Monday, December 20, 2010

Dreaming of a white Christmas...

Not so much dreaming as guaranteed a white Christmas. At work we had a good 4-5 inches on the ground, not quite so much at home. But it's pretty much been snowing all day, so I think we are catching up.

I've been struck down with a horrible bug, so am wrapped up in my possum and merino jersey and a long skirt. My lovely flatmate has gone out in the snow to the supermarket, so I gave her a list. I'm planning to not leave the house until Thursday if I can help it. I think gallivanting about in the snow over the weekend is probably what turned any old sore throat in to a cough. Blegh.

So London-Midlands have cancelled trains until further notice. They're my main trains to work, but there are others, just not as frequently. And I'm not due in there until Thursday. Heathrow is jammed full of people and won't take anyone in to two of the terminals. The Eurostar is also functioning only slightly better than the airlines, they've stopped selling tickets and are telling people to not even bother coming to the station today.

I'm so pleased I got home last night! I had to take a shift off sick, but still had to cover for a few hours (long, boring story), but when I got to the train station there was only one train on the board delayed, and none cancelled (I was shocked!). And my train's predicted time to arrive varied between "On time" and 2 minutes late. It was on time. It was absolutely freezing on the train though, ice on the inside of the windows, and snow inside the train. Don't ask me how they got snow on the inside of the train. I think they must have left the carriage out in the weather somewhere with all the windows and doors open. Seriously, it wasn't trampled in snow, it was a proper dusting in random little spots! And it didn't melt for the trip, until after we got stuck behind a broken down train in Worcester. Which, I must say I was very impressed with how they dealt with that. They moved our train out, got an engine to shunt the other one out of the way while they turned our carriages around, and then got out carriages back in at another platform and we were good to go within the space of five minutes. *muchly impressed* AND there were taxis at the station to get me home from there! My feet were almost completely numb by the time I got home. Letting them defrost was quite painful.

Okay, time to move from the sofa for a while. I need more Lemsip. Blegh, disgusting, but I do really need one.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I haven't *actually* moved to Sibera,

it just feels like I have. I have a new least favourite weather condition- freezing fog. Usually I like fog, it's fun and you have to guess what is where and it makes things look so dramatic! But freezing fog is SO cold! We've had quite a few days recently where the temperature hasn't even got up to freezing point! It was was fun when it was just snow, I took these pictures the second day after it snowed, we actually got several inches deep in the end, quite a bit more than in these pictures. It's mostly melted around home, but at work it is just awful. The snow only partially melted in the streets, and now it has all frozen again in to ice. Not just little thin sheets of ice, but several inches thick from the snow which didn't melt properly! It's like walking on an ice-skating rink just going to the corner shop! But apparently it's worse further north, I heard people got stranded on the motorway for over 18 hours in Scotland the other night! I have to admit I appreciate the central heating when the temperatures are fluctuating between -8 and -1 between day and night. I think it's might have warmed up a little today, the sun is actually out, but it has been awfully cold! And everything is still frozen in the mornings. I took some pictures on my cellphone the other day of the frost and ice, it was amazingly pretty. Hoar frost apparently, according to the weather presenter. That was the day of the freezing fog.

Some pictures of the pretty snow in the Malvern hills, when it was just a sprinkling.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow (hey oh!)

Like a dusting of icing sugar over a heavy frost.

It's absolutely beautiful!

And slightly dangerous if you don't like landing on your bum in the middle of the street.

Adds a certain something to greasy breakfast in the local pub before I get the train back to Malvern though. I think it is predicted to get to about 2 degrees today in Malvern... practically tropical compared tot he rest of the UK! Only -3 overnight tonight. It slightly bothers me that the temperature can change so little in the space of 24 hours! But I'm betting there will be more snow on the hills in Malvern, I can't wait to settle in to my attic room with my camera, I've got an even better view than the last ones I posted now, and it's all going to be covered in snow, yay!!!

Okay I don't hate winter quite so much as I say. I even almost wanted to go snowboarding again. Almost. But not quite. It's still cold. But then I am wearing a dress.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pool of Liver!

I'm definitely going to have to give it to Liverpool, they've produced good music and they've still got an awesome scene... I am impressed! I was expecting the Beatles mania, and it was easily found. Hadn't realised how many awesome people had played at The Cavern Club (so aptly named)... seriously, the list on their wall just went on and on, everyone you've ever wanted to see has played there. Well, maybe not everyone, but almost everyone. Beatles (obviously), but also Bowie, Queen, The Who.... I couldn't bear to read it all. Did go in for a drink, barman asked me three times if I was from Australia and I couldn't make out a word of it, the Polish girl I was with had to translate!!! Totally bizzare... two native 'English' speakers and the one who has English as a second language was the only one who could understand both of us!

So in case you didn't guess, that's the Cavern Club above (it really put me in mind of Refuel for those who know it! Underground, chewing-gum stairs, live music, somehow seedy despite their best efforts to do better...).

That monstrosity to the right is Lambanana..... something something European Cultural capital.... something = the birth of Lambanana. Seriously, don't ask me how. Also this one is multi-coloured, and I don't know why that is, most of them were yellow, but sometimes they were in odd positions, or had things around them. I think they're supposed to refer to genetic engineering (not sure how that links to cultural capital...).

The River Mersey on a lovely morning in Liverpool. It had lots of boats and stuff. I *think* this way was looking towards the mouth of the river, but I'm not 100% on that one- it really is a good way up the river. There were millions of seagulls though, just as evil as seagulls in the rest of the world. Damn seagulls. I was going to go for a ride on the river, they were only about £5, but there was never anyone at the boat dock where you could *apparently* buy your tickets 20 minutes before sailing times. It was a lie. So no ferry across the Mersey for me. Just as well probably, it was really cold.

