Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cairns


Last Wednesday I went to Cairns with my friend Cecile for a few days. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Australia geography, Cairns is in north Queensland and is about 2500km north of Sydney. To get the cheapest flights we flew via Brisbane so we spent half an hour there. Don’t think that counts as visiting but geographically; I was there.

We arrived in Cairns and were greeted by a comforting but slightly muggy warmth that Sydney has lacked recently. The airport security was non-existent so we just strolled from the gate to the exit with no one stopping us. Not once were we asked to show our passports or and form of ID. Compared to the experiences I’ve had flying elsewhere this was almost a non-event. I’m undecided if it was brilliantly stress-free or disappointingly un-exciting.

Anyway, we got a shuttle bus to our hostel and it was the nicest hostel I’ve ever been in. There was a pool on the roof, the rooms were clean and air conditioned, and you got dinner for 5 bucks at the Irish pub down the street. We went for dinner and listened to the 20,000 (apparently) bats screech in the nearby trees and then the heavens opened and it chucked it down spectacularly. I like to watch the rain and it’s nice that its warm enough to watch it outside.

The next morning we had to be up and at the boat for 8am. For those of you who know me, you will know how much I dislike getting up early. But at 8am we were on this boat ready to go out to the Great Barrier Reef! I suddenly remembered that I had seen an underwater setting on my camera and one quick international call and some mobile internet googling I had found out that my camera was good for up to 5 meters underwater so I was happy. My dad was a little confused when I called him and told him I was on a boat in Queensland. Note to self: must remember to tell my parents when I go on holiday.

The sun was shining and we sat at the back of the boat with the wind in our hair. Life was good. When we got to the first reef site we had to suit up in our spectacularly unattractive blue stinger suits, flippers and snorkels. I was eager to jump in but Cecile took a little cajoling to get her in the water. It was so much fun. The water was warm and clear and the reef was so close I could reach out and touch it at points. There were lots of brightly coloured fish, corals, clams and we even found a sea cucumber. With my newly discovered underwater compatible camera I set about taking photos of everything I could find.  I worked out that I get far too excited when I find something cool and I have to go and have a look. Now this is fine on land where there is air everywhere, but snorkelling there is only air while you’re on the surface, I forgot this. A couple of near drowning experiences later and I was back on a boat having lunch. I forget how much energy swimming takes! An hour later we were on dive site 2. At this site we saw turtles and even a shark (ok it was like 2 ft. but a shark is a shark) Cecile and I unfortunately discovered that if you have a spontaneous laughing fit underwater your cheek bones rise so your mask becomes un-water tight and your nose and eyes are suddenly flooded with sea water. Despite this we had an amazing time again. On the boat ride back we sat in the sun. We got back to the hostel and went to bed at 8pm because we are rock stars.

The next day we were up even earlier. I haven’t seen 6am in so long! Well ok, that’s a lie, I saw 6am a month ago but that was because I was still out from the night before. Anyway, we were off to explore the cape, we walked, swam, bounced, drove and paddled our way across the land. Walking and driving is self-explanatory but the swimming was in the gorge we visited, the paddling was in the sea (crocodiles and jellyfish prevented swimming here) and the bouncing was across the suspension bridge. I don’t think the American tourists behind us appreciated the bouncing it but sometimes you have to learn to live a little.
Our tour guide was the most Australian guy ever. He knew the oddest facts about the place. Oh, we also visited this cute little ice cream place where they make ice cream out of the fruits of the rainforest there. I was gutted I couldn’t have any but my mango and passion fruit ice lolly was good. Oh we saw a crocodile too! How could I forget that!


On the drive back we saw an elusive cassowary bird with two chicks! They were so cute and as there are only something like 50 adults in the wild in that area we were really lucky! The day was really good but we were so tired by the time we got back to our hostel.  But since it was Friday night we went out on the town! What little town there is to be had in Cairns. We found some people to hang out with but by 11pm we realised that all the mother (relentless) in the world wasn’t gunna do the trick so we headed back.

