Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Little Peugeot and the Magic Roundabout


So... my latest addiction is Scrabulous!!! It's Scrabble over the internet. Well, mainly Facebook, but I believe you can do it via email. If anyone wants a game, feel free to let me know!!! If you are already on Facebook, you need only download the application. If you are not, then you should join! Alternatively I think we can do it via the website.


My other addiction is So You Think You Can Dance! I just watched the whole third season in 3 days! I know it has started showing in Oz not that long ago. It's definintely worth a watch if you have not seen it before. The things these dancers can do, is just phenomenal. I guess as a try-hard dancer, it is easy to have an appreciation for the natural talent and the work ethic that the contestants have. The choreographers are also world class. Gideon hates the judges and the comments... but for me, their expertise also gives you more of an appreciation of the sheer skill involved...and, unlike Idol or X-Factor (which as just started up in the UK... Danii Minouge is on the panel!), the judges don't spend the whole time quibbling amongst themselves and making stupid comments.

Speaking of "so you think you can dance"...the last couple of Wednesday's we have been out dancing on Chapel Street.... just like at home! We have been going to Ceroc classes (modern jive) in Swindon, and it has been quite fun. There were some reasonable dancers there, and it was a beautiful dance floor. Just perfect for spinning :D *sigh*


Well, it's really old news now... but I wanted to talk about my car!!! For the first time I actually own a car! It's a 1998 Peugeot, blue, with a kicking stereo!... and most importantly, adjustable seats! Don't laugh... that was actually one of the main determining factors in me finding a car... I just didn't fit into any of them... that and the automatic factor... yes, this retard still can't drive a manual (hmmmm... is that politically incorrect?).

Our little Peugeot, in our little driveway, in front of our little garage.


Driving in the UK has been entertaining, and can take some getting used to.

It started the first time we drove into Swindon in our hire car. We got on the motorway and saw lots of circular white signs with a big black diagonal line through it. In Darwin this used to mean open speed limit... we were pretty sure this was not what they meant here. In fact it actually means that all local restrictions have been removed, and therefore you can go at the standard maximum limit which is 70 miles an hour on a motor way. Duh... how obvious!?! And what's with the miles? The only reason I can think of that they have not switched over to the metric scale is that it would just be too expensive to replace all of the existing distance and speed limit signs.

And what about the roundabouts? They are everywhere! Actually, I have to admit that they work extremely well, but it takes some getting used to. One has to be very careful to be in the right lane on entering a roundabout, otherwise one will end up going in completely the wrong direction! The brilliant thing about the roundabouts though, is that if you happen to take a wrong turn somewhere, there is always a roundabout nearby so that you can make a U-turn.

We actually live in a small village outside of the main Swindon area, so we don't have much cause to go in there all that often. Swindon itself is an industrial town, so there is nothing that exciting about it. One thing I do love though is "The Magic Roundabout". The first time we arrived in Swindon, we were most amused when the GPS actually said "take the third exit at the Magic Roundabout"... and then we did some major panicking when we realised that we would have to go through it! Originally called 'County Islands', it is one massive roundabout that is surrounded by five small satellite roundabouts. Apparently, much research and development was invested in finding the most efficient way to manage such a large junction, and this was the hairbrained scheme they came up with! Surprisingly, it is actually quite easy to navigate, and it works a treat! I love it!

The road sign you see as you approach the Magic Roundabout.

An ariel view of The Magic Roundabout.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our own little burrow

The weather for about the last week has been pretty average, especially for summer, although some would say nothing unexpected for England. We were lucky to move into our new house in the midst of a run of lovely weather. It really makes things look all the more happy and exciting!

It's a 3 bedroom (or really 2.5 bedroom) fully detatched house (quite rare in this country, I am told) with a garden, garage (tiny!) and shed. Although a little dated and a bit cheap on the inside (somewhat a renters house), it's not bad at all. Not quite as new and shiny as some of the other houses that some of the other couples have, but then again, it's not an old cottage in which you have to bend down to get through all the doorways (well... that was never going to be a problem for me!), which some of the others do have! It will definitely do the job, and it is already becoming home sweet home.

