Thursday, 24 December 2009

Today I realised I would see neither the end of the orange juice in the fridge, nor the disposal of the rubbish in my bin.

Monday is looming, and I still haven't quite accepted that I am leaving here for 12 months. Probably won't until I'm on the plane. Right now I'm feeling a mixture of anticipation, excitement and a little guilt. Not nervous or scared, quite possibly because it hasn't sunk in, but the guilt is related to the stress, worry and general frustration my mum has been dealing with over the past few months with her mother. As the only child left at home, I've been trying my hardest to be supportive and make it easy for her. It's been unnecessarily busy, and my parents and I have been like ships in the night, so I haven't had much quality time with them lately. It's very hard not to resent unforeseen circumstances for this, especially when they could have been avoidable and largely the result of whim, but the time has flown for whatever reasons and there is no going back.

I still live at home, a move I strongly advocate for anyone trying to save money, and I'm pretty close to my parents - I like living with them (usually...). We don't always see each other during the day, and the news is usually on during dinner, so our longest conversations are at night with them in bed, and me leaning against the doorframe at the foot of their bed. It's not unusual for Dad to put his pillow over his head in an attempt to tell me to shut up, but Mum and I keep going until one of us can't remember the words any more. Sometimes I'll get home at 10pm intending on going straight to bed, but not get there until 12:30 because I've just been debriefing with my parents, in the kitchen or their bedroom.

I'm telling you this so you can understand my sense of guilt at leaving them. I feel a little like I'm abandoning them when things are tough. This trip has been in the planning since well before stress arose, and my parents want me to go, but it's always hard to leave the people you support when they need it the most.

This trip is going to be great. Probably a little scary at times, but I can't think of anything that might realistically happen that I can't handle, although I'm intentionally not imagining too hard. I'm pretty certain I've got God's support for it, which is a huge blessing, and I can't wait for a proper winter with snow. Finding a new church, and fitting into a new community will be exciting, as will getting to know my flatmates. My biggest concern at the moment is finances - currently I don't have quite enough money, but I have several solutions for this, so it'll all be good. Who knows how I'll go with culture shock or homesickness, but my intention is to keep off instant communication (facebook, phone, skype) as much as possible especially in the beginning, because I know from experience these don't do anything to help. Letters, emails, blogs will be my communication of choice, so please post any comments here rather than on the facebook post of my blogs (I have it set up to automatically post my blogs as notes on fb).

If you're a praying person, please pray for youth group, as I leave it and it takes a new form of leadership - there is potential for it to crash and burn, but with prayer, support and dedication by the leaders it will be fine until a new youth worker comes along. Please pray for my parents and anyone else whom I support, entertain or distract. Please pray that I'll settle quickly, happily and without too much fuss, and that I won't worry about money. Please thank God for the opportunities I'm getting - studying overseas, working at Iona (7 weeks in the shop over the summer holidays), travelling around, meeting new people, and for the work God's doing in laying the foundations - phenomenally fast acceptances, unexpected money, random (yet very handy) connections.

And that's about all. I have 5 more sleeps until takeoff, an enormous amount of clothing to cut down on, and Christmas to survive. My bedroom is a pigsty, and I know that if I leave it messy, the mess will just wait 12 months. I still have presents to buy for Christmas, and baking to do. I have no idea if I've filled out all the correct utas forms, or if I'll get snotty letters. If I were told I had to leave tomorrow, I'd probably fail completely at taking anything useful, but who cares. I'm going to England for 12 months. I'm going to study medieval history surrounded by the stuff. I'll see my new niece, travel around Europe, make new life-long friends, and have an adventure with God by my side. Who can ask for anything more?

If you're reading this on facebook, add my actual blog ( to your rss feed - it will update quicker, and you'll be able to comment on my posts rather than my facebook notes (better for posterity and for my reminiscing in the future).

Friday, 11 December 2009

Quite frankly quite awesome

Check out these Star Wars Themed hoodies. Who wouldn't think you're the coolest person in the world when you're dressed as a Storm Trooper and still toasty?