The next day we were looking forwards to spending a day doing nothing in the lovely sun shine. So, naturally, it was overcast and raining! Undeterred we hit the lagoon for a swim thinking it doesn’t matter if it rains when you’re already wet! Good thing too as it chucked it down! The kind of rain that hurts when it hits you on your sunburn – ouch!

The flight home was soooo boring! It was a direct flight this time but there was no tv or music or anything, it was so dull. Never mind. After the plane I had to get the train, after the train I had to get the bus, after the bus I had to walk, but finally I got back home.

So there’s my little holiday. I feel so much better! I was a little stuck in a rut before but I feel much more like me now, I’m just a more tanned me!!!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

More update!


Week 22:
Ok so I left you at the start of week 22 didn’t I? Week 22 was pretty good. Georgie’s boyfriend and Eloise’s mother got home safe but it left our house feeling a little down in the dumps. So we all needed a pick me up by the time the weekend came about and it was perfect timing that it was Cecile’s birthday and she was planning on going on the party bus again. The party bus was good! I actually made it to the end this time which is an improvement on last time. I also remember having two hungry jack (burger king) meals so I must have had a good time.

Week 23:
This week we had a big catch up meeting at work. This is where all the researchers sit in the same room for a few hours and everyone presents their work at whatever point it is and everyone else discusses it and gives pointers where to go next. This was good but kind of nerve racking as we are defiantly the newbies in the research team. Everyone else there has their PhD or has already been published at least once. But it went well and the big bosses were happy with my work and want me to write it up which is promising as it means I have a shot at being published. Yay, go me.

This week was Emma’s week as it was her birthday party on the Friday night. As it was Friday the 13th it was set to be a good night and it was a fancy dress house party which meant somehow we had to come up with costumes. So one evening after work, Georgie and I went out to Vinnie’s to find costumes. For those who don’t know what Vinnie’s is; it’s a charity shop and there’s a huge one near me which is great. So we went with no ideas, just to see what there was and we weren’t disappointed. We found things that could be army, punk, peacock, leopard, the list goes on. But we ended up with Georgie being the cutest little Dorothy and I found a dress that would turn me into a zebra for the night. So costumes bought and money to charity; excellent. Then we had to get presents and, as the party was Friday night, it meant shopping after work. I left work a couple of hours early one night and went into town. As soon as people heard that I was shopping the texts started pouring in asking me to get this that and the other. So not only was I rushing round for the three of us in my house but a couple of other people too. I shopped my little heart out and managed to get home with enough time to shower and transform myself into a zebra. Deborah the zebra! It was pretty cool for a costume even if I say so myself. I had the zebra stripe dress and I made myself little cardboard ears that I taped to a head band and I used almost a whole bottle of eye liner painting the stripes onto my face. The party was great and the birthday girl (wonder woman) enjoyed herself which is the main thing.

Saturday night we went out on Oxford Street which is the gay district of Sydney. The first place we went to the air con had broken and it was the most disgusting smelling place ever. It was really fun though. There were lots of people up on podiums dancing about and it seemed to be an “anything goes” kind of place. We didn’t stay that long and ended up in another place which was a much better temperature! A few friends texted me asking if I was out so they came and met us too but as all the guys in this group instantly got hit on and goosed as soon as they walked through the door, they didn’t stay that long. At about 3am we left there and some of us went home and some of us went to find the other people. One of the guys in the other group won $900 that night so we had a good night! Sunday was spent being rather fragile.

Week 24:
The view from the open air cinema
This was a really busy week. On Tuesday Georgie, Eloise and I went to the open air cinema in the botanic gardens. This was really fun. We saw bridesmaids which is cringe humour which is not my thing so that part I didn’t really enjoy but the interaction between the two main characters was really good. The effects the two friends had on each other and the story behind it were good and made me miss my best friends back home a lot. It was amazing to see the opera house and the bridge in the back ground of the screen. It was a bit surreal to sometimes come out of your little film bubble and go – oh, opera house!

Tuesday was also my last day at work – yay 2 day week! But on Wednesday I was going off on a mini adventure to Cairns! But I will talk about that next post.

