Sunday, 1 December 2013

Mostly Dead

“It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.” – Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

I’ve fallen off the face of the earth in the last week and I do apologise for my temporary lack of internet presence and I’ve already been dealing with complaints. But I’ve only been mostly dead which is slightly alive!

So I’ve been ill again the last week. Three years ago I was plagued by a series of bouts of tonsillitis or maybe I picked up an antibiotic resistant strain that never went away. Either way I was very ill for quite a while and even though I was prescribed as many antibiotics as are currently known to medical science, I was constantly ill. At one point I even ended up worse off for the tablets, as I had a bad reaction to some and it made my legs swell so much that there wasn’t enough blood left for my brain… I don’t remember it much funnily enough. Anyway, the Drs wouldn’t take my tonsils out because of my age, apparently it’s only done on children now so since I was 20 at the time I was too old and they told me I would grow out of it in my early 20s.

Guess where I've been!

Well for a few lovely peaceful years that seemed to be the case but last week out of the blue I got the eerily familiar sticky tape on the back of your throat feeling and sure enough within days I was a total goner for it. Since it had come on so quickly and brought with it all the headache and wobbly symptoms of the flu, it’s most likely to be viral not bacterial tonsillitis; so the nurse said (handy working in a hospital). So there was nothing to be done, I just had to wait it out (Where is Miracle Max when you need him?). So that’s why I’ve been absent from the world; I’ve been sleeping it off. For the last 4 days all I’ve done is eat and sleep. So apart from the feeling awful thing, it’s been rather lovely! I had takeaway and company come to me and I found the strength to have a day out in London with some uni friends so all in all I’ve been well entertained.

I feel a bit more human now, most of the flu symptoms have gone so now I just have a rather sore and swollen throat and am slightly wobbly. I’m at that annoying stage of being well enough to go back to work but not entirely better either. I hate this stage. It would be better all-round if I could just hibernate until I’m entirely better but I don’t think work would like that much.

Prior to being ill I’ve been working, I’ve re-joined a pole class so I do that once a week and I catch up with the other grad scheme people every Thursday in the pub so I keep busy, maybe a little too busy sometimes! Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten ill if I spent more time resting regularly but that’s boring! I got so very tired of just coming home after work and sitting on the sofa. Christmas is coming apparently which is usually what happens when December starts and that rarely calms things down so we will see how things go!

I hope that settles down readers and reassures people that ive not disappeared!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

New name

Also, for those of you moderately observant of this page, you will notice I’ve changed the title. This blog has gone from being called ‘Deb down under’ to ‘Orange girl Deb’ and is now ‘The girl with the green scarf’.
The blog was originally set up to follow my year in Australia hence the opening title of deb down under. However when I moved back to England the title just seemed, at best irrelevant, at worst like a cheap porno so I changed that to orange girl deb as orange has been my signature colour throughout the last few years. 

Now that I’m starting to diversify from people who remember my orange jeans and my orange dress (sometimes worn together), the title might seem to reflect my Essex roots and imply a passion for cheap fake tan. This isn’t the case either. Therefore I have decided to name the blog after my constant companion – my green scarf.

My mother brought this scarf for me as a present years ago and since then it has evolved into a socially acceptable comfort blanket that I will wear as often as possible especially when I feel I need a little extra confidence. All my friends recognise the green scarf and one of my a-level teachers never got the hang on my name so called me green scarf for the rest of the year.

So here’s to the new name – the girl with the green scarf. It’s not nearly as dramatic as the girl with the dragon tattoo thank goodness! But in honour of the new name I have changed the theme from orange to green. I hope you enjoy it!

Warning some of the images following are very old.

It's good for relaxing

Great for costumes

Good for adventures

Always makes me happy

Really good for costumes!

Seen me through many a hair colour and cut

Kept me safe from animals

An essential for the pub

Ended up in all forts of fun

Where will the green scarf take me next?!

Why are you in Manchester?

Ok so update. Primarily because some pretty big stuff has happened recently but also because I don’t want to do the washing up and this is a good distraction. I know the washing up will still be there when I’m done but I might have found some inclination towards it by then.

So for those not in the know I now live in Manchester. It’s not as glamorous as my relocation to Sydney and I doubt I have any shot of coming back with a tan but if anything this represents a bigger shift in my life than Sydney did. When I went to Oz I knew I was coming back and I had 2 girls with me who were in the same boat (well the same airplane but that’s not a phrase now is it?). I have moved here with no one, to live by myself…. Scary! I do have a safety net of a friend from 6th form who is at uni here and a friend of a friend who works here so that’s nice.

Quick explanation of why I’m here as people keep asking me - Why are you in Manchester? I didn’t just wake up one morning and think “I know what would be fun, let’s move somewhere I’ve never been to before and don’t know anyone, for no reason!” that would have been one of my more idiotic ideas. I moved here because I was offered a job. All grads (unless very well connected or whom are prodigies in their field) will know how mind bogglingly time consuming, arse numbingly boring and almost politician-like in logic job applications are. I filled in application after application with very little reply. I went on one testing day (hence the London observations post from a bit back) and had one phone interview but that was it really, for nearly a years’ worth of job applications. Even when I found jobs that I thought I was vastly experienced with and perfect for would reject me and as organisations rarely give feedback at an application level it was impossible to see why.

Anyway, the result of this was that I graduated with no job and moved back in with my parents to continue my search for employment. 2 months went by and no a lot happened. I had fun and games with signing on for job seekers allowance, especially when my “personal advisor” didn’t know what I biochemistry graduate could possibly do with themselves. Interestingly I only saw him once despite being told to see him once a week and being signed on for 6 weeks.

