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This blog has been knocking around for a number of years now. I update it for a bit, and then hide it under my pillow for a year or so.

And lo! and behold! I’m dragging it out into the light of day again.

I’m seeing a pattern though. Hurrah! Psychoanalysis for free thanks to WordPress. I’m somewhere new, adrift, and missing my friends. I need a place to vent.

Anyway. I see my previous post was in February 2009, and this is now May 2010. What a truly horrifying way to mark the passage of time. I’ve just lost almost a year and a half!

I haven’t been idle though, my little chickadees. I am back in Sydney. It’s meant to be a permanent move, and after 2 months here I’m still feeling quite adrift. Common Wisdom is that both Mat and I just need some time to settle and I’m sure Common Wisdom will prove to be correct. We’re both working, we have somewhere to live – somewhere VERY nice in fact – and we have a car. We have a social life of sorts, some friends to play with, and today the autumnal temperature was 21 degrees. That’s about 10 degrees warmer than it currently is in the London spring-time.

But I miss London.

Anyway…here is our current abode.

That body of water is Sydney harbour. I am officially posh.

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Delayed Weather Report

I know this is all so very last week, but – hey! did you hear about all the snow? It proper, really, heavily snowed in London last Monday. And this great city, without any hesitation, ground to a slippery, slithering halt.

For most people, it meant a bonus day off work. For most people, it was a day to make snowmen, throw snowballs and be uncharacteristically neigbourly and friendly.

I was not one of the most people.

Instead, I was one of the dozen or so numpties in the entire city who managed to make it to work. Lucky me – I live near the new fangled DLR train system; the only system of transport in all of London Town that manages to keep working when too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry weather closes all other options. Granted, it was a 30 minute slip ‘n slide to get to the station, but I thought I should at least try. You can imagine the crushing disappointment when within 5 minutes of arriving there, a bright red DLR train turned up to whisk me over to work. Mat, meanwhile, was all nicely tucked back into the flat for his bonus Snowy Monday Of No Work.

Betwixt and between

Ah…that was nice.  A little break. It’s funny how my blog was getting a stranglehold on me. I wasn’t posting very much, was feeling VERY guilty for not posting (why, why, why?? Guilty? WHY?????) which kind of crippled the whole process.  A reaction not only very silly and very self indulgent, but unfortunately very typical. Not happy, me, unless I’ve got something to feel guilty about. Oh the woe!

But I’m back. Able to think clearly and put the whole silly thing into perspective. It’s only some ramblings is all. Innit?

The photography project is going very well. What’s actually flicked me back over here is my attempt to start up a new blog. One linked to my other website. One that will attempt to present a professional face to the world and (hopefully) potential clients. Problem is, I haven’t quite worked out what that professional face should look like. How much makeup should it wear and what’s its preferred hairstyle? Is it only allowed to talk professionally about professional-type things, or is it OK to waffle off on silly tangents? At the moment, right now, I just don’t know. What I am certain of, is that professional faces generally shouldn’t swear too much, talk about drinking binges or moan and whinge about not getting enough work.

And, really, that’s what this space is all about.

Struggling to keep up with 1 blog was proving too much for me. My genius remedy is that I’ll be much better at this if I’ve got 2 blogs to worry about. I’m just giddy with the anticipation of monster-sized bags of guilt hovering blackly around the edges of my future.

The other blog has a bit of a cheat hard-wired into its beingness, though. It’s for my photography, right? So, there’ll be lots of photos. Clever, huh?

I’m having a break. The blistering speed of posting once a month, a fortnight, or sometimes – heartstoppingly – every week, is getting to me. It’s sapping my mojo, man.

I can’t seem to find the time, or the energy, or the requisite brainpower to keep this thing ticking over. And so, it’s going on ice. Just like Mr Disney. Cryogenic blog freezing while waiting for THE miracle cure for writer’s laziness.

In the meantime, I’m going to relax.

Oh yes.

————-

p.s. That was a lie – I’m not really relaxing. More like shifting direction. I’ve got another website. A photo-based one that may expand with a blog of its own in the fullness of time. If you’re interested, I’ll be over here .

(Yes, that actually is my name).

I’ve been reading back over my posts of recent months, and have noticed a trend of talking about all the drinking and partying I have been doing. Which, I feel, is giving out all the wrong sort of impressions. Firstly, I don’t actually go out all that much anymore, it’s just that I don’t blog very often. Secondly, maybe I sort of exaggerate the levels and amounts of intoxication. Just for comic effect. Maybe.

