Friday, 24 August 2012

Déjà Vu

I’m still working on the name but it’s been over a week since I returned home. It’s very odd; it’s like constant déjà vu which is making me a little uneasy.

Welcome to an English summer
The flight back went as well as could be expected. On the long hall flight I was able to have two seats to myself so I could snuggle down and get some sleep. The transfer was… interesting. Whoever designed the airport decided it would be a good idea to put transfer flights at opposite ends of the airport. 25 minutes of near running through an airport and I was at a gate and boarding my next flight. This one was shorter but it didn’t feel it as it was light and the plane was full so there was no room to get comfy. After 8 hours of being a flying can of sardines I touched down in a familiar green and pleasant land. My father and brother met me at the airport and then we started the car ride home.  It rained. What a surprise.

Returning back to my parents’ house was odd but comfortingly familiar. I moved back into the room that I have never decorated since my parents bought the place in 2008. There never seemed to be any point since I wasn’t going to be there more than a month or two at any time. It’s purple.

I started my journey home on Tuesday and arrived Wednesday. I tried to stay up as late as possible but at about 8pm I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and went to bed. I only managed a few hours sleep till I was wide awake at 1am and stayed that way till about 4.

Thursday I spent with my brother which was nice. Friday I spent at home with the cat as everyone else was at work. I did however get dragged to the pub in the evening to see 3 of my old friends. They laughed at my accent which is apparently hilarious.

Feisty spider
Saturday I went out shopping with my mum because I’m cool. I actually wanted some flats as I only brought back my favourite shoes which are all heals or boots! In the evening I went to one of my best friends and we stayed up late catching up on all topics. During my jet lag induced awake time in the middle of the night I found a large spider. I only saw 3 large spiders in the house all year in Australia but I haven’t even been back a week here I’ve found one! I evicted it for her as she’s terrified of them.

The following morning she dragged me into town to see a pair of boots that were my size that she loved and even though her big feet wouldn’t fit them, she wanted someone she knew to own them. So I tried these boots on and they were huge! I told her she was a plonker for looking at these boots for weeks but assuming they wouldn’t fit. She tried them on and surprise surprise they fitted her perfectly. So she bought them. Typical.

Monday I slept a lot. I have gotten over the jet lag enough that I can now sleep through the night but I still can’t stay up late. Since I had been up late twice in a row I slept in this morning and was rather impressed that I could. Tuesday was rather similar. I finished unpacking and I sorted through some of the junk that was in my room.

Wednesday I went into town to see another old friend. It was lots of fun wandering round the shops with her. However I was reminded how dull it is here. I don’t mean metaphorically dull, I mean literally dull. It was bright enough to need sunglasses but it wasn’t sunny, it was just bright. The light just fell out of the sky and settled on anything that it met as a film of white dust. This mutes all the colours, or maybe the colours were already muted, either way everything is cream or dark green. Well despite the absence of colour or sunshine, I still enjoyed spending time with my friend. Both of us have been through so much this year and yet we can find comfort in knowing that we have each other no matter what.

Look at that face
Thursday I went to work with mum and fed the animals she works with. I liked the axolotls best. We also met up with a family friend who lives in Edinburgh but was in the area for the day so we went for lunch. It was nice, the family friend is more like a second mother too me, imagine lunch with two mothers! Especially since I haven’t had any mothers around for a year. Surprisingly I survived but I was a zombie by the end of the day.

So here I am at Friday. I’ve been in the country a little over a week and its taking more getting used to than I thought. The jet lag is lingering as is the noticeable loss of sunshine. Maybe it will be better when I have my own place to live and can get about under my own steam. A little more control over my life would be nice. I feel like I am just going through the motions here and not actually having any sway on the matter. I don’t mean to complain, I like being back and seeing all my old friends, but I miss my Australian ones. I miss being able to send a text and within half an hour be in a cocktail bar with some of my nearest or dearest. I miss the spontaneity of that life. Everything here has to be planned way in advance. It’s frustrating.  I also feel like I was just settled into my life in Australia, I liked the person I was and where I was headed so to be ripped from that while so many things were left half done and unfinished. Things I wanted to do, people I wanted to know more, achievements just coming into reach that I now can’t grasp, it makes it hard not to see moving back to England as a step backwards. 

