London versus Scotland


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August 12th 2008
Published: August 19th 2008
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Here goes everyone, hold onto your hats, the next installment is here!

Alright, it probably won't blow your hat off, but hopefully you won't fall asleep on your keyboard either.

So the previous installment saw me safely housed and rejoining the world of work with Accenture. Nothing to thrilling about that apart form the fact that earning some £££ is very important at the moment because my bank accounts are suffering from the drought. So I am happily commuting into the City of London everyday, only 5 stops from home to Bank station, battling on occasion with the crowds and cramming myself onto the tube much like a sardine into a can, but generally having a fairly easy run of it. I am even walking up the escalators in an attempt to give myself a brief quad work out! Anyway, work is fine and dandy although there are a scary number of preganant woman and a lack of work for me to do at the moment - but I already have a new job so you will have to read on!

{Did you like that? Nice little hook? Yeh, gotta get the audience in and reading...otherwise I will have to email everyone, one by one!}

As you can see from the pictures, I have landed myself a nice pad but I haven't forgotten where home is so don't start stressing out yet. I have, despite my national pride, been avoiding Australians and Aussie bars and the like; I don't really like the Aussie in London culture which seems to consist mainly of just drinking yourself stupid on every possible occasion. That said, I have actually been catching up with some Aussie friends from home, heading out for a few drinks as I mentioned in the previous entry with Glen from Notre Dame and his mates - hence the lovely pics with the pennyfarthing, why the hell that was there I don't know. I was also lucky enough to catch up with Steve aka Scud while he was here doing some travelling around before heading back to Perth.

In fact, Scud and I did a free walking tour of London (check them out, they are all over the place - , just tip what you think it's worth) which was really great. What Scud failed to tell me, or more likely what I didn't hear, was that the tour was 3 hours! Which in actual fact was great, I didn't realise that much time had passed when the tour was over. We also had the lucky expereince of getting drenched towards the end of the tour, but having escaped getting thoroughly rained on for a while it was probably well deserved. The previous weekend was absolutely beautiful, it felt like summer was on its way (or passing through) so I spent some time getting back to nature, hanging out in Vauxhall Park which is nearby my new pad, chilling with the lavender and watching the clouds float past. I also had a bit of a giggle, proving to eveyone else in the park that this girl sitting near the lavender on her own was bonkers. I couldn't really help it though - first of all, I had my ipod on shuffle and because I still have very little idea what is on there (80 gig is a bit much), I burst out laughing when Tripod graced me with their prescence...and secondly when I saw the Stella Act-a-twat Blimp float past, Ali, Pam and our train ride in to London from Gatwick springing to mind.

Anyway, getting back to the tour. Starting at Tower Bridge station we wandered past the Tower of London, which although I have visited it before, it is always suprising how many odd and ghastly stories that can be dragged out about the place. So, in no particular order...
* They still go through the elaborate ceremony of locking all the doors at 10pm, although now they have to unlock one again to let out the tourists
* When the moat was built, instead of the tide flowing in and out of the moat, it was too deep, so all the sewerage and refuse littering the Thames was left in the moat. Ew. But on the plus side, no one in their right mind would want to swim through that, thus protecting the Tower
* The Tower of London was the home of the first public zoo, with a diverse menagerie available for viewing by the general public, all they need to bring was food...for the animals. Good bye stray dog, hello instant entertainment, seeing a rare and dangerous animal as well as watch it devour it's living prey. Fairly gruesome but makes you think about our standards of right and wrong and how we view our decisions without looking at them in context to the standards of the past.

Tower Bridge is the drawbridge situated right near the Tower of London. This is the pretty bridge most people think is London Bridge. Some poor soul in Arizona, America actually bought London Bridge and when it arrived looked around and asked where the rest of it was thinking he had in fact bought the Tower Bridge. So, now there is a London Bridge in Arizona ... hmmmn. Nearly all the bridges across the Thames have been reconstructed over the years, all bar one. Waterloo Bridge is the only bridge not to have been lost in a fire. It is also constructed of self cleaning stone AND has heating in built to the road so that it doesn't ice in winter. And it was built by chicks! Well, mainly by a female workforce anyway, and is sometimes called 'ladies bridge'.