Or cruising the streets dressed as an X-Wing Fighter Pilot?

Reminds me of those suits you get for little kids - the Spiderman costume,

or the monster suit

But really, they're just for our inner-nerds, and isn't it about time they were given a chance to shine. Although if you are a little embarrassed, maybe the Storm Trooper, with it's total face covering zip-up hood would be the most appropriate.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


It's been one of those days. You know. Those ones. They're neither amazing nor terrible. My evening was good fun, watching movies with some friends, but there was a recurring theme of waiting things out to see if they got any better, only for them not to. First I was watching a terribly sad doco on the Darrell Lea family. I think the family policy of 'whatever happens in the family, work comes first' summarises it all. The company is held in higher esteem than any family connections, including between brothers or father and son. It was incredibly disillusioning, and a powerful lesson about how destructive ambition can be. I kept watching because I didn't want to miss a potentially decent ending, and go away with the wrong impression. But there was no happy ending.

Then we watched He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, which was also a little disappointing at the end. We watched it out, wondering where it was going, and hoping for a happy ending. But once again there wasn't, and we were just confused about what had happened, and why we'd kept watching.

I'm sure there's some kind of anecdotal lesson in this, but I'll have to think about it to see what it is. It was a fun evening anyway, we also watched Flushed Away which I enjoy a lot, and just hanging out with friends is always fantastic, no matter what you're doing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I promise not to comandeer a chieftain tank in order to invade Paris.

Points to whoever can identify my title reference. Without Google.

This time in five weeks, I shall be very close to arriving in Singapore, quite possibly looking forward to getting away from a slightly tipsy, over-chatty Welshman. Hang on. that was last time... Mum suggested yesterday that I start to work out which clothes I should take. Perhaps a little early to actually start stacking them up (they'll just go back into the wardrobe as quickly as they come out), but it's certainly time to start wondering which clothes I should replace (jeans), which need cleaning (downie) and which are just perfect as they are (ummm?). Then in a couple of weeks I'll start actually doing something about it.

Still hasn't sunk in that I'm going. Haven't really done much preparation except get my tickets and travel insurance, and practise jumping up and down excitedly in my head.

Anyway, in outdated preparation for living in the United Kingdom, I watched through the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers over the weekend. I'd forgotten quite a few bits, but one of the best is here at 1:12.

If you're reading this on facebook, check it out in infinitely cooler form at my blog.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Checkerboard Cake

On mentioning how much I wanted to have a go at making this cake, I was told to put photos of it up. So here they are :) And no, I do not ever want to be a food photographer, so don't expect beautiful shots of glossy food on pristine plates. :P

So it's not going to turn out like this, but it's looking quite cool. Was looking through my Green and Black's Chocolate Recipes book, and found this, read the instructions and realised that it isn't nearly as complicated as it looked.

Part one was making two batches of mixture - chocolate and vanilla, but I didn't take a photo of them. Then I had to pipe the mixture into pans and bake them. You must note that this was my first ever go at piping, so excuse the wobbliness :D

Then, when they had cooled, I spread apricot jam (homemade, yummm!) on each layer, and stuck them together.

Then came the icing, which also is not amazing, but should taste good. Was supposed to be ganache, which is always so much better, but I didn't have any chocolate to melt for it.

So now I must just wait for the icing to set so I can cut it, and see if it looks at all checkerboardish.

A short time later:

I'm pretty excited that this worked! Yes it's a bit wonky, but it still looks great I reckon.

It tastes pretty good too, although I think there is perhaps a little too much butter. I already reduced it a little, but I might do so again if I use this recipe again.

But there you go. It wasn't very complicated, although it took a while. And it was pretty satisfying to cut it and find that it worked.

Monday, 26 October 2009


I suspect "study heaven" is a contradiction in terms, but if it were possible, this would be it. Perhaps minus the weird smell, which I can't post a photo of.

The only problem is that I have to fight the urge to pull out the gardening gloves and get weeding. That's for AFTER exams.

