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The 5 Golden Rules of The London Underground

Londoners (those both old and new) have a love/hate relationship with the London Underground. Personally, I’m mildly obsessed. Mostly, it’s the history that I love; how the growth of each colourful line tells a story about London’s past and future. Find yourself in town during a Tube Strike and you’ll realise quickly that it truly is the lifeblood of London. Because of this, there’s understandably a bit of etiquette involved. So if you’re new in town or just stopping by for a visit, there are a few golden rules of riding the London Underground that you need to know before you even attempt to mind the gap:

 

1. RELINQUISH ALL PERSONAL SPACE.

In any other scenario, it’d almost be considered inappropriate. On the Tube, it’s practically a necessity to get up close and personal with your fellow commuters. It’s totally fine to be breathing down someone’s neck, reading their book or newspaper over their shoulder if it means we can all fit on board.  Further to this:

2. PUSH OR BE PUSHED.

Go on, you can fit. Really. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and politeness will get you nowhere except very, very late to work.

3. DO NOT TALK. ESPECIALLY TO STRANGERS.

As much as it pains me, most London commuters would rather chew off their own arm than engage in conversation during their morning or evening commute. You’ve been warned.

4. STAND ON THE RIGHT.

Over two years in London and this rule still baffles me. Australians drive on the left and keep to the left. Brits drive on the left and keep to the right. But whatever. Conform or find yourself the recipient of some huffing and puffing and profanity.

5. EVEN FLEETING EYE CONTACT IS JUST NOT OKAY.

Trust me. Just don’t.

 

The thing I absolutely love about these rules is that to Londoners, these are all just the way of the world: none of the above is out of the ordinary whatsoever. Most of the time, I find there’s something comforting about the shared lack of comfort – the unspoken acknowledgement of the ways of the Tube. But you know what they say about rules: they were made to be broken by chatty expat Australians.

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Chapter 2: From Melbourne to London

Well, I’m back in London! As glad as I am to be back in my second home, it was really bittersweet leaving Melbourne (specifically, all my friends and family) behind. I had the absolute best time – turns out unemployment does suit me after all. I spent the weeks catching up with friends and family, shopping up a storm, seeing Melbourne through the eyes of a tourist and enjoying the remnant sunshine as summer drew to a belated close. But one thing I know for sure is that the longer I’m away from the home, the harder the goodbyes seem to get.

But onwards and upwards! Chapter two of my London life is about to begin – this one, without a definite end date in sight. To be honest it feels more like the fresh start of a new year for me than the 1st Jan did. I’ve returned with new goals and a renewed sense of calm (extended holidays will do that to you) and, god forbid, a slightly stronger Aussie accent than when I left.

In the meantime, I’ve got so many photos and updates of my Melbourne escapades over the past few weeks to share with you all – stay tuned!

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London Melbourne Life Lessons

Well folks, I’m back in Melbourne. What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been! Hence the radio silence.

At this stage, as I mentioned in my previous post, if all goes to plan I’m home temporarily for a few weeks of sunshine, family and relaxation. Tough life, I know.

Being away from home for an extended period of time obviously gives you a bit of perspective. After almost a year and a half of being away, I’ve really found it surprising how weirdly familiar everything is. Everything from the sounds, the smells, the shows on TV, to the cupboard I keep putting my toothbrush in out of habit. There’s something really comforting about it. Decidedly less comforting was the small rogue lizard which I stepped on the other day in the bathroom. You can take the girl out of Australia…

That said, some things have changed: my neighbourhood has undergone a bit of a transformation, friends have moved, there’s new shops and brands as well as seemingly endless new cafes and restaurants just waiting to be discovered. It’s exciting to walk the familiar streets and locations but still find something new each time.

The past week has been delightfully relaxed – I’ve spent some time at home, visited fabric stores with my talented dressmaker mother, brunched with family and friends and indulged in a bit of shopping. Bliss.

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Lunches & Life Admin

Since I’ve moved to London, it feels like the passing of time just continues to get quicker and quicker. Maybe it’s an age thing or maybe it’s a London thing. Maybe it’s because in media, we’re constantly thinking at least six months in advance therefore often forget to be conscious of the present. Or maybe it’s induced by nostalgic milestones like my impending 10 year high school reunion.