Ill try and shake off this bizarre déjà vu and get back to living my life here. After all I was happy here for 21 years so it can’t be that bad!

Friday, 17 August 2012

What’s in a name?

Since I am no longer in Australia I thought it was a little odd to still have the blog called deb down under. I intend to continue writing as it has become something I really enjoy. However I can’t think of a decent name for the blog, so until I can think of one, it will simply be called Deb. Hopefully it doesn’t make the blog look too plain and it is well known that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Now I am not calling myself a rose by any stretch of the imagination but if something works for something like a rose then why not work for less? Ill mull over a new name in the next few days and hopefully come up with something good.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Last days

Time spiralling out of control

I last wrote about week 52 as it was a whole year since I moved to Australia but I stayed in the country for a few days longer because I had to pay rent and I knew I would need some time to sort things out. I'm glad I did because things got rather busy as I ran out of time!

So my housemate left on Saturday and that was all very sad and the new girls that are going to replace us at work. I had also had my coat left on the party bus from my leaving party the week before. So I took the new girls to darling harbour with the aim of picking up my coat from the party bus first bar and then showing the girls the lights and having a bottle of wine maybe. The party bus people recognised me… that’s a bad sign in itself. But they had my coat which was good. One of my good friends had people couch surfing at his place and they had spontaneously decided to do the party bus that night so we decided to join them as it would be a good way to show the new girls some bars in the city. I wish we hadn’t! It was such a rough night, it was basically a Greek tragedy as it had suffering, drama, relationships, arguments, tears, illness and, of course, a lot of alcohol. I didn’t sleep till Monday night because this night bothered me so much. So that’s what I spent Sunday doing really; just processing everything that happened the night before. I felt so bad for the new girls as I must have made the worst first impression on them!

I made up for it on in the next few days as we spent a day house hunting and setting up bank accounts and Medicare and all that boring stuff. We also went into work so they could meet everyone. We did some of the sights among the boring admin so we saw the opera house and the bridge and a tour of the rocks. I was impressed at how much we got done!

The Monday morning my other house mate flew out of Sydney. Not to go home however, but to go on a tour of New Zealand and then across America! Lucky thing. It was sad to see her go too; I was now the last one of the original brits!

South Pacific
Wednesday I dealt with some off the fallout from Saturday night and Wednesday evening I spontaneously went to the opera house to see opening night of south pacific. My friend had found an amazing deal that gave us over $100 off tickets if you booked them at a certain time the day before. I took the new girls too and it was really good! I haven’t seen it before so didn’t know the story or anything. We had a glass of bubbly after and it was all rather lovely.

Thursday I hung out with a friend and did an epic amount of cleaning at home. I also found a bottle of vodka under my bed which helped heaps with the cleaning!!!

Friday night I took the girls out in Newtown. We went to my favourite little bar called corridor to have a cocktail. It was good fun and we met a Spaniard and a French woman there who decided they would adopt us for the night (whether we wanted it or not) fortunately one of the new girls brother had friends in Sydney who met us just in time as we were leaving corridor with the Europeans. They came with us and we went on a bar hop to Zanzibar, kuletos and finally marly bar. It was a good night! When they found out it was my last night out in Sydney lots of drinks were ordered including tequila and jagerbombs (two of my favourites).

Saturday I had another good night. I went to a friend’s house and we got take away pizza and opened a nice bottle of wine and talked all evening. I’m going to miss her!

