The Gherkin – The view from my desk
The London summer has come and passed. My favourite season is now upon us and we are about to experience our first northern hemisphere winter. After a wonderful few weeks of glorious warm sun and long days the skies are grey and the days are getting shorter. The weather has changed, almost overnight, and the days are definitely much cooler. Sleeping in has become more satisfying than ever and the sound of rain pouring down the window has becomes more appealing when you have the chance to curl up on the couch between hubby and the radiator.
Most Londoners have been very quick to inform us that there was not much of a summer this year, so I think we were very lucky to have the beautiful sunny days that we did. In fact, we have been quite lucky to experience the Brisbane summer and autumn, spring in the USA, a wonderful summer in France (albeit in a cast) and arrived in London for the only month of summer in 2012. However, despite my optimism that a London winter will be bearable, I think that we are not yet fully equipped. I have a feeling that next weekend I will be making a mad dash to the closest Westfield shopping centre for gloves, scarfs, thick socks, boots and a proper winter coat.
We have now been in London for 6 and a half weeks and I have loved every moment! After coming to the realisation that 2 years is not going to be enough time to explore this amazing city, and the whole of Europe, I have adopted a motto to try something different, anything, every day. During my lunch breaks I have been exploring the exciting surroundings around whatever office I am working at. A few weeks ago I enjoyed working in Leicester Square and spent my lunch breaks wondering through London’s theatre district, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and China Town. My bus to work took me from the Watney Markets near our apartment to work along Fleet Street and the Strand, past St Paul’s Cathedral, Australia House and the Tower of London. I am slowly ticking off the “sights to see in London” list that seems dauntingly extensive.
“Working?” I hear you ask. Why yes!
Through a recruitment agency I have ‘secured’ some temporary work over the last 3 weeks. My first two weeks was as a PA/Office manager at a property management company and last week I started a 4 week stint as a PA to two directors at a global insurance company. My new position is right in the centre of the City of London, near the Bank and Monument tube stations. This is only 1 stop on the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) from our place, but I have found that I am quite enjoying the 30 minute walk to and from work on most days, depending on my foot and whether it is raining. I am working on the 13th floor, overlooking 30 St Mary Axe, better known as the Gherkin, London’s most eye catching building. Along with the newly constructed “Shard” (as in shard of glass) just south of the Thames, the Gherkin is one of the most prominent skyscrapers in the city’s skyline. Nearby the “Walkie-Talkie” and “Cheesegrater” are currently under construction until 2014.
Hopefully, in this seemingly booming economy, we will be able to find some work that is a little more stable and consistent. Dan is getting several long catering shifts a week with the sister agency of the one that helped us get our visas and other stuff sorted for our move to London. Despite meeting a bunch of new people who are in a similar situation to us, the long hours and almost less than minimal wage makes it difficult to appreciate the work. Unfortunately it also means that we do not see each other for the better part of the week, and after living in each other’s pockets since we left Australia this has been a strange adjustment. However, we still have weekends together and have spent the last few having a fantastic time.
Last weekend we jumped on a train to Derby, a city of approximately 230,000 in the East Midlands, to meet up with Helen’s cousin, Richard (you may recall Richard from our last visit to Matlock). Arriving earlier than expected, we spontaneously purchased tickets to the local football (soccer) and thoroughly enjoyed our first professional football match. The atmosphere at Pride Park Stadium was electrifying, but sadly the Derby Rams were defeated by a dramatic 2-1 win by Burnley Clarets in the 8th match of this years’ Npower Championship league.
After an exciting match we took the train to Matlock where we shared a laugh at the Escape Comedy Night that Richard had kindly organised tickets for. The acts included the hilarious Tim Clark and John Simmit who, believe it or not, plays Dipsy the green teletubby. After many beers and laughs we headed to Monk Bar and Harvey’s to finish our night out in the beautiful country town of Matlock.
While the night was a little less eventful than our last stint in Matlock with Helen and Bj, we had an awesome night out, despite the early disappearance of Mr Massey. The next morning we emerged to a cold and rain soaked town for breakfast before retreating back for a day of Avengers movies. After another amazing chilli for dinner with Richard’s family we hitched a ride back on the train to drizzly London.
Now that I am back at work there is nothing I find better than a wind down on Friday evening. With Dan stuck at work, I met up with our new friend Tracy (recently moved from Tasmania) at a funky little pub at Gabrielle’s Wharf near Waterloo on the south bank of the Thames. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and were awed at the incredible views of London’s north bank.
Last night Dan and I returned to the Southbank Centre for a concert at the Priceless London Wonderground, a marvellous festival of cabaret, circus and sideshow. On our way we stumbled across the Real Food Markets that take place on London’s South Bank every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We enjoyed sampling the organic wines, cider and ales that were on offer and I even sampled some venison for the first time. Venison is technically the meat of any game animal killed by hunting but most commonly applies to deer meat. We were lucky enough to get last minute tickets to see the British comedy singing group and satirical cabaret act, Fascinating Aïda. Have a laugh and check out their hilarious “Cheap Flights” clip at http://www.fascinatingaida.co.uk/videos/view/cheap_flights.
This morning we were up bright and early (before sunrise) on a crisp 5 degree morning to catch 2 buses across town to Shepherd’s Bush. Here we met up with fellow NRL supporters, El and Kat, for an “Aussie Breakfast” and the NRL Grand Final at the Aussie Walkabout pub. We were some of the many Aussies (and a few Kiwis) packed into the Walkie to watch the Melbourne Storm dominate the Canterbury Bulldogs at 8am on a glorious Sunday morning.
I feel that we have been running at full pace since we arrived in London. But I love every minute! Tomorrow I am returning to work while Dan continues to look for a more stable role where he has more regular hours. Provided our passports are returned by the UK Border Agency soon we are preparing for a few short trips between now and Christmas. After all, that is the main reason we are here!!
Until next time, love to all
J & D
First Published on: Sep 30, 2012 @ 22:24 #12monthhoneymoon