Tag Archives: australia

Kent: Europe’s Best Holiday Hotspot?

HSGS goes to Broadstairs

 

I had a couple of work colleagues choke on their tea on Wednesday morning as they perused that morning’s Guardian!

You see, dear friends, my lovely adopted home county of Kent has been listed as the best family holiday destination in Europe – I kid you not. I confess I’m rather proud!

As a matter of fact, I don’t personally find it that hard to believe as I totally adore Kent, and think it has a lot to offer culturally. More importantly the people from this county are some of the best, sexiest and most marriage-able in the world! You say biased, I say subjective. Ner ner.

We went down to Broadstairs a couple of weeks ago with the extended Hello family. A surprise visit for my soon to be Father-in-Law’s birthday. We had a wonderful time, mostly digging big holes that filled up with water, and terrorising the resident 3 year old King. It was pretty great.

It’s just occurred to me that the photo could almost have been of a beach in Australia. Funny, isn’t it, how life pans out?

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.

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.

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

MOCA The One Hour Laugh2

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.

My Weekend Has Been Spent #5

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Weekend  1

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Weekend 2

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Weekend 3

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Weekend 4

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Weekend 5

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Weekend 6

  • Putting on a full face of makeup for the first time in what feels like forever
  • Mixing my two beloved Revlon Colorburst Matte Lip Balms together to make the most perfect coral lip colour. Deeeelightful. I used 245 Audacious and 210 Unapologetic, or as the French translation goes Sans Remorse. Guess which one I prefer?
  • Getting dressed in my new yellow Karen Walker dress
  • Carrying all of my belongings to my Aunt’s house, and getting more and more enraged at myself, for having so deciding to bring so many things; the weather, for raining on my blow dried hair; every other person on the bus, who somehow could not wait for me to out my 100,000 bags down before them, and just barged past me struggling away. IT’S TIME TO GET A CAR SAM
  • Partaking in a delicious High Tea at Rochelle Adonis in Highgate, with the women in my Mum’s side of the family for the civilised version of my Hen do. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and I really enjoyed the whole ceremony of it. The service was faultless and attentive. Having said that, it’s the kind of thing that I don’t ever need to do again. That’s no reflection on the quality of food, service or my company, it just transpires that perhaps High Tea is not really my thing.
  • Going outfit shopping with my decidedly hipster Mother. She’s looking for her Mother-of-the-Bride outfit, and we had a bit of a laugh when we saw what Mother-of-The-Bride dresses actually look like most of the time. The dress actually isn’t that horrible, it’s just definitely not my Mum’s style. Definitely not. It is actually really hard to find cool and yet wedding appropriate dresses or suits for arty people. If you have any tips, please send them my way!
  • Heading out for a drink and a chin wag with my Mum. She lives Over East, and so even though I’ve been in Australia all year, I’ve only seen her three times! You miss out on a lot of the day to day stuff in life when you’re so far apart.
  • Meeting up with my aunt and uncle and a couple of their friends for dinner at The Old Swan Brewery. We had a great meal, and they’re really familiar with the restaurant, so all was just splendid until a waitress spilt a glass of champagne down the back of my aunty…..oops. Did not go down particularly well.
  • Trying to fit 6 people in a 4 person taxi. It doesn’t work, and you may well find a 60 year old woman sitting on your lap before they get turfed out by the sensible taxi driver
  • Waking up with a teeny tiny hangover. Oops
  • Going shopping again with my Mum. No joy on Saturday either looking for wedding outfits. I daresay she’ll find something back home though 🙂
  • Making our way down to Fremantle and having a wander
  • Stopping for lunch at Bread in Common. They do the most amazing bread there, and we had some with dukkha, prawns and asparagus plates, alongside a cheeky glass of rosé.
  • Heading back to my aunt’s house for an LLD (little lie down).
  • Sneaking in a FaceTime with Mr Hello <3
  • Having pizza, wine and chats with my Mum and Aunty. Good quality girl time.
  • Falling asleep having drunk a tiny bit too much once again.
  • Waking up to the sounds of a family breakfast being prepared.
  • Trying to be helpful, but being a bit useless and ultimately deciding the most helpful thing was to get out of the damn way.
  • Having a big fry up (hash browns for the win!) with my extended family.
  • Saying goodbye to my Mum, knowing that for the first time in 5 years, I will see her again within a week!
  • Heading home to DETOX. Oh my, all the wines happened this weekend.

 

How was your weekend?

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.

awkward2

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

awkward1

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. 

awkward3

Too far.

awkward4

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

ok1

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.

 

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.