A Travellerspoint blog

Update

Film Festivals and Warm Jackets

semi-overcast 10 °C

Hi everyone

I decided to do an update now, before I go to Edinburgh this weekend, or I would have to spend hours going through everything when I got back.

Not that I have been a doing a whole lot of anything but studying in the last few weeks anyway! But heres what I have been doing... (and I'll warn you I'm finding anything I can to avoid writing my essay, so you know this will be a long blog! You might want to read it in parts :p)

It has been the Leeds International Film festival here this week (Nov 2-12). Bjorn has been going to an average of four films a day (!) thanks to his film pass, and I have been going along to a few with him. It has been my first introduction to a film festival and it has been fun. Though I have discovered I don't very much like rating films. (They give out little slips as you go in and you have to make a tear along one of the lines depending on what you want to rate it, from 1-5 stars.) Plus, I also have to explain my rating to Bjorn as well, who as a budding film maker has well developed opinions on not just the overall feeling of the film as most of us probably think about after seeing it, but on everything, the style, the cinematography, the editing... So film discussions with him are often him talking and me listening. I'm a listner anyway so I don't mind, and I do manage to hold my own.

Anyway, for those of you who are interested, the films I have seen so far are:

- 'Ahlaam', by a film maker who studied in Leeds, originally from Baghdad. He went back during the war to make this film about the experiences of patients in a mental institution. Bjorn had film makers criticisms but I appreciated it for the human side it showed of the people in Baghdad as it showed that the people who were (and are) affected by the war are real people, human beings.

- 'The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell'. A bit of a silly, but fun story about America somewhere around the year 2096 when it has pretty much been destroyed and there are only a scattered amount of people left, and the conflict between bands of people who want to be in control. A bit too much blood and stuff for me, but I'm sensitive :s But I still liked it and it was funny, and even agree with Bjorn that it was a great film stylisitcally.

- '37 Uses for Dead Sheep' is a film about the Kirghiz people who have been forced to move from the homes and travel over miles and miles over the last 30 years to finally settle away from their old home and make a new home in Turkey. This was an interesting documentary and also well made. My favourite part was when one of the old men was talking about having to pull out all his teeth with string as the only way to deal with dental problems - all except one. And then he grinned with his one tooth. It was so funny. And then he was embarrassed about showing it, and tried to hide it from camera.

- 'Bejing Bubbles' was a documentary about the punk music scene in Beijing, China. I agree with Bjorn that it wasn't a particularly well made documentary, but he said it was good to see to learn a bit about China, which is why I went to it. In China punk isn't accepted or the norm like it has become here. There these musicians really are doing something different, rejecting the expected school, marry, work pattern.

- 'Esma's Secret', one of my favourites so far. About a mother and daughter living in a community in Sarajevo still recovering from the Yugoslav wars in the 1990's. I think this would have had an even more significant impact if you were from there, but it was still a really good film knowing nothing about it previously. Even if I can't relate to the war aspect, I appreciated the affect it has had on them, and I could still relate to the mother, daughter relationship, the aspects of being a woman, and the identity and family issues. So good. If you find this film anywhere, definitely see it.

- 'Princesses' is my other favourite so far. It is a Spanish film about prostitutes. So, you may be thinking, ok, whats that going to be like. I was expecting something a bit dark and depressing, but surprisingly it wasn't. It was often light hearted, without treating the subject casually or flippantly. It was serious and moving, with some hope. And it didn't pass judgement on the characters (but by no means condoned it either.)
Following this film I had a discussion with Bjorn about prostitution - interesting topic to discuss with someone from Holland where prostitution is legal (and unfortunately somewhat of a tourist attraction.) But no one will ever be able to convince me that prostitution can or ever should be considered 'just a job'. I don't care what you say. Its not, and shouldn't be treated that way.

Well that was my little rant.

  • * It's intermission now... go to the loo, get yourself a cup of tea, or maybe some popcorn and come back in five :) **

oh your back? Ok, well still to come at the film festival: 'Colour Me Kubrick' (about a man who imitated Stanley Kubrick I think), 'Like Minds', which was filmed in Leeds and stars Toni Collette, and Requiem, based on the true story of a girl in Germany who died while undergoing an exorcism ritual. The recent horror film 'The Exorcism of Emily-Rose' was also based on this, which I didn't want to see. But this one is not so commercial and differently addressed I think (I hope) so I'm curious to see it.

Anyway, sorry if you have been bored wading through all my film talking. (Blame it on Bjorn's influence).

