Posts Tagged ‘life’

The Christmas that was

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

A friend just asked me what my New Year resolutions are and I told him that I didn’t have any. I think this might be a slight lie. I always set resolutions, well aware that I won’t stick to them. But I need something to work towards and challenge myself with. I’m not entirely sure what they are yet (although reducing my sugar intake from its current excessive heights is definitely up there) but I know I want to return to writing more on my blog. I have been neglecting it lately and now that I have two large essays to write I find myself drawn back to the safety of my own personal writing. So much easier than scary academia.

December has been a crazy month – I spent a lot of it laughing/crying hysterically and pulling on my hair whenever someone asked me how I was. A lot of people had to put up with a manic Jess as I went a little bit nuts working on a group exhibition for uni. Thirty five people attempting to organise one exhibition does not make for relaxed times but the end result was surprisingly great. I will write about this in a separate post a little later.

exhibition

Proof that I am learning stuff.

I also had a written group assignment to put together, plus two other large essays looming. They’re still looming. Really. Need. To. Write. Them.

Plus paid writing work has been flowing in steadily which has kept me fed and housed. It has been lovely that so many of my clients have been willing to stick with me as I country hopped over the last few months. Being able to juggle university and paid writing work has been life saving. I don’t think I could handle a ‘real job’ at the moment.

And then there was Christmas. Once again, Jess McScrooge came out and I managed to avoid the Christmas markets until the final day when I stocked up on my favourite dutch almond slice. I am exceptionally lucky to have some exceptionally welcoming family members in this country and was invited to spend Christmas with them. It was a small and relaxed gathering (well, relaxed for me because I didn’t have to do anything!) with plenty of delicious food and a mulled wine or two.

On Boxing Day we went for a windy walk up Bosley Cloud, somehow managing to avoid the rain. We ate fruit mince pies at the top, a feat that required two hands in order to stop the wind from steal our pastry crumbs.

mince pie at Bosley Cloud

Pie and a view.

I had another large family gathering yesterday at another cousin’s house and it has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a great family around. Sure, they may all be a bunch of oddballs, but who isn’t? Much laughter was had. They’re a good bunch.

Now New Years approaches. I’m quite excited to see what 2016 brings – I already know it will be challenging as a dissertation awaits. If anyone has any thoughts on what I should write about, please let me know because I currently have no idea. Thanks.

Oops.

Friday, December 4th, 2015

So another month has passed and I am now three months into My Life in Manchester Part II. Every day I think “I should write a blog post” and then I do the copious amounts of uni work and work-work instead. I have decided to take a little time out to write about little old me again. I miss writing my blog posts and I’m certain you miss reading them. Ha!

Uni is seriously great. Never before have I been so excited about the fact that I have to write a 6000 word essay. It would appear that studying something that you actually love is really rewarding and inspiring – even if it does involve group work. My poor group members have had to deal with “grumpy old Jess” as their team leader and have had to learn what my frowning face means. Next Saturday, however, the class pop-up exhibition that we have been working on for the last semester is going to happen. I’m terrified – there is huge potential it is going to be dreadful. However, I am lowering my expectations so that I will be pleasantly surprised, and anyone who is planning on visiting the exhibition should do the same.

rain

Rainy day blues

Winter has been trying to arrive over the last couple of week. It has been raining a lot which doesn’t do much for moral – lucky the Christmas markets are on! Not. I have managed to escape them this year as I no longer live in the centre of town. Saying that, I did manage to find some festive cheer the other Saturday and I bought myself a hot, giant stroopwafel. It made me love Christmas just a little bit.

I really shouldn’t leave this blog writing for so long because I have lots of things to talk about but my inner professional writing nerd knows that no one really wants to read long blog posts. So I’m going to go now. I promise to write again soon.

Two-month-iversary

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Today I have been back in Manchester for two months which currently seems like the longest two months in the history of time. So much has happened in those 60-something days that it feels like I have really been here for at least a year.

Things are settling down nicely now – I have steady work, uni is really great, I’ve been going out lots and continuing to have many adventures. Fun times!

