Wednesday, 22 May 2013

When things don't feel right

I don't think I need to jump up and down shouting to tell you that this blog hasn't quite worked out how I'd hoped. My posts are uninspired, unoriginal and wholly lacking in character. I'm not documenting my adventures, which was my intention, and the basic act of brainstorming is giving me headaches. Put simply, I want to blog, but I don't want to blog like this.

So I'm starting completely afresh. I know you're not meant to do that, it disorientates people, etc etc, but this is all wrong. I'm moving to Wordpress, first of all, and I'm changing formats to a photo-a-day (I hope!) with comments deal; short and sweet. I mean, writing these posts, while distracting, sure, is ultimately a chore for me. And if it's boring me, God knows how I'm meant to find the motivation and entertain you. Not to say that I'm unhappy with what I've produced here... I just think my "dedication" to ASW speaks for itself.

I've been trying to blog like other people, people I admire who inspired me to blog in the first place, and -- surprise, surprise -- it hasn't worked. So I'm going to try something else, see if that's better; I'm actually going to try and blog like myself. And you know, it feels good.

So why not have a look at

Adventures Etc.

With more self-deprication and less rambling.

I may even have the guts to tell my relatives about this one.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

I ate all your bees

Looking back, Black Books was a terrible choice for early-teen inspiration. Bernard Black, protagonist extraordinaire, is arrogant, cruel, crooked -- a real bastard. Not the stuff for impressionable youth to subscribe to. We have Kate Moss for that.
But, Black Books is the greatest show in the history of the earth, and the exterior location is just round the corner from me (I wish). Still, it's close enough for a day trip -- insomuch as it's about twenty minutes away. Did I go? What do you think?
Despite an apparent inability to open my eyes I was thrilled. M and I went and made an afternoon of it, which included actually entering the store (it's a lot smaller than the set) and learning that the majority of Black Books tourists are Czech. It must translate well, like Shakespeare into German. I even took a souvenir: the delightfully meta 1948 Book Handbook.
M and Nifty Gifty.
There were even wine bottles out on the doorstep, just like there should be; although rubbish bags full of them would be preferable.

Black Books, or Collinge & Clark, is at

13 Leigh Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1H 9EW


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lovely London: One Month In

As always, via Pinterest

The pigeons are so amiable. I've never been more charmed. You'll be paying attention to a squirrel, or even just walking along, and then a few dozen pigeons'll decide they want to be where you are. Not in a pushy, busy way; they mind their own business. If you want to poke at them with your foot, that's cool. Crumbs'd be nice, man, but only if you've them on you. Don't sweat it. We're all about the journey.

Londoners are pathological jaywalkers. There are these cute little figures on most corners. They alternate: sometimes there's a little green man and other times a red one. As far as I can discern, they exist for purely decorative purposes.)

Do not ask for stockings based on their opacity. This is not the town to bring up 1D in. And on that note...

You're going to learn about One Direction. Liam is afraid of spoons. Harry has four nipples. There are five people in the band. I can't remember when or how this information made its way into my head but it makes me uncomfortable to know it's forced something useful out.

Hey, that train you wanted? It isn't coming. Because your line splits into two and the side you need is down.

The Mormons are plucky. Piccadilly Circus is plastered with posters. They aren't pushy or annoying or anything remotely along those lines; they're nice stories about family men and lawyers who triumphed over adversity. These people are also Mormons. The part that I like is that Piccadilly Circus is where you go on the tube if you want to see Book of Mormon on the West End.

You're suppose to stand on the right side of the escalator. And for God's sake, do as you're told. Tourists!


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Holm sweet holm

I'm not going to say a word about how ashamed I am for never blogging.

Going to do a decent post on what's been happenin' lately, but for now I just want to let on about my exciting news: I'm going to Stockholm! (You know, as in Stockholm Syndrome.) I know, I know, I'm doing my supermassive European romp in... well, July, but I couldn't wait that long and got my act together for the first week of June. Stockholm has kind of been my dream utopia since I learnt that Sweden, land of fika, is importing garbage from Eastern Europe as they need more to fuel their (relatively) clean energy source. Badarse. Also, it's hard to follow along with Elsa Billgren and Emma Sundh and not feel inspired.


I'm a little beside myself, especially since I fee I've really earnt this. The adjustment to London hasn't been an easy one, nor is it resolving itself easily. But walking home from work through Trafalgar Square in golden hour, when everything was so neat and crisp and Georgian and grand, just feels so right. Even if the work is hard, even if self-motivation is tough. I'm feeling good.

Credit where credit is due.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

I love you til the ocean takes us all

In my last post, I mentioned I was feeling seasick (that is, homesick for the sea; aren't I just punderful?). I'm going to show you the last thing I saw before I left Melbourne (well, close to it) and I'm sure you'll understand me. Ladies and gentlemen: the Great Ocean Road.

