Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greetings from Spain!


Well. You know my ability to plan and things to work out well? or maybe not so well?! I did make it safe and sound to Malaga, but travel any further, I did not! I got a bus from the airport to the city centre bus station, where I was informed that the was no bus until 0730 hours tomorrow. Cue slight distress! I'd checked the time table on the internet and there was meant to be buses till about 3pm, but apparently not according to 2 different service desk people.

I took this photo when I started to walk intending to hitchhike.. in case it actually worked!

I debated my options. a) wait till the morning b) catch a bus to cadiz and then try get back from there or c) try and hitchhike. Well I started to go for option c and to be fair I gave it a fair go, in the sense that I probably walked for an hour just to get out of the city to find the motorway towards cadiz, realise there was no way a pedestrian could get onto it, and gave up in defeat and walked back into the city and found myself a place to stay (in spanish!). I probably should have just walked into the city to start with, but oh well I tried!

The street where I stayed in Malaga
It is raining alot here, but with a temperature of 10 degrees it is bliss compared to the 0 and below of manchester!!! Luckily I had my waterproof jacket and boots so my feet and upper body were dry (hair and jeans a bit wet though...).
Christmas Spirit in Malaga

Having walked around the outer parts of the city, and now been t the inner city, I can say there is a huge difference (I prefer the inner city). I really like good architecture, the old buildings and my initial impression of Malaga was of tall, old grubby buildings which would not have inspired me to return. The centre however, is beautiful! Very European buildings, of a variety of era's and nationalities (if that makes sense), there is a roman fort. When I come back in 2 weeks I'll have to try and explore a bit more. It seems like a nice city. I don't think I've heard barely any english since I've arrived pretty much, so should be good for whipping my spanish up a little! I can get the general gist of what people are saying I just forget what to say back!

hasta luego...

Sunday, November 28, 2010


After much debate, delay and deliberation.... I have now got a complete itenerary for the remainder of the year!!! This is probably the best planning I've done in ages!!

29th - Fly Manchester - Malaga (Spain) and then catch a bus to the town where I am doing some volunteer work. I'm here until the 11th December - accommodation/board included with the work.

 11th - Fly Malaga - Manchester

13th-22nd work at the hospital here in Manchester (yet to find somewhere to live)
22nd/3rd Go to Felixstowe with Aunty June
24th-27th Shoreham for christmas with Uncle Arthur and Barbara
 27th Fly London-Amsterdam, spend the day and night there (yet to find somewhere to stay). explore amsterdam
 28th Fly Amsterdam - Prague (somewhere to stay sorted!). explore prague in snow
29th Fly Prague - Dubai and see Sam!!!! :)
29th-13th Explore dubai

 13th: Fly Dubai - Beijing - Shanghai - Sydney arriving the 14th at Kingsford Smith Airport Terminal 1 at 9.30am!!

beyond that is Ilana's wedding on the 5th, Sam coming to visit Aus at some point in Feb and all my in betweens are another blank slate!!

Winter is here..

Well it's not quite December yet, and Winter has officially swept the United Kingdom with sub-zero temperatures, ice and snow in alot of the countryside. It began on Wednesday this week and continues to get colder, and colder, and colder, and colder!!

It's much colder than a winter I've ever experienced before (apart from the times where I've actually gone to the snow for snowboarding), where you can see your breath no matter what time of the day, no matter if it is cloudy or brilliant sunshine (which it has been deceptively doing lately!). As I am writing the temperature is 0 degrees but it feels like -4 according to the forecast. In the upcoming week, Manchester is predicted to have temperatures between -3 to +3 degrees. So pretty cold!! The paths on the streets have ice on them, the leaves on the streets have ice on them, the cars are covered in ice. ice ice ice. So far I haven't managed to stack it yet (how that is a miracle) but I have seen other people go flying. Yesterday morning when I was coming home from a run I helped a lady who was inside her car, to get the door open as it was frozen shut!!! I think this weather is the only time I have ever, in my entire life been able to run in the middle of the day with long pants and a jumper on!! Normally I'd overheat. At night (and most of the time during the day as well) gloves are a necessity to run as well. I don't care how unfashionable it is, but there is no way that i am going out at night without at least 2 layers of jumpers/cardigans/jackets gloves beanies etc. no way!!!

