Sunday, 23 October 2011

Painting up a storm

The last week and a half or so I have been painting my room. Previous carers had stuck photos up with blue tack, which had pulled off the paint, and the room was just generally looking a tired. Here are some before and after shots :)

Notice the hole in the wall, near the corner, just above where the lead cuts across
Here you can see where the paint has been pulled off, and then the wall with it’s undercoat
There has obviously been a new radiator put in the room, looks better without the bare patch of wall there, doesn’t it!
painting 007painting 016painting 017
My work bench, and equipment Smile with tongue out, and yes I’m a tidy painter…
painting 020
The colour scheme I used, and the inspiration, my bed covers Smile You can also see some more blue tack marks
Giant crack that ran along the roof/wall, followed by no crack – much better!
Ta da – the finished product, I also got new curtains.Smile I don’t think my room has ever been so clean and tidy!! I tell you what though, after over a week of sleeping in the lounge room on the sofa bed, I am certainly looking forward to getting back into my own bed!!

Becoming British

Or, How I've Changed...

I've wanted to write this post for a while now, but I've been busy working, or holidaying, or writing up blogs about my holidays while at work... So now I have nothing to blog about for the time being so thought it was a good time to write it :)

Firstly, and perhaps the worst thing of all, is that apparently I've picked up a bit of a pommie accent. I've had 2 people tell me this (OK, 2 isn't that many, but it is 2 too many :P). Though in saying that, I have been told since I got here that I don't have a 'strong' Aussie accent, and even in Aus I've been asked 'where are you from?'. So who knows what accent I've got, and where I'm from!

There are a few words that I've had to change so that the Brits can understand me.
Food - Courgette, not zucchini (since getting a new computer, it doesn't even recognise that word!). Pepper, not capsicum. Crisps, not chips.
Clothes - The Poms call ALL pants trousers... including tracksuit pants :S. If you say pants over here they will think you are talking about your underwear! I keep arguing that underpants are called underpants because they go under your pants. And besides, you wear trousers with a suit!
There are also the terms togs and thongs (which I think are more Qlder, rather than Aussie). I need to say swimmers and flip flops. If I say thongs they will think I'm talking about a pair of pants :S

We Aussies also abbreviate things a lot. I'm sure we are the only country in the world that goes to 'Macca's'. I have been asked on a number of occasions by people of different what Macca's is... for those of you not in the know, it's McDonald's. We also abbreviate a lot shorter too. Aussies watch (or don't watch) ads, the Poms watch adverts.

When I came over here, ENA made me get a international drivers licence. I'm not exactly sure why I had to get one, seeing as you can drive on an Australian licence over here, without the need for one. But you can only do that for a year, after a year you need to get a UK driving licence. So I now how a UK driving licence. The worst thing about it is that I had to surrender my Aussie one :( Apparently you can only hold one licence at at time, but in Aus you're allowed to keep your British one, if you then want to get an Aussie (or maybe just QLD) drivers licence!

My taste buds have also changed. Before I came to England I did NOT like mushrooms. The only thing I would purposely put mushrooms into was spag bol, and they were finely chopped/minced. However, my first long term client regularly ate garlic mushrooms, and I started thinking that I would like to try some. So I chopped some up, and cooked them until they were no longer chewy/rubbery, and found I liked them! At first I could only eat them the way I cooked them, but now I don't mind the texture so my, and even crave mushrooms every now and again!

I can also drink a much wider variety of wine. A year ago I would only drink non-dry, sweet wines (didn't matter what colour). Now I prefer reds, and can drink pretty much whatever. I wouldn't say I'm a complete convert to beer, but after 6 steins in Germany, I can definitely say that I can drink it much easier then when I was in Aus, even if they were only half beer/half lemonade :p Considering I had NEVER finished a can/bottle/glass of beer OR Shandy before I came overseas, I think it is an 'improvement'! I think the forced 3 month dry spells at a time, living in a sometimes stressful environment, and the lack of social isolation have given me an appreciation for anything with alcohol in it!

In Australia I had joined a couple of gyms, and then after a couple of weeks/maybe months of consistently going I always got bored and stopped going. However, and I never thought I would say this, I actually enjoy going to the gym, and when I haven't been able to go I missed it. I went regularly for over 6 once I had my first long term client, but then had to cancel my membership when I started with my 3rd long term client. £4 return to get to the gym was not worth it, particularly seeing that gym prices had gone up now that I was living 'closer to' London.

