Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And now, the end is near

I can't believe that my time in London comes to an end today. Even as I'm writing this I am tearing up.

The past year has been the best year of my life. I have had some fantastic adventures, seen some great places, and made and strengthened some wonderful friendships.

Last night I had a farewell dinner in Covent Garden and was truly touched by the turnout, that so many people would come along to see me off.

Whilst saying goodbye to Matt, Mark, Emma and Laura wasn't too bad, knowing that I would see them again soon, saying goodbye to others was a little heartbreaking.

Bondy and Alli were the first friends that *I* made in London, and through them I became good friends with Kasia, Matt, Beavis, Matt (yeah, there were a lot of Matt's there last night), Sarah and Adam. I have had some hilariously fun times with these guys, from long orphan Christmas lunches to weekends away at the most unlikely of places. My time in London wouldn't have been the same without these guys.

The other people I shall dearly miss are my friends from The Government Agency, Georgina, Colm and Keef. After seeing you every day it was extremely difficult to say goodbye, and there was a stiffled sob at Waterloo train station last night. Colm, I know you are reading this, so please pass it on to Georgina as well. I shall miss you two dearly and promise to stay in touch. And my parents' beach house is available any time you decide to come to Australia! (That's okay isn't it mum?)

Now Amber, either you are going to have to move back to Australia or I am going to have to move back to London, okay? Amber was the one that convinced me to move overseas and I would not have had the brilliant time here without her. Amber is one of the most intelligent and funniest people I know, and quite often I am her little prophet, quoting her words of wisdom to others (Olly looks like he smells like dairy, jewellry is for Greeks and mistresses). I warn you Amby, that our goodbyes in Brisbane aren't going to be a dry affair.

And Angela, my little Model Mondays and Wild European Vacation partner in crime, what am I going to do without you? Part of me wants to stay here just so that I can share all of your London adventures with you. I hope your time in London is as happy as mine. Make the most of the opportunities you have here and just live it up.

After nearly two years in London I am going home with £500 in my pocket. I know, it's not much is it. But I have had so many holidays and nights out and trips to the theatre and a Chelsea football game and a glorious Marc Jacobs handbag and hundreds upon hundreds of photos of all the fun and mementos of my time here and a blog detailing my time here and a suitcase of cute dresses and some lifelong friends. So I would say that I have done pretty well.

Adieu London, see you soon.

PS. This blog is not going to end just because I am going home, not now that I have four readers (hi!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am London

The past couple of weeks have been busy, as I get a final dose of all things London and English: Bonfire night, my third favourite night of the year; Blood Brothers musical theatre show with none other than Mel C from spice Girls (who was actually rather good); dinner with work colleagues at Ping Pong dim sum restaurant in Waterloo; a weekend away in Portsmouth with Bondy and Beavis and a fabulous three hour long lunch; and ice-skating in the shadows of the Tower of London last night.

And the next few days are going to be equally as crazy, with the movies with Amber tonight, work farewell drinks tomorrow night, moving on Friday, dinner with Kasia on Friday night, Camden Markets on Saturday (Angela, we are definitely going this time), a quiet night in with Angela and X Factor on Saturday night, before we head off at sparrow's fart on Sunday for Amanda and Angela's Wild European Vacation for two weeks.

Toot toot!

So this is probably the last blog for a little while. Later skaters...

Friday, November 20, 2009

I miss you already!

I am really going to miss the people that I work with. I have made some fantastic friends here in London, that I will miss terribly.

And it looks like they will miss me too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What do you think?

So, a new girl has started at work this week, and she is quite nice and friendly.

However, I have two issues with her.

1. She wore a black sequin blazer and red snake skin stilettos on her first day. I thought that this was appropriate for a night out at a bar in Soho, but slightly inappropriate for starting a new job. You should always be rather conservative on the first day, until you know what the office is like.

2. She is hotdesking and her monitor went blank so she swung it back and smashed it against the desk dividing wall. On two separate occasions. I hate people who smash electronic items when they don't work. In this case I thought it showed a level of disrespect, especially as it wasn't her computer. However, she should get on well with another colleague who takes to kicking the printer when it gets a paper jam.

As per usual, I emailed Amby, Matt and Mark to get their thoughts on the issue.

Amber's response:

1. The British workplace is a free for all as far as dressing goes so she will get away with whatever horror outfits emerge.

2. That's' just wrong. Perhaps she is trying to get noticed so everyone knows her name by Friday drinks where she will overconsume, flash her chest to senior executives and mistake the front door for the latrine...

Matt's response:

1. I concur. Conservative until you know ur place.

2. While it does feel good to throw/kick/smash electrical items, there is a time and a place. Me, I would have wriggeled the cords, tried degaussing the screen then tried monitors and checked out the graphic card drivers :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

I like a woman with spirit, I do, I do, I do*

Amber, Matt, Mark and I took a little trip to Belfast last weekend. Why Belfast you ask (as many of you have)? Because we got £15 return flights.

Just to put things in perspective, the very very very early morning cab to Stanstead Airport on Saturday cost us £58, or approximately £15 each. And the Stanstead Express train from the airport to Liverpool Street on Monday morning cost us £17. Apparently airplanes are cheaper to run than trains.

Belfast is an interesting city. The city centre has a brand spanking new shopping centre, complete with glass dome roof and viewing platform, and filled with higher end high street shops. However, the outer suburbs are run down, cement clad, and generally grey.

Saturday we started off with brunch at the local farmers markets, where we ate our way through olives, tapenade, sausage rolls, pig on a spit on a roll, lollies that looked like a cooked breakfast, and some oysters. Matt didn't realise that he had to shuck them himself, which he tried to do with Amber's contraband nail file, before admitting defeat and sheepishly going back to the vendor to open them for him.

From there we made our way to the aforementioned shopping centre so that I could purchase some new boots, as mine were falling apart and about two hours away from an Angela-at-Oktoberfest-esque gaffa tape fix. We went to every store in the centre without any luck, and as a last resort I went to the Puma shop, where I fell in love with some black leather biker boots. Of course I bought them, and proceeded to sing an amended version of a Calvin Harris song for the rest of the time: "oooh, I've got new shoes and I'm ready for the weekend!"

As international lovers of the Hoponhopoff Bus Tour, we decided to do a big bus tour around the city. We saw the dry dock where the Titanic was built, lots of murals commemorating the Troubles, Falls Road (dubbed whores road by Amber) where the Catholics live, Shankhill Road (dubbed skanksville road by Amber) where the Protestants live, an abandoned courthouse, a converted prison, and learnt a little more about the history of Belfast. We also froze our freakin arses off. We were sitting on the open top of the bus and the wind chill factor brought the temperature down to about zero we reckon. Matty and I snuggled together in a feeble attempt to maintain core body temperature.

After the tour we decided to warm ourselves up in a nice pub down a random alley way with some wine for the ladies and Guinness for the gents, and some Wallabies rugby union action for everyone. The drinks and the early morning meant that we all required a little nap (two hours) before dolling ourselves up and heading out to experience Belfast's nightlife.

The cab driver that took us from the airport to the hotel had suggested we go to a bar called Kelly's, which we found and quickly walked past. After a fantastic dinner at an Argentinean restaurant we sought out a couple of bars that Mark's friend had suggested. It was at this point that we decided not to listen to anyone else's suggestions. The bars were packed to the rafters with middle aged women wearing sequin minidresses on hens parties and deeply unattractive men over the age of 40. We didn't even finish our drinks before high tailing it out of there and heading to a younger part of town ("somewhere that doesn't have a median age of 55 please cab driver!") and found ourselves at a bar called the Spaniard, which reminded me a lot of Ric's (my favourite bar in Brisbane). While we were wedged between Amber's new best dreadlocked friend and freakin couple's make out corner, we had a few drinks and laughs. Around midnight I decided to leave the others to it and head home, after which they hit the vodka redbulls and then went to some underground club that didn't serve alcohol but actually did serve alcohol. I recall Amber stumbling in around 4am, animatedly telling me about the club, and declaring that possibly she had had too many redbulls.

Unfortunately Amber wasn't so animated on the Sunday, so we left her in the room to watch television and order clam chowder from room service, and the boys and I went out to find some brunch. We then realised it was nearly 1pm, so turned our attentions to lunch, and boy did we find it. The only place we could find that was open had a three-course Sunday pub lunch on, which we enjoyed whilst reading the papers and listening to Matt's stories about his hilarious and embarrassing childhood.

With the afternoon to fill we decided to do a black cab tour, which was promised to be more informative and personal than the Hoponhopoff tour that we had done the previous day. It would have been if the driver hadn't spent so much time slagging off the bus tour and telling us that he wouldn't be telling us this or that because we didn't have time. It was still interesting as he took us to different parts of the town, though Mark and I didn't like it when he made us get out of the cab to look at a mural because there were some nasty looking women with tattoos staring us down. Fortunately though, we survived to make it up to Belfast Castle with it's beautiful views over the port.

Back at the hotel we rustled up Amber and headed out for dinner. A local information computer kiosk thing in the reception listed a modern Irish restaurant called Tony Roma's about 0.4miles from the hotel, which we thought would be perfect. Tony Roma's turned out to be an American restaurant about 2 miles from the hotel. Whatever, we still ate there and were reminded of why American's have the highest rate of obesity - the servings were unnecessarily huge. After dinner we went back to the hotel to watch X Factor (go Jedward), pack, and prepare for our early morning departure.

It was really interesting to spend a weekend in a rather non-destination city, and find out a bit more about it's turbulent history. I can't say I would go back again, but I definitely enjoyed it.

"Oooh, I put on my shoes and I'm ready for the weekend"
Calvin Harris

* Amber's catchphrase for the weekend, from Monty Python if I am correct

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Overheard in London

Amber and I have some rather silly conversations over email. In fact, most days there are group emails bouncing back between Amby, Matt, Mark and I. This is one of my favourites, and has become a running joke.

