Monday, 27 February 2012


After a 10 day sojourn, Mum flew out to Dubai last night on the final leg of her February 2012 odyssey. It's quiet here this afternoon at Gidday HQ but I have lots of things to be getting on with before it's back to work tomorrow.

All up it's been a busy 10 days with some 'must dos' not done as we traded off a few excursions for a little chill out time at home. I'll post about some of the specific things we did over the next week or so - that'll be more posts of the 'Armchair' variety coming up for you - but in summary we shopped, played tourist, ate, drank and were generally slightly hysterical very merry.

Day 1 started gently for my erstwhile traveller, recovering from 2 weeks amidst the hurly burly of Egypt with a sleep in, a short stroll around my local park and a coffee stop or two before heading into The Tower of London in the evening for the Ceremony of the Keys.

The Ceremony of the Keys has been occurring every night at the Tower for the last 700 years and is the ritual of securing the Tower and the Crown Jewels for the night. From arrival at the West Gate at 9.30pm to departure at approximately 10.15pm, every moment was filled with a sense of both occasion and history as the Yeoman Warder led the group down to stand at Traitor's Gate and watch the ceremony.

After explaining the ceremony itself, he left us to watch in silence as he joined his fellow warders in the ritual locking of the two outer gates, the steady march towards Traitor's Gate right through to the proclamation that the Tower had been secured and the haunting notes of the bugler's Last Post. This is definitely one of London's hidden gems and even better, it is free but you need to send off a request form a couple of months in advance. You can click here to go to the website and check it out for yourself.

Saturday we were off to High Tea at The Connaught in Mayfair with A-down-the-hill to enjoy a significantly posher version of our previous Champers and Cupcakes escapades...

Champers gets our afternoon off to a fab start
There were also scones (they were scrum-diddly-umptious) and we got to choose three jams between us - my fave was the Apple & Quince!
Mum and I took ourselves off to see The Artist afterwards which meant a much needed 25 minute waddle along Oxford Street...

Oxford Circus
Get your five a day at the junction of Oxford and Duke Streets
Sunday was clear and crisp so we headed off to Greenwich. This will be featured as an Armchair post so more about our day later on. Suffice to say we managed to get our hands on something quite old...

We did a spot of shopping on Monday then decided on a 'rest day' before heading off to Dublin on Wednesday for 4 days. This little trip warrants a couple of dedicated posts but for now, I'll leave you with a highlights package...

The Boyne Valley, about 45 minutes drive north of Dublin, has 40 passage tombs in all shapes, sizes and states of preservation...
...and we visited Newgrange Passage Tomb which predates the pyramids.
I poured (and drank) the perfect pint at The Guinness Storehouse (and have a certificate to prove it)...
...while Irish history came to life for me at Kilmainham Jail.
I was delighted to find a 'host of golden daffodils' in Merrion Square...
...whilst visiting the Famine memorial by the Liffey River was quite moving.
We managed to cram a lot into our four days and came back to Gidday HQ on Saturday night absolutely exhuasted. Then departure day had arrived, all too soon it seemed, with much packing and sorting going on before heading back out to Heathrow again and hugging Mum goodbye.

As I walked away from the Departure Gate, I felt the familiar tearing of my heart between the love of family on the other side of the world and the connection of my soul with London. And I wondered at what it was in me that led me here so very far away, and where I might end up next.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


A few weeks back I read a post over on 4 Kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle, Arrivals or Departureswhere Australian serial expat Kirsty shared her love of the Arrivals Hall. 

It struck a chord. The anticipation of seeing loved ones, the joy and the relief (particularly if you meet anyone coming off a flight from Oz) of even the most seasoned traveller in arriving at last. The excitement of embarking on new adventures, renewing old acquaintances and reinforcing the deepest connections of the heart. That moment when time and distance disappears and suddenly you can see, hear, touch each other for real.

No matter what the advances modern technology provides - and the advent of Skype is a wonderful thing, if I could only get them all the way down there on it - nothing beats that moment.

