Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'll be home for Christmas

Not just a song that's sung on the radio at this time of the year...I am truly home for Christmas!

That's right, I'm currently in Brisbane enjoying a beautiful, sunny 29 degree day. For the past year I have been planning to go home to surprise my family for Christmas and I still can't believe I pulled it off. Last Thursday, around 10.30pm, after an early morning bus ride to Paddington, a train to Heathrow, a 26 hour flight from Heathrow via Dubai and Brunei and a taxi ride from the airport, I knocked on my sister's door...SURPRISE!!

Everyone was totally shocked, including me at how much my niece had grown! Friday morning, I went to surprise my nana and then my dad, who is currently in the hospital having knee replacement surgery, and since then I've been catching up with friends, helping my mum move house, shopping and trying to get some sleep in there somewhere!

It's a whirlwind trip (just two weeks) but I plan on enjoying every minute of it. You never know, it could turn out to be longer...especially with all the snow back in London. Over the next couple of days, I'll post some pics.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You say it best...

You find these seats all over London.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Christmas lights on Regent Street. Narnia theme this year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

On Saturday, I scored a free ticket to see Arsenal beat Fulham at Emirates Stadium. A bone-numbingly cold, but awesome day out!

Sunday, I went back to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. Not quite as cold as last year, but chilly enough. Perfect afternoon topped off with a pretzel and a mulled apple cider...delicious!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Took a day trip to Bath today with Magical Tours. An amazing trip and loads of fun! If you look closely in the background you'll see snow on them there hills!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Read this!

You have got to read this book. That's all I have to say!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and The Sunday Snapshot

This week has been all about Harry Potter for me. And I'm sure I'm not alone. I finished the last book on Thursday and last night, braved the cold and the crowds with my friend Hannah, to see Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (part one - even though I wished they had just made a monster 6 hour epic and showed us the whole thing in one go!).

What can I say? It was absolutely amazing (don't worry, I won't post any spoliers in case you have, for the last 4 years, been living in a hole and haven't even read the book!).

If you haven't seen it yet, what are you doing? Get yourself to your nearest cinema immediately!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

I'm currently re-reading all the Harry Potter books in readiness for the release of The Deathly Hallows Part 1. I'm on number 6 right now and I just flicked to the back of the book where I found the above post it my niece had made for my last birthday in Australia. Awwww!
So I thought I'd share it with you all. I miss her!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Not as smart as my phone

OK. I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth...at least as far as I can remember! My main reason for not blogging has been that since my digital camera met its untimely death, I have bought a new phone. A smart phone. Smarter than its owner, obviously, since I can't figure out for the life of me how to get my pictures from my phone to my PC. So rather than disappoint my two faithful readers, I've decided to post this blog...without pictures. I hope to get them up soon but for now, you'll just need to use your imagination.

Since my last blog post, I have made my first trip overseas with a family I've worked for. The destination for this trip was to a house in Normandy, France. I was more than a little nervous before heading off on this particular trip as I had no idea what to expect and the thought of 5 hours in the car with three kids was not filling me with joy and happiness. In the end, I didn't need to feel nervous. The trip over was pretty uneventful, except for my excitement about my first trip in the Euro tunnel. The house (a HUGE understatement!) was in the beautiful village of Beauxville. The countryside was just gorgeous. Green fields, picturesque cottages and autumn colours everywhere. I even had my own room (no sharing with the children for me, praise God!) with exposed beams and a fireplace.

We made day trips out to Deauville and Trouville on the coast, ate crepes, crepes and more crepes, donned the wellies for wild raspberry picking, strolled along the sand on the coast of the English Channel, ate at delicious French restaurants, and shopped til we dropped. All in a day's work for me, really! On the last day, we all headed to Honfleur which, I'm sorry, but words cannot describe. I promise to get some pics up as soon as I can.