Anywho, onwards, west along the bank of the Thames we were treated to a delightful rendition of former Mayor of London, Ken Livingston's reaction to the new city chamber building...apparently, according to him, it looks like a giant glass testicle...hmmn, pc, or what? So moseying our way along, we learnt all about the plague, the Great Fire, the blitz...along with seeing various places and buildings like Monument, St Paul's Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Fleet Street and so on.

Crazy fact - Millennium Bridge was closed for two years after being open for only two days and is nicknamed the Wobbly Bridge because when it opened and the masses crossed (it is a pedestrian bridge across the Thames) it rocked and swayed. Apparently that wasn't supposed to happen so they shut it and it took over two years to fix. Oops...

Did you know that St Paul's Cathedral was built four times...like everything in London seems to have burnt down and pulled down at various times...with this final glorious structure being created by Christopher Wren. It is home to the Whispering Gallery which inside the Dome allows the whispered word spoken against the wall to be heard by a listening ear held near the wall in the gallery. Cool, huh? And in 1992 this was also the site for the lowest base jump in the world, when someone jumped from the Whispering Gallery inside the cathedral, thoroughly freaking out everyone at mass and escaping imprisonment when eventually caught some years later because too much time had elapsed for police to prosecute.

The City of London itself, where the majority of our tour took place actually only has about 5000 inhabitants despite what feels like a gazillion commuters and is the financial heart of London. This is where the Royal Exchange is, the Bank of England (Gringotts forbear) and where I am currently working. It is also where I managed to squeeze into a red phone box with 10 other people...sober. The Queen actually has to call the Mayor of the City, who lives in Mansion House, everytime she wants to come and visit the City and there is even a separate police force. During the tour we were considerately informed that previously it was the law that if you were a preganant woman and a policeman couldn't find a public convieniece within 100 yards, he had to offer you his hat. Thus it was recommended that you should make sure you asked a City policeman because their hat's were much bigger!

Now, I am going to leave it there otherwise you won't need to do the tour when you are here, but rest assured there are lots more tidbits and crazy facts, myths and legends that will keep you entertained.

Spending the week working and staying up way too late, out gallavanting until all hours, seeing movies and having dinner with friends and family, I finally made it to Friday and made good on a promise I had made a very long time ago. Since before I left home, probably before I even had my leave approved, I had promised to visit Steve and Jenny in Scotland. So Friday night saw me hanging out at St Pancras station waiting for Brett, Steve's brother, who I flew up to Scotland with. Finally...after having left Australia 6 months before... 😊

So after having a lovely chat with Brett and a quick flight to Edinburgh, I was there, in Scotland... and absolutely busting to go to the bathroom. And despite Brett's best efforts to convince me that the plane would be late, we were actually on time, so with Steve no where to be seen, I left Brett as the bag guard and rushed off to the bathrooms, only to hear that familiar greeting "Hey Sexy!" - Disclaimer - this is not a greeting I hear everyday... it's just how we roll... "Crank it up...!"

Anyway, after what I am still aghast to discover has been over a year, we were soon caught up, happily gabbing away about everything and nothing and we were speeding away from Edinburgh on the motorway. I love Scotland. I don't know if I've mentioned that yet, but I wil probably repeat it again...I still can't put my finger on what it is exactly, the vibe up there is different, more relaxed and free somehow, less uptight? I don't know...

Saturday saw us heading into Edinburgh to hang around and see what we could see of the Fringe Festival. Having not booked anything, we just wandered around, heading up the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle, winding our way through the people and the parade of performers touting their shows. Finding ourselves at the castle, it was too good an opportunty to miss, so as 'Friends' of Scotland, we scooted on through for free (uber cheeky), exploring this structure that has been here in various forms over 1000's of years and currently houses the Royal Palace and Crown Room, as well as the Scottish National War Memorial. It is also home to St Margaret's Chapel which is very sweet as well as some very smooth liquer...when in Scotland, drink scotch, or some form of it anyway.