And my moment will come later today. Just before 9pm tonight, Egypt Air flight 9230 will touch down at Heathrow Airport and deliver my lovely Mum to me. To hear, see, touch for real. For a whole 10 days.

I'm excited.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

My Village Is An Onion...

Today I sat down in front of my computer, coffee in hand, to meander happily through cyber-space. This is a Sunday thing, a sacred fragment of me-time and a pleasure I rarely feel guilty about. While I try to keep up with it all during the week on my commute, there's something about the big screen and multiple tabs that makes a Sunday trawl more delightful than flicking between windows on my phone and keeping half an ear out for my station announcement.

You see this is my village, or a large part of it anyway. Scrolling back through Facebook updates and tweets often uncovers a delightful surprise from a friend or loved one that may have passed me by in the busy-ness of the week. And checking out what my fellow bloggers have had to say - and perhaps leaving them with a thought or two of my own - is like peeling back layers of an onion. At different times, in different ways, each reveals something new, a different dimension that in my mind's eye, I had not imagined.

Today, I clicked on one of my Gidday faves, Adventures in Expatland. Linda is an American, living in The Hague with her family, who is forging new paths for herself as a writer and 'go to' person on the highs, lows and in-betweens of expat life. She's featured a few times on Gidday from the UK before and today, she's here again for two very special reasons:

...she's received the Versatile Blogger Award (And deservedly so. Good onya, mate!)


...she's nominated me for one.

(That's an excited squeal for you newcomers to Gidday)

The Versatile Blogger Award is a peer acknowledgement and apart from getting to put the little Versatile Blogger logo on my blog, I get to share with you 7 things about myself as well as another 15 of my favourite versatile virtuosos. As this post is already getting on a bit, let's just get cracking...

The Seven Wonders of the world Kym
  • My birthday is August 1st (which most of you probably know via the sleeps to go posts). My point is this - it's the Horse's Birthday.
  • I was actually due to 'arrive' on this here planet on the day 'The Eagle' landed and man set foot on the moon - 20th July 1969. I've not been late since.
  • If you've been reading Gidday for a while you probably know that Dad is Dutch but did I ever tell you that on my Mum's side we are descended from Bernadette Devlin, the youngest woman to be elected to British Parliament?
  • I jumped out of a perfectly good plane somewhere near Bendigo, Victoria in 2003. Note: I was strapped to the front of a burly skydiving instructor.
  • I was blonde (and I mean Annie Lennox blonde) for about 18 months. This happened to coincide with Lil Chicky's wedding so my bleached barnet is preserved for all eternity.
  • I received a scholarship from The Order of the Rechabites at age 13 and received my Alliance Francaise certificate at age 14. I drink and don't speak French. Cest la vie.
  • I played the role of Frenchy in our High School production of Grease. I wore a pink wig as Teen Angel (our Maths teacher Mr Smith) crooned 'Beauty School Dropout' at me.

The Fellowship of Fifteen

Ham Life
Local lad Matthew blogs about living in London, camera always at the ready.
The Vegemite Wife
Fellow Aussie somewhere up north who blogs with irony, humour and originality.
Perking The Pansies
One half of 'absurd' gay couple trying their luck in secular Turkey. He (Jack) wrote a book about it.
Lost in Cheeseland
An American in Paris. A recent addition to the blog roll.
Happy Homemaker UK
The name says it all. A pleasure to dip into.
4 Kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle
Another fellow Aussie living in Qatar. Always frank, often poignant.
The Displaced Nation
A group of cyber friends gathering yarns from global travellers everywhere. Confession: I am a Libby groupie.
Spies, Lies And Pies
Writer Charlie Wade leaves stories, book snippets and occasional 'old man' rants here.
She calls herself the oldest working writer in advertising. I call her brilliant.
In Search Of A Life Less Ordinary
Expat Brit exploring life in 'The Lucky Country'.
The New Australian
Another Expat Brit in Oz finding much to write home about.
Postcards - The Blog
Published and proud. Celebrating a decade in The Downs.
And Here We Are
Fresh off the boat from Bavaria. Another recent addition to the blogroll.
A Big Life
An Aussie in Germany. We from Down Under get around you know.
A twenty-something artist living in Denmark. My little dash of creative juice.

