Tag Archives: 2014

The End of Twenny Fourteen

J&S Matilda Bay
I love him.

John Michele Sam Matilda Bay

MSJT Matilda Bay
My Mum, Me, Mr H and my sister. My Dad was also there, but I have my eyes spectacularly shut in the photo with him, so Papa, I’m afraid you miss out.

 

If you’ve snuck a peek at my Instagram account over the last week or two you may have noticed that a *rather* special chap has made a reappearance in my life. That’s right folks, I’ve just had two quite fabulous weeks here in Perth with none other than Mr Hello himself. Our year of the dreaded LDR was ended at disgusting-o’clock on the 18th of December.

We’ve spent two weeks gazing longingly into each others’ eyes and being unrepentantly loved up, celebrating his first ever Australian Christmas (the heat, OH THE HEAT), and more importantly, spending some quality time at the beach. It’s been delightful, truth be told. We even managed to have a relaxed engagement party last night at Matilda Bay.

I’m due to head back to the UK in three weeks, and so now that Mr H has made his way back to the cold before me, it’s time to knuckle down and get to packing (how I loathe the word). I’m excited to return, but also experiencing a strange kind of emotion…almost as if….I might….miss living in Australia? It’s absurd, really, considering the fact that I have more or less spent this year wishing I was back at home in Kent, but now the time is very nearly upon me I find myself rather reluctant to leave. The heat I can take or leave, and yes I am well aware of what a terrible Australian that makes me :), but it’s really the people here that I will miss dreadfully. Which is exactly what I said about leaving Rochester all those months ago. I guess the heart and head get used to living wherever they find themselves to be.

It’s been a wonderful Christmas. It’s been an amazing 2014. Here’s to more of the same and better next year.

My Weekend Has Been Spent #6

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Sydney 1

Sydney Townhouse

Brighton Street Sydney

Museum Station Sydney

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Sydney Opera House and Seagull

Sydney Harbour Bridge Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha in Sydney

Mr Tumnus Hyde Park Garden Sydney

Belvoir St Theatre Sydney A Christmas Carol

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Polish Consulate Sydney

German Shepherd Mask Melbourne

  • Technically starting the weekend on Wednesday morning, when I hopped on a plane at an ungodly hour and flew to Melbourne.
  • Being greeted by my Mum at the airport
  • Seeing my Mum’s new fancy house – they’ve just bought it and it’s magazine worthy. Think modern with a Scandinavian mid century twist. Yeah. That’s good, isn’t it?
  • Scraping a couple of hours’ kip in Mum’s spare bedroom. Ugh. There’s a difference between early starts and early starts.
  • Trying not to get carsick on the way to the airport
  • Boarding a teeny tiny plane to Sydney.
  • Reaffirming my feelings that flying is not scary for me, just incredibly dull.
  • Landing in Sydney and heading to my friend’s work to drop off my suitcase
  • Realising that Sydney was ridiculously humid. Oh my god, was definitely not expecting that after the mildness in Melbourne.
  • Realising that hair products do actually work. Normally my hair would end up like Marge Simpson’s at the tiniest whiff of humidity, but it stayed perfect until I got drenched later in the day.
  • Having pizza and wine time with a dear friend that I haven’t seen for ages. (Love you K!)
  • Waking up and wandering into central Sydney.
  • Spending a couple of hours in David Jones, my favourite department store in the world. It’s like an Australian version on John Lewis, and believe it or not they do the best sushi I have ever tasted. It’s slightly better in the Perth store though!
  • Realising that a lot of Sydney is modelled on an English style of architecture. Think terraced housing, the Museum station above and big Selfridges style department stores. It was quite comforting in a way.
  • Heading the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was a little bit…underwhelmed I have to say, which is a real shame. One thing I adored though was a digital installation called The One Hour Laugh, which was simply a video of four women in somewhat ridiculous get up, trying to make each other laugh. I found myself grinning like a loon and giggling along with them. Very cheering.
  • Despairing of the fact that coffee is cheaper in Sydney than it is in Perth. :-/
  • Wandering around the Docklands, and catching views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Heading inside the Opera House, but just missing out on a tour.
  • Catching a view of a statue I have hereby named Mr Tumnus in Hyde Park.
  • Popping back to Surry Hills to see Belvoir St Theatre’s charming show A Christmas Carol. 5 Stars, would recommend. It was the most delightful reimagining of the story. Let me tell you, I get LOADS of Dickens in England where I live, which I rarely enjoy, but this was something truly heartwarming.
  • Catching some zzz’s back at my friend’s house.
  • At last completing my Sydney mission – putting in my application for my first ever Polish Passport at the Consulate. This is the only place in Australia where you can do it, which is a bit annoying for us west-siders! I was expecting it to be difficult, but the assistant was totally lovely and helped me out when my non-existent Polish became an issue!
  • Flying back to Melbourne to spend the actual  weekend with my Mum’s family. There was a German Shepherd mask involved, but I don’t think I could explain that even if I tried.
  • Catching another plane back to ol’ Perth.
  • Praising everyone who could possibly be praised for the fact I could lie down in my own bed.

