The Everyday Rhythm

Home Office Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Week 2 of my return to England is imminent, and so I thought a little catch up might be on the cards to let you know how I’m settling in. It’s been an up and down sort of a week to be honest, but let’s start with the positives because that makes us all feel better, no?

UP:

  • Actually making it through Customs at Heathrow. Despite the fact I am doing absolutely nothing illegal, somehow the powerful stares of the Border Agency staff make me regret every decision I have ever made, particularly in the lead up to the moment when I’m asked to plonk my passport on their tiny desks. I made it through, as you may have guessed, and it was a GREAT MOMENT.
  • Home. Bed. Cats.
  • Wandering around Rochester and feeling both the foreigner and the local. An odd yet pleasing sensation.
  • Picking up long awaited packages from the Post Office. Hello engagement present vouchers and Liz Earle Skincare. Nice to meet you.
  • Having time to make dinner in the evening. I love to cook, so this is fun for me!
  • Catching up with dear friends and feeling as if nothing has changed. Em, I adore you.
  • Snuggling with Mr Hello in the morning for five more minutes before walking him into work.
  • Getting excited for phase 2 of Operation Finish The House Before the Wedding. The phase where we freak out, that is.
  • Exciting meetings with exciting people about future potentially exciting jobs. I may very well soon be an employed teacher! EXCITING.
  • Catching up with Mr Hello’s folks. They are totally delightful and indulged my loves of their son, eating lots of delicious food, and looking at old photos. A Sunday well spent.
  • Sitting in our study (above) and watching people walk past our house as I type.

DOWN:

  • Turns out it’s not that much fun not having a job. On the one hand, there is more time for Parks and Recreation viewing, but on the other there is more time for getting the guilts about being a burden on society, and more to the point a burden on Mr H. Plus it’s a bit boring.
  • No Polish passport as yet, which means no working until it arrives. A couple more weeks, but then hopefully I will have that burgundy booklet it my hot little hand!
  • Missing my family. Goddamn it, why do I have to feel the feelings?
  • Extreme hair has arrived. Something in the British water takes a while for me to adjust to, and in the meantime my hair freaks out in an unmanageable way, making me feel more self conscious than I already was. Thanks Life!
  • To top it off, I am having a particularly bad skin phase, hence the timely arrival of the Liz Earle goodies.
  • I have a wedding to co-plan in six months. How, where and why did that happen? Last time I checked, it was over a year away. God preserve me.
  • It’s effing cold here and I am a delicate flower who has become accustomed to a certain level of UV radiation every day.
  • This may well be the most boring thing in the world to approximately everyone, but last night I had a dream that Hannibal Lector (yep, that one) was showing me his latest victim, and opened up a hole in the ground to reveal a naked and screaming Jodie Foster within. I was subsequently stabbed. Got a bit freaked out by that one, I must admit, and it was only worsened by the fact that when I checked the time it was only……11:57 pm. Not even midnight, shamefully. I then had to calm myself down by reading blogs and looking at silly gifs on Tumblr until 2am. Whoops.

Hope all is well in your lives. Seeing as I am currently a member of the unemployed, I suspect I will be dropping in to HSGS Headquarters on a semi regular basis. Here’s to seeing a bit more of you!

9 Superficial Things I’ll Miss About Australia (No, it’s Not the Weather!)

Perth Weather Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
But the weather ain’t half bad, just sayin’

It’s a truth universally acknowledged by a certain resident of Kansas that there’s no place like home. There are just some certain comforts that make you feel safe and secure, and while many of these are now available thanks to globalisation, there are a few silly things about Australia that I know I wistfully think of when back in Ol’ Blighty. Let’s get listing, shall we?

  • The Size of Avocados – Being a part of the avocado lovin’ family that I am, this is *quite* a significant thing. Avocados in  Australia are deliciously bloody huge, creamy and ripe. On several occasions in the past I have had the misfortune to buy several avocados in England that have proceeded immediately from rock hard to completely rotten, totally bypassing any edible stage. This is important, you guys.
  • Availability of Great Coffee – Look. It’s a lot better in Kent on the coffee side of things now, then it was in 2010 when I first came here. There are still many crappy tearooms selling crappy dishwater style coffee, but you can actually get a flat white here now, Lord be praised. But it’s just not quite as easy as popping down the road to Mooba, Lawley’s or Milkd, like I could in Perth. Heaven is a coffee flavoured place on earth. That’s a song, right?
  • Grill’d & Jus Burger: 
Grill'd Burger
Click for Source – Chi (in Oz)’s Photo Stream

 

Don’t know if there is much more I can say. Burgers. Delicious delicious burgers. Chunky chips. Before you say it, no, I         don’t live in London and no, Byron Burger is just not the same. Suitable replacement suggestions very welcome indeed.