Ahem.

Anyway, to redress the balance, I’m going to tell you all about the good stuff I also do these days. Like riding my pushbike. All the way into work. Up to three times a week. Trust me, it is a big deal.

Historically, I’m not much of an exercise person. But when we moved in my flat back in August, and I looked out the bedroom window and realised that I could actually see Canary Wharf (and not in the distant distance either), I figured that getting to the office under my own stream couldn’t be too difficult a proposition. And the bonuses! Firm thighs! Money savings! This was the opportunity to reinvent myself as a Person Who Exercises On a Regular Basis.

The first couple of weeks, I have to admit, were pretty difficult. Not impossibly so, but on a scale of 1-10 for I-might-keel-over-and-die-ness, about an 8. But then, it just got easier. One day, I even arrived to work without a bright red face and dots dancing in front of my eyes. I knew then that I was going to be alright.

So now I kind of understand what all those smug exercise-types have been saying all these years. On those days that I cycle in (and also back home – that’s twice in one day), I feel better. My head is clearer. I can eat a big bagel slathered with peanut butter and know that I EARNED the right to scoff it down. If I’m honest, though, I’m yet to develop thighs of steel or calves of rock, but really, it’s only about 30 minutes in each direction. I’m hardly in training to represent England at the Olympics.

There is an inherent danger involved in all this activity. And I’m not just talking about dodging trucks on the main roads. What I’m referring to, of course, is the risk of arriving at work without some essential piece of grooming equipment. As I just get up and go, to shower and get ready once I’ve arrived at work, it is imperative that I have everything with me to make me presentable for the day.

One morning, I completely forgot to pack any makeup. Not the end of the world, granted, but I’m certainly not ecstatic about passing the entire day at work with a completely blank face. Luckily, I was able to scrounge some eyeliner and mascara from a more organised colleague. Female, naturally, although I did ask the guys too; after all this is the era of “Manscara”. Another morning, I glibly cycled away from my building feeling very free and light. Too light, in fact. I didn’t get too far down the street before I realised that I had left my entire backpack at home. If the alarm bell hadn’t started ting-a-linging in my brain, I would have turned up to work without anything to change into. Without even a work pass or wallet. An oversight not only extremely embarrassing, but really quite smelly.

And one morning, a couple of weeks ago, the inevitable did happen. I somehow forgot to bring a work top. I had a skirt, and tights, and shoes, and makeup and even a nice pair of earrings. But the jumper I thought I had put into my bag? Somehow it managed to jump back out before I left the house. I had to slink into the nearest Zara wearing my work clothes topped with a sweaty tracksuit top, and nonchalently buy a shirt to wear for the day. The shop assistants didn’t even blink when I came out of the change room and asked to just purchase the top I was wearing. A friend later pointed out that girls coming in to buy a new top first thing in the morning is probably not an uncommon occurance. And not for the innocent reason I was doing so.

I didn’t feel like I had to justify myself at the time, but now I wish I had said something like, “Oh silly me, I completely forgot to put a jumper in my bag when I packed this morning before cycling in this morning FROM MY OWN HOME.”

I’m here to regale you with a legend. A story, if you will. A tale of how a city came by its name.

In the beginning, there was a guy. There was also a dragon, and some slaying. There may, in fact, have even been a second guy. I think he was a manly man. Or something. Anyway, a hand fell off. Or, maybe it was chopped off. And then…it was thrown into the river. Do you follow? No? Let me clarify.

Hand=Hant. Werpen=Thrown. In Flemish. Or Dutch. Whichever is the correct term to use. And that, my friends, is a concise – if somewhat garbled – history lesson on how (Hantwerpen) Antwerp came by it’s name.

You’re most welcome.

On the weekend, I visited Antwerp. And it’s an absolutely gorgeous place. Kind of like Amsterdam without the whacky-backy and minus some canals. But the feel. And the buildings. And the funky Antwerpians on their old-fashioned bicycles. It was definintely Europe and I really do love Europe a whole lot.

I was visiting my friend who lives there, so I not only had a day or so of tourist wanderings and photo opportunities, I also had the fun and debauchery of a birthday party Belgian-style. As a representative of all things English/Australian/Irish, I am pleased to report that I made you all proud. The bruise that is actually BIGGER than my leg is a clear indication that I was not an embarrassment to myself. I certainly did not fall over. I know this because I don’t remember falling over. And if I don’t remember it, then it probably didn’t happen. Although, by that logic, most of the party wouldn’t have happened, because I don’t remember a great deal of that.

