British…With A Twang

I’ve been living in London now for more than ten years and lately I’ve been thinking about forking out some of my hard-earned pounds for British citizenship. 

I have no plans to make my home elsewhere. I’ve blogged before about my pride in the life I have built here and I still love London. Yet there is a part of me that wonders whether some change in legislation or circumstance might result in my losing my right to live and work here (for the uninitiated, this is called Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK).

With all of the travelling that’s been going on of late, I love nothing better than coming back to London’s grit, its hustle and its stiff upper lip-ness – things that I never thought I’d love given the qualities I miss most from Down Under are our laconic ease and quintessential directness. And my London friends tell me that I’m still identifiably Australian.

But in the last few weeks, meeting new people has been met with ‘You sound English – but there’s a twang in there? Where are you from?’ as opposed to the previous ‘Are you from Australia or New Zealand?’

Back in June 2011, I read an article in the Australian Times which asked Are You Losing Your Australian-ness? and at the time, I identified two things:

1. I was about 41% of the way along the list of 12 steps indicating British-ness.

2. That British-ness would overtake me after about a decade.

So it seems that the article was true to its word – linguistically speaking that is. But as we Australians can maintain our Aussie citizenship and hold a British passport, it’s not like I have to relinquish everything. It will just be that my divided heart will be manifested in dual nationality. 

Life has a funny way of throwing one a curve ball and while I might be sitting in the dugout waiting for the next ‘batter up!’ (I’m in America at the moment so please excuse the additional third-cultural reference), previous innings have shown that it’s best to be a little prepared.

So it means I have to fork out some cash and get a few details together…like details of the last five years of travelling…to complete my application. 

Now that’s going to take some doing…


…because quite frankly, this is just the tip of the iceberg!

No Bed-Hopping Allowed…

It’s been about a month since I posted. 


It’s an unexpected state of affairs for me as there’s been a lot of great stuff going on including birthday number 45 (note the absence of the all important birthday countdown), a wedding and five overseas trips in the space of six weeks. And I love sharing this kind of stuff.


But I’m full. Like an over-stimulated child at a birthday party, full of the thrill of new people and the excitement of new experiences, who absolutely insists it is not time to go home yet who falls asleep in the back of the car the minute you leave the driveway.

I feel so full that I’ve struggled to choose something to write about. It’s like someone tipped about 20 jigsaws worth of puzzle pieces into my head and I just can’t work out where to start. Corners, borders, some obvious part of the middle bit…it’s all felt a bit much to deal with and I’ve found myself going around and around and around – and then doing nothing at all – on a fairly regular basis.
So that’s where I am at – I am tired. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Just tired.
And as I look forward to being at home – in my own bed – for ten days in a row, well it feels like absolute bliss.

So for the next week or so that is where I’ll be…unless well, of course…

This year’s winner for the birthday card of best fit…
So Şerefe, proost, santé, cheers and bottoms up!

After all life is for celebrating and there are 356 days to go celebrate until birthday number 46 wraps its arms around me.

Around The Globe…

You know I love London. And you know I love a walking tour. So you may not be surprised that last Sunday I was up and out early-ish to join one. 

This is my third walking tour with Blue Badge guide Paula Cooze, the first being a wander through the City in Shardlake’s Shoes last September and the second exploring the City’s architecture from the Barbican to Bishopsgate in January this year. This time there was a wander around the globe to look forward to…Shakespeare’s Globe that is…so I trundled tube-style down to London Bridge Station and ambled over to our meeting point at the theatre. This is what followed…

You are right. This is not the Globe theatre but it’s right outside The Anchor pub on the river bank. As I was waiting for the appointed start time to approach, I found myself quite taken by this quaint, quasi-seaside scene with The Shard looming in the background.

This is the Globe theatre built in 1997 after the first was destroyed by fire in 1613 and the second pulled down in 1644 (after being shut down by the Puritans in 1642). 


It is said to be a faithful reproduction of the original – while no plans were ever available to study, local archaeological sites have revealed clues which have been used to make this version as authentic as possible.  

This is the original site of the theatre: Old Theatre Court in Park Street, about 230m away from the current replica. You can pay close to £2,000/month to live in a 71 square metre, one bedroom apartment here.


Speaking of money, the rebuilding of Shakespeare’s Globe would not have been possible without Sam Wanamaker, an American actor and director who set up the Shakespeare Globe Trust in 1970 to rebuild the theatre. The contributions of those who made this possible are celebrated in the paving stones in the theatre courtyard whilst the candlelit theatre that opened next door last year – the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – honours the man himself.

