Last days

Wednesday: my last day at Atlassian.

Since the news of my departure became public, I’ve been really surprised at how many people have said that I’ll be missed, and commented on the impact I’ve made. I mean, of course, I know I’m awesome ;) but it’s come as a really pleasant surprise to hear from others that I will be missed. Maybe it’s part of a big guilt trip conspiracy?

My last day was a mix of feelings. I’m sad at leaving behind a place that I wouldn’t have chosen to move on from yet, but I’m excited – and a little anxious – about the future and the unknowns that await me there.

In this final Sprint, my team had decided to try not having stand ups, but there was one scheduled for my final day. I was a little suspicious – in fact, I had wondered if they would do something to my desk on my last day, like wrapping it in tin foil or something. I was relieved to arrive and everything was as it should be.

At 9:45 the team gathered, and I was trying to compose an update – why is it that in those few minutes of walking to the stand up, I always forget what I’ve been working on? Luckily this time, I didn’t need to, to my surprise, the team presented me with a gift: a beautiful Wedgewood teapot! I wasn’t really expecting anything (well, maybe some jelly beans!) and I was impressed that a team of guys could choose something that suited me so well and was really pretty. It was so well packed I didn’t want to take it out before it got to Melbourne so I haven’t tried it yet, but I can’t wait to find a shelf or somewhere to put it out in the new place.

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As the day went on, other people stopped by my desk to chat, and I made slow progress on my final work trying to complete an upgrade task. After lunch, a last packet of jelly beans from the lolly bar, and a final check in, I was done. My team lead presented me with a card (so many signatures, I was pretty blown away), I packed up my things, returned my swipe cards and signed out of HipChat: “BAAAAAIIIIIII!”

Leaving was strange, I don’t know what I expected. As I walked to the ferry, I hoped that the upgrade task I’d been working on would finally get through QA, and it was weird to think that there was nothing else I could, or would, do to make it happen now.

Thursday: my last day in Manly.

All week, I’d been saying that if I could go back, I’d have finished work last Friday and had a week off. Today, I was glad that I didn’t, because I really wouldn’t have known what to do with myself.

I spent the morning finishing off the packing, labelling the boxes and tidying up. There isn’t that much left to do, except to stand in front of the stack of boxes, sigh, and wonder where we’re going to put it all. I think that if I’d had a week off to do that, I’d have driven myself insane.

I headed to the beach at lunchtime, and wandered along the Steyne, paddling in the shallow water. It was a little too cold for me to go for a dip – there were loads of people in the water, but I’m just a big wuss when it comes to the cold, I’ll leave them to it. It was nice to just get my feet wet and sandy.

By the surf club, I got a cup of tea – no fridge in our apartment, so no tea for me there – and sat on the beach, drinking my tea and reading my kindle. It was lovely and sunny, warm, comfortable, except for the sand blowing across me.

I met Andrea for lunch in Jellyfish, salt and pepper squid with aioli, yum! And wine, double yum! I had promised myself that on my last day in Manly, I would buy a picture from Saltmotion, a lovely photo gallery that specialises in pictures of Manly beach and waves, so after lunch we headed over – I’d already picked out two that I wanted! The first was a beautiful underwater shot with blue tones that would look amazing in our bedroom, and the other one was a sunrise shot across to Shelly beach, that would remind me of Manly from the new apartment.

Back home with the post-shopping glow, I sat out in the garden reading but it was so hard to relax. In the end I went back into town and found a new “Manly beach” keyring (my old one was rusty!) … and a half bottle of Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, well that’ll keep me going in the garden for the rest of the afternoon …

By the time Silvio got home, it was too cold to sit outside, but the blogs were almost done – result :) we packed what we could of the things that were left, and headed out for a meaty dinner at Ribs and Rumps …

And that was it, my last day and night in Manly, for a few months anyway. I’ll be back for a visit before too long, providing Andrea will have me to stay! ;) I’m now sitting in the wharf bar on Friday afternoon, whiling away the last hour or so with a glass of white wine. Today has gone from sunny and warm to windy and cold, so I’m the only person braving the jetty bar for once, but it’s nice to watch the choppy sea across the wharf and hear the light rain spattering across the umbrellas.

