It’s been many days since my last post but I’m not really doing much of late and I’m sure that it isn’t anything that you would particularly care to read about. I left Scotland a long time ago and headed for Grappenhall to hang out with Jonathan for a few days. For those of you unsure, I met Jon when he was doing to the exact same working holiday thing as I am but to Australia in 2009 and I thought I’d drop in on him and his family and see what was happening in his neck of the woods. While I was there I thought, I might as well pick up a bit of work to help fuel my quest of conquering the world. Turns out though, picking up a bit of work isn’t as easy as it sounds. I was a bit confused to be honest, I mean, I’m Australian. Surely everyone would be falling over themselves to have me work for them right? Maybe not.
I’m warning you now, this post may not be quick and it may not be sweet but read on, read on.
I ended up having a wonderful white Christmas with Jon & his gorgeous family, watching Gilmore Girls & eating delicious food. I spent a few nights playing pool with the lads in the Ex-Servicemen’s club while downing some fine British Ale and days lazing about in the lead up to the great working period of 2011. I celebrated New Years Eve in Manchester with Jon & the boys and got a little drunker than I had intended, starting the second year in a row with my head in the toilet (sincere apologies to anyone inflicted with my disorderly behaviour!). I also lost my red coat that night in a cleverly masterminded coat-stealing rampage at the club we were in. And I went to London.
Now London. In the week leading up to Christmas Jon took me to London for 2 days of madness and fabulousness that began with a quaint train journey through the country. We arrived in the afternoon and took a cab (yep, one of those gorgeous little black London cabs) to the equally gorgeous hotel overlooking the river Thames (pronounced tems, for those who don’t know – I’m not sure about these British, I tell you, are they worse than the French?!). We settled in and then headed out (on the tube!) to meet a friend at a great little Kiwi coffee shop in Soho (much to Jon’s dismay – ‘You’re in London & you want to go to a Kiwi coffee shop?’) that ripped me off £10 before on to dinner in a fab little Indian restaurant. We walked past the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, down Oxford St and along the River Thames. Tick, tick, tick! When we got back to the hotel we made a list of things we wanted to do seeing as time was limited (changing of the guards, Piccadilly Square, etc.) before heading to bed rather later than I had anticipated. Now, would I consider our time in London successful? Not really, for the following reasons. The list I devised of things to see and do, actually sounded more like we were progressing around a monopoly board than anything else and while famous enough to feature in said game, most of which are not entirely entertaining. The changing of the guard was awfully crowded and most of it was seen through the lens of my camera, being that I could hold it high enough above my head to clear the crowd. I heard it though and from what I could tell it was pretty cool. We took a red double-decker bus, which was a bit of a highlight for me; I will admit I had a bit of squeal of excitement. We also got to the tower of London although not over London Bridge (which I had aptly planned to sing ‘London Bridge is burning down’ as we crossed). The crown jewels were a highlight and we got almost all the way around the Tower of London before Jon got a migraine and we had to leave. After a sleep (for both of us, I was beat!) we made it out to dinner at a great little gastro pub for a fantastic dinner and a crossword before the day was over. Now being the week before Christmas, some shopping was needed and so our last day was spent on the fabulous Oxford street. Unfortunately for us, pretty much the whole of London had planned the same thing and despite finding a fabulous little café that did the most delicious all day breakfasts to help fuel us, we were defeated a few hours in and, having gotten almost everything we needed, we stopped in for a quick coffee to rest before heading to the train. And that was where I met Bert & Ernie. Bert & Ernie were in the line behind me, chatting away with their lovely Australian accents when I pounced on them, intent on pumping them for information on the whereabouts of the Australia shop, having only remembered a few hours earlier my intent to purchase the worlds largest jar of vegemite. They kindly pointed my in several directions, understanding completely the ferocious frothing at the mouth I was displaying. I broke the news to Jon, who despite getting sicker by the minute with the lovely little flu he’d picked up and the glimmer of annoyance in his eye, agreed to accompany me in my quest to Covent Garden to find the illusive jar I sought. In the end, despite the threat of our train being cancelled due to snow & a small delay in its departure we made it back to Grappenhall in one piece and ready to Christmas it up. Did I have a fabulous time in London? You bet, disappointing misleading Monopoly tour guide and all. In the end I settled on London 1, Yarni 1.
Then, a few days after Christmas and seven million job applications later, I received a call from a lady at Workabout. It was swift and all happened so quickly I’m still not sure how it went down but within a few hours of the phone call, I had a job in a small country gastro pub in Preston Bagot, just out of Birmingham, starting in 5 days time. So on the 4th of Jan, I said a sad farewell to Jon & his wonderful family and to fabulous Grappenhall/Lymm/Stockton Heath and headed for The Crabmill.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I arrived, only some small snippets of the pub that were on the website but to my relief, they place and most of the people are pretty great (even though Jon had implanted the ideas of slave labour, sweat shops and almost hostage style accommodations). It’s not exactly what was advertised and the flat I’m living in is a little 2001 Yarni-esque. No, actually, to be fair I didn’t live anywhere this dodgy even when I was in uni but it’s all about the earning and the saving right? The area is pretty cool although I’d still much rather be back in Scotland. I’ll use the next 9 months to check out England and hopefully score something in Scotland after mum has been over I think. I headed over to Warwick today for a daylight squiz after going there on Monday for the staff party and falling in love with it. It’s so quaint and so English! Oh and the staff party? We started with Go Karting in which I absolutely thrashed it, taking 1st in 3 races!
Next week I’m have a day in Birmingham with Nicola, Jon’s sister and my partner in Gilmore Girls fever crime as well as hiring a car and taking a drive up to York for a night. After that I’ll do Oxford, Bath, Brighton and everything in between including heading to Rome in March hopefully. No St Paddy’s day this year, I left it a tad too late to book but next year for sure!
But apart from all this fun and frivolity, there is one thing I’m coming to learn as my time abroad lengthens and that is the value of friends and family. When they are gone, you come to appreciate the things you had, the people you love. When you can no longer meet the girls for lunch or go home for the weekend to see the family you feel their absence. I feel my time away will strengthen the bonds I have and help me to understand the importance of the small everyday interactions that are so easily forgotten. And while I love being here and the experiences I’m having, I’ve also realised that Australia – Melbourne will always be my home. This is quite a biggie actually as I’ve always been a somewhat nomadic soul, to feel a sense of belonging to a place inside of me is something new. As I sat in a small cosy café in Warwick today, eating lunch and reading the paper I felt home, I felt Melbourne. I understood that there will always be a part of Melbourne in me no matter where I go and it made me happy. I guess in the end you can take the girl out of Melbourne but you can’t take Melbourne out of the girl.
I also can’t believe how much travelling has caused me to realise my age. I realised this when I started thinking about using the opportunity I have earning pounds to my advantage when the dollar drops. Instead of thinking all night benders I find myself thinking stocks & bonds. Instead of H&M, Topshop & Primark I’m thinking investments and when did the hell did this happen to me?! I’m not this responsible! Oh well. I suppose better late than never hey?!
The good news though? I’ve been feeling so much more creative the last few days. I even picked myself up some sketching supplies today. I guess the job agrees with me!
And I promise to keep the posts flowing thick and fast now I’m back on the traveller track although I will apologise in advance for the slow coming of the photos, the internet here is really shit!