Apart the film festival, I have been looking forward to my trip around Europe in December!! It is all paid for now, so I'm definitely going! I went and bought a warm jacket the other day because judging by the dropping temperature even now in England, nothing I had with me was going to be sufficiently warm. Especially not in Europe in place like the Alps in winter! It was a fairly pricey little shopping trip to get this jacket. (I am reluctant to convert the price into Australian dollars in case I have a heart attack). But I'm thinking of it as an investment piece, as its good quality and I shouldn't have to buy another one for a long time (hopefully ever!). And I'm glad I did now because I just looked up the weather in the places I'm going to, and in some places the average december maximum temperature is just 2 or 3 degrees. And thats the maximum. :s But it will still be so amazing. And I will see snow!! yay :)

And coming up:

  • tomorrow I am going out with my across-the-hall flatmates from flat 2.2 (im 2.3). That will be good to get to know the people around me better as the only social gathering we have had so far has been the fire alarm. The other day I talked to the guy from Brazil (Eduardo) and one of the Italian girls Serena, and her visiting boyfriend in the kitchen over dinner, as we were all in there at the same time. A rare occurrence. And I talked to the British guy a bit the other day when he came to my door (in a tshirt and boxers) t0 borrow my hairspray to do his hair for a halloween party.
  • this weekend I'm going to Edinburgh, woohoo! Can't wait.
  • and next Friday, I'm having an Australian party. I've ordered some aussie products like tim tams and bbq shapes and minties for people to try. I'm going to cook hamburger patties and sausages in a frypan simulating a bbq, and just have bread and sauce, with potato salad and stuff for dinner. A bit of a sausage sizzle really. Thats Australian. I also found on the website Pavlova magic, to make it easier on myself to make it.

Heres a list of some 'facts' about Australia I found and will put up on the wall for the party. (If you can think of any more let me know and I'll add them)

1. The bigger the hat, the smaller the farm.
2. The shorter the nickname, the more they like you.
3. Whether it's the opening of Parliament, or the launch of a new art gallery , there is no Australian event that cannot be improved by a sausage sizzle.
4. If the guy next to you is swearing like a wharfie he's probably a media billionaire. Or on the other hand, he may be a wharfie.
5. There is no food that cannot be improved by the application of tomato sauce.
6. On the beach, all Australians hide their keys and wallets by placing them inside their sandshoes. No thief has ever worked this out.
7. Industrial design knows of no article more useful than the plastic milk crate.
8. All our best heroes are losers.
9. The alpha male in any group is he who takes the barbecue tongs from the hands of the host and blithely begins turning the snags.
10. It's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to hold.
11. A thong is not a piece of scanty swimwear, as in America, but a fine example of Australian footwear. A group of sheilas wearing black rubber thongs may not be as exciting as you had hoped.
12. It is proper to refer to your best friend as "a total bastard". By contrast, your worst enemy is "a bit of a bastard".
13. Historians believe the widespread use of the word "mate" can be traced to the harsh conditions on the Australian frontier in the 1890s, and the development of a code of mutual aid, or "mateship". Alternatively, Australians may just be really hopeless with names.
14. The wise man chooses a partner who is attractive not only to himself, but to the mosquitoes.
15. If it can't be fixed with pantyhose and fencing wire, it's not worth fixing.
16. The most popular and widely praised family in any street is the one that has the swimming pool.
17. It's considered better to be down on your luck than up yourself.
18. The phrase "we've got a great lifestyle" means everyone in the family drinks too much.
19. If invited to a party, you should take cheap red wine and then spend all night drinking the host's beer. (Don't worry, he'll have catered for it).
20. If there's any sort of free event or party within a hundred kilometres, you'd be a mug not to go.
21. The phrase "a simple picnic" is not known. You should take everything you own. If you don't need to make three trips back to the car, you're not trying.
22. Unless ethnic or a Pom, you are not permitted to sit down in your front yard, or on your front porch. Pottering about, gardening or leaning on the fence is acceptable. Just don't sit. That's what backyards are for.
23. The tarred road always ends just after the house of the local mayor.
24. On picnics, the Esky is always too small, creating a food versus grog battle that can only ever be solved by leaving the food behind.

Thats all folks

Posted by Jessie M 14:25 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

Aahh! Guess what I'm doing over Christmas?!?

I was worried a little bit about the Christmas holidays here, as everyone else is going home over the 4 week break and I was not looking forward to the prospect of being alone all that time.

So guess what I've decided to do for 2 out of those 4 weeks?? Well what else should I be doing while I'm here but travelling? I had thought about a Christmas tour of Scotland, but then I remembered there is this whole other continent not so far away and shouldn't I be going to see it!!

