I think I might need my long johns.
In April last year last year I told you about my great underwear crisis: my Australian brand Davenport boxers are not available in Britain, and neither are Holeproof Explorer socks. Luckily Pam came to my rescue with the boxer shorts (some more are on request at the moment!) and Mark picked up some Explorer socks when he was in Australia in August (though they’re not as good a product as they used to be).
Being the Christmas/New Year party season, my thoughts have recently turned to Australian snack foods that I miss. I would kill for some BBQ Shapes (above). Alas, no Arnott’s products are readily available in UK supermarkets. When I was a university student I used to work at the Arnott’s factory in Burwood. There was nothing like a fresh BBQ Shape straight off the conveyor belt.
I have just found a specialty online store called Sanza. Based in the UK they import products for expats from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I have just spent half an hour looking through their stock fantasising about what I would put in my shopping cart.
This isn’t edible but it’s another Australian product hard to get my hands on. I used to used Eucalyptus Oil to get all those sticky adhesives off products where you remove the price tag and there’s residue left. Also great for other cleaning purposes. In Britain you can only get inferior brand oil in tiny bottles designed for aromatherapy.
Things SAZNA doesn’t stock: Heinz Concentrated Tomato Soup. You get Heinz soup in supermarkets here but they only do Cream of Tomato, which has milk added. This is disastrous when you make a bolognaise sauce (hey, I put in real tomatoes too!) – all this oil rises to the top and the taste is completely different. My lasagne has never been the same due to this. Also you cannot get Kraft Processed Cheddar Cheese, another staple in my lasagne, for the white sauce.
I contacted Sanza and they suggested I try Rosella Tomato Soup, which they stock. Unfortunately they can’t import the Kraft Cheese because it’s a dairy product.
I’m off now to fill my virtual shopping cart!
This time last year (NYE 2010/11) Oliver and Ruby were tiny kittens still living in the kitchen.
Two years ago (NYE 2009/10) we were staying at the Athenaeum in London having just arrived to live in the UK that afternoon.
Three years ago (2008/9) we were in Paris and had spent the day wandering around, shopping at Rue Cler for New Year’s Eve nibbles and we had wandered through the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in the afternoon.
Four years ago (2007/8) we must have been at the house in Murrumbeena…can’t quite remember.
2006/7 we had Pam, Nick and Dimitra celebrate with us at the house in Berwick.
2005/6…Pam, Jenny, Dimitra and Nick in Berwick.
2004/5 – Berwick. No photos of humans in my collection for reference, just Barbie dolls placed in compromising positions. Must have been at least Pam and Jenny? Emma? Hmm. Getting trickier now…
2003/4 – Big NYE at the house in McKinnon.
2002 – Big NYE with Pam, Jenny, Mark, Nick, Dimitra, Karla. We played Taboo. The house in McKinnon.
2001 – Didn’t take any photos but it was probably the biggest NYE we hosted. McKinnon.
2000 – Would have been McKinnon. Sorry getting hazy now…
1999 – We hosted a millennium party at the flat in East St Kilda.
That’s as far back as I’m willing to go…
Happy New Year to all!
The house is groaning with Christmas food and treats. Oliver has written his Christmas letter to Santa. We hosted a Christmas party for the neighbours earlier in the week. This afternoon I will ice the Christmas cake at 3 o’clock when BBC Radio 4 broadcasts the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge.
Our burglar alarm has been playing up. A couple of nights ago it decided to go off every twenty minutes from about 10 o’clock in the evening. The alarm is extremely loud and there is a bright blue strobe light that flashes out on the street. Luckily we got an engineer out to fix it at 11:30pm. Unfortunately it went off again at 7:10am. The engineer has returned and hopes that this time it is fixed for good.
I never finished my London posts – oops.
It told the story of transportation in London, from sedans to the horse and cart, the omnibus, the horse drawn tram, trains, the underground railway, buses and so on.
The museum also looks at the future of transportation in London. Next year the Emirates Air Line will be the newest public transport link in the city. The urban cable car system will cross the Thames joining Greenwich to the Royal Docks area.
There is also something called Crossrail coming. You can click on the above picture to make it bigger and read about it.
I also went to the theatre in London. I saw The Lion in Winter starring Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley and Death and the Maiden featuring Thandie Newton. It was a shame because The Lion in Winter was a sell-out and the theatre was full and I actually thought it was a bit disappointing, whereas there were only sixty-odd people at the Harold Pinter theatre to see Death and the Maiden, which I thought that was a superior play and production.
The highlight of my trip to London was the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A. Just brilliant. The V&A really does curate good exhibitions and they tell a story very clearly and with such flair.
It’s part Christmas market, part fun fair. There’s lots of mulled wine and German sausages to be had. It’s more fun at night when all the lights are on. You can see pictures here.
My favourite thing was the singing animated moose head. He sings carols with a thick German accent and then does comedy monologue material between numbers.
Tonight is the annual screening of the Muppet Christmas Carol. I have also been watching pantomimes all week on ITV4. We also discovered a 24 hour Christmas movie channel on our Virgin Media TV package.