I’m not getting to the point very well am I? I’m 3 paragraphs in to my “quick explanation of why I’m here” and you’re still none the wiser. Ok so I started branching out with my job applications. Whereas though uni I was applying to academic posts usually involving research and/or PhDs, when I realised that they were getting me nowhere fast (ok I was offered a PhD however it was at least a year away from getting off the ground) I started applying for more general things. Ok that sentence is a little grammatically interesting, read it without the brackets first then it might make more sense. I started applying to scientific conference producing, clinic coordinating and anything to do with health. I found the application for an NHS management graduate scheme and thought that sounded a bit out of my league as I know grad schemes are very competitive. But the worst they could do was say no and it was another job applied for to show the job centre I was putting the work in. I was surprised when they said I got through the first screening and would I take some aptitude tests. I was even more surprised when they asked me to come to a testing day. I was astonished when they asked me to give a presentation and interview. I think I was maxed out on surprise when they offered it to me!

Interestingly a day before I was offered this job I was offered another in a research facility that I was seriously considering. So I took a couple of days to consider the two offers and went for this one as I felt it had more to teach me.

The application process for this job was very intense but I got to have some fun with it too. The testing day tasks involved a lot of actors bombarding you with different scenarios and it was actually quite fun and I got into role playing and making my way through these different situations. Having to give a presentation was a bit nerve racking. I don’t mind public speaking as I’ve had a fair bit of experience but it’s still not something that I actively enjoy. I was sure that when I came out the interview I had sounded naive and idealistic but they must have liked that as here I am!

I’m going to be spending the next 18 months working within the hospital trust and experiencing managing a rotation of departments. However, before I started that I went through 2 weeks of orientation. I have been shown as many types of job the trust employs which means I spent a day in surgery actually standing in a theatre watching operations (by the way scrubs are so comfortable! It’s like being in pyjamas) and a day out with district nurses seeing patients, tours of nearly every major department, walked a thousand miles on a porters shift, done a night shift on a ward and even spent a day driving about in an ambulance!!!  It’s been so cool.

This week I have been thrown into my first placement and already have big plans and a project to manage which should be good. Also I was sent to a conference to network all of the NHS graduate schemes, along with the 7 other graduates they employed on the graduate scheme. This was a really good opportunity to meet people on the national schemes and also find out about their experiences as the 8 of us are the guinea pigs for this graduate scheme. It was also really nice to see that when they needed to split us up, none of us wanted to be apart so we have gone from total strangers to inseparable in 2 weeks. They are a really nice group and I’m looking forwards to spending at least the next 18 months with them.

So here I am, in Manchester, with a job and a flat and everything. And it’s going well! I’m finding that I’m not as anxious about things as I was expecting and I actually quite like Manchester as a place too. For example:
·         It’s got lots of interesting bars and restaurants. I’ve already found a good Chinese and a good Japanese restaurant. Still working on the bars though, it’s hard to go out when the only people I know are people I have to work with so can’t really go out with on a sat night.
·         It’s got loads of theatres but ditto the same problem.
·         It’s very multi-cultural and integrated between them.
·         It doesn’t have many sky scrapers which make you feel claustrophobic like in London. This also means that when the suns out you can feel it even in the city centre. In Sydney you had to take extra layers if you were going into the city centre because you would constantly be in the shade!

Also though bad things about Manchester:
·         It rains a lot. When people said it rains a lot in Manchester I thought they were just complaining but it genuinely seems to rain a lot more frequently and a lot more enthusiastically here.
·         It makes me hiccup. Not sure why but I’ve hiccupped about a dozen times every day since I’ve been here.
·         There are a lot of students who make me feel old by how young they look. Freshers were born in 1995 now which is silly; those people should still be in school.
·         Everyone sounds northern and mumbles which is taking some time to get my ears adjusted to. I can translate most people now though. Interestingly they can still pick up the Australian in my accent and think its hilarious!
·         Everyone’s mad about football. Nuff said.

Not exactly deal breakers so all I need to do so I can survive here is; grow gills, be constantly surprised, ignore the students, learn to translate the accent and learn about football. So effectively just become a local! 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Closing Time

Closing time, time for you to go out to the places you will be from
Closing time, this room won’t be open till your brothers or your sisters come
So gather up your jackets
Move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend
Closing time every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

Ok so that’s lyrics to closing time by Semisonic and while the song is incredibly awesome and heavily referenced in friends with benefits which is one of my all-time favourite films, it does seem pretty relevant to me at the moment. For those of you not up to speed I very recently moved to Manchester. Very recently meaning 2 days ago so it’s all very new and I’m still working out which cupboards should have what kind of my stuff in. I know it’s a bit of a change from my last move which was slightly more… drastic, but never the less I am, once again, on my own in a place where I hardly know anyone or where anything is! More than that though, it marks a significant shift as I redefine myself from a student to actual adult. I have a flat and a job and pay bills… well I will when the job starts and I sort the utilities people out but you get what I mean.

So that’s the first line sorted about going out to the places you will be from. I’m likely to be here for at least a year and a half maybe longer so I’m counting that as a short term “where I will be from” it’s a stepping stone at least. Moving on to my brothers and sisters coming; well my actual brother spent the first day here with me helping me get the lay of the land which I would have probably struggled with a lot if he wasn’t here! Must ask for a compass for Christmas, or maybe there’s an app for that? Either way I have very little sense of direction and may have never found my way home on my own! Urban family are also coming in the form of some uni mates and school friends who are set to come at the end of the month for a Halloween/Housewarming visit which I am really looking forwards to! I might have worked out where some good bars are by then.