So here we are at the start of week 25! Nearly half way through our years’ work, scary how quick it’s gone and yet how much Sydney now feels like home. I’ll talk soon and tell you all about my holiday in Cairns. 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Deb's Designs


I’ve been drawing a bit at the moment. It’s a comfort thing mainly as I tend to draw the same things over and over again just with slight changes. All the designs started life as a tattoo idea symbolic of something important to me. Don’t worry mum, none of them are real tattoos yet and to be honest they probably won’t ever be. (Not being silly there, my mother really does read my blog – hi mum) But they are important to me as each one of them symbolises something important to me.

Bee
So the first one I designed was one to symbolise me. Deborah was the only female prophet and her name means bee in Hebrew so I’ve always had a thing for bees. This one has been redesigned so many times. It started off as a side view with its wings out above it. At one point it was a very stylised and minimalistic. At the moment it is fairly anatomical. The original idea was to have it double life size on my right shoulder blade but it may move depending on where others are placed. This one has always and will always be my favourite.

Lizard
The next one is for my time in Brazil. Here he is my little lizard. He also has been redesigned a lot. He started off being more tribal and geometric but as with the bee, he is more lifelike now. I like this drawing; he has a good little smirk going on. Anyway, the lizard is symbolic of Brazil and all that my time in Brazil meant to me. Brazil really helped me get things into perspective. What is important in life, what little you need to be happy and the value of space. Anyone who hasn’t done the whole backpacker thing I would strongly urge you to do it! Because if you don’t go and see the world it will really restrict your views. The lizard is meant to go on my left ankle crawling up my leg with its tail curling round the back onto the top of my foot.

Owl
The next one is an owl. They seem to run on an animal theme don’t they? It’s not intentional and not all of them are. The owl is because I identify with owls a lot. Both them and I sometimes have a strange stillness and often look like they are daydreaming and thinking about other things. Owls are also meant to be very wise, I have spent most of my life perusing academia and while this doesn’t make me wise at all, it’s a symbol of knowledge and wisdom for me. When I first started drawing the owl it was sitting on a branch and thinking, this new one is in flight. The flight is symbolic if recent events in my life. My research is going well and I feel like if I can make the next few years count then I could really make something of myself. So if the owl is academia, the flight is hopefully my career taking off (bad pun) the owl was meant to be across my right ribs but I was showing my drawings to a friend and she suggested that the owl in flight go across my shoulders on my back and I like this idea a lot. This is why the bee might move. Not sure where too though; maybe on my ribs or on my hip or even on the inside of my wrist.

Eye of Ra
The next one I’m either really keen on or not fussed about. At the moment I’m not fussed about it but here it is anyway. It is the eye of Ra and is an Egyptian symbol of royalty, power and protection. I went through a phase of learning all I could about ancient Egypt and I still find it fascinating. I’m not calling myself royal but I like the idea of having a symbol of power and protection. Finding the right balance of power and protection has been important to me recently. They seem to contradict themselves. If you are protected then you have lots of people round you, making sure you are ok. But if you are powerful then you can take care of yourself. Coming to Australia I have abandoned my protection and had to become a lot more powerful. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds!!! It’s taken me about 4 months to feel properly comfortable being on my own but I’m now really happy because of it! I’m sure I still have a lot more protection round me than most of the world. I still have my human rights and medical attention and stuff for if something major went wrong but day to day it’s a little different. This one would be really cool on the back of my neck but a more subtle location would be the top of my thigh.

Virgo
This one is new. It’s the constellation Virgo. I’m not really into astrology and what it represents but I believe in signs and omens. This one I’m still thinking about. Stars are something I love so I’d like to have something star related, I remember literally being stopped in my tracks in brazil because I looked up and saw the stars and was amazed at how many there were! To see the Milky Way that brightly was incredible. Maybe I should have the Milky Way instead? Or some pretty galaxy.

Cross
This one is also new. It’s rapidly becoming one of my favourites. My faith has been on my mind a lot recently. I have been mulling on what it is to be a Christian, which is a fairly big thing to be mulling about. It’s not like mulling over what to have for dinner or what shoes to wear, this one actually matters. (Yes shoes matter immensely but God matters more) One of my friends posted a video of a man reading a rather shoddily constructed poem about how he loves Jesus, God and the Bible but shuns religion. Which has given me food for thought. I’ll let you know how it goes. But anyway, I like this design a lot. I’m thinking it should be either on the top of one of my arms or above one of my hips.