Amby: Am going to the movies tonight with Charlotte. I want to see that teen vampire flick but I think she wants to See Fantastic Mr Fox or Couples Counselling ...anyone else keen?

Moi: I'll go see the teen vampire movie with you next Wednesday Amby

Amby: You cant get out of it now you have promised Mandy. Plus I know you are on Team Edward... and Team Jedward...

Moi: It's a date. I'll wear my Team Edward shirt and be all broody, and you can wear your Team Jacob shirt and not brush your hair.

Amby: Just our usual modus operandus then.

On second thoughts, probably not funny to anyone but Amber and I, and all those little tweens that read Twilight...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Catch up

It's been a busy last couple of weeks, and while I have lots to share I also have lots of work to do. Damn career getting in the way of my personal life.

Last Wednesday Angela and I went to see Phoenix at Brixton Academy. It was all a bit Three Stooges getting there, as we completely missed the stop, were laughed at by some 13 year old girls, and then had to make our way back. However it was all worth it as Phoenix were AWESOME! I have to admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of Phoenix, having only heard their old album thanks to Nathy putting it on my iPod, but agreed to go and keep Angela company. But the venue was fantastic, the sound and lighting were amazing, and Phoenix just bloody rocked it. To top off the night Angela saw a drug deal on street as we were waiting for a bus!

Last Friday we went to Wimbledon dogs for Matty's 35th birthday. Happy birthday Matt! And apologies to dad for waking you up super early Saturday morning to get your advice for race seven. I was drawn to #3 Barney's Giggle, but then saw #1 - Graham's Gooch. So I called dad, was given a quick lesson in reading the form guide (never go for the dog that has consistantly run 2nd as they don't want to win, instead go for the dog that has had a 1st recently). While everyone else went for Barney's Giggle I backed Graham's Gooch, who romped it in and won me a nice little purse! I bet on seven races, won three, lost four, and managed to come out £1 up overall. After the races Amber and Stuart and I went to the local pub - The Corner Pub - for a nightcap, while Charlotte and Jack retired for the evening, and the mo's went to a mo club in Clapham. Well, didn't they miss out! At the Corner Pub there was a 50th birthday party complete with a table of nasty cold party food (garlic chicken balls, mini sausages, stale chips) and karaoke. We enjoyed the atmosphere and cheap drinks before making our way to the station and catching the train home.

Saturday I was planning on going to Camden markets, but only made it as far as Clapham Junction with Angela. This was okay though, as we found the most delicious markets and enjoyed some cheese and ham and potato tapas goodness.

Saturday night was Hallowe'en, and Amber and I were excited about the opportunity to dress up like idiots. Amber was a nun and I was death by mirrorball, with (British teen favourite) dark eye makeup, bits of mirrorball scattered across my face, and a bleeding wound on my forehead. After X Factor we made our way to a party being held by my old manager at The Government Agency, Keef. There were costumes and spider webs and Bundy Rum and monkeys and carved pumpkins and Monster Munch chips, and it was honestly one of the best house parties we'd ever been to.

And this week is another big one, with Model Mondays last night, movies tomorrow night, Bonfire night (my third favourite night of the year!) on Thursday, and then packing Friday night because this weekend I am going to Belfast with Amber, Matt, and Mark!

I think I need a nap...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My weekend in numbers

7 hours on trains

8 cups of sugarless tea

3 large meals (no dinner on Sunday though)

2.5 epic Cathryn Cookson movies

15 minutes watching the pigeons with Uncle George

1 extra hour with Aunty Ana as daylight savings ended

14 drunken text messages from Beavis on Saturday night updating me on X Factor

5 references to me being a lovely girl in a phone call between Aunty Ana and mum

3 episodes of Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

15 unbearably cold minutes waiting at Malton station for my train on Sunday evening

0 toilet breaks on the train because I didn't want to leave my laptop and was eavesdropping on the hilarious alcohol-fuelled domestic in the seat behind me

Monday, October 26, 2009

Narcissistic fun

A friend at work told me about a website where you can turn a photo of you into a cartoon. Of course, I had to do one.

Look at me everyone, I’m a cartoon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oh mum!

While I don’t consider myself a “grown up”, I like to think that I am a fairly mature and capable girl.

I mean, I travelled to Amsterdam by myself when I was 18, I arranged a mortgage and bought my apartment by myself with I was 23, and then moved my life to the other side of the world by myself when I was 25.

However, when I was talking to mum last night about how I was catching the train up to York this weekend she told me to take care and not talk to any strangers. Unless they were good looking men!

“Don't you know they'll never be here but I'll always be your little girl”
Scarlet Ribbons, Roisin Murphy

Football game = tick!

Last night I went to the Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid Champions League game at Stamford Bridge with Matt2 (aka Cute Matt, according to a colleague who as a crush on him).

We'd gotten our tickets as part of a package from Travel Zoo, and they included dinner beforehand and a ticket to avoid the plebs and enter the stadium through an express entrance. That's how I like it!

We were sat to the side of the pitch, near the end of the stadium, right next to the Madrid supporters. It was really strange - the "away" and the "home" supporters are completely separate. While the Madrid supporters were lively and entertaining, with their chants and barechestedness and scarves and standing up and general air of fun, the Chelsea supporters were a bunch of dead fish. Honestly, everyone just sat there deadpan unless there was a goal or near goal, at which point they would stand up and clap. The other strange thing is that there is no drinking in the stands, so everyone packs into the bar at half-time.

However, it was a good game. Kalou scored two rather exciting goals, Frank Lampard managed one, and the Madrid goalie made it 4-0 to Chelsea in the end.

It's no secret that I am not a fan of Ashley Cole, husband of Cheryl Cole of Girls Aloud and now solo fame, and well known philanderer. My hatred of Ashley Cole grew even more when he fell over and cried like a baby, was told to get off the pitch and skipped off like a girl. Within 10 minutes he was back on, running around, and missing the ball like Cheryl was missing the on switch to her microphone during her "live" performance on X Factor. After that I referred to him as B!tch Ar$e Cole for the rest of the evening.

At the end of the evening, when the final whistle blew, there was some more clapping from the crowd, before everyone turned and quietly made their way out. While there were some people that had had a few drinks and were merry, most people just slowly walked down the street towards the tube station, doing what I dubbed the "Chelsea shuffle".

It was a rather tame affair, compared to my last encounter with football fans a couple of weeks ago. Amber, Emma and I had been to the movies and were leaving just after the game had finished. There was a large group of drunken away supporters out the front of the shopping centre, and the police were using their favourite kettling technique - surrounding them so they can't move. Unfortunately they decided to kettle them in the shopping centre, closed down the doors, the restaurants and shops all closed up and we were stuck inside. We spoke to a security guard and were let out a side entrance, and exited amongst all of the policemen and policedogs trying to keep the hooligans at bay.

So it was a rather placid event last night, but still a lot of fun, and yet another thing I can tick off the list!

"Blue is the color, Football is the game, We're all together and winning is our aim, So cheer us on through the sun and rain, Cause Chelsea, Chelsea is our name."
Blue Is The Colour, Chelsea FC Theme Song

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A long and winding blog entry

Work has become a little bit of a hard slog lately. I'm busy, but I know that I've only got a few weeks to go. With my time in London limited I have been doing a lot more both during the week and on the weekends, which means that Mondays are especially difficult.

The only thing that gets me through the day on a Monday is MODEL MONDAY MADNESS! Fashion reality television reigns supreme on Monday. First we had Make Me A Supermodel US (MMASUS), and now it's the latest season of America's Next Top Model (ANTM).

This has started a bit of a Monday dinner party tradition for me. Apart from when I was in Munich, each Monday I have people over for dinner and we dissect and judge the pretty people.It started off as a casual affair, with Angela coming over for Chicken Kiev, and has grown into a culinary delight, with me trying out new recipes for Angela and Kasia this week.

And my baked macaroni cheese went down an absolute treat! Angela licked the saucepan of any leftover bechamel sauce and supported Jaala's claim that I should open my own cafe. Jaala and I have discussed this many times. My cafe would be an open kitchen and dining room, where guests would have to sit and talk to me while I cooked, and eat whatever I decide to dish up that day. Oh, and the guests would have to bring a bottle of wine. Them's the rules.

So anyway, I present to you, my Delicious Baked Macaroni Cheese recipe!

Purchase oven proof bowls, big enough for an individual serve.

Cook macaroni. I don't know how much, just whatever you think.

Cut up maybe four or five rashers of bacon, fry, then remove from pan before they get too crispy.

Dice half an onion, fry until soft, add two finely diced cloves of garlic and fry for another little while but not so long that the garlic burns.

Add the bacon back to the pan, stir around, turn off the heat and set aside.

In a saucepan melt a wad of salted butter, a big wad, on low heat. Once melted add an equal amount of flour, until it sort of looks like play doh, then stir constantly for one minute to cook off the flour.

Over low heat, add a quarter cup of milk. The flour and butter mixture (roux) will absorb it quickly and turn into mush. This is good. Add another quarter cup of milk and stir. Keep adding milk until the sauce thins out a little and then start whisking to get rid of lumps.

The amount of milk required depends on how much roux you made. I don't know the correct amount. Hang on. *Googles a recipe* For 50g of butter and 50g of flour you should need about 500ml of milk. Use common sense though - less milk, thicker sauce.

Once you have a smooth sauce add cheese. Shit loads of cheese. At this point my bechamel sauce starts to resemble a cheese fondue mixture. This is good.

Mix sauce with macaroni, bacon and onion mixture, and approximately 10 grinds of pepper.

Spoon mixture into bowls and top with more grated cheese.

Cook in the oven for however long it takes to make the sauce bubble a little. This is where glass oven proof bowls are awesome. Maybe 10-15 minutes or so. Then turn the oven grill on for 3-5 minutes to crips up the top.

Serve with a side salad, to counteract the fact that you are eating hardcore carbs and cheese for dinner.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Selfridges = tick!