If you're reading this on facebook, see the original at my blog, which is so much cooler than facebook notes. For the first on my overseas adventures next year.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Procrastination stage 2

I was procrastinating so much I never documented stage 1 of this fabulous journey that ends in blissful holidays, but all you really need to know is that it involved much cleaning.

By this stage I am getting a little beyond house cleaning and cake baking, and have moved onto greener pastures. Literally.

So I took some pretty photos of the garden. Thought it was going to evaporate yesterday, so was much steam rising up, but didn't get photos of that. Got some of rain drops and other pretty things, and was happy.

But today things took a turn for the worse. I was forced to spend several hours creating pointless tableaux from lego and cars. Painful I know. Out in the sunshine and fresh air, all for this:

And thus I move closer to procrastination stage 3. Who knows what that will involve.

For all the photos, click here.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Right now, I'm eating scrambled eggs, with a comb, from a shoe.

Due to a number of complaints about the length of blogs on this website, management will allocate only a small space for future entries and will not tolerate the propagation of superfluous information.

Title: University of East Anglia
Departure: 28 December, 10:30am, Hobart Airport
University orientation: 6 January
University start: 11 January
Easter break: 20 March - 18 April
Assessment: 4 May - 11 June
Holidays: 12 June - 26 September
Autumn Semester: 27-17 December
Return: 27 December

First choice subjects
Spring Semester: Latin for Historians, Landscape II,
British Intelligence in the 20th Century - Myth and Reality.
Autumn Semester: Translation Theory and Practice, Modern Germany 1866-1945, Medieval English

Holiday and Tourist ideas
Volunteer at Iona (application submitted)
Volunteer at Greenbelt
Visit Stu and Elly in Bulgaria
Visit friends in Austria
Go to Eurovision in Norway
Go to random places with super cheap flights
Anything else anyone suggests.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

He's up there... mewing in the nerve centre of his evil empire.

Sometimes an organisation just blows me over with its independence. Over the past couple of days, I have developed a strong respect for the independence of a certain administrative cell group. This independence is of a special variety. The OED gives several definitions of 'independence', but this administrative cell group is so independent it does not even adhere to the common rules of the English language. In fact, they are so independent, the independence is passed on to each member of the staff, and each is willing and able to work quite independently from each other. Another thing I admire is their determination to keep this independence. Not for them is the curse of conformity of opinion or knowledge. Each holds their own knowledge, and it is their's alone, not for anyone else to know. Sometimes this fierce determination to maintain independence is taken to the point of hiding even the existence of the knowledge. The members of this administrative cell group work hard and receive little reward for their toil and trouble. They are the ultimate protectors of independence. So next time you're on the 5th floor of the humanities building, lift your hat and give a cheer. They (well, one member) may hear, and they certainly won't pass it on.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Turn left at the dead badger

Look. It's a rat. a great big rat. In the stove. It had a friend. I don't know where its friend went, but I hope it wasn't off to have ratty babies. Come to think of it, I don't know where this one went either. I wish them all the best, and hope they have a wonderful life together, far from here.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Elephant and the Balloon

So I did that Facebook list thing - 15 books that have been the most influential in my life, without thinking too hard. It took far longer than it perhaps should have, as I went blank, then later remembered a whole heap of others. Here's my original list:

1. Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons)
2. Lord of the Rings (Tolkein)
3. Bible (God)
4. Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
6. The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak)
7. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
8. Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen)
9. Time Traveller's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
10. Famous Five (Enid Blyton)
11. Almost any Terry Pratchett
12. Dracula (Bram Stoker)
13. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
14. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
15. The Horse and his Boy (CS Lewis)

Followed by the extras I would have added if I could have had a few more spots (or even replaced some of the above with):

The Dark is Rising Sequence (Susan Cooper)
Two Caravans (Marina Lewyecka)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
Empyrion (Stephen Lawhead)
Obernewtyn (Isabelle Carmody)
Cloudstreet (Tim Winton)
In the Hall of the Dragon King (Stephen Lawhead)
Tom's Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce)
The Elijah Bailey books (Isaac Asimov)
1984 (George Orwell)
Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare)

What were my criteria? To tell the truth, there weren't really any specifics. Some people looked at books they reread a lot, others at books they felt they had to read, and I just looked at books I always remember. A lot of these books have just one or two scenes that have stuck with me, such as the final scenes of Brave New World, or when Shasta and Bree are travelling along the cliff edge at night, with Aslan protecting them from falling, in The Horse and His Boy.

