Sunday, 17 February 2013

Third time lucky

Sometimes you just can't begin at the beginning anymore. 

After a week or more of decidedly autumnal weather, the sun has come out in full force in Bondi, and correspondingly therefore, the clothes have come off on the beach and around.

It's 4pm on Sunday afternoon.  The beach currently looks like this. 

Secretly fearing it might be the last time we'll see summer for a while, nobody's in any rush to be leaving soon.  I can share - for now;  I'm ok with that.  The exclusive Bondi winter playground will belong to us again soon enough.

Just finished a week at home between jobs.  Tomorrow will be the third new start in as many months so I'm hoping I can stick at this one.  I spent some time in the office already last week, so I've got an idea what I'm in for.  Friendly but reserved bunch so far.  Computer programmers.  Not a lot of eye contact.  I'm working on how best to handle them all (I've been advised by the outgoing girl to treat them like big kids if in doubt!), but generally  thrilled to be given the opportunity - small start up company, media related, huge prospects, office just around the corner. Perfect. 

Meanwhile the week off wasn't really.  By the time we'd got through the family of four squashed in the girl child's bedroom, the backlog of shopping, cleaning, washing and ironing, got Seb to school, Jaime Kay to daycare, Jake to daily meetings and interviews in the city,  well, it was all rather busy.  Throw in a coupla doctors appointments, friends in crisis (oh, how I wish I could make it right), repeated birthday shopping for a 12 year old who changes his mind quite often and a full day play date between two pre-teens, it was chaos as usual really.

Looking forward to a more rewarding job, and a more organised home front too.  New possibilities abound!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Unemployment dance

It's quite a big city, Sydney.

It's the biggest place Jake and I have ever lived together, let's put it that way.

The reality of being a tiny, and at this age and stage, a rather elderly fishy in a very VERY large pond, employment-wise, is beginning to weigh heavily.

Previously in Europe, I've enjoyed the luxury of  being a medium sized, maybe sometimes even a large fishy in a small round bowl of English language speakers.

As such, I have been very fortunate in my working life to date to be able to pick and choose, to lay down terms and prices, to pretty much be offered jobs, rather than go chasing.

I've also been fortunate enough for the last ten years not to have to work at all if I didn't feel like it, as a result of which, I've taken on projects that appealed to me with people who interested me.  If I felt like writing a little something, I'd write it, if I felt like chatting, I'd go on air, if I wanted an office job, I'd create one.  I have been really rather spoiled.


Turns out it's stressful and exhausting and discouraging, looking for a 'real' job when you actually need one - it's absolutely a full time job in itself.

Realistically, I needed to start work at least three months ago.  I started looking in earnest at least two months ago.

During that time, there have been three major CV rewrites.

The first tells the truth, which is apparently too bizarre for Sydney recruitment tastes.  After all, how can a person who allegedly boasts a strong financial background possibly have also worked as a radio presenter?

The second version minimizes all the media work of the last ten years and heavily underlines the original financial career. 

And the third says 'I speak four foreign languages.  It's summer in a popular international tourist area.  For crying out loud, you need me in your Bondi beach shop'.

I've also put up local adverts for pet sitting, childminding, bookkeeping and translating.

And at the end of all that?

Absolutely no interest.


On the other hand, look at what we have accomplished with all this unemployment!

After a full term of ballet school, Jake and I were finally able to pull up a chair and just watch the magic for the first week ever.  It's taken two of us (one fielding front of hall, one fielding back), to get our ballerina to stay on task sufficiently to finish a short half hour class.

But this week, she excelled herself.

We can work when we're old - we'll make up the time later on when the kids are grown.

Goodness, it's been heartbreaking enough these past weeks watching my gorgeous little boy prepare for high school.

So for now, since its out of our control anyway, let there be dancing and music and skateboarding and swimming and dress up and surfing and late nights and date nights.  

