Monday, 30 June 2014

Where to Start?

As the title of this post suggests, I don’t quite know where to start with catching up!

I have Poland to talk about, and Cornwall, and a bit of crochet, and a few books, and some random bits and pieces I’d just wanted to chat about, plus little updates on progress with various stuff, and some looking-ahead stuff about Australia… Phew!!

After a bit of a think, I have decided to make this post just a quick progress update, and then I will do my utmost to do a proper post very very soon! (Hopefully tomorrow)

So, we are now a mere 3 months (that’s right, just 3 short months!) from our expected removal date to Australia!! How scary is that??

Artwork by Michael Tompsett

For those who aren’t in the know with this, my husband has a sponsored job offer in Australia, so we now both have visas approved for emigrating to Australia. We will be moving to Northern Queensland, which is tropical – so hot all the time and prone to cyclones, but very interesting and very different to the UK!

We know a little bit more about what will happen with us now, and the next big thing to occur will be that a company comes to take all our stuff, to load it into a container, and to ship it half way around the world to the land down under…

As we have already moved out of our previous home, the vast majority of our stuff is already packed and in storage. We just have the rest of our stuff that we brought with us to Adam’s parents’ house to sort through. Some of this is stuff we won’t need in Australia, such as extension leads for British plug sockets and so on. Some is stuff we ran out of time to sort properly, like piles of paperwork that won’t all be needed, but does require sorting and maybe shredding. Some is stuff that will travel with us – like certain clothes, very precious things that we don’t want to trust to a ship, etc etc. And other stuff is stuff we have been using – like some of my crochet projects, and a few books…

This feels like a right pain to sort through, and while some is easy (putting all the remaining books into a box as I have now joined the library and Adam uses his Kindle) some felt a bit sad. I was surprised at just how sad I felt packing away some crochet WiPs, it was like accepting defeat that I would not be able to finish these projects in time before we leave. I know I can pick them back up once we are reunited with our stuff in Australia, but it still felt odd to me…  Some things are just plain awkward: We need to keep back clothes to wear from now all the way up to a British Autumn, but then have clothes to suit us arriving in Australia and the massive heat we will encounter there!

We have been trying to work out a few other things too about what kind of lifestyle we can work towards over there. Adam has been searching for cars and practical man things like that, we’ve both been poring over pictures of houses to try and decide what sort of style we would prefer (more about the houses in a moment) and I have been looking up various clubs for things like rock climbing, stand up paddleboarding (they don’t have surf where we’re going due to the Great Barrier Reef – I think I can live with that though!) and of course any crochet groups that might be there… ;)   Most exciting for me at the moment has been looking for potential university courses I can do over there to build a new career for myself, and seeking out jobs and internships and things that compliment my hoped-for plans. There is so much available that really appeals to me and makes me very excited, and while I don’t want to jinx it by saying lots now, I am very hopeful that it will be possible.

As for housing once we get there, this is another thing that is proving somewhat frustrating for us right now. Assistance with housing is all part of the job that Adam will have, and he is supposed to get a special code given to him, with which he can log into a website and we can search for the properties that are available to us. Unfortunately, there is a delay in him getting this code – we should have it already, but it hasn’t been signed off yet hence the delay – so we can’t look at available houses at all. I’d love to be able to pick an area of town to live in and know what sort of house we will have when we arrive, but for now that is all a big mystery. It’s not helping my feelings of displacement that I can’t even visualise my new home! All part of the adventure I guess ;)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Just a Quickie...

Hello there!

This is just a quickie to say helloooooo! I am still here, I haven't been kidnapped by little green men or anything ;)

I ended up having a longer-than-planned break in Cornwall with the Mr, which was very lovely indeed! But it did mean that when we got back to reality we had a LOT to do in a much shorter time. We had (have!) a lot to sort out in relation to prepping all our stuff for shipping it to Australia, so that's what we've been doing intensively over the last couple of days, and that is why I haven't had a chance to get on here and write anything decent...  I do have lots to share though, and - dare I say it! - I am kind of looking forward to my husband going off back to work so that I can have my free time back again!! 

I don't have time now to write up anything good, but I just wanted to check in so that you know I haven't given up on here or anything, and assure anyone who is still interested that I do have lots to share as soon as I make time to sort out words and pictures :)

Thank you for patience and I hope to be back with something much better very soon!!

Debbie :) xx

Friday, 20 June 2014

A Few Busy Things...

I am starting to feel quite overwhelmingly busy again!!

It is mostly my own fault, as I am prioritising things that are not necessarily essential, and then getting stressed about the rest… I really need to take a chunk of time to sort out a chunk of the essential stuff, and then take a deep breath! The problem that I’m finding though, is that with the time to leave the UK coming rapidly closer, things that would normally not be so important suddenly seem really, well, important!

Things like spending time with friends, seeing places that are unique to the UK and Europe – that will be far too expensive and impractical to ever see from Australia. Crocheting the gifts for people that will be left with them when I go – I am especially keen to finish my mum’s blanket, as I don’t believe that she would visit us in Australia, so I really want her to have something from me that means she knows I was always thinking of her and caring about her. I also have my gym membership now, that we organised because we had that Big Trip to go on. Even though the trip is now cancelled for us, I can’t cancel the gym membership so don’t want the money to go to waste, plus I really would like to get back to a reasonable level of fitness as I was before. And I’d quite like to lose all the weight I’ve put on too! Aside from the fact that it is too expensive for me to keep buying new clothes when I realise I can’t fit into the old ones, if you are going to move to a new place where you know absolutely no-one, and it is a hot place where you can’t hide under layers and baggy jumpers, then it can’t hurt to arrive there feeling confident about yourself, can it?