Some of the others I re-read regularly for the story, like The Secret Garden, Empyrion and Terry Pratchetts. Empyrion (especially the first) plays like a movie in my head as I read it, and even now I recall large chunks of narrative in movie form, although I haven't read them for a few years. Some I listed for the way they made me think about the world, 1984 being the slightly stereo-typical one of them, but also Things Fall Apart and The Book Thief, which gave me new perspectives to mull over.

And then others I listed because they are books of my childhood, read over and over, and yet still loved (and still read). Famous Five (yes I still re-read these occasionally) Dark is Rising Sequence and In the Hall of the Dragon King are some of them.

Of course not all fit into one of these categories, some are books I studied at school or uni (Cloudstreet, Things Fall Apart, Northanger Abbey). To some studying a book ruins it, but I find that I often like the book far more after, because of the intimate knowledge I have of it. I can appreciated the humour more knowing who the author aimed it at, I can see the lessons being taught. Of course it doesn't always work. There are some books I plan on never ever ever picking up again, but that's more related to the fact I didn't like the book in the first place, and couldn't care less about learning anything about it.

Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for raising me with books. To my Dad for reading me Lord of the Rings every night when I was seven, to Mum for taking me to the library, or collecting me after school when I'd taken out too many books to carry. For Sunday afternoon trips to Book City (the smell of which still transports me back 15 years). For letting me read anything, with nothing more than a warning that 'this book might be a bit complicated, but give it a go'. For all the times I've stood in our lounge room staring at the bookshelves, being advised by Mum or Dad on what to read next. For letting me (or perhaps even expecting me) just sit quietly in the corner with a book at dinner parties, afternoon teas, lunches, before church, in the car, on the plane, in front of the fire, on buses, while for parental meetings to finish, at restaurants or almost anywhere else.* For teaching me the necessity of being able to just sit quietly and amuse oneself, and how easy that is with a book. That is one invaluable lesson I will be passing on to my children.**

*please note that this may make me sound like a very anti-social child. I wasn't really. The partner lesson to being able to read anywhere, is learning to tell the difference between when you should and when you shouldn't. I think sometimes my teachers wished I was a little more anti-social sometimes, if my reports are anything to go by.

** I think I'll try to accompany that with a love of reading non-fiction and textbooks though. Haven't quite grasped those yet. Usually I find just sitting and staring at the clouds preferable. That's a problem.

Where it's all at.

I got exciting news yesterday. My first pref uni wants me to apply for exchange with them. I'm in the process of filling out forms with details about me, my course, my major/minor (umm, two majors?), my passports (although my aussie one is about to expire, so will have to update those details sometime) and my subject choices. I have to get utas faculty approval for the subjects I would like to credit towards my majors, which means getting hold of lots more information about the 'modules' than is in the module guides. Which means waiting until lecturers and people come off summer holidays and check their emails.

It's all very exciting! Currently I'm still looking into options for filling my summer break, but there's one place that's really caught my eye. It's a place called Iona, mainly in the Inner Hebrides, and they take volunteers to do various stuff. History nerds may recognise the name of the island, as it's where Columcille (Saint Columba) settled, and perhaps where the Book of Kells was partially created. My brother volunteered there ten years ago, and has (I think, it was via email) enthusiastically endorsed my interest in going there.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

2 posts in 1 year? Amazing!

I'm trying to work out the best look for the blog. Does anyone else have trouble reading the white on grey, or is it just that I don't have my glasses on? I like the appearance, but perhaps not for practicality?

