Monday, July 26, 2010

from sudbury to camden

So the time came for me to leave the humble old town of Sudbury Hills to move on to bigger and better (and more central) things. Though my presence proved invaluable for fetching Foster’s from the fridge, opening tricky bottles, and stimulating lulling conversation with questionable input, I felt that in the words of Gough Whitlam, “It’s time”. But Sudbury Hills and its’ many wonders will always occupy a special place in my heart, in the same way that my nostalgia for rusty nails and asbestos walls also holds a special meaning in my heart. So it was with great sadness that I took a last tour of old Sudbury, seeing the sights and sounds that its’ CBD offers (or 200m of main street). To enlighten you unto some of these hidden beauties of London, here is what I saw at Sudbury

When I saw porn sitting atop of my Dr Seuss, it was obvious that Sudbury and I had different artistic ideals.

Only 'safer' than 'Nontoxic Food' next door.

Sudbury can be characterised by two things: Chicken, and Muslims. This photo has them both in it, which is why it is great.

Chicken shops in Sudbury are as widespread as Centrelinks in Logan.

4 Privet Drive.

Gas here is a luxury good.

Ah, and those crazy Irish boys with their crazy ISO settings.

And after lugging my enormous luggage across five different tube stops (thanks to ‘improvement works’ disrupting the lines), I arrived at my new hometown, CAMDEN. I decided to explore my new neighbourhood and discovered that my backyard is home to the Electric Ballroom, Camden Proud, Camden Barfly, Koko, Underworld, and of course the markets! So imagine living in the valley, but minus the wankers and double the hipsters. I can tell I’m going to like it here. Oh and did I mention Amy Winehouse is my neighbour? Well she is, and we’re doing lines of coke later. What’s more is that it’s quite similar to my modestly beautiful hometown of Wynnum, so I pretty much already feel at home.

Like Wynnum, Camden boasts many impressive vintage and op shops including this one especially tailored to the mature population (or those of us who appreciate a mature fashion style).

Op shops and markets and novelty betting agencies, oh my!

Nothing screams quality like this aesthetically pleasing "99p stores" sign.

The stunning panoramic view of Kings Cross Station from my bedroom window.

That Nice Launderette - nothing like That Lousy Launderette in Sudbury.

With EVERSHOLT STREET right down the road, I'm sure I'm going to feel right at home

The only down side is that it’s quite a hike from my work, with a nightbus coming only hourly after I finish at 12:30, which means I won’t get home until 1:45am. I haven’t seemed to mind too much, as usually after work, two pints of each beer are poured while us hardworking bar staff kick on from where our raucous patrons left off half an hour earlier. I’m loving work at my classy Earl’s Court pub, with an eclectic mix of Aussie, gay, and posh patrons to keep me entertained. However a main challenge is to fine tune my pub banter skills. Usually I am on the producing end of talking drunken BS to bartenders, but now that I’m on the other side I have to choose to either take a mature line and make rational contradictory arguments, or seep to their level and talk BS right back to them. Ah, the paradox of being a bullshit artist.

Now that I’ve set myself up (meaning I’m employed, found a home, and no longer bankrupt) and have a few mates here and there – and am networking my way into the ‘Camden scene’ - I’m starting to get busier, so don’t expect too much. In fact, I’ve almost forgotten everyone in Australia anyway. Why is this “Mark Fitzpatrick” person who plaguing my Facebook? Who is this “Halle Johnson” character that sounds a bit familiar? Deary me!

Monday, July 19, 2010

hee hee

Today I felt a bit blue, about being homeless and I watched this and re-discovered my inner creative genius and felt better.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

oh my days!

Despite the perfect snoozing weather of late, I felt obliged to get off my backside and do some touristy things and ‘enculture’ myself. So I visited the two museums, a theatre, an art gallery, two cathedrals, and some random cricket field named ‘Lords’ which I talked about earlier. I feel these escapades are best explained through pictures (or for the highbrow of you, a ‘visual narrative’) with a few anecdotes here and there to complement the visual aids. Enjoy.