Sunday I was busy too! I told you I was cramming stuff into my last week! Sunday I went up to the mountains to see some of my friends there. It should have only taken me an hour and a half from my house but because there was work being done on the line I had to take a replacement bus which added over an hour onto my journey time. I finally got there and had a nice day chilling with them. We went to the pub for dinner and talked about all sorts. One of the guys gave us a lift back to the house but first he had to clear out so much crap from his car! What is it with boys and accumulating shit in their cars? There was everything in there: sports kit, food wrappers, clothes, even about half a dozen mugs!!!

Monday I went to see my great uncle who lives in Sydney. It was nice to see him looking better as he was in hospital last time I saw him.

Pizza and Beer!
Monday night I went for dinner with a friend that had found a deal that got us all you can eat pizza and 2 beers and hour at this pub. It was great! Bacon and egg pizza was a bit naff but the peperoni, the Moroccan lamb and the margarita were good! The two beers an hour (yea right, two beers every time I went to the bar!) were excellent. We ended up playing pool with two middle aged Americans who, even with my blatant cheating, were still drawing with us! It was pretty hilarious. Why does physics not work properly when you’re drunk? I would line a shot up perfectly and then when I took the shot the ball would shoot off in an entirely unexpected direction! It was a good night.

Tuesday I went for lunch with the friend from school that is out in Australia. One of our other friends from school was visiting her so it was nice to see them both. We went for Thai in Newtown which was predictably tasty and cheap!

That afternoon was spent frantically packing everything into my suitcase, packing everything else up for the charity shop and having a final clean. It was a bit mad and if it wasn’t for my friends who got drafted to help, I wouldn’t have got it all done!

At 6.30 we were done and I headed to the airport. It was surreal to be leaving after all this time! I didn’t want to go and it was the first time I have flown by myself. The flights themselves were fine. I even got 2 seats on the 15 hour one so I could actually put my feet up and sleep. I slept for nearly all of it too! The second flight dragged even though it was only 8 hours long. I think it’s because I was awake more. I arrived in London at 1pm local time on weds. My dad and my brother came to meet me which was nice. I got two very big hugs!

Rain on the car window
Coming home it started to rain and as I watched the rain stream across the car window I felt a strange familiarity that still managed to feel alien. I came home and set about summarising my whole year and giving out gifts. I think it was the little toy pelican and the boxers that were most liked, slightly annoying that they were the cheapest! But I’m glad that they all liked their gifts.

I fell asleep at 8pm but my body thought it was 5am so that’s not a bad effort! I woke up at 1am and couldn’t get back to sleep till about 4.30am and then slept through to 7am. I gave up trying to sleep then. I spent today with my brother. It was really nice, we went for lunch and then round the shops so I could change the dollars I had left and pick up some mobile contract booklets.

It still doesn’t feel real being back in England. Things I used to know are coming back to me slowly. I doubt it will feel real for a while. I already miss Sydney though.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Goodbyes are hard – part 2

So over a year ago I started this blog and I was writing about how hard it was to be leaving everyone in the UK to come to Australia. Now I’m going to write about how hard it is to leave everyone in Australia.
I’ve had such a broad experience in the last year. I’ve had some real low points where I wanted to go back to the UK. There was one time when I very nearly did go back after having a shocking time and losing sight of why I was here. But I’ve also had some amazing times here. I have been given some amazing opportunities to better myself and my career, I’ve been able to travel and see some amazing things like the Great Barrier Reef and koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles in the wild and I’ve also grown to really love some of the people here. They know who they are; I don’t think any of them read this blog though. I should make them!
The last week has been a blur. I’ve had my two housemates leaving  (which was very sad, I miss them already), the new girls arriving, packing everything I own into suitcases and all the while trying to see as many of the people I care about here just one more time.
This week I have had more leaving drinks, leaving cocktails, leaving meals and leaving chats than feels humanly possible. I have even had a leaving musical! But I can tell you one thing; it’s certainly not emotionally possible! It’s so exhausting being emotionally drained all the time. I just really don’t want to leave and acknowledge that this may be the last time I see these people. Oh dear, I can’t even write that without welling up. Today I bought a new big suitcase and a carry-on bag and nearly cried in front of the salesman while he took my credit card just because it symbolised that I was actually leaving. It’s like PMT on steroids. It’s just not fair! Why does the universe mock me by putting people I connect with and want to be around on the other side of the planet?! I suppose it’s a test. I hope I pass.
I can see why so many people come to Australia and never leave. It’s infectious. I don’t know if I could ever move here forever as I am an Englishman to my very core, but I could certainly live here very happily for a good few years.
I guess it all comes down to change. Why change something if you’re happy with it? Why move if you’re happy where you are? I am trying to focus on all the things I gain when I come back to the UK like my friends and family (and the cat). I don’t mean to sound like I’m not looking forwards to seeing them, because I am, I have missed them a lot this year. I just don’t want to leave the life I have spent a year making for myself here with all the wonderful people in it. Sydney feels like home now.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

