Tuesday, April 19, 2005

catch up

Here are my adventures so far in England. I've copied my old emails to keep a record.

1/6/05 Northumbria

Another update from a slightly warmer Newcastle. Last weekend was a long one, and Nita came down to visit from Glasgow. Friday night we went out to the local 'The Carriage' for a beer. Saturday it was blowing a gale and Nita and I went shopping, and tried not to get blown over while we were there. Bought a pair of shoes which was very exciting.

Sunday was a great day. My housemate Ken (a stonemason) offered to take us on a bit of a sunday drive. Gez, another housemate (charity fundraiser) and Nita and I all set off for the day to Alnwick. The castle is the second largest in the UK after Windsor and features in the Harry Potter movies. Very cool castle, and a very quaint town. We had 'high tea' at 'Grannies Tea Room'. So very quaint, we had tea and sanwiches and cake. Yummo.

We got in the car again to go to Bamburgh castle, which is an awesome ruined castle by the ocean. We walked through fields to get there, and there were daisies and buttercups in the fields, bright yellow gorse bushes, stone walls and wooly sheep. It all felt very English. It was a very picturesque day.

Monday Nita and I wandered around Newcastle. It was nice to be touristy again in the place I live, and discover new places.

After Nita left on the train I met Gez and Ken and some other friends down at the Quayside where there was a free concert. We saw the Futureheads play which was awesome.

Chris was in Manchester and visiting relatives in Whitehaven for the weekend. He returns tomorrow, horray! He has not had luck finding work in his field yet. Fingers crossed he'll find something great soon. His mate Adrian is working in a night club and starts work at British Airways call centre in a few weeks.

22/5/05 B'day

All is going well here. Had a fun b'day down at the local pub 'The Carriage'. Very funny place complete with floral wall paper and a fake tiger - very random. On friday night Baz, Chris and Adrian and I went to see DJ Nu Mark after seeing starwars - anyway, the DJ is from Jurrasic 5 and it was a fun night of dancing. Still getting used to every club closing at 2am at the latest though - very odd, but good for getting more sleep on the weekend! Work is going fine too, and I'm enjoying doing lots of varied things there. Chris and Adrian are still job searching but are getting close to finding some good ones. They are still staying with me, which is lots of fun and not too squishy cause one of my housemates Nick has moved to london so Adrian is in his old room. It has worked out quite nicely really.

Next weekend is a long weekend and there is loads of good live music happening, including a huge free concert down by the quayside which should be great fun. Nita is coming down from Glasgow for the weekend which will be great fun. We'll have 4 aussies in one house on that weekend - that will be entertaining!

4/5/05 Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Another update on the adventure of Jo in the UK. I didn't think that much had happened, but when I write it down I guess it has.

Things are going well here. I have settled in just fine and am even feeling very English in some ways, like the sun is now a miraculous thing and I absolutely love when it is out cause it feels so reviving on my face (it sees no other skin cause it is covered in multiple layers of tops and coats and trousers and boots and gloves etc..).

Newcastle is a great city. The Quayside (by the river) is lovely, and every time I see the bridge there I freak out cause it is identical to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, except it is 1/3rd the size and a dark green colour. But it is also nice to see something so familiar. The story about the bridge goes that the Newcastle one was designed before the Sydney one, but Sydney was built first.

Today I had lunch with some work colleagues down by the river at a nice place called the Slug and Lettuce which served up some yummy food. The people I work with are very nice, interesting people. I think people are still trying to figure out why on earth I ended up in Newcastle, but it doesn't take too long to explain, and I think they end up thinking that I am really brave doing what I did.

But don't think I am that brave being here. England is very similar to Australia. We all speak the same language, we have a very similar sense of humour, the tv shows are familiar, the shops are similar and people look the same (except a more pasty white colour, or orange with bad fake tan). So it has been quite easy to adjust to the UK.

Work is going well. I am developing activities to go on "Explozones" at the Life Science Centre, which are stand alone activity centres that are sometimes manned by science explainers. Nice idea and it gives a lot of freedom. I also do things like update a science news section of the exhibition, develop the shows, buy/make props, and be a general fountain of science activities. So I like it, it is hands on and fun. There is another girl in the same position as me - Jenny -
and we get along really well. She has just been lecturing at a uni in Ethiopia for 2 years, so is a very interesting person.