So I gathered up my jackets and moved it to the exits which means leaving everything I know behind. I’ve spent the last 4 years being a student and mostly at uni which I have had to say goodbye to. It’s rather surreal, I don’t think it has sunk in properly yet, maybe it won’t till I start the job and start to feel like a 9-5 drone. I’ve had to pack up and leave uni, and then pack up again and leave my parent’s house to come here. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve packed up my life into boxes and moved somewhere else! I think the move to Australia was possibly the easiest to pack for as I could only take one suitcase and a carry-on bag on the plane! That was not the case this time. It took two cars to get my moved in this time. I was meaning to get a van but it was all a bit last min due to a LOT of unseen delays which meant I only had confirmation that I had a flat on Wednesday evening so I had 2 days to pack and get organised and a van at that short notice is apparently impossible. Thankfully my brother and dad volunteered cars which had the added bonus that now I had 3 oompa loompas to help with all the boxes!

I’ve never had a problem with having to moving, clearly since I spent the optional year in Australia, but I am aware it’s something that not everyone is comfortable with. I had a fairly serious conversation with someone about Australia a while ago, and they said they didn’t see the pros outweigh the cons. Yes I’m aware that you lose touch with people when you relocate but I’ve always thought the ones that don’t bother to keep in touch were never that close to you anyways. I keep a handful of friends from every place I’ve lived and the rest I wish well but know that both of us are happy having known each other but also happy without each other; kind of like a mutual break up but with friends instead. I have two friends I have known since preschool one of whom I haven’t seen in 5 years face to face but I texted her this morning and we are as close as if we lived next door to each other. So it is possible to keep people close and I’d rather have the adventure of going somewhere new at the cost of not having a huge social group. And it means that I have a lot of people dotted about the world that I can call in on wherever I end up! I recently went to the Netherlands to see a friend there and I even met up with two school friends while in Australia so if I can find people I know there, then I can find people everywhere! Especially as facebook makes it so easy to find out where your friends are (in the broad “I know which city you live in” way not in the “I know you’re eating a pinini in neros upstairs” way).

Last line now; “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. Well that’s true but worth remembering as perspective sometimes. You can’t just add to your life endlessly, there isn’t the time and very few things last forever so we have to constantly adapt to things ending and new things starting. I was very sad to leave the uni because that’s all I know, and at the moment I’m looking forwards to starting my new job and my new life but I’m sure come Monday morning when I have to go to work I’ll feel very nervous! It’s nice to have some progress though, I was done with endless essays and exams at uni and having a new goal to work towards is nice.

Anyway now you’re all up to speed with me and some Semisonic lyrics! Now I actually have some life to tell you about I should write more often!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Look into my eeeeeeeeyes

My eye
Short post today as I have spent the day doing job applications and have written far too much today already!

So a couple of months ago I was bumbling around the internet and found that my eyes being two colours has a name: central heterochomia – who knew?!

Isn’t that cool? I’ve always had eyes with different colours in them and I assumed it was just another part of me that wasn’t quite right, but apparently it’s a thing! 

I think it’s cool, who wants to have eyes with just one colour in them? Not me that’s for sure!

Mila Kunis has complete heterochromia, Kate Bosworth has sectoral heterochromia, Angelina Jolie has central heterochromia. Whoop something in common with her!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Hooray, the War is over!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I went to a blitz themed party on campus and it was really fun. One of my housemates was aware of “The Blitz Party” which is a group which hosts 40s themed parties professionally in different locations around London. The next party was the D-day party so we all bought tickets and spent the next few weeks sourcing outfits and somewhere to spend the night in London.

Outfit choice for any party is fun but for a vintage party it’s even more fun because you get to go through all the fashions of the past. I spent ages sourcing actual 1940s patterns and found a modernised pattern based on a dress from 1942 which was perfect! I wanted to find a pattern rather than buy online because when buying online I can never guarantee that anything will fit me! Sure enough when the pattern was the right size for me it was a full 4 inches longer in the back and 3 inches longer in the skirt than the width measurements wanted. Choosing fabric was lots of fun too, I spent a lovely day in the sunshine going to all the fabric shops I could think of and finally found a nice green fabric that could have been dyed parachute silk which was a common dress fabric at the time (see I really did my research on this). My mum did most of the actual dress making which left me time to source accessories. I found some cute T-bar shoes really easily and to my luck found a lovely waist belt with a vintage metal detail at the front. I tried to find a hat but the ones I liked were all outside of my price range unfortunately. However, with the dress, shoes, belt and some fabulous seamed stockings I felt the part! Some victory roles in my hair, pearl earrings and a flash of red lipstick and I was good to go! The other girls looked lovely too and the boys looked handsome in their shirts, braces and ties. I think more men should go out dressed like this, I am so over the jeans and t-shirt look, give me a man in a shirt and braces (not hipster ones though) any day!

The night itself was really good! I would totally recommend The Blitz Party events. There was a choice of live vintage music, special cocktails with charming barmen, the loos were clean and had dressing tables with mirrors with light bulbs around to add some extra glamour. The whole party was under bridge arches in London much to the displeasure of the pigeons that lived there who looked a little disgruntled at the whole affair. All the guests looked wonderful in their outfits and, while dancing along to Glenn Miller, it was hard to remember that we were actually in 2013 not 1944.

We spent the night in one of the nicest hostels I have ever been in and we got some brilliantly confused looks as we arrived back from the night out in full 1940s garb with one too many champagne cocktails making us dizzy. All in all it was a great night and I would totally go again!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Death of a Student

Hi all,

RIP student 
Yes I know, I said I was going to write more regularly and it didn’t happen but I got swept up with a dissertation and then revision and my final final exams ever of my degree.  It’s now all finished, I am no longer a student and there’s nothing more I can do except wait the 3 weeks till the results are published and I can know what all my hard work has amounted to: scary.

