Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gainful employment

Want to know what I do at work? My colleague wrote a little story about it.

So how about a warm round of applause for our guest blogger, Josie!

Once upon a time there were two fantastic Aussie girls named Josie and Amanda who worked at The Government Agency. Josie, who doesn't like many people, thought Amanda was ok and they became friends. Amanda, who is in love with Alphabeat, thought Josie was the coolest person in the world and she followed her everywhere she went. This didn't bother Josie as Amanda walked faster than her so she was able to lose her on a number of occasions.

The girls did everything together. Laughed together, got lunch together, had hot chocolate, a latte with a shot of vanilla and panetone together, and they even did their time sheets together. So much fun to be had.

Josie and Amanda were managed by the big, bad, monster named Keef. Keef was nasty and made Josie and Amanda work. He gave them boring projects to work on like The Volunteering Program and The Website. Josie and Amanda couldn't take it anymore so they sent Keef to Spain and they all lived happily ever after.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mum and dad

A big shout out to ma and pa for coming all the way over to London to visit me! Even though dad claimed it wasn’t the reason for the trip, I know it was.

In the five days we spent together we managed to fit in the London Tower experience, a bus tour, the theatre, Covent Garden, the Transport Museum, the world’s most expensive Thai dinner at the Sugar Hut, the Globe Theatre, a river cruise, shopping at Harrods, Tuesday night trivia, a slightly drunken dinner at the Atlas, High Street Kensington, the Thames River Festival and parade, and more public transport than my parents have ever encountered before.

We had a super fun time, and despite being a little tired and a little grumpy some days, I enjoyed having them here so so very much. I miss them already and can’t wait to see them in two-and-a-half months.

So, thank you mum and dad, love you hard…

So much fun, so little time

I have never been as excited about a trip as I was about our little sojourn to Copenhagen. Maybe it was because it was free, maybe it was because it was on the Continent, maybe because it was to go and see cheesy Danish pop. Whatever it was, I barely slept on Thursday night because I was so excited.

Amber and I got up super early on Friday morning, hauled ass out to Heathrow, and embarked on 24 hours of power. Copenhagen isn’t a huge city; probably about the size of Brisbane I guess. But Amber and I were determined to fit it all in.

We arrived in Copenhagen around midday, caught the metro into the city centre, withdrew some kroners from a cash machine, and immediately enjoyed the wares of a local hotdog vendor. Man, the Danes love their sausages. Fortunately, so do Amber and I. The next port of call was the House of Amber, where Amber bought herself a pretty little ring. With at least half a dozen HOA’s in Copenhagen, the Danes also love their amber. Then we checked in to the hotel and put on extra layers of clothing before hitting the city for some kitsch tourist action.

So, we braved the cold (about 14 degrees or so, but with a biting wind) and hit the main shopping precinct. Amber bought some new makeup (she abandoned all of hers at Heathrow customs for some reason) and we enjoyed our first decent coffee since Paris. There was just enough time for Amber and I to purchase a Viking and Danish puffing troll hanging mobile respectively, before we boarded the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. I love a good bus tour. And it would seem that the Danes love a good statue, as I have never seen so many in a city before. One of the highlights was the Little Mermaid statue, despite the rude and thoughtless crowds.

Back in the city centre after the bus tour, Amber and I thought we would check out the venue for the Alphabeat gig and pick up our tickets – our names were on the door you know. I thought that the gig was going to be in a club, but it turned out to be at the Tivoli Gardens, a huge amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen. Supa fun! Amber and I went on a chair-o-plane that was 80m high, and one of the scariest things I have ever been on. Just ask Amber, she still has marks on her arm from my fingernails when I thought my safety belt was undone. After that, we went on a much tamer triple loop rollercoaster to calm my nerves. A couple of amusement games later, I walked out with a stuffed hippo toy and Amber with an ugly rubber light-up alien bouncy thing. Honestly, I don’t know what it was.

We had a quick power nap before donning our party outfits, complete with our new black wool tights that cost us 135 kroner each. Or about £13 each. Or about $AUS30 each. Ouch! But damn were they warm, and we both agreed that they were worth every kroner! A quick tuk-tuk ride back into town (Amber and I’s favourite mode of transport), a pre-gig drink at a local bar, and then we made it to the Tivoli just in time for Alphabeat. Despite a crowd of thousands, we scored ourselves a fantastic spot really close off to the side of the stage. I think the reason we got such a good spot was because no one wanted to stand near the cranky old crab of a woman behind us. I stepped back to let someone through and she started yelling at me in Danish, despite my apologies. I felt rather bad, until she let loose with the same abuse to anyone who dared walk near her. Amber and I dubbed her "Crazy Mum" and tried to direct the moving crowds toward her for the rest of the night.

But Alphabeat were AWESOME! Seriously, so much fun! The male lead singer (who incidentally looked like Rick Astley) was absolutely crazy and totally entertaining. And for a pop group, they sounded really good, as good as on their album. Amber and I danced our little butts off, but were pretty much the only ones. Apparently the Danes don’t really love to dance.