On the long weekend just gone I went to Glasgow to visit Nita for her birthday. It was loads of fun, Scottish people are very nice. We walked around the city, went out at night, ate yummy food, and went to Loch Lomond, the biggest lake in the UK. The sun even came out while we were there, so it was quite a gorgeous day out of the city.

Good luck reading all of this! It is my update before I get all overwhelmed and busy as Chris arrives tomorrow! Hooray! Will be sooooo awesome to see him after 7 weeks. Seems like longer than that though, as I've managed to move to another country and set up a new life in that time. And he's travelled across the US of A having a ball.

21/4/05 Newcastle beginnings

All good here - I've started work and have some where to live so it is all falling into place! Still not sure what I'm doing at work exactly, but I should find out soon! It is kind of nice not having much to do in a way ;)

It is cold up here though, I have to wear coats outside all the time, and all the locals say this is good weather! I'm like, hardly! Hopefully it will get warmer as we approach summer though :)

Newcastle is a nice city - it is big but the city is compact, and transport is great - there are buses, a metro (underground train thingo) and there is a major train station. There is even an airport where I can get cheap flights! Very cool.

It takes me 30mins to walk to work and it is a nice walk through the city centre. I can also catcht the metro or bus in bad weather (apparently there is lots of that :(

Went out to the local pub last night. Its called The Carriage and it is very cute – floral wall paper and curtains, a fake tiger complete with decorative flame, and some nice beer. A great atmosphere overall, and very English so I liked it.

I went with a few of my housemates and their friends. We played some dominoes and cards there (provided by the bar) and it was a good night out. We went to another pub around the corner after that and played pool (I played terribly of course, but I think I'll improve if we go every week!). So all is going well at the house and my housemates are quite cool.

I've got my ticket to Glasgow. Very exciting to be heading off to Scotland for the first time on Friday week. I'll be visiting my friend Nita (from high school and uni) for her birthday, which should be heaps of fun. We may go into the Scottish countryside too - lots to look forward to.

Chris gets to England soon and I'll be seeing him in 2 weeks time - can't wait!

16/4/05 Arriving in Newcastle

I'm in my new place in Newcastle! Very cool because I have wireless internet at the house, so I can have internet all the time I am at home .

I had the craziest day yesterday though.... I woke up, and was making so b'fast in Tania's kitchen. I had my phone in my pack pocket of my jeans. All good. Then I went to go to the the toilet and in the process of pulling down my jeans my phone fell into the toilet. Not good. My phone drowned unfortunately, and no amount of drying out with the hairdryer would bring it back to life. So I went out and bought another one, which is very small and flips and has a camera too. A sagem. It cost 60 pounds, which is about $160, which I wasn't planning on spending but hey, these things happen. So that was a bit crazy.

Tania took me to the train station to get on the train to Newcastle. I had all my luggage which seemed to have grown without me buying hardly anything.. Well I only just got on the train apparently, as Tania said they stopped letting people on as soon I boarded due to the train being so full. So lucky there, would not have wanted to wait another hour!

door and started getting ready to go out with my new housemate. We went to a bar for a few hours and that was lots of fun - everyone was really nice, so it was cool, although I had to strain to understand some Newcastle people - the Geordie accent is so strange!I went shopping today and there were sooo many people around. I bought bedding and the basics I needed to survive in my room. I now have my iRiver attached to some speakers which cost $25 and they work excellently. Going out to another bar nearby with my housemates tonight. I've only met 4 of them so far, there is one more to meet! They are all around my age 23, which is very fun.

I start work on Monday. I'm looking forward to it cause the job sounds so good. There is another girl who is starting on the same day as me, and we have the same job, so hopefully she is nice cause we will be working together heaps!

I arrived in Newcastle to blizzard-like weather, it was freezing cold and the rain was pooring down and a fierce wind was blowing. So that made juggling an umbrella and five bags interesting walking from the metro station to my new place - about a 5-10min walk... I got in the door and started getting ready to go out with my new housemate. We went to a bar for a few hours and that was lots of fun - everyone was really nice, so it was cool, although I had to strain to understand some Newcastle people - the Geordie accent is so strange!