1 Whole Year!

Ok I haven’t written in a while. I apologise but I’ve been preoccupied recently. Let me explain. It is now a whole year since I arrived in Australia!! 356 days in the country!

I left you at week 48 didn’t I? Well not a lot happened that week to be honest.

Week 49
Week 49 was fun. After work on Monday I went with my two housemates and a work friend to get new piercings. I don’t have any piercings and I didn’t want one so I just watched two tragus and one belly button get pierced. They were all really happy and we went to the pub for a quick one to celebrate after.

On the Wednesday I caught up with a friend who has been away for a while. I went to the pub with him and a couple of his mates. It wasn’t ideal as my night of catching up turned into a night of the boys talking about football and betting. Oh well. My friend left fairly early. I had forgotten to eat that night too so when I worked out what the pain in my stomach was, I went looking for food. I guess it should worry me that a) I forgot to eat and b) I couldn’t work out what the pain was in my stomach for ages as it didn’t occur to me it could be hunger. Be that as it may, I found a kebab and walked home.

Saturday was wonderfully busy! In the afternoon I went to a tea party which had all sorts of lovely nibbles like homemade scones, cheese board, quiche and more cake than would fit on the table! I took a friend to the train station after and we went for a quick drink on the way. 

Our yummy scones
Then I was straight off to the rocks to meet up with a friend from the mountains who was on a rare night out in the city. The intention was to meet up with the friend I dropped at the station later on but she was late finishing dinner so my quick drink with the mountain guy turned into two or three… ish. We were at the Bavarian beer bar which is dangerous as they sell beers by the litre! And not the crappy Australian beer either, nice proper German beers. I went to meet up with my other friend but I had just missed her and she had got in a cab about 5 minutes before I got to the 3 wise monkeys to see her. 

I ended up in the Chinese laundry which is probably the scabbiest place I have ever been to. I felt so claustrophobic and if my mate hadn’t have pulled me out the way at the last second I would have been bashed by a fight that exploded through a doorway I was standing in. we left about 4am and some of the group I was in were begging to go to the casino but I had had enough. I got in a taxi and came home. The only problem was that everyone decided to come with me! When we got back I made a combination of drinks; brandy and vodka for those still in the party mood, tea for those who had had enough. I was in the tea category. I kicked them out eventually and I was in bed by 6am – woops.

Week 50
Week 50 I took annual leave. I had the time to use and I didn’t want to go to work so I took this week off. On the Tuesday I met up with an old friend from school who is in Australia. We had lunch and it was really nice to see her again.

On Wednesday I went and saw a friend in the city who was feeling rough. Poor guy.

360 Swing!
Thursday I was up really early to go to Questacon! This is a huge science museum in Canberra which is about 3 hours drive away! I went with a girl I have known all year and we were on the road by 7.30am. Ouch. Got to the museum at about 11.30 because of traffic and had such a fun day! It’s not as big as the science museum in London but it’s got a lot of cool stuff. They were testing a new exhibit which is a 360 swing! They were training their staff to use it and neither of the attempts we watched could make it over the top. I bet I could! Shame it wasn’t open to the public. I used all me resources to try and get a go but they weren’t having any of it!