The dissertation was frustrating but I actually really enjoyed writing it. The frustration came from poor communication within the faculty and the Easter holidays getting in the way but I got it finished and handed in and I’m fairly happy with it. It was the kind of project that if I had a million years then it would take me that long. There was always something more I could do so I had to draw the line somewhere. I’m hoping the markers think it has worth too. I think the findings are worth putting forwards for publishing however it currently is 10,000 words plus references so given that most journals require articles between 1000-4000 it would need some streamlining to get it ready to publish. Something to pursue when I have some time I don’t need. Oh my other paper is still under review…. So that’s nearly 6 months now.

The testing system
After the dissertation deadline I dove straight into revision for my final 3 exams. My course is heavily weighted on exam performance which I think is a little unfair as this gives an advantage to those who can perform well in a written medium under pressure. It what circumstance would it be required that a scientist write an essay on a surprise topic without looking anything up? Maybe if all books were lost due to a book eating mould epidemic combined to the internet being lost due to the machines rising up or something. In that instance then yes spontaneous encyclopaedic scientific knowledge would be fantastic. But until then it seems a little backwards to test the scientific minds of the future this way.

Regardless of its value as a testing technique it is the one I was faced with. The last month of my degree was spending 10+ hours a day writing up notes and then trying to shove them into my brain. If eating my text books would have helped then I would have, at least I would have enough fibre! The exams all went fairly well and there was nothing that I totally had no clue about which was reassuring. I think possibly that these are the exams that I felt most relaxed about at the time. This might be because I was well prepared or it might have been because I used up all my emotional expenditure and didn’t have any more worry or stress to feel about it.

I sat my last exam yesterday so now have a week left of my accommodation contract that I can relax and enjoy my last uni days with. Today hasn’t been much of a holiday though. Unlike the glorious sunshine I have been ignoring though revision, this morning I woke up to grey skies and rain showers. So I’ve spent the day watching films and doing laundry. The laundrette machines are a little temperamental and I got one that didn’t drain so all my clothes came out soaking wet. I split them between two tumble driers and it’s still taken two 50 min cycles for each one to be dry (I hope, I am writing this while I am waiting for the second dry cycle  to finish).  Tomorrow will be my big celebration of completion of my degree. My housemates and I are going to London for a huge D-day party organised by the blitz party people. A couple of months ago my housemates and I went to the union’s version of a 1940’s blitz party and it was amazing. It was only in the small venue on campus but it was packed. The live band was amazing, the burlesque dancer was a great touch and we had a fantastic time sipping martinis and enjoying the ambiance. So tomorrow night we are all off to London for a full scale venue and party. My mother was a star and helped me pick out a suitable dress pattern, fabric and make a proper 40s style dress. Ok she did all of the actual making of the dress but I found the pattern and we had a great day out finding fabric for it!

I am fairly sad that I had to put my life on hold and miss out on some fairly important events because of these exams. Mainly one of my good friends from 6th form got married and I couldn’t go because it was in between my exams so it really wasn’t possible. I’ve seen some of the photos though and it looked like a lovely ceremony and reception. It was lovely sunshine and just by the beach so perfect for them, I just wish I could have seen it myself.

It’s a bit odd thinking that my degree is over. What now? I’m trying to find a job and have a few really exciting prospects for the future so watch this space! It’s going to be interesting moving on to the next phase of my life, after defining myself as a student for the last 4 years it’s going to be difficult to shake the identity and become an “adult”. When I came out from my last exam there was a cloud of very mixed reactions. Some people burst into tears, I’m not sure of joy or of sadness, maybe they were joys of relief that they could stop revising and get on with living their lives? Some people instantly went to the pub and ordered as many drinks as possible. I sat in the sunshine with some others from my course with a couple of bottles of champagne enjoying feeling warm sunshine and bubbly tipsiness. I’m not sure what I felt really. Relief? Disbelief? Anxiety? I think my brain enjoyed not thinking anything for a change and shut down for a little bit.

But now I am free as a bird (ish) I will write all the ideas I have had mingling around in my head for a while. I have been keeping a post it of ideas on my desktop for the last few weeks, so watch out for a few more posts soon.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Evolution of a Student

So I know I haven’t written in a few weeks but I have been busy! I’ve been keeping a list of things that I wanted to write about so be prepared to hear about all of them within a short amount of time!

Last night I went to the first of my end of year balls. It was the colours ball to celebrate the sports clubs and achievements made this year at uni. It was held at Epsom downs race course and a record number of people attended. I think over 500 students were all loaded up onto coaches in their ball dress and transported from campus to the lovely venue. The room was lovely, the award ceremony wasn’t as dull as I was expecting, the food was great and the band was well rehearsed. Drinks were a little pricey but what do you expect?

The one thing that was painfully obvious was who was a first year and who was a final year. its strange to think that just a few short years can make so much difference but they do! First years were, by in large, a little too drunk and crossing over into obnoxious. Maybe it’s the novelty of being at uni and being able to attend ceremonies like this one that makes them gain an over inflated sence of importance? This wouldn’t be much of a problem as I can cope with being walked through a few times (even though I was 6ft 2 and bright blue) but when I had to rescue a girl from a guy who had literally just picked her up without her consent and was wandering off with her it gets a little concerning. I don’t think the guy was doing it to be malicious or sinister, I think he was genuinely unaware that the girl didn’t want to be picked up because he was too drunk. He didn’t even seem to notice when the girl slapped him harder than an eastenders cliff hanger!