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Our things are already well on their way, and it won’t be long now until I say farewell to Manly too. It’s been awesome, but now it’s time to find out what the next chapter holds. I can only hope it’s as good as the last one :)

Moving Day!

In comparison to the events surrounding my move across Manly, the actual moving in day itself was very unstressful, if tiring. The drama started a few months ago, when Andrea’s flatmate announced that he was going to start looking for a new place. Having been coveting her beautiful view for months, I was really excited!

Having small, furry, rather noisy and sometimes smelly housemates was starting to wear on me, and it wasn’t long before my impatience got the better of me. When Rachel’s room unexpectedly became available, I decided to change my plans and move in to her place in Little Manly. It also comes with a beautiful view, not as amazing as Andrea’s, but from the bedroom itself which is rather nice.

The view from my room

However, Andrea was less than amused! Luckily for me she is also the forgiving kind though, and plus she eventually realised that she’d probably had a lucky escape.

A couple of weeks before the move, I had arranged for the internet to be connected at the new place … sadly, they also cut off the wireless at my old one! Cue a week or so of frustration – it’s amazing how I now feel totally lost without super fast internet at my fingertips wherever I go. Possibly something to do with also wanting to make Skype calls on a regular basis.

Over the next few days, Rachel was away so I stayed in what would be my new room, admiring the view from the bed, and counting down the days until I could move all of my stuff in! I made endless phone calls to the internet company, and unplugged and replugged in every single cable to my modem at least a hundred times until finally they sent a technician. On Friday morning, Vivi and I sat with our laptops and a 3G connection while he took apart the phone socket, discovered the phone line wasn’t connected properly, and promptly sorted it out. We stared and crossed our fingers as the modem light went from flashing red, to blue, and then back to red, until finally it stayed blue. We named our home network magicworks, because at that point in time I think we both believed it!

I went back to my own place for the last two nights, then finally the day arrived! We had a great girls night out on Saturday, with the result that I wasn’t feeling the best on Sunday morning, but I had a long day ahead and there was no time for hangovers. I left the house to get the car, only to return two minutes later having forgotten my glasses. This pretty much set the tone for the day …

First stop, IKEA

My first stop was IKEA: I needed a set of drawers for some extra storage space. I haven’t been to IKEA in ages – I haven’t really done much shopping in ages either, but I had to curb my shopaholic tendencies and stay focussed on just buying what I needed: drawers, and some storage boxes. I left with just $4 worth of impulse purchases, which must be a new record.

Next stop: Harvey Norman to pick up a tumble dryer. I found the shopping centre in Chatswood, found the right floor, went to get out of the car, and couldn’t find my key (GoGet have a really cool system, similar to Street Car in the UK, where I have a credit card sized “key” that locks and unlocks the car – the actual ignition key is secured inside the car). I searched my bag and pockets, but nothing. I was beginning to panic: I couldn’t even leave the car unlocked because it would automatically lock itself after a few minutes, so if I closed it then I wouldn’t be able to get back in. I didn’t understand how I could have dropped it at IKEA … eventually reason set in, and I found it down the far side of the passenger seat. Phew.

Shopping done!

Back on track … dryer collected and loaded into the car, and back to the new place to drop it off. I arrived, and nobody was there, they’d all gone out for breakfast … I managed to drag the heavy boxes out of the car and into the garden on my own, but it’s been a while since I wished that much for a strong man to help me!

Back to Pacific Parade, and the first car load took nearly an hour to load, but most of the big stuff was in. The drive across town took less than ten minutes, but included about twenty sets of traffic lights … luckily I wasn’t really in any hurry, it was still early afternoon. By the time the first lot of cases and stuff had been emptied, I could barely get in to my bedroom (not because I have THAT much stuff, but I didn’t do a great job of arranging it).

First load ready to go

Andrea was also moving stuff the same day, she’d hired a ute to pick up a fridge and some larger furniture from across town, having sourced it on Gumtree (her flatmate was moving out and taking all of his furniture, so she was about to have a pretty empty flat!) We decided to go together to the mall then to drop off her ute, so that she didn’t have to walk home. She was jetlagged, and exhausted … I suddenly realised that I was actually pretty tired already too, and I still had another car load to go, and furniture to build!

