Monday, January 31, 2005

Sorted!

The Final Phase of the quest to work legally in the UK was completed today. Getting the Work Permit on Friday was only the Second Last Phase.

Today I had the wonderful experience of catching a train to D├╝sseldorf to visit the UK Consulate there to get a "Leave to Enter" Visa. Which of course entailed another form and another fee. Well at least the visa is quite groovy - they take the photo you provide and scan it into the sticker that is the visa. Although somehow they managed to partially miss the page with the sticker so its kind of hanging over the edge of my passport. Oh well!

I arrived there about 9am after a two hour train journey and S-Bahn across town. It would have been a bit earlier if I hadn't gone to the wrong platform and sat on the wrong train for 15 minutes wondering why it wasn't leaving on time. Then thinking, "this train isn't as flashy as the normal ICE trains". Then thinking, "trains in Germany aren't late very often". Then finally realising I was patiently waiting for the Mannheim train to leave - thankfully BEFORE it left. So shaky start at 6am - but once I got there the process was quite efficient. I didn't have to wait long before my form was checked and visa fee extorted. Then I was told to come back at 14:00 to collect my passport. There was quite a queue that had to wait outside in the freezing cold while people were admitted into the grey building one by one and security checked. Then just a matter of picking up the documents. I watched as everyone signed for their passport and universally paused to admire their new visas. And then hightailed it out of there.

Friday, January 28, 2005


snowing

icing sugar

It was quietly snowing last night and it is a bit of a winter wonderland outside today. A grey gloomy one. It is very quiet.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Cute Katie

IMG_0390
cool shades
originally uploaded by Hells Bells.
This is test for uploading a photo from flicker.

And to show off my friend Hellie and Will's gorgeous baby Katie

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Frozen Pond at 2 in the Afternoon

Since I’ve been backI haven’t been venturing out of the house until well after midday, enjoying being snug inside. Today just before finally going out I looked up to see lovely light flurries of snow dancing outside the window. So I had some of warning how cold it was outside. When I got down to the park I saw that most of the pond has frozen over – the poor ducks now only have a tiny corner of the pond.

Anyway, I have much more exciting news than a weather report. I got back this afternoon to find an email waiting for me confirming my work permit has been approved. Yay!! After nearly three months of waiting I feel like things are moving again. So I’m going to be a London girl again, probably next week.

And thanks to Smithy for calmly dealing with my nervousness (and some very mild crankiness) this week. Even though he hasn’t been here, he has endured more than his fair share of listening to me whinge. But he’ll be back on Saturday so we can break out the champers together. In the meantime I'll celebrate with takeaway Italian from around the corner.

Monday, January 24, 2005

still waiting....

I woke up this morning and my first thought was "I'm bored!!". Not a good sign really.

I did the usual feeble attempt at some work and went to the the gym and watched hours of rubbish sky programmes on renovating, antiques and giving birth. Actually not rubbish at all - very informative in their own completely irrelevant ways.

I finally cracked and called my immigration consultant who assured me that the case officer at the Home Office now had everything they needed and that it should go on the "print run" in the morning. Whatever that means. Sounds quite efficient.

Have broken my tendancy to becoming a total recluse by arranging coffee with a friend tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

waiting patiently

I’ve been back in Frankfurt for a week now and have managed to avoid fatal boredom. But I have resorted to a) going to the gym and b) cleaning the house to ‘entertain’ myself.

But am very happy – the flat is gradually becoming decluttered (I’m sure Smithy won’t miss a thing!) and I am feeling like I have broken the mental barrier of getting back into an exercise routine. The goal is the Berlin ½ marathon at the beginning of April. Finishing it that is. Actually I would love to do it in under two hours but that would be shaving quite a bit off my previous best time of about 2:15. Considering I was struggling to manage 6.5 km tonight that may be a bit ambitious.

Hopefully I won’t have to wait here too much longer before heading back to London. On Friday my immigration consultant told me the Home Office wanted another reference – I’m taking that as a good sign that processing of the application is underway. I was first offered the job mid-November so it really feels like the whole process is taking a long time. I think the past year has improved my patience. Or maybe just tested it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

When people find out I’ve been in Germany for nearly a year and ask me if I speak German fluently I absolutely cringe. Although I took three months of intensive lessons when I first came over and got a grasp of the basics – I really haven’t progressed since then. The main problem is that the Germans are so good at English there really isn’t any need to use it.

Of course it would make life so much better if I could communicate in German. Instead of being in a shop where someone is earnestly explaining to me how to do something (eg take care of the flowers I’ve just bought or use my new digital camera) and I try to follow but instead am really just smiling and nodding – I would actually know how to take care of the flowers! So a lot of things just flow over me. Any mail I get from the bank or gym I try to decipher, then chuck out (or file it if it looks really serious) and cross my fingers.