  • Cheap Public Transport – The People of Perth might disagree with me, but public transport is sooooo much cheaper there than in England. In the Motherland there is no such thing as a grace period, meaning you need a new ticket  every time you jump on the bus. For a non-car-owning citizen such as myself, this becomes rather problematic. Terribly interesting too, don’t you agree?
  • David Jones Foodhall – I’m not saying that there is no equivalent in England. There is. It’s a tiny little shop known to the locals as Marks & Spencer, the greatest English shop of them all. But M&S is missing one crucial thing in my book, which gives my beloved DJ’s the advantage. That crucial element is the World’s Greatest Sushi Bar. I don’t know what it is about David Jones Sushi, but it’s bloody delicious and quite cheap really. It shall be missed.
  • Frosty Fruit Icy Poles – Also known as quite a depressing icy pole if you’re a normal person, but the WORLD’S GREATEST SWEET TREAT when you’re trying to watch what you’re eating and are desperate for some kind of cold sweet treat on a hot Australian Summer’s day. It’s the little things you miss, you know?
  • Tax Returns – Stay with me here guys. We don’t have to do these in England, but in Australia if you earn over X amount (I’ve forgotten how much because it’s been too long since I had a proper job :-/) you need to do a tax return, and if you’re lucky, it ends up that the Government owes you money and you get a nice little deposit into your bank account. A form of enforced savings, if you will. Luckily I’ve never had to repay any tax, although I know people who have, and that’s not fun in the slightest. But when I was saving for my travels, I worked three jobs and paid a lot of tax, and ended up with a $4,000 refund waiting for me come tax time. Thanks very much!
  • No Electric Showers – Just typing out ‘electric shower’ makes me go a bit funny. Water pressure in Kent is technically known as ‘a bit shit’ and so if your bathroom is on the first floor or above you need an electric pump to get your shower on in the morning. In Australia I had the full force of outback water blasting me in the face every day, and by golly I’ll miss it. My English shower feels like a combination of being spat and weed on at the moment, and let me tell you, it’s not as fun as it sounds. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. I’d also like to point out that in England you’re not allowed so much as a powerpoint in the bathroom (you are in Australia!) but you can have an electric shower? MADNESS.
  • Knowing How to Do ‘Life’ Stuff – Now this isn’t quite as superficial as the rest, but it’s something I’ll certainly miss. When you’re a local or a native citizen to a country, you end up just somehow knowing how life works, as if you’d picked it up by osmosis throughout your life. When you’re an immigrant, you forfeit that knowledge and so it just takes you that little bit longer to work stuff out. How to get a driving license, why you need a TV license, who pays council tax, what the hell council tax even is, who can vote and where. Having lived here for a few years, I’m much better than I used to be, but there are still times where I feel like a stranger, and I make the odd misstep. But I guess that’s life!

I returned to Rochester at about 9pm on Tuesday night, and it was incredibly surreal. I haven’t yet quite consolidated the fact that I’m back in my own house, with my own cats and my own fiancé. I haven’t yet begun to miss Australia too much, although I’m prepared for that to hit me when I am least prepared, as I’m sure those of you who have travelled will recognise.

This Week I Was Grateful For #2

Poolside with Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Being able to sit back in a deckchair at my aunt’s house, having had a swim, whipping out my book (The World According to Garp by John Irving if you’re interested) and think ‘well life ain’t so bad after all’.

Three days to go everyone. Three days until I get on a plane with my life, and make my way back to my new home. It ain’t so bad at all.

Colette Patterns: Wardrobe Architect

I’m currently planning for 2015 to be the year that I get back into sewing in a major way. Colette Patterns have recently restarted their Wardrobe Architect Series, where they present worksheets and discussions on finding your personal style and curating the wardrobe you feel most like yourself in. I have a feeling this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

My relationship with my clothes can be generously described as love/hate. I love looking stylish, because it makes me feel great, but I hate that a bad outfit day can also send me off into a terrible mood. Most of my current clothes are from a couple of years ago when I was a little bit lighter, so don’t currently fit as well as I’d like, some are old faithfuls and some are ridiculous impulse purchases which look bloody horrible on. I’d like to have a wardrobe full of things I can just throw on, and not only look good but feel like myself in. There’s nothing worse than being out in the shops and catching a reflection that inspires a “what the hell was I thinking?” moment.