If you would like to see our location on Google Earth, let me know, and I'll send you through a link. In the meantime, here are a few happy snaps:

The Front

Inside the front door.
It's cool having your mail delivered right into your foyer 6 days a week!

The down stairs amenities...
combined with coat closet.

Our somewhat retro kitchen, combined with laundry.
Nice view of what all the neighbours are doing from the kitchen sink.

Professor Plum, with the lead piping, in the "conservatory".
the hardest futon sofa you will ever cross.

View of the backyard from the "conservatory"/sunroom.

After some concerted unpacking,
Gideon takes it easy on one of our three sofas in the lounge.

Random things we did on the way here

Happy Bank Holiday Long Weekend to all!
We considered driving all the way to Scotland to try and catch a glimpse of the Edinburgh festival, but after our trip to Wales last weekend (blog entry to come), we decided to stay and relax at home, maybe do some local sight seeing and enjoy all the new tv channels we have now that we finally got BT Vision.
After a week of horrid weather, summer finally decided it was about time to make a reappearance. Today was the perfect day to check out the Shrivenham Fete.

Me, and some other locals, at the fete, armed with the Patricia Cornwell book I garnered for one pound.

Mmmm... freshly made fairy floss. That's what it's all about!

Now, going back a few weeks... here are some things we saw when we first arrived in London.

Caught up with some old friends from Melbourne.
Bad photo, but there is Kim, Isaac, Rob S, Steph, Michael, Cindi and a few others.

Hanging out at our hotel room at the Millenium Gloucestor.
These are the free pajamas we got from Qantas, they are supposedly designed by Morrissey!

The National Museum of Natural History

Cool dinosaurs... well, their bones anyway, inside the National Museum of Natural History.

Gangster Gideon outside the Australian High Commission on Fleet Street.

The Nightingale.
We stayed at this hotel just outside Swindon for about five days while sorting out a place to live and a car. The first night we were supposed to stay here did not happen because during a change of management, someone forgot to pay the power bill and they had no power! Then, on our second night there, someone somewhere cut a power line and we had to have cold showers. Then on our third night there, the power was still off, which meant that the water pumps in the hotel were also not working and we had no showers or flushing toilets! Not the most memorable of hotel stays.

High Street Shrivenham (the main drag)

Very cute cottage I passed somewhere in Shrivenham. : )


The Bourne Ultimatum: 4/5
Cast: Matt Damon (The other Bourne Movies, and Team America... no not really), Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance), David Strathairn (Good Night, Good Luck), Joan Allen (The Snow Storm)
In a Nutshell: Continues the high standards set by its predecessors.
Brief Synopsis: Jason Bourne continues to search for his mysterious past while trying the allude the CIA who are hot on his trail.
It is a completely different movie to Die Hard 4.0, but as a point of reference, I enjoyed Die Hard a smidgen more. Die hard, while being a little more ridiculous and unbelievable, has humour and a bit of a swagger! Still, The Bourne Ultimatum is an excellent action movie, with an intelligent plot (thankyou Mr Ludlum) and a talented cast. Although, I wonder if Bourne's character is a little one dimensional, even though he has amnesia as an excuse. The shaky, supposedly realistic, camera style used in the Supremacy is used here too, and it still annoys me. However, some of the choreography in the action scenes is outstanding, almost jaw dropping, and overall it is a very very good movie.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

UK Part 1 - Moving in

Terrible, terrible, terrible.

That's me. :p

Apologies to those who have been checking, but have had no release or satisfaction.

It has been weeks since my last post and that was right in the middle of the flight to London. So much has happened, there is so much catching up to do! Be warned... it is going to be one big blog fest, with no niceties, no politeness or ettiquette. There will be breaking of chronological rules and all forms of thoughts in dribs and drabs. In short, it will be one big brain fart.