So I'm booking a contiki tour. (I've just sent off the first email and not sure how long the process takes so I hope it all goes to plan & I actually can go.)

And have a look at this itinerary!

Day 1: London to Amsterdam
Day 2: Amsterdam To Rhine Valley
Day 3: Rhine Valley to Munich
Day 4: Munich to Innsbruck:
Day 5: Innsbruck to Venice:
Day 6: Venice to Rome:
Day 7: Rome Sightseeing:
Day 8: Rome to Florence:
Day 9: Florence to Lucerne:
Day 10: Lucerne to Paris:
Day 11: Paris Sightseeing:
Day 12: Paris to London:

Aagh, somebody fan me I think i'm going to pass out with excitement!

And now I'm stressing, thinking about actually going on this trip. So much to organise... but it will be worth it!!!

And the money, oh the money. But again, worth it!

And now back down to earth... I'm off to the library to start writing an essay. :(

Posted by Jessie M 04:10 Comments (3)

Halloween Party

overcast 6 °C

It was my first Halloween Party last night. Since it wasn't actually halloween and there was no trick or treating or pumpkins it didn't feel particularly halloweenish. Just a fancy dress party, really, with some freaky costumes. But still fun. I went as a witch, complete with hat, broomstick and some fake eyelashes and liquid eyeliner. I decided to got the gothic witch route rather than the haggard old one. Vain I know :p

As I was getting ready for the party, half dressed in a witches costume, there was fire alarm in my building so I had to throw on a jacket and ugg boots over my black dress and fishnet tights to go stand outside for about 20 minutes with everyone else. (I might also mention that is getting really cold here lately and I think it couldn't have been more than 8 degrees.) There was no fire - apparently the alarms can get set off by cooking, spraying deo or harispray or, get this, taking a shower! On the upside, it was the most socialising I've done with people from my residence since i got here, and I met the people from the flat across the hall from me.

Here's a few photos, but I've reached my upload limit for the month so not many. I'll put more on Facebook and my google/picassa web album.

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Left to Right: Blandine and her visiting boyfriend (not in costume, tut tut), Barbel the pirate, Me the witch, Mat the cowboy and Laurence the devil. (Though you may have noticed that by this stage the witch, cowboy and devil have switched hats.)

And the freakiest costume goes to...Bjorn in his butchers costume and some poor unfortunate he came across at the party.
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Fortunately I got away only mildly butchered and lived to tell the tale.
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Posted by Jessie M 09:51 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Wow, I just saw the English guy again...

...and other bored musings of a girl avoiding homework.

overcast 10 °C

I just saw my English flatmate for the first time in what I swear has been about 2 weeks! I never seem to really see anyone in this flat very often.

Anyway, I haven't got any exciting things to write about - I'm just bored and waiting for my laundry to finish. Its cost me 6 pounds to do all my laundry today - thats about $15!!

Coming up in the near future is Halloween, which will be the first time I've ever celebrated it. Maisie, my american friend will be celbrating Thanksgiving, so that will be a first too. There is also Guy Fawkes day - which will be exciting since they seem to sell fireworks to anyone here and they're always going off every night here and there.

I'm also going on a weekend trip to Edinburgh in november - and everyone keeps telling me how great it is there so I can't wait!

So anyway, the point of all that is to let you know that my blogs will be more exciting soon.

Today I have to go return some shoes I bought yesterday, then got home and found out they had given me the right shoe in size 6 (which is the right size for me in whatever sizing they use here) and the left in size 5. (When I got home and tried them on I thought one of my feet must have been bigger than the other or something.)

Then I'm going to the life drawing class again at 6 tonight. I plan to remember tonight, since I've forgotten the last 2 weeks in a row.

Anyway, thats the end of my bored ramblings. Got to go get my last load of washing out of the drier now.

Bubbye.

Posted by Jessie M 06:53 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

where i got my quotes from

In answer to the question about where I found my quotes:

the quotes by particular people are from a great website - thinkexist.com - hundreds of quotes on everything.

The movie quotes are mostly from movies I've seen recently and you can find movie quotes on imdb.com

Posted by Jessie M 06:37 Comments (1)

----

a story in quotes

Oh my God, I'm getting pulled over. Everyone, just... pretend to be normal. ~ It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living. ~ The future's uncertain and the end is always near. ~ Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. ~ If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions. ~ Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love. ~ I wanna be with her more, I wanna be with her all the time, and I wanna tell her things I don't even tell you or mum. And I don't want her to have another boyfriend. I suppose if I could have all those things, I wouldn't really mind if I touched her or not. ~ I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. ~ For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. ~ You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinges my soul. ~ Oh, please, just shut up. You're wounding my soul. ~ The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be. ~ One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter. ~ Maybe, maybe not. Maybe f**k yourself.