Also, can someone please tell me how to make my heading picture fliexible in size? I'm on a widescreen computer, so it looks all good to me, but I suspect it will just make smaller screens scroll sideways, rather than fitting itself.

Anyway, read my slightly more intersting post below now! :)

It's time.

There seem to be blogs popping up everywhere at the moment, and they reminded me of all the midnight inspiration I never wrote down. Just for the record, you'll note I've had this blog for many years, since 2004 in fact, when blogs were a relatively new thing. So I'm not ACTUALLY following a trend, I've merely been remotivated to share the minutae of my life with the wider world, while trying to look intelligent (or at least interesting/funny).

So, next year I'm hoping to head off to England on exchange. Yep, another exchange (check my 2005 posts for previous exchange adventures). I had a great time in Austria, but this is going to be so much better. For one, I won't be blogging as much. I blogged a RIDICULOUS amount back then! But if you look down the list at number of posts per month, you can tell when I changed host families....

But I will blog a little, to keep you all up to date on what I'm seeing and doing, as well as to record my memories for posterity. And so I should get into practice. From this day forth I shall blog about the trivial and the vital. But for those of you who are new to my writing style, here are a few tips:
  1. turn off your logic control when you read. I generally write as my brain goes, and while the connections may make sense to me, I can't guarantee they will to you. Just go with the flow.
  2. ask questions (while I'm away, well no, anytime, but while I'm away I reckon you'll actually have questions). Give me direction for my posts. Trust me. It's worth it. I've just reread some of my old posts, and boy am I a good waffler.
  3. be prepared for the absurd to be juxtapositioned with the average. I make strange connections and say things in weird ways. Imagine it in my voice and it might make sense. I write blogs like I'm having a conversation.
  4. Ummm. Nup, that's it.
So anyway, since everyone keeps asking, I'll explain the whole exchange thing.

England. Well, I shall be looking out for rastafarians and moustached flat capped men. But I'll also be visiting my brother, sister-in-law and niece. And gawking at all the medieval history in the place.

I am studying Arts Law, and doing a double arts major in history and german. Because of the way I've organised all my subjects, at this point in time I've got 2 history units and 2 german units left before my majors are complete. So next year I'm going to take a year off law, and go to the University of East Anglia (hopefully, provided they like my application) for a year. Currently I have been approved by utas to go on exchange, and now just have to wait for uea to approve utas to nominate me... or something. May be a while before I know. I've put in an application to get a loan that will go onto my hecs debt (pah, what's another 10 grand when I'm going to be a rich lawyer. ha.), and am preparing to enter battle with centrelink to convince them I deserve youth allowance.

There's some confusion involved in the whole process, largely because utas is occasionally administratively challenged, so I've been told about 4 different things about applying for scholarships. I think I shall contact the scholarships office directly.

I plan to fly out just after Christmas. Flights seem to go up about $800 on the 1st of Jan, so it'll be before then. I'll stay over there for a year, and come back after Christmas 2010. This is all hypothetical and dependant on many many things, but we'll see what happens.

I'm currently working out what to do in the summer holidays. They seem to be about 17 weeks, and I'd like to work/volunteer somewhere for some of that time. I'm looking around to see what's on offer, somewhere that provide bed and board would be great. So if you have any ideas, let me know. I like to be part of a community, rather than outside it like a tourist. It's so much more interesting to be on the inside, working behind the scenes, and I know I have skills I can use to help somewhere.

So there you have it. My plan. Who knows how it will turn out. Maybe I'll be rejected and will finish law next year. Maybe I'll end up at my 3rd preference of Leipzig. But stay tuned here, and you'll be the first to know. After me of course.

Oh by the way. Did anyone see my photo on ABC weather on Friday? That makes it three submitted, and three used. I really am an old lady stuck in a young person's body.

Terribly sorry about the slightly boring return to the blogoquad, but I'm now off to reflect on God's intentions when he decided to give flies loud wings in quiet bedrooms. And how to kill said flies with the least effort.