Merry Christmas to all!
Hooray! Today’s snow was mixed with sleet and regular rain so it’s all a bit mushy outside. There were times though when proper snow – big, slow snowflakes – fell to the ground. Hopefully it won’t all freeze overnight and become troublesome ice.
I’ve been back for a few days but still haven’t done my London blog entries.
On Tuesday morning I took the Tube to Leicester Square and then walked down to Trafalgar Square. The Christmas tree looks very nice at night – you can see a picture here.
I patted my lion’s paw.
I was here to visit the National Gallery and see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. This has been the exhibition of the year in London and tickets sold out very quickly. A small number of tickets are released on the day for people who queue.
The queue for tickets stretched all the way down through that archway in the distance and and back again. People were facing waits of several hours and some would not get tickets at all. Apparently scalpers have been selling tickets for £400!
Regular readers will know that I am not the sort of person to queue, and in fact I can be quite smug when I beat the crowds (I know, it’s not my best side). Today was no exception. Here is my line at the other entrance – the one for people who already had tickets. Yes!
The exhibition was very good. The National Gallery had gathered together all of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings from the period when he was a painter at the court of Milan. The only work they didn’t have was The Last Supper, a fresco which remains attached to the monastery wall where it was painted in the fifteenth century. What the exhibition did have though was a full-size copy of The Last Supper painted by one of Leonardo’s students. This version is actually in much better condition than the original and shows details that have been lost on the original. There were also many sketches and drawing by Leonardo, as well as paintings from Milan by other artists from that period to show how he influenced them.
After that I dropped into the National Portrait Gallery and had a look a couple of their temporary exhibitions and had lunch. I followed this with a walk down Whitehall to Horse Guards Parade. I was planning to visit the Banqueting Hall but it was closed for a private function.
Instead I went back through to Covent Garden to visit the London Transport Museum, which had been on my list of places to visit for some time now. It was a great museum, plus they let you take photos, so I will post about it in a separate entry next time!
Andrew requested a close-up of the mirror in the glitzy bathroom. The lights and the digital clock are inside/behind the mirrored glass. You can see that it also illuminates the sink for you. You switch it on by waving your hand by a sensor on the lower left-hand side. As well as looking glitzy it’s great if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night but don’t want to switch on the bright overhead light.
Hello from London!
This is the BT Tower, formerly the Post Office Tower. I always think of the opening sequence of The Goodies when I see it – with the ten storey high white kitten destroying the London skyline. My apartment is in a building directly opposite. It’s an area of London called Fitzrovia, just west of Bloomsbury and the British Museum and south of Euston Station and Regents Park.
It was this apartment that caused me trouble the last time I was in London. The apartment became unavailable at the last minute due to building works (that glitzy bathroom!) so Jean, the owner, was desperately trying to find me alternative accommodation in London during Wimbledon. I ended up staying one night in London and then two nights in Windsor. Jean was very sorry for my inconvenience and offered a couple of nights accommodation free the next time I was in London, so I’m taking her up on the offer.
Luckily, I discovered my stowaway back home before I finished packing.
This afternoon I visited my Great Auntie Elsie and this evening I had a very nice meal at a Greek restaurant called Four Lanterns.
Tomorrow I am going to the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition.
Jolly good fun!
Oliver is due for his operation to extract some teeth on Monday. I’ve tried explaining it to him but he just keeps staring at me with big, innocent eyes.
The week after next I am going to London for a few days. I will visit my Great Auntie Elsie as well as see some plays and exhibitions, including the blockbuster daVinci exhibition. People are scalping tickets for £400. Luckily I bought mine legitimately a few months back.
The Christmas tree and wreath will be arriving from Scotland on the 9th December.
Mark received an advance copy of his book!
I hope to make the Christmas cake and pudding this weekend. I missed Stir Up Sunday last weekend as I was preparing for a dinner party.
I also need to write Christmas cards and the yearly update letter. I spent a lot of time doing it last year but only got a relatively small proportion of Christmas cards in return. I think people tend not to write Christmas cards these days. I am being harsh: if I send a card two years running without a reply I drop them from the list.
In January I am going to Switzerland. I was planning to take a guided tour with my friends Michelle and Margaret but the tour didn’t get the minimum number of bookings so it was cancelled. We decided to self-guide around Switzerland instead using the extremely efficient train system. I will be in Zermatt for my 40th birthday!
Hi everyone it’s Ruby!
This is game is called “Let’s Give Scott and Mark a Heart Attack”.
Here I am in position on the banister.
At this point I am two floors up! The trick is to make sure you wobble from side to side a bit to give Scott and Mark the full heart-pounding effect. Oliver does it best because he wobbles a bit more than me.
Rose is in training. In this picture you can probably make out the nice deep scratches we have left on the wooden handrail.
My turn! No it’s my turn!
Each one of us has fallen once and once only. We learn the hard way that it’s best to tumble onto the shallow side rather than go over.