Quotes in order of appearance:

(Little Miss Sunshine)(Terry Pratchett) (Jim Morrison) ( Dr. Seuss) (Pulp Fiction) (Neil Gaiman) (About a Boy) (Roy Croft) (Judy Garland) (Julie de Lespinasse) (About a Boy) (Marcel Pagnol) (James Earl Jones) (The Departed)

Posted by Jessie M 13:29 Comments (2)

New Scarborough Photo

Finally remembered to get a copy of this off a friend (thanks Mat) because didn't get one taken with my camera at the time.

This is a picture of most of my international group of friends on the beach at Scarborough.

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From Left to Right: Jessie (Australia :P), Bjorn (Holland), Lydia (France), Mat (France), CJ (Canada), Blandine (France), Sara (Morocco/France), Mai (France)

Posted by Jessie M 13:30 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Bjorn's Birthday

overcast 13 °C

Just a quick note - don't know if this will work anyway since there seems to be an error and I can't see my blogs. Hope that sorts itself out. I think I should keep a back-up of all my blogs in Word or something in case something goes wrong here.

Anyway, it was Bjorn's birthday yesterday. We went and saw the History Boys at the cinema, which was set in Sheffield I think and also had shots of Oxford (which I recognised from being there!) That was good. Then we had the international meal which worked really well, and everyone brought really nice food. There are some good cooks around! (and everyone seems to like Tim Tams). I realised too late that I should have taken a photo of all the food.

Bjorn's housemate made his birthday cake, which was a chocolate cake with brandy poured over the top. It looked really good, and apparently tasted good too but I was too busy running around getting people organised to sign Bjorn's birthday card and I missed out! Oh well.

This is Tom, one of Bjorn's housemates, who made the birthday cake:
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And here's the birthday cake:
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I bought Bjorn a poster of the movie Little Miss Sunshine which we both really loved (and I got myself one too). (It's a great movie - go see it!!)
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And then we all (the international people) went in together to buy him a pass for the Leeds International Film Festival coming up in November which he really wants to go to, but couldn't afford the pass. I'm pleased to say he loved it and I'm quite proud of my idea :p

Anyway thats a short recap of the night, but now I have to go and write a 350 word history post that is due today but I've been too disorganised this week and haven't started yet :s (It took me a few days to recover from London, then for the rest of the week I kept having this feeling that there was something I was forgetting to do...

Posted by Jessie M 09:20 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

London Trip Continued

sunny 15 °C
View London Trip & Leeds on Jessie M's travel map.

Ok so I ended with Saturday night at the globe....

Sunday was the second day trip. This one went to Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick Castle.

This was a bigger, and somewhat friendlier group of people on this tour. (The people on Saturday's tour seemed to want to keep to themselves). There was another australian girl on this tour, from Brisbane and she was also a teacher (in London since May working) so we had several things to bond over.

Oxford was great! The town and the university are really one - there is no campus as such, the uni is spread over the town, so the town is the university (if you know what I mean. :P) With different colleges that the students stay in depending on their subjects and interests. The uni system is different to other unis. you don't have lectures here, you just have a personal tutor who you give your assignments to and go to some tutorials, but much of it is self directed learning. And you don't do a general arts degree or different electives etc. If you are studying history you just do history and nothing else for the whole 3 years. This means that when Oxford students graduate they automatically receive a Masters 3 years later without having to do anymore study since their Degree was so specific.

It's all very pretty sandstone buildings and cobbled streets. And not many cars - bicycles everywhere.

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A peek into a college:
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This trip wasn't so rushed so had a little while to walk around here (and buy an Oxford University jumper) before heading towards Stratford-Upon-Avon. On the way we drove throught the cotswolds which is an area of cottages - many of them still with thatched roofs. These are protected, meaning if you have a thatched roof you can't tile it, and if you have a tiled roof and decide to change to thatch you can't change it back. And people pay a lot of money for these cottages, even though you will eventually need to rethatch at a cost of 40,000 pounds ($100,000), and insurance is expensive due to fire risk. But they are pretty! :p The one in the photo below, we were told, was worth about 500,000 pounds (thats over 1 million dollars!!!)

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Then we drove on to Stratford and Shakespeare's birthplace. Tourist infested, but well preserved and interesting to see for a Shakespeare buff like me (though this conversion is probably a new development - I always admired the plays but the more I learn and study the plays, the more I have come to think they are brilliant!!).