Celtic sun
This is the last one I have drawn and it’s a WIP. It’s a modification of a Celtic sun that was meant to be round my belly button. I’m experimenting with the flares round the edges. This one is to remind me that happiness comes from within and you can’t expect other people to make your life, you have to do it yourself. You have to be your own sunshine. I like the simplicity of this one but the drawback is that if I was ever pregnant or my weight changed significantly then it wouldn’t be circular any more.

There are some more in the back of my mind too. There is a paw print for my cat Cleo. I want something to symbolise my family, I’m playing about with a tree design but it’s not even reached a proper design state yet. I also want one for Sydney but I’m not sure what yet. The traditional symbols of Australia like the opera house, the bridge etc. are great but don’t mean anything particularly to me. Maybe some kind of native bird or flower? Or I could be geeky and get something about my work here on me. I could have a PSG alpha wave!!! Ha ha ha, that’s a great idea actually.

I have some ideas for other designs that symbolise important people in my life or people who have influenced me if they know it or not. But I’m not about to massage their egos by talking about them here.

Anyway those are the things that are important to me and I wanted to share. Sorry about the rubbish photos, its dark and my light is awful. Ill update later.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Christmas and new years


So I suppose I ought to talk about Christmas and new years and things. Shall I carry on with my weekly update theme?

Ok week 18:
We had a new pilot study at work happening this week and we were all scurrying about trying to get it ready and make sure it all went smoothly. It went really well but over ran by about an hour and by the time I had packed up and the last patient had left it was 6.30. But everyone was happy with the results and it seemed a success.

On Thursday we had a visit from one of the lecturers from uni in the UK come to visit. He was so jet lagged and had such a busy day interviewing all of us and the bosses. He wanted to see the presentations that we did a few weeks ago and seemed impressed with what we are doing so that’s good. That afternoon was out work Christmas “party”. Giving a slightly sarcastic, jet lagged, English lecturer a glass of champagne was fun. We stood at the back during the speeches and he made funny comments and we tried to hide giggles. I couldn’t stay for long as I was technically working in the sleep lab that evening but it was fun none the less. I made up for my absence earlier and caught up when I finally got downstairs. Oh and on the way home I bumped into the Neurology receptionists who are a bit notorious but they invited me along to the bar they were heading to so I went and had a drink with them too. That evening Eloise and her Mum flew out for their epic adventures around Australia.

That Friday I was running another clinic all by myself and I was taught how to do some more of the computerised testing. It was a very busy day and the girl who was helping me that day had a cold so I sent her home to sleep. But never mind, I survived.

Week 19:
More pilot studies this week that went well. Oh and it was Georgie's birthday on the Thursday! She loved the little handbag I got for her and we went out for dinner at this little Japanese place near us. The sushi was really good; I even risked some of the tiramisu cake that we bought as birthday cake.

On Friday we finished work for the holidays and Georgie and I hit the town. We were dressed to impress, Georgie in a see through shirt and me in my new blue dress. I think the dress was a success as I got called blue dress all night.We headed to J├Ągermeister Fridays at this little bar we have found recently and then headed down to the harbour aiming for one of the big clubs down there. While we were waiting for the taxi we saw a man walking down the middle of the main street in between all the traffic. Georgie called out – You’re going to die! So of course he came over to have a chat. He invited himself along with us when we flagged a taxi but when we arrived at the harbour, funnily enough, neither Georgie or I had any change so he had to pay for the taxi. Funny how things work out like that isn’t it? We managed to lose him in a bar but never made it to the club! One rather dodgy kebab and the last bus home later I was fast asleep in my little bed.
Lighting the Christmas pudding!


