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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

I am realising/remembering tht one of the most difficult aspects of living in a new country is the isolation that occurs in the first period, while you rebuild the networks that seemed so effortless and normal in your home country. I know this eventually gets better, and it’s part of the process.

I can distinctly remember learning the Thai word for lonely early on in my year of exchange, and a sympathetic ‘aunt’ [1] who spent one afternoon telling me, and everyone else on my family’s compound that I was ngaow- (lonely).

It’s becoming apparent, now that things are settling down here, exactly how isolated and lonely I have been, which is difficult for a social creature such as myself. (more…)

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This is your 5 month warning:

My wonderful sister has decided to get married in late March next year, so I am going to be in Sydney again sooner than expected. With Jed.

Yay sister marrying fantastic guy! Yay March is one of my favourite times of the year in Sydney! Yay being able to see people that I’ve been missing lots! (apparently this is another Yay post – might need a new tag)

We’ve starting talking about what we want to do, and the major thing is – see people! We’ve not booked the tickets yet, but I imagine we’ll be there from around 21st March until about 4th April. So, make a note, find time for coffee/beer/lunch/amusing diversionary entertainment, I’ll probably organise at least one central pub-type gathering in Newtown (yay Newtown!)

Incidentally they’ve chosen a date that is exactly one year since I stepped on a plane. Spooky!

-I went through all the photos of my sister and I, and decided that this was the one that made us both look equally good, also it has the awwww factor appropriate for this post. This was my 30th brithday cake, as made by my sister, a replica of the one my mother made for my 1st birthday-

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So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.

This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.

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Yesterday I drafted a long post about the major lesson from last week, and how it relates to the 6 months prior to this. It’s really deep and revealing and emotional, but after the last 24 hours (go, go gadget crisis divorce negotiation as it applies to the meaning of life – I want that on my CV!) I’m all out of ability to plumb emotional depths.

The Plough, St Johns

This is where we had dinner on our one night off, Tuesday. There’s an Australian bar tender there. Surprise! Well, she was when she found out I was from Newtown. She’s from Wollongong.

So last week:
Was the week of parenting.
We had L with us every night except Tuesday, and all of the weekend. Exhausting! There were a couple of melt-downs from everyone, including me. At one stage I found L curled, hiding, up IN THE BOOKCASE, because her lego wasn’t working. We survived, no-one died, in fact we’re all a bit stronger for it, although rather tired and wanting to never, ever, do that again. (Same as we will never, ever go to McDonald’s for breakfast, despite the secret hopes of a 10yr old girl).

Was the week of Australian friends.
I saw Bec-Juliana, Sharon-Aeron and Mikki and Justin on Saturday. To say goodbye to Mikki and Justin before they move to NZ (sneef!), to have a much needed vent and rant with Bec about life and work and cultural clashes (and visit Kew Gardens for the 3rd time ever, I need a membership), and to pick Sharon up from the airport for her week in England. I’m seeing her for dinner again tonight.

Was the week of flash games.
Jed and I escaped the child crazy in various flash games. I’m posting this from work, so I’ll chuck a list of URLs in the comments if anyone else wants to try them out. Beware, they are all time sucks. Except the duck game. That was fun.

Was the week of cleaning.
One of my reactions to the week of parenting was to clean. Lots. It was probably also a delayed reaction to the flat-mate drama last week. Our bedroom is now cleaned and decluttered, half the kitchen got a good scrub-down and we started packing for the move.

Was the week of money stress.
We need a better plan/system. We’re working on it. Nuff said.

(I’ll post the long emotional post later under a different heading. Which is actually a better idea, it fits the “On Flying” theme rather than a weekly update)

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Happy faceOne of my favourite subjects!
(The photo at left is not something I ate this week, it’s an old photo, but, there were no photos this week as my camera is not working. Hopefully only needs new batteries)

There were lots of food experiences this week. Nom!

Monday was a bank holiday. I’ve just finished reading a series about an English woman who ends up living in Liguria, Italy, which was peppered with tasty food descriptions. So I couldn’t resist cooking up a meal of antipasti, and inviting some friends over to share.  Crumbed sardines, roasted marinated baby eggplants, cherry tomatoes filled with pesto, roasted zucchini/courgettes in tomato jus (which I made up from the scopped out cherry tomatoes centres), chorizo, pork pate, baby spinach leaf salad.

All accompanied with some griddle bread, which was suprisingly easy and very tasty. I made the dough up at 6 pm and let it sit while I finished the other dishes, then pulled off hunks of dough, flattened them by hand on the bread board and did two at a time in the fry pan. we ate at 7.30. They were still a bit moist and chewy in the middle, but cooked. I’d highly recommend this if you need something to accompany dipping type foods and don’t have any biscuits or breads to hand. (Note I put in much less salt than this recipe calls for. Salt is good in bread if you need to store it for some time, otherwise you can use much less).

Last night I did a roast chicken with veges and salads for another couple of friends, including home-made gravy. I’m now officially confident in my ability to make a really yummy roast dinner and will stop asking Jed if it’s tasty. I’ve always been really confident at cooking East Asian foods, thanks to the year in Thailand, and Italian foods, thanks to growing up in Sydney, but traditional English/French style foods were a bit of mystery to me. I used to call up my sister whenever I needed to do a lamb roast to ask her how long it needed to cook. However, as I now own a copy of The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander, having watched how a trained chef friend and her husband used to throw together a Saturday afternoon lunch this gap has mostly been filled, and cooked many roasts in this country, I am happy that I can turn out a very good roast and gravy.