 

I was incredibly lucky to have left Sydney before the terrible events in the Lindt cafe unfolded. It was a tragic event and my heart goes out to all those touched by the cruel actions of a deluded man. 

Press On

hellosamgoodbyesamantha press on

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrecorded genius is almost a proverb.

Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

***I found this pinned to a board in my late uncle’s house when we sold it earlier this year, and found it really moving. Turns out it’s by Calvin Coolidge.

For The Love of Cake

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Time for some totally unrelated snaps and another round up of dubious interest to you all. The scale of this weekend has been quietly epic, and I find myself reeling from the emotional highs and lows, that is, I would if reeling consisted of 90 minutes’ semi-inebriated blog reading.

DOWN:

My father was rushed to hospital earlier in the week and while he appears to be thankfully on the mend, I just about lost my shit thinking terrible thoughts waiting in the emergency department at 6:30am Saturday morning. Parents aren’t supposed to feel pain. They’re supposed to be mercifully invincible, at least I’m pretty sure that’s what it said on the tin. A big DOWNer for this weekend, that’s for sure.

I am one week away from qualifying as a teacher, and whilst in itself this is an UP, I am so enormously fatigued by the whole experience that my enthusiasm for having any career that does not involve laying in bed is at an all time low. This is really a dreary post, I do apologise.

The requisite teenager type whinge: because my Dad has been unwell, I haven’t had the opportunity to drive anywhere as I need someone with a license to accompany me as a condition of my learner’s permit. This is a serious drag, I was just getting the hang of the whole ‘driving’ thing, and I confess I am rather less willing to put up with general public transport goings on. My life is dragging before my eyes.

I have to fly to the other side of the GD country (Sydney) to submit my application for a Polish passport. Quite inconvenient, given the size of Australia, and also quite expensive. A nice little surprise too, don’t you just love it. I wish my agent had mentioned it at some point, you know, in the whole freaking year we’ve been working together.

Mr Hello is STILL IN ENGLAND which is entirely expected, but becoming rather less acceptable every day. For god’s sake if you ever want to have some kind of pleasant life, do NOT for the LOVE OF CAKE get into a long distance relationship. Your perception of everything becomes skewed by constantly looking through god-this-is-boring coloured glasses. Three weeks and three days. Come at me bro.

UP:

3 WEEKS AND THREE DAYS.

ONE WEEK until I have a bonafide career. Soon the whole “gizza job” debacle will commence, but ho, delightfully not a problem for a few more weeks.

I haven’t looked at my bank balance for a few days so let’s pretend I am rich! Huzzah! Cake for everyone.

I went for a drink with A, my mentor teacher on prac and had rather a nice glass o’ wine. It really is pleasant meeting new people and getting to know them. I really enjoyed myself and the show was wonderful. It was Those Who Fall In Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon The Ocean Floor at The Blue Room Theatre in Northbridge. Utterly charming, a lovely and innovative set and delightful performances by all. Definite thumbs up.

Another pleasant thing happened that night, come to think of it. I had been telling A at school that my favourite play of all time is in fact The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and that I’d seen a wonderful production of it at the now-demolished Playhouse Theatre in Perth. I also saw the production starring Richard Armitage at The Old Vic in London earlier this year – production in the round, totally delightful – and lo and behold, A’s friend who was with us was Mary Warren in the Perth production, alongside on of the stars of Those Who Fall in Love! How weird is that? Spooksville if you ask me.

On that note, this is where I leave you. I am not at my finest right now, but if I can eke out the last of my motivation to last this week, I will make it. Time for a cuppa.