More random art from European cultural capital 2008! At least these ones were kinda neat, and double as
decent seating- there was actually someone sitting on the other side of that close stack when I took the picture! If you get up close you can read the luggage labels... Ringo, Macca, etc. Yay more Beatles worship! Nah, I actually do like this sculpture (?). Also, I had to wait ages to take a picture, there were lots of students going past on their way to lectures. Or escaping from a lecture maybe. Who knows. But there was definitely a lot of them!

Liverpool wins the prize for weird cathedrals by the way. This... thing was created in.... I forget. I think this design might have been chosen in the 50's or 60's, although apparently the crypt underneath was made around 1900 for an earlier cathedral which never quite happened. But I have to give it to the Catholic church, it make look seriously odd from outside, but it's lovely inside. The seating is circular, so that nobody is more than 25 meters from whoever is speaking, and it has all these little rooms coming off. I can't remember what they're called, but they have different saints, some are just for children to colour in religious pictures, or light candles for dead babies (hey I didn't make that up, they're really did!), or whatever you think you mis-deeds are. I don't like taking pictures inside churches, but its light was amazing, that whole top of it is stained glass. I'm still not sure about the whole 'King of Liverpool' thing though. Religion + politics = bad.

Why yes, I *have* been hanging around the men's bathrooms again! I figured if I was in there I might as well take a picture... they're a grade II listed building okay! See- wikipedia says so! Just the gentlemen's bathrooms as I understand, the rest of the pub is just pretty and famous, but not historically special. Sorry, it's not the best picture, my camera isn't keen on inside artificial lighting, but it makes up for it with good outside pictures, so I don't mind.

Finally, the Bombed Out church. It's a local landmark, and I totally love it! It's a pretty old building, and it has no roof since WW II. As I understand it got a bomb through the roof and it has never been repaired or restored. It gets used as a venue for open-air plays and performances, although someone was telling me you have to sign a disclaimer before you go in because bits might fall off the building! Interesting relic from the past though, left as it stands.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And I thought Yamyam was difficult...

Scouse is awesome. I was sitting next to a bunch of kids in Burger King the other night, and the only word I could understand of their entire conversation was 'Yeah'. Seriously, it was a good ten minutes of solid talking and I couldn't comprehend a word of it!

Anyway, Liverpool is neat. It's even colder and wetter than Birmingham. But it's a bit of student town, which I hadn't realised. I do like student towns. I haven't done much touristing to be honest, it's too wet to want to leave the safety of the pub. It seems like every time I go inside it starts raining, so I don't want to go out again. This would probably be less of an issue if my shoes didn't leak, but it seems that they do. The left one significantly more than the right. I'm planning on going to the museums on the docks tomorrow. People keep recommending the modern art gallery, but I just don't like modern art, so I think I'll give it a miss. Or maybe I'm just being contrary.

Oh and for those of you familiar with Red Vs Blue, it's got a whole different meaning here, probably enough to get you killed. Or at least in a lot of trouble. Yay football hooligans! Hilarious- red (Liverpool city) and blue (Everton) are really close together- other sides of the park or something ridiculous. I'm glad nobody has asked me about football. I think being a girl with an accent gets me out of a lot :D My answer is "I know nuzzing!!!"

Anyways, time to get going again, my feet are getting cold from sitting around.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Finally some news!

So my workmate and I had kind of stopped talking about the London thing, we had started to think it would never happen, so figured it best not to make plans and get too excited. I had started looking for a room here, figuring that at I could be closer to work until London got around to happening.... I was honestly just about to take a room here, but was too busy to call up and say that I wanted it, which was turned out lucky- that night my lovely workmate told me that she had just heard that London will be happening, and probably before Christmas!

So all going well another month or six weeks here, and then down to London by Christmas time. Which probably doesn't assist my plan that it's going to snow for Christmas, seeing as London is really in the warmer parts of the country. But hey. Oh, I'm thinking of going to Spain in January. Apparently I have two weeks leave or there about, and it has to be used before April. So I'm thinking of escaping the winter for a little while. I will definitely be well over winter by January. Speaking of adventures, I'm planning on Liverpool next weekend. Not sure why Liverpool, except that I can get a direct train from work an hour after I finish on Friday afternoon. Yes, afternoon. Not evening. I finish at 3.00pm and my train is at 4.00pm. Well 4.08pm. Yay!!! I really don't know anything about Liverpool, except that it has a river called Mersey, and that The Beetles are from there. And the train station is on Lime Street. Which I think might be a main street, but I couldn't be certain. I haven't even organised accommodation yet. This should be a good adventure. I've booked my ticket and that's basically it. And there isn't going to be a hell of a lot of time for organising it this week. I think it will be luck of the draw as to what I get!

In other news, it's terrible to think that it's early November and I've already done all my Christmas shopping, but I really have! All that is left is Dad's birthday present, and I might get a couple of little things in stock for when I figure out who I'll actually be with on Christmas day... Where I'll be on Christmas day! I'm guessing work, but it's all liable to change at a moments notice in this job. And in particular this situation! Technically Christmas day falls at the end of my week of waking night shifts, and I have Christmas day and boxing day off, but it's not really important to me, so I might volunteer for extra shifts. People with children can go home and have a family Christmas, I don't really mind. Besides, I think it is time and half pay, or a day in lieu, or something. Yay extra money! It can go on this holiday I'm planning in January... I'm really going to have to brush-up on my Spanish, it's been years since I studied it!

....and back to work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Okay Winter, bring it on!!!

I have been preparing for a while now. See my outfit and melt in my warmth!