I am still in Manchester at the moment. As of yesterday I have been upgraded in the house to my own room and bed!! Very exciting times. I was trying to figure it out last night, but I think since October I have slept on a couch for 5 days, the floor for approximately 40 days and had a bed for approximately 14 days! It has been a bit varied.

There was another breakdown moment for me this week - this time I blame my car! I had done all the chasing around sorting out what I was going to do with it and where I could store it while back in Australia, and then went to MOT it. FAIL. Big fail. On like 8 accounts. To repair it, the guy quoted at least 90% of the cost of what I bought the thing for! So now I have to figure out how i'm going to get rid of it, sell it, scrap it without losing too much cost. The MOT runs out on the 13th of December. Subsequently I spent about 2 hours in tears feeling very sorry for myself, wondering whether the mechanic had played with my car, what to do, who to turn to, where to get help. A right mess I was! All better now though.

Well I now know what I am doing for the next month!! Yay. Which means, that I now only need to figure out my movements beween the 22nd and 26/27th of December when I need to be in Prague before heading to Dubai on route to Australia. So slowly getting there! I've just booked tickets today to go to southern spain (but apparently it's raining which is a shame - hopefully it will clear up) to do some volunteer workaway/wwoofing work on the southern coast in a little town that I can't remember the name of, between Seville and Malaga. Should be fun, a bit different. I'm going to be doing a whole bunch of gardening work, getting a vege garden up and running, walking dogs, looking after cottages, a random mix of things which should be good. Some thing different, a change of scenery. Fingers crossed warmer (and not wet)!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"the world is your oyster"

I have a serious dislike for that saying, hey! It seems like I am told it at least a monthly if not fortnightly or weekly basis.

I think it is ultimately because I struggle making plans. Actually that isn't true. I make lots of plans. Its just that they can all coincide so the consequently become "options" and they are all very interesting and attractive in very different ways, for very different reasons.

Right now I am struggling with te 'decision' of what to fill my life with between the two periods of 24th November -12th December and then again between the 23rd December -28th December. Outside of these dates I know where I am and what I am doing (maybe not so much where I"m living, but at least I know what I am doing - God has so far been exceedingly gracious in sorting out my living arrangements).

Since last week I have been in Manchester again, this time working at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. I am also working there monday and tuesday this week and then again between 8th-13th December. However from Wednesday this week I'm not really sure what I'm doing. It doesnt help when you get other perfectly valid, awesome sounding ideas thrown at you as well!

So. My ideas so far:

Idea 1.
Work on my French. The most effective way to do this would be to actually be in France, where I would look at volunteering/work for board/accommodation/food and practise converstional french at the same time. I possibly would try and end up in Lyon around the 8th December as well because there is a big festival that occurs there then that would be good to go to.

Idea 2.
Travel around Europe. I have odd places that I would like to go and see (particularly in wintertime). One of those is Venice in Italy. I've always been intrigued by Venice since I read a book about it as a kid, got put off a little bit when learning about it in high school how the canals could smell. But I think it would be pretty cool in winter. Less tourists, less smell. I would also try and visit my friend Rachel in Geneva as well, haven't seen her in about 3 years I think!!

Idea 3.
This idea only got provided today. A good friend from my uni days, Lauren invited me to go to Morocco with her!! I've never been to Morocco before, and had thought recently about going there because the food sounded pretty good! I'm not sure exactly what she is doing there or where so need some more details. She was my life-group leader while I was at Uni so played a big part in mentoring me while I was at uni.

Thats about all my ideas for now. Any advice would be appreciated. :)


This weekend I journeyed up to Pickering, with a quick stopover in York. It has been an interesting experience re-tracing some of the trails that my family travelled on ten years ago in 2000 when we spent a month in England. I was 13 at the time, old enough to remember, yet still young enough to forget. So many things are forgotten! I have vague memories of that month in England, where we visited so many friends, family, friends of friends, relatives of friends... Most of these memories are all blurred together where I am unable to distinguish between them. I can remember some places, but I may not remember where it actually was, who I was with, what we were doing there at the time.