Last night I had the most fabulous evening at Selfridges with my bestie at The Government Agency, Georgie.

When Georgie found out that my time in London was limited and that I was yet to experience Selfridges, she sent me a formal meeting invite at work and appointed herself Chief Australian Naturalisation Officer.

She insisted that we start the evening with a glass of expensive bubbles in the Moet Bar, overlooking the designer handbag department. As you can probably imagine, I took a lot of convincing!

From there we browsed through the handbags, accessories and cosmetics, before making our way to the Christmas Shop. I was like a fat kid in a candy store, with a massive grin on my face. They had glitter covered reindeer and garden gnomes, Christmas baubles in every shape and colour you could imagine, tinsel that looked like jewellry, a selection of pirate-themed decorations, giant plastic candy canes, and so many sparkly things I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Georgie dragged me away from the Christmas section so that we could get down to some serious shopping - shoes. I had set out with a plan to purchase some new black flat boots, as I wear mine pretty much every day now that the temperature has started to plummet. However, I was distracted by the Nine West display, and with some gentle encouragement from Georgie ended up purchasing these utterly gorgeous puppies...


We had a quick walk around the upstairs (and therefore upmarket) fashion floors, before heading to the basement to peruse the food market and have some sushi for dinner.

Ah, such a fantastic way to spend a Monday night!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Update: my to do list

Okay, time for an update on my to do list.

Nathan, you will be happy to note that I can now cross off…

Hoponhopoff bus tour and River Thames cruise.
I did this with Angela, Kelly and Steve, and we learnt a lot of terrible jokes that day. I was slightly disappointed with the guide’s commentary, so interjected with my own impromptu London trivia as required.

Another visit to Great Aunt Christiana.
This is booked in for later this month. After the extremely expensive car hire fiasco last time, I have decided to catch the train. I hope she offers me a shot of whiskey before bed again. JUST JOKING MUM! Well, Aunty Ana did offer it last time, but I didn’t accept it. I was too drunk from dinner. JUST JOKING MUM!

Chelsea football match.
Beavis and I are going to the Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid Champions League game on 21 October, and we are going in style! We’ve got a package deal with dinner and refreshments, a programme, and a seat in the “friendly” section.

However, the people at work have added a whole raft of things to the list:
Red Brick Aussie pub
Richmond Park
Regents Park
Primrose Hill
Hampstead Heath

At this rate I may have to reschedule my flights to next February. JUST JOKING MUM!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Everything you needed to know about Oktoberfest and more

I am going to hand over to Sparky, our guest blogger for this week, as he recounts our adventures in Munich...

Grab a cup of tea, coffee, beer, wine and some snacks because this one is going to be a long one.

I should introduce the travellers at this point. There was me, Matt, Ang and then Scottish Stu (I went to his parents for Easter this year), Amanda/Mandy (she has featured in a few travels including Sweden and Croatia) and Angela who was Amanda's friend who has recently arrived in London. These two were also the two who weren't beer drinkers and heading to the world's biggest beer festival! Oh and of course Sven my trusty shark. We had a slightly confusing time getting our tickets as you had to do it at the checkin machines, thankfully a guy who worked for Lufthansa did it for us. We had a quick snack before the flight and then got on our plane. Now it's not often I fly with full service airlines, you know the ones that actually give you food and drinks for free. I was sure we would get some sort of decent meal for our 2 hour flight to Germany. Unfortunately all we got was a seeded bun with very yellow cheese, one lettuce leaf and a whole lot of butter. Not much chop if you ask me. I really wanted to have a beer but it was about 6:30am so thought it was too early. Some other guy on the flight didn't think so though, no it wasn't Matt.

We arrived in rainy Munich, had a very confusing time getting our tickets (I subsequently realised I have pretty much lost all the German I learnt at University). Finally worked out how to get our tickets and set off to our self contained apartments. We got off at Ostbahnhof got into a cab and then headed to our flat in Bogenhausen (funny name hey). We met the owners of the flat who were called Roberto and Saviola, they shook everyones hands and I can safetly say both of them (especially Saviola) had very burly handshakes. We unpacked, settled in and got a rundown on the public transport from Roberto. We walked to the metro (aka Munich U-bahn) and caught our train to the city. We got off at the Odeanplatz stop - which was at the top of the main street. We walked down the main drag and headed towards the main square called Marienplatz. It was here we decided to pull up for some food and Matt and Ang decided to have their first stiens. After lunch and listening to some dodgy band playing in the square we walked through the local food market which had freaking awesome food. You could buy a bag of crackling to snack on! Unfortunately we never made it back there :( We then had to wander around the city in an attempt to find an internet cafe to print off tickets we needed for the tour we were doing the next day and a currency exchange. Afterwards we all went back to the flat for an early night in preparation for our trip to the castle. For dinner Stu managed to find some pizza place that delivered. Well done considering none of us could speak German very well.

The next day we got up early and headed in the main train station to go on our cultural day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. We met our tour guide Roland who was an English fella and amused us all day with his story telling antics. Basically he would raise his voice, add lots of different inflections and lean forward while holding his hands behind his back getting very excited during the story. We all meanwhile stood around bored and thinking he was a bit queer. Anyway the trip out there was quite interesting in that we were all told to get on a train and simply find a seat and then in a couple of stops we would need to change trains to get to the castle. The first train was great in that we managed to find a six seater booth where we all sat and chatted until we got to the station change. The next train wasn't so nice and we all manged to cram onto it and had little naps before we arrived. On the way there the weather fined up and we got our first glimpse of the castle which I can safetly say shits all over the castle i have seen so far. Before we started the trip we had time for a quick feed of sausage, a drink and then we started the trek.

We walked past the first castle which was built by King Ludwig's father - Hohenschwangau Castle. It's quite nice as well and looks over a massive lake which looked so nice we all wanted to go swimming and surprisingly it was warm too. After a look around we started the walk up to the castle. Matt, Ang, Stu and I walked up there while the girls took the bus. The walk up was a pretty hard slog but well worth it to see the forest all around the castle. Halfway up there is a bridge that goes across the gorge and you get a fantatic view of the castle. You can see it in the Neuschwanstein Castle link above. After this we had another easy climb to get to the castle. We got a tour through the castle which was simly amazing.

The story behind it is the King Ludwig was a little kooky and basically loved Richard Wagner who was a song/opera composer. If you want to find out more you can check it out here. He comissioned the castle and most of the rooms are designed to reflect different operas Wagner wrote. Ludwig never married and it is thought he was gay. Our guide told us he used to play hide and seek with his staff and also have huge parties where everyone would get drunk and then get naked. Sounds like a great time to me :) After the trip through the castle, which was massive, we got to walk back down to the village through the gorge. We arrived back at the village, had enough time for another sausage and then got onto the bus to take us to the train station to get back to Munich. Our tour guide managed to get into a fight with some other Australian tour guide who turned out to be such a complete bogan that I ended up telling the people around us he should just punch her in the head to shut her up. They all agreed which was good :)

Our trip back was a complete mission in that we had to catch three trains to get there which included a 30 minute break at one station. It was during this break we manged to get some petzels and beers to continue our journey. Our tour guide told us of a great place to go and have dinner and drinks at in Munich when we got back and we somehow managed to remember his directions and how to get there. We caught a tram a couple of stops down from the main train station and got off at what looked like a very dodgy part of town. There was pub that looked like a complete dive and a sex store on the street. We spied a bigger looking pub with people standing outside and thought we would try it out. We wandered in and found it was absolutely huge and the correct pub!! It was a massive beer hall full to the brim with people eating, drinking and yelling PROST! Which is German for Cheers. We went to the bar and all ordered some drinks and even saw the guys tap a keg. The beer is in a huge barrel and two guys lifted it up onto the bench where one guy then got a tap (yes a tap) and hammered it into the barrel. They pour the beer into the steins using what looks like a normal hose tap. Very weird. We then found a table upstairs to have a meal at and were pleasantly surprised at how cheap it all was. Everyone pretty much ordered massive meat based dishes with very little vegetables. Ok it had sauerkraut and potato dumplings but really this wasn't that healthy. I order the pork knuckle which I can safely say was freaking delicious. When the bill arrived we were all pleasantly surprised as it was only $70 Euro which is amazing considering there were 6 of us and we all had drinks and a meal. In London this would have easliy topped £180. We all headed home in cabs after dinner as we knew the real shenanigans were going to start the next day!!

Next day we were up and out of the flats heading to the Oktoberfest site, which is at Theresienwiese which is right near the city centre. Now I have dubbed Oktoberfest Disneyland for Drunks!! There is a whole array of food, showrides, carny games and general drunken antics. On our arrival we were amazed at the amount of people who got dressed up in the traditional clothes of Lederhosen. It's been decided we are all going to get the traditional dress next year. So first thing we did when we arrived was obviously get some pork hotdogs and schnitzel. Then we attacked the rides, there were so many rollercoasters and carny rides that we were all very excited! We continued to walk around the site and marvel at the size of the tents. These tents are the size of airplane hangers and can hold between 10,000 - 17,000 people. We wanted a quick rest so we found one of the outdoor tents and had a sit down and a drink. I had a coke which I'm still quite shocked about!

I had organised for us to be in a tent at the festival however we had to go to a pub to collect the tickets so at around 3pm we all headed off to the Lowenbrau pub to get the tickets. Thankfully it was only two stops away on the U-bahn. We found the pub and when we arrived were greeted with what I can only describe as a simply breathtaking sight. Yes there was a whole cow on a rotisserie in a window at the entrance to the pub. We all stood there drooling and marvelling at this glorious sight and then entered the pub to collect the tickets. Now this is where I found out that what I thought was a booking for a tent was actually a booking for a table in the beer hall at this particular pub. Now to be fair on their website they did say that the tickets were for their tent and they even called the beer hall their tent. When I said I thought I was buying tickets to the tent at the site they simply looked at me and said this is our tent. I went downstairs to tell the crew the bad news but we all decided to make the most of it and have a good time. And have a good time we certainly bloody did!! First off we were there at 4pm and weren't allowed into the beer hall until 6:30pm so we thought we'd have a cheeky drink. We found a table outside and waited for service. In Munich it is all table service, you don't go to the bar at all. Unfortunately our table seemd to be located in the Bermuda triangle as the hostesses would look at us and then look away....after a while we went to the bar to get drinks and were told to get it at the table. After some jumbled German and pointing they finally gave us our drinks. We had some beer/wine discussed the rotating cow, beer, how much beer we thought we would consume and of course our favourite topic - toilet humour. Stu and Angela didn't find this funny but Ang, Matt, Amanda and I were having a great time.