Firstly I made my way to the Dickens Museum. Which. Was. Amazing.

However the British Museum on the other hand, I found as boring as bat shit. It was full of ancient mesapetonian relics and crap. Each medallion, ancient coin or ceramic bowl I saw atrophied my mind a little more and brought me to the brink of my existence.

The Great Court of a different kind, where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital

Only freaks of nature like Sarah could appreciate such needless hocus-pocus relics

This clay pot is probably the sacred object of worship of an ancient Mesopotamian civilisation..

On Wednesday I ventured out in the harsh London winds to see the famed London Bridge (which may or may not be falling down). Though I have always prided myself on a good sense of direction and common sense, I simply couldn’t locate the bridge, but instead ended up at a gothic cathedral at Southwark which was quite splendid.

No, I didn’t pay $2 for a photography permit, SO SEND ME TO HELL!

Then I excitedly made my way to the Globe Theatre, which was a bit of a let down – possibly because I chose not to pay the ridiculous $12 entry to the museum and thus was left with the invigorating attraction of the gift shop. At the moment it is Henry VI season at the Globe, which would be worthwhile seeing while I’m here. But although I can appreciate a good history performance, I’m more of a tragedy or comedy kind of gal when it comes to Shakespeare, and was disappointed when the elderly information lady scorned at me when I asked when Macbeth was on. Some people!

Then the TATE Modern Art Gallery – now we’re talking real art! There is nothing that stimulates me more than things of voyeurism, poetry and dream, states of flux, impressionism and chance, energy and process, and material gestures in art. None of that wishy washy ancient artefact shite of the National Museum, this is culture at its finest.

Heading over the Millennium Bridge I found St Paul’s Cathedral, another feat of the great Sir Christopher Wren. I browsed the crypts and the ground floor before effortlessly climbing the 200 steps to the whispering gallery then 120 more steps to the birds eye view over London.

And how can I forget my day at Lords! I spent the rest of my weeks money on a ticket allocated to a ‘Damien White’ to see four hours of cricket in quite volatile weather conditions – but it was completely worth it.

Mum you will be pleased to know that although I did forget my iron tablets, Guinness is actually full of iron and good for strength. I learnt this on my first trip to “The Office”, the heart of Sudbury’s CBD where most of the business is done. At this quaint little establishment, the Guinness flows freely, Halloway girl is played frequently, and the Irish dance madly. It’s a great craic. And come 12 o clock, after last drinks had ‘officially’ been called, ashtrays are promptly distributed to all tables and the pub became a haze of cigarette smoke.

Well I’m off to enlighten myself with the five o clock news and then later hit up the Camden scene. A good mix of activities if you ask me.

And as Confucius says,

“What you lose on the swings you make up on the roundabouts.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

i'm locked out of my house

and there isn't much to do around here except eat chicken or use the internet cafe, both of which I am doing.

I have some great stories and pictures for when I feel motivated enough to write about them. For example, in the past three days I've visited two museums, an art gallery, a theatre, two cathedrals, and a cricket ground (you probably haven't heard of it, it's called 'Lords' or something silly like that). Anyway today I spent the rest of my weeks money on a ticket so I was shouted three pints of a beautiful lager named Kramenburg. Now its taking its toll. But it's perfect weather for an afternoon siesta as the test ended early (thanks to some smashing catches from ye olde Pointing and Hussey) and I could really use it as I only got home from work at 1:30am this morning. The Piccadilly line is amazing if you want to go to Heathrow at any time of day or night, but you know people live in Uxbridge too!

Time to explore the depths of Sudbury Hills. Love Kate.