The car all stacked up for the final run

We made it to the mall, and finally the last car load was emptied. I dropped the car back in its spot near Pacific Parade, and collected my bike and my surfboard, which was too big to fit in the car so had to be moved on foot. I wheeled the bike over to Andrea’s, where my surfboard was going to stay in her garage at least until the summer! Finally I biked over to the new place. It was kind of strange to finish off the move on my bike :)

Viv was home by then, and together we got the new dryer into its new home and reconstructed my small shelves in the utility room, they looked pretty cool actually and Viv was delighted.

The new dryer

I managed to clear a way through the stuff into my room and stacked the cases against the windows. I was still determined to finish putting together my new drawers, even though both Silvio and Viv had told me to take it a bit easy, it had been a long day, but I was stubborn as ever …! Eventually, with the help of a couple of glasses of wine, they were done. And they looked good too!

I do follow instructions …

Getting there with the drawers

Moving fast!


By ten thirty, finally, I had managed to unpack enough clothes to last a couple of days, make up my bed, and bring enough order to the room to be satisfied. My eyes were almost closing …

It took a few more days to clear out the rest of the suitcases but I’m delighted with my new room! It’s light and quiet, and I can’t imagine a better place to wake up in :)

New home

Malaysia.

My love life will never be simple. Just when I go and fall for somebody, he has to leave to go and work in India for a few months …

Determined that a little thing like six thousand miles wouldn’t stop us though, in the last week of my garden leave we both headed to Kuala Lumpur for a long weekend.

The flights worked out reasonably well considering, but when I landed at 4:30am, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the three hour wait for Silvio’s flight to arrive from Bangalore. The minutes ticked by while I turned down numerous offers for a taxi, until finally he arrived, and both exhausted, we got a cab and headed through heavy morning traffic to our hotel.

As we arrived, we were directed to the 25th floor – ahhhh, the advantages of gold status! Free breakfast, a quiet room with lots of sofas … after travelling all night, all we wanted to do was eat, shower and chill out. It was lovely not to need to go anywhere!

Exploring the hotel pool

We explored the hotel and swimming pool a bit later, I mooched around the spa admiring all the nice smelling soaps and Silvio … found a body pump class that was running on Saturday. My first reaction was no way, we’re on holiday!! (I admit I did know the hotel offered gym classes, and deliberately did not pack gym gear). I came around to the idea, but not without quite a bit of whinging :)

Quackers gets a dip

Pool bar

Looking up at the hotel from the pool


The pool was beautiful – really huge, with the two wings of the hotel towering over it, and a bar with awesome cocktails, yummy food and shisha, I was very tempted!

In the evening, still recovering from travelling, we didn’t venture too far but the hotel had a nice sushi restaurant. I went a bit nuts, ordering too much as usual, couldn’t quite finish my nigiri! It was great though, the sushi in Sydney is not often that varied. The waiter recommended that we check out Chinatown after dark, as that’s when it gets busy and starts buzzing. We wanted to, but by the time dinner was finished all I felt like doing was collapsing in front of a movie! So we didn’t make it to Chinatown that night …

Friday, we headed up to the club lounge again for breakfast. There were people sitting there with laptops, it reminded me that I would have to go back to the real world of work pretty soon … But not yet!

Central Market

After brekkie, time to head out and see a little of the city. It was steaming hot and sticky, and we walked a fairly long way to get to Central Market. There were stalls outside but thankfully most of the market was inside a large air conditioned building! Fed up of carrying my camera, umbrella (it was supposed to be rainy season!) and various other crap, I bought a bag from one of the stalls. Then of course I had to find fridge magnets, one to add to my small collection and one to try and fit among the crowds of them on parents’ fridge freezer. I guess I’ve ruined the “surprise” now … (Mum, hope you can find some room for it!).

Unusual fruit for sale

Boys and their toys

Central Market


I wanted to go to the Menara KL (Kuala Lumpur Tower) which was sort of on the way back, if we took a funny route back. I was pretty amazed at myself that day for managing to read the paper map and actually get where I wanted to go – I’m usually hopeless at navigating, and that’s when I have the advantage of Google maps on my phone telling me exactly which direction I’m facing.