Saturday we had international Christmas! 
Since a lot of my friendship group here are international we decided to each bring 2 dishes that we think should be at Christmas dinner and see what happens. Georgie and I took a glazed ham, Christmas pudding with homemade brandy sauce and champagne. From Australia we had roast pork, whole prawns and Pavlova. From the Netherlands we had something I have forgotten the name of but it was mashed potato with kale and sliced frankfurter on top. From America we had little potato thingies and ginger bread cake. And from Russia we had a shot of vodka between each course! So a good time was had by all. I think the Christmas pudding won the wow factor award as no other pudding you set alight. Australians don’t eat Christmas pudding so it doesn’t occur to them to soak it in brandy and then ignite it and watch the blue flames dance across it. Well we fixed that!

That Sunday I went for the bbq where I got Sheldon which I’ve already spoken about.

Week 20:
Monday morning. Didn’t have to get up for work. Bliss.

On Wednesday Eloise and co. arrived home and on Thursday Georgie's boyfriend, Gareth, arrived so we had a full house. We spent Friday finishing off Christmas shopping and stock piling food for the weekend.

Christmas day was lovely and sunny! It had threatened to rain all week but it turned out to be the one rain free day all week. Georgie, Gareth and I packed up and went to bondi beach for the day. I sat in my bikini and Santa hat on the white sand and watched the waves. It was great. I got some stunning tan lines too! In the evening we came back to the house and fired up the bbq and had prawns and steak with lots of salad and wine. I skyped my parents to say happy Christmas even though mine was nearly over just as theirs was beginning! The presents I had sent home were a big hit so I was happy about that. It was odd being without my family over Christmas though. And it was odd it not being cold and you being all snuggled up in your Christmas jumper. Didn’t feel that Christmassy but it was still a really good day.
Christmas Day at the Beach

Week 21:
Boxing Day Georgie and Gareth went off to see some of Oz for a few days and Eloise was still busy with her family here so I had a couple of days to myself which was really nice.

On Wednesday I went to meet my half great uncle who lives in Sydney. I’ve never met him before in my life but they seemed really excited to meet me. We went for lunch and then I went back to theirs for a chat. They seem nice people so that was good. It was rather nerve racking getting the bus out to this place I’ve never been before, on my own, to meet people I’ve never met before but hey if I’m gunna do the whole – being independent – thing then cant back down now!

Friday I spent on another beach working on my tan and chilling with some friends.

Our view of the bridge for New Years
My new years plans changed so much! I ended up going to the bridge to watch the 9pm fireworks. The fireworks are a big deal here and apparently 1.8 MILLION people were there watching them. Everywhere was packed! It took us nearly an hour to find a good spot. We were under the bridge so couldn’t see much going on at the bridge but could see in both directions to see the fireworks going off from the islands. Then I went to a house party which I had to find out where it was first. It was in Croydon, which seemed rather similar to its English name sake. Nuff said. There were so many people at the party! Ran into a couple of people I was intending to avoid for… well, ever really. But that actually went much better than expected and I’m glad that happened now. There were also some friendship politics going on that night so it was a bit of an awkward turtle night. Actually scrap that, it was an awkward whale of a night! Turtle isn’t big enough to describe the awkward. However I actually had a good time. When midnight came everyone had party poppers and everyone went about kissing everyone else, even if they didn’t want to be kissed but never mind. So yea, it was not necessarily a great start to the year, I hope it doesn’t carry on like that! I can’t cope with that much drama all the time!
Fireworks

New years day I slept and got pizza hut.

Week 22:
So here we are at week 22! Monday was a bank holiday but I was back to work today. I had a brilliantly clever epiphany and have doubled my work load because of it but now I’ve had the idea I can’t really ignore it.

It’s also Cecile’s birthday today and we are planning on doing the party bus again. I didn’t talk about that before did I? Well it’s what it sounds like, it’s a bar crawl but because Sydney is huge you have a bus with club music and lights to take you between them. It would make rubix proud (for those of you that know what rubix is)

So yea, busy few weeks! 22 weeks gone already! Only a month off half way now! Sometimes it feels like no time at all and sometimes it feels like ages. I’m always happy when I hear people have been reading my blog so hi to all my readers! It’s nice to know even though I’m gone; I’m not forgotten.