Since France, it's just been work, work, work. These past few weeks, I have truly appreciated the easy life I used to have when I worked part time. But even with the long hours, there's not a lot I would change. The 1-year-old boy has started to walk, give out kisses (of the slobbery, open-mouthed variety!) and tottering up to me for a cuddle when he sees me, so that makes starting and finishing in the dark worthwhile. The older two...well, it's a work in progress!

Last weekend, I actually did something I thought I'd never do again. I went back on The London Eye. The only difference was this time, I really enjoyed it! There is even photographic evidence to show the distinct lack of fear in my eyes.

I'd show it to you...if I was as smart as my phone!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

An iconic red London Routemaster bus...that you can evidently hire for weddings!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Gorgeous, (but rare) sunny October day

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Fresh fish at Borough Market

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Today, my former boss got tickets to see Fulham play Everton at Craven Cottage. This was my first Premier League game and it was a brilliant day out. The game resulted in a 0-0 draw, but still with plenty of action, made even more entertaining by the likes of fellow Aussies Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) and Tim Cahill (Everton). Even though my seats were in the Director's Box (sweet!!) for Fulham, I couldn't help but secretly hope that Everton would pull off a win.

I guess part my heart still lies in the North West...

The only low point of the day was, since we were in the Director's Box jeans were not allowed, I (stupidly) decided to wear my high heeled boots...yeah, I know, dumb idea! My feet will be sore for a few days, I imagine! It felt very wrong to be so dressed up at the football.

While the Box, including its food and champagne, was quite an experience, I realised I am much more of a jeans-and-a-pint-in-the-cheap-seats kind of girl!

(Photo is courtsey of my friend Hannah, since my camera is now six feet under!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Baby Steps

I heard this from Little Girl 3 in the backseat this morning on the school run:

"Becs...I like you...a little bit, but...I still like C (former nanny) a lot".

That's fine with me. It's a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My New Life

I guess now is as good a time as any to update you on the first two and a half weeks in my new job. It's taken a while, I know, but it's taken me a while to get used to working 12 hours a day.

I started on a Friday, and moved out of my old job that morning, carting the rest of my not-so-light stuff by bus and train to West Hampstead. The rest of the day, I spent getting settled into my room. Saturday was my first official day of work, which included the baby's 1st birthday party in the afternoon, so I got to meet most of the extended family. And there are a lot of them!

The first week was very long and very challenging as it was the week the kids started back at school, having been overseas for most of the summer. Most nights after work, I just crashed into bed, too exhausted to even think. This nanny thing is tough! But since then, we have all sort of settled into a routine and the kids are getting to know me and even answer me when I talk to them! It's a good start.

The highlight has definitely been spending the days with the 1 year old boy. He is absolutely adorable, even though this brother has taught him to scream, which Little Boy 1 does at a very high pitch! Pushing the buggy down the street, on our way to Gymboree or music classes, is the part of nannying I always imagined. I had one particular moment this week...the sun was shining, the sky was blue, I was pushing Little Boy 1 in his buggy, choosing to forget that just that very morning, I had changed the wet sheets on Little Girl 3's bed, washed the bedding of Little Boy 1, who had thrown up in the night and cleaned up the trail of poo on the kitchen floor from Little Boy 1's leaking nappy (he had a very bad tummy bug). All that faded into a distant memory in the light of the sunny morning stroll.

I have also had to get used to driving the foreign streets of West Hampstead. As all navigationally-challenged people understand, this filled me with dread. But, my bosses car has Sat Nav. Yes, Sat Nav! I have never driven a car with this before and it has to be one of the best inventions ever. Today, the kids decided to name the Sat Nav lady Star, and we spent the journey home from school mocking her voice and giving crazy instructions.

I've done some exploring around West Hampstead and I have to say it is a whole new world. I love it though. I love having transport options too. I can pretty much get a bus to anywhere from here...if I manage to concentrate and get on the bus going in the right direction! Note to self: never catch public transport when over-tired.

