Centre, the Prince Felipe Museum of Sciences, L'Hemisferic - containing an IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserium, the gardens and walkway, and L'Oceanografic which is a bit like an open air Sea World.

Sunny Valencian skies over the City of Arts and Sciences
The Opera House - looks a little familiar to me?
The Prince Felipe Museum of Science was designed to emulate the skeleton of a whale.
View standing on traffic island in the middle of the Pont del Grau
View of the Prince Felipe Musem of Sciences, L'Hemisferic and the Opera House (or El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía)
Restaurante Submarino at L'Oceanografic, our venue for lunch
Surrounded by the local wildlife. I'll have one of those and two of those...
Submarino Bar - amazingly cool lighting...looks like anenomes
And after lunch it was a 40 minute stroll back to the hotel along the old river bed for me
Amazing what they can create from a dry old riverbed, isn't it?
So it was with regret that I waved good bye to that glorious, glorious sunshine, returned to the hotel and prepared to catch my plane home. But not before I had discovered that London's main man had found a little inspiration of his own here too...

Valencia's very own Boris bikes!

Did I say at all that I love my job?


Well I do!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A Little Tinkering...

Well peeps it's been a cosy, curled-up-indoors kind of Sunday here at Gidday HQ. I've done chores (well, some), read a little, sorted some pics I took in London yesterday, had a chat with Mum and carried out a little virtual redecorating. Yes, in the spirit of trying out new stuff and beginning a shiny new chapter, I have been tinkering away to give Gidday From The UK a bit of a lift. 

This year is about new horizons for me, whatever they turn out to be, so I wanted a 'eyes up', skyward theme. But I also like the relaxed feel of Gidday - a bit like I've invited you over for a cuppa and a chat - and didn't want to morph into something that just wasn't...well, me. So I've decided to use a picture of my very own street in Fabulous Finchley as the backdrop to all things Gidday.

Taken from the footpath right outside my front door
The last year has also seen me out and about a bit and I'm quite chuffed about this new notoriety. And I wanted to acknowledge the generosity of my fellow adventurers in the blogosphere for saying nice stuff about Gidday and for some especially brave souls, letting me loose on their patch to witter on about stuff.  So I've added a new page, Going Walkabout.

Gidday has played host to some Special Guests this year too. I love the variety it brings to the Gidday journey and so am putting this out there now - if you'd like me to write a guest post for you on...erm...something, I am completely up for it.

Speaking of putting stuff out there, I told you yesterday about another new page, Mind The Gap! designed to capture all that's sublime and ridiculous about charting one's course through the Queen's English in Blighty. Please feel free to contribute your stories - the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned (and thanks to Michelloui for her LOL tale of #expatfail on yesterday's post).

The Book Nook (previously the 50 Book Challenge until I got to 50) will remain at large and in the last few months has featured the scribblings of two of you, Charlie Wade with The Bailout (No. 51) and Jack Scott with Perking The Pansies: Jack and Liam Move To Turkey (No. 57).

No doubt there's more to come and not just from Jack and Charlie. You (well some of you anyway) seem to like my mini-reviews so I'll keep 'em coming for 2012.

As for the rest, we'll see what transpires as the year progresses. I already anticipate much travelling and a fair amount of fossicking in old London Town so some new themes may emerge on this front. In addition, the new Gidday HQ offers many opportunities not available in my previous super-small abode. I can see a few soirees of the outdoor variety taking place on the sizeable patio/in the grassy bit of the garden (which may or may not overshadow any future baking exploits). And let's not forget that Gidday HQ is guest-ready - Mum will be here in just 37 sleeps.

And speaking of Mum, she's is a stickler for manners that one - I may never meet HRH but Mum is comforted by the fact I at least know how to behave well. So thank you for all your reading, laughing, scoffing, following and commenting. Let me assure you every one of your comments is eagerly opened as I make my daily commute to and from work. This is the place where I put little old me on the page - whatever that may be at the time - and being cheered, supported and surprised by your feedback can really transform an often lacklustre commute.

That's it for now so I hope you enjoy Gidday From The UK's new duds. I look forward to more exciting travels through the blogosphere with you and if you are ever actually in London and fancy a face-to-face with an irreverent Aussie sheila, just let me know.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

If Language Be The Food Of Love...


It means I have found it.

The El Dorado, the essence of life, the I Ching, the holy grail...

It's a funny thing isn't it, that when you start exploring a particular topic, the floodgates open and suddenly, you are awash. Where previously you could find or you knew very little, in an instant a whole deluge of opportunities to broaden a particular horizon appear.
Those of you who have been following along for a little while now will know my fascination for the trials and tribulations of the translation kind here in my adopted homeland. The nonsensical expressions of the natives, the faux pas of my own making, the idiosyncracies of place names and the general labour of love that is communicating with the locals.

Source: pinterest
And let me put this in context. I come from a land Down Under where women glow, men chunder and pretty much the only language spoken is English. As do the locals - speak English I mean...although there are about half a million Australians in the UK...but I digress.

And my I Ching? It is quite simply the definitive Anglo-EU Translation Guide. Shared with me (wry smile for free) with my over-the-partition German work colleague.