I’ve pulled together some photos of the outfits over the last few years that I felt amazing in. I’m going to use these to guide me through the Wardrobe Architect series, and hopefully by the end, I’ll have a better idea of what I want to create with some new clothes, but also what I’ve liked on my body before!

1. The Orpington Charity Shop Dress

 

Orpington Charity Shop Dress Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I adored this dress but I made a bit of a botch job on it. I bought it shortly after discovering the WONDER that is Orpington/Petts Wood Charity shops, shortly after moving to the UK. I realised that shopping in the more salubrious areas, shall we say, meant that there were often amazing bargains to be had. This dress had an exposed back with criss-crossing straps, and was about 20cm longer and two sizes bigger when I bought it. I painstakingly took it up by hand before I had my sewing machine and wore the dress to death.

2. The Bletchley Park Floral Extravaganza

Bletchley Park 40's Day Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Let’s be honest, this outfit rocks because of my hair. It was a bit windswept by this point but I wore this to the 40’s themed day at the former Codebreaking home of the UK. If you have seen The Imitation Game with Bucket Crunderdunder in it, this is where it’s set. This was about four years ago now, and I ended up wearing that dress to death. I always felt pretty and ladylike in it, and the shape was a little va-va-voom too, the sassiness of which can never be underestimated. That cashmere cardigan was another cheap and cheerful charity shop buy, which I ended up wearing until two not-very-chic holes appeared at my elbows. Definitely a possible make.

3. The Starry Tunic

Vero Moda Stars Dress Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I also wore this dress until if fell apart (a theme perhaps?). I love navy blue and I really like this shape on me. Now that I’m more comfortable wearing leggings I think a few more tunics could be the order of the day. Simple, lazy chic. That’s what we like, right? Also: hair looks fabulously shiny. I always feel better about my style when my hair is clean and shiny.

4. The Weekend Getaway Jacket

Petworth Jacket Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I love this photo of me, and it’s very evocative of a period in my life just before virtually everything changed. Plus I bloody loved that jacket, which, you guessed it, I wore until it got holes in it and fell apart. This outfit was pretty much a Sam uniform for me – long sleeved T-shirt, jeans and a 3/4 sleeve lightweight jacket. I like the look a lot, but could probably be a bit more pulled together by some awesome necklaces. PS, this was in West Sussex and we stayed at the Shepherd’s Return. 10/10 would recommend.

5. The New York Hair

New York Look Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

So I fell in love with Christina Hendricks in a big way back in the hey day of Mad Med, and bit the bullet and went redhead for about six months. I loved it, but financially the upkeep was a bit of a struggle, so in the end I reverted to brunette. But I also went through a phase of wearing my hair curly more often, and I adore the way this style looks in this photo. I’m also digging the bright lipstick and the holy-hell-I’m-excited grin on my face.

6. The Crochet Wonder Sleeves

60's Crochet Dress Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

This was my 24th birthday party and I’d found this dress in Oxfam a few months before. It’s awesome, right? I put this in here basically as a reminder that my body was pretty banging at one point in the not-so-distant past, but also that some key vintage pieces in a well rounded wardrobe is never a bad thing. I still have that dress!

7. The Gold Brocade Planking Dress

Gold Jacquard Dress Planking Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Don’t judge me. I’m not passed out, I am simply lying down on the hotel floor shaking with the giggles trying to make my colleagues laugh. We went away for some of our friends’ birthdays and we were getting ready and feeling tipsy. This photo makes me laugh, because I feel proud of the extent that I am willing to embarrass myself to get a laugh out of people. I’m not one to curate a careful selection of photos of myself to impress people. Well, not too much anyway. PLUS THAT DRESS. It’s the best. A great shape, a high but not too high rounded neckline, and proper sleeves, out of a to die for fabric. This is definitely something I could make!

~

It’s been fun to look at some of the shapes I’ve liked in the past, as well as fabrics that make me feel the feelings. I’m going to come back to this post throughout the year and add to my Wardrobe Architect Series and share with you my results! Stay tuned folks.

