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Published: October 31st 2012
I know, I know...long time, no blog... But I suppose working full time again has meant a bit less happens to write about!
So here I am in Sydney, Back in the world of fashion, back in that familiar cycle of drawing, speccing, fitting, ranging, running around, shouting down the phone because the factory have put the wrong lace quality in the wrong colour on a top that looks like a 4 year old made it (hey, maybe they did)... And it's a world away from the last 6 months of my life! To think just a few weeks ago the most stressful decision I had to worry about was whether to have a VBs or spend the extra on a Cooper's pale ale (always the latter) and now I'm right back in the thick of it...
But this time round it's different...
We used to have a saying in the industry back in the UK when it all got a bit stressful - "it's only a fucking t-shirt!"... And never has this made more sense. At the end of the day, I'm here for the cash... Surely that's all anyone works for right?
And for the first time in my life I'm working to live, not living for work and that's a HUGE difference. Sure I still get some satisfaction from my job... Fashion is what I do and I worked bloody hard to get where I am, but here it's different... I LOVED my job back home (most of the time!) Maybe a bit too much... I loved being creative everyday, loved the people, loved the travel, loved the fact that an average of 1 in 5 women in the UK must own at least one of my "nautical bow tops", But there it was my life whereas here it's just something I happen to do Monday to Friday, so I can live on the beach in this gorgeous little seaside town of Manly which I've fallen a little bit in love with.
Manly is perfect. A nice stretch of white sand at one side with good surf (tried only once!), a harbourside at the other ideal for afternoon Sunday beers in the sunshine (of which I've tried many!) where every week I seem to meet new people & make new friends. A good mix of locals, travellers, a few
multi cultures but with a heavy dose of Aussies & Brits thrown in too, it seems i'm not the only one succumbed to the Manly charms. It's like every weekend I'm on holiday!
And since I moved here I have to say my life has got considerably better. There I was, living in Newtown, which as cool as it was, let's face it, every city in the UK has a cool, hippy, trendy area with vintage shops, cool bars & cafes - even Hull! And I didn't move to Oz to live in a slightly sunnier version... If I was going to stay for a while, I decided, I wanted to make the most of it... I'm British for god sake! And Brits live by the beach, get burnt and say "it's ok it'll go brown by tomorrow" and that's exactly what I intended to do! So coupled with the fact that the two girls I was currently living with were not only very messy (and I'm not talking leave-a-couple-of-pots-in-the-sink kind of messy, I'm talking not-do-the-pots-for-a-whole-weekend, leave-3-day-old-left-over-pizza-on-the-sofa-and an-empty-tin-of tuna-that-you've-just-eaten-straight-from-the-tin-with-your-fingers-on-the-coffee-table kind of messy) and on at least two occasions I found the house cat Frankie locked in the cupboard
under the kitchen sink... I decided enough was enough! So I viewed some flats the next night and 3 days later moved into a gorgeous little art deco style flat right in the centre of manly for the bargain price of $150 per week! Unusually cheap, some might notice, but there was a bit of a catch... The catch being that I had to walk through someone else's bedroom to get to my own! Awkward! But to be honest I really didn't mind - rather me walk through their's than them through mine, and it was a million times better than where I'd just been! And besides, it was only for a couple of weeks...
So my first weekend in Manly, the weather is gorgeous and I make the most of the sunshine, meet some friends for brunch, laze on the beach then join my new flat mates in a spot of snorkelling down at Shelley Beach. The water's still really cold this time of year but they kindly lend me a wetsuit and off we go...
It's not until we're almost there that Francois says casually "oh you'll probably see sharks by the way.." WTF?!
I didn't sign up for this! But I cast my fears aside and go for it... But as soon as I put my head under the water I see a huge giant jelly fish! Panicked slightly to say the least I take a deep breath and carry on, following the others further out of the bay. Within 2 more minutes, from the corner of my eye, almost like a shadow, but I can definitely make out the shape - there it is... My first shark... Ahhhh! I try to stay calm, breathing so deeply through my snorkel I'm sounding more and more like Darth Vada giving birth whilst having an asthma attack at the same time, and eventually I realise, despite being about the same size as me, Mr Shark isn't interested in us at all, preferring the sea bed vegetation to a nice big juicy chunk of my thigh, thankfully! And then there's dozens of them! And my fear turns to amazement... This is awesome!
So back to work, my plan is to work for a month, take the cash & carry on my big adventure!... But since I've become "Miss plan changes every 5 minutes", this
didn't quite happen... The intentions were there, however it's not every day while your in the middle of back packing round the world someone offers you a flight home (premium at that!) & a chance to see your family & friends if only for a few days... And this is exactly what happened. I've always travelled a lot with my job, however I wasn't expecting them to send me on a trip so soon! And being in Australia, so generally far away from the fashion capitals, it makes sense for them to send designers on round the world shopping trips rather than just one city at a time... So lucky for me, before I know it, and waaaaaay before I expected it, I'm on a plane, drinking champagne & heading for London!