Now the time had arrived for use to venture into the beer hall. Upon entry we were greated with another beautiful sight. Tables upon tables across the floor, oompah band setup and our gracious waiter Max. A true Bavarian who I think thought we were all very polite and nice people, if only he knew how the night would end up... So we estimated the whole beer hall would have held close to 10,000 people which was unfathomable! But we decided to get down to business and order our beers. Even Mandy and Angela had some beers, ok Amanda had a half beer and half lemonade but she did really well. During our first beer Angela was smashing us and drinking like a true beer connissuer. Ang was very encouraging of our poor little Amanda, who wasn't really enjoying her shandy, she was giving her constant praise including - well done, you're doing so well. All very amusing. After another stein we decided to get some food into us and asked Max to bring us 4 of his finest dishes. These were pork knuckle, oxen (from the cow out the front), roast and another one that I can't remember. I'd had a few by this stage. So all of us eating was like being at one of those medievel banquets. Forks, knives and food flying everywhere. Must had been funny to watch. After dinner we all consumed more beer and the girls moved onto wine. Angela decided it would be fun for us all to have shots so we ordered a round of Jagermeister and Amanda got some sort of god awful Schnapps.

The band had started at this point and people were starting to get up on the seats and sing and dance. Of course I needed absolutetly no encouragement and got right on up there with them even singing along with them. Well I just kind of made German sounding noises to most of the songs as the lyrics were in German. Mind you they did sing quite a lot of English songs including a surpring amount of Oliva Newton John?? The main song they sang during the night was a drinking song sung everywhere during the Oktoberfest called Ein Prosit - check out this YouTube for the song they sing (towards the end). So as you can imagine I was getting right into this. I swear they sang it every bloody 15-30 minutes and as soon as I heard it I was up singing. They also loved playing and singing the song - Is this the way to Amarillo - It is sung by a German band as well and they all go off when it is played. This became another one of our theme songs for the trip with us all breaking into song whenever someone would hum it or sing it.

Now I should also point out that during the night I was telling everyone everytime they cheersed we could smash the steins as hard as we wanted because they don't break. We (well mainly me) were all getting rowdy and smashing steins with beer jumping out of them about 20cm into the air. I think you all see where this is heading. As I was cheering some random guy who was standing on the chairs with us and I promptly smashed both our steins. I of course blamed it on him and made him buy me a new beer, cheeky aren't I. The rest of the night got suitably rowdy with us all singing, Angela getting random men to our table and them all fighting for her attention, Ang talking to the locals telling them she was a tradie and showing off her tattoos. Stu even managed to pull some random Aussie guy! Amanda managed to get talking to a guy from Denmark who looked exactly like Charlie Sheen, so much so that guys were coming up to him and telling him how much they like his movies.

Angela and Amanda decided they wanted to go home around this point so Stu, Matt, Ang and I decided to head up the front to dance, sing and drink more beer. We were standing on the chairs, yellling and singing along to ACDC and any other song they played. Matt has video recorded some of it and you can check them out on his YouTube site (they might not be up there yet but he is putting them up there). They are quite amusing and show you exactly how we were all behaving. During out chair dancing I was getting a little wobbly and manged to do an totally awesome backwards fall with a half twist and landed on my back. I promptly jumped up and expected some sort of applause from Matt, Ang and Stu but none of them actually saw me fall and I was very upset. I also fairly hurt my finger and swore it was broken, of course it wasn't but I had a gullet full of beer. During this time there was also a guy who was being particularly annoying to everyone around (no it wasn't me) and he was annoying the girls and dancing on the table, which you are not allowed to do. I thought I'd get rid of him and show him a lesson so when he got up on the table I lifted the end up a little to scare him, not knowing my exterme power I lifted the table a little too high and tipped him off of it. He jumped up and wasn't very happy and for some reason singled out little Stu as the culpret and promptly fly kicked him in the chest (nothing too bad though). Matt, Ang and I jumped in to tell him to settle down but luckily Stu went over to the burly bouncers and got him kicked out. It probably should have been me who should've been kicked out. Can you believe I'm 30 :)

The night came to an end but we (namely me) decided we should keep on going and got into a cab and told him to take us where the party was. We walked in and out of some clubs but most were either closing or were pretty dodgy (it was 2am at this point) so we went home via McDonalds. I wandered in and ordered us 10 cheeseburgers which we all munched on when we got home. Stu and Matt went to bed and Ang and I went down the back of the block of flats and had a massive chat until the early hours of the monring.

The next day as you can imagine we were all feeling a little shady but still on such a massive hight of having a fantastic night. Matt, Ang and I worked our we had probably consumed around 8-9 steins during the course of the day. That's 8-9 litres each so we were pretty proud. We got dressed and headed back into the festival for more bratwurst, schnitzel and to check out the site again. We had a wander round and went to the outdoor tent we went to on the first day for a sit down and a quiet beer. These were very quiet beers as we were all very hungover. We didn't stick around at the festival for long as we were all feeling very tired so we walked through the city in an attempt to find some sort of store that was open. Who'd have thought that in Munich all the stores were closed on a Sunday?? We found a snack place open at the main train station, got some food and a few cheeky beers (including one that was a litre can of beer) and then headed home for a quiet night of tele and napping. Thankfully Germany had many television stations in English, not like bloody France or Spain!

The Monday of the festival saw us heading back to the site for more drunken antics. We arrived at the site and, yes you guessed it, had some bratwurst and schnitzel. Angela had decided she didn't want to just drink the trip away (unlike the rest of us) so she went to a museum. Stu also had to go and visit a family friend so Amanda, Matt, Ang and I would went on our merry way to attack more rides. We went on the ferris wheel, the crazy mouse (which is nothing like the one at Brighton, it's much better) and then onto this huge roller coaster. It didn't have any loops but was really high with lots of bends. There was Amanda and I in the front and Ang and Matt behind us. Amanda is one of those girls who squeals the whole entire time so I knew I was in for an earsplitting ride. When we got to the top there is a massive drop and Amanda decided on the way down that she would put her hands up in the air and scream only to reaslise that coming up was a low pole that she almost hit. She was a little scared after that and kept her hands inside the ride at all times. When it finished she complained there were no signs telling her not to do it and how she was really scared she could have lost her arm. I then pointed to the sign above our heads as we got into the ride telling us this exact thing :) We went for a bit more of a walk around and ate these delicious chocolate covered fruit. I should point out this was the only fruit we consumed the entire time.

After this we decided 2pm was beer o'clock time and headed to the biggest tent in the site the Hofbrau Festzelt. What welcomed us was again a glorious, glorious sight. Tables of beer drinking folk all dressed up and singing and I swear most looked like they were absolutely hammered. We found a table and got round to the hard job of beer drinking. The table we managed to find was unfortunately next to all the old men and women in wheelchairs, yes we were in the retirement village section. But we had beer and a great waitress so we were happy. It was at this moment we found out that the waitresses in the big tents don't actually get paid and only get paid in tips. This is because of insurance and the cost of employing them. They must make a great packet of money though from all the drunks. For the record I only tipped her $4 Euro for our four beers which I think is generous. So during our beer we watched the antics and listened to everyone sing Ein Prosit over and over again. In the middle of tent there was this giant figurine holding a harp and everyone around it kept throwing their underwear/bras or wet napkins up in it. Apparently this is tradition. Can you see where this is going....no none of us did it but I think you know that I wanted to. Oh well next year. So after we finished our beer we had to leave as the table was booked for another party so we decided to go and check out some of the other tents.

We headed on up to the Hippodrome which was one of the smaller tents and had an outdoor section so we pulled up at a table and settled in for the count. Here Amanda was able to order little baby steins of wine so she was very happy. We had stein after stein, one of Stu's friends turned up, then both Stu and Angela came back and the party started. Ang told us of this story about her sister naming her pecs. One is called Des and the other Troy and together they Destroy. We all thought this was hilarious so Ang and I got our pecs out and drew the names on them and got them out at every opportunity. Anglea's were much more impressive than mine. We made friends with the people around us including a bunch of rowdy Americans and a few Swiss guys. Amanda and I did a little dance for everyone and even got applause. Ang and I ordered some more sausage and when it arrived hooked in. Our waiter came over and was quiet concerned when he saw us eating the skin, turned out we should have peeled it off and then eaten it. Oh well, it tasted quite nice.

The rest of the night was randoms conversations, Ang and Matt arm wrestling, for the record they tied. Amanda challenging the Americans to arm wrestles but telling them they had to let her win and then cheering wildly when she did win. Matt cheering Stu and smashing a stein into his tooth, chipping one of his front teeth. Poor Stu wasn't used to hanging out with rough Aussies. Ang's Swiss friend introduced us all to snuss which is tobacco you snort, we all had some and realised it is foul! I snorted it and then sneezed for about 10 minutes attemtping to get it out of my nose. Not fun!

The tent closed and we all decided to head into town for more drinks. We found some bar where Matt stood round talking to about 4 burly Bavarian blokes, Ang was yabbering away with the Swiss friend and Mandy and I entertained the crowded, dancing on tables and singing with the locals. We decided to head off to another bar for some reason but it was closed, Ang lost her wallet on the way so there was a mild panic about that. We ended up getting a cab and going home.