Geting into the spirit of the festival, and mindful of last train, we decided to catch Jimeoin's show - and despite my looking out for him I didn't capture even a glimpse of Adam 😞. After having a few drinks and a giggle (I am still quite disturbed by his rendition of a washing machine's spin cycle) in what must have been the hottest theatre in Edinburgh, we were back on the train to Shotts. Have you ever experienced bored, drunk Scotsmen packed onto a train, trying to think of something to sing? Hilarious and quite poignant when they settled on the national anthem. It was also damn hot on the train and somehow I managed to strike up quite a cool relationship with one of the doors...ah, icy cold glass! That's a point...were there photos of that?! heheheheheh.

After another late night and eventually getting organised, as well as a constant commentary and consideration of the weather, it was time. Time to get out on the open road. On the bike! Hoorah! Driving very carefully (gotta avoid those puddles) Steve took me out to Linlithgow, visiting the loch and the castle, which was the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots. This is a seriously beautiful place and seeing Scotland from the back of a motor bike, weather permitting, is the way to do it. I love it up here...

Later that afternoon we headed into Glascow, and saw Brett transform into the adult equivalent of a kid in a candy shop! Shopping for a belated birthday present I think he was well chuffed with his new pedal for his guitar. Wandering around Glascow, for some reason I found that it reminded me a lot of Perth. Strange but true. Especially the city itself, around Forest Chase, that kind of area. Weird.

It has now been just over 6 months since I left home and I am still a little in no-man's-land, with only fluid plans and no concrete home. But what I have noticed is that friends, no matter where there are or where you leave them (!) or what kind of mischief befalls you or them in the meantime, things stay suprisingly the same. I had the best weekend in Scotland, primarily because of these friends, both old and new. Catching up with old friends in good for the soul. Staying in touch more and seeing them more often is better but don't forget to tell them they matter, no matter what.

I have also noticed or come to the conclusion that the one of the reasons that like attracts like, or in the case of the traveller, people seek out their countrymen almost unconsciously, is that because it is easier. You don't have to explain everything (ok, mostly everything in my case!) and can ramble on for ages, talking absolute rubbish or truth without having to think about what the cultural nuances mean. And sometimes, that means you feel that little bit more like you fit, that the world hasn't gone mad and you aren't on the outside looking in. Which is kind of a good thing...

My trip to Scotland was over a week ago now (I know, I got a little behind on the blog) and I am back in London plotting my return! In order to achieve such nefarious aims I have, almost by accident gotten
MoiMoiMoi

Looking a little tired for some reason - my cold was coming...
a new job! I am going to work out the rest of my three month contract at Accenture in a different role. The new job is much more interesting, Graduate Recruitment Assistant, so recruiting grads from the various in what they call the Scoxbridge region - Cambridge, Oxford and the Scottish uni’s. I will also get to go and visit up there too! So that is me planned until the end of October-ish anyway - plus the odd weekend away if I can get myself organised. I want to make sure I take advantage of being so close to things here so I am considering taking a weekend and going to Paris in a couple of weeks for my birthday. And I am going down to Cornwall soon too - these feet are still itchy!

Can you believe this? My housemate has talked me into doing some bikram yoga - £10 for 10 consectutive days. Ok, she didn't so much talk as suggest and I leapt at the chance to start again, especially with the motivation of having comeone to go with. I have survived two sessions, the first one nearly killed me - at one point I thought I was going to vomit! But the second session was better and I survived although I can not believe the amount of sweat that was pouring off me. I have never sweated that much in my life - I think I would have been able to ride on a slip and slide in the backgarden unassisted by any water! To those not in the loop, bikram is hatha yoga practice in the heat, 40 degree heat...jeepers...AND to make things a little more crazy, on the other side of the world, completely unbeknownst to me, Ms Nessa has started a bikram class too...creepy, huh?

Anywho, that is all there is to report from here for the moment. But stay tuned...there are more adventures planned...









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19th August 2008

the "passing through" summer ! we have that as well ! hah. i love that you love scotland.. and i love your birthday plans! yay! no more peanut cookies for you until the 10 days is up - ok?? i want to see you sweat your way through the tube... makes for easier sardine squishiness anyway ! x

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