As the night went on more and more boys were getting rowdy and unaware of the disturbances they were causing and more and more girls heals appeared on tables as heals began to hurt and were abandoned. There were even some people asleep at tables by the end of the night! I’m totally not against having a good time. I did! I drank, I danced, I was happy. But when people are crashing out before the end of a night or causing a nuisance that’s sad. Not knowing their limits cost them a good night.

However as I mentioned earlier it seemed to be predominantly the younger members in attendance that were having these issues. I remember being a first year and thinking I was grown up and in control but if these first years are anything to go by then I must have done a lot of growing up in the 3 years since then! I wish there was a way to go back and talk to a younger me, just to see how different I was then. I don’t feel I have changed that much but I have lived it gradually so that lots of little unnoticeable changes have accumulated to make a marked difference.

On one hand it’s embarrassing to think I was once one of the first years probably making a nuisance of myself but on the other hand it’s nice to know that I have progressed enough to notice it. Having to organise my work more with increasing demands on my time and going through placement year seem to have made me do some growing up! Having to get a job and a mortgage and all that sort of grown up stuff still scares me, but I’ve clearly done some maturing already so maybe it’s not so scary after all!

1st year, 2nd year and final year
Ok I can't grow the beard but you get what I mean

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Out of shape

Having been back in England from Australia for 8 months now it’s starting to hit me how much effect the different lives have on me, both mentally and physically.

In Australia I had a 9-5 job which meant that I had the weekends and the evenings free to do what I wanted; whereas, in the UK I have a full time degree in final year which takes up about 50-70 hours a week alone.
Most recently I have noticed a shift in the level of fitness I have. When I was living in Australia I could afford a gym membership and enough time and energy to go at least twice a week. Some days I would wake up at 7 and have enough time to go to the gym for an hour before work. This might have something to do with the weather though. In Australia I would wake up at 7 and it would be warm and sunny and everyone else in the city was already up and about having breakfast or walking the dog anyway! In England when you wake up at 7am it’s usually dark and cold and raining which is not the most enticing weather to get you out of bed in the morning. Also now when I come home from uni I need to write coursework or read papers etc. before falling into bed absolutely shattered each evening, whereas in Australia I had the evenings to myself and could do whatever I wanted! And because it was usually still nice, I would go out, see friends, go for a run, and do something! So in Australia I was pretty active, I could run for miles and I put on some muscle so much so that when my mother skyped me 4 months in her first response was: you look like you’ve put on weight!

But now I am back in England and having the time or the money for the gym is out of reach. Last week I did reach a gym for a day as part of a spa day package. But when I set the machines up to my usual settings it was much harder than before and I could only manage 2 sets not 3 and even then I was cheating sometimes. My running shocked me more as I could only run a couple of hundred meters before feeling out of breath and after half a kilometre I had to slow back down to walking. I used to be able to run for about 3km before starting to struggle and that was less than a year ago! Today it was over 10 degrees for the first time in ages! It was actually 18 degrees and it felt lovely! I went to my wardrobe and pulled out a pair of knee length denim shorts that I haven’t seen since in months. I went to put them on and could only just manage to squeeze my butt into them! I thought, that can’t be right so went to get the scales and I’ve lost 5kg! I’m sure there are some miracle people that manage to earn a degree and maintain a training programme but I didn’t think that my fitness would drop this quickly.

I’ve noticed a change in my mental state too as since coming back to the UK is that I have less energy and enthusiasm than in Australia. Maybe I’m solar powered? More likely it’s a mild form of seasonal affective disorder but still. Combined with the much higher mental demand of my work I now welcome bedtime and curse the alarm when it wakes me up in the morning and spend the day in a slumped coma. It’s like being an old helium balloon; I used to be perky and ready to go but now I’m saggy and just bob along a few feet off the floor.

So I must conclude that being in England makes me fatter, lose muscle and drains my energy and enthusiasm?! I’m sure that can’t be right. Its shouldn’t be right anyway. I refuse to believe that being in the UK is bad for me. It’s where I was born; it’s where most of my family was born so surely I should be adapted to living here? I think I’m going to make more of an effort to be perky and I’ve found a free set of fitness videos to help me claw back some of my fitness. Wish me luck!

It's not a competition to which country is better for your health

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ego Shield

Just a short post today but I wanted to share with you two things that have crossed my path in the last 2 days that have struck a chord with me. They are from completely different sources and backgrounds but when combined have given me some strength.

The first is the notion of Wabi-Sabi: A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. Isn’t that poetically beautiful? It’s a Japanese Buddhist idea focussing on one of the three marks of existence: impermanence. It encourages finding beauty in every relationship you have, whether that relationship is with another person, an animal, a thing, anything at all! I think it’s a great perspective and would be a good way to find a silver lining in things that are sad, disappointing and upsetting.

This might be a bit overkill to protect me
(p.s. the least sexist female knight drawing I could find)
The second is a lyric from a pink song. Well, I told you they were different! It’s from crystal ball – “I'm learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes.” I think there is so much stress on people to be perfect and not make mistakes that it can become overwhelming when we don’t get things right the first time. Failing exams now hinders a career progression so significantly that students will literally make themselves sick with study just to get a good pass. Failing relationships are much more of a shock to the ego than they should be. There are billions of people on the planet, it’s so statistically impossible that you will find someone you can spend the rest of your life with on the first few tries and yet a bad break up will cripple even the strongest of egos. Failing to meet expectations from your boss, or your parents or even yourself now incurs a huge penalty most of the time and this really is unfair. 