From the top of the tower

The tower was cool – in more ways than one. It was a bit of a walk up a hill to get in, and I think we were both glad of the air conditioning when we finally got there! The views were awesome though. From the top we could see across to the mountains, the Batu caves, and the beautiful Petronas towers with their flashing lights. We could even pick out our hotel, it looked tiny compared to how it appeared from the swimming pool.

Looking down on our hotel

The towers

More views across the city


There was only one place to go when we emerged back into the humidity: the hotel pool. We spent the afternoon enjoying the delights of the cool water and some yummy food.

Steak YUM

Bread and dips

Wine bottles at Prime


Later on, we headed out for dinner. India, apparently, is not the place to go for a nice large slab of grilled meat, and Silvio wanted to take advantage of being away for the weekend to go to a really good steak restaurant, something I definitely did not object to. Prime at Le Meridien had won several Time Out awards, so we were both pretty excited about having a meal there. It didn’t disappoint – I had a fillet mignon and it was just amazing, with a bottle of good red wine and tasty bread, and topped off with ice cream … perfect. The company was pretty nice too ;)

Orchid garden

Saturday, it was stonking hot and damp again, and this time we opted for public transport instead of a long sweaty walk, to get to the Orchid garden. It still ended up being a bit of a walk from the station – it was very pretty, although not quite as nice as I’d hoped. The best bit was the fountains, where at least you could try and cool off a little in the spray!

Unusual flowers

Trying to cool off

More flowers


By 2pm, we were back in the hotel, in our shorts and heading to the gym where we were the only two participants in Body Pump. With no proper gym clothes, I was improvising with my board shorts and Converse trainers – having lost a little weight recently, they were not ideal though, kept falling down during the squats :( Lucky really that the class was empty so there was nobody behind me!

I felt pretty damn good having done an hour of lifting weights. Endorphins from exercise, as well as relief that it was done :) The best bit was still to come though: jumping straight into the pool to cool down … ahhhh, bliss. We spent another afternoon lazing around, this time with cocktails as a reward for our hard work in the gym.

Cocktails

We finally made it to Chinatown on Saturday evening! It was kind of pretty, lots of lights, although not particularly unique – many more stalls with people shouting at us to buy tshirts, DVDs, watches, sunglasses … and it was definitely the hottest night so far. We eventually had to get inside to a restaurant to cool down, where we ordered noodles, but could have had frog. The entire meal that night was about ten dollars, it was unreal, pretty yummy too.

We could have had Frog

Pretty lights in Chinatown

Finally something to cool down with


After a hot walk back to the subway station, the train was air conditioned to the max, and freeeeeezing cold! Having complained for a significant part of the evening about being too hot, as soon as we got on the train Silvio decided he was too cold … and they call me a whinging pom! On the way back, I tried to take some good photos of the towers all lit up, although without a tripod it was a bit of a challenge.

Towers all lit up

Sunday was the last day and after walking around in the heat on Saturday, neither of us wanted to do more than laze around again all day. So we did. We finally made it to the hotel’s dim sum restaurant, where I indulged my desire for steamed char sui buns, can never get enough of those things!

I <3 pork balls!

Thanks again to Silvio’s gold card, we had a really late checkout, handy since both of our flights were leaving after 10pm. With an hour or so to go after checking out, we made the most of the last happy hour at the pool bar with wine, cocktails and a shisha – finally got one! After that it was back in the taxi, through the traffic, and parting company at the airport … until the next trip together, in July.

:)

It was a really amazing trip – despite predictions of thunderstorms and heavy rain, the weather was actually really beautiful, and the hotel was just wonderful luxury. It was a perfect few days away from the rest of the world, and I can’t think of anybody I’d rather have spent it with :)

Jetting off to Brisbane!

“School” is out, my birthday’s over, that must mean it’s nearly Christmas …

I’d been warned that having Christmas in the middle of summer would be weird, but I couldn’t quite understand why until I started seeing decorations around in Sydney. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas – usually, cold rainy weather and early darkness lit by lights twinkling in the streets would trigger thoughts of Christmas. In the (albeit relatively cool) early summer weather I kept forgetting about Christmas, until I saw a decorated tree or something looking strangely out of place in the sunshine.