Don't ask where I got such awesome camera skills, I really don't know. That top one is exactly how it was taken, no effects whatsoever! As for my new-found career as a winter fashion model... I think that takes a certain combination of 4am, caffeine and an a rather superb jacket!

And after that beautiful coat interlude I shall return to my caffeine-hyped now-almost-5am-world.

Curvature of the earth

So did anyone happen to notice it in my previous post? Seriously, check out that panoramic picture of Worcestershire! England definitely doesn't do hills. Except for the Malverns, which are comparatively so high (the tallest standing at a whopping 425 meters) you can see the earth curving off on the horizon...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Leaves light trees autumn hills pretty!

So I went for a walk today (updating on the same day!), it was very pretty. It's decidedly autumn now, to me it is practically winter. There was frost on the ground at three O'clock in the afternoon! That means winter to me, deep, dark depths of Winter. But as it is the North side of the hill (I'm pretty sure it's north anyway), the sun disappears by four in the afternoon completely from Malvern, and in parts of the hills it clearly never gets there at all this time of year.

But it was a beautiful day, just the right sort of weather for a walk- cool enough that you don't
get hot and sticky, but not cold enough to need too much extra clothing. And beautifully sunny, completely blue skies as far as you can see, which is quite far from what is probably the highest hills in England. Definitely the highest in the county- you can see Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Wales to the west and..... I forget what is south and east. Wikipedia informs me it is mostly Gloucestershire in both directions, I haven't been exploring there yet. Sadly I haven't see anything to pull me in there yet either, I'm thinking about heading north for my next adventure, but more on that later. First,
the prettiness of Malvern in Autumn!

Okay so I just got called to the pub, bad luck for the formatting, sorry!

From the top:
Malvern hills looking Northwest

The Malvern Priory (dating from really old, almost 1000 years I think)

More hills, they were really pretty!

Almost all the other ones are various views north(ish) so vaguely of Worcestershire mostly.

This last one is of the pond outside St Annes well, which is where people used to come for water healing in Victorian times, apparently it was quite the thing to do. And probably the reason for such an ridiculously lovely train station.

Well I shall love you and leave you, I need a shower before I can possibly leave the house. And I've got dreadful hat-hair, thanks to my pink sparkly beanie. Not kidding! I've got matching gloves and scarf too, although the fingers of the gloves are about an inch too long.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things to do while waiting for a train...

Definitely time to give an update before I forget about my trip to Oxford!

I love Oxford, I would like to live there. The whole place was full of old buildings with crazy stories. And it's got a castle that was being used as a prison until only 14 years ago!!! I find that so hard to believe- apparently the archaeologists had a fantastic time once they closed the prison; you can just imagine, seeing as it had been a kings-and-queens type castle until it became a prison in I think just pre-Victorian times? Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had been doing waking night shifts, and decided to re-adjust the violent way, by staying up all day. So Monday I was shattered, but stayed up till after 10.00pm- mostly figuring out where I wanted to go for the 'weekend', and I settled on Oxford. There is a direct train from Malvern so it got bonus points. Soooooooo I took my shattered self to bed some time before 11pm and got up at.... I can't remember, but I was at the train station for 6.50am train, so early.

Tuesday I got to Oxford no issues. Unintentionally found myself in the quiet carriage. The train was destined for London Paddington ultimately, so it was full of buisnessmen in suits travelling from their country residence in to the city for a day of meetings. Or whatever it is they do. But it did mean that I had a really nice quiet trip to Oxford, and that the bloke sitting next to me could tell me when Oxford was the next stop. This was good at pre-9am, I zoned out for most of the trip. Although there was one really surreal moment, early in the trip. We were going through the outskirts of some industrial looking town and the sun was just rising, casting an eerie orange glow over the scene, it looked really post-apocalyptic at that time; there wasn't a living thing to be seen. It made me think of Captain Planet... I'm not quite sure what that says about me, but it really did!!!

So, got to Oxford and found the hostel I had booked a bed in easily, it was only five minutes from the train station. Sadly they wouldn't let me check-in properly, although they did offer me somewhere to keep my stuff if I wanted to (I only had one bag, so didn't). So I went off and found somewhere to have breakfast. For those ex-Dunedin people, (from a few years ago now, I know it's closed now) it was much like the Green Acorn- post-grads and all. So I was muchly pleased. It was student cafe, but nicer than average. And delicious! Oh, with free wi-fi. They have free wi-fi everywhere in Oxford, you would never have your own internet connection!!!

After breakfast I wandered around for a while, mostly aimlessly, and mostly through the many
university colleges. They take up most of the town, I'm actually not kidding!!! You see a pretty
building and think it's a church? Nope, it's the chapel of one of the colleges, every time. The only church I did see what not nearly so decorative! And it had people drinking in the graveyard in
the middle of the day. Classy.

I think this one was Christ Church college, the first one I came across. It was big and very well maintained, but I don't think there was much public access except for the gardens, which were quite pretty, except for the face the lawns were being mown at that particular point.

I kept wandering and somehow found myself facing a paddock with cows. No kidding, a two minute stroll from that pretty college above and I was looking at a paddock with cows!

I think that is Merton college you can see in this picture (although I could be wrong, it got a bit
confusing going from one to the next). The cows were just a bit to the right of this picture! It was
quite strange, but kinda cool. I think I walked past some stables too, but I couldn't see over the fence. It smelled like a stables though!

After wandering through colleges I accidentally found the philosophy department. Seriously it was an accident I swear! But seeing as I was there, I was rather compelled to have a nosey, and seeing as the swipe-card access system opened happily without a swipe card... well I just couldn't help myself really! They have piles of books on Wittgenstein in their departmental library- blegh! But otherwise, I have to say, it was just the same as every other university department I've wondered around, but with swipe-card access for almost everything, instead of just science and computer labs.