The next day we all woke to trecherous hangovers and packed up our rooms to get out by 10am and head out to the airport. After a very rough ride out to the airport we managed to checkin, find food and board the smallest plane in the entire world! Ok not that small but it had it's own stairs and there were only 3 seats on one side and 2 on the other. Amanda and I were a little nervous about the plane's weight and if it was evenly distributed....We got cheap flights to and from Munich but the reason this was cheap is because we went home via Zurich. Yes we got to spend 30 minutes in Switzerland where all we managed to do was inhale some Burger King then check on to our next plane and eventually arrive home in London at around 4:30pm. We landed at the London City airport and we had to catch the DLR back to our flat. We had a quick Thai dinner, watched bad tele and had a very early night.

Well I think that is it. I'm stuffed after writing this. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it. I'm definitly back there next year!!!!!!

"Is this the way to Amarillo, every night I've been hugging my pillow, dreaming dreams of Amarilloand sweet Marie who waits for me"
Amarillo, Tony Christie

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So much to say

Apologies for the really slack blogging lately. People actually stop by here expecting to read some dribble from me, but it’s dried up a little lately. I’ve got lots to tell, but I’ve been so busy I don’t have the time to write it up yet.

I have to tell you about my hilarious trip to Oktoberfest, with all the rides and steins of wine and celebrity look alike spotting and Disney-inspiring castles and lifetime worth of pork.

I have to tell you about my discovery of £2.75 passionfruit mojitos at the Elk Bar.

I have to tell you about my extremely early Saturday morning last weekend to watch the AFL grand final amidst a bunch of hooligan Australians.

I have to tell you (especially you mum, you would be so proud) about the fact that I have made friends with a heterosexual male.

I have to tell you about the time that I gatecrashed some Queensland University of Technology alumni drinks with a doctor and had to gloss over my academic past.

I have to tell you about the weekend that I nearly died from tiredness, because I had four events to attend in one day, and was so exhausted my teeth ached.

I have to tell you about the fleeting visit from Sue, and how my darling father told her to bring back whatever crap I gave her and that he would pay for the excess. (Don’t worry dad, I kept to the weight limit!)

I have to tell you about the quaint English wedding I attended, complete with ye olde chapel and choreographed dance routine and fireworks.

However, I have dinner with the hetero tonight, PowerPlate Wednesday night, dinner with Stacey or Angela Thursday night, work drinks on Friday night, Bondy and Beavis’s birthday party on Saturday night, Sarah’s arrival and NRL grand final and Brick Lane lunch on Sunday, Sarah staying over next Monday (Model Monday) and Tuesday, PowerPlate Wednesday, dinner with Kasia on Thursday night, and somethingorother on Friday night.

But in between all that I will try and find sometime to upload a photo montage of the fun that was Oktoberfest…

PS. Can you really die from tiredness? Or is this another theory that I have created, like when I said if you look a fox in the eye it will try to eat your face?

Friday, September 25, 2009

She's alive!

Just a quick blog entry to let you know that I survived Oktoberfest. I had a fabulously awesome time, which I will write about shortly.

In the meantime, I am going to wallow in my post holiday blues…

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My "to do" list

For Nathan, who requested a list of the things I wanted to do before I move back to Australia, so that he could hold me to it.

Dali museum
Hoponhopoff bus tour (again) and River Thames cruise
Jack the Ripper walking tour
Tate Modern
Another visit to Great Aunt Christiana
Chelsea football match
London Eye at dusk
Ice-skating in the park
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland festival

Oh, and of course Oktoberfest (in September for some reason) in Munich and my two week jaunt around Europe with Angela before I come home.

Might as well go out with a bang!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Father's Day dad!

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day!

I have tried calling you, and texting you, and leaving voice messages for you, so now I thought I would try getting in touch with you via my blog. In doing so, you have the very special honour of being my 100th post!

Thank you for all of your support, especially over the past couple of years. Now that I have missed out on two I promise I will be there next year for Father’s Day.

Love you,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Music festivals are what you make them

Get Loaded was the worst music festival I have ever been to.

The sound was awful, the only way to know who was playing when was to buy the schedule for £5, the timetable didn't allow enough time for the acts (Peaches was on for 30 minutes), the line at the toilets resembled a scene from Mad Max, and the drink queues didn't abate at all throughout the day. The only thing you could do was to get drunk, sit in the dirt outside a tent, hope to hear a snippet of music, and wait for it all to be over.

In saying that, Amber and Angela and I still had a fun time.

While Angela danced Amber and I sat back and laughed at all the festival characters - the 45 year old men high on drugs, the mutton dressed as lamb in a dirty white sundress and broken arm who fell over beside us, the tramp who pushed in line at the bar claiming sorry sorry sorry sorry and who can expect a whole lotta bad karma coming her way soon, the Scotsman who declined my offer of a bite of my cheese and tomato roll but then tried to steal a kiss anyway, the carnies who spun our carriage on the Waltzer ride (perhaps because they heard us refer to them as carnies), and the girl who picked up the ugg boot that Amber found in the portaloo and threw it into the crowd upon my joking request. There was also some celebrity-lookalike spotting - Thom Yorke, Robert Pattinson, Fatty Vautin, and Benicio del Toro.

Our day ended at Revolution, with enough vodka shots and cocktails to make my mother cringe. Sorry mum.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two Aussie girls in a quaint English college town

The other weekend Alli and I went to Cambridge, and discovered where England is hiding all of their good looking men – on the punting boats on the Cam River. I’m serious, I have never seen so many attractive guys in one spot in all my time in England. Needless to say, we spent quite a bit of time down by the river that weekend.

Cambridge is a gorgeous little town, nicer than Bath I might even say, because it isn’t quite so touristy.

Alli and I took the train from Kings Cross on Saturday morning and 45 minutes and a good gossip later, arrived in Cambridge. I’m not sure if they layed it on just for our arrival, but the stench of horse manure was the first thing that hit us when we arrived. It was rather awful.

After dropping our bags off at our cheap and compact (but cute) hotel we walked the mile and a half into the city to begin our sightseeing – at H&M, where I contemplated purchasing a jumper because of the overcast weather and my stingy packing. Instead I bought a sequin top, which turned out to be a better investment as the sun came out and the day turned in to a beautiful one.

We walked through the town, and around the amazing Kings College, and headed down for our highly anticipated boat ride. Cambridge is famous for its river Cam and the punting boats. According to Wikipedia…

A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. A punt should not be confused with a gondola, which is propelled by an oar rather than a pole.

Alli and I sat up the front of the boat, enjoying the sun and the views, and playing the ubiquitous travelling game – Tap That. It is Sparky, Bec and mine’s favourite game, and if you have travelled with us before you will know how to play it…

Saturday night Alli and I had an uber romantic meal at an outdoor Italian restaurant, where we got the party started with some champagne. Then we met up with some friends of Alli’s at where else but the Slug and Lettuce. After a bottle of wine and a couple of cocktails between us, we decided to call it a night.

We were up at a reasonable time and were in reasonable health, which is a rare occurance when Alli and I travel together. We made our way back into town and set ourselves up in a park beside the river, watching all the self punters run into each other and fall into the water – hilarious!

Sunday afternoon we visited Alli’s friend’s mum for lunch, before making our way back to the train station and then spending most of the trip back sleeping and sweating it out in a cattle class train.

Another thing to cross off on my “to do before I leave England” list!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A collection of thoughts

A Maclaren pram does not a good mother make.

Some people look weird when eating ice-cream.

You should never run in an office. Ever. It is undignified.

Just because you can wear micro mini hotpants, doesn't mean you should.

If a book is that exciting that you must read it while walking down the street, then there is something wrong with you.

Don't wear Ugg(ly) boots with a flimsy summer dress, you are just contradicting yourself.

I really hate Regina Spektor's music.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Liar liar

Edit: okay, so Amber's not so much a liar as I am gullible. Perhaps the title of this blog should be Gullible gullible. But it just doesn't have the same ring to it. And to be honest, each of these three stories really made me laugh, and still make me chuckle when I think about them!

This is a warning to people not to get sucked in to the untruths that Amber tells.

Firstly, we have the incident where we were at Charlotte’s birthday with all of her French friends, and Amber told them in French to excuse my behaviour because I was raised by wolves, or “large dogs”.

Then we have the numerous stories of Amber’s sister’s extremely cheeky and talented dog Scampy. Amber told me stories of how she would go swimming and he would trot up and down the side of the pool with her, or how he would put his front paws up on a ball and push it along (something that Amber does a great re-enactment of). And then the truth came out – Scampy is not a he, Scampy is a SHE! When I asked Amber about it, she claimed that she sort of thought of Scampy as a boy, so she just used to refer to him as a “he”.

But the biggest disappointment that I have suffered with Amber is the Cheese of the Week. Since I moved to London in April 2008 Amber would come home from shopping displaying her Cheese of the Week from Marks & Spencer. One week it might be a regional blue cheese, the next a seasoned halloumi. When Angela arrived I was showing her all my favourite shops, including Marks and Spencer, and went to point out the selection of cheeses and show her the Cheese of the Week but alas, we could not find it. When I told Amber this she admitted that there wasn’t an actual Cheese of the Week, it was just that she bought a different cheese each week and called it her Cheese of the Week.

These things have absolutely addled me, but Amber just finds them funny.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Oh my gosh, major drama at work yesterday... there was a shooting right outside of our office!

As our building has floor to ceiling glass walls, we noticed all of the police cars outside and the streets cordoned off. Then an announcement came over the PA telling us that there was an issue out on the street and we were not allowed to leave the building. Of course, then everyone rushed to see what was happening, and another announcement told us to step away from the windows.

Adding to the drama, at the same time there was a massive (unrelated) protest in our reception, with drums and placards.

05.08.09: Policeman injured in Waterloo shooting
Justin Davenport, Crime Correspondent

Armed police were today hunting a lone gunman after a dramatic shooting outside a central London Tube station.

