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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

painting of two fish, by Jedidiah Morley

Ponderment. copyright Jedidiah Morley

After a year of absolutely lovely weather in South-East England (Poki, I don’t care what you feel obliged to say about English summers, 2009 was lovely ;P ) January was just dismal. Grey, bleak, dark, all those English weather cliches you hear about so much. I think we had 4 days that were not oppressively overcast. Blerch!

So, that’s my major excuse for lack of blogging here during January. Mild depression and introspectiveness caused by the weather. I didn’t have the energy to get my thoughts onto the page. Also, Jed gets SAD, so a lot of my January was spent gently bolstering him and picking up some slack in day to day life so he could take the time he needed for naps. (NB: this is not to imply he wasn’t pulling his weight, just that we all fluctuate with the seasons, and perhaps acknowledging this more often would lead to a less broken society).

The dismal weather was coupled with the 9 month homesickness jag. Or maybe the first winter homesickness jag.Whichever way reaching out to others was a bit tough for the last month.

However, while all this was happening there was also stirrings in other areas, indicating what the year ahead would be like. The soil in which my new life has been planted has been warming up, shoots are starting to poke through the soil, buds are unfurling, and all other aspects of that metaphor that are appropriate. To whit:

Work has been busy and mostly fulfilling. I’m running the implementation of a restructure for one of the services in the Council, which means my strengths are actually (finally!) being used. At least, they are for 2 days a week, since that’s all the time I am allowed to bill to this project. This is rather frustrating, not least because this service asked for full-time support and needs full-time support. My team is under-staffed and playing political games so this service didn’t get the support it needed.

I’ve been seriously thinking about my future, what I do well, what I excel at and enjoy. All sorts of ideas are cropping up, realigning my assumption that life was going to take me through a traditional hierarchical career path. Perhaps I am more suited to project based consultancy type work. Go in, fix a problem, then move on. I get rather bored once it’s all routine. Then combine this with ideas I have for a content-based online ittybiz for some other income. A more fluid life.

Combining the two ideas, next week I am going to see if the service wants to hire me full-time. I’m still on an ongoing monthly contract with my current team, so there’s no compunction to stay there. There may be internal politics, i.e. a feeling that my manager’s manager has to be asked if he can spare me. Which is unfortunate, since he is likely to say no, as they need me. They don’t, they could find someone else to rewrite strategies for them at the drop of a hat. Finding someone who can walk into a service and gently, respectfully guide them through a restructure is much more difficult to find.

Also, I’m a bit grumpy about this, as the entire bargain of having a contractor on site is that you can fire them when it’s expedient, but they are also likely to leave if a better offer comes along. I tend to have a very particular idea of the employment bargain: it’s two sided and I get a say in what sort of work I do, or I’ll find something else. I’m aware of my assets enough to not settle, and certainly not because one director holds more of a sway then another one does. We’ll see how this one pans out.

Talking futures, we’ve been plotting Jed’s future as well. Trumpet flare: He now has his paintings available for sale on line via a print-on-demand site. Go look! They’re fantastic, I’m so proud. Order something if it suits you, or forward to someone else who might like to look.

I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months skilling up in online marketing and small business administration to support him in this endeavour. It will make him so much happier to be able to do this, and I have those skills already, generally contracted out to someone else. What better use of them is there than to support my love. Complementary aspects.

Last night we registered a URL for him. Today I will be doing the initial install and build of the site. Later next week (maybe) we’ll launch it. Very exciting!

Despite the SAD, I’ve watched him blossom and change in the last month, as he’s had permission (and given himself that permission) to paint, to create, to put his work out into the world and get good feedback.

My 2010 kicks off on Chinese New Year – next weekend. Stayed tuned for what this might look like. In short, brighter and better than 2009. Thankfully!

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(While none of this will be new to those of you who have lived in snow before, it might amuse you to see which bits weird me out the most. Apologies for the obviousness of some of this, but that is partially the point of these posts, to reveal things that are obvious to the natives)

Firstly, my history with snow: when I was 9 we went to the Victorian snow fields in Australia. It snowed a little bit when I was in the UK in April 2008, but it had melted by midday. That’s it. So snow is quite alien to me, and hence I don’t know how to deal with it, or what might happen when it snows, what the different sorts of snows mean, and when to be careful. Quite scary for Little Miss Capable and Independent.

