Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Doing it Italian Style

I don’t want to get too behind, so I should probably tell you about my weekend in Sardinia. You know how sometimes it’s the unexpected that are the most fun? Well, this was certainly the case this weekend. Travelling with foreigners (Australians and token New Zealander) meant we had to get up at 230am to get to the airport. We decided there was no point in going to bed and watched High School Musical 1 (with dance move break downs) and 2. I’m actually ashamed to say I was mesmerised by this experience. That Zac Efron can dance. While he is no Dean Cain, I would have given him space on my wall, that’s if I was 12 and still considered plastering my walls with men an appropriate form of d├ęcor. Ok, let’s face it, I’d still be doing it if I hadn’t gone all ‘Rebecca’.

So back to Sardinia. We ended up waiting a good 3 hours for busses on our first day there. I am proud to say that being the seasoned traveller I am, waiting does not faze me, as long as there are shadows for hand puppets, I can wait for any form of transport. In between 9 scoops of gelati, we managed to visit the blue grotto caves (ok) and do a bit of exploring in Alghero. It was relaxing, there was sun on our faces and we were happy.

The next day we found some local markets where we stocked up on prosciutto, local cheeses (hello Peccorino, how may I eat you), breads, fruit, wine, beer and desserts. Our picnic haul was truly amazing. Gelati, of course, served as an appetiser before we headed to the sea and set ourselves up on the rocks for a good 6 hours in the sun. We then headed to the town square where were staying and participated in some local dancing at the festival of Saint Marco. By participating, I actually mean we were the only ones dancing while the locals looked on. I’m pretty sure they were amazed by the rhythm and variation of moves on show. Better still, they would have assumed we were Brits abroad due to lack of coordination and willingness to be wearing summer clothes in spring just for a hint of sun on our skin. The Aussie name is still in tact!

This weekend I am off to the Cinque Terre and I am unbelievably excited. Get ready for some serious gushing next week.

Oh, and I made muesli last night. It’s really good*. I’m going to make some man a good little wifey one day.

*confirmed by third party

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Voice from the bowl

Here me speak! Yes, I’m thinking starting my own motivational roadshow. I will travel the globe, spreading the word of the V. I will have a large screen, showbags with pens bearing the V sign and perhaps people fainting at my feet.. I will go and inspire people to say yes, to go outside their comfort zone and just embrace life. I’ll go on to write my own book that will be available in audio, pictorial and Braille formats.

It started how all good stories do. With shit. Now this isn’t any old shit. It’s day old turd that has been floating in the female toilets at work. It then went on to involve me being a good Samaritan by warning Girl Crush at work of this toilet travesty. Then realising I was talking to Girl Crush about shit, I decided to compliment her. That very quickly progressed to me insulting her by asking if her ‘really nice scarf’ was from Topshop. Now, FYI, I find Topshop scarves ridiculously expensive. So it was meant as a compliment but she wet herself laughing (the kind of laughter where you join in because you feel you have to, and then stop because it’s weird you are laughing when it’s clear you have no idea why). Apparently it was a designer scarf, so I started doing some backtracking where I decided to insult myself to try and make up for it. Girl Crush is exotic hot. Stupidly stunning. And so, so chic. But unfortunately not that interesting. It’s ok, I forgive her though because she’s that beautiful. After she had composed herself I then somehow launched into my ‘I love life’ spiel. I don’t know where it came from, but it was like I had an audience. Girl Crush was actually looking impressed, dare I say, inspired. Sentences like ‘take each day as it comes’ and ‘you discover so much by taking yourself outside of your comfort zone’ were projectile vomiting out of my mouth. She stood there, mesmerised in the stinky toilet with the occasional whoosh of the passion fruit scent air freshener that served as the only interruption to my rant. When I finally came up for air, she said, and I quote directly ‘Wow, Vanessa, I’m feeling really inspired’.

I think I may resign tomorrow after I’ve found my Winnabago and loudspeaker.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yes

I'm reading this book at the moment where this guy decides he's missing out on too much in his life by saying no too often. So he decides for the next 8 or so months he's going to say yes to anything anyone asks of him. Now, this is no Dice Man for anyone who has read it, the story is real and the guy is hilarious. He says yes to viagra pill spam mail, yes to becoming part of an extra terrestrial social group who claim God is living in East London. Basically yes to anything and everything.

The thing is, saying yes all the time is hard work. And for us time poor lazy folk living in 2008, we find it hard enough to commit to social plans without bailing at the last minute let alone helping someone or going outside our comfort zone at the cost of some of our precious spare time. Now, obviously, it's unrealistic to say yes all the time. But how many times do we say no to things, when really, it's would be easy enough just to do it. How many experiences do we miss out on, interesting people not met, new things not learned by saying no? And how many times when we unexpectantly say yes find ourselves having a great time. We're so conditioned to saying no, perhaps it does take an experiment like saying yes all the time to get ourselves out of this selfish rut we find ourselves in.

