I can’t believe it’s been over three months since my last entry… very shabby effort indeed. I guess I’ve gotten into a routine and have been working fulltime in a job that leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. However! I am now on school holidays and have had plenty of time to a) sit around and do nothing and b) do things that I enjoy.
So, not long after posting my last entry (in which I announced how great everything was and how rich my life is here), I got hit by a wave of homesickness that lasted around a week and a half. It was quite strange as I’d never felt homesick before…and there wasn’t one particular thing I was missing. I guess I just felt lonely and was lacking the company that I’m so used to having at home. I come from a place where there is probably one degree of separation between everyone aged 20 to 35. For a while I’ve seen that as a negative thing… and in some ways I still do. But I’m beginning to realise how special that is and how lucky I’ve been over the past 10 years. Conversely, my desire to move back has virtually disppeared. It’s quite confusing. I have a couple of friends that have permanently moved away from Perth and return for extended visits every now and then. I always suspected it was a bit hard for them, and I’m beginning to grasp how bizarre it would be to return and have things essentially unchanged on the surface, but for dynamics to have shifted enough so as to be quite alien to you. I guess if you love a place and the people in it, even though you don’t want to live there, you go back and have a good time and deal with any weirdness. Having always been the person based in Perth welcoming back so many visiting emmigrants, I know that when I return I’ll be dealing with my friends being excited initially and then it being like I never left. Again… both a good and a bad thing.
There are so many things to say about my life in London… I suppose one way to look at it is through the infallible opinions of Kelly (Deborah Mailman) from the Australian TV series The Secret Life Of Us (circa early 2000s). It was supposed that a person in their mid-20s should have the TRIFECTA; if you have happiness in your work life, home life and love life then you have achieved a trinity guaranteeing satisfaction. My work life is positive overall… I work as a sole Speech Therapist most of the time and can feel a bit professionally isolated. I’m aware that I am not getting the same Professional Development opportunities or admin time that I would as a permanent staff member. On the other hand, I have been working in schools for 7 years now and this job allows me enough autopilot ‘I know what I’m doing’ confidence whilst casting up enough challenges to keep me learning. For the last term and a half I’ve worked in a secondary school as well as in a couple of primary schools, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I am interested in the prospect of working with adolescents in the future now (particularly the inner-city, highly multicultural population of the past 6 months), and perhaps even getting involved with youth counselling/pastoral care. I do a lot of paperwork (can’t escape the fucking paperwork), but I work hard, I get paid pretty well, so I have a comfortable life here.
I’m living in a light, airy and spacious two-bedroom apartment in Vauxhall which is immediately south of the Thames and therefore in Zone 1…hurray! My housemate is lovely, I live opposite a massive Sainsbury’s and I use the huge kitchen to cook a lot more than I ever have. I finally have a room that feels homely to me and I can take my time to decorate it, knowing that I’ll be here for a while (well, if my 6 month lease gets extended past June). Finally, I have been with a lovely guy called Jim for the past 4 months, which has made my time in London all the more special. So, for the moment, the trifecta is complete! Though I would argue that there is more to life than those three areas… I have been making friends slowly but surely, and trying to recognise and do the things that make me happy. It would be a shame to be living in this amazing city and not be taking advantage of all the opportunities here. It is sometimes all too easy to fall back into old, unproductive habits and behaviours and I had to remind myself to be proactive during that malaise of homesickness a few weeks back.
I’ve sort of given up on writing the Portugal diaries at the moment, just to keep up with what’s been going on lately! I’ll try to summarise some of the fun things I’ve done over the past few months:
|Cute store in Reykjavik|
ICELAND! A friend from work, one of her buddies and I went to Iceland for 4 days in February. We stayed in a 4 star apartment in the city of Reykjavik, and huddled our way through the coldest weather any of us had ever faced. I was able to fulfill all of my winter wonderland fantasies in the beautiful snow. We went husky riding, did the Golden Circle Tour, walked around the picturesque city with loads of cool design and fashion stores, and of course went out looking for the Northern Lights. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see them, but we agreed that it just strengthened our resolve to get out there and see them one day, maybe even from somewhere in the Arctic Circle! It was good to get to spend some more time with new friends and see a place that is like no other. I also ate whale, and puffin, so also feel a bit guilty as well as happy when I reminisce… which is sort of standard for me anyway.
|Walking north to Sacre Coeur|
Another month, another holiday! Towards the end of March I caught the Eurostar to PARIS to meet Jim for a few days. He had just finished attending a conference and I wanted to take full advantage of a romantical holiday. So, I searched and searched and found one of the hottest boutique hotels in Paris – Hotel Amour. Just to give you some examples of its chic nature, check out this tittilating calendar and the New York Times write-up. We had a great time, wandering around the city in GORGEOUS weather, not pressured by sight-seeing requirements as we had both been there before, and revelling in some straight-up hipster douchebaggery with our Lomo cameras. We ate well, drank well (with probably the best bottle of Bordeaux I’ve ever tasted, a 1999 vintage) and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Check out some Lomokino videos here and here on Jim’s Flickr.
|Our subtle hotel room|
|Shaun in the red light district|
Lastly, I went to Amsterdam for a few days last week to visit my friend Shaun, who has been studying in the Netherlands for the last 2 years. It was his girlfriend Alice’s birthday and she had just returned from Italy the day before I arrived bearing kilos upon kilos of delicious food. The weekend was full of partying, eating, drinking, gawking at red-lit windows and of course, a tiny bit of coffee shop smoking. I got a good insider’s view of the city as well as doing some touristy things. I only had one near miss with a tram and only came close to rolling my borrowed bike into a canal once… which I thought was pretty good! Being in a big group of Shaun and Alice’s European friends was so refreshing and reminded me how much I love meeting new people, something I need to focus on more in London.
|I have very vague memories of this.. in front of the Eye Film Institute|
Last but not least, here are three of my favourite fun things I’ve done in London recently:
– The Lucian Freud Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Amazing.
– A Taste of Creative Writing, a one-day course at CityLit, hopefully my new London hang-out zone (did I just say ‘hang out zone’?).
– Swamp Juice – a play that sold out continuously in Edinburgh last year and is now having a run at Soho Theatre. A wonder-filled funful performance.