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Then we went on to Warwick castle, which is a really well preserved medieval castle (one of the castle's built by William the Conqueror after he invaded in 1066 - never used and pretty much obsolete from the time it was built like all the fortifications William built, but perhaps his fortifications were the reason England wasn't invaded again and taken over so easily like William himself did.) It had a dungeon and everything! This was great to see. They had waxwork displays depicted both medieval life, and the life of the Earl of Warwick and his family who lived in the castle later. These were freakily realistic looking, and if you put your face up close to the fugures face you were sure at any moment they would move and you would realise you had been staring at a real person. We decided that we would have to go back one day dressed in medieval costume and sit in the display until some unsuspecting tourist came along and then spook them.

This photo was taken from the top of the tower (seen below). The walk up there was up a narrow winding and claustrophobic set of stairs, that for someone afraid of heights generated nightmares of a never ending spiral!) And there were grates at the top which looked straight down to the ground. However, not that long ago heights like this would have induced a sweaty, heart pounding panic but what I felt here was very mild, just a slight and entirely bearable discomfort. I've noticed my fear of heights since arriving here (in recent years escalating to a real irrational phobia) has abated. Which makes me think that it probably is a psychological, self-confidence related thing. Anyway, back to the photos:IMG_1036.jpg
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That night I went back to the hostel, and even though I was invited out by two Italian guys in my dorm, I decided I couldn't do anything but go to sleep. I had thought about walking to see westminster abbey and trafalgar square at night, but apart from the fact that i didn't really want to walk at night alone, I was too exhausted and decided I would go in the morning before my bus back to Leeds.

So I went to Westminster Abbey on Monday morning. (Photos of the outside below, not of the inside since that wasn't allowed and it would have felt a little irreverant to be snapping pictures of the tombs of all these kings and queens and great people anyway.) I never knew how many people there were buried in that place!! It was beautiful and at the same time a little creepy to know that every few steps, there was someone buried under your feet. Or more than one - one of the graves was something like 20 monks who died from the Black Death.

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I also saw Big Ben and heard it chime, walked past Downing Street - heavily gated and guarded - and then walked to Trafalgar square. The fountains weren't running, but the very tall Nelson's column and the Lion statues were fairly impressive.

Big Ben and the London Eye (which I have still to go on) in the background.):
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Then it was time to go back and get my bags and catch the bus. I was in a panicked rush and one point as I thought I was going to be late for my bus. I ended up getting there on time but the bus was delayed for 35 minutes anyway. By the time I got back to Leeds I was so exhausted I felt like I would either snap or cry if anyone so much as looked at me funny. Total culture and history overload.

But I'm still glad I went. And there's still more of London to see, so I'm definitely going to go back. Hopefully with others next time though.

I;ve been buying, as souvenirs, charms for my charm bracelet. In Amsterdam airport I bought a little clog (even though I guess technically I haven't really visited Holland yet - but it reminds me of Bjorn now too). From bath I got a little bath, a crown from windsor, a bus from London, and a little shakespeare's house from Stratford-Upon-Avon. Soon my bracelet will be full if I keep up at this rate.

And thanks everyone for all your Aussie food suggestions. I found an online Australian product shop based in the UK. I haven't got the time to do anything involved before Saturday so I jsut bought some Tim-Tams and some Coopers Beer (which has the added personal touch of being from SA, not just Aus.) But I've bought other stuff too, and a Kath and Kim DVD, so I think I'll have an Australian party and do more meals and stuff later on when I have the time to do things properly.

Thats all from me for now.

Hope you aren't all melting over there in the heat. I'm not freezing yet but looks like it won't be long before I do :P

Also, the limit of photos I can upload here means that I can only put a few photos up, so if you want to see more go to http://picasaweb.google.com/a1120631/LondonTrip.

Posted by Jessie M 11:07 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

'...Known unto these, and to myself disguised!'

Comedy of Errors Act 2 Scene ii

rain 15 °C
View London Trip & Leeds on Jessie M's travel map.

I'm back from London!

It was an amazing trip, but I'm still on culture and history overload! Everything I crammed into about 2 and a half days could easily have filled a week.

On Friday night, I arrived about 3pm, checked into my hostel and then went for a walk. I found my way to Buckingham Palace and wandered around a bit there. I tried taking a photo of myself in front of it (feeling like a complete idiot as I did so), and then another tourist offered to take it for me. (Unfortunately random offers like this rarely ensure the greatest photography but I'm still grateful.)

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That night I went on a Thames Pub Walk - it was led by an American wierdly enough, but he knew a lot about the history of London and it was an interesting walk.

