Tag Archives: travel

Life Lately :: Summer Holiday in Cascais, Portugal

Dream Team in Cascais - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Long time, no blog. You may have guessed, I’m back at work! Not too long ago, however, I was living it large in the sun. 

I never really expected to be the kind of person that has ‘summer holidays’ where, you know, I actually went on holiday! I tend to be more of a staycation kind of a gal, truth be told.

Mr H and I have had one hell of a hectic first year of marriage, and the only improvement we would have made to our last holiday, our honeymoon in Warsaw, would have been to have been able to have a few days beside a pool. So we booked two weeks in Portugal with that very goal in mind.

Hotel Amazonia Estoril 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Mr H in Cascais - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Hotel Amazonia Estoril - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaBy the Pool - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha The Sisters - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

We were delighted to be joined by my fabulous sister T, who managed to wangle 2 weeks leave and joined us from Australia, to celebrate a belated birthday with us. Result!

The first week of our break was spent in Estoril and Cascais, both along the Portuguese coast, about 30 minutes drive from Lisbon. Estoril has a sleepy sort of resort feel about it, and is most famous for the Casino Estoril, said to be the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s Bond novel Casino Royale! Very glam.

Mr Hello and I were booked into a studio apartment in the Hotel Amazonia Estoril. Having booked our August trip in February, we got an excellent deal, and while I wouldn’t necessarily class it as a luxury hotel, it was spotlessly clean, with helpful staff and had a quiet, boutiquey feel about it. It was exactly what we wanted – nothing too crazy or busy, and there were about 10 or so other groups staying at the same time, who, over the course of our week’s stay, we grew to be on polite head-nodding terms with. The exact amount of getting to know people on holiday I wanted to do! You may not believe it, but I occasionally lean towards the antisocial side of things….

Cascais - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Sunset in Cascais - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Cascais Fort - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaSam in Cascais - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Cascais is definitely more well known for it’s beach and party scene, and this is where we spent most of our time in our week there. It’s very touristy, being a holiday hotspot for the Portuguese as well as those of us from overseas, but very pleasantly so, in my opinion.

We walked and walked and…..walked over our first week. Mr Hello lived in the area for a few years as a child, and so we spent some time exploring his old haunts. We also drank quite a lot of Super Bock, a rather lethal local beer. It was quite delightful!

If I’m totally honest, the area is not full to the brim with ‘sights’ – and if that’s what you’re looking for I would head closer to Lisbon, but it was absolutely perfect for a relaxing holiday (just what I needed).

There are a few things I would recommend that you do if you do find yourself in either Estoril or Cascais though:

  • From June to September, Estoril is home to a wonderful artisan’s fair – Fiartil Feira de Artisanato do Estoril – which is home to some excellent open air restaurants, local street food vendors, arts and crafts to die for and if you’re lucky, some traditional rancho dancing and fado. A must see.
  • Mercado de Cascais – this is a huge food, fish, flower and general goods market in central Cascais. It feels like a real local market, and can get incredibly busy, but is worth a wander around if you want to feel like a local and marvel at women standing on tables and shouting at the top of their lungs with a baby on their hip.
  • Head to Masala in the centre of Cascais. Living in England, I’m certainly no stranger to a spot of Indian food, but our meals (yes, plural) were incredibly delicious, and I’m pretty sure the term ‘service with a smile’ started off in this restaurant. The team at Masala were fantastic, so good, in fact, that we returned a couple of days later, where they continued to win us over by remembering us! They are always busy, so try and get down there before 9pm, but even if you’re later, the queue moves quickly. I highly recommend the 5 euro gin and tonics, too. They are quite *ahem* large. 

We had a fantastic time in this part of Portugal and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It’s clean, the public transport is cheap, it feels like there are things going on but not too many, and there is also an atmosphere of active relaxation. I highly approve. 

Our Anniversary :: Kynren

That evening we headed over to the Kynren site. The seating area, known as the ‘Tribune’ is about a 10/15 minute walk from the carpark, but it was very clear all the way down and quite a lovely view. We’d been advised to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing, and so found the walk quite pleasant!

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The volunteers on the site were absolutely amazing. All of them had such lovely welcoming attitudes, actively trying to be helpful, which is definitely not always the case with events like this! They’d obviously been very well trained, and enjoyed being a part of the Kynren process – it definitely added to the experience for us.

Anniversary Trip 7 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The Tribune was a large wooden grandstand, and outside were a great selection of food and drink vans and bars. The atmosphere was great, everyone seemed to be a little bit buzzy waiting for the show to start, and Mr H and I definitely enjoyed taking a step back and doing some quality people watching! We went through to our seats about 40 minutes before the show started.

