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Life, lately.

What’s that? You’re desperately wanting to know what I’ve been up to in the last month and a half?
That’s what I thought you said.

I’ve had so many good things happening lately: I had a birthday, holidayed in France, took up baking, went back to yoga and other exciting things!

So here it is, bits and pieces of what I’ve been doing in the last little while.

Visiting Eastbourne
One drizzly Sunday I decided to jump on the bus to head to Eastbourne, home of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, a wonderful movie which you should put on your list to see if you haven’t already. It was a lovely hour bus ride, driving through some gorgeous scenery like the Seven Sisters Country Park, which I want to head back to and photograph soon. Eastbourne had some cute little markets along the seafront, a small but surprisingly interesting Royal National Lifeboat museum and the Wish Tower (small defensive fortress) on top of the hill which was built in the early 1800’s for defence in the Napoleonic wars. Eastbourne is known locally as ‘God’s waiting room’, and there is certainly a large proportion of older people there, but I was happy because I found some great ‘old lady skirts’ including a very cool lavender pleated skirt for next to nothing in the charity shop!

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Little beach houses and the life guards along the seafront.

Birthday Celebrations
At the end of September I had my 28th birthday, and to celebrate I bought myself a title. Yes, a title. You may now refer to me as Lady Amanda.
I am the proud owner (well, not owner, it’s actually dedicated in my name, but whatever) of two square feet in the Lake District! I am going to build a paddle-pop stick castle and cement it to my holdings.

I know that the English believe this to be terribly crass, but I actually don’t care. I’m claiming the non-classy Australian part of me here and saying it’s well cool!

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I am now known at work as ‘Lady A.D.’

Holiday in the French countryside
A few days after my birthday I flew to France, to spend a week with my great-aunt, and I had the most amazing week with her and her partner, plus a couple of their friends. They live on a small farm called Guimondiere in Saint Aubin du Désert, in the Pays de la Loire region of France, and it’s just a stunning area.

We lounged around the gîte (the holiday house that they let out during the summer – check it out, you can stay there too!), ate huge amounts of fresh baguette and cheese, drank copious amounts of wine, cooked with all homegrown vegetables from the vege patch (one of my favourite parts of the holiday!), crafted at the local Stitch & Bitch club (it does have another name officially, but it’s long and in French), attempted to go to a few different markets (where every time we ended up getting lost or rained out, until the very last day!) and generally just soaked up the beauty of country France.

Every day we visited a new little town or village, and I got to see Alençon, Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, Frênes, Lassay-les-Châteaux, and a bunch of other little places that we drove through. Here are some photos:

My felting craftiness at the Stitch & Bitch club. It has bells!!!

My felting craftiness at the Stitch & Bitch club. It has bells!!!

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Chapel of Saint Céneri

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Saint Céneri, looking down at the village from up at the church.

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The chateau of Lassay-les-Châteaux. I’ve decided that I want to live on this side of the lake so I can look out of my window and see this every single day.

A chateau in ruins at Sillé le Guillaume. I thought it looked a bit like the mermaid lagoon from Peter Pan. So pretty!

A chateau in ruins at Sillé le Guillaume. I thought it looked a bit like the mermaid lagoon from Peter Pan. So pretty!

Twilight at Sillé le Guillaume

Twilight at Sillé le Guillaume

My aunt and I, hanging out near (yet another) chateau in Frênes.

My aunt and I, hanging out near (yet another) chateau in Frênes.

Other bits and pieces
Since my little holiday I’ve mainly been working, yoga-ing, baking etc. But yesterday I decided to head into town to visit the Royal Pavilion, built as a summer holiday palace (because why would you have a holiday home when you can have a holiday palace) in the late 1700’s for the Prince Regent George, who would become King George IV. He was widely known and often hated for his lavish parties and love of all things edible (he had his world-renowned chef throw a dinner for a few people with 100 dishes on the menu!!!), and basically ended up dying from being too fat.