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I met two Canadian Girls travelling in their gap year, and we hung around together. Then after the walk we all went together to a turkish restaurant for tea (which was really great food.) The woman they were staying with was with us and at the end of tea she generously offered to pay for all our meals as she said she wanted to do this for us a young travellers to pay back for the same being given to her when she was a young traveller.

It was about 1am by the time I got to bed I think, and I had to get up at about 6am for my tour the next day. So needless to say I was really tired (and I'd only, stupidly, had 4 hours sleep the night before!). Every time I got on the bus during the tour this day i fell asleep almost instantly. The tour was to Stonehnge, Bath and Windsor Castle. It was great to see all these places but a bit rushed all day with only a short amount of time in each place.

But I still really enjoyed it - it was a history lover's dream. Though each place was overpopulated with tourists, it still felt a little surreal when I imagined the people who had put these stones here and stonehenge, and walked in these courtyards at Bath so many years ago. I just wanted to reach out and touch everything and imagine who had touched the same stones before. I don't know what I was expecting, an electric shock or something, but I did get little chills every now and again. Just my over active imagination I know, but I still loved it.

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This is a view of Bath from a hill coming down into the town:
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And the Baths (another fellow tourist offering to take my picture):
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Windsor Castle: (no photos of the inside, sorry - that wasn't allowed.)
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A Chapel: (St George's Cathedral was like this inside but even grander. While I was there, the boys choral group was practicing and it sounded beautiful inside the cathedral.)
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Saturday night I went an saw The Comedy of Errors at the Globe, which was fun, and appropriate since I'm just studying the same play at uni.

Here's pic of the outside of the Globe:
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Okay, I'm going to have to leave it there for now, since I'm tired (Ik ben moe) and lacking motivation to keep going. So there will be a second instalment of my London trip coming soon.

Stay tuned.

Tot ziens. Ik spreek je gauw weer. (Which means, if you hadn't worked it out, 'Bye, I'll talk to you soon.')

Posted by Jessie M 07:51 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (4)

Arrived In London!

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View London Trip & Leeds on Jessie M's travel map.

Just a quick note - I just arrived in London and am at my hostel now. Using the internet for maps of where I'm going to go but I think I'm going to have to buy a proper one or I'll get lost.

It was absolutely pouring with rain all the way here but as soon as I arrived and got off the bus it stopped which is a blessing!

Tonight I'm going to go on a Thames pub Walk - it takes in more than pubs though, and I think we go past the Globe theatre which will be good so I know how to find it tomorrow night when I go to see The Comedy of Errors. (Which coincidentally is the play I'm studying this week at uni!)

Right now I'm going to just go for a walk and look around I think, and find some food. And if I come across and souvenir shop I'll probably be a tourist and buy some :P I might even walk to have a look at Buckingham palace as I don't think its very far from here. And at some point i need to work out how to use the tube - which I'm actually excited about doing, and not scared which is somewhat of a first for me! If I get lost I'll just go on my own little tour of London finding myself again.

By the way, the only person who has successfully told me what my dutch phrase at the end of a previous post meant it Bjorn, and I told him I'm not giving him a prize since he has an unfair advantage. (Sorry Grandpa, the literal translation doesn't really give you a good idea of what it means.)

Here's another one that might be easier.

Hoi! Hoe gaat het? Ik ben blij!

Tot ziens!

Posted by Jessie M 07:12 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Life Drawing...

...in every sense.

semi-overcast 10 °C

I told myself a while ago to do something every day that scares me. I haven't always kept it up (though 'luckily' there is a lot that scares me so I just naturally do it quite often!) but today I did it purposely.

Everyone else here as been joining societies in the last few weeks, but I hadn't decided what I wanted to do. I'm not particularly good at sports and they cost a lot to join anyway. I'm not much of a dancer, cheerleader, musician or political activist so I was feeling a bit lost.

It got me down a little bit that all my friends seem to know so clearly and confidently what they are passionate about, and are good at it too, where-as I don't seem to know what I like, what I'm good at or the person I want to be. Or at least I'm afraid to let that person show.

Then I saw the Art Society. I like art. And they have life drawing classes every week. The email said it would be relaxed with no expectation of people having particular drawing skills.

Even with that assurance, I was still vacillating all week about whether I would actually go. Today I bought a sketch pad and a pencil and went home and practiced. I told myself if I could draw something half-decent I might go.

So my practicing wasn't awful, and I told myself not to be a chicken, and just to go this once and if I hated it I never had to go again. But even as I was getting on the bus, thinking there's no turning back now, I was having mental pictures of walking into a room full of serious art students who would frown down their noses at this girl who'd not drawn in years and who didn't even know which type of paper or pencils to bring.