Anniversary Trip 8 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Unfortunately, this is where things started to go a little wrong. I’d paid for swanky cushioned seats, and the view was excellent as we were really central. The seats themselves, however, were all jammed in next to each other, so I was practically cuddling Mr H *and* the random gent on the other side of me. This might have been ok for a short show, but having gotten into our seats early, it was Squishville for over 2  hours, which was uncomfortable to say the least!

Anniversary Trip 9 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I couldn’t take any images of the show, and I will try and avoid spoilers, although can you spoil a show about the history of Britain, considering it’s already happened? I digress.

I will say a couple of things though. The show was visually stunning, in fact I don’t think I’ve seen anything so impressive in live performance – ever. They made full use of the landscape in which they were set, as well as the lake, and lots of technology.

There were, however, some parts of the show that I was hugely disappointed with. All the audio was pre-recorded. All of it. There was no live audio in the show at all. I can almost understand why they did this, being an outdoor show in England, but it was hugely disappointing and I felt like it almost encouraged the performers to mime more. Their physical performance became a little over-egged to match the audio, rather than them being extensions of one another.

Anniversary Trip 10 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The show touches on events of historical importance, such as the mass migration of Asian people to the area. This was represented in the show by Bhangra dancers, but it was disappointing to see that these were obviously not trained Bhangra dancers, and in most cases from what I could see, weren’t actually Asian people. I think it’s a sensitive topic but I thought it was odd – sure in the huge area that is the North East there is at least one Bhangra dancing group? It would have been more effective, more impressive and driven the point home more about the diversity of the area if the performers had been more diverse.

The other disappointing element was the Colliery band. They mimed. It was obvious. So instead of following the story I was thinking “Why are they miming?” and cringing. I don’t think I need to say much more than that!

Overall, the show was good fun, and as I’ve said, it was visually spectacular. I’m not sure though, that it was really worth it considering the distance we drove. If it was in Kent, I think I would recommend it, but if you’re not in the North East I think you will be disappointed. They very nearly got it right, but for me as a theatre-lover, the small things they got wrong added up to a night that was just a bit off target.

Our evening went fully pear-shaped after that, as our taxi driver didn’t wait for us and we ended up having to wait for nearly 2 hours to get back to the hotel! Luckily the ladies we ended up sharing with were so hilariously drunk that it took my mind off it!

~

We did have a lovely weekend all in all though, and it was great to see some more of the country. I’d like to spend some more time up North, and even head out to Beamish Museum, which we heard great things about but ran out of time for.

Have you seen Kynren? What did you think?

Our Anniversary :: The Houndgate Townhouse Review

Anniversary Trip 1 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

So about three or four months ago, I booked some tickets for us to go and see the show Kynren in Bishop Auckland. It was billed as 2,000 years of British history, with the involvement of over 1,000 local people. I love a bit of community art interaction, so I thought this sounded like as good an opportunity  as any for our first little road trip! The dates happened to coincide with our first anniversary, so it was perfect!

Now if your British geography is as good as mine (i.e. awful) you will be interested to hear that Bishop Auckland is what we call “Up North”, pretty much as far north as you can get before you hit Scotland. It took us about 5 and a half hours to get there, because we did faff around a little bit when we left, and stopped off for a coffee en route.

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We stayed in the Houndgate Townhouse in Darlington, which is about 30 minutes from Bishop Auckland. The Houndgate is an 8 bedroom boutique hotel, with a bar and restaurant. From the first moment we were utterly impressed with the hotel. The front of house staff were all very courteous and helpful, booking us a taxi for the evening and helping us to find the carpark.

Anniversary Trip 11 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaUnfortunately this was the only downside of the hotel – because of its central location there is no on-site parking, and so you need to park in the multi-storey which is behind the hotel. This is paid for by the hotel during most hours during your stay, and it is very new and secure, but a tiny bit of a faff, and after the long drive I was feeling particularly brain dead.
Anniversary Trip 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaI had booked a luxury  double room for us to stay in (it’s only your first anniversary once!) and we were not disappointed. The bed was gorgeously comfortable, and the carpet had that reassuring thickness which prevented the am-I-walking-too-heavily angst that I am prone to.

The room was absolutely spotless, and decorated perfectly on what I would call the the tasteful side of Laura Ashley. The staff even wrote us an anniversary card, which was a nice touch!Anniversary Trip 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaSomething to bear in mind was that we could hear the bar below our room playing music and getting ready for their Saturday night trade, which we didn’t actually find disruptive, but it was definitely audible through the floor. If you’re a light sleeper  it may be an issue, although given my experience of the staff, I am sure they would turn the music down at a moment’s notice if you mentioned it!