The man turned on police in front of hundreds of terrified commuters as he cycled past Southwark Tube Station.

One policeman is believed to have been injured as he dived for cover when the man refused to stop and pulled out a handgun.

It is believed he was targeted after police identified him as a wanted man.

Armed police units flooded the area and a helicopter was called in but the gunman abandoned his bike and fled down The Cut - a street filled with busy restaurants.

An onlooker said: “At least one shot was fired at the police, they were just trying to stop him in the street. As he spun round on his bike he produced a gun and opened fire and everyone dived for cover.”

The gunman was seen running towards and estate behind the Young Vic theatre heading in the direction of the South Bank.

Scotland Yard said police were called to reports of shots being fired at The Cut at 3.02pm.

A spokesman said it was not clear how the officer had been injured but it is believed that he suffered a gunshot wound.

The Cut is a busy shopping street which runs between Waterloo railway station and Southwark Tube station, a short distance from the River Thames.

But no need to stress mum, I'm safe!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An open letter #4

Dear BBC,

I have a love hate relationship with your website.

The online Magazine is fantastic, with feature stories, mini quizzes and my favourite, the aforementioned 10 things we didn’t know last week. This week’s 10 things was especially good. I had no idea that a third of England's coastline is inaccessible, or that police officers are not required to be able to swim, or that the dye used in blue M&Ms can help mend spinal injuries. Thanks for that.

And your iPlayer function is brilliant! I can sit in the relaxed comfort of my bed and watch the Underage and Pregnant documentaries on my laptop whenever I want.

However your weather forecast is absolutely rubbish. I will look out the window to grey skies with barely a break of blue in the clouds, and you will tell me that it is sunny and 24 degrees.

You really need to pull up your socks on that one Beebs.


Monday, August 3, 2009

It's over

Summer is gone people, it's left the building, snuck out quietly while I wasn't really paying attention.

On the way home from a decadent afternoon tea at Claridges I noticed piles of orange and brown leaves blowing down the road.

Goodbye summer, hello autumn.

Goodbye stinky hot days on the train, hello cool mornings and the return of transitional seasonal jackets.

Goodbye 9.30pm sunsets, hello increasingly shortening days.

Goodbye Pimms fruit cups, hello wine.

Goodbye big statement rings, hello gloves.

Only four and a half months until my next summer though!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm Love(box)ing it

My claim that Lovebox is the best music festival ever was upheld with the event over the weekend!

However, a two day festival really does take it out of you, and I am a shell of a woman today. So rather than my standard descriptive narrative of my adventures you get subheadings and semi-coherent ramblings.

The Crew
On Saturday we had quite a crew – me, Angela, Amber, Stewart and Laura. We also met up with my old manager and his friend, and tried to catch up with Beavis, but it is rather difficult to co-ordinate such a large group. On Sunday it was just Angela and I, though we made friends with the crazy old festival dancing men (two old guys dressed in suits, wigs and Elvis sunglasses that Amber and I saw last year, and that Matt and Mark saw at Notting Hill Carnival, they must go to every festival) and anyone who happened to be standing around us at the time.

The Music
What we saw of Temper Trap was good, Florence from Florence & the Machine has got a fantastic voice, Friendly Fires played a great set at dusk, Ladyhawke was good once she had warmed up a little, and N*E*R*D were good but would have been better if the sound was turned up. There were two highlights for me, both from the Sunday lineup. The Correspondents were an absolute surprise, which we stumbled across as we came out of the vintage fashion fair because I was looking for a cardigan to keep me warm (but instead bought a super cute little dress). They were playing their style of 1930’s hip hop from a colourful bandstand in front of a massive two-story wooden tree house, under a tree hanging with oversized apples and pears. Fronted by a skinny man in black tights, white business shirt, black vest, teal satin tie, glasses and a comb over despite having plenty of hair, the Correspondents had the entire crowd dancing and cheering. The other highlight was Groove Armada, of course. They are the ultimate showmen and really now how to get the crowd worked up, starting off with Funk You Too, songs belted out by their new female vocalist Saint Saviour, moving into a mash up of Song for Mutya and Madder, followed by a magical performance of Down by the River. Unfortunately, as I had the most slamming headache and had to work the next day, we left early at this point, but heard Super Stylin on the way out.

The Stages
Lovebox truly out do themselves when it comes to staging and theming, which just adds to the fantastic atmosphere of the festival. The Gaymers stage had the aforementioned treehouse and bandstand, a helter skelter, a ferris wheel, and inflatable apples floating throughout the crowd. The All Star Bowling Alley was a hidden gem that we discovered on Sunday, where you could drink delicious cocktails and dance to retro tunes on a checkerboard dance floor. The Jose Cuervo was our home base on Saturday, as we sipped our tequila cocktails, listened to the various South American musicians, tipped our free cowboy hats, and snacked on corn chips with salsa. There were other areas that we unfortunately didn’t get around too, simply because we were having such a good time at the other ones!

The Drinks
Lovebox was all about the tequila, as far as Angela and I were concerned. Because it’s bad to mix drinks you know. So, we sipped margarita-like cocktails on Saturday, and tequila punch on Sunday. Mmmm, tequila…

The Food
A couple of years ago, Scott and Nathan and I went to the Toowoomba Food, Wine, Flowers and Cow festival, where I ate myself stupid on all of the glorious market food available. The selection at Lovebox was even better. You could have had hog roast, tacos, chorizo rolls, Japanese noodles, quinoa salads, burgers, sausages, waffles, bakery treats, fairy floss, fresh coconut milk, jerk chicken, and more. With such a wide and delicious selection on offer, I of course ate the same thing on both Saturday and Sunday – empenadas, aka espadrilles as I liked to call them. Little half-moon pastries filled with argentinian beef or spinach and cheese, that were just too good. And on the Saturday I couldn’t go past the churro stand for some doughy, sugary goodness, though I made everyone else eat them too so I didn’t feel so bad.

The Weather
Typically English. It rained on the Saturday, actually, no, it pelted down. We didn’t bring anything for such weather, so Angela and I made for the shelter of the treehouse but managed to get some free ponchos on the way. I stylised mine with a belt, so as to stand out from the other big white plastic blobs in the crowd. Sunday it was supposed to pour down, but the weather held out and was actually rather pleasant.

The Verdict
I freakin love Lovebox, and hereby declare it the best music festival I have ever been to and the best music festival I will ever go to!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Whatcha lookin for?

So, I now have this thing on my blog that allows me to see how people got here, and it is revealing some interesting things.

The majority of people land on this site because they are doing a Google search for “Rayban Wayfarers”. GET OVER IT PEOPLE! They are stupid, ugly, over rated sunglasses and the fad has passed. Let’s leave them in 2008 shall we?

Someone stumbled here while searching for “Groove Armada Hvar”. I don’t know if they were expecting the band to be playing in that sleepy little Croatian town, but I am pretty sure they weren’t trying to find the adventures of the hos and mos on the Adriatic Sea.

Another person came here looking for "refill beverage etiquette". I hope my rant about lazy colleagues making me fetch them cups of tea helped to answer your query.

Quite a few people have come here because of a search for "mumble pants", I hope they found what they wanted.

Then there is the grammar fool who wanted to know... How do you punctuate Exhibit "C," or Exhibit "C",? The answer is the latter.

The funniest though is the person who searched for “leather pants tube”! Ha ha ha!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Second thoughts

I may be having second thoughts about moving home at Christmas, and these are keeping me awake at night.

When I left Australia in April 2008 I was moving to the unknown – no job, no where to live, not many friends, no family, no real idea what I was doing.

Moving back home in December this year is sort of the same.

I am worried about finding a job. While my CV boasts a fantastic job progression with The Government Agency, I don’t know what the market is like in Australia and if any potential employers would be impressed with that experience.

I am worried about living on the Gold Coast, so far away from all of my friends in Brisbane. This is also worrying if I do get a job, because how am I going to get there, so…

… I am worried about how I am going to get around. The public transport system in London is fantastic, there really isn’t any need to have a car (apart from if you want to buy a watermelon at the supermarket). I don’t want to have to always ask my parents for a lift, so I will have to look at buying a car when I get back.

I am worried about money, because I haven’t really saved much money while I have been here. I’ve been making good money, but have been spending it on holidays to Croatia and Europe, dinners in the dark, music festivals, dresses from Joy, PowerPlate sessions at the gym, and having fun with my friends.

I am worried that I am going to be bored in Brisbane, and warn you all that you had better be prepared to entertain me. I used to do a whole lotta nuthin in Brisbane, but plan to change that, so you will all get dragged along to dinners, road trips, mini golf, markets, football games, and the such.

Please assure me that things are going to be okay?

"So he tells me his last year, and what he'd like to change, I say to get down to the beach and to give us a call, he hears nothing at all, so he sits there all alone, waiting for that golden sun in the Morning Light, just let go, just let go, last year's gone so leave it all behind”
Sparkadia, Morning Light

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A little late jumping on the bandwagon

This story from popbitch makes me want to join Twitter...

Crazy Little Party Boy - Poor Aaron Carter's lost it

Since the passing of his dear friend Michael Jackson (who once bought him a Bentley), Aaron Carter seems to have gone into meltdown and is now determined to rid the world of disease and suffering.

He tweets:





AIDS, lupus, diabetes and autism. All in 20 minutes.

"There's something that I've got to say, you're always with me even though you're far away"
Aaron Carter, I'm All About You

Monday, July 6, 2009

Observations of driver

Four and a half hours is 270 minutes. That is a very long time to be in a car by yourself. Driving for nine hours in a 36 hour period will make you slightly crazy, will result in you talking to the radio, and will make you hate your own company.

British radio is rubbish, absolutely rubbish. The reception was patchy and the selection was poor. The worst part was, once I got back near London and the stations started getting a little better they all simulcast the Big Top 40 and all they played was freakin Michael Jackson. If I don’t hear another MJ song for 20 years I will be happy. The only saving grace was chancing upon Keane’s “Somewhere only we go” as I drove into Hertz to return the car.