9 Superficial Things I’m Looking Forward to in England

Rochester Cathedral 2013 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Rochester Castle 2013 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
Rochester Cathedral & Castle in January 2013

You may or may not have suspected there are some rather important reasons why I can’t wait to get back to England. I’ve built a life there, and there are lots of lovely people I’ve missed hugely while I’ve been back in Australia. But I thought today, I’d focus on the trivial things, those little stupid things you notice are different when you move to a different country. So without further ado, here are the 9 Superficial Things I’m Looking Forward to in England:

  • Buying wine in the supermarket – Look, rumour has it this is possible Over East in Australia, but it hasn’t caught on yet in ye olde Perth. It’s just so darn convenient to pick up a bottle when you’re getting your week’s veg as well. This is definitely a plus point of English Supermarkets
  • Having a bazillion supermarkets to choose from – In Australia we have Coles, Woolworths and IGA as the three biggest food markets. Even then, I’d go so far as to say that IGA is more like the UK Co-op, usually smaller stalls and can be a tad more expensive. It is a co-operative of smaller outlets though, so you don’t feel too bad spending the extra $$$. In England, you’ve got your M&S, Sainsbury, Morrison, Waitress, and Tesco, not to mention online shopping through Ocado. I just love the variety. What can I say, I’m just interesting like that
  • Boots – Oh my god Boots. Not the footwear kind, but this kind. There is no equivalent in Australia. Let that just sink in for a moment. There is no equivalent in Australia. I would say that Priceline would be the nearest, but it’s nowhere near the ‘institution’ level that Boots has reached in the UK, plus it’s a lot less common and much smaller stores. I’m looking forward to having several aimless wanders around my local, contemplating all of the many potions and lotions they stock. Oh yes.
  • Getting post on Saturdays – I’m pretty sure getting post is quite exciting for most people these days, even if a lot of the letters I get aren’t handwritten letters. But it’s definitely handy having that 6th day to receive mail. It means if one is a bit slack on the old card sending side of things, one has an extra day’s leeway that one simply wouldn’t have out in the Colonies!
  • Netflix – Oh my god Netflix. I do know you can get it by some strange hocus pocus in Australia if you are into that sort of thing, but in my lovely Kentish house, it’s hooked up through our Apple TV and my god if that isn’t dashed convenient. I’m looking forward to awkwardly draping myself over Mr Hello on the sofa while we watch some BBC Drama (preferably a period piece ploise) when I get back.
  • TK Maxx – What more can I say? If you’ve never been to TK Maxx you haven’t lived. It’s an outlet shop for a wide variety of brands, but I mostly go there for the homewares. The best way to describe it is like an Op Shop/Charity Shop, but filled with new things. You aren’t guaranteed to come out with anything useful every time, but some times you may stumble across an Orla Kiely bedspread for a third of the price. Just saying’.
  • Jacket Potatoes in every single café – Evidently if you don’t serve jacket potatoes on your lunch menu in England you can GTFO. As a potato loving Pole, I see no problem with this. No delicious cheesy potatoey problem at all
  • Tuna & Sundried Tomato Baguettes from Tony Lorenzo – Now this is particular to my little neck of the woods in Medway, but I have to say, this is the best sandwich ever. I always get this when I visit. It’s just the tastiest, most satisfying thing. Apart from jacket potatoes of course. 
  • John Lewis – It really is the stupidest thing, but I truly believe John Lewis is my happy place. I feel so much more calm walking around the store, and it’s homewares section makes me feel like all is right with the world. I very rarely actually buy anything there, if I’m honest, but it’s calming white walls have an exquisite effect on me. See I told you it was superficial.

There are many reasons to celebrate returning to the UK. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the stupid things that make you happy though. This list is definitely going to make the transition from 40 degree summer madness in Perth to a nippy 4 degree England a little bit smoother.

I’ll be posting my list of trivial things I’ll miss about Australia very soon, so if this kind of thing is your jam, stay tuned!

This Week I Was Grateful For #1

Coffee Gratitude 1

 

Coffee. This specific coffee actually (although technically it was consumed last Sunday), as it was shared with my sister at Gordon St Garage in Perth. We were waiting for our Mum to arrive for our breakfast date, and when she did we had some tasty food (poached egg on some kind of amazing potato hash), chatted then did a little shopping at the outlet across the road. Quite satisfactory indeed.

I’m grateful for the coffee because it meant I got to spend time with women whom I love dearly but don’t see very often. We all live in different cities, which isn’t such a huge issue if we lived in say, England, but in Australia, another state is 3 hours and at least $400 away.

I read a quote once when I was working in a job with a manager in a remote office, but I think it is very apt for long distance families too:

Distance is about relationships, not geography

So I think it’s important to make the most of these coffees together when I have the chance.