To put my thoughts out there on Gidday From The UK is an amazing experience.To be acknowledged by my one of my virtual village absolutely rocks. Hope you stop and visit them for a while.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

If It Takes A Village, Where Are The Villagers?

I watched a television show this week that made me cringe. Not in a small, mildly disconcerting way but in a what-the-hell-followed-by-outrage kind of way.

Gok Wan is back on the trail of positive body image again, this time with his show The Naked Truth which explores the issues surrounding teen body image in our society.

Source: pinterest
I like Gok and have enjoyed his other shows but to be honest, I was not sure about what appeared to be a bit of bubblegum psychology so when I chose to invest an hour of my time in this versus Holby City, The Fixer, The Exit List and Cowboy Builders, I was prepared to be a bit disappointed. 

(Actually having just read this list back, I do know why I chose it but I digress.)

Of the three stories featured, it was Paige's that made me see red. A gorgeous, slender 15 year old so obsessed by looking like the airbrushed photos online that she photoshops pictures of herself. The thinner thighs of websites like thinspiration (although having looked at the site, there are plenty of  'healthy' pictures too) and seeing a 'gap' between the tops of her legs were her holy grail and while their visit to see a real life fashion shoot (and the digital manipulation involved afterwards) seemed to do the trick, it disturbed me to think how this beautiful girl had arrived at these conclusions in the first place.

Source: pinterest
Gok's also out promoting his 1-hour Body Confidence sessions to the education community and while I whole-heartedly agree that this is an important investment in the self-esteem of our future generation, I wonder - aside from it being one hour in a whole year - how this can ever be enough. 

It seems to me that the current obsession with style over substance and the appeal of easy-celebrity has led to a loss of meaning in contributing to community and being proud of your work. Images in the media are insidious and further efforts to promote healthy bodies and un-touched pictures can only help. But doesn't the key to all of this start at home?

Back in September last year, Chris Lloyds' Wallbook Weekly Why Children Fail inspired a bit of a Gidday rant on a similar theme. If parents really are at their wit's end in knowing how to deal with this, then shouldn't part of the investment pie be directed here too? But then who decides what to 'teach' and how to 'measure' the outcome is a thorny issue at best. 

In response to my post back in September, some of my followers of the parental variety mentioned their strong belief that 'it takes a village to raise a child'. For me, a village starts with a sense of community. And the prevailing community for our teens is the online one.

Source: pinterest
Last year's riots in London shocked the world capturing image after image of violence and arrogant entitlement. But what it also showed was the power of social media.

So does the answer (or at least part of the solution) lie here?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow Stories...Fabulous Finchley

This is probably not the first snow post you will read today, nor is it likely to be the last you will stumble across particularly if you are reading anything about the UK. 

But I can't help it. I get all excited and Australian when the white stuff falls so I beg your pardon today if I seem unoriginal.

Last night's snow fall here in London has left 4-5cm of pristine whiteness over Fabulous Finchley as I discovered on opening the curtains this morning...

My snowy back garden I quickly dressed, cleared the front path...

Not that I want to seem like a big girl or anything but this shovelling  snow sh*t is hard work!
 ...and set off to snap some of snowy Finchley.

A couple of inches covered the cars in the street - that's quite a bit of snow for Londoners. (I can hear some of my followers from colder climes scoffing about now).
I passed a few early on in my snowy shuffle that were committed to business as usual...

Determined local restaurant staff braving the elements... was this mad jogger. Just silly behaviour really!
 ...but undeterred, I shuffled on until I reached my destination...

...and began to snap away.

Taken from the main gate above - I love the Narnia-esque quality of this shot (could that be Mr Tumnus up ahead?)