On Tuesday, I headed out to the airport to catch a flight to Brisbane, where I was planning to spend Christmas with my Aussie cousins, Yolande and Claudia. I haven’t caught a flight since I arrived here over six weeks ago, which is quite a long time considering I’d flown so many times to Berlin and Edinburgh earlier this year for work. I wasn’t really looking forward to the flight, just relieved that it was such a short one, and I couldn’t wait to just get there.

I arrived at Brisbane airport to find Yolly looking cool and summery, and waiting with a huge double pram right outside the gate – she’d left her phone behind so it was lucky we found each other. Her girls looked at me shyly and Mya (aged 2 and a half) chewed her fingers and stared as I dragged my case off of the belt. She soon found her tongue when we got in the car – Yolly and I had loads to talk about, so she kept butting in with “Coos me mummy” (she can’t quite get the hang of “excuse me”!)

Bouncy bouncy!

It took a while to get back to Fernvale, where the girls had a huge new trampoline that Mya wanted to show me. Of course, I had to get on and have a go – well, they seemed to enjoy it far more when somebody else was jiggling them around instead of jumping on it themselves.

Mya announced that I was sleeping in her room (on a cute pink bed!) and she was excited to be sleeping on a mattress on the floor in her sister Ivy’s room. I got to help bath them, then Yolly and I cracked open the wine …

I met her husband-to-be Casey, who – when he found out I was living in Manly – declared “that’s not a real beach!” He’s never seen the UK beaches though :) The family were heading out to Fraser Island to camp on the beach after dropping me in Brisbane early Friday morning – “That’s a real beach!” – and we got Mya to say in a silly voice “we’re going to Fraser Island beach, yeah!”

Presents!

Mya makes short work of unwrapping her gift

Ooooh, shiny ...


Enjoying some lunch

The next morning, we had a grand opening of Christmas presents – since I wouldn’t be with the family for Christmas day, and I desperately wanted to see the girls ripping open their gifts. It was so much fun, and I was delighted that they seemed to like all the presents!

Later we were planning to head out to Queens Park in Ipswich – Yolly promised me native Australian animals – then ice cream afterwards at Cold Rock. I don’t know who was more excited, me or Mya … actually I do, it was me.

As we were preparing to go out, Casey decided to show me photos of this “real beach”. He ran through fifty or sixty shots from previous years’ holidays of beautiful white sand, sun blazing across huge dunes and clear blue water – including photos from the beach on Fraser Island, camp site and days out at Lake MacKenzie. It was gorgeous, and somewhere deep in my subconscious, the wheels started to spin.

Ivy having a stroll

The weather was a bit unpredictable, so we headed to the park first before it rained. We sat down to eat – one minute Mya was sitting on the grass happily eating, then she suddenly said, “itchy, mummy …” – the next thing we knew, the poor little thing had ant bites on her bum! She was so upset, but after a few cuddles she cheered up and we wandered around the animal enclosures – there were wallabies, emus, kangaroos and some more familiar animals like pigs and ducks (I said they should have called the pigs Ham and Bacon).

Baby Ivy wanted to walk, which she can do pretty well while holding on to somebody – I was desperately hoping she might take a couple of steps alone, but she’s still a bit too young.

Cold Rock - Yum!


We got the massive pram out to go to Cold Rock, where we all ate far too much sugary ice cream (including Quackers who had come along for the trip)! We then fought our way through the Christmas shoppers to find shoes for Ivy, and I began to see why Yolly doesn’t really like shopping with the kids in tow! On the way in, we ran into their friends Anthony and Steph and their kids, who were also going on the Fraser Island trip. “We’re dropping Jo back to Brisbane before we go,” Yolly said, “but we wish she could come!”

I bet you can guess what’s coming … on our way out of the mall I turned to Yolly. “I bet it wouldn’t be too expensive to just change my flight home so I could come with you to Fraser Island …” Those photos were still flashing through my mind like a slideshow. “I actually brought the right kind of clothes – I even have two bikinis …”

Yolly didn’t need any convincing, and on the drive home we were already checking flights and making plans. We had one more stop to make though … there were some hungry chickens at Casey’s dad’s house, needing feeding while he was away. It was quite an adventure getting them all fed, and finally getting them back into their coop – Yolly had to entice them back with a bucket of food.