Clockwise from top left:  Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers); Nigel Hawthorne (Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister); Zoe Wanamaker (My Family, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Agatha Christie Poirot series as Ariadne Oliver)

Our next stop was the former site of the Anchor Brewery further along Park Street.


Built in 1616 by James Monger, the brewery grew to be the largest in the world in the early nineteenth century. After a succession of owners and a merge with Courage in 1955, the brewery itself was pulled down in 1981 to be be replaced by council estate housing (top right). 

The Anchor Tavern (bottom right) still stands in its Bankside location nearby and history marks this site as having had a public house on it for 800 years. Aside from some reputedly excellent fish and chips, it has played host to Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames in the closing scenes of the movie, Mission Impossible.  And if you turn around and look across the river, you’ll see just why Samuel Pepys wrote of sitting at ‘this alehouse’ watching the great fire of London…

The golden orb of the Monument stands amidst the geometry of the modern city. Laying the column down brings the tip to the site of the bakery in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire of London began in 1666.

Around the corner and though the arch we walked to stop outside The Clink.

Left – Clink Prison Museum;
Right – a Dickensian view from the corner of Redcross Way and Park St.

The Clink was a notorious prison in London and operated from twelfth century through to 1780. It was part of the estate of the Bishop of Winchester (you can see the remains of his palace a little further down the lane) and originally housed prisoners who held views opposing those of the clergy. Profiteering was rife amongst the wardens who sold food and ‘better’ lodgings to those who would pay and to facilitate this industry, prisoners were released to beg during the day and earn ‘their keep’ at night. It later became a debtors prison – thus the reference to Dickens’ tale of Little Dorrit above. It is now the site of The Clink Prison Museum so you can still pay for the privilege of a visit.

At the end of Clink Street, past the remains of Winchester Palace, stands the replica of Frances Drake’s Golden Hinde.


I have blogged about both the palace and the ship before so if you’d like some Gidday witterings on these, you can click here. What I really want to share with you is the legend of Mary Overie (Mary over the river).

Long before there were any bridges to get you across the Thames, ferryman John Overs made his fortune by monopolising the shipment of cargo and people from river bank to river bank. Being incredibly tight-fisted, he had refused to pay the dowry for his daughter Mary to be married to the man she loved. In fact he decided that if he pretended to be dead for the day, his family and servants would mourn and their fasting would save him the cost of food. Wrapped in a burial shroud and lying silently in a coffin, he was dismayed to find that instead of going to plan, his servants were delighted by his demise and celebrated by unlocking and helping themselves to the pantry. Finally he could lie still no more and arose ready to admonish his staff – but one such servant, thinking him to be a ghost, struck him over the head with an oar and killed him.

Mary wrote to her beloved that they were free to marry but tragedy struck when his horse stumbled and threw him en route to her, killing him. Mary refused all other offers and instead formed the priory of St Mary Overie where she lived until her death. 

Always something new for me to learn on Paula’s tours.

Anyway, on to the next stop just around the corner – Southwark Cathedral.


Some have placed the foundations of the building as far back as 606 but the more commonly held view is that it has been in existence since the conversion of Wessex in 886. The site has undergone many iterations over the centuries with the photo to the right showing the different levels of pavements and thoroughfares (as well as a coffin). Southwark Cathedral was even named in the Domesday Book of 1086. 

We dived into Borough market next, ghostly quiet without the hustle and bustle of its Wednesday-to-Saturday trading. 

As we emerged from the labyrinth of empty stalls, we came across yet another famous Globe but from the modern era.

This is, in fact, the window of Bridget Jones, (yes she of the diary) from which she peers out into the snowy night in the final scenes of the film to see Mark Darcy striding away. Yes it’s true. The movie was on a few days after this walk so I checked it out for myself.

Leaving the market behind us, we walked down Southwark Street past the Hops Exchange…


…and crossed into Redcross Way to our next stop, the Crossbones Graveyard.

This site started out as a medieval burial ground for the area’s prostitutes and by the 18th century had become a paupers’ graveyard which was then closed in 1853. There were excavations on this site during the 1990s, carried out as part of the extensions to the Jubilee Underground line which unearthed the bones of the dead in 148 graves. The local community in campaigning to create a permanent memorial garden, continues to add to the poignant memorial created along the fence and holds a memorial vigil at the gates at dusk on the 23rd of each month.