Let us relax for a while and live at the beach.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Saturday naps

A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face - Maya Angelou 

Saturdays are a something and nothing kinda day in our house right now.

Jaime Kay is doing 9-5 Wednesday through Friday at preschool with outstanding results and we couldn't be more pleased with progress.

Unfortunately, however, when Saturday rolls around, she is (unsurprisingly) out of her mind with fatigue and it's all on to even get her out of the house to the tiny park at the end of our road.

Meanwhile Jake has been getting Seb out of bed super early to work on his (fear of) skateboarding before the big kids come in their droves to take over the bowl.

They tend to arrive home then at exactly the moment when we are ready to leave the house, and in the ensuing excitement, Jaime has disappeared out of sight and can be found tucked in her bed, catching up on some much needed zzzzs.

This afternoon, I took advantage of those zzzzs and slipped out of the house unaccompanied for a couple of hours.


Blue skies, sunshine, fine golden sand, deep green blue sea.

Everything as it should be, give or take a fresh breeze which made me wish I'd brought a cardie.

I called by our family's very favourite ice cream shop (What?!  We're allowed - we live by the beach!), which was giving away ice cream today in celebration of it's first anniversary.

I met a really nice girl in the queue.  Well, it was more, I dragged a really nice girl off the pavement and into the queue after she stopped to enquire what we were all waiting for.  'Not 'just' free ice cream', I explained, 'delicious free ice cream!'  Well worth a short wait.

We chatted for a while;  she was in Bondi with her boyfriend for the day from the inner west of Sydney, and they were both originally from Indonesia.

I kind of wished I'd got her number.

Got me to thinking, as I walked away without it, that one of the advantages of being older is the fact that you kinda know straight away when you've met a friend.

Seb asked me the other day why I always chat to everybody.

You just never know who you might meet.

Which got me to thinking about really odd spur of the moment friendships I've made along the way.

Friends I've met in odd situations

The friend of a friend of a friend.

I didn't really know the friend of a friend in the first place, although we had at least established that we'd met at a party before.  He invited us over to his party, where I totally hit it off with one of the other guests, who I definitely didn't know at all.  We did swap numbers, which always feels a little weird.  Sort of like asking for a date, but just for girls.

This lady is everything I am not;  independent, a talented writer who makes a living from her craft, single(ish), stylish, on trend, in crowd, late nights, holds her ale, long lie ins.

She knows next to nothing of diapers and developmental delays, school gate politics, husband hassles, groceries on a shoestring.

And yet as if by magic she's always there for me, I hope I'm there for her, and I would be lost without her endless dark humour and general knife sharp views of the world.

The carpark guy.

Random, but such an excellent pal of both mine and Jake's.  Back in that great couple of months a year or so ago when I was fit and healthy and ran every day, I would always pop my head in the window of the little booth on my way back from the beach and chat to the carpark guy, also known as Dave.  Generous, amusing, fun to hang out with, there's nothing Dave doesn't know about Bondi, and we're honoured to have him as a friend.

The parent of a kid at school with a similarly inappropriately clad toddler to match mine.

Grins all round as we simultaneously recognised the hasty act of lashing a small child into a stroller in time to dash to the school pick up on a sweltering hot day, and then looking down as you reach the building and realising the kid's wearing nothing but a diaper.

A friendship that has never looked back.

The ex.

An outstanding example of not knowing how to pick your friends very well at all when young and foolish.

In the late eighties / early nineties I lived in London and worked in the city.  Fresh out of high school and new to the whole metropolitan pace of it all, I aspired to be a sloaney type, all shoulder pads and suits and pearls.  I hung around with girls who giggled and said 'baaarth' and 'frightful' and drank G&T with ice and a slice or Pimm's with fruit in the summer.

How, then, did I think it was a good idea to date an ageing militant communist trade union leader scouse scumball that I met on a train from Sheffield to London?  For two whole years??  Sheesh.


