Monday, September 5, 2011

We're all going on a summer holiday...

Finally back in London after a massive summer of work. OK, and a little fun as well. Here are some of the places I worked this summer:

It all started with a week in beautiful, sunny Portugal

Followed closely by a month on Sea Island in Georgia

Next stop was Washington DC

Back to London in time to enjoy a glorious sunny day in Green Park with friends

Before jumping on the Eurostar for a few days in Paris

So back to routine this week. The kids are back at school (hooray!!) and there is no more travel on the horizon...until at least October!

And summer is over, the days are getting shorter and the tan built up over 6 fantastic weeks in the sunshine is beginning to fade. Autumn is here and it's time to get out the warmer clothes. Seems a crime almost...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Hunger Games

A friend tipped me off about The Hunger Games. It's been a while since I've read a book I just couldn't put down. So, taking her advice, I ordered them online. They arrived on Saturday and I've already read the first two and just about to start the third. Although aimed at the young adult reader, I would recommend them for anyone of any age, who likes a book that has you unable to say, "just one more chapter". You'll be reading it all night.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Proverbs 31...Nanny??

If you own a bible, you may be familiar with Proverbs 31 and it's description of the "Good Wife", as it's called in my Message translation.

I know that I'm not alone in having read this chapter and thought about how so very far I am from meeting that description. Well, call it inspiration. Call it insomnia. But I was thinking about this so-called "Good Wife" and her attributes late last night and the result is my paraphrase of this chapter, changing the "Wife" for "Nanny" (and a few other things), taken from The Message.

A good nanny is hard to find
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her bosses trust her with their offspring
and annually have reason to renegotiate her contract.
Never spiteful, on the outside, the nanny treats them generously
For all the length of her working week (weekends are optional).

She shops around for the best playgroups
and infant Zumba classes,
and enjoys repairing endless holes in socks and school shorts.

She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
like Gymboree, bringing back a child covered in hand stamps that won't wash off.
She's up before dawn,
preparing breakfast for the family...and cleaning up the mess from the night before,emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, making school lunches...

She meets other nannies and organises playdates then,
with money from the kitty, she pays for a session at Topsy Turvy or Amanda's Action Kids.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves and prays for the weekend.
She tries to sense the value of her work, and is already wishing it was 7.30pm.
She's skilled in the crafts of playdough and threading,
diligent in her colouring.

She's quick to assist anyone who needs a plaster, reaches out to clean up the vomit.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows...they have central heating.

She buys her clothes at the supermarket,
and dresses in track pants and t-shirts that don't show up any thrown food.

Her boss is greatly respected and spends a great deal of time deliberating with the city fathers (actually, she has NO idea at all what he does for a living!)

She designs and builds all manner of farm machinery from cardboard,
bringing the creations she has made to the playroom.
Her clothes are practical, comfortable and easy to wash,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile...of irony.

When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say,
even though no one is listening, and she always says it three times.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, but is not permitted to speak to anyone about what she sees, as per the Confidentiality Clause in her contract.

The children ignore and harass her.

Her bosses join in with the words, "Many nannies have done wonderful things, but you have outclassed them all!"...whoops, she fell asleep at the kitchen table and dreamed that last bit!

Training can mislead and fantastic experience soon fades.
The nanny to be admired and praised is the nanny who can wake up each morning and believe that one day she will hear, "Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her with praises!"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Kookaburras in Golders Hill Park Aussie discovery in the middle of London

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chasing the Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding. A once in a lifetime experience. And I was there!

The first sighting I had of the Royal Couple was on the balcony...OK, so the first balcony was Chiquito in Leicester Square!

And then the race was on. My plan had been to watch the ceremony on the big screen in Trafalgar Square and so, rather naively in hindsight, I aimed to get there around 10am, find a prime spot and watch the service that started at 11am. Hmm...not quite so easy. I had met my friend Lisa in Leicester Square at 10am, got tickets to see Dirty Dancing that evening, then turned all our efforts to watching the Royal Wedding. Our first hurdle was a police barricade at Trafalgar Square as it was already full and had been for several hours. OK then. On to Plan B...Hyde Park. We set off for Hyde Park, following the crowds and got as far as Marlborough House on Pall Mall, where we met another roadblock of police.

Weaving through the backstreets, we ended up on Piccadilly with the rest of the world, where we managed to see Kate arrive at Westminster Abbey on TV through the window of the Hard Rock Cafe (now there's a story for the grandkids!).

At Hyde Park, we came across some girls clearly hoping that Kate would be a no-show!

From our "prime" vantage point we saw most of the ceremony, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a lunch of Pimms and chips!

From Hyde Park, we thought we'd try to get as close as we could so we set out for Wellington Arch and Constitution Hill where we met yet another police roadblock. There was some excitement when the Horse Guards came past and Lisa and I resigned ourselves to the fact that that would be all we would see.

When the road re-opened, the crowd moved towards Constitution Hill and sure enough, more police. Just when all looked lost, the police line moved forward and we were almost running down Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace.

And yes, we made it in time to see the family on the balcony and the now famous double kiss! Yes, I know, we were too far away to really "see" the kiss but I was just too excited that after our epic journey across London, we had made it in time for the all important moment.

