Friday, June 30, 2006

Cambridge, for work

Last week I went out on an assessment for work, to met a new client and complete a worksite assessment, to see what he would need to do to get back to work. Far away little town, we traveled to an industrial estate, and arrived at a large factory. Clearly for confidentiality, I can't give details, but lets just say huge factory with many on the line, doing all sorts of monotonous jobs!! Dorita and I did a walk through of the factory, and then completed the assessment of physical demands, but not before being kitted out in coat, hat, and earplugs! So hot!!! Not! I think they were having a laugh.

Today, I went out to Cambridge for another assessment for a new referral. Getting around!! After the work was done, I headed into town and had a pub lunch by the River Cam (while making some work related calls, of course!).

I was told I should take a punt down the river by everyone I asked, so I joined a tour group with one of the many punting companies near the pub. The punt was Venice gondola style, but with an English lad pushing the boat along and giving the tour talk.

The ride takes you through the back tour of all the huge and very grand college buildings of Cambridge, under bridges, and battling the punt traffic all the way up and back.

Past the colleges famous for housing Issac Newton, Charles Darwin, and even Prince Charles!! Names like Trinity, Queen's, and King's. The chapel of King's is very ornate and impressive.

Today was graduation day for many of the new graduates of Cambridge, and so we got glimpes of grad drinks along the river, and people in their black gowns...with funny white fluffy cape!

Feeling quite like I was back in Venice - the sun was even out! - we passed under the Bridge of Sighs, which, like the one in Oxford, is a replica of the one we saw in Italy. Our guide produced lots of stories and facts about each college as we guided past. The story of the Mathematical Bridge, where legend has it it was frist built with no bolts in place, due to it's angles, among others.

A good little day out, out of London and the office, despite walking forever to find the train station back to London! Was not as impressed as I was with Oxford, but it is the breakaway from the scholars in Oxford, so a worthy second runner!! Hee hee! Hopefully my next assessments are somewhere equally as interesting, and in places I haven't been to... (More photos.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wimbledon 2006

I watched the Australia verses Italy World Cup match at work on the screen yesterday, with a few other devoted fans, while work was put on hold, and the company supplied the beer! What kind of game is this soccer business!!?? It all come down to a Matthew Lloyd style dive, and a horrendous free kick in the dying minutes...and the dream was over! It seems the whole of Australia got a taste of how we felt in the 2001 prelim....ROBBED!! Absolutely GUTTED! What a bloody stupid game! Soccer is such a lock out right now!

Lucky for me, yesterday's play at the tennis was rained out in typical London summer weather, and all those matches were scheduled today! A big chance to watch some Aussies play, I took a 'duvet day' (doona day, to us Aussies!) today, and joined the line for a ground pass at around 9.30am.

Two hours later, and drier than the same time last year, I was inside and ready to watch Day 2 of the Wimbledon Championships for 2006. A quick peek on the warm up courts found Philippoussis going through his paces, and then walking through the centre court area, I spotted Alicia Molik wondering about.

First up for the tennis was a trek to Court 7 for the compatriot battle of Johannson and Bjorkman. Torn about who to cheer for, my mind was made up when Tomas showed that not all Swedes are placid to his deteriment too. Jonas played one of those tough, hard fought matches he is known for, and won in 4 great sets.

While this was going on, Philippoussis was playing on the court next door. I watched a set and a half of his, from the same standing nose-bleeder section as I watched him last year, in which he was playing absolute rubbish, before spotting that the men's match on Court 9 was coming to an end. I worked my way into the tiny court, and got a good seat for the next match up.

Alicia Molik played a great game on her first back from a long illness, and was looking good. All while The Poo won the second and then third set on the court next door...

Over onto Court 13, I watched Tommy Haas fight out his first round match - and saw the roar of the crowd on 2 when Poo won his match...well, what do you know!! Hee hee. Tommy looked good (although not as good as he did in the year of the red muscle shirt....), and he joked with the crowd at times, swore and pulled faces at his coach, before winning comfortably.

I then induldged in the infamous strawberries and cream, which I didn't get around to last year, while sitting on 'Murray's Mound', as it's called this year, and watched Andy Murray win on Centre Court, via the big screen.