After the colleges and pretending to be a student again I wondered around and discovered the less university dominated parts of the town, they weren't very exciting. There was a church with people drinking in the graveyard. In the middle of the day. Had some lunch somewhere I can't remember. I was basically too tired to do much that afternoon! After my initial burst of enthusiasm that morning the lack of sleep really hit me and I spent a lot of time sitting in Cafes using the wireless and drinking coffee. Oxford had decent coffee in most places, which made me happy.

I had dinner in a really old pub, it had been an public house of some sort since the 17th century or something! And also some tasty been called Hobgoblin. They have the best names for beers here! My order got lost during a rush and they ran out of what I ordered so they said I could choose anything from the menu and would be put at the front of the orders in the kitchen, so I had Scottish Salmon, it was delicious!!! After that I made my way back to my hostel, which was sadly full of people who were drinking in the common room. Then they all went to bed, in my dorm. And kept talking. Luckily I wasn't the only one who wanted to get some sleep, so they got Shhhed after a while, but not before getting me aggravated. One of the not drunk people was an American guy from NY, doing a Masters I think (I only deduced this, could have been something else) in Anthropology and couldn't find any accomodation. I guess it's like all student towns, big rush on accomodation at the start of semester. Interesting conversation though. I slept like a log that night, I was so tired! When I woke up in the morning it was absolutely pouring with rain, I could hear it from my bed, so went back to sleep. It was lovely to go back to sleep! When I finally got going it had stopped raining, and I headed for the castle. Yay castles!!!

As you had to pay for entry to the castle I figured I would go for the tour which was part of the entry fee. Turned out you couldn't go up the tower without a guide anyway, so just as well. Anyway, it turned out that nobody else can be bothered with castles at 10.30am, so I got a private tour!!! This was awesome for a variety of reasons; firstly she cut the "I'm a theif locked up in this castle since 1752" crap pretty quickly, secondly she took my picture at the top of the tower for me (yay a picture with me in it for once!), thirdly I got to ask lots of questions without interruption, and finally, I would NOT have wanted to climb those stairs in a crowd. I took this picture from the castle mound, where they used to shoot people from during a siege!
This is the less offensive of the two pictures my lovely guide took. Please keep in mind that a) I had the sun in my eyes (yay English weather!!) and b) I had just climbed 101 stairs. Now, these were no ordinary stairs. It was a stone spiral staircase, and they couldn't have been more than about 2 foot wide! Steep. Apparently they co-
ordinate tours so they don't meet on the stairs. She even walkie-talkied someone to let them know we were on our way down, and there was only two of us! It's a pity you can't see the spires very will in this picture, but I took more later, so you'll see more! So I learned several things during my castle tour. Firstly being in prison before the 18th century was spectacularly horrible, and also weird. You had to pay your own board. Seriously! If you were rich you could have visitors to tea and nice clothes and everything! I think it was Edwardian they became more like we know them now. I also learned that the castle was really old (Surprise!)- dating from 1066 (something about Norman conquests?) and used to have a moat from the Thames river (which runs through Oxford). It wasn't a castle to start with, it was a fort keep or something, with four towers at each corner, but then someone decided it was more useful to have a castle, so they turned one of the towers (To the far right in that picture of the castle) in to the castle's tower and built it all up around that. It was Empress Matilda's (or Matilda of England, or whatever name you want to use) castle during the Baron's war in the 12th Century, and her son became King Henry II. Yay medieval kings-and-queens castles!!!

So after the castle I finally resigned myself to the ever-present English lunch of Jacket potatoes. It had baked beans and cheese, I was surprised it was tastier than I expected. Ahhh England, you don't really do adventurous foods. But I certainly wasn't hungry again for a while! And they had free wi-fi. I love this free wi-fi thing they have, it's just magic. It's what I'm using right now. Buy a coffee, get free wi-fi! Delicious.

Anyway, after lunch I did some more wandering about, and then paid my £2 entry to Carfax tower. It was a bit dissapointing after the castle, there really wasn't anything to see, or even hear about, except for the view. There were lots of warnings about not climbing the tower if you have health problems, which was explained when I started climbing... 99 stairs, all less than two feet wide, and again a spiral staircase. Even worse than the one in the castle! You would be facing one direction, but moving in another, they were so steep. It was really awkward, there wasn't even elbow room! I think it's a bell tower, just in case you wanted to know. But there were some nice views from the top!

I don't know what this tower was all about, but I liked the way it stood out against the countryside behind it! The one below is also from Carfax tower, just of some of the spires and other pretty buildings. It wasn't really possible to show how many there are in one picture, but they're sticking up all over the skyline in Oxford; really striking.
After climbing the tower I chilled out for a bit, had some lunch in a horrible cafe and then had a quick look in the Blackwell bookshop. According to wikipedia they have the largest single room devoted to book sales in all of Europe- it was certainly very big!!! I didn't get much time there as I had to get back to the train station to go home, but it was impressive. I got to look in the Oxford University Press bookshop too, also very impressive. I wish I could buy lots of books!
Once I had a few minutes devoted to staring at enormous bookshops of great repute I had to go, but I was sad to leave, I really liked Oxford. It had that student vibe of university towns, there were banners for live music everywhere, lots of cafes and coffee shops, and a serious collection of very decent looking pubs. Student discount signs abound- I even got asked for my student ID once, so flattering!!! I wish! I would love to study there. Or even just live there really, but it's hard to imagine being there and not being a student, the university is clearly the biggest influence on the town by a long way, unsurprisingly. But what a lovely town. Oh, and students have been hated by townsfolk since at least 1209! Damn those drunken students and all their partying!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why no, Birmingham

doesn't do interesting, why do you ask?