Turning back we crossed back over Southwark Street and rejoined Park Street, coming to our penultimate stop…


This plaque shows two draymen beating Julius Jacob von Haynau, an Austrian general who was well-known for his brutality in suppressing insurrection. This particular incident happened following several narrow escapes of mob violence when von Haynau was High Command of Hungary, with the two men setting upon him during his visit to the Barclay and Perkins Brewery (previously the Anchor brewery). Let’s just say that the protagonists were very much lauded for their ‘chivalric’ pursuit of justice in the realm.

And then we wandered around the corner to find ourselves back at The Anchor and the end of our tour. It was such an interesting two hours, full of fun stories and historical titbits that, despite having explored this area before, I did not know about – and you know how I like discovering London like this. The really amazing thing is that when I look back on where we walked, it wasn’t a large area and I was left in awe of how historically rich this city is. 


So if this inspires you and you’d like to know more, visit Paula’s website –www.crossingthecity.co.uk – and find out where next she might take us.

But I have first ‘dibs’ okay?

It’s Oh So Quiet…

It’s July. The schools are starting to close for the summer break and thousands of families are packing their bags for their annual holiday. Many flee to sun themselves and swim in warmer climes although the UK’s recent burst of gloriously sunny weather may have also inspired some vacation-ing closer to home.

At this time of year, an email is circulated at work, encouraging us to be safe and take care over the months ahead. There are the usual admonishments to drive safely, to stay vigilant outside our normal routines both in and out of the work environment. This year’s message really struck a chord for me.

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”  Source: http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/

It would appear that drowning is not the waving, splashing, attention-getting event that we think it is. It is quiet, insidious and quick. It can happen in less than 60 seconds…while we watch.

Mario Vittone oversees the development of maritime safety and security products for VLinc Corporation and is a leading expert in drowning, sea survival and safety at sea. He consults and writes on water safety and in 2012, he published the article referred to above, painting a vivid picture of the risks we run as a result of our misconception about what drowning looks like.

In the 1970s, Dr. Francesco (Frank) Pia Ph.D discovered The Instinctive Drowning Response shown in the video below.


The misconceptions remain some 40 years later.

I grew up in a culture where swimming is taught if not in parallel with learning to walk, then at least as part of every primary school’s Phys.Ed. curriculum. And we learnt not just to swim but also to rescue and perform CPR as part of the higher swimming competency certificates in later years.

There is also a legacy of swimming in my family with my grandfather and uncle being swimming coaches and Mum swimming at State level for many years during her teens. Growing up we had pools in our various back yards and seaside holidays galore with many hours spent frolicking in the surf with Mum or Dad close by. My sister and I competed at swim meets both in and out of school and as I grew into adulthood, I spent many weekends with friends water-skiing and swimming in bays, rivers and lakes around Victoria.

Yet I carried the same misconception as many of you probably do. I never knew what drowning really looked like.

So with the Summer months gaining momentum in the northern hemisphere, it’s vital to get this message out there, to wave my virtual arms and make some noise on behalf of those who can’t.

Drowning is a quick and quiet killer and by knowing what to look for, you just never know whose life you might save.

So please share this post or any of the additional material below with as many people as you can. 

The life you save may even be yours.

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Additional material:
Drowning doesn’t look like drowning
Instinctive Drowning Response – video
Mario Vittone Facebook page
On Scene p14. – It Doesn’t Look Like They’re Drowning

The F Word…

This week my world has taken on something of a feminist flavour. 

Not that I am not a feminist – I am.

(I am also sure that there’s a better way to deal with that double negative. Go ahead – comment away!)  

I didn’t actually plan it that way but when I look back there has been a definite theme to the events I attended, the things I learnt and the conversations I had. Might be the planets aligning, might be a raising of my feminist consciousness. Might be my current musings about what my future might look like. Who knows. But over the last four days there has been a lot for me to consider about the future of women.

On Wednesday, I listened to some amazing women (and one man) explore women’s roles in our modern world at the Women in European Business Conference. It featured an excellent panel discussion, an interview with the always fabulous Joanna Lumley and a fascinating 45-minute presentation from Harvard associate professor and social psychologist, Amy Cuddy on shaping who you are – literally. It was an inspiring night and it was thanks to the ‘oh I’ve double-booked’ mistake of a work colleague that I got a guernsey. And what did I take away from all of this? That there are many, many choices about my future, many potential pathways to explore and a myriad of conversations to have. Oh and a potential place on the invitation list for next year’s event.