York is one of the places that I do actually remember!! I remember the narrow cobbled streets, the wall around the city and the big cathedral (York Minster). I particularly remember the Minster being completely covered (inside and out) with scaffolding. As you can see from the pictures, that is all gone now!

I decided to go inside and climb up the tower -all 275 narrow winding steps. From the top of the Minster I got quite a nice view and was able to check out some of the gargoyles. They are pretty cool critters. I don't know why but I like gargoyles!!

I like his cheeky grin!

I ended up getting a waterproof jacket while wandering around the streets of York. It's only taken me 4 months!! Good thing too, as probably about an hour later after leaving the Minster it started to rain and didn't stop. My feet were pretty wet but at least my upper body was dry. I got a bit lost on my way out of the city! I'd parked outside at one of the Park-and- Ride carparks (brilliant invention), but York has about 7 different routes of this and I kept finding the bus-stop for the wrong one!! Eventually I did find the white one, only to wait for about 20 minutes. But I made it back to my car safe and sound and then drove up to Pickering.

It was great catching up with the Cowards - the parents of Bryan and Diane (Wilson) who my parents are going to be working with next year back in Zambia. We know them from our Zambia days, but the last time I saw them was ten years ago when in England. I went to church with them this morning as well. It's funny the things you do remember. Of Pickering, I remember the view of the Cowards backyard, the front of the church and the inside of the church. That's probably about it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One of those weeks.

Its been one of those weeks. One of those weeks that almost seems like it's never going to end, wher you struggle to see the end, or figure out what's going on. A week of tests, and trials and tears. In saying that, it has also been quite a productive week.

I've been in london since Friday night a week ago, coming down to do a 7 day, extremely intensive training course with Merlin a medical relief agency on public health in international contexts. Great course. Extremely full-on days, 9-6 most of the day plus the hour long commute each way. I am constantly amazed at how ineffefective travel is in london. it takes hours to travel a couple of miles. Most of the time you could probably walk faster.

The course was extremely useful for me in terms of further defining what I want to do, where I want to be. I had a bit of a set back on my last day though, where I felt that there was no way for me to get 'in', as in, get onto the field. There's heaps of jobs in nutrition out there, but they all want experience which no one will give you. So I got stuck ina bit of a negative mental cycle thinking it is pointless that i'm just wasting my time and got quite upset about it. Which in itself was a good thing. Because I hate crying, rarely do. And if i do cry it's generally becuase something has really gotten to me, something is really important to me. I now know a bit more, about how much of a passion and strong desire I Have to be working internationally in aid work, relief work preventing malnutrition and working within the nutrition field in that way.

I also learnt a few things that were very helpful. For example, that I should focus on practicing French, not Spanish as most nutrition prorams worldwide at this point are in french-speaking countries. Plus the agencies that give you jobs in that sector are also french.... so looks like i'll be brushing up my french skills for a while.

This weekend I've been doing some volunteer work with Action against Hunger, which is one ofthe agencies I would really like to work with. They have a stall (well 2 technically as one is a shop and drop for al hte shoppers things) at the BBC Masterchef wine and food event. which is basically an extremely scaled down version of the good food and wine show we have in Sydney. Pretty good food going on though. I was tipped off later in the afternoon that if you take back the wine glasses to the pick up point you can get a pound per glass. I started collecting them as everyone was leaving the show (obviously it takes too much effort to walk back 15 metres) and managed to make enough money to pay for at least my train ticket for the week while in london. so that was good!!!

I've also been blessed yet again with another job. This time it is for a week, maybe two, maybe three. I'm not sure at this point it is just one but it could be more. It is in Cheshire this time which is wait for it.... 6 miles down the road from the boys house in Manchester so looks like i'll be living there next week again!! Glad I've got some good back up friends, even if the house is a mess!

I had fun with AAH today, even if I was tired. I really need to catch up on sleep. I haven't done anything all week except study and I'm absolutely exhausted. One of the things we were doing was selling this chocolate named Ben Tre. Ironically, I was in Ben Tre earlier this year, just after i arrived in Vietnam. I mentioned this to someone and they were quite excited. Later on in teday I was a bit of a model selling chocolate at a good taste promotion thing and got to speak a bit off the cuff on AAH, what they do, how we help fight malnutrition and some of the things used on the field, plumpynut etc. More on that later though.

Au revoir.