Just before I left for my diving/Oktoberfest holiday I decided that I wouldn't be able to return with the same client if I couldn't get to the gym... I don't like going out for a walk/run. I find it boring. But I needed to get out and do something. So I organised with my client and ENA to use her car to drive to the gym, and I have been going regularly again for about 3/4 weeks :) I pay for the petrol and parking at the gym, which works out to £1.20 every time I go... MUCH cheaper than £4.

I would like to think that I will continue going to the gym when I return home, but it is hard to say when I am in a 'normal routine. At the moment I only get to go out for 3hrs a day by myself, and it's in the afternoon. If i get a job back in Aus that allows me more time off, I may use it to visit people or just relax, but hoepfully I will continue with it :)

With all the travel I've done, and all the travel that is planned my world (particularly European) geography (and history to some extent) is much improved. Now I'm gonna list where I've been in the past year and a bit: Obviously I've been to England, followed by Egypt, Athens (Greece), Scotland, Tenerife (Spain), Turkey, Germany, and France. In December and January I will be able to add Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and hopefully Cardiff (Wales) to that list. My passport is getting very stamped! :)

I thought I'd add this bit too. If you have been reading along, you will know that my laptop decided to break - well more specifically the keyboard stopped working properly after I tried to fix it. Well the day I decided to take it to the repair shop, it stopped charging properly too! I didn't think much of it, and went ahead and got the keyboard replaced. I also bought new charger leads to see if that would help the charging issue. Turns out it was the computer, and not the charger cable. I could get it to charge by pulling the cord, and wrapping it around my computer, and then making sure it didn't move.. but that was very impracticable, and the computer was overheating a lot.

I had been thinking about getting a new laptop, as the old one was soooooooooooooo slllloooooowwww, but I was putting it off until I came home. But I found a good deal online and ended up getting a 15.something" Samsung laptop. It took me a little while to get used to a full size keyboard again, but so far no regrets in buying it. The only problem is the English keyboard. The @ sign is at the end of the middle row, and I now have $ and £ signs. OK, it's not too much of a problem. In fact I somehow changed the keyboard software to Australian, and had to change it back to English, cos I didn't like the fact that the keys didn't correspond to the button - much too confusing, even thought I can touch type, so technically it really shouldn't matter at all :P

Well that's all I can think of at the moment. I hope you've enjoyed this post :) Bye xox

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ummm, that didn't go to plan...

Before I had left for my diving holiday and Oktoberfest I made sure that I had a way to get from Luton airport to my accommodation for the night. I looked up the best way to get into town, and where the best hostel to stay at would be. EasyJet have a bus service called EasyBus, and the bus runs from the airport to Finchley Road, so I booked accomodation near the end of the line. The only problem is that somehow I had mixed up which airport I was landing in... I WASN'T arriving into Luton, I was arriving into Stansted, and I only realised this when I was waiting in line to get through passport control.

So now I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. I had to figure out how to get from Stansted to Finchley Road. It may have been alright if it wasn't after 11 at night... It also didn't help that it took forever to get through passport control. Over 1 hour, by far the longest I have EVER had to wait to get through. It was lucky there were a couple of Americans who had also come across from Oktoberfest that I could talk to. I ended up catching the train from the airport to Liverpool St Station, and the same guys were on the train, so I continued talking to them.

I had a quick look on my phone how to get from the train station to Finchley Road, but it was going flat, so I asked at a little 24hr 'caff' if I could charge my phone. I stayed there for a bit and thought about what I could do. There were no hostels close by, and no trains running at that time of that night. Bus was an option, but I put it in the 'too hard basket'. I'm not good with catching buses at the best of times. So I ended up staying the night in the caff, then I went across to Macca's (cos it was cold in the caff) until the tubes started running, and I could make my way to G & A's early in the morning. I then walked to their place, as I didn't really expect them to come pick me up from the train station at 8am in the morning (they aren't like my grandparents... or indeed like my dad - they stay up late, and sleep in in the mornings!)