Back home, we still had a couple of people to check with before I could confirm the trip to Fraser Island, since I was supposed to be spending Christmas with Claudia … she told me to take the chance to go, and hopefully we’ll see each other in Sydney sometime soon :)

Flights sorted, I was getting excited, and then Casey decided to enlighten me about the toilet arrangements on the beach … or rather, the lack thereof. Yep, we would be taking a shovel and toilet roll into the sand dunes … enough said! Other than that though, this would be luxury camping :)

Meeting the family!


The next day we headed into Brisbane to meet Yolly’s mum Claire, and the rest of her brothers and sisters, who I’d never met as they all live in Oz. It was fantastic to meet a whole part of the family I never knew before, although a little bit intimidating – especially as I was not exactly dressed to impress, with casual shorts and no make up! They were all lovely (of course) but all too soon we had to go and finish getting ready for the big trip!

Yolly and I headed off for more shopping and found some cool floaty toys and a body board in K-Mart, then it was home then off out again for the big food shop.

I love shopping, any kind of shopping, but pushing two trollies around Woolies with two small children was definitely a different kind of shopping experience. Having never planned for a ten day camping trip for five people before, I was next to no help (except perhaps in the chocolate aisle, where I may have been a little too MUCH help). We left with two massive trollies of food, and then I got boxes of wine from the liquour store!

Back home, Yolly and Casey were rushing around trying to sort out the packing, running out for ice boxes and making arrangements for the dog, and we managed to squeeze some dinner in somehow. I lazily headed off to bed while Yolly finished off the rest of her packing, and she and Casey packed the trailer. Just time for a few hours’ sleep before getting up to head off for the big adventure …

Working for a living … and spending my earnings.

After three and a half weeks “on the beach” (as we call it at ThoughtWorks, when we’re not working on a client project) it was time to start earning a proper living. I started work at my new client on Wednesday this week. No more rolling out of bed at nearly 8am and getting on the 9:20 ferry – now I have to be at my desk and working by 9am! That means getting up at six thirty-ish and leaving home in time to catch the 8am ferry. Lucky it’s only a five minute bike ride!

The last three days of the week flew past faster than any others since I arrived, with so much to do setting up a new project. The beginning is always the most exciting. There are just two of us (myself and another consultant called Hari), trying to build a working website within six weeks – it’s going to be challenging, but that’s what I like!

The building where I’m working is above a mall – it has about thirty floors, and the higher ones have gorgeous views across the water. Sadly, Hari and I are working on the second floor, but we have nice, big desks and plenty of wall space. We only have to go down a floor to find coffee or lunch, and we get to see the view when we have meetings on the upper floors.

Enough about work though.

This week I also decided it was time to get a bit more serious about exercise, and so I’ve joined Fight Gym. I used to really enjoy doing boxing exercises at the gym in Edinburgh – with pads, rather than hitting a real person – and I wanted to find a kick-boxing class. Fight Gym hold different kinds of boxing classes every night of the week as well as lunchtimes, and have two locations: one near work and one near home. I was a bit nervous going for my first couple of classes as the website emphasises how much hard work it is, but it’s SO much more fun than boring treadmills and cross trainers. It doesn’t hurt to let off a bit of steam after a tough day either! Not that I’ve had any of those out here … yet.

My run from home to Shelly Beach, along the Steyne

Other than boxercise, I’m also trying to run occasionally. I haven’t tried running on the sand yet, but I did make it about 5k on Friday night – from home to Shelly Beach, all the way along the Steyne, looking out across the beach. It’s a lovely route and nice and flat, but I do feel quite unfit sometimes!

Other than the gym, I went out for a couple of drinks near Darling Harbour after work one night, but the 6:30 start got the better of me and I had to leave early! (Not like you Jo, I can hear you say!)

Saturday was the Global Day of Code Retreat – developers all over the world were meeting up to practice writing code. It probably is as geeky as it sounds, but I had a fantastic day writing Ruby and Coffeescript … OK, OK, megabytes, blah, blah, I’ll leave it there, save it for my technical blog. Rachel and I had gone together, and by the end of the day we were both shattered.

I didn’t feel like going home though, so after dropping off the laptop and a quick change I headed over to meet Marie-Claire – another fellow Manly-dweller who has just moved into a new flat. I love that going to see my friends here is so easy and chilled, unlike London where it’d take up to an hour to get anywhere. That’s what I thought, anyway, until I tried to cycle up the STEEP hill where Marie-Claire lives – ooowwwww, my legs! (I didn’t even make it very far).