On Thursday, I listened to a lively discussion on the Pinkification of Young Girls at Selfridges as part of The Beauty Project. This was the last in a series put on in partnership with Intelligence Squared who always offer controversial topics and provocative panelists and with the future of the world’s female population firmly in their sights, Alannah Weston, Tiffanie Darke, Tanya Gold and Katie Hopkins launched into a litany of opinions about the dangers (or not) of a rose coloured world and the potential of a ‘princess’ generation. 

It seemed to me that we came no closer to any answers and whilst it was an interesting discussion, it meandered around for a while then finished all too quickly. In the end, it did transpire that encouraging a questioning mind, a breadth of choice and a sense of confidence in our women of tomorrow were the keys – and also some of the prevailing themes from my previous evening’s WEB Conference. How on earth this is going to happen, I have no idea but that the topic continues to raise in profile is generally deemed a positive thing. But is it enough?

On Friday morning I listened to a less-than-seven-minute TED talk from Dan Gilbert called The Psychology of your Future Self. (You may have noticed over the last few posts that I am having a bit of a love affair with TED talks at the moment.) Anyway, Gilbert postulates that we all under estimate how much we will change in the future and he uses some really clever ways of demonstrating that our heads really are buried in the sand when it comes to envisioning our future selves. Think about who you were, what you were doing and what was important to you ten years ago. Then think about how much you think you’ll change in the next ten years. Doesn’t it stand to reason that the rate of change will continue? Well, apparently reason has nothing to do with it but given my recent reflections about what might lie before me in the next 40 or so years, it seemed another fitting piece to add to my puzzle.

And finally yesterday, when I opened this week’s Mental Floss newsletter, I discovered that LEGO will release a new series featuring female scientist figurines this coming August. Hurrah! (Imagine hooray in the posh, clipped syllables of the English.) The LEGO Research Institute set will show women exploring the world from three different angles – chemistry, paleantology and astronomy. 

Image source: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/15401

And not a skerrick of pinkification to be seen. Double hurrah!

The concept was submitted by Dr. Ellen Kooijman, a geochemist from Stockholm who, despite entering her concept last year, may have tapped into the zeitgeist by encapsulating the sentiments of Charlotte Benjamin, a seven-year-old girl who wrote a widely publicised letter to LEGO in January admonishing the toymaker to ‘have more LEGO girl people who go on adventures and have fun.’ 

So while the rate of change might seem snail-paced to those of us who are firm believers in gender equality, it appears that all it takes are the words of a seven-year-old to create a little momentum. At this rate, just imagine where she could be in ten years time.

So as I sit here on the comfy couch, tap-tap-tapping away and reflecting on the week that was, I am definitely left with some positive feelings about the whole feminist issue. But it still seems like we still have one hell of a mountain to climb and while I lean towards the side of a bright future ahead, I think that the visibility remains poor and the path ahead uncertain. Not only for the women of future generations but also for those of us struggling with how to create a world of choice and equality now. 

And it leaves me wondering just who and where I might be in all of this in ten years time.

Bears some thinking about doesn’t it?

Summer’s Lease…

It’s the first of June so that must mean it’s time for another Calendar Challenge and this month, Simon Drew offers a pictorial take on the words of the immortal Bard to kickstart our days of Summer…


To my mind, I think ‘not to be’ sounds rather drastic so I’m voting for the former. But in any case, this quote (from Hamlet in case you were wondering) does make me think about William Shakespeare’s influence in our language

I took literature both at High School and then as my minor at Uni, and I remember how surprised I was at the proliferation of quotes that were already familiar to me. Just sticking with Hamlet, I had heard of both to thine own self be true and neither a borrower nor a lender be despite never actually studying the play itself. 

And while I’ve never gotten around to seeing As You Like It, my theatre forays here on Gidday from the UK are tagged with all the world’s a stage. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery.

What I did study was Macbeth – three times. Not for me the dark romance of Romeo and Juliet (who was the sun) nor the comic delights of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, where the course of true love never did run smooth

No, after wading through this tragedy as our compulsory Shakespeare in Year 11 English, taking English Literature in Year 12 found me double double toil and trouble-ing again with the teacher thinking it would be better to do something we already knew. And then I went to Uni to broaden my horizons and such-like only to find that rather than bear[ing] a charmed life, fair was foul and I was in the hurly burly…again.