Some were familiar from my Boden Bonanza back in May 2011.  But there were others that were new - and enlightening. 'You must come for dinner soon' does not constitute an invitation from a Brit (but may from any of the other nationalities in my sphere). 'I only have a few minor comments' is not a well done/pat on the back but is rather likely to precede a complete re-working of...well, everything you were working on.

Needless to say I spent much of my first few years in Blighty hungry and over-worked.

There's been a spike of visits and page views over my last post, where I introduced you to Jack Scott from Perking the Pansies (reciprocal back-scratching at its best, I say). Jack has set up a very useful Expat Glossary on his site to help the immigrant ingenue in fair Anatolia navigate the colourful, lotus-eating-expat populous. Inspired by this charitable act, I have decided to create a glossary of my own, Mind The Gap! to help those fresh-off-the-boat to chart a safe course through the nuances of the indigenous vernacular here in the UK.

As the disclaimer says, Mind The Gap! represents the views and experiences of the author and whoever else she can earbash at the time. All idioms, ideas and idiosyncracies have been pinched without prejudice...and without apology.

In the spirit of community, sharing our experiences to enrich others and supporting our expat brothers-and-sisters-in-arms (aka blah blah blah), if you're prepared to be earbashed and pinched without prejudice, let me know if you've got any personal pearlers to add.

Source: pinterest
You never know. This could mark the beginning of a quiet revolution...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Turkish Delight...

Not a week has passed in this magnificent new year and already Gidday from the UK is bringing you delight from around the globe - Turkish Delight that is.

Jack Scott is a fellow expat - an Englishman in Turkey (Bodrum in fact) - and he's written a book. His blog, Perking the Pansies is his catalogue of daily thoughts on the world of two gay men in foreign land - in turns thought-provoking and funny, always witty and honest. 

And now there's the book...

This is not just a collection of blog posts. Rather Jack weaves the tale of the dichotomous life of an expat with poignancy and humour. The wondering where you belong, what 'life' to build and how to bridge the gap between life BE (Before Expat) and the unfamiliar 'now' remains as relevant to me now as eight years ago when I arrived in the UK and I look forward to finding out what happens next for Jack and Liam.

So without further ado, I am proud to present Gidday's first guest for 2012, Jack Scott.

Gidday from Turkey

Here on Gidday from the UK you’ll read about an Aussie girl’s life in Blighty and beyond, her thirst for reading and her need to scratch those itchy travelling feet. Her writing is eloquent, varied, fun and informative. I’ve always got along with Antipodeans. We share similar cultural roots and laugh at the same things, but our cousins Down Under aren’t afflicted with the same level of debilitating cynicism that stalks many Brits these days. I find this refreshing. To my eternal shame, I’ve never been to Oz. My partner, Liam, has. He loved it and wanted to stay. Forever. He even considered re-training as a hairdresser to gain enough points to emigrate (crimpers were in short supply at the time, apparently). From civil servant to coiffeur would have made a dramatic career change. He thought better of it when he realised it was a gay cliché too far. That was before he met me, of course.

When Gidday writes about London, it’s like a magical trip down memory lane for me. I enjoy our current lives as a wanton Lotus Eaters here in Turkey, but London Town is my home town and it’s where my heart is. I love Turkey but I’m in love with London. This ‘here and there’ tension is one of the recurring themes of my new book, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey. Were we insane to sell up, chuck in the jobs and move lock, stock and barrel to a Muslim country? Well, we’re still here but it’s been a rocky road. When I was recently asked to sum up our time in Turkey, I struggled to paraphrase the complexity of our experiences and emotions: ‘misery and joy, bigotry and enlightenment, betrayal and loyalty, friendship, love, earthquakes, birth, adoption and a senseless murder.’ Life in the Smoke was never this eventful. You couldn’t make it up.

Thank you so much to Gidday for featuring Perking the Pansies on the Book Nook list. I’m in elevated company. If you like what you see, the book is available on paperback and Kindle at and

ps...If you want to see what I thought, pop over to The Book Nook and check out No. 57. Alternatively, if you are looking for a veritable pantheon of praise, I and many others have spread the word on Amazon so you can click here for that.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Your 2012 Five A Day - January

One of the things I like to do to start each year is choose a calender to go on the side of my fridge. It helps me to keep relatively organised, provides a sense of anticipation for upcoming events (like Mum will be here in 46 sleeps) and offers a 'mark' for the new chapter each new year brings, no matter how much I 'bah humbug' about resolutions and the like.

Anyway I had not managed to do this last year and so ventured out on New Year's Day to the local Martin's to find the perfect addition to the Gidday HQ Frigidaire. Something unexpected, a little quirky and potentially irreverent.

I was home ten minutes later, grinning and barely through the door before my new purchase was whipped out of its plastic wrapping.

Ladies and gents, I give you your rebellious Five A Day for 2012...Violent Veg!

So in the spirit of keeping the family up to date with my mental (and I use the word loosely) state about the year ahead, I took a pic of 'January' and uploaded on Facebook...

Caption: Colin knew he was in a rough pub when he noticed the pea on the floor which the even more irreverent, anti-small-green-veg-etarian Lil Chicky, responded:

Now how is she going to get her five a day if she keeps tossing her greens away?

And so the year begins...