University of Manchester

Blue skies at the University of Manchester

Last night my housemate, Alice, and I went to the Royal Exchange to see the latest show, Pomona. It is a dark and gritty tale about an underworld that exists beneath Manchester and an abandoned plot of land called Pomona. This area actually exists and I used to run past it when I went along the canal towpath, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if organ harvesting really was happening underneath there. Anyway, it was a great night of theatre and if you like swear words, sexual references and a bit of blood and gore then this is the show for you!

On the weekend I went for a walk in Delamere Forest in Cheshire with Garden Boy (Jon) to make the most of the autumn colours and to forage for mushrooms. The trees are incredible at the moment although some recent rain has meant the footpaths are now covered in very soggy leaves that are making their way through the soles of my boots (because, of course, yet another pair of my shoes now have holes in the bottom of them. Bah.) It was nice to get out of the city and wander through some woods, although I did keep pointing out to Jon that this supposed “escape from the city” did include seeing lots of other people and hearing the motorway. We also didn’t find any mushrooms which I entirely blame Jon for. Calls himself a Garden Boy…

Delamere forest

All the pretty leaves.

And in other news, I have signed up for the Manchester Marathon in April next year. Oops.

I’m still here

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I have realised that my blogging frequency has dropped significantly in the last few months. My apologies if this has affected anyone, although I suspect it hasn’t caused any great distress. I thought I would provide a brief overview of why I have become slack on the writing front.

Work.

I am up to Job #7 at the Subiaco Council and Job #6 required significantly more concentration and effort than jobs 1 through 5. I really enjoyed Job #6. But now I’m moving on. It is amazing how attached to a company you can become – I will now passionately defend the Subiaco town centre and argue against any negative comments that are made about it and its parklets. THERE IS PLENTY OF PARKING. Now stop complaining.

I have made lots of great friends at work which has been a massive bonus, and for some reason people seem to think that I know stuff about writing and whatnot. Strange but lovely. I’m going to miss these folk. Once again, I find myself in the position of having gained the friendship of such fantastic people and having to say goodbye. At least most of them say they’ll come and visit me, but I don’t think any have actually googled Manchester and looked at the weather forecast.

Visas.

My flight to Manchester leaves in 35 days. I am still uncertain as to whether or not I will be on it. Having finally received an application number from the University of Manchester, I was able to start my online application for my student visa. What I had expected to be a fairly straight forward process turned out to be a ridiculously complicated application. Why I thought it would be easy, I’m not sure as visa applications never, ever are.

There are always two or three questions that make absolutely no sense, have no explanation or require you to search through a 100-page document that is briefly mentioned in another form in order to find some sort of answer for it. If someone asked you “Do you have an existing presence in the UK?” what would you answer? Exactly. Thanks to an exceptionally helpful person in the visa office at the university, I think I have managed to complete the application correctly.

However I then needed to attend an ‘interview’ at a dodgy office on St George’s Terrace where I sat in a room full of swivel chairs waiting to hand over precious documents such as my passport. Every time I have been in this situation, I have left feeling like I won’t get the visa and that I have committed some sort of fatal error. People who work in visa application centres must have hours of training in the art of making people doubt themselves. Have I supplied all of the correct documents? Have I forgotten something? Is that an original or a photocopy? Is that really how I spell my name? Nothing is certain.

And so we wait.

Life.

The rest of my time has been filled with meeting up with friends, celebrating my Grandma’s 93rd birthday, spending as much time as possible with my family and giving guide-dog Eva lots of pats.

I’ve also started training for the City to Surf marathon. I thought that completing another marathon before I’m 30 would potentially be a good idea. The more I train for it, the more I question this logic. I ran 30 kilometres last Saturday and by kilometre ten I was ready to go home. However my plan of running a marathon in the morning of 30 August, having birthday drinks with my friends in the afternoon, turning 30 on the 1 September and then flying to Manchester two days later to start Jess’s Socially Irresponsible Adventure #328 is quite pleasing.

And that’s the crux of it.

The Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess Continue

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Did you know that one in every 50 to 100 million lobsters are born with ‘split cells’ – the cell in the egg splits in two and one half of the body is formed from one cell and the other half from the other. This means that half of the lobster can be bright orange and female while the other side is black and male. Pretty cool.

