Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Evie in London!

After a brief attempt to recover from Saturdays morning's silliness, and lack of sleep, I headed back into town to meet up with Evie and a collection of her mates who are in London.

I haven't seen Evie since my stopover in Phnom Penh on the way over to the UK, back in February. She has popped over to London for work for a week, and it is so cool to get to catch up with her.

I met her for drinks and dinner on Thursday night. We caught up on gossip and the last 6 months whilst wandering around Carnaby.

Saturday night I met her at The Langley for copious amounts of drinking, and the eventually got to Wagamama for some much needed food!

Ohhhh, Saturday was a very long day! And then the weekend was over before I knew it!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

AFL Grand Final, London style

Cheer, cheer
The red and the white...

I can't believe it's that time of year, already. But sure enough, after surviving my first week of "real" work, I managed to get up when the alarm went off at 3am this morning, to go down and view the big match.

I went along with Renee, and Rachael, and Claire, and a group of others, to the Slug and Lettuce in Fulham (affectionately known as the Slut and Legless), to enjoy the coverage and the Aussie fest!

Breakfast at 4.30am was a pie, and then the Snakebites followed. I hadn't been sure all week who to barrack for, but ended up wearing the red and the white, despite the hot appeal of the Eagles. (More photos.)

We had the old Bumps and Biffs footage to watch for our warm up, before the big screens crossed to the 'G for the first bounce. The Eagles verses the Swans was under way.

Half time at the pub saw the replay of Dame Edna's pre-match entertainment, consisting of a rendition of "I Still Call Australia Home", and I don't think there was a dry eye in the jammed bar!

And then it was game on for the second half. A very tense match, with every person in the pub concentrating on that Sherrin.

Was such a great match. The closest since 1977, they say, and the Swannies first Premiership since 1933. That last mark in the goal square by Leo Barry in the dying minutes was gold!

The Aussie fest continued into the morning, with the whole bar singing along to the likes of Holy Grail, To Her Door, and of course, Working Class Man, before we were turfed out into the bleary sunshine, looking and feeling a little worse for wear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

There's a quarter to 7 in the morning??!!

This is the time I am getting up to get to work - can you believe it!!?? Two days down so far for the new job, and despite the early mornings, I have made it so far!

Sunday saw the usual "I don't want to go to work tomorrow", "I have nothing to wear to work tomorrow" funk. The dread of the beginning, and just knowing that the way work goes, you get started, and then suddenly before you realise months have flown by! Ewwww!

The office couldn't be further away from home, being on the other side of London. Which means a bit of a commute. I am leaving the house early, 7.15am this morning (the horror!!), for the 10-15 minute walk to the station. Then I am catching the ThamesLink all the way across town, with hopefully only one change along the way. I am crossing the river to the sunrise display behind Tower Bridge - all very pretty, although a little too early for all that! About an hour and a half after leaving the house, and lots of reading later, I get to the station near the office. It's a 5 minute walk to the office.

Looks like I will be getting loads of exercise! Goodness! And then there is always the stairs up to our apartment! Should be good for me, right??! Although the little growing morning addiction to an almond croissant from Cafe Nero should help to counteract some of that!

The job itself sounds like it's going to be great. Something to sink my teeth into, and actually work hard on. Lots of incentives with the company, and loads of opportunities. There will be lots of travel all over the UK, too, which will keep things interesting.

It's a very young company, full of vibrant, young people from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, mainly. The phrase "market leader" has been thrown around a lot, and learning about the UK Rehab situation, it sounds like there is much to do!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Talia in London!

On Wednesday morning, after my much needed recovery from the cricket hangover, I went to the station to meet Talia, who was visiting for a couple of days. I haven't seen Tali since....New Years Eve, 2001, in New York, so it was so exciting to see her and catch up on everything.

I took her over to the Queen Mary for lunch, and an introduction to the UK drink - Pimm's, before we wandered along the Thames.

We then approached the ticket counter to purchase our "flight" on the London Eye. It's actually the British Airways London Eye, and has many airline-type terminology - the corporate sector gone mad! Contrary to stories I had heard, there was no massive line, and the cost was less than I had heard, and so Tali and I got a bird's eye view of sprawling London.

The full circuit takes about 30 minutes, and the fact that you are over 125 meters above the ground is only apparent by the view. It's a very smooth ride, and it was quite cool picking out all the major landmark buildings surrounding us.

Big Ben and the House of Parliment from the Eye
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After this we wandered down to Covent Garden, and then met a friend of Talia's for a beer or three.