How to be Parisian (and also: How Not To)

How to be Parisian 1 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

How to be Parisian 2 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

How to be Parisian 3 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

How to be Parisian 4 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I have extreme doubts that this confession in any way distinguishes me from the general public, but regardless; it is well known in certain circles that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Paris. I would even go so far to say that Paris is my spiritual home. I feel like if I am good enough in this life, I may be lucky and reincarnated into my true, French form in the next. A girl can hope, hey?

This Christmas I was lucky enough to receive How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Sophie Mas, Audrey Divan, Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest from my aunt. You could say that she knows me well. The lady knows how to spot a Francophile at 20 paces, let’s just put it like that, ok?

In all honesty, I completely devoured this book. It’s written in short, pithy chapters and takes you through first dates, friendships, marriage, men, and dinner parties with even a few tried ‘n true recipes thrown in for good measure. It is very tongue-in-cheek but honestly, that’s what I liked about it. It makes fun of itself, in that the authors know it’s ridiculous to want to be a Parisienne, because in some (many) respects, they themselves are faintly ridiculous. But they just do it with style.

I really recommend this book if you’re into a bit of French fun, and secretly believe that having a signature scent really is quite chic.

As a bonus for you all, here’s how to not be very Parisian when you’re taking photos. Even if your leggings are really rather splendid:

How to be Parisian 5 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

How to be Parisian 6 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

If you could be any other nationality, what would it be?

Moving Forward, Moving On

Disappearing

This image is what moving forward and moving on has looked like in recent years.

When I was 12 and a half we moved from the home of my childhood to a bigger town further north, much closer to my new high school. I was so excited for the move, and had many grand plans about how I was going to be the most popular girl in my class, and how high school would be exciting, wonderful and fun. Full of naive enthusiasm, and totally, totally oblivious.

Looking back I think this had something to do with the fact that the farm I lived on wasn’t sold until many years later, so I had that lovely sense of moving forward without too much changing behind me.

As the movers filled their trucks I wandered around the property, saying goodbye to the familiar hills, the dams we swam in many times, the rickety old fences and reticulation piping I could be consistently relied upon to trip over. I thought of the geese we’d had before, and the rock I stood on to feed them, pretending I was a sailor at the bow of a ship. I used to leave a couple of handfuls of grain in the bucket for our one goose with a deformed beak, which meant he had to strategically scoop the seed into his mouth rather than peck. He was imaginatively named Beaky.

I wandered around, saying goodbye to trees and bushes because I was a child, and moreover a child who spent a considerable amount of time in a fantasy land of her own. A big property is fruitful land for many things, not least a child’s imagination.

If I was ever asked the day that my childhood ended I would say without doubt or rancour, that this was the day.

This post was written in response to the prompt ‘disappearing’ 

The Gratitude Series

Reasons I Love My Mother

I spent some time this evening going through the archives of an old Tumblr I follow – in fact one of the first blogs I ever read. Reasons I Love My Mother by Chris Kelly is a journal of 365 reasons why he – strange as it seems – loves his mother, who passed away from metastasised cancer in 2009. It’s a heartwarming/breaking reflection on what made her the most perfect mother in the world for him.

He talks about her gratitude journal, and how even during her battle with cancer she made a point of focussing on the things she was grateful for. I found it very moving, and I felt inspired by this woman I never met. So this year I am going to use this blog as something of the same. It won’t be every day, but every week I will pick something I am grateful for.

And you’re going to hear all about it!

 

The Little Traditions

I don’t know if it’s the New Year fabulousness that’s going on around me at the moment, or whether it’s got something to do with getting MARRIED THIS YEAR and the prospect of starting my own family, but this week I’ve thought a lot about the traditions of my family.

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Plays Cards

Last night was spent with these two lovely women, and we played cards, drank wine and ate delicious snacks. It dawned on me that I’ve experienced a version of this night many, many times before in my life. You see, we’re a card playing family. From a tender age I had card rules and etiquette drummed into me, especially by my slightly terrifying Grandpa with the booming voice.

I haven’t played cards in a long time, and so last night was a balm to my soul. I’ve felt unsettled since Mr Hello left, as the reality of leaving Australia soon myself becomes more and more apparent. I miss our family traditions. I don’t feel so far apart from my loved ones when I have traditions to ground me.

‘Our’ game is called May I, which is a relation of Big Bertha, Frustration and Rummy. We have played it for as long as I can remember, even when I was so small that the 11 cards were too much for my tiny hands to hold. I’d like to teach it to Mr H, and keep this card playing ritual alive. After all, he’s going to be a part of the family very soon, so he better get with the program before it’s too late 😉

Do you have any family traditions that make you feel connected?