So this is my new life. It's a lot busier than my last one.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

This shot was taken yesterday in Hyde Park...such a gorgeous sunny day! Unfortunately, just after this shot was taken, my camera died a tragic death on the pavement just by the Albert Memorial. This may be my last Sunday Snapshot, well, for a couple of weeks anyway. Pay day is looming, at last!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Stocking Stuffers

What?? Christmas stuff in the shops? It's only the middle of September, people !!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Better late than never...this is the park on Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Randomness of London

Last night, my friend Hannah and I headed out to the Novello Theatre to see Adam Garcia in Tap Dogs before the season ended on 5th September.

It was an amazing show...however, we found the following notice in our programs:

"At this performance, the role of Foreman will be played by Douglas Mills"

What?? Who is he?? I didn't pay 40 pounds to see Douglas Mills! I mean, he is a very talented dancer, don't get me wrong, but I found it hard to get over just who he wasn't. Still, an awesome show!

After the show, we walked back to Covent Garden tube station, only to be greeted on the platform by a guy hugging and kissing everyone, as you do! He was a little drunk.

One long hug and several kisses on the cheek later, the train arrived and who should be in the same carriage? Yep, slightly-drunk-kissing-guy! He spotted Hannah and I and came back for more, creating way more attention than I ever try to draw to myself on the tube! Turns out, he was also a fellow Brisbanite from Morningside on the South Side (and declared the "relationship" over when he found out I was from the North Side!!).

His friend then came along to drag him away...strangely enough, to catch his train to West Hampstead! He could be my new neighbour...

A classic, random London moment!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The End of Chapter One

Last Saturday was my last day at work. Since then, I've been packing, getting lost at Heathrow, looking after my little cousins and trying to get some quality sleep on an air mattress!

Now, as I am getting ready to start my new job tomorrow, I've been looking back on the past 16 months. It has been an amazing experience and I was truly fortunate to be welcomed into the home and lives of such a great family. I will miss the kids a lot but I will still get to see them. It was certainly one of the best decisions I made to get out of the whole Monday to Friday 9-5.

So, on the eve of the next chapter, I am excited. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of the world and also the chance to be part of a new family. It's not like I'm moving to a new country. I think I'll like living in NW London.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Writing on the wall at Abbey Road

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Week That Was

I know I haven't been around for a while but I've been a little busy. Here's some pics from what I've been up to this week:

Last week, I took the kids back to Ham House, somewhere I haven't been since I first arrived. We had a great day exploring the gardens.

On Monday, I had my little cousin who's two with us so we all headed into Kensington Gardens and The Princess Diana Memorial Playground. What an awesome place! It was packed to the rafters with kids, but the sun was out, so that made everything OK!

Wednesday, we headed to Bushy Park for a picnic, clown show and a play on the huge playground there. Bushy Park is a lovely place and I don't know why I waited so long to get there!

And yesterday, I took the kids into the city for a Great Bus Adventure (as they called it!), starting with the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (which turned out to not be on that day!), then on the no. 11 bus to Trafalgar Square where we then hopped on an old Routemaster bus, the no. 15, to The Tower of London. We found a little patch of green and a playground to have lunch at and then headed home on the train.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Here I Go Again

The past few days, I have been sorting through all my stuff and starting to pack up my life once more, ready for my move to the wild frontier that is West Hampstead at the end of this month.

This month will also see the arrival of the replacement for my current position, which I'm actually looking forward to as she comes in the form of my friend, Hannah. Yep, Hannah, who was here last year for our trip to Paris, is coming to take over from me. It'll be great to have her here and I know I'll still get to see the kids. I am starting to get excited about my new job...and a bit scared at the same time. But I have to remember that they chose me to come and live with them and I know this is the right move for me at this stage of my new career.

So while Hannah packs up her life in New Orleans, I'm packing up mine here. Time to move on again. One day, I'm sure I'll be done with all the moving around and be more than happy to settle down in one place. As for when that day will come, I have no idea!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mamma Mia

Last night, I went to see Mamma Mia with my friend Lisa and her sister, Mandy. It was brilliant!