Eight hours of tennis, a little sunshine amongst the overcast day, and no rain! Aussie wins, and some great tennis! (More photos.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Royal Ascot

Yesterday a big group of us went to the races! Royal Ascot is steeped in history, fashion and high stakes - apparently!! I was just there to enjoy the day out!

After showering and dressing in the morning, I was attacked with hairdyer and powder brushes, and whatever else, by two of my housemates (thanks Toni and Nata!!), before trekking down to Chantal's house for our pre-racing breakfast gathering.

Champagne, bagels, cream cheese and salmon, the gathering was the perfect way to get charged for our big day out. We then caught the train out to Ascot, and finished off our travelers on the way.

Having quite a large group, once we got into the Silver Circle area, we all seemed to disperse, and in between drinks and walking around, and soaking in the sun, the task of regrouping was an effort!

Usually I've been to the races back home, and have never seen a race (usually concentrating on people and drinking! You know how it is!). But yesterday I surprised myself by actually watching at least two races!! Hee hee!

Selecting my dress in the first store I went into after work on Friday night after work, it was still shocking to see about 12 other girls in the same dress in the Silver Circle! There were a group of dress clones actually, not just my little number. (More photos)

When the last race finished, we took some time in the shade tent for some much needed respite from the sun, before heading to the massive pub just near the Ascot train station - which was so much fun! People mingling, mucking about, introducing themselves to anyone and everyone - everyone was just brimming with the good day that Ascot put on.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Yesterday, Laura, Charlotte and I took half a day off work, and went into Hyde Park for the O2 Wireless Festival.

First up for the day was little Missy Higgins from Melbourne. Cute, sitting up on the stage at her keyboard, and belting out her songs. She's a bit more polished than those first tv appearances she made when she hit the big time back home, and has lost that ocker Aussie twang in some of her songs. Ending with Scar, of course, but she mingled in some new stuff, and all the big numbers from her album.

Next up was Violent Femmes...a little blast from the past! So early uni days for me! Add It Up, Please Do Not Go, Blister In The Sun and Kiss Off all sung by men in their late fifties...very weird!

After them was KT Tunstall, another cute little lass, from Scotland, who I have been listening to a lot since coming to the UK (thanks, Charles!!).

The park started to fill up for KT, and the temperature started to drop! People finally stood up, and KT gave long monologues between each song in her cute Scottish accent.

Big numbers like Black Horse and The Cherry Tree, Under The Weather, and Other Side Of The World, plus she did my favourite, Miniture Disasters. Ended with Suddenly I See, after doing a few newbies too.

A quick score check on the big screen in the back of the festival area for the soccer, we then returned to the main stage for David Gray as the sun was setting behind us. He was very mellow, and quite sexy!! Hee hee!

Sounds like whilst I was enjoying the music in the park, I missed one of the most exciting, most intense games of football in Australian history...lucky Australia won, and there's another one to watch on Monday!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Socceroos v Brazil

Pumped up for a big day, Toni and I headed south of the river after lunch yesterday, to meet up with the crew to watch the big match.

First the first time in many weeks, I actually received texts from home about the footy going on back there. No prizes for guessing why that's been so quiet! 40 points, sounded good to me!

So on to the football of the moment, we met up with Sharna, and Laura and Tom, and some of the HCML crew at the Clapham Grand. Huge screen, old theatre type venue, packed with Aussies decked out in their Aussie gear.

Concentrating on the game, which always makes a little more sense to me after a few drinks, the Aussies did well. The crowd was fully into it...although I must admit, the biggest cheer of the night was for the appearance of Warnie on the big screen!

The first goal was scored just after half time, while I was still in the Ladies queue, and then the next one followed soon after. Neither to the boys in the away stipe blue, and the game was away from the Socceroos.

Gutted in the end, but the boys did have a dip. The mood was flat at the end of the match, and the band started up. We all trickled away, out into the daylight to wonder what could have been. Bring on Thursday!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Football, Books and Food

Monday was filled with anticipation all day for the big match, and my workplace, who are somewhat anti-flexitime, made special allowances for people to watch the World Cup. Australia's first match in the tourament, the first match for many years, was against Japan, and fell at 2pm on Monday. The big screen set up in one of the meeting rooms (as it is right now for the England match), and we were allowed to take time out to watch. How funny.