This is Sir Pubert Gladstone’s current ‘Favourite Fact’ and each time he tells his slightly exaggerated version I can’t help but feel somewhat connected with how these lobsters must feel. The left half wants to build a home, settle down, have friends over for dinner and make lots of lobster babies, while their crazy right side wants to explore the seabed, try new algae and see what’s happening on the other side of the ocean.

I have spent the last four years letting my ‘Crazy Right’ take control – moving to Paris, refusing to leave, and then deciding that a sojourn in Manchester was a better option than going home. My left side has accepted this right sided dominance by simply insisting on having a nice apartment to come back to and, lately, a form of employment (sort of). While I love the adventure and excitement of discovering new places, I don’t particularly enjoy change, I hate the unknown and I would really, really like to know what I am doing with my life. Ha.

A year or so ago, I was quite sure that my country hopping was coming to an end and that the sunshine and warmth of the great southern land was calling me home. Around this time I recall telling my friends that I thought I would be heading back to Australia but if they asked me again in six months time I would most likely be working out how to stay. How correct I was! As the end of my time in England drew dramatically closer and the more I thought about leaving, the more I wanted to chain myself to a lamp post outside the Manchester Town Hall.

And so I have spent the last few months working out how to stay or at least return in the near future. My only feasible option, that doesn’t involve breaking the law, is to become a student. Luckily, my extreme dissatisfaction with my current lack of career path and the fact that I don’t actually want to be a copywriter for the rest of my life (ooh, controversial) has meant that I have been contemplating a change of direction for some time (since about 2009 to be specific.). What appropriate timing! So I sent in an application to study at the University of Manchester and then sat back and waited to hear if I had been accepted.

And yesterday, I heard back.

Good news, kids – I, Jessica Davies, will be returning to Manchester in September to study a Masters in Art Gallery and Museum Studies. This is, of course, unless the UK Home Office comes up with some ridiculous new visa law preventing Australians from completing educations in England and paying exorbitant amounts of money to do so.

So the Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess continue. In this episode we will watch as Jess, having turned the ripe old age of 30, returns to university to start an entirely new line of career. Not only will she not have any money, she will also be even further away from the more acceptable life path of ‘husband/children/white picket fence/promotion to senior management’ that one would expect of a 30 year old. Her most valuable possession will be her suitcase and even that was given to her by her parents.

Now all I have to do is go back to Australia, wait for a few months, and come back to hang out with people half my age. I’m somewhat disappointed that I will not be allowed to complain about the influx of students in Manchester in September as I will be one of them. I will try and be less annoying though.

On This Day…

Monday, November 17th, 2014

I have just had a quick skim read of my blog posts on and around the 17 November in 2010/11/12/13 and it has made me quite pleased that I write all of this random drivel and chuck it into big bad world of THE INTERNET. So what was I up to, I hear you ask with excitement and vigour? Well!

In 2010, I was in Sydney applying for my first travel/work visa to go to France. These were exciting times as I suddenly had permission to go and live in my favourite city in the world and I was in Sydney eating cheese with my best friend, Gill. What more could a girl ask for?

In 2011, I was writing 50,000 words in one month for NaNoWriMo (a task I managed to successfully complete) and I had tripped over whilst running along the Canal Saint Martin in Paris, horrendously injuring my knees. Or at least, that’s how I made it seem.

In 2012, I was eating cake and enjoying Beaujoulais Nouveau in Paris while attending exhibition openings that I made a small appearance in. Ooh la la!

In 2013, I had recently met the Queen. That’s how I roll.

So that’s not bad really. Not bad at all.

Manchester Update

Friday, November 14th, 2014

I feel that I haven’t written a general “This is life in Manchester” update in sometime. As I am currently at a loose end with a desire to write something but a disinclination for that to be anything work related, Manchester has become my topic for this here post. It is like to turn into a ramble with no clear point or purpose and will therefore also be a clear insight into the nonsensical workings of my brain. Good luck, dear readers.

Date: 13 November 2014
Current time:
3.51pm
Weather: 
Windy and overcast but not raining. And it isn’t that cold, really. These are all very positive things.
Amount of sunlight left remaining in the day:
Not a lot. What is sunlight?

I am currently sitting in a room above one of Manchester’s hippest hipster bars. The same hip hop tunes that have been playing on repeat for the last month are continuing strong from the speakers in the bar below. I’m not sure how many more times I can hear that he is killing her softly with his song without turning to similar violence.