I don’t know about you but I’m still human so I do make mistakes. I’ve made a lot and I will probably make a lot more! Therefore I'm going to need a way to protect myself from getting hurt each time. So rather than adopt full battle armour at all times; my new ego shield is going to be these two notions. I should be brave and find beauty in my imperfections. This doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon all blame when things go wrong and stop attempting to avoid failure but if it happens then it’s not the end of the world.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Observations of London

Right I promised I would write something funny over the Easter break but inspiration is not being kind today so I wanted to share with you some observations I had on a recent trip into London.

It wasn’t a social trip, it was for a job testing day that went as well as I could have done but they still didn’t want me for (oh well). But the point is; it wasn’t a social trip.

Observation number 1: Why does being in London at 1pm mean I have to leave the house at 9? I mean really, I don’t live that far from London, so much so that on the fast train I can go from the station here to central London in less than half an hour. So why does it take 4 hours?! I’ll tell you why: all the other transports.

The buses here are a little temperamental. Last week I was on a bus that was so late, the driver got half way through the route and decided to wait for 5 mins at one stop so he was so late that he became the later bus! So I wanted to be at the bus stop with enough time for a plan B if the bus never showed (15 mins).

I arrived at the bus stop where the bus route starts so had no trouble getting a seat. However, being a bus that goes through campus, it’s rather popular with people getting to lectures. I always walk to campus but there is a certain population of students that insist on avoiding the 20 min walk and spending an extortionate amount of money getting the bus every day. Observation number 2: Why do so many people take the bus to campus? At the student bus stop about 100 students were waiting to get on this single deck bus. Why were they all there? How did they think they were all getting on this bus? What was the point? The bus driver took more passengers than he should have and fitted about two thirds of the students onto the bus. Now I felt like a sardine. These people are just being lazy and I had somewhere important to be that was much too far away to walk to. I needed the bus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more irritated by people that take the 5 min bus drive down the road to the gym. That seems really retarded. You pay money, for the bus to save you the exercise of taking you to the place where you pay more money to exercise!?! Am I the only one that thinks that’s bonkers?

I’m off topic. The bus to get to the station takes about half an hour, and the whole way I was sitting next to a girl who was blasting out angry girl rock music from her standard issue iPod headphones. Which is observation number 3: why do people think it’s acceptable to listen to music so loud that I can learn the lyrics just by sitting next to them? People listen to music in crowded places or while traveling because it increases their personal space and calms them down by being something familiar. More often than not, it’s just so they can zone out and be oblivious to the rest of the world. Unfortunately the rest of the world finds it very irritating and encroaching on their own personal space. So therefore is comfort something that has to be stolen? Like dirt there has to be a certain amount of agitation in a given place and even if you wash off your own anxiety, it goes down the drain and hits the person sitting next to you on the bus. I hope not, but be that as it may I was rather annoyed by the girl listening to angsty teen girl rock.

The bus doesn’t come at a convenient time for me to get the quick train so I have to wait at the station for half an hour after I got off the bus (1h 15 mins). When I went to buy a ticket only the machines were working so I set off to talk to a machine. Observation number 4: Why are ticket machines so unclear? The guy in front of me was having issues getting to the airport so asked me for help and I realised the issue was he didn’t know which airport he was going to. He had his ticket and soon I had shown him how to buy a ticket to Heathrow. So I was feeling smug that I had done a good deed and I was technologically literate. I shouldn’t have thought this. When I tried to buy my ticket I could have sworn there was a way to get a return to London with a combined day pass with zone 1. Could I get this machine to do it? No. after several mins and a queue forming behind me I bought a return to London and had to buy a day pass when I got there.

As I was on the train watching the countryside whoosh by in the sunshine I was struck with observation number 5: It is a beautiful day. It really was! It was blue skies with just the right amount of fluffy white clouds but it was still cold enough to be crisp. I love it when I can wear sunglasses and see my breath. It makes me feel like I can take on the world but I have no idea why.  

I finally got the train into London (1h 45mins) and then, as a reward, I had to play on the tube. I am one of the rare people that really enjoys taking the tube. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually live in London so on the rare occasion that I have to use the tube it’s because I am going somewhere out of the ordinary. Although my love for underground trains is something that stayed with me while I was living in both Frankfurt and Sydney so maybe it isn’t London specific. Frankfurt was freezing cold though the months I lived there and the underground was always so warm and dry. In Sydney I loved being so independent and that I could just jump on a train and suddenly be at bondi beach or on my way into the mountains. I think I must have built up such a strong association with underground stations and positive things like day trips and warmth that now, even the soft smell of oil on the breeze will make me smile. Wow I really have gone off on one about how much I love the tube, that’s totally not the point here. Anyway, once I had bumbled about on the tube (2h 30 mins) I finally get to the closest tube stop to my testing centre.

This wasn’t a part of town I had been to before and I had assumed that it would have some cute looking places to eat. It didn’t. It had a Starbucks that was heaving with people and it had a privately owned little deli. Not wanting to battle with the Starbucks junkies I took the deli, this was a mistake. It was dark and rather tacky but there was only one guy in front of me so I stood there and chose a chicken and spinach sandwich with a soy latte take away. Now I made a rooky error. I chose from the menu, not by what looked good in the counter. I was expecting chicken and spinach, no; I got white congealed gunge with green strings in it. I presume it was chicken chunks and mayo and spinach but it seemed like someone had eaten it already and although it tasted ok, I wasn’t happy. The coffee was burnt too. So I sat on a bench wondering how best to dispose of this sandwich and mused upon observation number 6: Is it wrong to give a homeless man the half of your sandwich you don't want? There was a guy sitting outside the tube stop when I came out that was clearly homeless. I could go back and give him the half of my vom-wich that was untouched. If it was a whole sandwich then yea of course it would be acceptable but half a sandwich is definitely rubbish and therefore am I implying that the man eats rubbish? I decided I could do with all the good karma I could get that day so I went back to find the man but he was gone so I never really concluded if that’s inappropriate or not (3h 15 mins).