After the museum we went into Canberra. Want to know what’s in Canberra? Nothing. Nothing at all! It doesn’t even look like a city; it looks like a rundown suburb combined with an industrial area. But we found a good student pub which was having a big bang theory night!!! It had a ball pit and everything. We tried to find somewhere to stay overnight so we could go but even the hostel was $40 per person a night! In Sydney sometimes the hostels are cheaper than the taxi home so I don’t see why Canberra was so expensive. Anyway we left at about 8pm to drive home and staying awake on the ride back was so hard! I tried my best to keep talking just so my friend wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel! We got back at about midnight. It was a really good day.

The next day I had dinner and a quiet drink with a mate in Newtown. I got in at 3am. What is it about quiet drinks that turn into big nights???

On Saturday I went to a housewarming, still hung over from the night before. Had one glass of wine and nearly collapsed from my body objecting. Hair of the dog my arse! But when I came home both my housemates were missing, and judging from the nearly empty new bottle of vodka on the coffee table, they had gone out. About 5 minutes later I heard the front door open but no one move. I went to have a look and my housemate had come home and face planted her bed and passed out. Excellent. I dealt with her and got her into bed. She regained consciousness enough for me to ask: 
“Where have you been?”
“I don’t know”
“Ok, who were you with?”
“I don’t know”
“Where’s Eloise?”
“I don’t know”
“How did you get home?”
“I was on the bus but I had to get off to be sick”
I left the conversation there as I didn’t think she was going to be able to tell me anything else. I finally tracked down my other housemate and went to sleep.

The next morning we were meant to go whale watching but it was cancelled due to the rain. Sad face for me but my other housemates were feeling a little fragile so maybe it was a good thing.

Week 51
Snakebite <3
This week was so busy! Monday night I went crab racing again. Best sport known to man. One of my mates won the same holiday I did a few months ago but he doesn’t think he can get the time off to go, sad face. I drank a lot of snake bite that night and enjoyed the wheel of shots!

Wednesday it was the 25th so we had a Christmas in July meal with our nearest and dearest, it was a huge success! I was in charge of the chicken which turned out perfect even if I do say so myself. We even managed to find all the decorations and hats from Christmas so we all looked very festive.

The next few days were entirely taken up with leaving parties!

Friday it was our work leaving party. We all went for a meal in a pub near work. It was really nice. Lots of people turned up so it was nice to see all the people that cared. It didn’t go on that late but I was still really tired by the end.

Saturday it was our friends leaving party. We booked everyone onto the party bus which is always a lot of fun! My friend in Melbourne flew in especially and since she had never been, we spent the day in bondi on the beach and getting our nails done. The night out was good, if tainted with a little sadness that it would probably be the last time I saw some of them.

Sunday we had dinner with a load of our friends from the mountains. They came into the city and we had a huge Thai banquet! We all had Thai food babies on the walk home.

Week 52
This was our last week at work. 52 weeks since we arrive into Australia and started our internship. It’s really sad to think that I have to leave now. I don’t want to.

What our whale should have done
We took a half day on Friday to go whale watching and saw one lazy humpback male who wasn’t in the mood to jump for us. Whales are still whales though and it was humbling to be so close to such a huge creature! I fell asleep on the boat home though.

Today the new girls that are coming to replace us arrived in the morning and one of my housemates flew home in the afternoon. It was really sad saying goodbye to her, I have seen her nearly every day for a year and now she is gone! I know I will see her at uni in a few weeks but it was still very sad to wave goodbye.

So here I am! A year in Australia done! I have another week and a bit before I fly home to enjoy myself with but my placement year has come to an end. I feel a strange mix of accomplishment and sadness to leave.