I found a seat in the room full of people with sketch pads, who to my initial horror did look very artsy. I sat next to two girls, and one of them turned to me and asked "Have you done this before?"
"No," I replied grimacing nervously.
"Oh, neither have I. I'm a bit scared," She said.
Oh, I can breath again!! I relaxed instantly finding I wasn't going to be the only one who didn't know what they were doing.

The next surprise was that it was nude life drawing class - which I guess is what life drawing is, I just hadn't really thought about it - or if I had I just thought of still life.

I should remember that things are never as bad as I worry they are going to be, and that I'm not the only one who feels scared about things, and people aren't going to judge me for it.

I am so glad I went now. I really enjoyed it and I think my pictures, though rough and unfinished, were ok for a first attempt. (Though the longer I sit and look at them the more critical I become.) Occassionally I would, after thinking 'ok, that doesn't look too bad', look around the room and see the real artists drawings and feel a bit discouraged, but I'm happy with my attempts.

Here's some photos of two of the six or so poses we sketched (actually on white paper but comes out brown in the photo) - the first was done in 10 minutes, and the last one was the 40 minute pose (both still unfinished and sketchy though.)

IMG_0675.jpg

IMG_0678.jpg

This trip to England has been the best thing I've ever done. I've already started to find the things I was missing before and getting to know who I really am - and getting the confidence to let that show. I know that I love art (even if I'll never be an artist), that I love to write and I know I have something to say in me somewhere waiting to come out, and that I really do love books and literature.

In the past few years I'd become a bit jaded and indifferent I think, just getting bogged down in the mundane side of university and forgetting about how much more there is to life, and how much enjoyment there is to be had out of it. And I really have to remember to thank the great people I've met here who have changed me this way, especially Bjorn. He inspires me.

Well, that was my little introspective session. I'm sure I'll be learning a lot more about myself in the weeks to come and probably write about that here too, so thanks for reading and coming on this journey with me :)

Posted by Jessie M 13:50 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Monday 2nd October 4.04pm

semi-overcast

Almost a week since I last blogged already! Time is going too fast. In some ways it feels like I've been here for months already, but in other ways like no time at all.

The crepes party was fun and yummy - even though due to the french (and I'm told, correct) pronunciation of 'crepe' there was running joke about the 'crap' party.

collage.jpg

I bought some posters to decorate my room, since I wasn't feeling very at home in it before but now its personalised its a lot better. I bought 4 posters: 2 of Escher drawings, one of a Dali painting and also 'The Great Wave' by Katsushika Hokusai.

Escher drawing hands.jpg Escher - "Drawing Hands"

escher high and low.jpg Escher - "High and Low"

Dali.jpg Dali - "the Elephants"

I also bought a little pot of Gerberas that sits in the window now. (I'll keep you updated as to whether I manage to keep them alive the whole time I'm here or not!)my desk.jpg

Here are some pictures of my room:
my room bed.jpgroom desk.jpgmy room.jpg

What else have I been doing? Nothing in particular travel-wise. (I'll have more of that next week after I've been to London and on my day trips.

I've been to the movies and seen Little Miss Sunshine - which by the way is an amazing movie and I recommend you go see it!

I also went to the Fresher's ball on Saturday which is a big party at the university union with about 4000 people. Most of the girls dress up sort of formally but I didn't have anything like that with me so I think I was the only girl in the whole place wearing pants. Oh well. It still had fun. The sugababes were performing - even though I'm not particularly in love with them I had a look anyway and took a few videos (or Bjorn did for me) just to prove that I've seen them. :)

Ok, so for those of you who don't know, there someone who merits an introduction here I think - that's Bjorn. I told myself I wouldn't meet anyone over here but here I am just 3 weeks in and I already have! He was too good to pass up just for the sake of avoiding any complications an international relationship might have. He is Dutch, but has been living in China for the past 4 years. So I'm trying to learn some Dutch. Hoi! Hoe gaat het? ('hi, how are you' is about as far as my skills go so far!) He is studying Communication Studies and doing his whole 3 yr degree in Leeds, and wants to be a film maker. So thats Bjorn in a nut shell, and now you know who I'm talking about when I mention him, since I'm sure I will :p

Anyway, not much else to mention right now - I finally bought an oven tray and some containers today, and did a thorough food shop, so I can now start to cook properly for myself. I shudder to think at the lack of fruit and vegetables in my diet these past few weeks but don't worry mum, I'm changing that!

I'm going to see Babyshambles tonight at the Union (who I don't know much about but have been told they're good.)