Granted some silly person thought that alphabetical was *obviously* the most sensible way to list all possible points of interest for someone not from Birmingham, but really, the airport?! Believe it or not people tend to assume that a city of 3.5 million people will have an airport. Possibly even an international one. You don't actually need to state this on your website. Unless of course you really haven't got anything else to put on it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A day-trip to Hereford

It was almost two weeks ago now, but I've been feeling exceptionally lazy recently, and waking night shifts aren't so good for sorting out photos as I thought they would be, my eyes weren't so convinced about staring at a computer screen to evaluate the relative merits of various photos. Particularly when none of them were exceptionally good photos. And I've been reading lots anyway, two and a half books in the last two weeks! Given the amount of free time I have that is pretty good. Of course the reading is in direct relation to the waking night shifts, I got through 3/4 of Isabel Allende's memoir in one shift! I now have a couple more books thanks to the Malvern library, which I have to admit hasn't got the greatest adult fiction section. I also bought the second two of the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series. Not that I thought the first one was anything particularly special, but she is an interesting female lead, and I want to see where he takes it, she is kinda totally vulnerable, so she could become less of a heroine more of a victim pretty easily. I got the first one in Dubai airport by the way, I felt the need for an a trashy airport book. I'll grant it exceeded expectations in that area, I was not able to read it on the plane at all. Also they were two for the price of one or some other such deal, and the speed I'm getting through books on these waking nights made it seem worthwhile. Also, I think new books are cheaper here. £8 I think they were. I'm sure they would be at least $20 at home, each. On special.

Anyway, Hereford. It was quite a nice town actually, I rather liked it. I strolled about being a tourist mostly, which I don't actually enjoy doing much, I feel ridiculous standing there taking pictures of things that everyone else takes for granted. But I was in the mood for it. Anyway, I had to find out if they had any cows.
This is the cathedral I was told much about. It was very pretty, you can't really make out the detail in this picture as it is too small, but it was quite lovely. They were doing a lot of work around it, not sure exactly what. They also claimed that it cost £4000 per day to keep it running, or something ridiculous like that, which I wasn't entirely inclined to believe. Anyway, they charged for you to take photos inside, so there aren't any photos from inside. It was a bit dark, so my camera probably wouldn't have taken any good pictures anyway, as you'll be able to see from my picture in Ledbury. My camera isn't so good with low-light, I can't figure out how to keep the shutter speed reasonable even when there is low light, that way I might be able to take evening/night pictures more reliably.

I took this picture looking towards what I would generally consider the town square, although it seemed to lack a town hall or any sort of civic buildings, or even a statue. Anyhow, the building hidden behind the tree is every bit as neat as it looks, except for one thing- it appears from three sides to be basically abandoned, although well maintained. From the other side, I found out much too late, it is actually a museum. Obviously. The only entrance is quite small and not
particularly obvious, so I only noticed it when I walked past on my way back to the train station. It had some cute historical story that I've now forgotten on a plaque outside, I'm pretty sure it involved rich men and their daughters getting married, possibly to the wrong people. I can't really remember now, I might just be making it up. I'm pretty sure about the wealthy men part though!
One of the things I really liked in Hereford was all the little alleyways. They were basically impossible to take a good picture of, but I tried, and this one has hanging baskets of flowers, so it got bonus points!

When I eventually tired of Hereford (some hours after having a half-pint of delicious local cider and getting "Dough'ed" by an fascinatingly bigoted old man -bartenders term btw for getting ensnared in conversation with that particular regular...) I moved on to a village called Ledbury, which is between Malvern and Hereford. It was already twilight when I arrived, so I'm only going to put up a picture of the pub I had dinner in (and found another delicious beer from the same brewery as the cider). It was a really pretty village, full of little boutique shops with local arts and such. I will go back another time I think and possibly do some xmas shopping. It was a really sweet little town!

Hidden down a dark alleyway, with the sound of church bells ringing around, I decided to investigate the possibilities of finding some dinner, it looked interesting enough. Inside was an amazing cheerful little country pub. I resisted all impulse to take pictures because I could tell it wouldn't be appreciated by the people who were just having a post-work (on the farm) drink. But I did have a very delicious dinner of faggots with minty mushy peas and chips. I just can't comprehend how the English came to think faggots was a good name for a dish of gigantic meat balls, but there you go. I managed not to giggle, and I had really delicious beer while I admired the many.... whatever you call those labels they put on the front of the beer taps so you know what they have. There were hundreds of them decorating all the walls, it was quite an interesting effect, almost mosaic. Excellent display. Oh, and the dinner was delicious. Made from local cows according to the menu, I didn't ask what specific type of cows... that might've been pushing it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Well I've been pretty lazy about updating my blog, I have to admit. But I haven't really been doing very much either. I went to Hereford last weekend, I will post about it later as I have pictures, but I haven't sorted through them yet.

I've had quite a few days off work as I wasn't getting enough rest between shifts. Long and relatively boring story which involves boringness and me getting woken up an awful lot. But essentially I got a bunch of time off and I've done very gloriously little. I've been to the library and borrowed a pile of books, and already finished one (on top of the other two I've finished recently), and that's about all. I made soup, it was okay. I think I'll stick with chicken soup in future though. Ummm what else. I found some trousers to buy. You can basically buy anything here in short version, so I didn't get the ones in the shop, but she gave me the code so I could buy them online, but the ones made for short people :-) I am quite pleased with this system whereby I don't have to get trousers hemmed every time I buy them! Also, I would like it noted how easily I have switched from 'pants' to 'trousers'. Just by the way. It's hard to remember they aren't synonymous here!