So, I have mental list of things I need to do, but instead of sorting things and packing more stuff in preparation for shipping all our belongings, what I have actually been doing is:

Trying desperately to make progress on my mum’s flower blanket, which has been a bit neglected with things like my brother’s wedding, visiting family, and travelling to Poland…

Crocheting together the squares for the 3rd blanket panel...

Finally getting around to sorting out some photo albums on Facebook – I’m not a chatty person, and I don’t tend to call up friends just to talk. Instead, I love Facebook for keeping in touch with everyone. As I live so far from most people that I care about, Facebook is a really convenient way to keep in touch. I also love to see other people’s photos of what they’ve been up to, and love to share my own photos of what I’ve been up to.

I take so many photos though that I’ve gotten quite behind with things! So the day before yesterday I finally got around to posting some more of my South America photos. Only 5 months after I got back! These particular photos were of a 3-day trip we did in Bolivia to the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, then on to some utterly incredible landscapes with coloured mineral lagoons full of flamingos, and even geysers and hot springs, plus some amazing wildlife. I really ought to write a post just about this, but for now here are just a few photos:

I still need to get around to sorting out my photos from my trip to Romania with my best friend, from back in February:

Peleș Castle, Romania

And then I will get around to posting my photos from this recent trip to Poland - although the gnome photos are already sorted! They can have their own album ;)

Wrocław Town Hall, Poland

And finally, although I have loads to do, today I am driving down to Cornwall for another thing that I had arranged aaaages ago, back before I realised that this current period of time would have so many other demands on it.

This trip is another trip with Explorers Connect, who I have been away with once before (before I began blogging). I also used their online forum / meeting area to organise a group to accompany me as we tried to bikepack the South Downs Way. This time, the trip was hoped to involve a boat ride off the Cornish coast to find basking sharks to swim with!!!! (with a licenced guide and strict restrictions – these beautiful creatures are protected).

Photo by Greg Skomal - source

Unfortunately, the people who look out for these sharks have said that they haven’t seen anything close to the number of sharks they would have expected to have seen by now, so it seems we have a pretty slim chance of getting to swim with them. Still, we may get to go out and swim with other wildlife, or we may get to do another activity instead. Either way, we’ll be in Cornwall for a weekend, and visiting Cornwall again is on my UK bucket list :)

Also, my husband finally comes back on Sunday from being abroad with work, and not having properly seen him in aaaaaages! He will then have a few days off work during the week, so we have booked somewhere to stay together in Cornwall so that we can have a bit of precious time together for a change, without being with family and friends. I know I’ve already said how important family and friends are, but after months of not having any proper time together, I think it would be a good idea to actually spend some time as a couple!

So, today (Friday) will be spent packing (AGAIN!!!!!! Have I mentioned before that I really hate packing??) for a few days in Cornwall, followed by driving for many hours to actually get to Cornwall!

I’m not sure if there will be internet there, if so then I can post over the weekend, but if not I’ll post later.

I hope you all have a great weekend, and anyone willing, please send me a kick up the backside for when I get back, to actually get on with some necessary jobs! ;)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Poland 1 ~ The Gnomes of Wrocław

Ok, I’m finally getting there with posting a bit about my trip to Poland!

First of all, I always thought that Wrocław was pronounced ‘Vroc-lav’. But actually, Wrocław is pronounced ‘Vrots-waf’. That 5th letter that we normally represent as an ‘l’ is actually ‘ł’, which has a ‘w’ sound. This took me a little while to get used to!

I had wanted to go to eastern Europe as I love it there and it is cheaper than western Europe. Wrocław was on my shortlist of places to go as I had never been to Poland before (I love to go to new places) and I had read it described as a beautiful city that is overlooked tourism-wise compared to Krakov, which can get exceptionally busy. This appealed to me, and it helped that I managed to find flights for £40 with budget airline Wizz Air. Another deciding factor was a bit of a frivolous novelty to be honest, in that one of Wrocław’s most popular and iconic attractions is not a historic building or a fine art museum, but instead it is a race of little people: krasnale to the local people, gnomes to you and me :)

I had read that these were dotted about the place and that gnome spotting was a much-loved tourist past time, but I hadn’t realised quite how many there were! They do keep getting new additions, and I read estimates that they number from 150 to 250 gnomes around the city!  Of course I didn’t manage to see all of them, but I did dedicate my first full day there to the sport of gnome spotting, with incidental sightseeing and coffees along the way :)

Now then, I did describe these little fellas as a frivolous novelty, but while the contemporary gnomes are rather fun and are often sponsored by a business such as a café or hotel, they do have more gravity to their history than that.

The first gnome of Wrocław was Papa Krasnal, who arrived in 2001 near a subway where Orange Alternative demonstrations often took place – and which also happened to be right outside the hostel I was staying at! The Orange Alternative was an underground protest movement that used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests against the Communist Regime at the time. You can read more about the Orange Alternative here – or do a Google search for more info if you’re interested :) 

Papa Krasnal

Today’s proliferation of Wrocław gnomes came about when first of all 5 more gnomes were commissioned by the City Council, which then became so popular that local businesses got in on the action, using gnomes to attract custom. And the spread has continued! 

Now gnomes have jobs as Firemen or Pharmacists, or loll about in doorways, eating icecream or getting drunk! There are gambling gnomes and travelling gnomes, gnomes riding bikes and gnomes riding pigeons! I found it great fun to around spotting them, and although I didn’t manage to find all of the ones I wanted to I still have enough photos of them with which to thoroughly bore you, I’m sure!

So here we go, lots of gnome pictures! I'll check back at some point to add some detail to make it more interesting, but sadly I don't have time right now! Sorry!


If you've made it all the way here then you deserve a nice cuppa ;)