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Archive for December, 2009

In reverse order, so you don’t get worn out by the home-related words, of which there will be many:

I’ve been rather sick for the last week. First was a head cold that I caught from Jed. Overall rather mild, didn’t need to take time off work, but still sniffles and fuzzy headed not as good as being well.

Then on Thursday I spent the day in bed (and the neighbouring bathroom) with a stomach bug. Thankfully it was a 24 hour bug, but my stomach has been very delicate since. Eating has been problematic, with my energy spiking and crashing ever since whenever I eat (or don’t for too long). Not very fun, but I’ve had this happen before and know what to watch out for.  Hopefully it will even out while we’re in Devon and in time for Christmas. Being fed regularly might help, rather than the ad hoc eating patterns Jed and I have on weekends.

The interview last Wednesday, so you can all stop crossing fingers, etc. The  job was quite similar to the one that I had in Sydney, that I enjoyed immensely. I walked away from the interview thinking it had gone reasonably well. Felt I’d stated my case as a desirable employee, my knowledge of waste infrastructure projects and experience in case managing them, and that I’d built a rapport with the Chief Operating Officer. As long as I was what they were looking for then I’d be fine.

I received an email on Thursday stating that I’d not been successful. In the midst of being sick this didn’t really register, but since then I’ve been feeling a quite lost and despondent. Not sure where I belong or what I’m doing or where to go from here. Income is not an issue (yet) as my current employers keep renewing my contract. But, it is increasingly apparent that the team I’m working for does not fit my workstyle. Almost detrimental to my confidence and sanity in many ways. I need something else. But if it’s not a job with London’s Waste and Recycling Board then I’m a bit lost where my skills and knowledge are needed, where I should be targeting. What to do as a small fish in a large pond.

I’ve been feeling this very strong urge to run back to Sydney (and take Jed with me) and beg DECC for a job again, for the security and stability I had in Sydney. If only this was feasible. Perhaps I need to learn to live with a modicum of uncertainty and instability?

They’ve invited me to call to discuss the decision, which I will do on Monday (if there’s time after the drive to Devon) or Tuesday. I’d really like to know the basis for the decision, if there’s something I’m overlooking during interviews, or whether it was simply that there were more qualified candidates that pipped me to the post.

Right then, HOUSE

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This has been sitting in draft form since 5 December. I finally have the brain space to finish it. Enjoy!

1. Power plugs in bathrooms – as in there aren’t any, anywhere in that room, except for an electric  shaver plug, which is the wrong voltage for any other appliance. I thought it was just our house, but after checking 8 other rental properties, and asking the (real) estate agent, it seems this is standard.

Gah! I can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and not actually disturb my sleeping bf. Can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and be able to easily sweep up the hair that falls out.

Why is it that men can have their grooming item in the bathroom where the mirror is, but women can’t? This extends to straighteners, and curlers as well as hair dryers. Why allow one type of electricity and not another?

I’m assuming it’s a health and safety thing, not wanting electric appliances to fall into baths. But, seriously!? Some of the risk averse practices of this country are very confusing to me. (Which reminds me of a conversation I want to have with Poki at some stage, about the difference between a nanny state and a risk averse society, and which comes first, since they’re both in existence here)

 2. Changing power cables – In contrast to the previous item, it seems extremely common and acceptable that people change the power cables on their appliances. Extend their length, shorten them, change the plug type if necessary. Something I’ve never seen anyone do in Australia, except a flatmate who was a trained electrician, nor have I heard anyone discussing it as something they’d do on the weekend.

This seems rather dangerous to me, although I am assured it’s relatively stratightforward.

3. Dogs on trains – all dogs are allowed on trains, not just guide dogs. It’s odd. I sat next to a couple the other day who had their small (yappy-type) dog in the woman’s lap. The dog insisted on attempting to eat the chewing gum under the table. I’ve even seen them on some local buses.

I think this is firmly in the “different” category. I can see issues with the practice, people with dog allergies for instance, but I can also see benefits, being able to take your dog to a large park/forest and give it a chance to run around.

4. Plastic Surgery – It seems to be more accepted and more prevalent here. Whereas in Sydney, I was vaguely aware that some people, somewhere, had plastic surgery, it was no-one I knew. The attitude of the people I hung out with was that it was mostly the middle-aged women who had a certain image to maintain and a disposable income, and why would you put yourself through it. Such a vain thing to do. And more an American thing.

However, here, half the classified sections in the back of fashion magazines are full page ads for plastic surgery clinics, 3-5 pages worth. Which gives me the impression that plastic surgery is more acceptable and more common.