I had an entertaining day yesterday, I went shopping in Worcester, then met my workmate at the train station, so went to her place and had some dinner and fabulous home-made elderflower wine. And then went to a film, which was strange. We thought it might be a bit of a chick-flick but it was... well interesting. Which is more than I can generally say for movies involving romance and comedy. It had some interesting comments on society to make, and particularly celebrity culture and modern families. It was called Tamara Drewe by the way, and it was absolutely nothing like the blurb said, but I think better.

I think that's all for now really. No news on the London front yet. I think that will just happen all of a sudden, when it starts. Which is fine with me really.

I shall try and make a post soon with some pictures, I do have most of my waking nights to fill with nothing to do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Definitely going back to London!

Confirmed it this morning :D

Excited now!!! Not sure exactly *when* I will be going down, but I am looking forward to it. Quite soon as I understand it, maybe in the next month or so.


Busy busy busy!

Well it's all been rather busy for me recently, but I do love it really...

Well okay I wasn't loving it on Friday when I had only had about five hours sleep when I was called to cover someone for a couple of hours, and then when I got back to the office I *had* been in (after being told off for leaving it looking like a bedroom, which was due to having to go and cover someone) I had a shower in the office en-suite... which flooded downstairs... then I remembered I had promised to wait for the IT guy, who was an hour late, then I quickly ran next door to get my lunch and be able to start work an hour early... ahh what a day!!! It was never-ending I tell you! You had better believe I felt like having a temper-tantrum, and that was *before* I realised the shower was flooding!

It's not like that every day I swear! Just that day will be etched in my memory for a long time to come...

But I'm home now for a blissful two nights and one day! I'm going to go shopping (for food), cook my own dinner... maybe... maybe I will have people to go to the pub with. We will see. Oh and washing. Loads of washing :( I think I better do shopping first though, my white clothes have all gone really grey really quickly once I got here. But I've seen products in the supermarket which promise to whiten my clothes, so I may give them a try.

Ummm thats about all for now.

Oh yeah, the banking system in this country is totally archaic. It is just beyond amazing really. Just thought you needed to know. I've got an American workmate, we both spend time marvelling that anything is *ever* achieved through banks here... it actually takes two working days to process an electronic payment. Seriously. Money was sent to my account by work on a Friday morning. It showed up on the TUESDAY!!! Seriously, five days?! Apparently that is basically normal and what you should expect here. That would either be instant in New Zealand, or overnight. Not five days, even including a weekend.

Ahem. So I did get paid eventually. I even managed to send money back to my account in New Zealand (no thanks to my bank here I might add). Which was good, I now have all of the obscure details necessary to send money overseas. Oh and precisely $15 less than the amount I sent. I think I will have to chase up my bank in NZ about that though. My bank here said they would take out their fee from my account as an entirely separate transaction, which I can see on my statement, and even if they hadn't taken it out separately I seriously doubt an amount deducted in £s would come out as a nice round figure in $s. Soooo I think I'll do that tomorrow night. It is almost 1am, and I would like to sleep tonight.

Speaking of sleep...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

English weather really lived up to it's reputation...

I went for a walk in the hills today as I have been advised to do at least once a week since I got here... it was hill. England has actually got some hills, it isn't just rolling countryside. Sadly I forgot to take my camera, so I've got no photographic evidence to back up these wild claims about hills in England. But they were actually a decent walk. It reminded me of walking on the hills above Makara, near Wellington, for the approximately two people who may read this and actually know where that is. Kinda grassy and steep and very windy. Also a tad cold, possibly due to said wind.

Otherwise lovely. Oh and rain. Less lovely. But it didn't really start until we got back to the village, so realistically I could've avoided getting wet by hiding in the pub, as I wasn't yet saturated when I walked past, but I was quite keen on the idea of cooking my own dinner for a change, so I came home, and got well saturated in the process.

Well battery is about to die, but that was basically my weekend.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hi all!!!

No pictures yet, but maybe some tonight, I'm planning on going for a walk this afternoon.

I am contemplating moving back to London... I've been asked if I would like to join the London project (same employers, they're just starting up in another area). I may go I think. Not sure yet, I will miss my little English village for time off! But there is more to do with your time off in London, when you've just got little snatches of time off, like an unexpected evening off. It isn't enough time to get back to my little English village and back in time for the night shift, so I end up with dead time essentially; I'm neither working nor got anywhere else to be, so I just end up hanging around at work anyway. So London would solve that problem, just get on the tube and go anywhere really! I think I will go... London is still new and exciting. Birmingham, well it's okay but it's a bit like..... Hamilton or somewhere. It's just kinda there... one of the bigger cities, but not really much special about it. Oh and the local accent is going to get me in trouble one of these days, I just can't understand it. Black country I think they said the accent was, and I just *cannot* follow it. Honestly it is *really* hard- look at the wikipedia page! I'm not the only one, I swear!

Well that's about all for now folks... I shall try and take some pictures this afternoon when I go for a walk, but I promised the dog I would take her again, so they might not be great quality!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grrr cranky Sam

Managed to swing myself two days off in a row, but it was really one and a half because I didn't manage to ditch one shift until an hour or two before it started so my morning was spent in pre-work mode anyway.

I got my hair cut yesterday. Was well overdue and they guy mostly did a good job, he just cut the edges... well it was a bit straight which just didn't work at all. And my fringe was too long. So I went back in this morning and asked if he could just soften it up a bit, basically put a bit of shape in it around my face, which he said was fine. Next thing I know he is making it shorter all over... Now it is too short! It sounds incredibly fussy when I write it out but it's irritating me so much! I just don't like it.