You know, I didn't even realise how much it's in my blood. Mountains and oceans and Europe and Australia; good luck to me.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

In the city and the country

Hello! So I'm settling in. I moved into a room and it's lovely, even if I don't know where they keep the ironing board. I know it isn't strictly what V.W. was talking about, but to have a room of one's own at long last is a dream. I bought a teapot. I bought throw pillows. I'm just so happy.

The thing I love best about my new place (apart from the 24-hour Tesco at the bottom of the street that has a perennial sale on the bagels I like) is the 210 bus. In London? Go to Brent Cross station and then catch it towards Finchley (and away from Tesco, I'm afraid). It takes you past sprawling mansions, through Highgate (the closest thing you're going to get to a village in these parts) and even on a real, proper hill. The best part, though, is the proximity to Hampstead Heath, otherwise known as a bleeding great wood at the top of the metropolis. I go there nearly every day. (On a vaguely related note: is anyone aware of folks hiring? Hah!) If you've looked out the window or, to my dearly beloved Southern Hemispherians, crawled out from that sunny rock you're basking on, you'll know Spring has been hesitant. I wandered down to get the starkest shots I could, but did notice that leaves are beginning to bud. I always forget how fond I am of Spring, but it really is so refreshing.

I do like Winter's contrast.

There are things I miss about home. People, places, the ocean... I didn't even realise how I felt about the latter until I saw it in an episode of Jonathan Creek (which I really shouldn't have been watching). I miss coming out of the station, walking down past the hospital and the milk bar that sells individual cigarettes to high schoolers, and seeing it, that reliable streak of blue. I didn't appreciate it. I should've. And so, much like affordable San Pelligrino's and Netflix, I'll enjoy the Heath while I've got it.

Spring is trying.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Lovely London: First Impressions

  • Everyone hates the weather. It snowed! Sure, it's March. Sure, the last time these people saw sunshine we were all still pondering the likelihood of the Mayan end of days looking anything like this great new film 2012. Sure, sure. But you're Londoners. It's in your blood to cope with this kind of weather. You're meant to relish it, and then come to my country and complain about our weather.
  • That's just the way the Tube smells. You know that sour, old milk kind of odour? Apparently, there isn't a choice about that.
  • There's less obsession with royalty... Unless you make the rookie mistake of seeing a magazine stand and learning than the royal baby is now the size of an apricot or an eggplant or what-have-you.
  • ...and more with James McAvoy. Him! Mr. Tumnus! The guy who played the guy with muscular dystrophy! Goddamn Gnomeo! He's a big shot action hero now and, it would seem, London's favourite stepson. In the past four days, seventeen action films in which he holds a gun aggressively on the poster have been released. He is acting in MacBeth, Hamlet and the Tempest, all at once. I think I saw a cologne in Boots. Now, I don't have a problem with any of this, and he seems like a pretty nice bloke from his Wikipedia article, but all I can say is that I didn't see it coming.

I guess I should've paid better attention to Wanted.

  • Squirrels are great and nobody cares. Have people been desensitied here? I don't get it. Can't they see the little hands?
  • There are dead celebrities everywhere. William Blake is a bit of a hero to me. His poetry is outstanding. The effect he had on his contemporaries, and indeed on English literature, is rivalled only by the greatest writers in human history. His work is poignant, captivating, political and proud. Oh, right, and he's buried to your left there.
  • You must make your peace with limb loss. Have you been caught in those train doors? I have. Ouch.
  • Food is better than Jamie Oliver told me it would be. I mean, really. I expected to find legions of pasty, miserable people lolling in the gutters since, once they tipped onto their backs, they were incapable of righting themselves again, WALL-E-style. If not that, I was waiting for some poor anaemic to pass out on me. Well now, I haven't seen any school dinners so perhaps I can't talk, but has J.O. not been in central Londom recently? PRET A MANGER IS EVERYWHERE. And I can't move for the number of Whole Foods. I know it can't be all this glorious but I'm still waiting to see a queue go out the door at Macca's.

First image sourced from here.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Long night, White Night

Melbourne threw its own Nuit Blanche. I think this whole world's most liveable city affair has kind of gone to its head. Australian culture dictates that a night out must must must involve booze, lest it be labelled a waste and gay. My charming countrypeople! So what started out as a bright evening of culture and jazz dissolved, by about 3 or so AM, into a distopian day-night with tumbleweeds of empty vodka bottles, Pie Face wrappers and abandoned shoes. I wish I'd taken a picture of the bottle-o because it was empty. I mean it; spirits gone, two little miniature bottles of bourbon arranged thoughtfully on the middle shelf.


Aiie, but I am being negative. My own White Night was... multi-faceted. That has to be the word. Highlight of highlights: I saw Cent une tueries de zombies (have a look if you don't mind the gore). 101 zombie deaths cleverly edited into 40-something glorious minutes. Not for the faint of heart. (They even included my favourite zombie death, but be warned: this video is graphic.) I also got to see Flap!, the very best live outfit in Melbourne, perform, which was excellent as always. They have this way with an audience; it's hard to describe. Every time I've seen them (and I admit, there have been a few) it takes about three songs for them to win the crowd completely over. You know the kind of person you don't actually know, but feel close to and want to buy a pony for? That's this band. They're good value folks.