Thanks goodness we did The Merchant of Venice in second semester and I got to learn all about pound[s] of flesh. And I did finagle a spate of Twelfth Night. With wonderful lines like ‘Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them‘ it is little wonder that this remains one of my favourite plays.

I have since seen quite a few of the Bard’s back catalogue here in London, most recently Measure for Measure, King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing. And I love them but I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern emerging. The norm is that I struggle to keep pace with the language in the first half, then google the story again in the interval to see whether I have managed to gain any sense of what’s going on. The answer is almost always yes and I invariably return and just relax into the language, trusting that I will get all of the points that must be made and having a much more enjoyable time as a result. 

And speaking of enjoyment, today is the first day of Summer here in the UK. It has been sunshine-y and warm and the roses are out in force at Gidday HQ – who needs all the perfumes of Arabia [to] sweeten this little hand?

And with that, it seems to me that the only fitting end to this post lies in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date”.

Here’s to a fabulous Summer!

ps…and just in case you are struggling with the translation of the pictogram

To be or not to be – that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more

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Calendar Challenge 2014 – Back Catalogue
Keep Calm And Carry On
Sour Grapes
Water Water Everywhere

On The Shore

What Lies Before Me

A Single Story…

I had the enormous privilege of seeing Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie speak about her latest novel last week. I knew nothing about her except that she was Nigerian and that she had written a book I’d loved (Americanah 2014 #29 in The Book Nook). I left the event 90 minutes later inspired and wanting to know more.

Today I watched Chimimanda’s TED talk, The Danger of a Single StoryThroughout she talks about how limiting and how damaging a single story or viewpoint about a person can be, that it creates stereotypes that while not necessarily incorrect, are more often than not incomplete. That a single story creates presumption rather than openness, a potential wall of prejudice in our relationships with one another as human beings. She told of her own single stories, blown apart by having the opportunity to see things from a different perspective and also of the single stories about herself, experienced through the eyes of others.

It made me think more about single stories and one of the most extreme and damaging of all time – the Nazi ‘story’ about the Jews. Scary stuff.

It also made me think about the single stories about me: each twist of my kaleidescope reveals a potential single story – laconic Aussie, 40-something woman, single lady, career woman, Dutch pragmatist just to name a few. Even so, the whole is so much more than just the sum of all of these.

Then there are my single stories about others and I began thinking about how this starts with our parents. We see them as Mum and Dad and then they become ‘people’ as we get more and more perspective about them. How my Dad went from the person I thought was my biggest critic to someone who was more proud of me than I ever knew. How my Mum continues to be one of the strongest and most inspiring women I know, rising to every challenge and finding strength of purpose again and again in making a difference. 

I was even thinking beyond people to my original single story about London and how every discovery I make about it both enriches my experience of living here and deepens my love for this amazing city. 

It made me think about my reading of Americanah as my first dip into ‘Nigeria’ and how much I loved it and took the story to heart. And how this was my single story until I saw Chimimanda speak both on Thursday night and today on her TED talk. 

And as I only read it three weeks ago, it made me think (not for the first time) that life has the ability to transform when you read.

So that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

What lies before me

Here we are at another 1st and this time it’s the first of May…

Ooops! This is what happens when good intentions get waylaid and a person gets laid low by a hideous migraine.

But I’m back, albeit a little overdue, which means it’s time for another Calendar Challenge… 

There are the obvious ‘lush’ perspectives here (although in the last few days, I have never felt less like a drink in my life). There’s the social glue of getting together with friends and putting the world to rights. The importance of a cracking red with a new ‘local’ pizza at the end of countless moving-house-again days. The virtual Cheers! across the miles with Lil Chicky via WhatsApp or Facebook. In fact, the sheer necessity of such an indulgence if one is to have a balanced outlook on life.

And this brings me to an important point, one which a friend and I were discussing a few weeks back over…you guessed it…a bottle of red. We have both come to realise that, at this point (we are in our mid-forties), we are at about the halfway point in our lifetimes. (All going according to the statistics of course – as an Aussie sheila, it’s expected I’ll be popping my clogs at 85.6.)

Anyway, it made for some interesting discussion about what we would do and in fact what the world would be like for the next 40 years or so. Will our jobs still exist and if they do, what are the chances of us wanting to do them? And for how long? Where will we live? What things will we do to inform, amuse, educate, indulge ourselves? How do we shape the years that stretch ahead of us before they shape us? How much planning do we do and how much should we leave to serendipity, chance or spontaneous gut feeling?