So, day 1 of snow, on 16 December was quite confronting. Also, it was the first real wake-up call that my life had substantially changed. Very much a ‘Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’ moment. Up to this point my subconcious hadn’t really absorbed that it was somewhere different. Most of the things I experienced could have occurred in Australia, somewhere, sort of. Snow in an urban environment? Nuh huh! Just weird. So I freaked a bit. It didn’t help that I had a colleague sitting next to me panicing about being snowed in, as they were in February. We kept ratcheting up each other’s anxiety levels.

snow hips

(more…)

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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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Autumn has arrived. There’s a chill to the air in the morning, the sun is getting up later, I’m remembering to not leave the house without a coat or a light scarf (which had been mostly unnecessary for Summer).

To be honest, I’m enjoying it. I was a bit over the extended Summer I’ve just had. My body and senses wanted a break from the warmth and brightness. It was craving a chill to the air, cold noses, rugging up in coats and blankies. I know that in winter I will absolutely hate these things, but, I have a very strong sense of cycles and rhythm and my body and subconsious were constantly trying to tell me that it was supposed to be cold and they’d like a break from heat and humidity now. Please.

This may seem odd in a society which is devoted to following the sun, and to comfort. I’ve had a few strange looks from people here when I’ve mentioned I’m sick of my extended Summer (although this may be because I am ignoring the complaints about the weather heirarchy). However I feel that cycles are important. Change is important. Relishing each season for what it brings is important. Trying to cheat the natural cycles, or getting frustrated because it’s not always warm is pointless and stressful.

Leading on from the advent of Autumn is shopping! Maybe this is why I’m enjoying it. I’ve not spent any money on clothing during Spring and Summer knowing that I would need to purchase heavy coats and boots and scarves and gloves and layers and hats and trousers and socks and all things to stop me getting desperately cold in my first winter in England.

Last week was the start of this process. I now own a couple more merino wool jumpers and a long cardie, argyle socks and stockings, a merino wool smock dress, stripey long-sleeved tops, plain long-sleeved tops and a faux sheepskin hooded coat, all courtesy of UniQlo (we love UniQlo). We probably spent more than we meant to in the store, but they are all good quality, simple items that will last us for a number of years, even with heavy usage, so in my book that’s entirely OK.

I’ve also acquired a pair of black brogues, to wear on rainy days when I’m sick of boots, an angora cardie, and a gorgeous maroon silk, empire line, knee-length dress. With pockets! It’s lovely. (I meant to take a photo yesterday after wearing it to work, but was a bit worn out after my commute home).

Still on the list is a pair of knee high, flat soled boots (or two). Ankle boots (casual pair, and a work pair). Warmer fabric trousers to wear to work. Heavy knitwear that I was covetting last season in Australia and never purchased, but were out of stock when I arrived here. A long sleeved, floral dress to wear under various layers. More leggings and a pair or two of wool tights for the keeping warm of legs. A warm waterproof hooded jacket.

The question I’ve been meaning to ask: what do you deem necessary to get through a Northern Hemisphere winter? What really obvious thing am I possibly going to miss and regret not owning?

(we did some other stuff as well, including me staying in London unexpectedly overnight and having a very lovely breakfast with Mikki and J the next morning, and building of lego towns with L. But weekly update posts do not always need to be in the format of monday, tuesday, wednesday etc. )

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As an anti-dote to the Things that are Weird posts, since there are (of course) more good things about living here than weird things.

1. The light quality. It’s so much softer, more restful. Still bright, but not scorching. Love it.

2. Clouds. I’ve always loved looking at clouds, I even have a Flickr set devoted to photos of them. The clouds here are fantastic. They scud across the sky, or hang there as a gigantic sky sculptures.