I went shopping today and there were sooo many people around. I bought bedding and the basics I needed to survive in my room. I now have my iRiver attached to some speakers which cost $25 and they work excellently.

Going out to another bar nearby with my housemates tonight. I've only met 4 of them so far, there is one more to meet! They are all around my age 23, which is very fun.

I start work on Monday. I'm looking forward to it cause the job sounds so good. There is another girl who is starting on the same day as me, and we have the same job, so hopefully she is nice cause we will be working together heaps!

9/4/05 Stratford-upon-Avon

Well I have moved on from London now after 3 days wandering around and am now in Stratford-upon-Avon staying with Mum's best friend from school and her daughter Anna who is my age. We are getting along very well.

I had a good few days in London. I went to Kew Gardens on Thursday and had a look around the famous botanic gardens. It was beautiful there, particularly the greenhouses, which had a great variety of plants in them (and were heaps warmer than outside!). Yeah, it was a pretty cold day. But not as cold as Friday which was freezing. I met up with Nadia (from the science circus) at the Science Museum and we had a look around there (very museum-y, not as fun as Questacon) and then went and had some lunch. That evening I caught the train up to Stratford with Anna, along the way seeing the very pretty and very green English countryside.

It is gorgeous in the countryside here. England isn't that different to Australia really - we speak the same language, have similar shops - there is just more old stuff here, and it rains more and it's colder! Lucky it is coming into Summer I say!

On Monday I'm heading to Worcester for a night, then up to York to stay with my friend from school Tania. York is only an hour from Newcastle, so I plan to house/flat hunt from there. Hopefully I wont have too much trouble! I will probably start work on Monday the 18th, but they said I could start whenever I like so I'll see how I go.

So far it has been so easy travelling here and around the place. And I've met cool people along the way. I haven't had a chance to be home sick, and I doubt I will be.

5/4/05 Japan

Ive just spent a night in Japan and am on my way to London in about an hour. Arrived here after a painless flight from Brisbane, where I watched a few movies and the time passed just fine.

Arriving at the hotel I organised with a people around my age to meet up and venture into the City of Narita (with my claiming that I speak Japanese so it wouldnt be too scary). So we caught the bus in - about 6 of us ranging in age from 18 to 26, 3 from Australia, 1 from New Zealand, another from the UK and one from Columbia. We walked around a bit, and managed to find our way into a cool little restaurant where we had our own private room with tatami mats and everything. I ordered some random dishes from the menu and we drank bottles of sake and beer. It was great fun, and completely random seeing as none of us new each other at all, we just all happened to be on the same flight! We bought some more sake from a convienience store and went back to our free hotel and sat around drinking and talking in hours about everything. So much fun, and so very random.

Four of us are heading onto London now, so hopefully the flight wont be so boring! It really helps to have people around, rather than being bored travelling alone.

It is very cool being back in Japan actually. I havent been here for nine years, but the memories of the country came flooding back when I stepped off the plane. I definately want to come back here again for a few weeks and see more of the place- it is quite amazing (and the food is the best!).

28/3/05 Adventure plans

Well, I'm leaving Australia next week! I have a job in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, located in northern England at the Life Science Centre as a Science Development Officer. So I'm sticking to science communication, just in another country with apparently a very odd accent! I hope I'll be able to understand the northern accent :)

I'll be leaving Australia next Monday the 4th and going straight to the UK. I'll stay in London a few days before heading north to sort out accomodation and where everything is in my new city. I think I'll start work on the 11th.

I am currently at home on the Gold Coast, spending time with my family and sorting out all the stuff I need to do before going. It is gorgeous up here right now, sunny warm weather, and the beach is stunning. I'm getting my dose of sunshine before heading to the cold north...

Chris (my boyfriend) is in the USA drinking beer with the locals and having all sorts of adventures with his friend Adrian. He gets to the UK on the 22nd, and I think he will be living in Manchester or Sheffield, which is not too far from Newcastle I believe. Missing him heaps. Hopefully we will work out in the UK...

Not sure when I'll be back in Australia - maybe a year, maybe 2. There is so much to see in the UK and Europe, and I'm looking forward all the great trips I'll be doing on weekends and holidays.