In other news I haven't been paid yet. My fault, I think I gave them the wrong bank account number. Which would be because my bank opened me no less than three accounts when all I really wanted was a normal current account... So when I went hunting for my account number in the piles of paperwork they gave me I assumed when I could only find one number that it was for the account that I actually cared about. But no. It would appear that I have given them the number for the second savings account... i.e. the one I didn't realise I had until they asked me to put some money in it and I told them I didn't want it, so they closed it. And that is the woeful story of why I *still* haven't been paid. I do now know the numbers for all of my accounts. And I've only got two. Neither of them have any money as yet :( I will have to talk to work this afternoon though and make sure that I don't have to wait until next pay day to get paid... That would be so many kinds of ridiculous waiting a whole month longer. Stupid British, how is monthly a reasonable period to get paid, seriously?!

Mmmmm yeah that's about it really for the moment.
I have a hat, it makes me less grumpy about my haircut.
And sparkly scarf because you can't really wear a hat without a scarf, that would be silly.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gorgeous English village

... and the surrounding countryside as I forgot to take any pictures of the actual town! Well not quiet true, I took some, but it is hard to take good pictures of a town half way up the only hills around unless you go further up the hill which I didn't have time for.This is the gorgeous young lass who took me for a walk on the commons earlier in the week when I had some time off. It wasn't the loveliest weather so the horizon in the pictures is basically a bit of grey blur because it basically was a grey blur... but it did look a lot nicer in reality than the pictures give justice to.
I did love looking out from the hills
at all the little towns around the place. They're all separate little villages I think, but they practically merge in to each other when you get a view from up the hill. It's all so pretty!

And you can see how this gave me a Hansel and Gretel moment, yeah? I decided to explore the edge of the commons because there was this neat little lane with stone
walls down each side, it was all shady and dark
and a bit damp...
Fairy tale house! I think so anyway.

This house at the bottom is where I'm staying when I have time off; I love it! I wish we had stone houses like these at home! But it's like that everywhere here, if they aren't brick then they're stone I'm sure of it. I'm not sure if I've seen any wooden houses at all... I'm sure I must have but I can't picture any in my head.

Well I was going to put up one of the village centre as it is very picturesque, but I knew my photos weren't great because there was a lack of any really good vantage points. So I've put one of the train station. Not the most exciting, I was in a rush to get on the train! It otherwise looks prettier from a different angle where you can actually see the whole thing.

I was going to put some more pictures on here but the formatting on here is an absolute nightmare so I've given up in frustration. And I start work in ten minutes and want an early night! Hope you enjoy the pictures and the formatting actually comes out vaguely as planned, or at least so you can read it.

I just ditched IE for Google Chrome. How totally liberating!

I love Netty, but she was a bit slow before... turns out it was just retarded Windows IE. But to their credit Windows 7 did offer me alternative browsers which I actually want to use, such as Firefox and Google Chrome. My internet is now significantly faster. I think I will cry when I go back to IE on the work computers. Oh and it has actually taken me an entire week to even notice that I could choose to have a different browser! How depressing. All this time I've been blaming poor coverage from Vodafone but actually it was IE stomping all over my little Netty. I've tried to download both GC and Firefox a couple of times at various points in order to make things go faster, but Windows kept eating them when I tried to download and they would fail to install for some reason... presumably because they were secretly already there or something.

Anyway, yay for useful internet!

Now time for pictures. I shall post again soon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two days off in a row!!

How exciting, I can something more than just keeping up with my washing! I think I shall go for a walk in the hills tomorrow, assuming it doesn't rain. Otherwise... well I've got some shopping to do so I guess I could go and explore Worcester. They make sauce there, right?

Hmmm not much else to report on really, but hopefully I will have some pretty pictures to put up here tomorrow, once I've got my camera going again (I have lots of batteries now!). I joined the local library last week, admittedly most so that I could use their free internet service, but I may use the books too. Assuming I get a chance. I still haven't finished The God of Small Things which I read quite a fair way in to before I left London. It's a slow book I have to say. Interesting ideas, but very slow, not what I could call a page turner. I could read it before going to sleep and not end up staying up all night reading. It's an interesting style, but... I'm just not quite convinced yet. Maybe it will have an amazing twist in it, but I have a feeling not... they tell you the end and then rewind and tell the story of how it got to the end. At least I'm pretty sure thats what is happening. Otherwise I'm just terribly lost.

In other news having a backspace key smaller than you are used too is exceptionally annoying!!! I keep going to correct my typing only add lines of equals symbols instead. But I seem to have come to grips with the @ key now, which is good.

Oh and I don't think I'm ever going to catch buses in this country. Honestly I looked at the ones in London and decided to accept the significantly higher costs of the tube for the sake of my sanity. Today I tried to catch a bus to the train station as I was feeling lazy. Looked at the journey planner online which told me there was one leaving Hales Lane at Pear Tree Rd (yes that's actually what the street was called) which was an 89. So I head down to the bus stop and wait for about 20 minutes watching multiple buses stop across the street going the other way. Eventually one turns up and when I ask the driver if he is going to the stop I need he informs me that I need the stop across the street. Great. So I go and wait. For about another ages because lots had gone past while I waited at the other stop. Finally an 89 turns up. Upon asking the driver informs me that he isn't going to my stop (not an out of the way place, a railway station, if you ask me!). So I wait. A different bus turns up so I ask the driver if he is going in my direction. Nope, about the dead opposite. So. I begin waiting for another bus. Not due for about 15 minutes. Then I realise that they don't give change on the buses and I only have about 60 pence. Not enough. And I'm sure as hell not paying £10 for a bus trip, a taxi would only be about £3.5. So I went back to work. My workmate was due to finish in about 3/4 of an hour and she agrees to drop me off at the train station.

God damned buses. Never again!!! Ohhh apparently work are looking at getting bikes for us, I am very keen on this plan, although I think I am going to attempt to fit driving lessons in to my schedual somehow. I don't fancy biking places in the rain in winter. I'm such a sissy!