PS. Raoul Moat is a legend.
That is all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

i've also been to ireland


For the past four nights or so I’ve been dossing at a small house in Sudbury with nine Irish men and it’s SUCH A CRAIC! My weekend activities have included

- drinking copious amounts of Foster’s

- watching Rocky and Star Wars 1-6

- watching a hurling match

- discovering the beauty of London’s outer suburbs

However first a hot travel tip which I learnt via experience: DON’T MENTION THE WAR. In fact, don’t mention ‘catholics’ or ‘protestants’ at all. This especially applies in regards to the Irish and the Germans, though in general it’s not really a good conversation topic. Consequentially, I’ve been copping much crap about being a convict and invading the aborigines. Although I’ve tried to explain to the lads the concept of ‘terra nullius’ and how in all fairness the land was rightfully ours for the taking (I mean spears vs. guns, there really is one clear winner) however they just don’t seem to understand.

On the up side, I’ve got a job at a pub called The Courtfield in Earl Court which is quite nice. I had a trial shift last night and it was pretty good, although I’m still getting used to the currency – in all honesty what is the point of a ONE PENCE other than to weigh down your wallet? And all the beer and ales were a bit foreign too, they have funny names like Hoegarden, Hobgoblin, London Pride and Starpromen or something. The only one I knew was Stella Artois. It’s pretty classy so obviously I fit in well.

And yesterday I went and looked at a flat in Sheperd’s Bush. Though I didn’t end up getting it, I did get myself a drinking date. Personally I think it was all a matter of presenting yourself well and translating first impressions which made this come about. Here’s a reference for your convenience:

“I didn’t know how to open the gate, so I jumped it instead” Translation: I’m an easy-going and active girl with a great sense of adventure.

“I’m homeless, but I’m not sure if I need a place to live or not at the moment”

Translation: I am a flexible and intrepid traveller who lives in the moment and doesn’t tie herself down with nancy-pancy permanent plans.

“I don’t know if I have $500 to pay for it at the moment…”

Translation: I am a free spirit who isn’t consumed by capitalist strains.

A more pessimistic person may have perceived these extracts as ‘disorganised’, ‘disastrous’ or ‘weird’, luckily I choose to surround myself with people with a positive zen and an optimistic attitude.

On the money front, things aren’t looking that well. I have one pound left and $0 on my Oyster card. How I will eat or get home tonight escapes me, but being the hippie I am I’m not fussed at all. I have some cool doss house pictures I’ll try to put up but my battery is nearly out and I rely on the Maccas free wi-fi for these short but brilliant insights into my new life.

Oh and as a sidenote, I miss Laura Boland immensely, and 1st Contact Kickstart have been a major help in getting my shit together. I would recommend them highly to anyone. I am especially excited about the five day gym membership and my 7324902347th copy of the tube line they gave me in the package. I suppose the bank account, NI number and job assistance also helped a bit too. Cheers 1st contact.

Friday, July 9, 2010



OH MY GOD. Today was the most AMAZING day here by far. It was as if all the amazing stars of the universe aligned themselves in my Venus constellation so that while the sun is in Cancer, Lady Luck could shine down shiny amazingness down on me. Here are some amazing things that happened:

- I ate a two course meal with my beloved friend Gabby

- I asked directions from a famous British actor

- I was at Edgeware on the anniversary of the Edgeware bombings

- I ran into Westminster Cemetery and some Aussies

And if that doesn’t fulfil any amazing expectations you had when you first started reading this post, GET THIS: I beat my own record and today entered into at least 33 pubs in Covent Gardens, Camden, Earl’s Court, Sheperd’s Bush, and Piccadilly. When I was informed that the pub job market in the UK was ‘very depressed’, they weren’t lying. Although I handed out 22 resumes – nay, CVs – and uploaded my details with 8 recruitment agencies, the majority of the pubs assured me that they weren’t hiring and received at least 10-15 CVs per day. HOWEVER…though you may be thinking ‘Oh, Kate, I knew this would happen, this was a stupid idea, you’ll never get a job with your wayward ways and childish nonchalance which is completely unprofessional and chaotic but I secretly envy because I’m too worried about superannuation and supporting my grandchildren to take the time out and enjoy my formative years’. And you may be right, HOWEVER, the most amazing thing about my eighth of July is that three of my dream places to work at are considering my CV!! I have been privately gushing over these places in the previous months, thinking that it would be an absolute dream to work there but there is no way in hell with my Fitzpatrick’s luck I could make it happen. But oh how far a little perseverance goes!