After the zombies and the music it was getting towards that eerie stage I told you about. I'd said goodbye to J and IMJ (soft!) and just sort of wandered. Things get very strange for me when I'm low on sleep. I don't remember much, but I have distinct memories of trying to walk toe-heel instead of heel-toe. What can I say? In the immortal words of Honey Boo Boo Child, girl's gotta get her beauty sleep.
I resurfaced at 6am, ate too much breakfast (cold scrambled eggs, bleagh) and went home, then to work. Probably should have had a lie-down beforehand; probably shouldn't have drunk six espresso shots in half an hour. Was it all worth it? You know, I think so.


Eternal Brunchtime of the Constant Dine

I figured that, after quitting my jobs (oh joy! oh bliss!) I'd have time to do all sorts of things I used to enjoy; you know, sleeping and smiling and breathing. But -- my God, and I never thought I'd say this -- being a Lady Who Lunches (my ultimate career goal, no lies) is damn hard work. Not only have I had to brush my hair, but I've been flat out, going from one cafe to the next. In the last week, I've had more flat whites than I've seen in a season.

It's been so lovely to see everyone. I didn't realise I had so many sensational people in my life until I started saying goodbye to them. I didn't realise how much I'm leaving behind, really. It must be that cliche of leaving and appreciation and lack thereof.

It still doesn't feel real. I suppose it will when I'm being rained on in Hyde Park -- ooh, actually, writing that gave me a bit of a chill -- or being rained on at Portobello rd, or even being rained on in BHS as I try to piece a life's worth of linen together.

Thanks to the magic of scheduling, it's exactly (exactly) a week until I leave. And once I'm over there, I'll have lots of exciting things to say. How thrilling! See you then, if not sooner.

Sarah Illenberger's watermelon


Monday, 18 February 2013

For everything else there's MasterCard

via Instagram

My UK visa's been approved! Now there's nothing between me and London (except a month or so and Abu Dhabi).

In celebration, I think it's time to tell you all about my fortnight-long love affair with England, in May last year. Much like The Bridges of Madison County, it was passionate and intense, will last me the rest of my life and resulted in a dress I never wear. Unlike The Bridges of Madison County, it wasn't God-awful drivel. I was in London and Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford and had such a lovely time that even thinking about it makes me giddy.

I'll start at the beginning. Throughout my senior years at high school, my teacher (and, later, my friend) M (or Ms S, depending on the year) coaxed me into public speaking competitions; you know, stand up, cue cards, disproportionate amounts of passion. It's an awfully good thing she got me into it, though, because it turned out that I wasn't actually rubbish. In fact, I was doing rather well for a while. My crowning glory was the Plain English Speaking Competition: I won the state final and went on to represent Victoria at Nationals in Sydeny, where I met some excellent people and was interviewed by a hero of mine. Anyway, the impromptu topic was a dream and the judges took a shine to my laissez faire attitude towards presentation, and suddenly I'd won the competition and was going on to represent Australia in London. Needless to say, that was pretty exciting.

May rolled around and off I went. There were a little more than fifty countries represented and we spent our time frolicking about Westminster and the equally noble Queen's Ice and Bowl (turns out Bohemian Rhapsody is known in all corners of the globe). I didn't come anywhere near the title, but that was hardly the point of it all. A week in London enough.

And I could go into how great that week was, but you don't want to read that many paragraphs. Just conjure up all those glorious cliches about eyes opening and friendships forging; you get it.

That's me in the centre, casually throttling the future President of Mexico.

The weather was hilariously good (how often is English weather preferable to Australian?) and my little family took off to go exploring. I mean, goddamn, there were bumblebees; real ones, all fat and fuzzy and slow and wholly unlike those miserable speedy bastards we have here. Our time in Bath was enough to make me want to relocate. Everything matched! It was great! Oxford was equally stunning. We spent a couple of days at a haunted house, too, where we'd stayed for Christmas a very long time ago. (No ghosts, but not for lack of trying. Did see a rabbit though.) The only let-down was the Roman ruins we visited, but I think the lesson -- plan your ruin visits ahead because some are underwhelming -- was enough. And the fields and fields of canola... I understand the hullabaloo everyone makes about the English countryside in spring now.

London struck me as a sort of huge, limey Melbourne. Everyone always said the cities were similiar and now I see it. Lots of bluestone. So, by that logic, London is a bigger Melbourne with better public transport and £30 flights to Stockholm. I once announced to my parents (at the height of my then-infatuation with New York) that they mustn't ever let me move to England; they must absolutely talk me out of it if I tried, too. Clearly, that didn't work out.

Hurr, skurrl.