In Which I Try to Be a Blogger

There seems to be, in my humble opinion, a certain type of status that comes with being a ‘blogger’. Not a person who writes a blog, but a blogger. I am rather susceptible to a bit of the ol’ green eyed monster every now and then when it comes to other peoples’ blogs, I won’t deny it. But every now and then I brought firmly back to earth, and to the knowledge that when comparing those who have blogs and the ever jealous making bloggers, I am most certainly in the former camp.

Take these series of photographs, for example. Several days ago I thought I would try out a modest photoshoot, to see if I too was capable of having swoon worthy photography gracing the pages of this here weblog.

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Nope. Can’t see my face, too much shrubbery, and plus…that’s a decidedly strange pose you’ve got going there girl.

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Also in the NOPE pile. Firstly, it’s an unflattering angle of a new top I dearly regret impulse buying, and secondly, that stupid look on my face is clearly the results trying to look natural while I fake brushing my hair off my face. 

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Too far.

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Too close. Plus a slightly deer-in-the-headlights-what-have-I-become look about me. Dainty finger pose too.

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This one I admit, is acceptable. I like that my face seems to realise what a ridiculous thing I am trying to do. The top looks slightly better, and I’m doing something rather attractive with my shoulders. I like it. I like my one average photo!

I could say something calming and reflective here about how during this process I realised that I don’t need to strive to replicate other peoples’ blogs, because we’re all different and rah rah rah unique gifts rah rah. But I won’t, because if I am honest, I do wish I had a shiny pretty happy blog. I do wish I knew how to take great photos of my carefully curated life, but I don’t. More to the point I honestly probably wouldn’t, either, even if I had the requisite skills.

I feel very much a part of a huge blogging community, having blogged in some way or another relatively consistently for four years, but more so because I’m a consumer of blogs. Maybe my best role in the blogosphere is to support others who do it  better. To put some love out there for people who plan and publish content more regularly than I. I don’t feel bad about that in the least, and so for now, I’m reminding myself to be pretty content with my one average photo, and my average little blog.

 

A Funny Old Time

It has been a funny old week, the beginning of my last assessed period of university, and the start of the last interminable stretch before Mr Hello gets his cosy little toosh on a plane to come and pick me up. A mixed bag of tricks, if you will.

GOING UP:

All of my assessments (bar one, rather critical one, my school placement) have been submitted. There is now nothing I can do about it, and my results are in the hands of the gods. Or my lecturers, which is somewhat one and the same, if the stories are to be believed. I’m so freaking relieved, it’s incredible how we put the pain of assignments out of our minds once they’ve been completed. It can be QUITE torturous. Oh well, all done now, and qualification is just around the corner! Hoo-friggin-rah.

I’ve semi-successfully changed my sleeping hours so that I wake at a reasonable hour, not the 1:30pm that had become my norm. It’s quite a pleasure to be awake as the world rises, and although it means I’m yawning at 10:30pm. Not quite such a pity seeing as I have renounced every possible form of a social life. Over my first few years in the workforce I realised I much prefer having extra time to get ready rather than more time in bed, and so when I get in a habit of waking up on time I like to linger over an extra cup of coffee or reading one more blog post. I realise this is what is known as an INCREDIBLY BORING THING TO SHARE but at the same time, such is my life, and I daresay most people’s lives tend to revolve as much around the mundane in life as mine. At least I hope so!

 

GOING DOWN DOWN DOWN:

I am totally and utterly obsessed with the thought of seeing Mr H again. He’s my default thought with every mental break I can get. I don’t know if any of you have undertaken a long distance relationship (LDR) before, but let me tell you, it’s not something I would recommend. I’ve luckily (wonderfully and gratefully) been in the position to never once question my partner’s fidelity, but the terrible thing has been the intense boredom that has pervaded my life since we parted. Sure, life is beautiful and glorious without him being next to me, but it sure as hell ain’t half as interesting. Recounting a funny incident on the train isn’t quite the same as laughing uncontrollably over a shared experience. Catching someone falling asleep just as you’re waking up does not make for particularly fulfilling conversations. You begin to live on faith, despite your belief system. You just have to trust that you’re still in love with someone, even though you KNOW that you are, but you somehow don’t feel it quite so much as you do when you can roll over and kiss their hot cheek next to you in bed. It’s agony, truth be told. Boring, hellish, and seemingly never-ending agony.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that my right shin had developed shin splints, which caused me to take a break from my new running regime. Unfortunately I took it upon myself to discount numerous medical recommendations and took a mere 1 week break from running, which has proven to be totally insufficient. I was struggling on with the pain before I realised that in combination with the terrible blisters I was still developing, there was no hope for me to run in the future if I didn’t take a proper break. My blistered feet aren’t quite recovered yet (mores the pity) but the status of my shins is yet to be determined. I’m not sure if the self-inflicted break is a balm to my lazy-leaning temperament or stressing me out even more, but I feel anxious about it and I want to get back to running as soon as possible, if only to prove my inner lazy yet critical demon wrong.