First in Camden, the Barfly are about to hire and I tried to make the most indie impression as possible when I went in. Though I may have looked a little too mainstream as I wasn’t wearing a band logo at all, but I guess we’ll see. Then the Walkabout pub at Sheperd’s Bush – well it’s not actually a dream job but it would be one of the more cooler pubs to work at in London with a big Aussie following and it legitimately smelt like the Royal Mail back home which is always, um, reassuring of its merits. AND THEN. OH MY GOD. AND THEN. After a big day tubing it around the city I was making my way back home – the long way because I like a nice walk – when I passed the London Saatchi & Saatchi offices. And with my wayward ways and childlike nonchalance I struck up conversation with a lady there, who happened to be the HR lady and accepted my CV. SO. EFFING. AMAZING. I think I will actually cry if I get a call from them.

Anyway at the moment it’s 10am on Friday and I am homeless, bankrupt, and unemployed. BUT IT’S SO AMAZING I CAN’T COMPLAIN.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

today i went to Spain

Today, still in emergency state of mind, my goals were no longer fixed on sightseeing and looking as local as possible in this huge city. The crisis remained: I was still bankrupt. With a plethora of people having informed me that London is the most expensive city to live in, I decided to prove them wrong and live as cheaply as possible. I started the day with a 70p croissant from Tescos, which is fast becoming my haven when I’ve got the munchies. After trying to sort out more odds and ends on Oxford Street, I navigated myself to the Covent Gardens Walkabout Pub to see what I really could not miss: State of Origin III. And what a game it was! Not only did I have the pleasure of watching a thrilling victory by Queensland, but my new drinking partner kindly shouted me a few beers as well. I savoured the familiar taste of Toohey’s sliding down my throat as the cunning and street smart person I am realised that in my desperate state, these beers served quite well as a lunchtime meal. I mean beer is full of carbs so I had something to walk off, it was cold on a hot summers day, and it has water to keep myself hydrated. The question is, why am I wasting my time with Arts when my talent really lies in nutrition?

After a couple of hours soaking up the Walkabout fun I found my next meal resided in a piece of gum my new bank manager offered me. When I exclaimed this to him and told him of my money woes he said I was breaking his heart, and mentioned more job/living opportunities. I’ve already been here three days, had one marriage proposal, broken one heart, and received about five casual job offers! I’m faring quite well indeed. Oh and although the bankruptcy tragedy was kind of getting challenging, it has fortunately been relieved. I’m not going to specify how, as it could be said that the answer was obvious, and I’m not going to subject myself to hordes of torment by my terrible terrible friends. However to keep this nice anxious equilibrium I’ve had going for the past day or so, another emergency has arisen! Hark! This time it’s the looming thought of being both unemployed and homeless as of Friday as the job situation looks less promising. However, I’m going to think of this one as more of a ‘challenge’ than an emergency, as it makes it a lot more fun!

OH and OH and OH MY GOD. There was some small little

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

emergency #1

After much torpor (or languor for the lowbrow of you) about supposedly important issues such as setting up a bank account and getting a job, I decided to face my demons and do get my shit together. I had an interview at a pub called The Chandos on Central Saint Martins (Central London). When I finally found the place I nearly hyperventilated – the pub literally overlooks Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. It’s at the beginning of the Theatre District, a tourist hotspot, and gets absolutely packed every night. The bad news is that it’s 55 hours a week at 5 pound 80 an hour, though tips are often generous. But while Trafalgar Square would be quite an amazing backyard, I will always hold a special place in my heart for the tin shed and hills hoist which I have grown to love.