And it's fitting that my last sighting of the Royal Couple is also on a balcony...this time the right one!

After it was all over, the city had a very strange feel. Strangers had smiled at each other and bonded over a shared experience. No one seemed in a rush to leave the city and the crowds sprawled out all over St James's Park to eat their sandwiches in the sunshine. Union Jacks could be seen hanging out of almost every backpack.

Then, after Dirty Dancing, those still on the streets simply looked exhausted. Just like me.

So thank you, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I will remember this day for the rest of my life. No doubt you feel the same!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday Snapshot - ANZAC Day

OK, so I know it's technically Monday, but this is a special ANZAC Day Sunday Snapshot post.

This morning, I headed to Hyde Park Corner for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial. It was a beautiful service and my first one since arriving in London. The ANZAC address was given by The Prime Minster of New Zealand, John Key.

For those of you not in the know, ANZAC Day commemorates the landings at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 by Allied troops.

"Gallipoli was the first time that Australians and New Zealanders participated together in a major conflict. The name 'ANZAC' (from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) became a universally recognised symbol for the soldiers of both nations, and those who fought and died during this conflict. Anzac Day, celebrated annually on 25th April, remains a significant occasion in both countries, at which time all of those who have served and died in the service of the nation are commemorated."
(from ANZAC Day Dawn Service official program, Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, London, 25th April 2011)

They grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Hampstead Heath

This week, I've been on holidays and London has certainly turned on the sunshine for the occasion. I thought I'd make the most of the weather and finally make a trip to "The Heath" as Hampstead Heath is known to the locals (am I a local now, after 6 months??). I walked from Hampstead Heath Overground Station to Kenwood House at the top of The Heath, famous for featuring in Notting Hill, one of my all time favourite movies.

I spent a couple of hours lazing in the sun on the grass in front of Kenwood House, followed by ice cream and a walk back through Hampstead Heath to Gospel Oak Station. A perfect day.

Sorry, Primrose Hill, but I think I've found my new favourite place in London!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


At the beginning of April, I travelled to Marrakech for 10 days for work. Here are some highlights of the trip:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't you love NHS?

It's been a while since I have offered any advice for anyone out there planning a move to London, so I thought I would share with you the unique pleasure that is registering with a London medical centre.

As it turned out, I hadn't yet had a chance to register with my local doctor since moving to the NW, due mainly to working 12 hours a day and general procrastination on my part! So when I got sick this week and needed to see a doctor I was faced with the joy of having to register and also make an appointment to see a doctor. So on Wednesday (after having to knock on my bosses bedroom door to tell them I couldn't work that see, I start work before they even wake up!), I made my way to the doctor (once again wishing I had a car!) to register. I waited in the queue for possibly 10 minutes before one of the four receptionists managed to look up from their desks and was given forms to fill in.

I returned the completed forms to the desk and was told to then complete a medical check at their Interactive Patient Pod, a DIY blood pressure / heart rate / weight check touch-screen-thingy. At this point, with my head all blocked up, struggling to breathe properly and feeling like I had been hit by a bus, I asked if someone could possibly show me how to use it, as I have never even come across one of these before. The receptionist barely looked up at me and said, "It's very easy to use" and returned to her computer (sorry to interrupt your Solitaire!).

The Interactive Patient Pod, located, helpfully, in the main waiting room in full view of every other person there, was not easy to use and took a further 15 minutes...and I still hadn't gotten anywhere near a doctor. Once all this was finally done, over an hour later, I was registered with the doctor. Hooray! Now to make my appointment...

Yeah, uh huh! Turns out you can't make an appointment until they have had a chance to check your details with your former doctor and anyway, they didn't have any appointments until at least Friday!

So, after stopping at the chemist for all the drugs they could give me, I jumped on the bus home, where I had the time to remember my previous life in a land that made sense (aka Australia!), where if you were sick you just went to the nearest doctor who would give you the drugs you needed no matter where you lived. Fair enough, you had to pay for it, but here where the NHS generously provides free medical care (well, doctors appointments at least!), they certainly make you pay in so many other ways.

So my advice to you who are planning the move to London, don't be like me and put off registering with your local doctor. But the best bit of advice I could give you is not to get sick in the first place!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Can it be?? Could Spring finally be here?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Great London Tube Adventure

On Saturday, I met up with my friend Hannah and the kids I used to look after in the city for what L, aged 7, christened The Great London Tube Adventure. Our first destination was Tooting Bec on the Northern Line. I have wanted to visit this station that shares my name since I moved to London, and here I am:

From there, we headed to London Bridge and the Borough Markets, where you can buy THE best cookies in the world and had lunch at Southwark Cathedral.

From the Markets, it was back on the tube, this time the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, to catch the DLR to Greenwich.

The sun was shining all day so we had a wander through the park and the kids played in the playground there. The next plan was to walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under the Thames, but time was running out so we'll have to save that for another day. Back on the DLR, this time to Bow Church, then we caught the Hammersmith & City Line from Bow Road to Tower Hill. Time for a quick play on the tiny playground that the kids love right opposite the Tower of London, then back home on the District Line.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

This is Canary Wharf. Part of Saturday's Great Tube Adventure. Stay tuned for more.