After the relatively short gig (they have only released one album) Amber and I tried to suss out where the after party was, to no avail. So instead we found ourselves at a cosy little bar with a live band. Their white wine went down easily and Hoegaarden was served in a glass as big as your head, literally, so we decided to stay. Over a course of several hours we befriended some brewers from Sheffield and Italy, a middle aged man and his tango partner, and a kid that sort of looked like Perez Hilton. As anyone who has met us can attest, Amber and I know when to call it a night, so we hailed another tuk-tuk driver who tucked us in with a blanket and whisked us home.

However, there was a rather enticing little bar at the end of the street where we were staying, so Amber and I decided to have a nightcap. The hostess asked if we where on the list, and Amber tried to convince her that I was. I think she liked our cheeky attempts, because she let us in and encouraged us to spend big at the bar. Which we did, although it was only on one glass of champagne. Amber and I put on a show for the punters by doing shadow puppets and dancing behind a back-lit curtain, before stumbling down the street and into our hotel.

We awoke early in the morning to the most horrid of hangovers that god has ever cast upon a drinker. It was truly awful. We showered and packed before heading down for a life-saving buffet breakfast. Oh, there was cereal and fruit and cold meats and several cheeses and pate and bread and frittata and eggs and delicious crispy bacon. We left for the airport feeling much better.

There was the obligatory duty free shopping, before boarding a plane back to London at midday.

Best. 24-hour holiday. Ever!

But now I have Post Alphabeat Depression. Sigh…

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside

Last Sunday Laura, Mark (aka Spark), Matt and I grabbed our bikinis and went to Brighton for the day. As it turned out, we didn’t need our swimmers after all. Brighton put on a typically British day for us, with grey skies and intermittent showers. Perfect!

We arose at an ungodly hour for a Sunday morning, packed our sandwiches and scarves, and caught the 8:30am train to the beach. The train was fairly empty but we managed to pick a seat near the grossest passenger who kept coughing up his left lung. The first time he did it we all looked at each other with surprise, the second time we looked at each other with disgust, the third time we all grabbed our bags and ran to the next carriage without saying a word to each other.

The first port of call in the little seaside town was a café so we could all get a hit of caffeine. After that we trundled down to the pebbled beach for the obligatory dipping of our toes (in this case finger tips), skimming of rocks, and photo opportunities. Then we hit the shops to buy Sparky a coat, as the flimsy little jacket he had been getting around in for the past few months was not going to cut it against the ocean breezes.

A trip to Brighton would not be complete without a visit to the pier and it’s rides and amusement arcades. We went on a tame looking little rollercoaster called the Crazy Mouse, which was actually rather terrifying given its rattling rails and lifting carriages. I screamed the entire way, it was awesome!

Another compulsory tourist activity is chips’n’vinegar by the seaside, which of course we had to partake in. With bellies full of warm carbohydrates we hit the Crazy Golf course (are you sensing a theme here? Crazy!). Being a semi-frequent visitor of the Victoria Park mini golf, I have to say that Crazy Golf left a lot to be desired. The green was concrete rather than grass, and clearly built in a time before spirit levels. I managed to putt the ball about two feet away from the hole, but the uneven green and the wind ended up blowing it in for a hole in one!

By this stage we had pretty much exhausted all of the possibilities Brighton presented to us on a dreary day, so hosted our own pub crawl on the way back up the hill to the train station, stopping in at the Varsity Bar, the Fishbowl, and Quadrant. Though to be honest the only reason we stopped at Quadrant was because Sparky and I have bladders the size of thimbles and needed to use the bathroom.

We collapsed into our seats on the train with rosy cheeks after being windblown all day. I fell asleep about 10 minutes into the return trip, only to be woken up as the muscles in my neck relaxed in my slumber and I smacked my head on the window. Ouch.

All in all, a lovely day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I won!

I won, I won, I won!

Despite the disappointment last time I entered a London Paper competition, I went back online and entered others.

And I won one!

They called me to let me know that I had won tickets to see the band Alphabeat.

That's pretty cool!


That's pretty effing awesome!

They are covering the tickets, air fares and accommodation!

So Amber and I are jetting over to Copenhagen Friday morning, returning Saturday afternoon so I can spend the rest of the weeekend with my parents.

I am predicting another Best. Weekend. Ever!

PS. Apologies for the excessive exclamation points, but I am really really excited.

Just another manic Monday

It’s been a while since I’ve shared tube stories, but there were some crazies on the train this morning!

There was the guy standing on West Brompton platform practising his balancing skills by artfully and subtly standing on one leg for about a minute, then swapping. This went on for nearly five minutes.

There were the hundreds of people crammed into the Edgware Road train, when the Upminster train two minutes behind it was half empty.

There was the Rolf Harris lookalike sitting opposite me on the District line.

And then there was the girl on the Jubilee line who decided to clean the sleep out of her eyes and wipe it on the magazine she was reading. Eww.