I tried my hardest to not sing along to all the songs and embarrass myself, but by the end, I was on my feet, arms in the air, singing along with everyone else.

So much fun!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

At last !

(photo courtesy of www.gm.tv)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We're all in this together

I love to read and at the moment, I am loving getting stuck into books by fellow expats, both fictional and real life tales of their adventures, and those who are truly living their dream.

I have a few to recommend:

The first one is by a fellow blogger, whose blog I discovered about four years ago while stuck in a boring office job in Brisbane, Australia. At the time, I was planning my return to the UK and going through the process of deciding where to base myself. I discovered Simon Varwell's blog while researching Glasgow and I can tell you, it brightened many a dull office day. Simon is based in Inverness in Scotland, but has spent a significant amount of time searching out "Mullets" across the world...as you do! He's now written a book called "Up The Creek Without a Mullet", all about his adventures, searching for mullets from Albania to Australia to Haiti. You can read more about his search here

The second book I'd like to recommend is called "Single in the City" by Michele Gorman. True, I've only read a taster of her book but it has hooked me already and I can't wait to get my hands on the whole thing! Michele is a fellow expat, hailing from the US and has lived in London for 12 years.

If you're an expat, or just love a great read, get your hands on these books!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

OK, I know it's Wednesday (blame dodgy internet connections and super-slow computers!), but this shot was taken on Sunday at West Wittering beach. I so needed to see the ocean and this beach didn't disappoint! A true sandy beach, warm water and a gorgeous sunny day. What could be better than that?

True, I am now nursing some pretty bad sunburn. You'd think I would have learnt from last time! Once again, never underestimate the strength of the English sunshine!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

Today, I took one of the kids I look after to see The Wiggles in concert at the Hammersmith Apollo. I think I loved it more than she did! So much fun!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Graduations and Goodbyes

Yesterday, the youngest boy I look after graduated from his nursery, all ready to start "big" school in September. It was such a great day. He did so well in his performance and I couldn't help but shed a few tears.

It hit me that I have just two months left with them, and even though I will see them from time to time, the close relationship we have built over the past 18 months will not be the same. They'll have a new nanny and I'll have new kids to look after and we'll move on. I really hate goodbyes. I'm no good at them and I've had too many of them. I always start to cry and never really get to say exactly how I feel.

After the performance, I took both of the kids to our favourite playground and I watched as little-boy-four balanced on the balance beam by himself. I taught him that. I watched him swing himself on the swings, stretching his legs out as he went forward, tucking them in as he swung back. I taught him that. I watched his six-year-old sister take her first one-handed swing on the monkey bars. I taught her that. I realised then that I have made a difference in their lives and even though I won't be there day to day, they'll remember me.

No one told me about this side of the job when I signed up!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

This is how I felt today...a scorching day in the city!
(photo courtesy of pixel-panther on photobucket)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

One of the things I love about London are the random things I discover. Today, I took the kids to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum (again!) and normally this place holds my interest for all of 5 seconds, but today, we discovered that they were commemorating WWII with a 1940's themed day, complete with costumed volunteers, bomb dismantling demonstrations and even air raid sirens.

There was loads to see and do. If I had wanted to, I could have even had my hair set in traditional 1940's style! There was a food demonstration on how to make the most of food rations and the windows even had black out curtains.

It has to be said that the afternoon was enjoyed by all!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday Snapshot (in the grip of World Cup fever!)

You can't turn the corner in London at the moment without seeing something like this in pretty much every shop window. This town is truly in the grip of World Cup fever! (What I love are the ads on TV saying if you buy a big screen TV to watch the World Cup and England win the final, then they'll give you 100% money back! The joke would be on them if England do win!!).

It has made me think back on the past few World Cup's...where I was, who I was with. In 2002, I was in Adelaide, South Australia and even though Australia didn't qualify, I still remember watching the games, especially when Uruguay were playing. My friends were house-sitting a fantastic place with a swimming pool and our friend Rudy, who was from Uruguay, got us all into the World Cup Spirit.