We ended up going out for dinner at Yok Thai – she skateboarded there, behind the bike! – and I had an amazing Thai green curry. Finally, home to collapse.

Sunday was shopping day! Rachel and I had planned to hit Warringah Mall and her housemate Viv joined us. Some days I can go shopping and not find anything much to buy (OK, not often) and others I want to buy everything, well, today was definitely one of those days where I wanted to buy everything.

I found some nice new clothes for work – some great trousers and a wrap around skirt, and accidentally ran into a little silk dress in Kookai that I fell in love with … Oh, I do love to shop.

A proper day out shopping!

Rachel was spending more of her “furniture budget” (the money we have from ThoughtWorks to furnish our new homes in Sydney when we arrive on a temporary contract) – mine is almost gone now! As well as clothes though I did find some gorgeous aromatherapy “melts” and an oil burner in a lovely little shop called Dusk. I also bought my first (and probably only!) Christmas decoration – a little SnowShopper called Pippa (I think). It’s a snowman (snowwoman?) with a candle inside and a little handbag, and she looks very cute lit up on my dressing table.

Viv was disappointed not to find anything to buy, at the last minute she rushed back but the shops were closing :( Rachel and I definitely had more than our fair share of purchases though! What a great way to spend a rainy Sunday … oh yes, people, Sydney is rainy and COLD! I went to bed last night wearing a fleecy top, this is not how early summer is supposed to be here. It looks like next weekend might be warmer, so fingers crossed, I want to get out on my surfboard.

That’s it for now, a bit of a long rambly one, sorry about that! I have been hearing from people that they are actually reading my waffle though, so wanted to keep writing, I like to feel we’re keeping in touch :)

Rachel bought a cute mirror


My "SnowShopper" candle, Pippa


Quackers got a friend!

It’s been a busy few days since I last blogged.

Saturday

Marie-Claire getting married to Richard on the beach

I moved into my new home in Manly … then went to a wedding party for the afternoon! The move was the quickest I’ve ever done – then again I only had a couple of suitcases to take.

Marie-Claire was-Jenkins-now-Dean got married in the morning on the beach, after skateboarding to the wedding. She had been the most chilled out bride-to-be I’ve ever seen all week at work, the biggest stress had been figuring out how to transport home the mountains of flowers that arrived at the office on Friday afternoon.

Mmmm, cake ... with coconut icing

The wedding party took place at their apartment complex, outside on the roof terrace with a pool. The weather was perfect, really hot and sunny (many people misjudged the sun and got sunburnt, I ended up with a small patch on one arm).

In the evening I hung out with Rachel at Manly Wine for a couple of glasses of bubbly, in a dress borrowed from my new housemate Chelsea while I waited for my luggage to arrive on Monday. It was amazing to just be able to walk from home to the bar, no need for a coat, no messing about tube trains, and on top of that a lovely walk by the sea to get there.

Sunday

Furniture shopping day! I had planned to go to Ikea to hunt for a wardrobe, but after measuring up, Chelsea took me to Furniture Land and Harvey Norman. I found a huge wardrobe and she negotiated a discount and fast delivery!

No Ikea trip needed, it must be time to head to the beach – I met up with Rachel and a couple of her friends to go to Shelly beach, a sheltered bay just a ten minute walk around from South Steyne. It’s got more sand but less ocean, although I managed to take my first dip! The water is still pretty cold and it took me a good ten minutes to immerse myself in it. There were a group of divers floating around as well – I guessed they were doing an open water course, I’ve heard they use Shelly Beach a lot for the confined water skills, as it’s so calm. It made me impatient to get back into my scuba kit!

In the evening, on the way home from the offy with a couple of bottles of wine, I discovered Pro Divers on Pitt Street and decided to drop in and say hi. Turns out they might be grateful of an extra pair of hands sometimes, so I might even be able to get some free diving – yay!

On the way home, I bumped into Andrea, a friend from work who lives just around the corner, and she came back to see my new place and share a glass of wine.

Monday

My cases have arrived, all wrapped up!


