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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

It's Christmas!

Stick with this: 
When I was a child I had a pink rabbit. His name was Albert. He accompanied me everywhere. He'd been made by a neighbour and was one of a kind. Then, when I was about six, he went missing. You may think that this tragic tale inspired the well loved children book 'Dogger' but in fact kids losing toys happens all the bloody time. Anyway. I can clearly remember going from shop to shop asking if anyone had seen Albert, the house was turned upside down, parks were combed, rivers were dredged. Nothing. Albert was gone. We moved house when I was seventeen, there was still hope that he might turn up, he didn't. 
This Christmas my sister in law handed me a parcel with the words 'this is a bit strange'. I opened it and it was Albert. Well Albert mark 2. My brother and my mum had given my sister in law a detailed run down of what Albert had looked like and she had recreated him. She had even cut her dressing gown cord up to make his tail. 
I cried. Then my sister in law opened her present from my brother (her husband), it was a lovely bracelet, she cried. Then my Dad opened his present from my Mum. A photo album of the grandchildren. He cried. Then my eldest brother opened his present from our Mum and Dad. It was a kitchen bin. We all stopped crying. 
I also got this brilliant gift from my eldest brother and his family. I now have the dilemma of liking it too much to use it. So at the moment it is an ornament, I'll need to put something in it so someone doesn't pick it up and put it through the dishwasher. 


I landed at 6am on a Thursday morning. The flight was fine, well I believe it was, I was heavily, heavily drugged. I have vague recollections of eating a wrap but that could well have been an incredibly boring hallucination. I know that I changed planes in Dubai but I really don't remember it, I don't think anyone is going to be knocking down my door to do a travel documentary. 
I was reasonably alert when I got off the plan and was capable of having a conversation. I also managed to power on until 11pm that night and go to bed at a reasonable time. I was awake between 3 and 6 and then awake again at 7. Somewhere in my mind this read to me as 'beating jet lag'. I repeated this pattern for the next 5 days and was pretty smug about it. I came to the logical conclusion that I was some kind of super human who was at the next level of evolution and therefore the usual rules of physics and time change didn't apply to me. This all came to an end on Tuesday morning. 
Looking back I can see that five hours sleep a night and jam packed days are not the way to recover but it still came as a surprise when I turned over in bed and had to put my hand out to steady myself as the bed was rolling around and bucking. There followed a day where I was unable to lift my head without the room spinning and needing to throw up. I was unable to walk without stumbling in to a wall. The only option was to cancel all plans and lay on the carpet. I guessed that I had done something to my inner ear and screwed my balance up. I actually had achieved 'accumulative jet lag'. Basically where you save it all up and have it on one day. My best mate saved me by bringing round travel sickness pills which meant I could stand up without covering myself in vomit. She also bought me soup. Which was followed by a text which said it had 'the taste of soup and the consistency of hummus', which didn't help the vomit situation. 
Travel sickness pills are AMAZING. I was still quite 'lurchy' and occasionally walked sideways in to a wall but I could stand upright without decorating a room with sick. 
And if you think about it (really, really think about it) I am still kind of a super human. What would have been a week or so of jet lag for crossing eleven time zones, I got out of the way in twenty four hours. Not quite super human but super efficient. 
  According to google images, this is 'jet lag'. Put a ginger wig on this man and imagine it's me. 

Hot Christmas

From the first of December I was in 'get christmassy' mode. This happens every year. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't, but it is a hell of a lot harder in 30 something degree heat. But I persevered. I had Christmas flip flops, I had a Christmas vest top. I laughed at my other English friend who insisted on wearing her Christmas jumper. As is traditional I ate my advent calendar in a couple of days. 
An art deco cinema in Sydney which I love (the Hayden Orpheum) had a Christmas double bill of films. We watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and Elf. Candy canes were handed out and then we sweated out guts out whilst waiting for the bus home. 
The church that I went to in Sydney held an amazing event called 'Carols under the bridge'. 5000 people turned out to sing carols under the Harbour Bridge. It was beautiful. I helped out, assisting with a photo booth (I apologise to all who got my handiwork) and then we sat and drank wine and ate cheese and biscuits and sang carols. It was gorgeous but there was still a small part of my brain that wondered why we were doing this in July. 
I know that it's what you know and if you were bought up with a hot Christmas then that would feel Christmassy but seriously Australia, change Santa's outfit. Someone is going to die if you keep pouring them in to a big red furry suit. 


 This lego tree on the left is the most Australian decoration I saw. I loved the koala at the top. The tree on the right is the Christmas tree in Martin Place. A few days after this was taken this was where the siege in the Lindt cafe took place. After the sad ending to the siege this area was filled with flowers by well wishers. 

Homeward Bound

I am back in the UK. I've been back about 10 days and it's been a bit of a whirlwind. I've toured the country and am now gearing up for 2015. 
I had a month in Sydney at the end of the trip and it was (much like the rest of the trip) great. I excelled myself by driving ONCE and getting a $200 parking fine. I am disputing it on the grounds of ignorance but I don't hold out much hope. Apparently in Sydney everyone has to park facing the same direction. I didn't know this and ruined the look of the street with my slapdash european style parking. When I got the ticket I immediately put a beret on the car and rammed a cigarette up it's exhaust pipe. 
As I was preparing to leave Sydney everyone asked me if I was ready to go home. I was actually in the really nice position of being fine either way. If I'd been told that I had to stay another six months I would have loved it and carried on writing, hanging out with friends and having a very nice life, if I had to go home (which indeed I have had to do) I would love it and go back to my friends, family and see what the future holds (I still have no real idea what is going to happen). 
I will miss Australia and my friends but, without wishing to sound about 100 years old, technology has made things so much easier. Facebook, whatsapp, instagram - it's so much easier to dip in and out of people's lives without having to sit down and write a huge email or letter. Except to one friend who has decided she'd like to be pen pals. So there will still be proper letters going back and forth. 
But now I am back in the UK. I've rediscovered my house, been to a lovely wedding, had Christmas and now... bring on 2015