I find that living over here immediately makes me suspicious of anyone and everything. Sometimes I act inexplicably rude to people. Sure the guys handing out the free papers by the tube annoyingly shove them at you, but screwing up my already un naturally friendly face and flicking my wrist is probably going a little far. I purposely never answer the door incase I have to speak to a door knocker. To be fair, the last door knocker I spoke to yelled 'fuck you' through the door, so my experiences of being friendly have not been great.

So what am I trying to say? Well, I'm pretty good at saying yes to things but maybe not yes to enough of the right things that could possibly lead me to a wider range of interesting people and experiences. Oh and perhaps tap into that girl who arrived in London a year ago and said no thank you to free newspapers and didn't swear at tourists who stood on the wrong side of the escalators. Maybe I should slow my walking down too. My speed and dodging capabilities are at an all time high.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I feel like a fat badger

Yep, I do. It's probably because I've just come home from lunch at The Fat Badger pub at Notting Hill. In fact, it's 639pm and I'm still full. The tank was fully filled and the trackies are now on.

I've just had a fabulous weekend. I can't actually believe I just used the word fabulous. I feel the need to justify it now. Wait, no, I can't be bothered. Now, I just want to flag the fact that I'm conscious of the boring factor of this post but work with me. I want to share. I want us all to sit round a campfire and toast marshmellows while I tell you about my weekend. Cue kumbayah now.

It started with shopping on Friday night. The type of shopping where you just want to buy everything in store. Do I need that choir boy looking shirt that makes me look like I have no neck? Course not, but I feel intoxicated by the possibilities of looking pure. Do I look good in it? Hell no. It makes me look like Bert Newton. Ok, not a good example as I didn't buy it, but that was the type of frenzied mood I was in. Shopping was then concluded with Indian Tapas. I take my hat off to the Spanish for letting me try more than one dish at dinner, and to the Indians for the fusing it at a restaurant at Soho. Further frenzied behavior took place at home after. But it demonstrates weakness on my behalf so I won't go into it. Let's just say it involved cheesecake and chocolate.

Saturday morning was spent at the gym with the instructor kind of inappropriately touching the middle of my chest, but he was then punished with the spike of my hairy legs while he gave me a stretch at the end. Hot. I then met some friends at Borough Markets. I need not say more. Borough always delivers. Saturday night brought my evening of culture. Kevin Spacey was there, as was Jeff Goldblum. The play was ok. I was a bit distracted in the first bit because I could have sworn that Bill Murray was sitting in the audience. I spent a good 10 minutes trying to remember his name and then the next 20 minutes looking back and forth between Bill and Kevin. It was then confirmed that it wasn't Bill Murray so I could then direct my full concentration to Kevin's profuse sweating on stage.

And now we're back to Sunday. I'm sitting in my awesome bedroom, looking out to a beautiful sunset over the chimney tops of my neighbours houses. I can hear my housemates laughing in the kitchen and the smell of garlic cooking. Cat Power is singing a song about bobby and I'm going to Sardinia on Friday. I'm stupidly excited about a eyeshadow palette I found on ebay. 96 different shades of colour will soon be gracing my lids. I can actually create an Asian cooking sauce from scratch and I have a freezer full of dumplings. I feel so happy I may burst.

A friend asked me the other day, if I were to die tomorrow, would I be more pissed off that I hadn't achieved the things I had set out to do, or the fact that I loved life so much. If you had asked me a year ago, it would probably have been the first answer. Sure there are still things that I haven't done and would really like to do before I cark it, but my answer to him was the fact that I loved life so much. There was nothing wrong with my life before living over here. In fact, I would have continued trotting along being quite content. But somewhere along the way my capacity and ability to find happiness was increased. At times, it completely floods me. God, I sound like a born again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy anniversary, London

So I've just had my year anniversary with London.

It was a beautiful day. I'm pretty sure I got to work late. Wait, yes I did. As you can see, it was a pretty momentous occasion. So much so I can't really remember what I did. I probably surfed the net and said 'mmmmmm' to a few things, oh, I went out for wine and cheese with the team at lunch and then went to bed early so I could get up at 345am to catch a flight to Salzburg.

Salzburg was, um pretty. For some reason I became a complete spaz sometime while crossing the German border. I managed to trip over several times, which, when you have a sore coccyx bloody hurts, as well as set off the security alarm at the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art. I feel like there were more displays of duhness (yes I know I'm supposed to be a copywriter), but it was probably me just saying stupid things, as no other physical incidents come to mind as I sit down to reminisce.

