via InstagramMy 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.