Lastly, someone in my close family is going through a terrible time with chronic depression at the moment. I don’t feel totally comfortable sharing more details online at the moment, but I want you all to know that if you’re in the same boat, you sure as hell aren’t alone.

~

 

What Does Success Look Like?

We’ve spent part of this semester at university talking about assessing our future students, and how the way we assess has an effect on our student’s success. Sharing ‘success criteria’ with our students improves their performance – sounds obvious I know, but it was a bit of an eye opener for me. Knowing what success looks like, and knowing what you need to do to be successful means it’s easier to achieve it. Talk about woah.

It got me thinking, what does success criteria for life look like? I’m not so sure that it still looks the same as it did 20 years ago, hell, even 10 years ago when I was daydreaming about being an adult! When I was 16 I thought success was being an actress on stage, in a slinky frock at awards events. I thought success was having people think you’re great and telling you constantly.

Some people think success is having a few extra zeroes on the right side of their bank balance, and some think it’s having that corner office with the view. Others find themselves out of the workforce in their late 50’s but sleep easy knowing that they raised human beings that they’re proud of.  I know the huge amount of work that all of those types of success require, but I’ve also come to terms with the fact that they’re not the absolute definition of success for me.

What’s my definition? I’ll show you:

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Photo on 11-08-2014 at 2.28 pm

 

 

Good food, a happy home, two lovely cats (formerly an oxymoron), a lover whom I adore and a brand new career ahead of me.

It was a long and winding road to get here, and it sure would have been a weight off my mind if someone had come up to me five years ago and said “Here. Here are the things that will make you happy. Do life like this”. There are times when I wish someone had, but more often I think I wouldn’t have listened, and just thundered on regardless. We value things when we know how hard we worked to get them, and that they came at some sort of cost.

It might not be the done thing to decide that you’re successful at 26 when you’re still in university and not earning a wage. But on this bright, cool Tuesday morning while I am avoiding my last paper due on Friday, I say to hell with it. I’m celebrating the successes I’ve had so far in my life, and looking forward to many more, no matter what shape they take.

Dual Citizenship Baby!

Yesterday I received the happy news that my application for Polish citizenship has come through at last. I was lucky to be eligible through my heritage, as my grandparents were Polish refugees before they settled in Australia permanently. I pursued this route because I wanted to stay in the UK, where I’d built a life for myself, but I also wanted to be there on my own two feet so to speak, with the same responsibilities and rights as a British citizen. No immigration issues means that my marriage is focussed on the love I share with my partner, not my need to get a slip of paper from the government. This news also means that I can start to work in time for the UK Term 2, which will be fantastic and gives me the opportunity to settle into a job properly before the wedding.

Getting the news gave rise to some really profound emotions. Over this year, while back in Australia in my Grandmother’s house, I’ve reconnected to their history and the story of their journey. My great aunt wrote a memoir about their time in Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran and Uganda, which was incredibly insightful and made me realise how different my life could have been if my family had not been so resilient. It was hard enough choosing to become an immigrant when I knew I could always return home if I wanted: I can hardly imagine how difficult it must have been to realise you could never go home. Even if you did, the country you loved was no longer the same.

I feel so proud, lucky and grateful to call myself Polish. I feel as though I don’t really deserve it. I feel as though this is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m looking forward to spending some more time in Poland once I’ve settled back in Europe.

Now for some photos of the people I have to thank for this great day:

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My grandparents, Henryk and Halina.

 

 

Wedding Planning: The Photographer

If you have ever had anything to do with weddings in your life, you’ve probably heard the story of the bride run ragged by wedding planning, while the groom sits, blissfully unaware with a pint in the pub. Get him involved in the process! the wedding blogs cry, make it a day about both of you!

