Archive | December, 2010

Happy Xmas Cobbers

25 Dec

Ha – beat most of you to Christmas by 11 hours…


Xmas down under

Livin' the dream

Yes, the beer tops were on. But I drank one later that day. Never again.

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He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich

17 Dec

New post ! New look ! New country !

We landed in Australia just over three weeks ago, and I (metaphorically) hit the ground stumbling. And then fell over. First week was holiday meets denial. Mimi lost herself to cleaning out old stuff, and I disappeared off down the internet. After a week, we got onto sorting out basics; some spending money, setting up bank accounts and getting tax and medical details setup. A couple of trips around the city, which were good, but came with a sense of disconnect which I hadn’t really felt since I last travelled – sure these places sell things, and I do have SOME money, but I’ve got no income as such, so don’t really want to buy things. And we didn’t really engage with the cultural things such as museums, as I think we were after a sense of “home” from the experience, something which you never truly get when living under someone else’s roof.

Which is the arrangement for the foreseeable future. The visa came through a little too late for us to not put tenants into Mimi’s flat, which means for all practical purposes we are staying with Mimi’s parents until at least mid-March, possibly longer if we decide to renovate the flat before moving in (quite likely). I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that this comes with a sense of dis-empowerment, one which has clashed quite fiercely with my sense of independence, something which I think grew quite strong during my travelling period.

That said, I am trying to capitalise on the benefits of such an arrangement; namely very low cost of living and plenty of free time. I have not immediately looked for a job, the xmas market tends to be quite sparse in any country, and I have concerns about spending all my holiday time from such a job on the immediate upcoming wedding, beyond which I am hoping to be back in England at the middle of next year for a friend’s wedding and to meet family, both old and new ! So I have spent some of my time, that which I am not sinking into pointless internet surfing, completing some coding work I took on around July and had gotten quite far with (slowly) before the big move took over. The associated pay might be chickenfeed, but it’s nice to feel I can create things outside of work, especially which it’s for a gaming related piece of software which I am starting to use more and more myself.

And, of course, this last week we have been pushing strongly on the wedding planning front. One thing everyday is our motto, and we are starting to “catch up” with where I think we’d ideally hope to be with only 2 months to go. The one glaring outstanding thing is invites, which most readers of this will probably be expecting (unless my readership is much wider than I realise…) ! Hopefully we can get those in the post before xmas, esp. as our RSVP date is going to be by mid-Jan ! Hopefully these are really a formality, and those who want to come are already planning their visit anyway, but I think once they are out the door we will feel more on top of the whole wedding thing.

I’m very much looking forward to my wedding – wonder if that’s normal ?!! – but it will be a shame that it will exclude so many UK people from attending from it’s sheer distance. Which is not to say I have any regrets on this front; it’s still the right place and the right time for us to be getting married. But it ‘s one of the first reminders, during this last three weeks of head-buried-in-the-sand and culture-shocked living, of the scale of this move. A couple of weeks of heavier than normal facebooking make me realise that it’s easy to keep up with people’s lives to such a massive degree now; far more than just e-mail and blogs (but seriously, who has the time to “Blog” these days ?! :).

Only a subset of my close friends are really “on” facebook though, and even for those that are it doesn’t cover that level of interaction you get from just seeing someone, hearing their mannerisms and feeling as if your not a world apart. Phone calls can help cover this distance, but only now am I realising the enormous power and joy of Skype. So far I’ve been in regular touch with my folks; we’ve even set a time on Sunday morning (UK time) to chat each week (assuming we are both around) just to keep in touch. And it’s really helped me feel more connected to my old life, something I need a lot right now whilst I am stilled stalled on starting my new life ! And to keep in touch with my little nieces it’s a sheer wonder. The other week my brother’s laptop died halfway through our call, and one of them shouted “Wake up Ben !!” at the blank screen. Cuteness 🙂

If anyone wants to have a catch up on Skype, my screen name is “phantomwhale”. With my folks we said we’d do it weekly “even if it’s for just a few minutes”. Building on that, I’d say to try it ESPECIALLY if it’s a few minutes – I can do length catchups over e-mail and blogs. Skype is much better for a quick, rambling chat, and much more about just seeing people and catching up; even if it’s over coffee one end of the line, and whiskey on the other !

With all this adjustment, wedding planning on top, and the weather (hot, but also VERY rainy at the moment, we’ve had floods nearby !) the thought that it will soon be xmas feels very strange and subdued. And without a regular job to build up a weekly rhythm, I now can’t be sure of the day, month or season without thinking about it. It’s an odd place to be, and hopefully one I can use to my advantage, with personal projects and getting our planning done without as much stress, rather than it being somewhere I get too lost in.

In any case, Happy xmas to all readers, and expect a new post in the new year !

Ben