Unlike Australia, there are not many red cars in England. The most popular colours are metallic silver and blue.

Like in Australia, there are plenty of idiots in England that don’t know how to merge or overtake.

Did you know that the symbol ^ is called a chevron? I found this out because these were painted on the road and there was a sign telling me to keep two chevrons in between me and the car in front. However, this caused massive traffic problems for the two miles that they had painted chevrons on the road, and then everyone went back to driving with common sense and the traffic sorted itself out.

Roads in England are crazy. Back home, if you want to go to Sydney you get on the freeway and go there, or if you want to go to Townsville you get on a freeway and go there, or if you want to go to Toowoomba you get on a freeway and go there. You get my drift. In London, if you want to go to York you have to get on a freeway, then another, then another, then six others, then you get there. If it wasn’t for my £14 a day sat nav I would still be driving circles around Heathrow wondering how to get the hell out of there.

But the drive was worth it to see Great Aunty Ana and Great Uncle George, and I had a great time visiting them. It’ll probably be a couple of months before I can handle being stuck with myself for company again though…

“Oh, simple thing, where have you gone? I'm getting old and I need something to rely on, so tell me when, you're gonna let me in, I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin, and if you have a minute why don't we go, talk about it somewhere only we know? This could be the end of everything, so why don't we go, somewhere only we know, somewhere only we know?”
Keane, Somewhere Only We Know

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Celebrity spotting

I love me some celebrity spotting in London!

Whilst having drinks at Covent Garden with Dom and Alex last Friday night, Kimberley Stewart waltzed past. (Mum, Kimberley is Rod Stewart’s daughter)

However, I am more excited about today’s celebrity.

I am just sitting at my desk enjoying a salad for lunch when Kevin McCloud from the television show Grand Designs walks out of a meeting room. If he wasn’t with one of the Group Directors and I didn’t have a mouthful of avocado I totally would have gotten all crazy fan on him.

Kevin is the host of a reality television show that follows people as they build or renovate their dream homes. He is a pompous twot though, always criticising them throughout the project, telling them where they went wrong, and generally reminding them that he is better than them. Then at the end when the house is finished he wanders through and waxes lyrical about how lovely it is and why it all works so well.

I love him and I hate him all at the same time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yes, I am a lazy blogger

I don't feel like writing a blog entry at the moment, sorry.

I'm tired, a little run down, and have developed a cough that is completely unrelated to Swine Flu. The Health & Safety Manager at work asked if I had a back up plan, with someone in place to continue Internal Communications should I fall ill. It's just a cough dude, settle down.

Instead I am going to direct you through to another blog - the BBC Magazine Monitor 10 Things blog.

10 things we didn't know last week

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. There are 2,500 year old bird nests still in continuous use.

2. The Fred Perry sportswear logo was almost a pipe - Perry was a keen smoker - but his business partner thought this would put off women customers.

3. As a cold-blooded insect, flies are slower in the early morning and evening when the air is cooler, and speed up in the heat of the day.

4. C, the single-letter codename for the head of MI6, dates from when the first boss, Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming, signed himself "C" for Cumming.

5. Streetlights cause problems for bats.

6. The pilot and co-pilot on a passenger plane are not allowed to have the same meal in case they both get food poisoning.

7. The Queen has an allotment.

8. Scotland has the lowest age for criminal responsibility in Europe.

9. Hitachi makes trains.

10. Pak Do-ik, the North Korean footballer, is still known as "the dentist" among Italian football fans for causing them pain by scoring the goal that saw them beaten 1-0 in the 1966 World Cup.

You learn something new every day...

"I'm wicked and I'm lazy, ahhhhhhhaaaaahhhaaaaa don't you want to save me"
X-Press 2 featuring David Byrne

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update 2

While I have actually been getting out and doing stuff, there has been a lapse in blogging again. So I shall summarise the goings on of my life in bullet points, because I like bullet points and this is my blog and I can use them.
  • I ventured back to the Walkabout at Temple to watch the first State of Origin game the other week, after managing to avoid any updates on the score throughout the day by getting a colleague to screen all of my text messages. Honestly though, you need to be drunk to be able to handle that place and as it was a Wednesday night I was not in a position to have a great time. Amber and Nicole did though!

  • Jodie has returned from Australia but is yet to find employment, which leaves her free to hunt around on the internet for cheap theatre tickets – yay! We went to La Clique the other week and it was fantastic! The venue was really cosy and set up sort of like a circus, with strings of lights, and the stage in the middle. And the acts were great – a man who squeezed his body through a tennis racquet and made me laugh so hard I cried, a couple that did amazing spinning tricks on roller skates, a massive black man dressed in drag singing, a little guy dressed as Freddie Mercury that did juggling tricks and jokes, and crazy acts.

  • This week we got £10 dress circle tickets to La Cage Aux Folles (aka the Birdcage) which was pretty good. The highlight were the five extremely fit, male chorus dancers, who were extremely entertaining from the stalls, but I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I was in the front row tables!

  • Last weekend we did a day trip to Brighton which was really fun. The weather was unexpectedly gorgeous, and we all ended up getting a little sunburnt. We went down to the water, played games on the pier, went on our favourite ride – the Crazy Mouse, had fish for lunch (actually I had salad), did some shopping in the Lanes, and then whiled away the afternoon at the beachfront bar, le sigh…

  • PowerPlate is either going to be my body-firming saviour, or the death of me. I’ve started doing PowerPlate classes at the gym, as I got a few sessions free with my membership. The idea is that you do exercises on a platform that vibrates, so a 30 minute session is equal to a 90 minute session on standard equipment. And at the end of it you feel like you’ve done a 90 minute session. The good thing is that the last couple of minutes you lie on the ground with your legs on the machine and get a muscle-stretching and cellulite-busting massage.

  • I have been invited to the wedding of a colleague friend of mine in September, which is very exciting. When I asked what the dress code she was rather vague, though stipulated that most women would be wearing hats or headpieces. Crap. So the search starts now in the hope that I will find something appropriate in the next two and a half months.

  • Just to fuel the fire that Jackie started at Christmas lunch, I bought a pair of Birkenstocks on the weekend. I had quite the internal fight prior to the purchase – extreme comfort and purple patent leather vs blatantly looking like a lesbian. Comfort won out. Though I won’t be wearing them with my new green skirt from Joy, as I saw an actual real life lesbian wearing the same skirt a few months ago.

PS. Mum, I am not a lesbian.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Return of the prodigal daughter

I have decided to move home. I booked my ticket (on mum's credit card, thanks mum!) a month ago, but I think I decided probably about two months ago.

There are a lot of things that I miss about Australia, namely my family and my friends.

However, I predict that I am going to be bored shirtless within a month of returning, so you people had better be ready to entertain me.

There is also the issue of the current job market (or lack thereof) in Australia, so I may be forced back to London or perhaps to Japan where I can teach English and indulge my love of tacky stuff.

Moving back will be difficult though. Before I left Australia I had a great job, a lovely apartment, and a varied portfolio of other investments. I will be coming back to no job, an apartment ravaged by floods, and a varied portfolio of other investments minus a chunk of shares.

Yup, I'll be 27, living with my parents and probably working in a bakery.

PS. Sue, can I please get some shifts at the Jolly Swagman around January? Just ask dad for my reference. On second though, ask mum...

"You let me run, You let me hide, I'm coming home"
My Way Home, Alex Lloyd

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lesson #1

Lock your computer when you leave your desk.

There could be confidential emails in your inbox that people could view, or you could have a sensitive policy document open, or you could be drafting a blog entry in Word.

Alternatively, I could jump on and send emails on your behalf ...

Dear Male Colleague,
Would you like to go for a drink after work tonight?
From Miss OpenComputer

Dear Female Colleague,
That dress would look better on me.
From Miss OpenComputer

Friday, May 29, 2009

Croatia holler!

I have been putting off writing a blog entry about my Croatia holiday for two reasons. Firstly, so much happened that the thought of having to type it all up was daunting. Secondly, I have post Croatia depression. Honestly, it was one of the best holidays I have ever had.

Before I get started on my day-by-day account of what happened, I need to introduce the main characters.
· Moi, your favourite blogger
· Bec, holiday organiser el supremo
· Charlotte, “my French friend”, who added a bit of class to the whole show
· Mark, aka Sparky, partner of Matt and everyone’s partner in crime
· Matt, aka Matty, a source of entertainment (even when he wasn’t there)
· Stuart, aka Stu, Scottish friend of the boys and the gayest man in the village
· Alan, aka The Force (he had a range of shirts bearing the name of emergency services), Matt’s friend from Australia

And then there are the secondary characters
· Tucker’s Daughter, the Australian guy who was travelling by himself because his girlfriend broke up with him, he was everyone’s best mate and tried to be the hero in every situation. Yes, he was “that” guy on the group trip.
· Peachy, who apparently looked like Hugh Grant, though we only ever paid attention to his pert bum
· Matchy Matchy, who wore the same little board shorts as Peachy
· Five Pounder, a kid that Sparky saw at the airport and bet me £5 was going to be on our boat (Sparky, I still owe you)
· Blink 182, an emo looking guy with a lip ring who was strangely good looking
· Josh and his girlfriend Savannah, our favourite people on the boat
· Zof, our faithful bartender on board and Matty’s best friend and Charlotte’s suitor by the end of the trip
· Merv, an American guy on the other boat that had chops like Merv Hughes
· Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, wog twins on one of the other boats that had the ugliest ponytails you have ever seen
· Emanuel, our boat, and Penelope and Labrador, the party boats – our flotilla, our Groove Armada if you like. We travelled together and moored together. The tour rep told us that in August there are 25 boats in the group (thank god we went in May).