Thinking about it further, perhaps it’s the difference in gender politics between the 2 countries. A number of sources agree with me, that Australia tends to be more gender neutral, you’re worth is judged on your personality, knowledge and competencies, regardless of your gender. This is less of the case here, gender matters, although it’s very difficult to point out to British friends what triggers this. It’s subtle, but I’ve never been so aware of being a woman and the role that I should therefore fulfil and what I am and am not allowed to be and do. This also translates into greater pressure to look good at all times. (NB, British men, particularly those over the age of 40, similarly have much more restricted concept of what it is to be male, and how they should and should not behave, than the Australian men of the same age that I have had dealings with).

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Following hot on the heels of moving house, is my second interview for a fantastic job. Which is this afternoon. If I get it then that’s two of my major life stabilisers in place in one month. It feels like this is it, for all sorts of reasons.

Since we don’t have internet at home yet, and work has been busy, I’ve not had much time for internet communication. What spare time I have had has involved research into London’s waste and recycling situation.

Hopefully this should all stabilise out tomorrow.

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What a week! It’s generated it’s own Things That Are Weird post (forthcoming), on estate agents and renting in general. I’m a veteran renter, but this was well outside my experience, quite confusing and stressful.

But first (finally) the weather: Winter has hit. At least the start of it has. After a very mild, quite lovely Autumn it has turned to a cold and rainy winter.

I’m sure you’ve read about the downpour that hit parts of the UK. None of that was near us, it was much further north and west. I don’t think any of it affected Jed’s parents either, as they are rather high up, despite flood warnings in their county.

Nevertheless it has been wet. Reminding me of those horrible wet weeks you get in June in Sydney, where it doesn’t stop raining for days. Where you have to avoid puddles and running water in the streets. Where you will get saturated if you are out in the rain for more than 4 minutes, despite your umbrella. Add to this the cold temperatures, it was reasonably horrible. Thank goodness for central heating.

Luckily there was one clear day in the midst of all this rain, on the day we moved. It was cold, but all our stuff stayed dry, and we warmed up once the lifting and carrying started.

Which brings me to the move. Sheesh! Well, to be fair the move itself went smoothly, thanks in a large part to the help of Poki and DiscoDoris at short notice.Tthe majority of our stuff was into the house at 3.30 in the afternoon, and we had a bed set up in time to sleep.

The sheesh! part is our estate agents. At 5.30 pm on Monday, the day our lease in the Redhill was up and we had to move somewhere, they finally agreed to let us sign the lease so we could move. After a month of miscommunication, loss of paperwork, conflicting information about what would be required, and the most rigorous background check I have ever been through I was about ready to shoot someone when they decided that yes, by statement of savings would be sufficient to give us a 6 month lease in case one of us lost our income. GAH! After I’d been expressly told a week earlier that this was not possible as “I might spend it on a car tomorrow” – OR I might decide having somewhere to live is more important than a car!?

It was horrible, we were facing the possibility of continuning to live in Redhill in a less than ideal situation for another couple of months until I could secure permanent work OR staying in a friend’s spare room for the same period of time, with most of our stuff in boxes.

But now it is all wonderful, (if you ignore the half unpacked boxes in each room).  My kitchen is unpacked, out of the boxes it went into back in January. My plates, and my cutlery, and teatowels, and serving dishes and… yay! The kitchen itself is slim, and doesn’t have loads of storage, but it is lovely, usable and well-lit. You can see what you are washing up. It reminds me a bit of the house in Glenhaven, the one in Chelmsford St and my sister’s former apartment in Chiswick.

The bedroom is very large, almost too large, although I’m sure that will be less of an issue once we have everything in and arranged properly. There’s space for a bed for L, which we’ll be getting soonish. She’ll have the small alcove at the end of the room, which made her smile when I mentioned it. Possibly as it’s obviously a space unto itself, or that she’d been thought of already and included in the plans, or both, or something else. Whichever it’s a better situation for all of us for sleeping.

The bathroom is white, tiled, large and has a proper pressured hot shower with separate taps to control temperature. Not a dial. You don’t realise the things you take for granted until they are gone. My shoulders are telling me every morning how happy they are to be getting proper hot water pressure again. It’s a lot like the bathroom I had the last time I lived in Croydon (albeit in Sydney, not London), which was one of the things I liked about that house.

The living space is enough, not huge, but also not small, and is attached to the kitchen in a sort of open-plan way. It suits us well. There’s a large bay window with a door leading onto the private garden out the back.

All in all, it will do nicely for a while until we’re a lot more stable in other areas of our life and L needs a room to herself when she stays. Photos will follow once there’s no boxes to be part of the shot.

Let the next phase of this adventure commence! It should be a good one.

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