3. Plants. They are green and lush and just everywhere. Wildflowers tend to be the flowers I love – foxgloves, sweet pea, blackberries (OK not a flower, but I love looking at them), and ones I am recognising and coming to appreciate.

4. The cafe downstairs from work with the lovely Italian men who call me Bella, and say Bourgiorno to me every morning and make my toast and coffee without me needing to say a word. They also the best steak sandwich on the planet. Tender, juicy, right balance of ingredients. It’s been a goal to find a good steak sandwich for years. Yay Italian cafe that is a restful place in the morning just before work! Wish I could take them with me to all future employment situations.

5. Summer is lovely. I don’t care what the popular opinion is, summer is really pleasant, like a few months of the nicest September or March days in Sydney, not too hot, lovely breezes, long twilights.

4. Berries! I didn’t really get the love of berries in Australia. With the exception of fresh blackberries. English strawberries are divine, raspberries are to be consumed whenever possible.

5. Most people speak softly. This has reduced my incidence of noise sensitivity which is fantastic. One less stress point is a very good thing.

6. Variety of ingredients. Sydney – Newtown has a better selection of places to eat, but England has a much better selection of ingredients, which are easier to access. Perhaps this is why I am doing more cooking here. Which is also a good outcome.

7. In my opinion the discourse around sustainability is more balanced and advanced. This is probably the subject of a future post. Or one in a related blog if ever I get it up and running which will focus on policy/sustainability rants, rather than muddy-ing the two together.

There’s more, but 7 will do for now.

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Most of my life I have woken up alert. I know where I am and what day is it and within a few minutes can tell you what I am doing that morning.

Recently I’ve been very, very confused first thing in the morning, thinking it’s the weekend and sleeping through my alarm. Then slowly realising it’s actually a weekday, a middle-of-the-weekday, and I need to get up.

Odd.

Perhaps it’s the sunlight which now streams through my room each morning as it is warm enough to leave the blinds open overnight. Making me think; “It’s a lovely gentle day, it must be the weekend”.

In other daylight/weather related observations, something about Sydney at the moment makes me think I’m in Arizona. No idea why, and it’s been going on for a few weeks now. Might be something about the light? Some smell in the air? The contrast from cold days 2 weeks ago to quite warm days now?

Funny thing is I’ve been to Arizona for a sum total of 5 days of my life. This time last year. And it’s not Tempe-Mesa weather I’m thinking of either (except the very early morning and late night air), no this is Flagstaff weather. I spent a sum total of 2 days in Flagstaff…

Even more odd.

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Thunderstorms

There was a fantastic storm over Sydney this afternoon, the first of the season. I was caught in it on the way home and got saturated. Which I absolutely loved. There’s something very liberating about walking in a summer rain shower. It’s warm enough that you don’t have to worry about getting cold and it just smells so wonderful.

While walking in the heaviest part of the down pour I felt the most happy and most at peace that I had all week. I was hopeful again.

A storm over Sydney in 2004

There’s a strong tradition in my family of being outdoors during thunderstorms. When we were younger we would all gather on the front doorstep to watch the storm roll across the Sydney basin. Then when we were slightly older, my brother, sister and I would put on our gumboots and tromp outside to play in the gutter. This eventually involved taking off the gumboots and using them as a scoop to throw water at each other. We’d dam the flow of water with our feet and kick water at each other and generally just have fun in the rain, secure that we could wander back inside to a warm house with towels.

The Thais have a very different idea of rain. They are scared of it. In a tropical country that experiences monsoon. It has something to do with catching the flu and something to do with acid rain. They used to think I was mad when I would walk (not run) between shelters when it was raining, usually asking “aren’t you scared?”. Thailand had some fantastic rain showers. One morning the entire school was lined up for assembly, singing the national anthem. Off to our right we could see a cube of dense water approaching, “cube” is the only way to describe the way this rain was behaving. That was the fastest anthem I have ever heard, since we couldn’t move until it was finished. Then we all bolted for the classrooms.

Rain makes me happy. A serious downpour makes me very happy. It’s nice to remember what that feels like. It’s been a dumb week, month, thing.

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