Happily (sadly?), I never had such a problem. Mr Hello is so extremely excited to be planning a wedding, I can hardly get a word in (I don’t really mean that, J, if you’re reading…teehee?). He was blazing, all cylinders agogo. The trouble was, after the initial decisions had been made, there was a little…er….disconnect on what and where our priorities were, in that we had different ideas about the value of certain services that usually get hired with the whole wedding  kit and caboodle….like getting a professional to capture the day, instead of a friend with a camera.

Now this is not to say that a friend with a camera can’t take wonderful pictures. In fact I have several friends who take absolutely gorgeous photographs. But I know Mr H’s friends, and more to the point I know my friends, and they’re going to want to be front and centre on the D-floor, and I certainly don’t want to ask them to stay sober and focussed for the whole day. Focussed, yes. On being the opposite of sober.

So, to get Mr H fully on board with the idea, I asked him to find a photographer he was happy to use. What he decided on both surprised and delighted me.

We Heart Pictures is an alternative wedding photographer based in London. The husband and wife team of Hector and Charlie are the ‘antithesis of traditional wedding photography’ (LIKE) and aim to capture more of the vibe of the day than 100 posed photos (DOUBLE LIKE). Without more ado, here are some of the snaps that made me scramble to sign on the dotted line….

Vicky and Dave's Wedding 1

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This one absolutely kills me. This is going to be what my Dad looks like on the day. No doubt about it.

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Aren’t they absolutely to die for? I’m so incredibly excited to have Hector shoot our wedding, and to be able to look back and have images of this quality.

They’re absolutely delightful people to boot. Not only were they happy to meet Mr H for a coffee and chat through our options, they actually suggested that they Skype me from London so that they could put a face to a name before the big day. That definitely scored points with me. Hector is Colombian, which means they get the international couple thing, and they get why we’re making some of the choices we are making for the big day. Another bonus? They’re not even that expensive. As far as wedding photography goes, they are totally reasonable and in fact I think they’re excellent value for money considering the lovely quality of their work.

Can you tell I’m excited?

 

All photo credits are We Heart Pictures. Book Them. They’ll  be great.

Varying Shades of Ugh.

Let’s start on a positive note today, shall we? Then perhaps the inevitable decline into the low points of the week won’t be quite so upsetting.

UP:

My family’s application for Polish citizenship is now IN. What excitement. For those of you who are lucky enough to be EU citizens, this is what’s known in Australia as a BIG DEAL. Dual nationality has to be one of the most useful things you can pass on to your children. Oh, to never again have to deal with the UK Home Office! To never again need a visa! I hardly dare imagine it. On a practical note, assuming it goes through without a hitch (one, should never assume, but still, I bloody well am) I will be able to get a job, go home to the FH and get married without a hitch. What a relief.

Several blessed reliefs this week: three more days added to an assignment deadline, and an extra week between the end of my uni classes and the beginning of practicum. Time to prepare – what bliss. Now to see if this will actually be the case. I don’t hold out much hope, but still. You never know.

This week’s shockingly superficial observation: I am in the midst of a rather fantastic hair phase. It’s growing out, partly for the wedding and partly because I am too stingy to go to a hairdresser, and I’m really loving it right now. It just seems to be behaving itself, which is an entirely new experience. Curly hair = dry ratty ends in my experience, but hey ho, I’ll accept smooth hair, if that’s what the universe sees fit to bestow me with right now.

My new ritual of jogging 3 -4 times  per week remains unbroken. Rather unusual, considering my typical laziness.

The weather in Perth is reaching near-bliss levels.

 

DOWN:

No progress to speak of on growing pile of urgent assignments. This must be rectified immediately, but instead the sudden urge to blog has come upon me.

I have totally succumbed to the marketing strategy of Apple. Ugh. But still, YAY SO EXCITING.

The number of weeks until I see the FH is still in the double digits, which I find frustrating in the extreme. Why is it that the weeks until assignments are due miraculously pass without notice, but the weeks until you see someone you love seem to stretch out endlessly? Totally unacceptable.

I’m fortunate enough to not have to work while I study this year, but instead of using that extra time to dedicate to improved assignments, I seem to be perpetually in a state of “ugh”, “meh”, “blergh” and even sometimes “hmm?”. It is most annoying. I’m finding it difficult to be around myself, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like for everyone else.

Soon, my pretties, life simply MUST deliver me the needed kick up the bum, and hopefully by then I will have developed a new outlook!