Is this such an odd situation in which to meet new friends any more?  

I have 616 facebook friends, which I am well aware is a ridiculously excessive number. 

Of course, some of these I know already.  

Some I've met since.  
And there are countless among them that I would gladly meet in a heartbeat, should the geography of our lives align, and some I almost definitely will meet in the years to come. 

Who have you met and become friends with as the result of a chance meeting?


Friday, 26 October 2012

On blogging.

My blog.

My whole being yearns to return to this corner of me.  A place where I can immerse myself in the craft of syntax and grammar, words and phrases.

Alas, I have lost the habit of writing daily with the turmoil that has been our lives this past year.

The longer I leave it, the harder it is to return. 


As we walk the kilometre or so along the beach front each day to school and back, small but persuasive  paragraphs burst into my head, demanding attention like neglected children, only to be scolded to the back of my mind as quickly as they form.  

A half heard conversation sparks a story, the perfect curve of a green white wave crest made silver in the morning light, the aroma of fresh ground coffee wafting towards us and mingling deliciously with the smell of a single strand of honeysuckle flower that trails languidly over a fence. 


It's been a long old journey home. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Black Sam: the legend

When I was a child, there was always at least one feline family member around the house. 

I loved them all with equal ferocity, from the softest, drooling baby kitty to the biggest, toughest tom.  Or more accurately I suppose, ex-tom. 

Anyway, Big Sam was one of these latter.

Spectacularly imposing with his jet black fur and gleaming orange eyes, our Sam had a reputation for miles around our country home as a lean, mean, killing machine.

He would hunt all night, every night and we were the regular recipients of unidentifiable mangled body parts proudly arranged on the doormat for our 'delight'.

After all, this was a cat on a life long mission, tirelessly waging war on local vermin of any and every variety. 
Daylight hours were strictly reserved for sleeping.  Alone.  And uninterrupted. 

As you might imagine, therefore, this was not a cat that particularly relished the company of small children. 

Slightly too big to kill, yet definitely too little to be of any specific use, we kids were an inconvenience in the life of a busy super feline. 

And yet, oh how we longed to love him all up.  How we wanted to run sticky fingers through his silken coat, to stroke and snuggle and squeeze his warm, sleepy form.

Every so often, though, we would get lucky.   In the long sunny days of the idyllic English country childhood in my mind, this beast among cats would 'come over soft'.

I would wheel out the old fashioned dolls pram, a relic of my rapidly ending little girl years, and this monster killer cat would obediently climb inside.

Delighted, we seize the opportunity to dress him up in frilly dolls' clothes, tuck him in tight, and wheel him around for the afternoon as if he was our play thing. 

Until that wild, scrambling, flailing, claws out and fur flying moment when he wasn't anymore.

Recently, the kitty cat legend that is my favourite, my Sammy, has come to mind surprisingly often.

Turns out, killer as the obstacle (or, indeed, the person!) in front of you appears, impenetrable as the issue may be, if you wait patiently enough, if you meet it in the right light, the right mood, at the right moment in time, you might just find that your problem can become as compliant as a sleeping kitten. 

Or at least, that's the theory by which I'm currently surviving, anyway.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

August update

Our days start early around here, roughly coinciding with the moment that the first rays of morning sun break through the bedroom blinds, and usually accompanied by the aroma of strong, fresh coffee which wafts tantalizingly over from what is arguably the best cafe in Bondi right across the street.

Jake is not working yet.

I am at peace with this.

Sort of.

But whatever I feel, there's not a lot I can do about it, so I remind myself to relax and towe all enjoy his company while we have this time with him.

It's hard not to.

The weather is mostly glorious, although still retains the chill of winter in the early mornings and indeed the early evenings.

We fill our days with job hunting, chores, admin, kids and being outside in the delicious winter sunshine. Our lives are transformed;  the mundane becomes pleasant, enjoyable even, by the presence of the huge and upbeat personality that is Jake in our midst.