Given the offer, there was only about 6 people who took them up on the offer. But we certainly made enough noise for the whole building when the Aussie goals were scored! After a tense first half, how good was the last 10 minutes! Hee hee.

Tuesday I managed to attend only my second BookCrossing Meet-Up in London, after being a good attendee back in Melbourne. A chance to chat and swap books, and meet new people.

Last night was another installment of the WBBS nights, which took up to Goldhawk tube station, and to an Ethiopian restaurant in that area. Ordering a selection of dishes for the group, the food comes out in little dishes and is then distributed on a huge pancake for the whole group. Then it's dig in with fingers, tearing bits of the pancake and scooping up the assortment of curries. Was very yum! And cheap!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Rainbow House Party

Yesterday our house hosted a house party, to welcome in the summer weather. Spot on with timing, it seems that summer arrived in London last weekend, and is not here to stay. A BBQ up on the terrace, with many drinks seemed to be the way to go!

Brainstorming for a theme for the party, we eventually decided that each of the four housemates would specify a different colour to be worn by their guests. Nicole was blue, Toni was yellow, my friends were to wear green, and Nata's red.

Thinking it would be interesting to watch the colours mingle, and cluster. The BBQ was fired up (thanks, Charles!), and the drinks were flowing. The sun was hot on the balcony, at last!

Sunset was gorgeous, and very late, so it was a long and silly night.

Piecing the evening together with the house the next morning has been quite funny. (More photos)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There's Something About Mary

Sunday morning greeted us with sunshine in Copenhagen, as we headed out to visit Frederiksborg and the Royal Palace out there. Easy transport around Denmark, we travel straight out, and had lunch by the lake.

Facsinated by the story of Crown Princess Mary, and the story of her meeting her Prince in a pub in Sydney...every girls dream, finding a prince and being whisked off to a giant palace, and living happily ever after, isn't it? If a little country girl from Tasmania can do it...!! And in the land where fairytales such as The Little Mermaid, The Princess and The Pea Thumbelina and The Little Match Girl are aflood, Denmark is certainly the place of such a story!

Princess Mary is easily the most interesting Australian at the moment, and the emergence of the knowledge and adoration of our Mary is apparent when chatting to the Danes. Despite keeping our eye out, not one spotting of our Mary when I was over...maybe next time!!

The Frederiksborg Palace is gorgeous, fairytale-like, and set next to a lake amoung amazing gardens. Out the back (!!) is one of the world's best baroque gardens. Such a nice place to raise a young prince!!

At the moment, there is an Australian Exhibit on within the Palace, educating the Danes about the background and culture of there Crown Princess. Was very interesting to see who and what was included - regular not-quite-Aussies such as Russell Crow and Mel Gibson, as well as the usual suspects, such as Kylie, Nicole and Cate. Some interesting inclusions like the founders of Lonely Planet, and also the inventer of the black box for airplanes. This exhibit also had the two commissioned portraits of Crown Princess Mary, looking most royal and polished!

After our walk amoung the royal gardens and a coffee stop, we headed back into Copenhagen for dinner.

Yesterday after another awesome brunch at The Laundromat Cafe, I experienced the Metro of Copenhagen, which is certainly a sight itself! Nat directed us to sit in the front seats of the front carriage, cos it is a driverless train, and sitting there you can watch us travelling through the tunnels. Weird!

A wander through the gardens of Fredensborg Palace in town, just as the rain started coming down, we then headed over for photos with the Carlsberg elephants at the brewery, before I had to head out to the airport, and return to London. (More photos)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Visiting Nat in Copenhagen

Friday night after work, I hurried out to the train, to get out to Gatwick to catch my flight out for the weekend. Upon check-in, I was told that there was an hour delay, which was actually better than most others. Sitting in the lounge, I went through passport control, which was choas, and was then called over the loud speaker for the last call - opps!

Arriving into Copenhagen, and figuring out the train into town (so easy!), and met Nat at the station. Having been drinking on a pub crawl for several hours, Nat was in top form when I arrived - and then she lead me to the current pub, to meet her posse of Danish boys. Drinks with the group, sampling the micro-brew and then onto the Carlsberg.

Yesterday morning we ventured out from Nat's cool apartment, to a local cafe in her young and funky suburb. The Laundromat offered one of the best breakfasts I have had....very yummy! Battling the rain, we bussed into the city, and walked through the cobbled main shopping streets to the port side of town.