I then set about finding the place I was actually meant to be at. Armed with my smartphone with GPS I wandered around trying to find the street I was looking for. But it wasn’t there. It was a huge great long road according to my phone but all I could find was a little side street that seemed to go nowhere. After 15 mins of exhausting all other options I took a punt at the side street and hoped I could run in my new shoes if I needed to. It turned out that I was meant to be down the side street after all and I found the building with 15 mins to spare! I talked to a lovely security guard, got taken up to the 3rd floor and signed in with some other nervous looking 20 somethings (3h 45 mins).

The testing day was fairly straight forward. There were three tasks each with a 10 min break in between them. There was about 20 of us in a group each working with a computer. One guy had chosen to work with headphones in listening to his own music, however unlike the girl on the bus I could not hear his music but I could hear him muttering and chewing his gum loudly!!!! How obnoxious is that?! I wasn’t the only one who found it so as the guy in between me and obnoxious muttering gum chewer guy asked to be moved as it was too distracting. But in the process of asking to be moved this middle guy brought the issue to the attention of the entire room. You know when you can’t hear anything and then someone goes: can you hear that ticking, suddenly the ticking is all you can think about? Well that’s what the entire room was feeling at this point. Observation number 7: everyone despises the guy who mutters and chews gum. Come on people, don’t be that guy!

The breaks were very brief but as each task was over an hour long they were welcomed with open arms. There was a kitchen with self-serve refreshments of tea, coffee and a big bowl of biscuit packets. Observation number 8: Crappy biscuits are a godsend. Without these biscuits I don’t know what I would have done. I didn’t see them in the first break but noticed a guy with a packet when we got back to the testing room. The next break I was all over the biscuits and so were the other candidates. I wasn’t lucky enough to find a chocolate pack but I did find a jammy pack which was nearly as good.

The testing day ended and everyone dispersed to make their journeys home. I liked that throughout the day no one had made a farce about telling everyone their name, and at the end there was no exchanging of numbers or promises to catch up later. It was professional; everyone got in, did their thing and then got out. I left feeling quite exhausted from the testing and strolled back to the tube. In a rare gap in the tall buildings around me I caught a glimpse of the gherkin all lit up in pinks and purples with the inky blue sky behind it. Which brought me to my final observation of the day: no matter how hard your day is you still have to stop and take a second to look at something beautiful.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Too tall for the real world

So recently I undertook one of the hardest tasks that faces a woman; I tried to find new jeans. Any woman out there unless blessed with the perfect figure or a personal seamstress will know the pain that is trying to find jeans that fit. Issues with how much your thighs curve and how much smaller your waist is than hour hips can cause a personal nightmare designed to torment and torture every woman. Levi have come up with a system of measuring you that puts you into one of three categories; slight curve for the straight up and down girls, demi curve for the moderately shaped or bold curve for the more curvy among us. This seems a brilliant idea as that is one of the things that irritates me most about jeans, I always have miles too much of waistband to have jeans that are comfy over my thighs. I don’t class myself as a large girl as a size 10 in jeans so where are all these women with tiny thighs that jeans companies think exist?! Maybe I just have a small waist but it is irritating to have to match a belt into every outfit. Especially since practical, holding you jeans up belts are hard to find now.

Anyway that’s not the point. I was resigned to my fate of having to wear a belt to prevent the dreaded “baggy bum syndrome” that comes from your jeans falling down, but I was hit with a new issue: length. I’ve always been tall and grew to about 5ft 8 when I was 12! At that height I could get away with standard length 32 inch jeans but for some inexplicable reason, last year I grew again. Another 2 inches makes me 5ft 10 and far too short for 32 inch jeans. Off to town I went in search for some new longer jeans. Could I find anywhere that stocked anything other than 30 or 32s? No. I could find 28s but nothing for a taller girl (Debenhams apparently have 34s in their shops but I couldn’t find any nice ones in stock).]

Defeated I returned home. Well, I say defeated but I came home with some great midi length dresses which come to around my knees which is brilliant since the mini dresses barely cover my bum most of the time! So modesty restored but still no jeans. I turned to the internet and found that new look do 34 and 36 inch jeans online. Perfect. I ordered two pairs of 34s which are…. adequate. I think maybe a 36 would have been better as the 34s are only just passable in length and the waist band is HUGE on the hipsters (the high waisted ones are a little better however) but they are jeans that sort of fit. I won’t go into the sizeist attitude that both jeans and boot companies have about the diameter of my calves, that’s another rant for another time.

Anyway the point is; how was I able to find 28 inch jeans on the high street but had to resort to online for anything longer than a 32? I was feeling a little fragile and it doesn’t take much to plant the idea that I am freakishly tall in my head, so this was rather disheartening and bad for my self-esteem.  It doesn’t help that I seem to make friends with the shorties in the world too. All bar one of my girlfriends at uni are between 4 inches and 10 inches shorter than me so I spend my time feeling like a giant that clumps around getting in everyone’s way.

So I turned to the internet (since the real world had decided I was too tall for it) and I found a bunch of blogs from women with exactly the same predicament; how to fit in to a world that you were too tall for. And it was brilliant! All of them had put a huge two fingers up to the world and decided to embrace being tall and make it work for them. I started with all the tall things written by 6ft Laura ( which is a great every day blog where tall girls write in with their photos and shopping finds. They share my enthusiasm for midi length skirts and dresses and will be my shopping guide from now on!