Jaime Kay will run to Daddy for 'thnugglin'', for owies and for carrying (my back recently informed me that I am no longer allowed to lift this little big girl, no matter how much I love to do so).

Sebastian spends at least an hour every morning before school with Jake down at the local skate park, practicing his rapidly developing board skills, and then another hour with Jake patiently guiding him through maths homework and speech writing (Seb is currently competing in two district public speaking competitions, and has heaps of homework of every kind, as well as a burgeoning social calendar.  We are excited about all of these things.  It's hard to prioritise right now!).

Meanwhile, once in a blue evening, like last night, I persuade the largely teetotal Jake that what we really need is a beer.

I slipped out in search of supplies as soon as the kids were in bed.

The street we currently live on is full of life at all hours of the day and night.  As I open the front door to the street, the spiced thrill of the Thai restaurant we live above nearly bowls me away, causing my stomach to yearn for it's gourmet goodness even though I have eaten my dinner not long since.

My short walk to the 'bottlo' takes in Seb's school (hey, doesn't every primary school have an off license next door?  And why does this strike me as strange only now as I write?!) and the accompanying bus stop.

I identify a shady looking gang of brooding young lads in the gloom, hanging out in the bus shelter, hoodies up against the gathering winter chill, half eaten takeaways in hand.

I wrap my own woolly cardy around me tighter in what I hope is a purposeful sort of way.  This is a city after all, and I am painfully aware I lost my streetwise when I left London a hundred years ago.  I am not sure what to expect as I approach.

Times like these, you begin to feel your age, even though I have only recently celebrated my second annual 40th, which is really not very old at all.

It turns out, I shouldn't have worried as the most threatening looking among them looks up from his burger and calls out the standard Aussie greeting with a sly grin.

'How ya going?'

This simple line, acceptable in almost any situation, never fails to make me smile.

I find the particular Chinese beer I'm after and place two chilled bottles on the counter while I wait my turn.

The guys behind the counter are something else.

This is Bondi, home of the hipster.  Everywhere you look, beautiful young men are tragically trendy, artfully unkempt, sporting ridiculously improbable beards and long raggedy hair, their year round tanned faces scarely visible among the undergrowth.

This pair are no exception.

Disapproval emanates from the checkout at the sight of my two lonely bottles (its Saturday night here - everyone else is buying at least a crate).

The whole situation makes me smile some more, and unable to stop myself, I hurry to pay and leave the store, bottles in hand, still grinning from ear to ear.

This is Bondi, also home to the smiley, slightly wild looking middle aged woman wandering the streets alone on a Saturday night with a bottle of beer in each hand...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Boomerang Bondi

View from the local high school in Rose Bay.


Our reluctant travelling family finds itself in international turmoil once more, and the latest move has been regarded by many as utter madness.

We are back in Australia, almost exactly 10 months since the day we left.  

To clarify, we are not simply back in Australia, but back in Bondi (you remember, that place we said we'd never live, but found we loved with all our hearts), back in the same street, with kids at the same preschool and primary school, in the same classes (and additionally in Jaime Kay's case, in the same small therapy group), working with the same teachers and mixing with the same friends.

The world has taken on a slightly surreal quality, to say the least.

It has been a heart breaking, bank breaking decision.  

In the end, it just seemed like a better place to plan each of our futures, even with the inherent risks that go hand in hand with setting up home in a place where there are no real guarantees you can actually settle. 

Meanwhile, we have the backing of a good immigration lawyer who we trust, and a core of incredibly supportive friends and colleagues who have provided generous time and advice and have helped in ways we could not have imagined.  

There will be good days and not so good days.  

There remain many questions, many unresolved issues, many difficult obstacles to be overcome before the smooth, wide future path of which we dream arches ahead of us, paved with gold and strewn with wild flowers....

But today the sun is shining.

And in the wise words of one of my favourite Australian friends, there's always the beach...