That evening we went to the show, and ended up getting back quite late (see my review of Kynren here).  I have never been so glad to crawl into bed.Anniversary Trip 12 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaAnniversary Trip 14 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaAnniversary Trip 13 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaIn the morning, we headed downstairs to grab some breakfast. The hotel offers an a la carte menu for breakfast (although it was included in the cost of the room) and so Mr H and I both decided to go for the full English. I neglected to take photos, unfortunately! It was beautifully cooked and presented, with our baked beans coming out in their own little copper pot. It was very cute. 

The coffee was hot, fresh and tasty, and our waitress sounded exactly like Sarah Millican. It was *most* satisfactory.Anniversary Trip 17 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Anniversary Trip 16 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I would have liked to stay in the hotel a little longer than one night, and to have tried their restaurant, because the menu looked delicious and it had great reviews.

Despite our short day, would recommend the Houndgate Townhouse to anyone in the area because the service was impeccable. It’s a stylish retreat, perfect for couples, and sometimes that can be intimidating. On the other hand, I feel like you can often overlook shabby decor if the service is great. Luckily in this case you don’t have to, and can enjoy great decor and great service, which is the best of both worlds!

A Weekend Abroad: HSGS Goes to Calais

Sam and John Calais Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Last weekend, Mr Hello and I spent some quality time together, and headed over to Calais for the day. Now, Calais is not known generally as the home of ‘cool’ in France, (let’s be honest, it’s no Paris), but the Mr and I quite like a bit of grunge, and Calais was an easy trip away for us.

We live in Kent, so getting over to France was a simple matter of hopping on a train, and then onto The Spirit of France, which happens to be the biggest ferry I’ve ever seen. I am just a country girl after all, you know.

I’ve only ever taken the Eurostar before, so while the trip did take longer than I’ve previously experienced, it is quite nice to be able to walk around, and hey, get a glass of wine if the mood struck me (it did).

Sam Dover Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha France, Here We Come Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Mr Hello in Dover Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Lovely Dover House Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

First stop: Dover. The south east part of Kent gets a bad rap for being somewhat down at heel, which to a certain extent is true. From another perspective, these towns are glorious monuments to the age of the English Holiday. I am always struck by the wonderful architecture here, and each time I come to Dover I am greeted by more and more cute cafés and boutique hotels. There are so many pretty walks here, so I encourage you to put any preconceptions aside, and make the trip down, even just for the day.

And so, to Calais:

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Home of theatre, and modern art.

Architecture in Calais Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
Melancholic and lovely, no?

We spent an hour or so getting lost and somewhat despondent in the suburbs of Calais, before stumbling right onto the Museum of Fine Arts, i.e. our favourite place. Mr H is a wonderful artist, and was really struck that this unassuming building was filled with so many treasures. We couldn’t help ourselves, and bought a poster to remind us of the visit.

Musée des Beaux Arts Calais Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Calais is home to a moving representation of the Les Bourgeois de Calais, four citizens of Calais who sacrificed themselves to Edward III during the Hundred Years War, to save the rest of their city. The statue was created by mother flippin’ RODIN guys. It’s pretty impressive, and its proportions are strangely captivating. Here’s a sneak peek:

Bourgeois in Calais Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

It hardly does it justice really.

On a slightly more upbeat note, we also popped into the Continental wonderland that is Carrefour. Our mission? To obtain some delicious booze at knock down prices. At first I was like this:

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and then I was like this:

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Bliss, really. We came away with some orange bitters called Picon, and a little bottle of the aniseed pastis Ricard. We got about 1.5 litres in total for about 20 euros, which we both thought was quite reasonable indeed!

Over the day we ended up walking approximately 17 kilmetres, which Google leads me to believe is about 10.5 miles. I am absolutely appalled by that number, to tell you the truth. So. Much. Walking. We were in desperate need of refreshments, and luckily, these were presented to us via the gastronomical stylings of my new favourite French restaurant, Au Coq D’or (The Golden Rooster).

Au Coq D'Or Calais Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I did my absolute best to order in my gradually worsening French, and we enjoyed a beautiful starter of langoustines and fresh buttered baguette on the house. Mr H ordered the mussels and I had the steak. All this, with two glasses of Pinot Noir each, came to only 42 euros. For the quality of the food, it was an absolute steal. Please take my advice and go here if you are ever in Calais!

Stuffed to the gills, we waddled back to the Port, and I boarded the boat as an EU Citizen at last! The atmosphere on board was convivial, but that didn’t stop us catching a minute or two of open-mouthed shut eye. Forgive me, it was a very early start.

I really found Calais to be such an interesting city. I’m looking forward to getting to know it a little better and to find more of it’s authentic personality. It’s so easy to stick to the tried and true tourist path, but little treasures like great restaurants and lovely art galleries that make day trips abroad so enjoyable. We are really so lucky to live in this part of the world.

This Week I Was Grateful For #5

Postes Calais Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

 

When I meet new people, I am often asked the same question within the first ten minutes of conversation: Why would you choose Kent over Australia?