Jed made (under my direction) a simple apple tart from apples that a colleague picked from her allotment tree. Not surprisingly they were really, really crisp and fresh. Also, not surprisingly there were a couple of worms inside the apples. Truly fresh and natural apples.  The planned tart turned into an upside down crumble as I forgot to defrost the shortcrust pastry and so we made a biscuit base instead. Still, really tasty.

There’s lots of apples left over, so I’m thinking baked pork with juniper berries and apples later in the week, as I found a recipe for that in the foraging book that Jed bought me. we have a cabbage to use up as well, to might try to become proficient at braised apple, cabbage and cider vinegar.

Otherwise, we tried out the other local Italian place on Thursday night and were happily impressed. Had supper with Scruffy and Bec in a hippy organic pub in Brighton on Saturday. (and had Domino’s pizza on Friday night, but don’t tell anyone. shhhh!)

While on the subject of food, here’s a list of food blogs that I regularly read, which you might find interesting, or a good source for recipes:

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Afternoon teaThankfully, in direct contrast to the previous week. The loveliness included:

Afternoon Tea (aka High Tea in Sydney, although I’m told that High Tea is actually much less fancy that afternoon tea) for the lovely flickgc’s birthday on Monday afternoon. I took two hours off work, overloaded on tea and sugary things, met some lovely people and participated in a lot of interesting conversation. Much needed social interaction. I was exhausted by the end of it, as I’ve not needed to use those social muscles in a while. Felt good though, had a wonderful time.

Also, I had my best “tea” voice on, so apparently I didn’t sound at all Australian for a few of the guests. Quite chuffed by this, as it means I still have good accent mimic skills and ability to pick up a language by osmosis, including dialects/variants of languages.

An interesting urgent project at work, which meant I had to rapidly absorb planning, water conservation and biodiversity plans. Got to take on an Us v Them mentality, which often helps me to get work done. Also had fun spreading large (A1) size maps over tables and plotting out major projects in our area, like a war strategy room. No small figurines though.

I’m still working on it, and it’s now becoming a drag, unfortunately. I’ve noticed that this place is very good at inital briefings, and then very bad at ongoing support and follow-up to make sure you’re on track and not having difficulties. This frustrates me as I feel that they don’t care, or that the need has been hyped and the task is actually not ‘urgent’ and then I feel undervalued. This seems to be an ongoing challenge for me.

I was reflecting on this today, what I want is to be trading my dedication and effort for money, not just time for money. Unfortunately at the moment it is most definitely time for money. On the plus side, I’m still waiting on news of the Civil Service job I had an interview for, which should be coming through sometime in the next 2 weeks. Perhaps that will improve my work life.

View over the Thames Dinner with Mikki in Putney for lovely catch-up chatson Wednesday. Photo at right is the view out the window of the pub we randomly found, after walking in the wrong direction for the one I’d found online.

We’re going to try to do these more regularly, as I need social contact, and she’s about to move to New Zealand. I know, I move halfway around the world and end up near my best friend from University and she promptly moves to New Zealand. At least it’s not personal, as this decision had been made before I told her I was moving.

Listening to a couple of bands on Saturday night with friends at the local, tiny pub. They were billed as metal bands, which I could cope with as long as they weren’t screamy-thrash metal, and the venue has an outdoor area if needed for escape. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find instead a more grunge/metal/funk style, which was fantastic. Jed bought the album.

poached eggs on toasted muffinsMy birthday on Sunday (yay!) was just perfect. We got up early-ish and trekked into London to go to brunch at the Pavilion in Victoria park. One of the things I have sorely missed here is a good Newtown style brunch. I’m pleased to say we found it! Picture of the perfect poached eggs at left, and the remains of the coffee.

You know you’ve found a good coffee/brunch venue when you’re told your normal style of coffee won’t work with their coffee blend and perhaps you’d like this other (little known, but actually the one you prefer but never ask for as it’s too hard to explain) style. Also, they had Bonsoy! And moorhens! And tables beside the lake! And people with dogs and children (not always together)! And wait staff who were stylish and cool, but also cared! And! And!

I was in heaven, in case you can’t tell.

Celebrations that evening in Balham with 7 unconnected friends who happened to be free to attend a very last minute drinks-and-dinner. Just the right amount of people. We found a fun Italian place, Cuitto’s, on Balham High Rd, which I’d recommend. Good food, fantastically friendly service, and a surprise piece of birthday tiramisu delivered after a whistle was blown so the entire tiny restaurant stopped and sang me Happy Birthday. Fun, thoughtful, and amusing.

Jed and I were quite gentle with each other all week. Designating quiet nights together, and more space and understanding for the other’s moods. Possibly the week before was our pent up emotions and stresses venting, and hence this week was a lot more even tempered and understanding. This included a lovely Friday evening where I made pork escalopes with elderberry sauce, made from the elderberries we picked on the common the previous Sunday. Very yummy! I’m having a great time with experimental cooking.

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I had this drafted in my head yesterday, but then work landed an URGENT!!! item on my desk in the morning which had me running around drawing lines on maps for the rest of the day. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you were waiting for this update.

NB: This post is ENTIRELY from my perspective. In reality it was a lot more nuanced than this. As all personal interactions are.

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