Fast-forward four years, Australia had qualified, I was now living in Queensland and I woke up way too early to watch the Australia v Italy (i.e. Big Fakers!) game with my niece who was 8. Even though Australia lost tragically to Italy that day, I couldn't be too sad...especially since I had drawn Italy in the office sweep and ended up pocketing $60!

Now, it's 2010, I'm living in London and forced to endure the pain of watching Australia's games with British commentary! Everywhere you look, all you see is red and white. St George flags are flying from every car (even from some peoples heads!). I wonder if Australia is decked out in the colours?

This World Cup, I'll cheer for England when they play, with every one else...unless, of course, they are playing Australia. My heart is Green and Gold.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Next Chapter

There's a reason I've been so quiet on this blog of late. For once, it hasn't been because I've done been doing nothing. Quite the opposite. There has been so much going on, I didn't know where to start and what was going on, I couldn't even tell you about.

But now I can. I have found a new job. Yes, I am still a nanny, but now I'll offically have the job title of "nanny", be working full time, travelling the world and moving from SW London to NW London, close to Hampstead Heath and full of brand new places for me to explore.

As excited as I am to start this new experience (I start in September, by the way!), it hasn't been an easy thing to think of leaving my current family. No one prepared me for this when I chose to become a nanny. It's going to break my heart to leave those two kids who have been such a huge part of my life here. My bosses have been brilliant too. I really hate goodbyes!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

On Friday, the kids and I went to the Tower of London. It is such an amazing place (although next time I go, it won't be with two kids on a hot summer's day!).

This shot is of a chapel inside one of the towers...I can't remember which one!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bring out the cheese...Eurovision's here!

Yes, it's Eurovision time again!

There is definitely a love / hate thing with Eurovision. It's just not possible to sit on the fence. I can't really explain it but I love, love, love Eurovision! I know this makes me a sad individual, but I don't care. Where else do you get to see such "class" acts from all over Europe?

Right now, I am watching the second semi-finals on BBC Three, having missed the first semi's for the simple reason that I had no idea it was on. For someone who loves Eurovision as I do, I am really lacking in true fan style! Better late than never, I say!

Highlight so far: the guy from Israel was really good - apparently the runner-up in their Pop Idol contest. The guys from Cyprus are on right now and they're also really good. Corniest moment so far: the blokes from Lithuania singing Eastern European Funk, and tearing off their trousers to reveal sparkly hot-pants! Honestly, what's not to love about Eurovision??

The finals are on Saturday (that night's viewing is sorted then!) and if you've never watched it before, you have to see it to believe it! I just hope you're not lactose-intolerant...there is so much cheese !

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

Today, some of the private gardens in Petersham were open to the public. This is truly a glimpse into how the other half live!

Here are some of my favourites:

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Expat Anniversary

This weekend just gone, I have been in London for one year.

My life has changed completely from what it was 12 months ago. Past days spent in a grey office with no windows (and a strangely macabre oil painting of giant scissors dripping red paint! Let's just say, the boss's taste in art and mine differed greatly when it came to suitable reception area art work!!), have been replaced with bike rides along the river, playgrounds, playdates and CBeebies.

My weekends are now filled with endless tube journeys (and the frustration of trying to travel anywhere in this city on a Sunday!), a bit of shopping or a stroll through the park in the sunshine and exploring the sights and history of London.

People have said to me that I am brave to pack up my whole life and move it to the other side of the world. I often find myself surprised when they say things like that. To me, most times, it just feels normal. I guess I am brave. I don't know. Many others have gone before me and many of them to parts of the world with a whole new language to learn, alongside a new culture. It is these people that I call brave. The only new language I have had to learn is that an ATM is called a Cash Machine, a pram is called a buggy and whatever you do, don't call thongs "thongs" - they're flip flops here!

Naturally, I find myself at the end of this first year in London, looking back. I am amazed by the things I have seen and done. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so in lieu of a thousand words, here are some of my favourites: