Going global

Here we are at the last bank holiday in the UK before Christmas and I am ensconced at Gidday HQ catching up on a whole lot of the must dos after a few days of fun to-dos (and not a small amount of alcohol). The washing machine is whirring in the background, the ironing pile is lurking within eye-shot – which I must address one way or the other (i.e. iron or put away in the cupboard) – the UKHot40 is playing on the telly and my water bottle is within reach.

So let’s start with Saturday: a day of short sunny bursts and bouts of torrential rain under a largely grey sky. And an evening of cocktails and mighty fine cuisine as four work friends painted the heart of London’s Soho multicultural – at a Peruvian restaurant. This is what happens when a Turk, a German, a Frenchwoman and an Aussie, all obsessed with food, get their heads together for a girl’s night out.

After a flurry of emails late on Saturday afternoon, a plan was hatched and a few hours later, four happy expat ladies were sitting at the bar in Ceviche, watching the intermittent drizzle against the window with cocktails in hand. Ceviche is new to the London restaurant scene, having only opened in February this year, and has had some terrific reviews (including one by yours truly over on Weekend Notes after our super Saturday soiree). I won’t repeat here what you’ll find elsewhere – suffice to say we left four very happy ladies. And it wasn’t just the cocktails.

Sunday morning dawned and after a kick-start of croissants, coffee and copious amounts of water – how is it that so much drinking can be so dehydrating – I was off again, this time to the Edinboro’ Castle in Camden for a farewell do.

You see, in just under two weeks time, A-used-to-be-down-the-hill will become Seattle-A. Yes, she and hubster are moving state-side to the land of the free, the home of the brave and city of highest rate of sunglasses purchases per capita in the US. They’ve bought a fabulous new pad, booked the movers and are starting their own round robin of goodbyes to old London town.

And yesterday, under the canopy of trees in the sun-dappled beer garden at the Edinboro’ Castle, was a gathering of their wonderful circle of friends. Almost ten hours of repartee and reminiscing, of howls of laughter and a little just-between-friends political incorrectness, of re-connecting and fond farewells, to wish them well in this next exciting chapter…and to book our respective berths at Palazzo Seattle.

So this weekend has been a poignant reminder of the power of my expat friendships, both old and new, and the importance of trusting my instincts in reaching out amongst the myriad of connections I make each day, week, month, year.

Saturday night heralded the start of a ‘four girls from four nations’ friendship.

And while my own personal farewell with A is still to come, Sunday was a celebration of a friendship that began just two weeks into my expat journey. That’s more than eight years of life in the UK together. Opening the pages of this next chapter in our friendship has me feeling a little sad, but excited about the possibilities that will follow for both of us.

You see we, my friends, are going global.

A Woman of Substance…Again!

Here I am in the closing hours of a very chilled bank holiday weekend. Having spent yesterday in complete and utter indolence, I had decided that today should feature something a little more productive. So I ventured out for a brisk 40 minute walk around the local park this morning…

…and that’s about all I’ve managed.

After being tempted by the final film in my current LoveFilm trio this morning (Inception, and by the way, it was absolutely brilliant) I kept the telly on in the background while I sat down to tap-tap-tap away. That’s when all my good intentions flew out of the window.

One of my favourite books as a teenager was Barbara Taylor-Bradford’s A Woman of Substance and guess what’s showing on the telly – the whole series from 1984, back to back.

So I’ve climbed to the Top of the World (in the book this is Ramsden Crags on the Yorkshire Moors) and I’m just flitting about at the opening of the new Harte’s department store in Leeds. I can’t wait for the rest of the adventure to unfold…again!

Bliss For The Worker Bee…

This weekend is a Bank Holiday Weekend meaning some celebration of British-ness has given we worker bees next Monday off.

True to form, the skies have opened, the temperatures have dropped to single figures – 8C is the high for today, THE 5TH OF MAY (yes, that’s me shouting) – and the forecast is not filling me with the hope of any improvement.

As usual.

But a damp-on-the-outside weekend can hold many joys.

Like a cover-to-cover reading of my beloved Saturday Times…

…some inspired planning for my Roman Holiday… 

  …or a few choice flicks (thanks to a free trial from those kind folk at LoveFilm)…

…from the fabulous cosiness of the Gidday HQ couch.

But best of all?

I have nowhere I have to be and I have 3 lovely days in which to do whatever I please.

Now THAT’S worth celebrating.

A Guilty Secret…

I have a confession to make.

(Yes another one – you get real value on this blog!)

After many years of living here in the UK, the thing I love to dip back into most, particularly on a damp Bank Holiday afternoon like this one is an episode of Neighbours.

I mean, what’s not to like about that laid-back never-rainy life in a cul-de-sac? (Which technically should not be called a Street but rather, a Court – actually it is a Court in real life, Pin Oak Court to be exact.)  It really signals a day off for me – whether it be on holidays or with a sick note in hand, to be best enjoyed from my super comfy vantage point under the green blanket on the couch in between other bastions of daytime telly, Loose Women and 60 Minute Makeover.

So today’s late afternoon downpour had me rescuing the half-dry laundry and settling down to some cosy couch-based entertainment.  Bliss!

What will I do for the rest of my week off?

Goodbye To Summer…

The thing about the August Bank Holiday in the UK is that it’s like this last ‘hurrah’ of Summer.  Even though for the last week it’s been cooler on the walk to and from home each day and it’s dark enough each night when I get home for me to leave the outside light on when I leave in the morning, there’s something about our last long weekend of the year (not counting when the fat man in the red suit visits) that’s a little laden with regret.
It’s been a cloudy Bank Holiday Monday too – perfect weather for some daytime telly and an indulgent dvd (Julie and Julia if you must know). This has followed on from much sleeping in, considerable reading and highly-intensive jigsaw-puzzling and as a result, I’m feeling extraordinarily relaxed and reflective as I sit down to tap this farewell to Summer post. 
And then just as I’m sitting down at my computer positioned smack-bang in my front window, a blinding shaft of sunlight bursts through the clouds – making the late afternoon all golden and hazy for a moment – and then it disappears again. The light is soft and beautiful and takes me back to when I first arrived here and how struck I was by how softly the light bathed everything it touched compared with Australia’s harsh and brilliantly hued landscape.
I know it’s a day early: but today it’s goodbye to cardy-less commuting and twilight evenings around the barbie…
…and welcome to my favourite season of the year, the soft, golden hues of Autumn.

Picking Up The Pieces…

Over this August bank holiday weekend I have been indulging in something I haven’t done for a while – a jigsaw puzzle.  I always used to do these as a kid on holidays so there’s something about doing this that’s intrinsically linked to holidays for me. 

It’s also the perfect thing for cosying up inside and shutting out world (and some pretty ordinary weather – I think Summer might really be over!) and it’s kept me completely absorbed for a few hours over each of the last 2 days.  So Friday night, I  spread the puzzle roll mat out on the dining table, cracked open the bag of pieces and surrendered myself completely…

THE FIRST 24 HOURS (3-hours Friday night and 4-hours Saturday afternoon)
The border is done (I always do the border first) and centre strip (with lots of interesting bits) is well on the way!

SUNDAY 6.30pm (After another 5-hour stint):
Tah Daaaah!!!!  All done!
Fuelled by chocolate and other snack-ettes I have built my 1000 piece world piece by piece and am currently basking in a quiet glow of self-indulgent achievement – like I have achieved something just for myself without the pressure of chores and other ‘things to do’.  Now I just have to keep that feeling all through tomorrow and that will be one excellent long weekend!

ps…BTW the puzzle roll thing that its on? Don’t trouble yourself with getting one- rolling it all up only produces frustration and disappointment as all the little pieces come apart again. That patent was a real waste of money…

Lazy Sundays…

Well here we are, the Sunday of the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK and it would appear that those recent gloriously sunshine-y days have been washed away and there has been nothing for it but to curl up indoors on my big green sofa and potter away at menial, been-meaning-to-do chores.  I am now just finishing off the last of a dark chocolate Green & Blacks Easter Egg, flicking through a foodie mag and gazing out the front window at how green the rain has made my garden…isn’t that what Bank Holiday Sundays are for?