Whatever the cause, I’m so utterly shocked that it’s February 2017 already. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be finishing up work (hopefully, if all goes to plan, temporarily) and heading back home for a few weeks to sort out visas and what not.  Anyone who knows me personally will know how preoccupied I’ve been by this whole process over the past few weeks. It’s thrown me a bit – turning me into a bit of an overwhelmed and incoherent mess.

What country am I going to be in six months time? What am I going to do with five weeks of holiday? How am I going to deal with being unemployed for the first time since I was 17? I’m a planner by nature and by profession so to have so many unknowns in my life is as equally terrifying as it is exciting.

Watch this space.

In the meantime, please enjoy an assortment of snapshots from a delightful lunch shared with friends at The Bobbin this weekend.

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Christmas in the Countryside: Bradford on Avon

Merry Christmas and happy new year everyone! What a year. But more to come on the joys of 2016 over the next few days.

After what felt like a marathon of Christmas parties, lunches and end of work chaos, by the end of last week I was well and truly looking forward to a few cosy days in the country. Last year, I went back to Melbourne for Christmas for some much-needed sun and family time: it was a whirlwind visit and though great, it’s sadly not something my bank account permits me to indulge in annually. So, this year I spent my ‘orphan Christmas’ with a few friends in the delightfully picturesque Bradford-on-Avon.

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Though small, the town was beautiful, friendly and welcoming: exactly what I was looking for during the festive season away from home. Because of the time of year, most things were closed over the few days we were down there which really forced us to slow down. It’s amazing how easily you become addicted to the pace of London life. To spend such a large amount of our time inside, relaxing, cooking and watching all the Christmas movies Netflix had to offer almost felt like a novelty.

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Don’t worry though – we still managed to find the pub (The Bear Inn) and good food (Timbrell’s Yard and The Weaving Shed) to sustain us. But mostly, it was strolling through the greenery and contemplating what on earth I was thinking by ordering a turkey large enough to feed 11-14 people when there were only four of us. Life lesson: they’re not exaggerating the portion sizes.

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So now I’m back in London, spending ‘Chrimbo Limbo’ catching up on all those decidedly non-blog worthy life admin tasks I’ve neglected over the past few months of travel and socialising. YAY!

Here’s to the last week of 2016 – let’s make it a good one.

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27 Things I’ve Learned in 27 Years

Last weekend, I turned 27.  And then Donald Trump got elected as the President of the United States. Whilst obviously entirely unrelated, the arrival of both events (and the shadow of Brexit) has had me, like many others across the globe, seriously debating whether or not I know anything about anything after all. It’s also had me truly pondering how I fit into this big old world. Happy birthday to me!

In a brief moment of reflection on the Tube (where I do most of my thinking these days) I made a list to try to calm my inner critic, reassuring myself that there are, in fact, things in this world that I do know for sure, even in moments when doubt feels inevitable.

So, in no particular order and in a largely unedited brain dump, here are 27 things I’ve learned in my 27 years:

  1. Regardless of how urgent it feels in the moment, missing flights isn’t the end of the world
  2. Enough French to stumble haphazardly through ordering a meal and more than enough to embarrass myself amongst those who speak it fluently
  3. Countless media buzzwords and acronyms that should really have no place in real-life conversation
  4. The number of teams in the Premier League and the basics of the Offside Rule
  5. In the wise words of a former boss and dear friend: you can only control what you can control
  6. Avocados are incredible. Albeit I learned this 25 years later than I should have
  7. Whiskey will make you cry. Uncontrollably. For no reason at all.
  8. What you post online, stays online
  9. Australian beaches are unparalleled in their beauty
  10. Every word of dialogue spoken in The Parent Trap, 10 Things I Hate About You and every episode of Gilmore Girls
  11. How to put air in my car tyres, change the wiperblades and check the oil
  12. Authenticity and good manners go a long way
  13. The air quality on the Northern Line is so bad that riding it for 20 mins is equivalent to smoking a cigarette
  14. Righty tighty, lefty loosey
  15. You should surround yourself with people and things that make you happy. Like fairy lights and hot-pink flamingo paraphernalia.
  16. Good friends are worth their weight in gold. And then some.
  17. How to iron a shirt
  18. The importance of the question: if not now, then when?
  19. The best part of reading a great book is lending it to a friend when you’re done
  20. All the money in the world can’t buy you good health
  21. How to use manual mode on my DSLR
  22. Volcanoes are one of the most humbling things you can ever lay eyes on
  23. Work is important, but it’s just work
  24. Patrick’s death in Offspring is never not heartbreaking
  25. Retail therapy always works – even if only for a fleeting moment
  26. The joy of running & finally;
  27. Haters gonna hate.