I spent two hours walking around the palace, and sadly they don’t allow any photos inside (such a shame, because it’s amazing!), but below is a picture of the outside. Keep in mind, this palace is smack bang in the middle of Brighton, and they have the grounds open to the public (which is where I often spend hours sitting and reading), they’ve converted the stables (which are huge, and in the same style as the palace) into a museum and also a performance space. My favourite part of it all was that the palace was used as a hospital for the Indian soldiers who were wounded in the first world war (almost a quarter of a million soldiers from India and Nepal fought for Britian!). Also, that Queen Victoria (who inherited the palace later) was disappointed when she came her saying it was a ‘strange, odd, Chinese looking place, both outside and inside’, and hated the fact that it was so close to the sea but she could only see it from one window. I think she was being a bit fussy, personally.

Yes, this building is in the middle of Brighton. And even though it's Indian on the outside, it's Chinese on the inside!

Yes, this building is in the middle of Brighton. And even though it’s Indian on the outside, it’s Chinese themed on the inside!

So, this is what I’ve been up to. I’m getting super excited about Christmas here – there are already lights up over the street in Brighton, and little craft fairs are starting to pop up everywhere. I seriously start to bubble over with giddiness when I think about scarves, mulled wine, Christmas markets, roasted nuts, coats and Michael Buble’s Christmas album.

I’m planning a few more little outings here and there over the next month or so. There is Día de los Muertos (better known as the Mexican Day of the Dead) at one of my favourite pubs which includes theme dress up and face painting, a Fairy Tale Fair complete with a vintage tea room and Guy Fawkes celebrations in Lewes (the biggest in the UK!). I’m also thinking I might catch a bus out to somewhere in Kent soon, because it’s only one county over, it’s known as the ‘garden of England’, and I’m thinking it’s going to be incredibly beautiful in the autumn. If anyone knows of the best places to go in Kent, please let me know!

Until next time I will leave you with a photo from my Saturday night selfies photoshoot (what else is a girl meant to do on a Saturday night?). This is me and Karl, the bird I bought home from France.
Au revoir!

Karl, the only bird I like because he won't fly in my face.

Karl, the only bird I like because he won’t fly in my face.

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Let Me Go Home

I haven’t written here in a while. My reason is, I miss home too much.

I’m sitting here crying because I can’t find a picture of me and my mum. It seem silly, but I just want to see a picture of me and her, together, probably drinking wine and talking in faux French (because that’s what we do). 

I’m trawling my Facebook pictures and my photo folders, and I can’t find one. And it’s making me cry.

I’ve been in denial this last month. Everything has been a little bit hard. At home someone very close to me is going through a very dark time. I feel like my family needs me. My friends miss me. I haven’t made any really good friends here. I’m lonely. Not sad, but lonely. And in these moments, my homesickness threatens to overwhelm me. So, I’ve been in denial. Because if I don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist.

But I miss my family. So much. I haven’t managed to speak to my brother & sister-in-law since I left (apart from the odd email or Instagram comment). I want to hang out with my sisters. I want to drink a bottle of wine with Mum. I want to have a D&M (otherwise known as a Dad & Mandy) on the couch with my daddy.

I want to be with someone who knows me. 

An hour long Skype chat is good, but by the weekend I’ve forgotten the vents, the anecdotes, the little stories that I had to tell during the week. It’s not the same drinking a glass of wine by yourself. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks and I won’t have the family birthday dinner, or my dad saying ‘happy birthday, birthday girl’ every single day for three weeks in the lead up to it.

I don’t want to go home. I love Brighton and I believe my path is here. But it doesn’t make it any easier when you feel like you should be with the people you love.

Admitting all of this makes it feel so much worse than ignoring it. But it’s been building up. And I still can’t find a picture of me and my mummy.

Let me go home
I’m just too far from where you are
I wanna come home

 

An Apology – A Nation’s Great Shame

An Apology – A Nation’s Great Shame.

From one of the great women of Australia.
I have never read a post that I agree with more. Steph, you’ve said it all for me.

Becoming a Brit 101

I have been honoured to guest post over on She Said What!
Check out my burgeoning British-ness, and read some of Steph’s other wonderful posts while you’re at it!

Q: When is a kite not a kite?

A: When it’s a bat, a shark, a little octopus, a giant octopus, a sting ray, a tiger, twin polar bears or Carmen Sandiego.

So yesterday I went to the Brighton Kite Festival!

I went because, really, who doesn’t love a good kite festival? But I also decided to go because my lovely sister has scampered back to the southern hemisphere, and I thought it was time I left my little comfort zone and tried my hand at making friends.