I have no answers, this being a new and slightly unsettling line of thought for me. My life right now feels really full and fabulous, like the work of the last 44 years has come to fruition and given me the life I always dreamed of. Even so, I found myself picking up Investors Chronicle magazine with my Saturday paper this morning and over the last week or so ‘google writing courses’ keeps popping up on my mental to-do list. And I swear there’s that brine-y cloying smell of the sea in my future somewhere.

It’s not that I’m racing off into the wild blue yonder – breaking the glass in an emergency so to speak – with any of this yet but this recent twist of the kaleidoscope has made me wonder what would make me happiest in my future and how I give myself the wherewithal to be there, wherever there turns out to be.

My move to the UK was driven by that deep-down feeling in my gut that this was what was right and next in my life. And it was sudden so it makes me wonder what the next catalyst for change in life as I know it will be. I sincerely hope it won’t be anything tragic. Perhaps it will just sneak up surreptitiously, moving me along a gentler path until suddenly I look around and say, ‘Aah yes, this is exactly where I am meant to be.’

Life has a funny way of showing us a path when we least expect it but to my way of thinking, I need to take a few more steps off the beaten track and forage about in the undergrowth a bit to understand what I might really like to have in my future.

Who knows what I might find.


Calendar Challenge 2014 – Back Catalogue

Keep calm and carry on

Sour grapes

Water water everywhere

On the shore

 

Hanging A Right…

I am lucky enough to work right near Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and my morning walk to work from Charing Cross Station takes me along the bottom corner of Trafalgar Square and straight down Whitehall, past 10 Downing Street and through Parliament Square. With so many beautiful buildings and breathtakingly famous views, I am constantly whipping out my phone to capture a moment that makes me catch my breath and say ‘Wow!’. But this morning I turned right out of the station exit and discovered an entirely different source of snap-happy inspiration, Whitehall Garden

The Garden forms part of Christopher Wren‘s original vision of a continuous series of public gardens along the river bank back in 1666 – Whitehall Garden is one of four gardens and stretches along Victoria Embankment from the Golden Jubilee Bridge towards Westminster Bridge. It was laid out in 1875 along the river side of Whitehall Palace (which to this day still contains the Banqueting House with its exquisite Rubenesque ceiling). 

Compared with the hustle and bustle of Whitehall, the lush green landscape before me offered a more serene and contemplative space than usual for the last leg of my commute. With today being ANZAC Day, it also seemed appropriate that my decision to beat a different path to the office took me past the RAF Memorial. And I loved the opportunity to finish off my commute with a different perspective of Big Ben…

I didn’t expect to find so much that was interesting along the way, expecting a spot of vague strolling but upon crossing Northumberland Avenue, having a Monopoly moment and entering the garden, I stumbled across a fabulous little piece of history.


These are Queen Mary’s Steps and were discovered in 1939. They were built by Wren in 1691 as part of a riverside terrace for Queen Mary II in front of the original Whitehall Palace (one of Henry VIII pads) and the curving steps provided access from her Royal Apartments to the State Barge. *snap snap*

But the serenity of the gardens (and more ‘peaceful picture’ opportunities) beckoned…






And soon I was turning right and crossing into Parliament Square beneath the gothic gilded clock tower.

I do love this city…what a great way to start a Friday…and all because I had a whim to hang a right.

A Milestone With Meaning…

It’s Good Friday here in the UK and after an impromptu dinner out last night with a work friend (and a nice bottle of red shared between us) it’s been a lazy start to the day. But with Vegemite toast done, the coffee machine warming up and back episodes of Frasier on the telly, I’ve popped by to see what was happening.

And it seems rather a lot – in the last few days, Gidday from the UK has tipped into triple figures and passed 100,000 page views.

It might not seem so much to some but when I started tapping away in 2008, it seemed quite impossible that anyone outside my nearest and dearest would actually find my witterings in the big wide blogosphere, let alone read them with any regularity. And that’s because I really started this blog for me, to find an outlet to express both the richness and ordinariness of my everyday expat moments that seemed to fall short in their relating during long distance phone calls to loved ones. 

But it appears that there are many more of you out there – and for the most part we’ve never physically met each other – and I feel enormously humble when I think about that.

So whether you’ve been visiting for a while or you’re a newbie here, thank you for stopping by and being part of the Gidday community.

And have a wonderful Easter however you choose to spend it.