So I guess all hope’s not lost, right?!

xx

On Storytelling: Poetry at St Paul’s Cathedral

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling these past couple of weeks.

Such intense contemplations have most probably been sparked by a period of intense reading (induced by holidays and extended commutes), my day-to-day work and, most recently, a Monday night visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral to listen to some poetry.

Firstly, some context: I really do consider myself extremely lucky to have found myself a career which I truly love. As a profession, media often flies under the radar: it’s the industry you don’t know exists until you find yourself immersed within in. It’s fun, fast-paced and extremely indulgent. But as someone who spent my younger years contemplating political science and communications theory, running as far away from numbers and maths as I could, to find myself spending upwards of 8 hours a day buried in spreadsheets is a huge departure from my 17-year-old life goal to be editor of Vogue or the next J.K Rowling.

But this week, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany: turns out old storytelling habits die hard. I certainly don’t have the measured eloquence of the thoughtful and charming poets I had the pleasure of listening to earlier this week but storytelling still permeates most (if not all) aspects of my life. Most literally, this manifests in the form of this blog, my relatively new-found love of photography and my journal. However, it’s also present in the form of media strategies, endless emails, post campaign reporting and creative best practice presentations. Not to mention, the countless media buzzwords laden with ambiguity which have a pesky habit of tumbling out of my mouth daily.

So whilst it’s decidedly more data driven than I had anticipated and perhaps, on the surface, less culturally significant, it’s still something.

And though perhaps what I took most out of the poetry evening at St. Paul’s was probably off on more of a tangent than anticipated, a renewed appreciation for storytelling – even its most basic form – certainly doesn’t feel like a bad thing. 

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London & California Life Lessons

What a whirlwind the past eight weeks have been. This past Saturday feels like the first I’ve spent inside in weeks after spending the summer travelling, eating, drinking and having a ball. Life could, obviously, be worse.

But now that familiar darkness is creeping in, the days are getting shorter, the air a little crisper and the emails counting down to Christmas are slowly but surely landing in my inbox: winter is well and truly on its way. Bring on the fairy lights and mulled wine!

In case you’ve missed it on Instagram, here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Most significantly, I spent a blissful week sunning myself in the California sunshine. Dipping my toes in the Pacific ocean, basking in the sun, seeing my family for the first time since Christmas – what a week it was!
  • After spending hours in Ubers across LA, realised that I certainly haven’t missed driving and traffic as much as I thought I did.
  • Booked a spontaneous girls trip to Berlin in November in anticipation of Christmas markets and fun times.
  • Realised my affinity for transcendentalism following a reading of the iconic Siddhartha.
  • Laughed the hardest I have in a very long time at Bridget Jones’s Baby. Perhaps the best Bridget yet.

Until next week x

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Today I Voted in the EU Referendum

Now, before you get too excited, I’m not about to get all political – because, quite frankly, I have no patience for agenda pushing. But I will say this: gosh, what a time to be in the UK!

In case you haven’t heard, today the UK voted in a referendum to answer the deceptively simple question: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

I know, right – it’s big stuff.

I made the decision to vote only a couple of weeks ago. At first, I didn’t even consider that I would be able to as an expat. It wasn’t until a friend pointed out that Commonwealth citizens living in the UK were eligible to vote that I really felt permission to have an opinion on the Brexit debate.

Also, in Australia, it’s compulsory to vote – so never before in my life have I had the been faced with the choice of ‘to vote or not to vote’. I’m really surprised at how, when given the option, I’ve felt more compelled than ever to be fully informed about my position in the debate before casting my vote. I’ve never felt more ownership over my vote and its importance. 

It’s worth digressing slightly at this point to mention how over the past few months, I’ve really felt increasingly out of touch with the goings-on back home. Considering there’s a federal election looming in early July, this has made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I simply hadn’t realised just how much information you absorb merely by being in a place. So, I’ve found myself having to make a conscious effort to stay informed about my home – something I have definitely been taking for granted.