I should not be allowed anywhere near a well-stocked bar.

Also, the Flemish language has officially become one of my favourites. It sounds so pretty. Full of long, drawn out vowels, sibilant whispers and a sort of burbly sound in the back of the throat. I couldn’t understand a word, but boy did I enjoy listening to it. Mostly, though, everyone spoke English when I was around, which was very nice of them. I did learn one word (which of course I’ve got completely wrong) but as I remember it the word is “schlor”. Which means moustache. This cropped up quite a lot on Saturday and Sunday, as most partygoers and post-party goers (c’mon, you KNOW that drinking is the best cure for a hangover) sported a fetching pencil-drawn moustache. No-one escaped. Women as well as men. But we all wore our schlors with good grace. Who wouldn’t enjoy a bespoke hand-drawn moustache?

Mechanics of the Universe

The universe. So huge. So awe-inspiring. So kick-ass.

A couple of days ago, I posted these risky words, words that I have come to richly regret:

‘The Rover has had a moment or two of pique, requiring a new battery and TWO new tyres. Aside from that, however, it’s been running fine.’

Guess what happened. Just one guess allowed. I’m waiting…giving you a few moments to weigh up your options…work out the statistical probabilities. OK, time’s up. What did you guess? That the Rover stopped working just fine? Well done! Good guess.

Score: Universe – 1; Cathy – 0.

You see, what happened was that a couple of weeks ago – while filling up at the petrol station – the Rover decided to have a bit of a hissy fit. I turned the key to start the engine, and the engine replied with an unfamiliar ‘waa-waa-waa’ sound. I don’t speak Car very well, but I quickly worked out that the sound, coupled with a lack of engine turning-overness, was most definitely a problem. Ignoring the petrol station man who was gesturing at me to stop talking on my mobile phone, I called for help from the AA. No, that’s not the AA you might be thinking of (how would they help get my car moving? Give it a group hug?) but the other AA acronym folk – the Automobile Association, who are in the business of unbreaking your breakdown. Which, when put that why, kind of also describes the other AA.

Truly, these guys are great. They turned up promptly. They pushed my car to a corner of the petrol station that wasn’t quite so in the way. Mr AA and his sidekick played with the Rover’s mechanical parts for a little while, the Rover seemed to enjoy the attention and I was once again mistress of my mobile metal box. The Rover love tickles did not come free – I had to buy a new battery – but as the transaction was done with a smile and lots of banter, it made the financial pain less acute. They then explained to me that the battery was only one part of the problem, that something called an ‘alternator’ would need to be looked at by a mechanic.

I nodded my understanding. And went into procrastination standby for two weeks.

I have a sort of fear of mechanics. Not a fear exactly – that’s a bit strong really – more like an acute ambivalence. I didn’t want to have to run around grotty car yards, be subjected to leers and possibly wolf whistles, while a fat geezer covered in fifty types of grease ripped me off in patronising man-gibberish. I tried to pass the task over to Mat – “this is definitely a man-task…I do all the cleaning….who washes your clothes?…etc, etc’“. Mat, however, also isn’t too keen on the whole idea of dealing with mechanics and annoyingly spends a great deal more time at work than I do. We therefore spent the intervening fortnight talking about how we should take the car to a mechanic, without actually managing to take any steps towards actually doing it.

The Rover was not happy about this dithering. Not happy in the slightest.

One evening last week, I got in my car and turned to key. The Rover replied with the – now familiar – ‘waa-waa-waa’ sound. I called on Mr AA once again (now wasn’t that membership fee the best 40 quid I’ve spent in a while?) The guy who turned up this time was possibly even more charming, and got the Rover back on the road, while extracting promises that I would take it to a mechanic. And so I did my internet research, and carefully and methodically chose a suitable mechanic – the first ones to answer their phone., obviously. And you know what? They also turned out to be lovely. The owner of the garage was charming and helpful. The mechanical man was sweet and kind of bumbling. They did the work in a day and kept me informed of the progress, without a hint of patronising man-gibberish . I don’t know if they overcharged, but frankly I don’t care. With smiles and handshakes and harmless chit-chat, all the potential negativity around mechanical failure was transformed into an aura of positivity.

The car starts when we want to drive somewhere, so I’m happy. The Rover spent an entire day having it’s parts tickled by experienced hands, so its happy.

Are you listening universe? All that happiness? That’s your cue.