And to add even more excitement, I'd decided to surprise my mum & dad as they're not expecting to see me til Christmas.
I land into Heathrow at 6am to clear blue skies and a warm balmy 20degrees... My feet on home soil after 8 months. It's funny as this was about the date I'd actually planned to return when I set out just
after Christmas... Little did I know that it would be on a whistlestop tour of the world this time! I catch a cab into Kings Cross which costs a fortune but since work are paying, I have two huge cases and I've not slept for 32 hours I feel justified in my choice... That is until we immediately get stuck in traffic and I'm cursing the UK motorways after only 10 minutes of being back in the country! (Not that I drive in Sydney, as I'm sure it's pretty bad there too!)
Anyway, I make my train headed north with minutes to spare and a couple of hours later I'm chugging through the Yorkshire countryside, the familiar green fields whizzing past, it doesn't really feel like I've been away. It feels completely normal... But I guess that's what home should feel like - that's what makes it home...
And how good did it feel to be home!... My brother picks me up from the station and we drive round to mum & dad's... I hide in the car while he goes in and gets them to sit down (under my instruction - I was so nervous
they might have too big a shock!)... Then he says "right I'm gonna get your present from the car now, but you can only have it for 3 days then it's got to go back"... (My Dad apparently thought it was an inflatable Jacuzzi!... My mum thought she was getting a weekend in Edinburgh... But no, all they got was their fancy free daughter...) My bro gives me a piggy back into the house "Surprise!!!" we yell... There's screaming & crying & hugging all round... I don't think they were too disappointed...
Such a perfect weekend, revolving around eating, chatting, drinking, sleeping (the jet lag killed me I was asleep my 10pm every night!) and more eating, I didn't want it to end...
But of course it did... And far too quickly as all good times do! 3 days later I'm back at Brough station, hugging my dad goodbye... Only this time it's not so sad... It's more of a "see ya later" as either I'll be home for Christmas, or they'll be coming to Oz! (Decision still pending.)
So back down to London I meet my best friend Fi for an evening of
Cava & catching up, before jetting off to Barcelona, for my first day of shopping. Now I know this sounds exciting, getting paid to shop, and believe me I'm not complaining (much!) but 7 whole days of solid continuous shopping in 4 different cities is not as fun as it sounds. Doing this job over the years has certainly taken the fun out of shopping for clothes for good... Food, furniture, nik naks.. I'm all over them but the last place I want to be at the weekend is within 5 miles of a Topshop or H&M...
Next stop is back in London for 2 days, and I have a slight pang of "god I really miss it here..." The air is warm and dusty but has a certain comforting feeling about it... I spend an afternoon shopping down Brick Lane - I love it here... The cool part of town (and way too cool for me) but wandering around the vintage shops, like I used to do once a fortnight, it's nice to get away from the crowds of Oxford St. I meet a few old friends for post-work Friday drinks and not one to want to
sway from a Friday night drinking tradition end up in our favorite Thai place on Charlotte Street. It's been so great catching up with friends & family if only a few stolen hours here & there... But it's really made me miss everyone more! I think you kind of get used to a little routine of not seeing someone everyday and then when you finally do it's great!... But then they're gone again and you realise just how important they are in your life...
Still, the shopping continues, and myself & Serena my buyer, arrive at Heathrow with 8 HUGE cases of samples between us... Piled high on the trolley we feel like the Kardashians walking through the airport (aside from the lack of make up, lack of hired help and lack of 6inch heels on our feet)... Not only that but before we check our bags in we have to ensure everything we've bought has had a huge slice up the back to avoid being stopped by US customs at the other side! So there we're sat, on the floor in the corner of the check in hall chopping up a mountain of brand new clothes getting
all sorts of strange looks from passer by (see how glamorous my job is!)
So New York & LA whizz past in a blur of more shirts, skirts & copius amounts of Starbucks... before I know it we're boarding our last flight back to Sydney... And I'm so excited to be back!! Flying over the Northern beaches as we land to clear blue sunny skies I have a huge smile on my face...
Just moments before I had been chatting with the air steward about how much I loved Manly..."You've met someone there havent you" he guessed - judging by the besotted look on my face..."actually no" I reply "I've just fallen in love with this whole place... The sunshine, the lifestyle, the people..."
If home is where the heart is, (and of course i miss my real home!) but right now there's a little piece of mine that belongs right here.
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