Winter is, thankfully, taking its time to arrive. Talk about town includes, “Gosh, it is unseasonably warm, don’t you think?” with most people not having pulled out their winter jackets yet. It won’t last, of course. Particularly not now that the Christmas markets are opening on Friday and people will be wanting to wander around outside.

The Christmas Markets are apparently going to be bigger and better than ever before, which I take to mean that instead of four over priced fudge stalls owned by the same company there will be five. And it will not be physically possible to walk across Manchester without being forced to walk past stalls selling tacky christmas ornaments and novelty hats. Step outside and you will instantly smell like a german sausage. Yes, I admit that part of me enjoys the sights, smells and fairy lights of the markets, but that’s the same part of me that wanted to go to Blackpool. Give me an hour and I will want to leave.

Santa statue

Mega Santa takes over Manchester.

Every weekend, the city centre seems to be getting busier and busier with the main shopping strip, Market Street, becoming a human wave of shoppers. In September and October it was the sudden influx of students that ruined my commute to and from work when suddenly I was having to dodge hundreds of students carrying pillows and staring at their mobile phones as I tried to walk home. Now everyone is getting into the ‘Christmas Spirit’ and is out shopping for Timmy, Susan and Pedro’s christmas presents. One day I want to walk down Market Street in a very straight line and see how many people I manage to walk into. It would be the ultimate game of Chicken and I think I would score quite highly.

On a more positive note, the warm temperatures have meant that while the sun doesn’t get up until after 7am and has disappeared by 4.30pm, the weather has been remarkably good. My morning runs haven’t turned icy yet although I am having to avoid running along dark canals in order to not be murdered.

With two months and 17 days left on my visa, time is rapidly disappearing. But the closer my imminent departure gets, the keener I am to stick around. Yes, Manchester is dark, dirty and drizzly, but I like this place. It is growing and changing and becoming a seriously cool city. So the plan is to next year become one of those annoying pillow-carrying students and walk up and down Market Street bumping into people. Mostly because students in Manchester get a discount on almost EVERYTHING and I love a bargain.

The 29th Year That Was

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

My birthday has been and gone and I realised I haven’t had time to ‘think and reflect’ on the year that was. And we all know I love a good reflection! So let’s do it – in some sort of random point form!

  • This time last year I was in Croatia with my best friend, Gill. Good times were had, great food was eaten. I am now Personally-Elected-Faux-Aunty-Jess to her beautiful daughter, Stephanie. Apparently babies can happen in a year.
  • I worked at the Co-Operative as an IT Analyst, helping people with their IT issues. Then I was laid off due to slight economic issues at the Co-Op.
  • I had a rather gross case of conjunctivitis. That was less of a highlight.
  • I went to Wales a few times.
  • I went to Scotland and saw the Edinburgh Festival and Loch Ness.
  • Christmas happened. Ate lots. That’s about it.
  • Spent New Year’s dancing in my brother’s lounge room and playing Celebrity Heads.
  • Climbed a big(ish) hill in the Lake District.
  • Went to London once or twice.
  • Explored lots of really cool places within a 2 hour drive of Manchester.
  • Saw gravy wrestling, worm charming and chicken racing.
  • Moved apartment and started sharing a house for the first time in my life. My housemate is AWESOME.
  • Am currently dating a man who once sold burritos. He hasn’t made me a burrito yet so the verdict is still out.
  • Started writing for Yelp and have since received lots of AMAZING FREE FOOD AND DRINK. Best writing decision ever.
  • Started working full-time in The Classroom and now Zaum is a fully-fledged and somewhat profitable copywriting business (contact me for all of your wordy needs.)
  • Went to a conference in York. I felt very professional about that.
  • Attended a couple of weddings.
  • Met lots of cool people and made lots of great new friends.
  • Grew cos lettuce.
  • Didn’t poison myself, fall off any high places or break any bones. That’s a successful year, right there!
  • Oh yeh, I ran a marathon and a half marathon.
  • Went to Paris. That was fun.
  • Learnt that networking is good for you.
  • Ate a seriously large amount of food and managed to not get fat.
  • Had multiple picnics next to things on top of hills.
  • Generally survived another year without doing anything that wrong.