I also made my way to Camden, somewhere that every person who has been to London has recommended to me. Alas, this is the scene for the first downfall of my journeys. Yes, as implausible as it is, I, an 18 year old female travelling alone, have encountered my first emergency. In fact, I am still in emergency mode, and probably will be for awhile. Let’s just say, I made some unthinking decisions, the consequence of which is that I am unable to eat for the rest of this week...or until I find a job. Alas I have run out of money. The cause of this troublesome pickle I find myself in resides in an unbecoming white dress and a pair of high waisted leather shorts (they will never go out of fashion). Now I would not usually consider such purchases, however a when a Norweigan gothic woman dressed me into these leather "pants" (if pants is synonymous with underwear) and purred ‘these are made for you…perfect…so sexy…you’re a star! YOU'RE A STAR!’ I have never felt so flattered in my life! So you see spending the rest of my money on it was the logical decision. I mean if I didn’t buy it, it would have been impolite, and we all know how much the English value good manners. And the white dress, well I was offered a job at the markets and also offered the shopkeepers hand in marriage and that was so kind so I really wanted to pay back the kindness and purchase it. They both discounted it too! Such generosity never happens in Brisbane and is a real tribute to human nature. So all in all, I have $23.28 to last me until I get a job, as I cannot open a bank account until I get a job, and I cannot get a job until somebody recognises my inner magnificence and boyish charm and hires me.

After gorging myself on unhealthy and overpriced London foods for the past few days, I decided it would be a pleasant afternoon for a run in Hyde Park. You know I don’t think it’s very common for people to wear running gear on the tube, but this is how I like to change people’s perceptions. I was a little wistful while running through the luscious green pastures, contemplating my much loved Wynnum beachfront running route. However I found the experience to be quite the same and relieved some nostalgia. Instead of having to dodge pets, small children, rapists, and second hand cigarette smoke of Wynnum, I found the equivalent obstacles of horses, geese, and washed up rock stars in my way. And the differences between the notable landmarks I pass were only marginal at best. In Wynnum I am blessed with the epiphany-enticing jetty, the newly renovated wading pool, and the gorgeous waterfront; whereas on this route, I idled past Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Thames – all of equal if not inferior calibre to those of Wynnum. I am still yet to decide which route takes the cake as, quite obviously, they both have their advantages.

Tomorrow is Origin III! And I plan to spend the remaining $23 on enjoying this night as really, where else in the world can you watch origin at 11am and then again at 7.30pm? GO QLD!

what are you still doing in brisbane??

This morning I decided to face my demons and go *shopping*. Though I usually despite this dreary task, I was excited about Oxford and Regent Streets, not only as they are usually my properties of choice in Monopoly, but because I saw a huge Topshop there the night before with Chiara. Every store had at least two if not four floors, and I practically needed an oxygen mask when I entered the 1 square kilometre of Topshop. Though I didn’t actually buy anything, I liked and appreciated everything that I saw, which is really in the spirit of shopping.

This afternoon I swung by the Houses of Parliament to see what was crack-a-lacking in case any hardcore sh!t was going down, so I could get jiggy with it, yo. As a matter of fact, the topical issue of defence was being discussed in question time in the House of Commons (there was actually quite little that was common about it). After a bit of a wait in Westminster Hall – which in case you were wondering, has the largest surviving single span undivided medieval timber roof in the United Kingdom – I was able to catch the last of this enlightening debate and the beginning of my special subject: political and constitutional reform. Some bloke called Cliggs or Cloggs* or something announced a referendum for an alternate vote next year and some serious rethinking of the electoral divisions and MP numbers (ie. delicately instigating gerrymandering). I noted that the spirit of question time was quite like that of Australia’s, with lots of hoo-haa-ing, ‘hear hear’ing, and good-hearted tomfoolery (especially from the right honourable member for the Isles – what DID he eat for breakfast!?).