I found this website called Meetup where you can join groups of similar interests and go to their meets. So I joined a creative arts group and found them at the kite festival. 

I think somehow in my head I had imagined that if I was brave enough to tackle the world of going to random gatherings solo, that somehow the universe would reward me with a kindred spirit immediately and we would be BFF’s forever. Okay, so I didn’t exactly figure it like that, but you know. 

There were some nice people there, don’t get me wrong, but no ‘instant friends’.

Anyway, it was worth the trip out just to enjoy the sunshine, the kites, and a beautiful slice of lemon cake that one of the ladies in the group was sharing round.

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Little octopus. For all it’s simplicity, I think it was one of my favourites at the festival.

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I think this ones name was Bruce.

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Na-na-na-na na-na-na-na BAT KITE!!!!!!!!

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Centipede kite.

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Twin polar bears with their mama bear (who is struggling to get off the ground due to the lack of wind)

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Awesome flying tiger. Another favourite of the day!

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Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? I found her! She’s in Brighton!!!

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Proof that pigs can’t fly. At least, not in kite form.

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Much better looking than any stingray I’ve seen in real life.

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Giant Octopussy looking sad because he can’t get up off the grass.

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But feeling better when he finally made it!

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There were kites flying in tandem….

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….. and flags flying everywhere.

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You could even go fishing.

It really was a lovely afternoon. I love kites.
*walks away singing Mary Poppins songs*

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Loving London (or, how I gave my heart to Brighton)

I’ve been neglecting to post what I really should… part two of the Paris photos. But this last weekend I did few days in London, and I thought while it was fresh in my mind I should post it up.

I went up on Saturday evening to meet my cousin who was flying in to hang for a few days before she kicked off a Contiki tour, and also to say goodbye to my sister at the airport on Sunday.

Side note: I am feeling a teensy bit sad about my sister leaving, because she was a sort of security blanket – someone I knew and could depend on for company in this town. On the other hand, it’s a little exhilarating, a push to jump in to the water and put myself out there to meet other people. Overall, I think it’s a good thing.

But back to London – we didn’t do too much on this amazingly sunny and hot weekend, mainly just enjoyed the best of London in the great weather. Sunday we walked around, taking in Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, some household cavalry guards… you get the drill. We hung out in Covent Garden in the evening, an area that stays lively until late, brimming with people, market stalls and street performers. Monday we did the London Free Walking Tour with the same brilliant company I toured with in Paris. They didn’t disappoint the second time round either. Finishing off the day at the massive four-storey Primark store on Oxford Street, I rested my weary legs in a corner while my cousin waited 40 minutes just to try on her items in the dressing room!!!

Below is some photo evidence of the great weekend:

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Cider, crisps and cookies in St James Park. A beautiful lazy Sunday afternoon.

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London Pride, flying from one of the parliamentary buildings.

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My lovely cousin with a stoic guard.

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The classic ‘Big Ben’ shot, which is actually the nickname of the bell in the tower… the tower itself was renamed the Elizabeth Tower for the grand old lady’s jubilee.Image

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An iPhone panoramic with me on the right photographing ‘Big Ben’.

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A lovely iPhone selfie, my cousin and I hanging in Covent Garden, drinking ciders on the street and watching street performers.

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A hilariously dirty street performer who likes to ‘mount’ people from the audience….

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… and juggled a running chainsaw.

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And strolling home I saw this beautiful ballerina in a bubble, hanging from the side of a building.

I’m really looking forward to coming back to London and spending a weekend by myself to do some more walking tours (particularly this Grim Reaper tour), the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it in a month or so.

I must say though, when my bus rolled back in to the bus stop in Brighton, and I looked out the window to see the Brighton Pier lights flashing, I felt a little leap of joy. I do love London, but it was so nice to be home. Yes, home.

Home is where the heart is, and I think I’ve given my heart to Brighton.

Brighton Belonging

It’s been almost an entire month since I posted last, and all sorts of wonderful things have happened. Not fairytale sparkling fireworks wonderful, but that comfortable, cup of tea, sense of home wonderful.