Gah time for dinner and maybe the pub. Yay pub!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I have a dongle...

Ah the joys of portable internet. I am happy :)
And likely to blog more now.

Dongle you say? I have no idea either... but it gives me internet.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the topic of mad Brits...

I cannot comprehend the geography in this country. I just can't. I don't dare to try and take a short cut, it is guaranteed to lead me somewhere behind where I started. We have two houses on the same street, and I've looked at a map... the road just goes in the wrong direction. Almost the dead opposite of what you expect. No kidding. I actually turned left in to it thinking that was the end of the street I needed to be heading to. Nope. Needed to turn right. Up the hill. Which totally goes away from the direction I came from on the map. It doesn't in real life, it just doesn't. It doubles back on itself, I'm sure of it!!!

Ahem. The roads in this country are just phenomenally incomprehensible. I dread the day somebody asks me the fastest way to somewhere. I know how to get places, by only because I memorise the route, not because I know what direction it is in.

I do love the fact that practically the only place open on a Sunday to get lunch is the pub. No cafes, bakeries or anything like that, it *all* shuts on a Sunday (as I found out last weekend when I was hungry). Except the pub. They have a special Sunday lunch menu. Which I totally ignored for the £2.99 menu which has perfectly reasonable food on it too although I won't bother with the bangers and mash again, the sausages must've been more bread than sausage. But the steak pie was good, I'll definitely do that again... I think I have a local pub! I haven't even had a pint there yet, only food. What's got in to me?! This responsibility thing... I'm just not sure about it yet... no beer!

Hey everyone :)

Ahh long time since my last update. Or it feels like it anyway. I've been working pretty much flat out, double shifts almost every day, four, five or six days in a row. Off today, tonight and tomorrow morning. Yay!!! I can do some washing, make my own dinner and possibly even get eight hours sleep. That'll be novel!

I am enjoying it though, very interesting work, and I have really lovely workmates, I like all of them! It would be a very difficult job without them I can promise you that.

I'm juggling money at the moment, I think I can make it work, if only I could remember or reset the pin on my credit card!!! Hahaha who else would go to the other side of the world and not remember their credit card pin... ah well. Hardly anything on my credit card so I can use it fine most of the time, only problem is that only some places will let you sign for it! They've mostly moved to having a chip in the cards here, which I don't think mine has. But even if it does I don't know the number, so I can't get cash from a money machine, only pay for things in shops! Lol ah well. They let me pay for my train tickets with it, and my shopping, so there isn't much I really *need* cash for. But having said that I will now inevitably find I need cash on a regular basis for something. I can tell! The reason I am lacking in £'s by the way is that they think paying on a monthly basis is sensible. Bloody Brits! If I had all the money I've earned from the hours I've done I wouldn't be feeling broke at all! But hopefully will have my money situation sorted soon, I think I should have a UK bank card at home, when I finally get there.

Speaking of home, I'm really just about ready to go. But felt it was time to give a brief update before I disappear back to the black hole of work tomorrow morning! I don't even know when my next day off is, but Monday at the earliest by the looks of the rota! Oh and I'm doing two waking night shifts this week. Joy. The world can meet caffine-hyped Sam at 4am! This should end well... or at least end. Ohhh I'm so sleep deprived, listen to me babble! I slept on a two-seater couch last night, a family who don't usually have supervision at night had to have someone last night, and I didn't realise that the other couch in the office was a fold-out couch... Le sigh! At least I did sleep, I was so tired it didn't *really* stop me sleeping. I didn't even fall off it, which surprised me. Probably the last time I will sleep there though, until we get a new family in anyway. No more couch sleeping for me. *remembers my bed at 'home'* I think I shall go and put some washing on, then I can crawl in to bed earlier. I am *so* sleepy.

*loves and hugs*

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just a quick update

Hey everyone. This will be fast, this net cafe is twice the price of London ones!!! Totally outrageous.

-Taken the job in Birmingham which is working with vulnerable families to bring their parenting up to a standard where they are able to continue having care of their children. In a nutshell thats what the company do. I'm a live-in worker, so I'll mostly be doing sleeping night shifts and some split shifts in the day- I might start at 10.30pm and stay till 10.30am. Seems to be average for my first week of shifts.

-Time off in this gorgeous little English village, it's everything that a old English village should be, I love it! Stone houses everywhere (you should see the place I'm staying! :O), everyone goes to the pub in the evening, they all know everyone, oh I just love it!

-Can stay in Birmingham in empty company houses for time off if I want to, but I think I would rather stay out in the countryside, it's too nice there!

-I think I will like the job, I can tell it will be really rewarding. Maybe tedious at times, but mostly *really* interesting!

-So long and short of it all, not a nanny!!! Haha best laid plans huh? I had a lovely sounding woman on the phone yesterday doing her best to persuade me to come and work for her and her little girl, lots of travel etc. But I'm too far in to this now, I love it! I don't think I've been this keen to start a job before! Strangely not nervous, even though it's important and all our records have to be perfect for court evidence etc.

Thats all for now I think. I may not get to post much for a while, I don't want my blog showing up on the work computers, I do try to keep it fairly anonymous, so there won't be vast amounts of content till I get my own laptap (given the salary I'll be getting that shouldn't be long!).

Love you all!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Well here is Trafalgar Square in all its glory (ie pidgeons and hoards of tourists).

The view from whatever that monument in the middle of the square is called back to the National Gallery. Seeing as I couldn't take a picture inside.

A squirrel in Hyde Park (they're totally adorable, I want one!).
And finally my new dress. I do love it. Sorry quality isn't the best, places to put camera vs lighting in the room made it difficult indeed. But you get the idea!