Needless to say, after spending the night not sleeping I spent most of Monday sleeping, before I had to go back to work Tuesday afternoon. Not the best end to my holiday, but it was still an awesome one :)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


 Well this is what I had come to Munich for - and it's lucky I didn't come for sightseeing, as I didn't see much! But I did have the best fun! Oktoberfest officially opened at 12 noon on the 17th September, but to ensure we had a seat, we left in plenty of time. The 3 other girls had all bought a dirndls, and I was feeling a bit left out on the costume front. It was lucky that we went by the Hauptbahnhof and they were selling dresses and shirts there. I opted just for the shirt, as it would have more future wearability, was cheaper, and you only see the top in photos anyway! (Practical, aren't I?) I also got my hair done for free, which added a nice touch :)
 I didn't drink THAT much at Oktoberfest, and found the beer to be MUCH better and easier to drink when it was mixed half and half with lemonade :) The first day of Oktoberfest was beautiful, sunny and warm, so we sat outside. After 5 days in France, and sitting in the sun in Munich, I definitely ended up a lot more tanned than I had been for the last few months in England. We sat at a table with some Americas, and Aussies in the table beside us. It was amazing how many steins the women could carry at once - TWELVE!! I had trouble just lifting one from the table to my mouth...
Yes, she held 12 at once!


 The next day was cold and wet :( But luckily we got a table inside. I even saw the New Zealand couple  I had met at Nice airport!! This time we sat with a group of Irish boys. They were fun enough... if not a bit crazy :P We went to an Irish pub with them (told you I always end up in Irish pubs) to watch the finals of the Gaelic football. It was pretty fun to watch. After the game I walked back to the hostel, had a shower and headed to the airport for my flight back to London :(


Just a short post today, but I did have the most awesomest time at Oktoberfest. I had the best 10 days off work ever! :)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Off to Munich

After the rude taxi driver I had getting from Nice to St. Augustine train station, I decided NOT to catch the train back to the airport. Earlier I had found out where the bus stop was for the bus to the airport, and also what time I needed to catch a bus to get to the airport on time. So, on Friday I caught the bus, and I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare... except then I realised I had got off the bus at the wrong terminal! Luckily they have a free shuttle bus to the other terminal, so I hopped on, and while I was waiting for the bus to take off, there were some familiar accents beside me. 

   There was a New Zealand couple and another Aussie who they had also met on the bus. Turns out we were all taking the same flight to Munich via Cologne, so we all stuck together, which was good, and it was nice having someone to talk to while waiting for check in. We got to the airport (and correct terminal) so early that check in hadn't opened yet, in fact we were first in line! It is definitely much more fun waiting in line when you have someone else to talk to! After check in we went upstairs to check out the duty free shopping and to wait for the first leg of our flight. When I booked my flight I had chosen seat 1A and was thinking 'why on earth did I pick seat 1A'. But it was sooo good - I had so much leg room that I couldn't even reach the wall in front of me, plus good views too!

 We had a short time at Cologne airport before the flight to Munich, so did some more duty free shopping. I bought a giant box of Ferrero Rocher - it had 30% off :D Bugger buying duty free alcohol, chocolate is better lol! Here we met up with another Aussie girl, so there was a group of 5 of us who had all met at the airport! On the second section of the flight I didn't have as much leg room, but it was still a fairly comfortable flight. Finally I arrived in Munich, where I caught the train to the Hauptbahnhof and checked into hostel I was staying at.
 After having a shower, Vicki finally arrived, and we went out for dinner. We both had the pork sausages with sauerkraut pasta. Despite the name, it was actually quite good, though neither of us could finish it, as it was so filling. We then went back to the hostel, Vicki's school friend and her work mate's daughter were there. Later that night we went to a beer hall for our first Stein of beer (though after being sick the night before I didn't want to overdo it, so didn't actually finish the drink). At first we were sitting near these old Indian men, but then they left, and some Swedish boys sat in their place. They were nice enough and we sat drinking and talking (giving them an Australian geography lesson :P) with them until we pretty much got thrown out of the beer hall, as they wanted to close up for the night.

 So we went outside and continued talking. After a bit we caught up with Brion, who we had met on the Egypt tour. We went back to the hostel, and just stayed up talking until about 3 in the morning! Eventually we went to bed and got a few hours sleep before we had to be up again, ready for the opening of Oktoberfest at 12 noon on Saturday 17th September!