But I felt like I was making some progress this morning when the gas man came around and I knew the routine. I have figured out that every six months (probably to the day) a coloured sticker appears on the front of the building announcing the imminent arrival of the gas man. Then on the appointed day a friendly guy in a uniform (kind of like the ghost busters ones only green) comes around, asks me to “Schlie├čen Sie die Fenster”, and waves a wand thingy around the house. He then tells us that we are perfectly safe and there is no carbon monoxide floating around. This morning though I got a bit of a lecture (first in German - me smiling and nodding) about not cramming all our suitcases in the space around the gas machine depriving it of oxygen (and presumably causing it to blow up?). He clued on to me though and suspiciously asked “Sprechen sie Englisch?” “Yup”, So then (luckily) I got the English version.

It reminded me of a similar incident where English/German speaking friends came over for dinner and seeing the overflowing contents of the bin noted “You’re not really following the recycling rules are you?!!” I’m thinking in my head “what recycling rules?!!” I separate the paper out, and take my bottles back to the supermarket – you mean there’s more to it??

So its probably for the best that I’m heading back to the UK before I cause a major ecological disaster or residential gas explosion in the quiet streets of the West End.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Update

Well day three back in Sausage City. Am starting to get a bit bored without Smithy around to entertain me. He is off to NZ for his best mate's wedding and best man duties. In the meantime I have been doing a bit of work, going to gym (well once) and as you can see updating blog. I have included a london section - which may be useful for everyone planning on visiting me this year - whooo hoo!! And my favourite part - the flickr updates, currently showing my two gorgeous god-dogs but will change when I post new pics (sorry boys). Latest pics are from recent trip home including very silly fancy dress party mentioned below.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Coco la Chat

Coco la Chat lives in Paris with her shoe and handbag collection. She never leaves the house without a dab of Le Chat No. 9 behind each purrfectly groomed ear. Her outfit pictured here is vintage 1950's Chat.


Coco

Her namesake Coco Chanel once said "the more feminine a woman, the stronger she is".

However le Chat believes "the more handbags a cat has, the more feminine she is".

Coco detail

For January Month of Softies

Friday, January 14, 2005

Silly Harry

I am so glad I’m not a royal. At first I thought – gee, Mary’s done alright for herself hooking a relatively good-looking skandy prince. Even if she does have to wear unbecoming knits from time to time. But who would voluntarily opt for that kind of intense media spotlight?!! I mean we had a theme party at New Years, dressed up in ridiculous outfits and had a great time and I’m sure that not one else was particularly interested. But if you’re a royal such hijinks are analysed by everyone from every angle. The furore over Harry’s Nazi costume in the media here this week has been intense. Justifiably so – what an idiot - but I’m sure there’s been worse in private parties before. And even poor Willie gets rated on his lion cossie. Grrrrr. Actually, I thought the theme of the party itself was pretty ordinary – Colonials and Natives – ha – they wish!!! You’re not the boss of us!! Oh yeah – you are, and we voted for it. Bugger.

This weekend I’m gadding about somewhere in Kent for Phil’s 30th celebrations and then back to Sausage City on Monday morning for a week or so to cool my heels while visa is sorted out. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Rush Hour

It’s a gorgeous sunny day today and the wind has died down although it’s still very chilly. We were walking back from a meeting near Westminster at lunch time and it was practically gleaming in the sun. I wanted to get out my camera and take some photos but didn’t think it would look too professional. Another time perhaps - in a couple of months when we have the next sunny day.

Am still pinching myself to be in London – I still find catching the double-decker busses a novelty – sitting up top with icon after icon passing by the window. I think the London Eye is fabulous. Not really sold on the Erotic Gherkin yet though. It really dominates the skyline. The Dome of St Paul’s from the distance is much more spectacular.

And I’m still intrigued by being surrounded by different accents and unidentifiable languages on the tube. I’m not so intrigued at rush hour though. I had convinced myself that the tube wasn’t so bad – but last night realised that was because I had been catching the overland train. I went home a bit earlier than usual and caught the tube last night. Well eventually caught the tube – the first two were too packed to get on. Eventually I was funnelled to the front of the platform and managed to get on the third one. As people crowded on, at one stage I was literally lifted off my feet and was much closer to the guy next to me than either of us were comfortable with. Three teenage guys were amusing themselves immensely with fart jokes. Not very funny – any flatulence in those conditions could be fatal. Note to self – try to find place to live near bus or train – much more civilised.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

London and Cold

But not as cold as I thought it would be.

Thought I had better write as my adoring readers (ie Mum) has pointed out I have been slacking lately. Am just back from all too short holiday in Brissie and its already paling into the distance. I expected to have plenty of time for witty updates while at home but catching up with friends, eating juicy juicy mangos, hanging out at the resort and three hour naps took over somehow. It was fantastic seeing everyone. Not as much partying as there used to be....and arriving at Chrissie parties to find several children running around was a bit disconcerting. But very fun and I have to say I'm in awe of my friends who are juggling family, pets, work, building houses and goodness knows what other projects with such panache. Abosute stars.

I have to admit I was dragging my feet a bit getting on the plane back to the depths of winter. I arrived in London and noted that grey is the new green and drizzle the new sunshine. But I'm getting used to the gloom and the tube again surprisingly quickly. London is a lot more sparkly since last time I lived here with alot of renovations and revival of pubs and city areas making a big difference. And I'm staying with the lovely K & C in Putney which has been really great - a bit of a reprieve from house hunting while I get oriented again.