Firstly, I got back from Paris (I do have some more photos to upload, but that’s for another post). In a whirlwind of a week I moved into my new place, got myself a job and ran out of money! Let me tell you about it…

The Place – I love it. It’s in East Brighton, between Kemptown (the gay quarter) and the Marina (shops, cinemas etc.). I share this cute little two-storey townhouse with my lovely landlord who enjoys Eastenders, The Apprentice (which I watch with her on a Wednesday night) and her cat. We both tend to be out a lot, and keep to ourselves, but once or twice a week we usually end up spending an hour or so over a glass of wine talking about the world’s problems. The bus stop within 30m of my front door, and there is a Lidl (like Aldi) supermarket down the end of the street. Also, I’m about a 5 minute stroll from the seafront, straight down to the end of my road. My place rocks!

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My very cute, sunny little room. And of course, my teddy bear who has always travelled with me wherever I move.

The Job – A couple of days after I got back from Paris and moved in, I figured it might be time to apply for a job. Wednesday evening I applied for 12 jobs online. Thursday morning a recruitment agent rang me and asked me to come in that day to meet him and talk about a position. Thursday evening he rang me to see if I could interview with the company the next morning. Friday morning I interviewed, it seems kind of perfect and I really wanted the job. Early Friday afternoon I get a call from the managing director asking me if I was sure that I was staying in Brighton, as he was worried I was going to get homesick and leave. I assured him I was staying for a minimum of two years, and he replied that I should take the weekend to really decide that I was happy, but if I wanted the job on Monday morning, it was mine. And so, I had a job in 48 hours.

I started a few days after I accepted the position, and it’s been fantastic. It pays well (comparatively, for a job in an office in England) and the people are fantastic. Last week a couple of us went for an ‘after-work drink’ at 6.30pm when we finished. Apparently here ‘after-work drink’ means getting home at 2am. I feel like I’m learning quickly, fitting in well, and everything has just slotted nicely into place job-wise.

The (lack of) Money – Basically after I got the new job I realised I was down to my last £120 pounds. Yes, I probably should have been checking my bank statement more often, but in all fairness I was using an international cash card thing, and it took up to 72 hours to update after you made a purchase. In England they pay monthly, and I didn’t have my bank details in for payment on the day they paid at work (my third day working), so I am waiting again until the 26th of the month to finally get some money!

I’ve had to scrounge and borrow, and I’m living off about £2 a day. Actually, I have to be honest, it’s probably about £4 a day, because I haven’t been able to give up my morning coffee on a weekday which is £2.30 by itself – I just can’t make it through without it! Anyway, it’s meant no alcohol*, lots of porridge, no takeaways, and plenty of cheap frozen food (which I love but is so bad for my butt).

What’s funny though, is that through the stress of not having money, not being able to go out and do anything except walk around and look, being worried about how I’m going to pay rent mid-month, or how I’m going to pay for next week’s bus pass – I still love Brighton!

Yes, I really do. I feel home. I feel like I belong. I’ve moved around a lot (I think I’m up to about my 29th move?) and nowhere have I felt as accepted and peaceful as here. I’m not even weird here!!! I would have to be about seven times more kooky than I currently am to even be a blip on the weird scale. I love that there are constantly parades and festivals, bubbles being blown, free roses handed out, people dressed as sexy aliens, men who are dressed normally except for their pirate hat and feather boa, cross-dressers who don’t even try, 50’s-themed girls being pushed around on rolling step-ladders and more street buskers than you could even imagine. And most of this happens on a normal Saturday.

A few photos as proof… the ‘Children’s Parade’ which opens the Brighton Festival every year. They chose a storybook theme this year, every school in the area with a different book. I only saw about 15 minutes of the parade, and have probably about 50 photos. I can’t imagine if I actually saw all 70+ schools!

I didn't know that the Statue of Liberty was in a story, but sure, why not? Also, love the Lego man in the background.

I didn’t know that the Statue of Liberty was in a story, but sure, why not? Also, love the Lego man in the background.

They actually have a sign somewhere in there saying 'Let's go fly a....' and every kid has a giant kite!

They actually have a sign somewhere in there saying ‘Let’s go fly a….’ and every kid has a giant kite!

Who doesn't love Dr Seuss?

Who doesn’t love Dr Seuss?

I. Love. Brighton.

*I’d like to shout out to my Aussie friend L who has also recently moved here, and on the occasions that she has visited Brighton to see me, has shouted a few pints of cider. The alcoholic in me really appreciates it, and I swear when I get paid it’s my turn!!! xxx