French Diving Part 2

My giant Meringue :) Took me the whole
day to eat!
 Tuesday was the first of 4 open water dives- this is what I had come to France to do!! I had to leave earlier this morning, but it still wasn't an overly early morning. I think I got up at about 7.30/8. Walking down to the port at 8.30 in the morning, it was weird seeing how low the sun was still in the sky, though it didn't get dark until about 8.30 at night. I suppose that will change when daylight savings finishes - then it will just be dark most of the time :P My first dive was pretty awesome (well they all were actually). Over the 4 open water dives I practised more skills such as mask removal and putting on underwater, buoyancy control and the controlled emergency swimming ascent (CESA). I didn't do it very well, and had to do it twice, but at least I know the basic procedure should I ever run out of air, or need to get to the surface quickly in an emergency :)

The Cagnes Sur Mer police station. The bike was left
on the signpost to the left of the tree...
During lunch on the Tuesday I asked how many dives I had left to do. I had 3, so figured since I was finishing the next day that I would have one that afternoon, and 2 the next day. But then once we had finished lunch, Alex said he would see me tomorrow, so I thought 'Oh, I must have the afternoon off then'. So I walked back to the hotel and had a bit of a rest, then I got a text... turns out I WAS supposed to be doing a second dive that day - oops. It was lucky that there was the option of doing 3 dives on Wednesday, otherwise I would have been a bit stuck!

 As I had the afternoon off I decided to catch the train to Cagnes Sur Mer, as my uncle had requested that I check on his pushbike he had chained outside the police station when he went to France last. Note that the last time he went to France was in October 2010 (I think?!) Anyway, close to a year ago! After I found the police station and the location of where the bike HAD been, I was not surprised to find that it was no longer there. I then took the free shuttle bus up to the top of Haute de Cagnes, where there is a castle and good views. I then headed back to my hotel and bed.
I walked up this hill.. then decided to take the bus

On Wednesday I had 3 dives - 2 in the morning, and 1 in the afternoon after lunch. Again I practised some skills, but the majority of the the time underwater was just swimming around, getting use to buoyancy control, and seeing what animals we could spot. Some of the animals we saw were heaps of starfish, a variety of fish, eels, tube-worms, and even an octopus :) At one stage I swam to a depth of 20m! It's amazing looking up at the sky from that depth :D That night I got invited to dinner with the Diamond Diving crew to help celebrate Benoit's belated birthday. We went to a places in Antibe called Beer n' Curry. It was a pretty good meal, with decent prices :) Following that we went to an Irish Pub. I always seem to end up in Irish pubs - Egypt, Turkey, France, and even in Munich, but more on that in my next post :P

While we were out to dinner Alex asked if I would like to come and listen to a presentation on the history of rebreathers, and then do a rebreather try dive the next day. As I was leaving on Friday, and Thursday was my last full day in France, I was planning on going to Monaco for the day. But I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to go for another dive. And how many people get to say that their first dive as a certified open water diver is a rebreather dive?! :D For those of you 'not in the know' (lol) rebreathers recycle the oxygen that you exhale, so you can dive deeper and longer, and with less time for decompression stops.
 It certainly was a weird sensation not blowing out bubbles with every breath - it's also very quiet! As the air you breathe is recycled you can not use your breath for buoyancy control, something I had only just learnt how to do! I was also a little bit overweighted, which did not help. To be honest I didn't really like the rebreather, and think I'll stick to normal scuba for the time being. I found breathing to be a bit difficult, and my chest was a bit tight for the whole 20 mins I was down there. But who know, maybe in the future when I have done a bit more 'normal' scuba diving I will look into a bit more :)
 That evening I decided I would have something familiar for dinner - McDonald's :P Now, I'm not sure if it was the Macca's, or something else I had eaten, but that night I was sick :( GRR why does this always happen on the last night I am in a place, right before I need to catch a plane?! Ok, not always, but it did happen in Egypt too... Now, if you read part 1 of this post, you will know that my first impression of my hotel room was how small the bathroom was - let's just say that by the end of my time in Juan les Pins I was VERY glad that bathroom was tiny. It meant I could reach both the sink and the toilet at once... But enough on that subject!

Pretty Flower

My diving injury :(

Gotta get a bus down there!

Mangy, Phoebe looking cat!

This is fun!

Moon rising. This is the beach I did my confined dives in

Learning about rebreathers

I  think the Diamond Diving guys keep this place in business!

Jerome, with his 'sunken treasure' and Benoit

Out to dinner :)
And finally... I thought I should actually
include a photo of me in
scuba gear :P