Moving on I saw some other amazing architecture. I’m not actually sure what a lot of it was, but it was quite impressive. To be honest, I think Nazareth House is a brilliant piece of work, so you can imagine my amazement when I saw shit like this:

Then I brisked past “Democracy City”, which I’m told is a permanent installation in Westminster Park. A bunch of people protesting something topical – Afghanistan maybe?. I did note that “Capitalism is over” was scrawled on a huge canvas which turned out to be the back of a Vampire Weekend ‘Contra’ sign. Ah Vampire Weekend: so versatile, so alternative. I love this city!

I also must include the fact that I ventured out last night with all my BFFLs at the hostel, and visited the equivalent of Magic City and The Vault. And four out of the five following statements are true (I’m going to let your imagination decide):

- I took a piss outside the Headquarters of the Commonwealth

- Any food left unattended in hostels automatically become communal food

- One unnamed Aussie male who works in the blood bank stole Kate Beckinsale and the Queen’s blood samples and took them to a bar

- T-Pain is universally loved in clubs

- Bar stools can float along the Thames

*Nick Clegg, turns out he’s the deputy PM

leaving on a jet plane

Well, off to London I go!

Goodbyes are always sad, and so it was with a tinge of sadness that I penned the farewell post it note to my family.

Though we are wearing smiles on the outside, we were hurting deeply inside.

As I waved goodbye to my friends on the escalator going down to customs, I began to contemplate the possibility that this was a bad idea, possibly one of my worst ones, and that I just went through it to spite the 99% of people who didn’t think I’d go through with it. But then I thought back to the wise words of my gypsy doctor who earlier the previous morning between casting a spell on me and rubbing pixie dust into my lobes, told me to think of it as an adventure. So accordingly I took my ‘anxious’ cap on and replaced it with my ‘adventure’ cap, and felt a lot better.

Not having flown much before, I found the flight to Hong Kong quite shite. Perhaps a pub crawl to the airport and after a 3 ½ day bender wasn’t a best idea after all. Ah, hindsight is a beautiful thing. And when I walked aboard and saw how small the seats were I was so shocked. So you could imagine my surprise when I walked through to economy class and the seats were smaller still. Having 0 leg room and being next to a man who insisted on producing every possible bodily release quite regularly didn’t help either. BUT with my perseverance I got to Hong Kong, and it’s a city of the future, no really, and look at it too:

Though it was difficult not speaking Chinese, I found myself aboard the next twelve hour flight. The weird thing was that I had the longest 4th of July ever: I had two breakfasts (one English and one Continental, the Continental being far superior), brunch, lunch, and two dinners. A good day for my stomach. And we flew over cool places likeMoscow, Amsterdam, and Ust Kamengorsk, which is really the heart and soul of Russia. I also found it a credit to the QANTAS service that one flight attendant took it upon herself to ‘educate the youth’ (her words, I obviously prefer the term ‘young adult’) by informing me of a little-known Russian Revolution which occurred in Russia, sporned by a esoteric and equally unheard of concept called ‘communism’. I’m glad that where the Queensland education system overlooks world history, tactful QANTAS staff pick up the loose ends. Thanks, providence!

Eventually I got to the hostel alright, it’s pretty good there are about 500 tourists staying at the moment. However I am slightly disappointed that I cannot enjoy the toilets flushing counter clockwise as much as I anticipated, as the toilets here don’t actually flush properly at all. But apart from that, and the fire alarm which woke me up from jet-lagged slumber, it’s pretty cool.

Unexpected evacuations provide a great way to meet new people in a new city.

Then I went for a casual stroll around the city, taking me wherever my legs would go. I passed Regent street, Trafalgar square, the Thames, Piccadilly Circus, and some other less than impressive places. And I don't think I have the words in my vocabulary to even begin to try and describe my amazement at what I saw. So here are a few photos - as really, a picture says a thousand words.