Now, I know that I am a slightly (debatable) mean, sarcastic person. So I guess two people of a very similar nature should not go on a Sound of Music tour. It's like letting an anorexic into McDonalds. The vomit of verbal abuse (whispered and laughed) that came from Vic and I was torrential. Singing along to 'My favourite things' or the goat one? Puleeease. It did make for tears on Vic's behalf though. The tour was made worthwhile by discovering a new tourist camera pose (bending knees while doing a shhhh sign) to add to the ones discovered in Oslo - hello star fingers. Man, I love Asian people. On a more serious note, we did get to see one of the most beautiful places on earth, St Wolfgang just outside of Salzburg. I've never seen such an idyllic place. It was absolutely stunning.

Other than laughing at dumb people singing, our time in Salzburg was spent searching for the perfect strudel. When we were disappointed not once, but twice, it then became just a nice strudel. And by the end of the weekend it was any strudel that tastes semi ok will do. Eww, I've just swallowed paper. Ugh. Whoops. That's what you get for being too excited about eating pork buns you found at the Chinese supermarket. Sorry, back to Salzburg.

There isn't much more to say about it other than, it was pretty. The scenery was lovely, but in the end, the best parts of the trip were laughing at people and defacing various Austrian statues and billboards - see Facebook pics.

So now I'm back. In the land of men who insist on carrying really large umbrellas, where homeless people sit on the tube with half their head in a plastic bag on the neighbouring seat and where they don't sell those really great peanut butter chips you can buy in Austria.

Now, I'm sure you're getting sick of my I love London garble, but I had another 'moment' today. I was walking into work from the gym and as I crossed over Waterloo Bridge I had Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and the London Eye on my right and to my left, St Paul's and London Bridge. Now seriously, how cool is that? The day I don't find this utterly amazing, beautiful and exciting is the day for me to come home.

This weekend I am in London - yay, my first weekend home in months. So I am making the most of it. Borough Markets on Saturday, a Kevin Spacey play on Saturday night at the Old Vic Theatre and then on Sunday lunch at Gordon Ramsay's gastro pub.

Umm, and I might have developed an addiction - to booking holidays! I booked another trip away today. Woooooooo! To Paris. And, um, I might be booking a trip to Portugal tomorrow. Hmmmmmmm.I LOVE MY LIFE!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My arse

How many times can one person damage their coccyx bone in one lifetime?

Twice it seems.

So last night it happened almost a year to the day my arse landed heavily on a metal bar in Thailand. This time it was all the way down the stairs at home, in front of two of my house mates. That's 16 bangs on the butt on the way down. Lesson learned: eat more chocolate in future for greater padding.

Just a warning, there may be a bit of 'I love my life' snippets in this blog. So yes, I do love my life. On the weekend I went away. Again. Yes, I know. And before you ask, no, I don't earn millions. Nor do I eat soup everyday. Well, actually, I do sometimes, but that's cause I like it. It's just really easy to travel here. I went to Oslo for £10 return. Sure, add spending money on top, but how much would you spend on an average weekend? Booze, clothes, dinners? Yea. See. Thought so. Ok, I would probably spend more, but it's affordable. Way more affordable than most of my english friends would like to believe.

So Norway. Now that I've gone on a rant about money, it was so freaking expensive there. So much so that there will be no mention of how much money was spent. Ever. Money can't buy experiences. Nor can it buy about 18 hours on a train, 8 hours on a bus and 3 on a boat in one weekend. I am definitely well versed in all forms of Norwegian transport.

The whole reason for this transportation expedition was to see the fjord country. It was beautiful, but not as beautiful as I was expecting. Perhaps it was the time of the year, as there was still a lot of snow around, but I was imagining rolling hills, lots of greenery and all I saw on 'one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world' was snow. Now, snow is nice. It's pretty. I like the way it falls on tree branches. I even like snowflakes, but 7 hours of snow. Come on!

Bergen, which is the gateway to fjord country, was lovely. It had the most amazingly colourful weatherboard shop fronts along its pier which dated back to 1380 or something like that. Vic and I decided in order to save money that we would climb to the top of Bergen's mountain overlooking the city instead of taking the funicular. You know when you decide to do something and it's a good idea at the time and then, almost as soon as you start, you realise how bad the idea actually was? This was a prime example. But, we were rewarded with the most spectacular view after almost an hour a vertical climbing and a lot of sweat.

We also ate the most amazing buns. They were so doughy and soft, and were filled with an almond paste and then topped with custard and light dusting of icing sugar. We ate two just to make sure how good they were. The Norwegians have also totally embraced pear which is what I will be doing more of. Pear drinks, pear chocolate, pear pastilles. Pear, so the forgotten fruit of the 70's.

I must go ice my arse now.