My luggage arrived on Saturday, but I had to wait until Monday morning for customs to open and clear it. I headed out to the airport, easy enough to get there on the train but then I had to walk back and forth in the scorching sun, from Qantas Freight to customs, quarantine and back.

I tried to smile and be as polite as possible to customs, and luckily all my bags were cleared! They arrived on a forklift truck in the unloading bay, wrapped in layers upon layers of packing film – Dad had certainly made sure they were well protected!

After unpacking as much as I could, I had to work for the afternoon, then it was time for the beach! It was still steaming hot and such a relief to get into the cold water … still took me a while to get all the way in though. The waves are much bigger on North Steyne beach (the closest one to my pad), it was great fun playing around in them although a bit worrying as they have been known to tear away bikini parts … luckily I kept hold of mine :)

Tuesday

Andrea and I met for a morning run, I made it from Manly Surf club on North Steyne beach to Shelly beach and part of the way back (~2.5k) before getting too hot and puffed! I haven’t done much exercise in the last few weeks and it shows :( The best bit was jumping in the waves again once we finished!

I caught the ferry to work for the first time – it’s a lovely way to travel, especially compared to the tube – fresh air and lots of space, for a start.

During another quiet day on “the beach” at work (in other words, I’m not yet working on a client project) I searched ebay for a good deal on a bike. The walk from home to the ferry is just over 15 minutes, but so much quicker on a bike, and loads of people here have bikes with baskets to use for shopping as well. I found one for a really good price, located around the corner, and stopped by on the way home to collect it.

I cycled home in my flip flops, trying unsuccessfully to keep my dress from blowing up. I even got asked by a surfer dude, “Can I have a go?” – I’m not sure if he was referring to the bike or my dress!

Wednesday

Sunset from my back yard by iPhone ... better pics coming soon hopefully!


The highlight so far today is finding a new (and cheap!) battery for my DSLR camera – I seem to have lost the last one somewhere in my packing :( I miss Amazon here, but ebay is so far proving a good source for pretty much everything.

I’m hoping that I can now start taking some decent photos to include on the blog to make it a bit more interesting!

Note: Thanks to Marie Claire and Lizi Hamer for posting the photos on Facebook and letting me use them!

Working Girl

It was back to reality this morning, time to face the rat race and hit the office. Luckily I’m not assigned to a project just yet, so I could take it a bit easy, and I arrived at 10am to a nice relaxed start to the day.

Going to work in Sydney, the atmosphere is actually pretty similar to London, just hot, sunny and much less grey. But the commuters still bustle about, the roads are jammed and the traffic lights take forever to change. My walk to work takes less than fifteen minutes from my temporary flat in the centre of town, but despite the convenience I can’t wait to get out of the city to the leafy ‘burbs. It seems such a waste of the glorious weather to be in the city.

At work, I soon find out that my first project will start next Monday, although we’ll be going to meet with the client tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday). I’ll have to introduce myself and talk about the projects I’ve done for ThoughtWorks. It’s not an interview as such, but it kind of feels like one – hope jet lag doesn’t kick in and frazzle my brain!

The project sounds really exciting and different to anything else I’ve done. There will be just two of us, working together to demonstrate how we can use agile techniques to produce something really quickly – the target is to finish a project within six weeks. We don’t know for sure what the project will be yet, but we’ll hopefully have a lot of control over how we do it, and with such a small team there should be a lot less communication overhead, so more scope to really make it work. We’ll both have to cover all of the usual project roles though (analysis, testing, project management, and anything else they throw our way!), which is going to be an interesting challenge.

Needed a new skirt for my smart new office-to-be!

We’ll be working with .NET which I’m pretty happy about – having just come off a .NET project, it’s fresher than Java! – although we will have to use Windows which is less thrilling.

My teammate Hari and I spend some time brainstorming how we could approach the project and try to prepare our laptops, but the internet is throwing a bit of a tantrum today and we can’t get much done. I have a sparkling new Macbook Pro from the Sydney office, it has a super fast hard drive and loaded up with Lion – I’m loving the new swishy gestures.

The internet is creaking more and more and eventually I give up and head out to find a skirt suitable to wear at the client, until the rest of my clothes arrive. Everything is expensive in Sydney! I find a cute black and white skirt in Gap, meanwhile it’s starting to rain – what happened to the sunshine? :(