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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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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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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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Cold, dark and feeling positive: surviving my first London winter

No one can say I wasn’t warned.

What seemed like mere moments after the official end of ‘summer’, the sage warnings about how miserable and lonely London becomes post Christmas and New Year’s started flooding in. It’s dark, cold and wet, they said, with no more Christmas parties and no one will want to do anything fun because they will be broke (or should i say ‘skint’) and doing dry January. The list seemed a little bit endless and, quite frankly, a little over dramatic. And don’t get me started on Blue Monday.

But what can I say: they weren’t entirely wrong.

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Feeling festive with a side of patriotism

I’ve been in a bit of awe this week. It’s been eight months since I packed up and moved – eight months?!? I fully appreciate that I’ll probably look back in a year’s time and will be overwhelmed with the exact same feeling of incredulousness but bear with me whilst I bask in this realisation for a moment.

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about myself since moving abroad (exacerbated by a viewing of The Dressmaker last week)  is how it’s made me feel more Australian than ever before. Not just from the mere uber consciousness of my accent and Australianisms, but the nostalgia I’ve felt for everything from the ambient sound of kookaburras and magpies, coffee, cheap dumplings, music and even sport.

As much as I love my London life and won’t be tattooing my bicep with a Southern Cross anytime soon, I’ve come to realise that despite the cliches, there’s just no place like home. Amongst all the amazing things I’m adding to my life through new experiences, adventures and travel – there is still something about moving to a new place and having to rediscover new routines and habits that has made me nostalgic for the strangest things.

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Things I have learned (so far) about moving abroad

1. Everyone’s an expert – and has valuable advice to be shared. The more I opened up to people (everyone from acquaintances to the call centre operator at RACV to close friends and work colleagues), the more I realised that everyone has different nuggets of advice to bring to the table. There’s so much to think about when shifting your life around and the helpful advice of others has really ensured that this elephant won’t forget. Since arriving UK, these little bits of information have really helped me get my bearings about where to start.

2. It feels like a holiday…it hasn’t sunk in that this is where I’m going to make a bit of a life of for the next two years.

3. It’s really not that cold. So turns out my expert friends were probably on to something when they suggested that I really DON’T need to pack seven coats. I think I’m probably the only person in London wishing it were a bit chillier so I can justify my wardrobe.

4. Finding a flatshare feels like blind dating. Thus, I am extremely glad that my profession has taught me the art of the pitch and even MORE (perhaps disproportionately) glad that I became obsessed with running last year so I have a legit hobby to list.

5. Liberty is still the most wonderful place on earth.

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Why London?

My first real memory of London was a little before 6am on Christmas Day in 2011. I remember walking out of the hostel onto the grey streets to find them completely deserted except for a handful of homeless. It was dead quiet, pretty cold and I was a little bit concerned about the lack of people around – it made me uneasy.

Why was I wandering the streets so early? To partake in one of Peter Berthoud’s famous Christmas Day walks, of course. We roamed the completely empty streets of London in the early hours of the morning and it was on that day that I fell in love with the city.

I wrote at the time, “I really love it here – the city is so beautiful and old and different to every other city I’ve been to”. I remember feeling the history, realising that my home town of Melbourne was far more derivitive than I’d ever known and just feeling an overwhelming sense of belonging. Without romanticizing it too much, it just felt like a place I was meant to be.

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