Yesterday we headed off out of town to visit Windsor, and see the Castle! After getting off the train we walked across the bridge into Eton first, for a little peek at the famous school. Lots of young lads walking and running about, and many boys walking around in suits with tails - we were hoping to accidently stumble upon a function for Prince Harry's 21st birthday, but we weren't that cheeky! We did have lunch in the little village, before crossing back and walking over to the foreboding Castle overseeing the village of Windsor. (More photos.)

Windsor Castle is quite amazing, and so big! We walked through and saw the beautiful St George's Chapel, saw Queen Mary's amazing Dolls House, and the Castle's State Apartments and all it's royalty. All very impressive! Maybe I too could have been Queen material if I had a doll's house like that when I was little!!

Last night our house finally managed a night out all together, while showing Garrath another English pub on his visit over here. When poor Talia caught up with us, I think we were rowdy and boozy, Aussie-girl style! I am sure it reminded her of our Medley days.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I am a sore loser. I am absolutely gutted to have lost The Ashes today. Am stunned. Didn't really think we would, in a million!

I am sunburnt, grumpy, tired, still a little hungover, and I have a headache from the constant chanting that went on around us all day today. I did leave when the change of innings finally came - got out of there alive while I still could!!

Yesterday a group of us headed down to Regent's Park to watch the day's play on the big screen. Or to endure the bad light delays, as it turned out. Charles, Steve and Karen, Shane, and I set up our spot on the grass and watched what play actually happened.

Poised for a tough day for all, Charles and I met Steve outside the Oval this morning to take our seats for the final day of The Ashes series - with the game and series in the balance. A couple of wickets later, a hat trick possibility, and two fully nude streakers (one male and one female) had all occured before my hangover had managed to clear!

But reality soon started to set in as I finally joined the round, with all together too many English runs being scored for things to go our way. The lads left me after tea, to the delight of the crowd around me. I stayed on, thinking leaving is poor form, and as punishment was serenaded with the "get your shit stars off our flag..." tune by the English crowd around me. Nice!

I finally snuck out at a drinks break, not sure how else to depart without getting too much unwanted attention, and before the crowd got any more excited. (More photos.)

I can't believe I was there to see England win back The Ashes. A dark day in Aussie sport, indeed!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Care for your cord!

This week is my last week of work as a PA for people with spinal cord injury, and similar disabilities. I am certainly glad to be at the end of the contract, but have also learn much about the plight of severing your spinal cord, getting on with life, and some about how the disability system works over here in the UK.

Have seen some amazing disability equipment over here, that I would love to ship back to some of my old clients in Australia!! Among lifting and moving equipment, there have been other amazing things - like yesterday I set up a robotic lawn mower to do the lawn! The weird and wonderful things you can find on the internet!!

The tetraplegia's, as they are now called - formally quadrapelgia, but really it is so much more than just the loss of the movement or control of the 4 four limbs, have been both hard work, interesting, and some even inspiring.

This last client is my 9th in the 6 months. 7 have been spinal cord injury clients. 2 of these have been non-traumatic injuries, which means that the injury has been the result of an illness. 2 clients have had Muscular Dystrophy.

Of the traumatic injury clients, 2 have been injured at work. 1 was the result of a road accident, and 2 damaged their spine irreversibly by diving - one drunkly hitting the stairs of a pool, one hitting a log in a murky river. The horror of some of these stories - and yet we could all realistically do this. Statistics actually show at the moment that this sort of injury is most likely to happen in your very own home, in a fall.

Serious damage to your spinal cord, either completely severing or surviving an incomplete injury, means loss of controlled movement from the point of injury down. The higher up on your spine the injury, the more severe the loss of independence. Some of these clients have the use of one arm, which means they can still use a computer, or a device set up to do things like turning off lights with a sequence of button presses. Most of these clients have horrendeously sensitive skin, and the slightest knock or crease in their clothes will result in a dangerous pressure sore. All depend on someone else to get through the everyday things the rest of us take for granted.

One of the strongest lessons learned through this job is that no matter what life throws at you, there is always a way of getting on with it, and making the best of your situation. Many of these clients have defied death really, and are now living their second chance.

This job has let me see a bit of English countryside, too. At the moment I am placed in a tiny village, population of 300 people, with one local shop, a church, and one pub! There are cows at the paddock at the back fence! Here I am 3 hours north of London, I have also been up west of here, twice placed in London itself, and a few times about 2 hours south of London. Have been through lush green countryside most of the time, through the tiny narrow streets of small villages, and regional towns. Was down at the beach for one, and up at the birthplace of industry at another!

I will be elated to finish this work, but it has set me up over here in the UK as I wanted it too. And it has been flexible enough for me not to worry about whether I had annual leave to do the things I wanted - that will be an interesting adjustment. I am sure the pay adjustment will compensate, though! Hee, hee!
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