I'll write again and put up some pictures after next weekends trip.

tot ziens, ik spreek je gauw weer! (anyone tell me what that means & I'll give you a prize :))

Posted by Jessie M 08:05 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (4)

Scatterbrained

semi-overcast 16 °C

My sleep patterns may have recovered from Jetlag, but my brain doesn't seem to have yet. I haven't been able to keep track of days since I got here - it takes me a while to remember what day of the week it is or to remember what day certain things happened on in the last couple of weeks. The whole lot seems to blur together. (I'm mostly over the flu though which is good.)

It seems like a month ago that I left Australia, and the airports seem like a dream.

I had my first lecture today, and now already have an assignment due on Sunday, and a whole lot of reading to do. So the holiday is over. Maybe now if I get into some sort of routine my brain will be able to keep track of everything. Up til now it probably hasn't really mattered what day it is - it's all just been like a weekend.

And so I can't remember what has happened since I last blogged and what I've already written about. In the last week or so its been quiter on the social front as everyone succumbs to exhaustion, and we get ready for the start of classes. We've had a few housewarming parties and a chilli con carne night, and this Thursday is a crepes party. We've been gradually getting around to see everyone's accomodation - some have plenty of space, (like ridiculously big 4 roomed living areas!!) which is handy for parties, but most have small kitchens with 5 chairs so its hard to have people over.

We think each nationality should have our own night with typical food. If I had an australian night I could have a bbq, vegemite, pavlova and lamingtons. I've discovered that most people don't know lamingtons or pavlova, but to have them would mean I would have to make them...and very few people like vegemite... and I don't have a bbq either...hmmmm.

Anyway, we'll see.

I'm glad I'm going to London and doing the day trips to other parts of England soon, as I'm already finding myself getting blase about being on the other side of the world. I thought of it today when I was walking up my cobblestoned, tree lined english lane to my accomodation. I saw it again like I'd seen it the first time. The air was cool in the leafy shade and there was moss growing on the damp stone wall next to me, and I remembered where I was. I have to keep reminding myself to remember how special and amazing this experience is so I don't take anything forgranted. I want to keep seeing new things too, to keep the feeling I alive that I had when I first arrived, so bring on the travel. (Fitting it in around the hundreds of books I have to read won't be easy but I'll do it!)

I'm already finding myself changing as a person since I got here - mostly thanks to the great people I've met. I love them all, and they've all already contributed something to my life, whether teaching me about England, about the world, about themselves, or about myself.

They have also opened my eyes to how narrow my life experience has been. Though I've probably experienced some things they may not have, I've realised how much there is in the world, but also how relatively small it is and there is no excuse not to explore it. I've realised I'm not a particularly 'Aussie' Australian, since I don't fit the sterotype somepeople have of Australians (particularly compared to some other aussies here who do fit it). And I think the more you travel the more international you become, which I'm looking forward to because I don't want to be just a geographically and mentally isolated Australian who never wants to leave their backyard (however great a backyard it may be.)

When I go back to Australia I won't be content to just settle anymore (don't worry I will come back though!) - but I've definitely got an incurable travel bug. There is so much to see and experience, and most importantly so many wonderful people to meet and be changed by.

Here's a picture of some of the group at our Chilli Con Carne night.
group sepai.jpg

Posted by Jessie M 11:42 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Homesickness....

...it sucks.

sunny 25 °C

I haven't really be feeling too homesick since I got here. I've had minor episodes at times, like when I first got here and was dead tired and all alone, but that passed when i met some people. And one day when I was tired and tried to go shopping and kept giving the wrong money and everything seemed hard. But that all passed pretty quickly. I'm getting used to different money, different accents, packing your own shopping in supermarkets, the different (and generally not so good) food, the changeable weather, buses....

But today has been the worst so far. It always comes on when something goes wrong or I don't feel good. Today I've got the flu and a few other things upset me, and I suddenly realised how alone I was. I've met some great people and I love them all, but you can only get so close to people in 10 days. I miss being able to just call up my friends when i need to talk about nothing in particular or just go down to the house and talk to mum. I can't exactly call up people for no particular reason when its generally the middle of the night in Australia at the time I feel like talking...

I really felt the distance today. Before I thought it wasn't a big deal since its so easy to keep in touch through email and MSN, but it is different.

Its not a sort of homesickness that makes me think 'I wish I was at home', because I love it here and I am happy and having fun in general, but it does make me feel lonely. I think I just have to ride it out, talk to people back home when I get the chance, and not let feeling sad isolate me from my new friends here.

Don't worry everyone, I'm ok really!! I know I feel a lot better once I'm over this "fresher's flu" as well!

Posted by Jessie M 10:52 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

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