Gideon and I have pretty much settled down now into our own little house and the peacefulness that is Shrivenham. It is not that close to London, and sometimes it really feels like we are in the country. Shrivenham itself, has one main drag, High St (every suburb has a High St), and there we have the essentials, eg. one bank, a post office, hairdresser, barber, a couple of Indian restaurants, a great little Italian joint, a couple of mini supermarkets, a hardware store that also sells stationery and lollies for 2p, and a Chinese Takeaway that also does takeaway fish and chips. Oh, and of course, a British town wouldn't be complete without a local pub... in fact, we have three.

We have already become regulars at the Prince of Wales. In our first week here, I think we were there every single day. It's a cosy little pub complete with friendly owners and staff, an expansive and original menu, a Mini parking spot at the rear, board games, trivia on a Tuesday nights (impossible for us Aussies... we won some chocolate as we came well ands truly last with a grand total of 22 points), and free wireless internet. Once or twice, we even sat in the car with our laptops in order to do some web research! This Thursday the others are going to one of the other pubs in Shrivenham, the Fat Dog, but I'll be catching up with Amy in London, so I won't be there.

Gideon has already been going to uni, this week is his second. "O'week" is next week, but he has had a couple of review weeks to try and remember some maths and other things, as well as to settle into the uni. I've had some fun stealing some of his maths revision so that I can have a go at trying to remember some of my Yr 12 maths... it's terrible... I couldn't even remember completing the square or integration by parts! I'm pretty lucky, as his "dependant", I get a pass to go into the Defence Academy whenever I like, which means I can also use some of the facilities, like the gym and the language centre.

My aim for this week and next week is to get some work... we will see how it goes. In the meantime, I will try my best to update my blog properly. There are lots of photos to come!

love g xoxo



Hair Spray: 3.5/5

Cast: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta (Grease), Michelle Pfiffer (Grease 2), Christopher Walken (Weapon of Choice music film clip), Queen Latifah (Chicago), Amanda Bynes (She’s the Man), James Marsden (The Notebook), Zac Efron (High School Musical), Allison Janney (West Wing).

In a Nutshell: Absolutely nutty!

Brief Synopsis: In 1962 a plump teenager dreams of being of singing and dancing on the Corny Collins Show and becoming Link’s girlfriend. Her path is the elitist and racist manager of the tv studio and her perfect daughter.

The movie musical version of a stage musical version of a non-musical movie, it throws in satirical, bordering on ridiculous, humour with heaps of fun and a touch of seriousness dealing with issues such as integration and female image consciousness. One can’t help feeling that this whole movie is about taking the piss, and yet you sense there is more to it, an extreme intelligence under all the singing and dancing… a little like Team America. However, unlike Team America, I am still unsure if Hairspray really carries it off. It is a little hit and miss in some places and on many occasion I turned to Clare, my movie compatriot, in order to make a “What THE?” face. Still, that itself is certainly a special brand of comedy.

The Simpsons Movie: 2.5/5

Cast: As per The Simpsons TV series.

In a Nutshell: Like a three part series of Simpsons episodes.

Brief Synopsis: As per The Simpsons TV series, with an environmental twist

Perhaps the reason for why this movie has been so long coming was that no matter how you do it, apart from making the animation 3d or using real life actors (which would completely suck), it was always just going to be like one long episode. Thus, there is nothing particular special about this. Having said that, the movie keeps all of the characters, the humour and the tongue-in-cheek that we are used to from the television series, and thus it is still a good watch. I just don’t know that it is worth seeing it on the big screen.

Die Hard 4.0: 4.0/5

Cast: Bruce Willis (the 3 other Die Hards), Justin Long (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

In a Nutshell: Kicking arse well and truly for the fourth time.

Brief Synopsis: John McClane somehow finds himself attempting to save America against a virtual terrorist who threatens to shut down America at the flick of a few switches.

John McClane does it again. Damn it was good. Smart arse comments, shrapnel, kicks, punches and pieces of very large vehicles flying everywhere! The storyline is a pretty good platform on which to base a high paced action movie, and it is exploited at all costs. Unfortunately there are one or two scenes that are just ridiculous. But mostly, there are some amazing, close to implausible, scenes that are just plain cool.