It has been a year of less travel than my previous years, mostly due to travel requiring money and me not having much of that. But as a result, I have managed to settle more into life in Manchester and have built myself a very cosy nest with friends, family, work, food and fun. And as the time on my visa slowly ticks away, I become less and less inclined to pack up my stuff and move yet again. So if anyone wishes to donate £200,000 to the “Keep Jess in England” fund and/or marry me, that would be GREAT! Until then, stay tuned for more exciting adventures in the World of Jess.

A Year Passes

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Time. It’s a magical thing. I don’t think we will ever really understand how it works and why it works that way. Speeding up and slowing down without warning and generally disappearing before your eyes. You may have noticed by now that when I start talking about time it is due to the day being of some sort of ‘anniversary-like’ significance in The World of Jess. Today… wait for it… my One Year UK-Versary!

On this day one year ago, I dragged two suitcases and a backpack from my apartment in Paris, caught two trains and crossed a large channel of water to eventually arrive in a surprisingly sunny Manchester. And there I stayed for 365 days making a new life for myself in ‘The North’. So what happened in that time? What was achieved? What were the pros and cons? Do I have a Mancunian accent yet? Let’s reflect.

  • I found, moved into and will soon move out of an apartment in a really cool part of the city
  • Thanks to my very-extended-cousins, I visited many ye olde houses, castle ruins and generally cool places
  • I saw a lot of theatre and developed an interest in Shakespeare
  • I met a great, yet slightly odd, variety of people who I am honoured to call my ‘friends’
  • I went to Croatia for my birthday
  • I am starting to learn the difference between ales, bitters, lagers and stouts (etc) and have developed a taste for whisky
  • I met the Queen (from a distance)
  • I ran a marathon
  • I became a waitress and then quit as soon as possible
  • I got a job as an IT analyst (fancy-afied IT Help Desk phone answerer) and was then fired
  • I set myself up in a communal office space where I now have friends
  • I learnt how to ‘network’ and now don’t completely hate it
  • I went to Wales twice
  • I went to Sheffield quite frequently and got to hang out with my big brother a lot (Win.)
  • I saw Goldfrapp and Fanfarlo and Sarah Blasko
  • I stalked Paul Hollywood
  • I ate a lot of great food and some not so great food
  • I watched numerous parades in Manchester
  • I volunteered in the Manchester International Festival and got to see free things
  • I learnt how to respond to the locals’ “Y’orrigh?”
  • I became older and wiser.

That will do. The last dot point I actually believe to be true. This past year I have felt strangely “adult” as opposed to “just some kid who can’t settle down.” Moving and living in another country on your own is tough and I’m quite proud of my achievements and the fact that I haven’t gone completely insane. Living in Manchester has been a lot easier than Paris for many reasons – language, politics, administration etc. But mostly because of the close proximity of my family members. It has been a huge relief to be able to spend time with my brother and with my very-extended-cousins who have accepted their long lost Australian relative like a daughter.

So now what? Another year (well 11 months now) awaits full of exciting adventures and potential. I have no idea what is going to happen and that’s great. Bring on round two.

Hello Manchester!

Hello Manchester!

So Long, 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

This is going to be a short entry as I have a train to catch. I am off to Sheffield to celebrate the arrive of 2014 with my brother and his girlfriend. I am crashing their celebrations as the New Year snuck up on me and other plans didn’t come into fruition – lucky them!

Normally at this time I would write a long reflection on the year that has passed and then plans for the year ahead. Sometimes this is a good idea, other times not so much and I end up questioning my logic for choosing an unfocused life country hopping and ignoring career paths. Today would most likely result in the latter so I am going to simply focus on five positive points for 2013. Ready?

  1. I moved country. That’s a biggie.
  2. I ran a marathon. Again, not bad.
  3. I met new people, made new friends and started a brand new life as a northerner.
  4. I got a job (wow.)
  5. I had fun while doing all of the above.

Who knows what will happen in 2014? No one except magical future seeing people and I’m not even sure they know the details. All I know is that it is another year filled with opportunity for great adventure, new friends, and moments of pure craziness.

Happy New Year, my friends.