I try not to sigh too loudly when asked this, but they sometimes escape. Not because I’m tired of being asked, but because I can’t believe that the people of Kent don’t realise how wonderful a place to live this fine county is.

Last weekend I went to Calais with my wonderful fiancé. We went there and back in a day (a long day, I admit), but it was such a treat, and such a wonderful punctuation mark in our otherwise delightfully (and newly) calm lives. I took the photo of the post box above on the streets of Calais, because I thought it was beautiful.

All week I’ve thought how lucky I am to be able to make a trip like this, in less time than it takes to drive from one end of Western Australia to the other.

And that, my friends, is why I chose Kent.

~

How do you feel about where you live?

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.

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. 

Un/Ravelled.

Going Down:

An overwhelming inability to work solidly for more than 10 minutes at a time. Just as I progress into the hardest four weeks in all of my studying life. Thanks brain, it’s so great of you to come to the party like this. You’re also being tremendously helpful with your obsession with iPad games and staying up to 1am consistently. Honestly, what is my problem? Severely need to get my A into G, but this is looking less and less likely to happen. May or may not turn my late-semester stress levels up to 11. JOY.

I have been running (yes, running!) semi-solidly for five weeks now. Long enough that I can see improvement in my runs, but sadly not long enough that the poor, tender skin on the soles of my feet have been able to sufficiently harden up against the blight of the blister.  I am absolutely covered in the damn things, which makes me want to refrain from running to let them heal, which also makes me feel like a total wimp. Dilemma. What to do, oh wise internet? Send me tips etc, for running bliss. Sadly there has been no discernible change in my weight, which is now at an all time comfort-eating high. Ho hum.

My bank balance is at a near-ruinous level once again. No comment.

Going up:

I have had at least three rather delightful conversations with teacher recruiters for the UK, which is an oxymoron if ever I have heard one. I’m feeling decidedly positive about my work prospects, and in fact it seems like my return to my adopted home will in fact happen, despite the general never-ending-assessments feeling that has swept over me regarding uni work.

My first assessment for semester 2 came back with a (totally unexpected) fantastic grade. I am particularly delighted, because I was close to tears about it, practically from the moment we received the task sheet. I don’t, however, hold any high hopes for my latest effort.

I have a JOB INTERVIEW on Thursday evening for a teaching position next year. It all feels a little unreal, but it’s in the diary so I guess I better buck up my ideas and get preparing. Funnily enough I am having no trouble planning things for next year, which probably says something about my state of mind. My mother used to say ‘don’t wish your life away Sam’; rather good advice which I have faithfully ignored for approximately 15 years.

It’s all happening, so it seems, at HSGS Headquarters. But it’s a damn struggle, so many threads to keep track of. How’s life treating you?

Gettin’ all Sentimental

Well folks, it happened. I left the comforting bosom of my home for the last four years and high tailed it back to Perth, Australia. I’m heading back to uni, and while I’m still settling back in and before I work out how many of my old friends are still here, I’m taking advantage of the solitude and firing this little baby back up.

I also bought an iPad on route, and although it’s not the greatest to type on, I’m totally bloody obsessed and using it as much as humanly possible.
My friend Annalise once said, having moved interstate, that when in Sydney, when she referred to ‘home’ it meant Perth, but when in Perth ‘home’ was Sydney. I feel the same way, to a certain extent, although my first 12 hours back in Aus was filled with that lovely, warming, comforting welcome from family, and so I hadn’t felt too out of sorts. After eights hours kip and what I hope turns out to be a mild case of jet lag, I’m feeling the distance I’ve come, and hope that I can manage the tiny heart pain I feel from not being amongst my pals in Kent.
I think I’ve mentioned on here before how frequently I’ve packed up and left everything behind in my life. Primary school, secondary school, uni and first real job were all in different cities, the last one was even in a different country. It’s a pattern I don’t want to continue indefinitely, because it can be painful  and isolating to the same extent that it’s exciting and refreshing. But here I am starting my new career back in my hometown, having left the life I created once again.
I wept as we flew into Perth, seeing the vast sky I told everyone about in England, with the phrase ‘I loves a sunburnt country’ repeating in mind. I can’t remember any of the poem past that, but it was enough to make me bulb semi-silently in the plane cabin. Although being away from England is strange, it’s a joy to be back, it truly is, if only for the weather! 
But actually, it’s not only the weather, already I can see that. It’s being able to sit next to my dad in the car and not speak, not because we don’t have eighteen months to catch up on, but because we’re so comfortable with each other that we forget we’ve spent so long apart. It’s having coloured money again, and knowing once I get a job, that I’ll be paid fortnightly, not just the dreaded once a month. It’s being a local, not a foreigner. It’s knowing the lay of the land inherently, and not having to google map everything.
It’s going to be a strange old year, busy and challenging. Let’s see if I’m up to it.