I find this particularly disheartening because I studied media and communications for years; my peers and I would often throw around phrases like hegemony and ‘the public sphere’, name dropping Habermas as though we were experts in democracy. I know how important it is to be an active and informed member of the public sphere and yet I’ve been so lazy since leaving home. 

Now, I don’t know if it’s the freshness of the topic or the weight of the issue here itself, but I’ve felt reinvigorated over the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s the openness of the debate, the compulsion to be informed or the passionate arguments for and against, but it’s truly been such an eye-opening experience.

Aside from anything else, I really feel like I’ve gotten to know this country so much more: its culture, priorities and its people.

As I write this, the polls will be about to close and I’m honestly not sure where the vote is going to land. But I do know that I’ve felt really privileged to be part of such a dynamic conversation during my time here.

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That Time When Nick Hornby Signed My Copy of High Fidelity

Who’s read High Fidelity by Nick Hornby?

If you haven’t, you need to get on it. It’s absolutely one of my favourite books of all time (not to mention one of the best books to get you feeling a little bit British). But don’t watch the movie once you’re finished (just trust me on this one).

I am writing wrote this update as I sat on a London bus, (my favourite,  the number 14), completely and utterly starstruck having just met the author. If you haven’t read any of Nick Hornby’s novels or seen About a Boy, you may at the very least be familiar with his skilful adaptation skills for films such as An Education, and Brooklyn. By all accounts, he’s a pretty clever chap.

Aside from all of that though, you might wonder why was I SO excited (or, indeed, why this subject has merited its own specific blog post). So let me try to explain.

For anyone who loves reading, you’ll know how every so often, the stars align and certain books come into your life at the perfect moment for them to most resonate with you. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why and it’s not something which tends to happen frequently (and it wouldn’t be nearly as special an occurrence if it did). But when it does, it’s quite joyous. High Fidelity was one of those books for me.

Thinking about this in the context of the events of yesterday, I can’t help but think there’s just something about this book that is pretty special to me. Here’s why:

The day started out like any other day in London: breakfast, commuting, work etc. Shortly before lunch, I was waiting for a large file to save on my computer and jumped on Twitter to kill some time. It’s worth noting that I’ve only just started using Twitter again this week (so it would totally make my day if you’d follow me).

This very moment happened to coincide with the same very moment when Foyles had tweeted about an event they were holding that evening: Nina Stibbe and Nick Hornby in conversation. The event was £8, a ten minute walk from my office and was on my way home. I promptly bought myself a ticket because it was, quite obviously, meant to be.

After work, I trotted on down to Foyles where I sat confidently in the second row, happily enjoying an hour of thoughtful, intelligent and funny conversation between the two authors. Not as familiar with Nina’s work, it was a joy learning about her writing process for her new book, Paradise Lodge.

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When the conversation had wrapped up, it seemed that potentially Nick wasn’t going to be doing any signings. This realisation was followed by mild heartbreak.

Not one to give up, I loitered suspiciously for a moment anyway – you know, just in case. Shortly after, the author emerged quietly through a door from the corner, pen in hand. At this point, I just tried not to bolt across the room for fear of spooking him with my blind enthusiasm.

Instead I patiently queued as he signed copies for a few other fellow enthusiasts. When it was my turn, he politely said “Hello” and asked where I was from. I said, “Melbourne” and then, as I handed over my copy of High Fidelity, he asked if I’d like him to write a dedication. I gave him my name before blubbering incoherently that it was my favourite book of all time, thanking him clumsily before I left the bookstore a wee bit starstruck and slightly mortified for being so embarrassingly clichéd.

Nina mentioned in the Q&A how she thought that most celebrities had Google alerts in place for any mentions of their name online. So, Nick, in the unlikely event that you do have this set up and happen to come across this post, please accept my apologies – I do fancy myself typically much more eloquent and composed than you may have been led to believe.

What I really meant to say yesterday was thank you for High Fidelity – its prose has brought happiness and laughter to my life. A book like that is such a gift to us readers.

And to think – I was just killing time on Twitter on just another ordinary Thursday. You’ve got to love that about this incredible city.

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