We walked passed the current residence of the Queen, and had a peek in the Marmorkirken, after hassling the royal guards for a photos. We were instructed to stand 1 and a half metres away! I didn't really expect them to talk, let alone direct us about what we were allowed to do!

We then walked down further, and had a look at the infamous The Little Mermaid, a statue inspired by Han Christian Anderson's fairy tale. The poor little mermaid had the problems of her story, and now has to endure tourists climbing all over here, and random vandalisms!

We catch a ferry across to the other island of Copenhagen, where we walked through the area called Christiana - a former free state, which has a very other world feel to it. Activist and protect, mixed with an underbelly of unrest - walking through reminded me of Soweto, actually.

Back into the city, and the parts of the world govern by law, we found Reef 'n' Beef, and Australian restuarant for dinner. Quite posh, and not quite the real Aussie tucker, we had emu fresh spring rolls and crocodile wontons for starters, and then the barrimundi for mains. Washed down with a strawberry daquari. Good service (you kinda of notice after London!!), although a little exy, dinner was yum!

Still fully daylight after dinner, at about 8pm, we headed into Tivoli Gardens, a huge amusement park in the middle of the city. Walking around the fantasy park, it was lit with pretty lighting all the way around. We reminded ourselves about the fairytales written by Hans Christian Anderson, via a cute little ride in a flying truck. But that is where the tame rides ended!

The Mine, The Spinning Tops, The Monsoon, The Dragon, we subjected ourselves to being thrown around on these rides. We then watched the Tivoli Fairytale show in the middle of the Gardens, which again went through the beloved fairytales of HC, and feature huge puppets and fireworks. We then got serious, and went on the 80 metre tall Staflyer. Not sure about how scary it would be, we joined the line up. About three people in front of us pulled out as we waited, as we watched the ride and rationalised how easy it looked, it was then our turn, and we were strapped into our seats.

Not scary at all, it was like a giant swing up high in the sky, with an awesome view of Copenhagen city at dusk. The other real trial of the ride was the tempurature at that height - it was freezing!! Hee hee.

We finished off the night with a spin through The Demon, which was two minutes of terror, being hurtled through the air at 77kms an hour. All in a days work!! (More photos)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Small & Beautiful

Today is Toni's birthday, and to celebrate we all headed out for dinner at a local find of her's.

I overheard her asking directory assistance for the number for Small & Beautiful to make our booking, and she had had to explain further to get the right place, and so she had ended up saying 'Small and Beautiful, you know, like me!' Hee hee! She's gold!

Walking up from our flat, up the other end of Kilburn High Road, we discovered many new places along the way. Small & Beautiful is a cute little restaurant, which had gotten great reviews on the net, and was within budget for all!

Nicole, Nata and I were joined by some of Toni's mates who live across the road, for dinner and drinks. Cake to top off the evening. Happy Birthday, Tones!!!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kiwi Kitchen and Ashes tickets

Last night after drinks at Clapham for another leaver at work, Laura, Chantal and I headed across town to meet Charlotte, Niny and Leilah for our WSSB at Kiwi Kitchen, in Earling Broadway.

With two Kiwi's in the group, the girls had talked several of the dishes up all week...and the food was very good. Very yummy. I also learnt a whole set of new words, like hangi, perky nana, kumara...a whole new world belonging to our antipodean brohers just across the Tasman!

Thankfully for Charlotte, who found and suggested the restaurant, the food was great, cos the service and the dictates from the kitchen were not! Our waitress was rude and unhelpful, and the menu is possibly the most inflexible menu ever - a request for a different scoop of icecream was way too hard. Come on!

The kitchen, run by a couple who look like they come from a series of My Restaurant Rules from their publicity shot, had some peculiar statements, like a laminated page on the table saying that as a gesture to protect the environment there would charge 50p for tap water, and donate it to charity. And another laminated page that came with the bill spelling out that they have not added service charge, and then suggested the percentage we should add....perhaps if they trained their staff in customer service, and could mix up the icecream scoops alittle, and stop with their un-environmentally friendly laminating, we would have considered it!! Hee hee.

Coming home quite late, I set up for the great grab for Ashes tickets, which went on sale overnight, for the summer (the real summer, in the Southern Hemisphere). Some success, loads of frustration, and little sleep....
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