With less than an hour sleep under our belts (and some of us with several beers under our belts), we all bundled in to a taxi at 3am to Gatwick airport, and began the Girls and Gays cruise! Most of us slept on the plane, while others took photos of us, but we all pepped up once we landed in Split. After withdrawing some Croatian kunas (henceforth known as hakuna matatas) we hopped on the bus and headed down to the harbour to meet up with our boat, the Emanuel. On the bus trip I was talking to Sparky, and responded to something he said with an attitude-filled “Holler!” in the style of Missy Elliot. This became the catch phrase for the week. We killed a couple of hours walking along the waterfront and purchasing cheesy cowboy hats, before we boarded and enjoyed a mushroom surprise lunch en route to Hvar. Just a side note, when ever I refer to “we” or “the gang” or “hos and mos”, I mean the main cast of seven. So, we conducted our own walking tour around Hvar, traipsing up and down the back streets and taking lots of silly photos. Dinner was a quiet affair on the waterfront as we were all a bit tired, and we enjoyed our first pizza of the trip. Being so close to Italy, there are a lot of Italian restaurants in Croatia. We had an early night while the rest of the boat went out drinking and bonding until the early hours of the morning.

The boat set off early and was all a-gossip at breakfast. Five Pounder had been jumping between boats the previous evening when he landed awkwardly and hurt his ankles. He spent the following two days in his cabin before visiting a doctor in Dubrovnik and finding out that he had fractured one ankle and shattered the other. With no travel insurance, he flew home for surgery. Anyway, mid morning the boat pulled into a calm bay and we all had a swim off the side of the boat. The water was cold, amazingly clear, and fabulously refreshing. After lunch of a strange dry mince and pasta sheets only lasagne, we arrived in Trstenik and had another swim. Sparky and I swam to shore with the aid of some cheap inflatables that we bought in Hvar, and Matty and Stu decided to swim double the distance to some (rather small) sea caves with the aid of an inflatable boxing kangaroo, whilst wearing a Bushtucker Man akubra hat. Needless to say, they got in to trouble. Matty popped the roo on the swim back, so Stu had to swim back to the boat and fetch a kid’s boogie board to rescue him. Afterwards Matt claimed that he had probably lost 2kgs during the adventure, though we pointed out that it was more than likely because he had stopped drinking beers for an hour and his beer gut had subsided. Trstenik was the smallest port we visited, with one restaurant and a shop that closed about 10 minutes after we docked, so dinner was a BBQ on the boat that night and we all retired fairly early.

By Monday we had started to settle in to a routine: get up, have cheese and salami on bread for breakfast, slather on the sunscreen, lounge on the top deck for an hour or so, head downstairs for some shade action, slather on the sunscreen, have a swim, have lunch, have a shower, slather on the sunscreen, arrive in port and sightsee. Dubrovnik was a wonderful little city. The old town is surrounded by walls, which Sparky and Bec and I walked around until we found CafĂ© Buza which sits on the cliff face and looks out to the Adriatic Sea. We met up with the rest of the gang and spent the afternoon cooling down in the shade, drinking, enjoying fabulously appropriate music (retro), watching cliff divers, and reminding each other of how awesome it was to be us at that point in time. After a shower and freshen up on the boat, we had dinner at some back alley restaurant that Matty got us dragged in to, followed by a couple of quiet drinks in an Irish pub (as is tradition when travelling with Sparky and Bec). Well, it was quiet until the rest of the freakin boat turned up and they were all crazy drunk. We stayed for a while and then headed back to the boat for a nightcap, but unfortunately Zof had clocked off. The rest of the boat partied like animals and made an absolute racket when they got back to the boat around 2:30am. The air-conditioning wasn’t working so we had our windows open, which gave me a front row to their antics. I finally managed to drift off to sleep when I was awoken by a screaching girl. Some of the boat had been drinking at the bar where Brit Lapthorn was last seen (first mistake) when they had an altercation with some locals, a glass was thrown, they tried to confront them (second mistake) and the locals pulled knives. The Aussies got in to a cab but the locals followed them, and then kept driving by the boat antagonising them. A couple of the boys decided to get off the boat and go talk to them (third mistake) so their girlfriends turned into banshees (fourth mistake), screaming for them to come back onboard (“I’ve put you in danger too many times Craig!”) and generally stirring everyone up. Fortunately the tour rep came out, told everyone to shut up and go to bed and lock their cabins, and the drama ended. Many stories were told about this over the following days, but I have no doubt that the drama was brought about because of the idiots from our boat.

Not surprisingly, breakfast on Tuesday morning was a quiet affair. But oh how I was falling in love with cheese and salami! We followed our standard morning routine before we pulled in to Mljet (pronounced Mlee-yet), and hired us some scooters. We lied to the man and told him that we had all ridden a scooter, before precariously pulling out on to the street and trying not to run into each other. Our first stop was the National Park, where the group had a swim in a huge salt water lake while Bec and I sat in the shade and took photos and shouted at them to perform poses. We spent the rest of the afternoon riding around the island, through little water side villages, past crumbling buildings, and up and down the mountains. It was fantastic! We picked up some drinks on the way back, had a few drinks and a swim near the boat, and watched the sun set. Then we went to one of the three restaurants and had a great dinner, where Matty entertained us with lots of PFSs (Price Family Stories). Mljet was probably the highlight of the trip; it was just an absolutely wonderful day.

We all woke up excited on Wednesday, because Bec had finished her course of antibiotics and could finally get her drink on! Korcula was the birthplace of Marco Polo, a fact that is commemorated by a museum that was closed and a styrofoam statue by the bay. Interestingly, the town is shaped like a fish, with the straight streets to the bay to channel the cool sea breezes, curved streets to the mountain to avoid the cold winds, and a wide straight street down the middle so that the people could run down to the bay and defend their city. The girls did some jewellery shopping (filigree, coral, and turquoise are the local trinkets) while the gays tagged along and ate ice-creams. We had a swim on the beach, which was surprisingly free of sea urchins (the spiny buggers were everywhere) but unfortunately there were still sea slugs, which Matty picked up and tried to squirt on us. Matt was hilarious, he brought along a pair of goggles and would spend twice as much time in the water as the rest of us, because he would hunt for treasure on the sea bed. All he came up with was some crappy plastic toys and a funny shaped rock, but he was pretty happy. After our swim we showered and dolled ourselves up, and celebrated Bec’s first beer on the top deck of the boat as the sun went down. Then we found ourselves a great table at a waterfront restaurant with a guy playing the guitar and had a really nice candlelit dinner. And got drunk. From there we went to a bar at the top of one of the turrets, where you had to climb a steep ladder to get up, and your cocktails were brought up in a bucket. We socialised with some of the people from the boat, and then split up as they went to Des Locos bar to make the most of happy hour and we went to Gaudi bar to make the most of being able to drink outdoors without wearing a jacket and scarf. Things got a little drunk and silly, and we had a great time, finally retiring to bed around 5am. We thought it was strange that no one from Des Locos had come to Gaudi, considering it stayed open a lot later, until we found out that people from the boat had gotten in to a massive bar brawl with some locals. Apparently chairs were being swung about, guys were doing fly kicks, and the Aussies were outnumbered. Matchy Matchy sustained a concussion and a fractured wrist and spent the rest of the holiday moping.

Makarska was really nice, but my ability to appreciate it was limited by my screaming hangover. The mountains behind the waterfront village looked fake, and Bec claimed that they were actually made of styrofoam like the Marco Polo statue. The tour rep told us that she had been up there a couple of weeks ago and there was still snow at the top. Crazy when you consider that we were enjoying 25 degree sunshine in the port. We slept through breakfast and only woke up once we had gotten into port. Our ragamuffin group managed to get dressed and walk to the beach, where the cold Adriatic Sea revived us. Honestly, there is nothing better for a hangover than a fresh swim. We had an uninspiring lunch on the boat, before some of us went back for a second swim and some of us napped the afternoon away. I of course did the latter. We had dinner at another waterfront restaurant, as we just could not get enough of the gloriously warm weather and being able to be outdoors wearing just a t-shirt. The restful day was capped off with a couple of vodka cranberries on the back deck of the boat.

We made it down for breakfast on Friday (I wasn’t missing out on salami and cheese again), before the boat pulled in to a small port so we could have a swim at Copacabana beach. I have to say, the beach really ruined the song for me. The shore was dirty and sandy, unlike the pebbly beaches we were used to. And the water was waist-deep for 100 metres offshore, and full of sea reeds and little crabs that nibbled on your ankle. On the upside, Friday was activity day! Some people stayed on the boat, while others did a day trip to Bosnia, while the rest of us went on the river rafting trip in Cetina. After rafting in Tully and New Zealand, this was pretty tame, but still really fun. Not to mention that our skipper was hot! We arrived in Split late afternoon, back where we had started from, and already feeling a little sad at the thought of our holiday being over. We wandered the back streets and found a really nice restaurant for our last meal, where we had another hit of pag, a local cheese sort of like parmesan. The night was topped off with some drinks overlooking the bay, and then maybe another couple back on the boat.

The last day of the trip wasn’t the best. We knew the holiday was over, and we had 12 hours to kill in between getting kicked off the boat at 9am and our flight leaving at 9pm. We stored our luggage and then set off on a hike to the swimming beach, during which Bec and I did a lot of heat-induced sighing. Then we set up camp in the shade in the park and had a little rest, while Matt and Alan decided to go on a hike around the foreshore. They walked for 35 minutes before finding a beach front bar, where they gave up on the hike and started drinking, while Sparky, Bec, Charlotte and I had a civilised and sober lunch back at the harbour. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing some souvenir shopping, eating gelato, and drinking in a little bar. With the sun still in the sky but the heat of the day passed (a glorious time of day), we gathered ourselves up and headed to the airport in a collectively sombre and reluctant mood.

I had the best tan, I mean time, in Croatia. It was a wonderful wonderful holiday, and given the opportunity, I would go back in a Split second (ha ha ha, get it, Split!).

"We're going where the sun shines brightly, we're going where the sea is blue, we've seen it in the movies, now let's see if it's true"
Summer Holiday, Cliff Richard