From there I started to branch out and I came across a blog called long leggy lovin it! ( which is about 6ft 2 BAM (her initials) and is all about her new finds and outfits, and while she is talking about American shops, it’s good to see how she pairs things together and the styles that work on a taller frame. Similarly is elevated style blog from 5ft 10 Kathy ( which is again in America but a good mix of her ideas and tall celeb fashion.

However if celebs are what you are after then you will be better off with pretty tall style which has a great spread from resent award ceremonies ( but 6ft 4 Tanasha also throws in whatever seems to be on her mind from some yummy looking recipes to pretty views.

Representing the really really tall is 6ft 6 Alicia Jay who runs tall swag ( which is a great mix of suggestions which is a really professional looking blog. I loved that she had side tabs linking to recommended shops for certain clothes, so I went straight to the jeans tab but sadly I think they were all American shops. Likewise with the height of style (Im loving all the puns these blogs have in their names) ( from 6ft 4 Kacy who has a great eye for finding the unusual and unique but is on the wrong continent for me.

But there you go! Within an hour on the internet I had found 6 blogs empowering the tall and banishing all my feelings of social rejection. So thanks ladies! I will finish with a link to a song that was on all the tall things about being a tall girl and I played on repeat till I knew all the lyrics off by heart!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Return to being a human being

Back to my life out of the revision ashes

So hooray my exams are over and I hope they have gone well. I now just have to forget about them for a couple of months while they mark them and get our transcripts ready. This does mean that I can get back to living my life and being a human being not just a revision robot. This weekend alone I have so many coffee plans, celebrating Australia day and a friend’s birthday which has been dubbed “the alcomoholympics”.  Now I’ve gone off getting drunk simply for the reason that its Friday or whatever, but celebrating the epitome of my year in Australia is something very worthwhile, and as the “natives” (the Australians, not the aboriginals) use this day to sit in a pool and drink crap beer; we should honour their tradition! We might give the pool a miss though, as there is still snow on the ground that might be a little silly. The alcomoholymics should be fun too. We are going in teams in national dress and will compete in all manner of silly alcohol related games. I am probably going representing Antarctica. Now I know a) Antarctica isn’t in the real Olympics and b) penguins definitely don’t compete but it would be much more fun if they did!

            So having spent the best part of a month hidden away in my room trying to get as much knowledge into my brain I now have renewed perspective and motivation to cease the day and make everything count while you can! Because there are moments where you won’t be able to. Having said this I have spent the last hour cleaning my room because it hasn’t been done in a while. I will cease the day afterwards.

            Also there have been so many things that I haven’t been able to deal with properly and I need to catch up on now that I have a little gasp of free time. Friends that I usually am in daily contact with have been ignored, birthdays have been cast aside, calling my parents has been put off, January sales have been cruelly forbidden, nights out have been out of the question (I missed superheroes and villains night!) and possibly most excitingly; a friend got engaged and I wasn’t able to make a huge deal out of it! Well now I can! Hi friends! Happy birthday you! Mum ill call soon honest! Sale shopping has been scheduled for Friday! Nights out are back on the menu! And MAJOR congratulations so one of the loveliest girls ever and what I’m sure is an outstanding gentleman and now her future husband (haven’t met him yet…..) But that is also scary that I am now of an age where getting engaged is acceptable and even being pregnant is a happy thing rather than a life shattering thing. When did that happen?! Must have snuck up on me.

            Anyway I am looking forwards to getting back to living my life and getting back to the hectic mix of uni, extra courses, job applications, exercise, friends, family and anything else that I decide is a good idea at the time! I’ll let you know what happens! 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Military Precision and Fabulous Footwear!

My new shoes

So it’s revision o’clock in my little world at the moment with all those with exams coming up (which unfortunately includes myself) hermitting themselves away to try and learn as much as possible about their subjects.  You would have thought after 18 years in education that we would have learnt how to deal with the stress of exams by now, for goodness sake; our education is old enough to drink! But still, term after term we all fall to pieces over the opportunity to show what we have learnt. It’s all a bit silly really. It’s why we are here learning; so we can take the exam and get the qualification and move on to the next thing.

The trouble is, the UK education system is a bit like total wipe out: you have to complete each stage but if you fall off then you have to go waste time getting back to the course and start from the beginning. The slimily continues as, if you ever want to succeed in having a career then you have to out compete everyone else and be the fastest, strongest, smartest there is. The trouble is that there are so many people playing the game that it seems almost impossible that you will reach the finals or even win!

Career plan
It’s a dog eat dog world out there, especially in the current economic climate (Why do people call it an economic climate? It’s not a climate, it’s more like an economic tornado; you get swept up in it and you don’t have a clue where you will end up!) But be that as it may, the stress of exams that may potentially alter the rest of your life, affects us all. Well nearly all of us, I once lived with a guy who did no revision and instead spent the whole time playing star trek online and got the best grades out of all of us! So freaks of nature aside, stress is an issue.

We all have out coping mechanisms, some more healthy than others. I am currently sitting in my gym leggings, a mens t-shirt and my brand new Kurt Geiger platform heels. They help. They really do! I don’t care if that makes me shallow but wearing heals makes me feel more powerful and therefore reduces my stress levels. I also have a cup of tea, a pilates routine and a revision schedule that would put most battle plans to shame! This is how I cope.

I’m not suggesting that everyone revises with military precision and fabulous footwear, that might stress out some people more! I have friends that work on a 25 min working 5 min break cycle, I have friends that practically move to the library and spend all their time there and I have friends that ignore everything and spend as much time drunk as possible to avoid the nagging guilt that they should be working. The last one isn’t so good for effective revision FYI.

But this is more a shout out to everyone who is stressed from exams or anything else! Take some time to calm down and work out what makes you happy and confident enough to tackle whatever it is. Good luck!