No tennis today...
...but plenty of action on the swings!
Families were out in force and it seemed that in every corner I beheld a flurry of activity...

There was much 'work-in progress' going on as well and even this poor pooch got caught up in the adventure of it all.

Doggone it! It looked much smaller before...
Maybe he should have paid better attention...

Helpful sign??
Anyway getting back to the action, it appeared that the park had been invaded by a few rather cool customers...

Hats off to the clever clogs who made this one!
Is it my turn on the swings yet?
Nice 'do'
Do you think this one's on the property ladder yet?
This seated cutie made me laugh out loud
Shrek in your work!
By now, all this shuffling about glove-less in the snow had developed me a yearning for a nice warming cuppa and the toasty cosiness of Gidday HQ so I headed for home...

Leaving Finchley's snowy playground
A fabulous splash of colour in the wintery day
Gorgeous architecture just around the corner
Almost home...
 ...and arrived, wide-eyed and happy and filled with that magical feeling that only a Winter Wonderland, and the anticipation of a steaming mug of hot chocolate, can bring.

Hope you find a little of your own magic this Sunday.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

When Two Tribes Go To War...

I celebrated my 8 year anniversary in the UK on the 21st January. I have had many firsts here - broken bones, high teas, baking exploits, snowfalls, sub zero BBQs just to name just a few. But until last Sunday, I had never been to a football match here.

In Melbourne, the prevailing game is AFL and while I would never say I was a mad fan, I watched games sporadically on the telly, chatted avidly about the Footy Tipping around the water cooler at work and have been to the MCG twice - once to watch my beloved Brisbane Lions reign supreme on the last Saturday in September 2001 and again, to the traditional ANZAC Day match between Collingwood and Essendon in 2007 on one of my prodigal visits down under.

Since getting 'off the boat' in 2004, I have grown to enjoy a good game of soccer (as we call it), enjoying the World Cup/Euro matches from the comfort of my couch at home but had failed to develop either the inclination or the opportunity to sally forth for real. So when a friend got some great tickets for last Sunday's match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium, who was I to say no!?

Here at last! Emirates Stadium 29th January 2012
A little context first. My friend is an Arsenal supporter and this was the 4th round of the FA Cup (it said so on the program) so things were bound to get heated. His partner had not been particularly keen to attend so I got a guernsey by default (A-down-the-hill and I call that being an 'emergency handbag') so I felt compelled to band together with said friend in the Arsenal camp. But in any case, Emirates is the home ground for Arsenal and we were completely surrounded by the red and white so cheering for anything but a Gunners win was likely to be bad for my health. And at heart, I'm a wimp pragmatist.

Pre-match colours from the Gunners fans
Oh dear, fun over!
The match started and Work Friend was kind enough to give me a few pointers on the teams themselves and patiently answered my neophyte questions so that I could follow the action. I'm no soccer football expert but it wasn't long before I was muttering and shouting with the best of them. When I heard these immortal words pass my lips - What's he doing kicking it there when there's no-one forward? (I'll spare you the swearing) - I suspected I may have been converted.

At half time things were not looking good (Aston Villa 2-0 Arsenal) but two penalties early in the second half (converted from the boot of Robin van Persie and yes he's Dutch) levelled the score and before long Arsenal led 3-2.

Match just getting underway - after this I was too busy swearing watching to take pics
As the match progressed, the stadium was filled with chanting with my favourite being 'Who Are Ya?!' as forty odd thousand Gunners fans celebrated the equalising goal early in the second half. Unfortunately, match rivalry here spills over into a bit more vociferous argy bargy off the pitch and between that and the high ticket prices (£50+ per adult at least), I'm disappointed to say that football here does not have the same family feel as in Australia. 

Work Friend said he loved the tribalism of it and that's the perfect description. The atmosphere in the stadium was absolutely electric and given the chance, I would definitely go again.

But first things first: I believe Arsene Wenger is awaiting my post-match analysis...