Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tying loose ends

The last 2 weeks and a bit has been nothing short of chaotic. Just as we did almost 2 years ago we are packing up our lives and moving around the world, except this time it is with a lot more certainty than I think I can say I had when we arrived in England early on the morning of the 15th of September 2004, almost 2 years to the day since I am writing this.

We have moved out of our fantastic flat in West Kensington, and to Pete & Sueanne's place at Eastcote before we jet off to Poland on Thursday - since moving in here and taking over their spare bedroom we've spent our time sorting through all of our possessions, dividing it up into what we'll take back to Brisbane, out of that what we'll take travelling, and what is going straight in the bin or to the charity shop. Not an easy task when you've been accumulating stuff for two years from all over the place. But when you only have so much space to pack it into for the plane trip, you have a big challenge ahead of you when your better half wants to take home 15+ pairs of shoes!

Between sorting, packing, and cleaning over the past weeks we have also been getting out and seeing some particular areas and sights we hadn't been two yet, such as the backstreets of Chelsea, some more bars around Hoxton we hadn't been to, and yet another afternoon session at The White Horse at Parsons Green to farewell London friend Andrew who is heading to Melbourne. Not to mention my first Arsenal Premiership match at Emirates Stadium on the weekend which I'll be bragging about for years to come..

We spent the last few days cleaning our flat before handing over the keys to the agent yesterday - closing the door on the flat was very hard to do.. while it might have only been our home for 8 months, the times we had there were some of our most memorable in London - i'll never forget that roof with the couch and table & chairs on it (and I probably won't let anyone else forget it either!), shish-kebabs on my little coal-fired BBQ, and many sunsets spent chatting away watching the twilight across the chimney tops. Oh, and then there was also watching the planes fly over heading for a landing at Heathrow - oh I will miss all the planes!

I think today summed up how much we have loved living here, and how the big city just makes you love it despite all its challenges, quirks, and differences. We had made plans to meet some friends at a favourite pub at Knightsbridge, and then onto a GBK for some dinner - so having arranged a time to meet at Green Park, Carly and I headed across town from where were both doing different things, only to find our Tube journeys delayed with various problems (Carly's involved her Tube train actually running over someone while she was on it at Hyde Park Corner!). But yet we soldiered on, making our way to the meeting spot by other means, cursing TfL for the delays and closures but all the while enjoying the challenge of getting around the big city despite adversity - in the end, after facing a second series of peak-hour delays and dramas we all met up and had a great night with Pete, Renee & Chris as we ended up in Chiswick.

We both love this town, and it has been both sad and exciting to realise that we are now definitely leaving.

I guess all that's left is to zip up the bags and head out to Gatwick for that first flight of our European adventures - we'll be keeping notes of what we get up to, and hopefully along the way I can get some late-night spare time to keep up the blogging.

More to come from on the road.

Ciao ciao!

-shane

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Last day at the LDA

Yesterday I finished up my job at the LDA, and said goodbye to some great people who only added to what was a great working opportunity for me in London. The development policy team I worked in comprised of a small group of planners who under some great leadership from newcomer Lucinda, seems destined for some exciting challenges and new types of work under a new structure which is just commencing - sadly, this happens just as I leave the team. That's how it happens sometimes I guess..

But my time there has been great, and should put me in a good position to utilise the big city experience in whatever I venture into in Brisbane. I guess we'll see what that is come December this year.

After work we went up from St Katharines Dock to The Pride of Spitalfields pub where I was promised a traditional East-end boozer and the best English Ales (a.k.a. beer) I could find - the bosses recommendation didn't disapoint! After a few there, a few of us went to the Truman Brewery complex fronting Brick Lane where we relaxed in a bizarly out of place sandy beach area where you could sit ack in a deck chair and stair out across to the Gherkin. Carly met us here and I introduced her to some of the work crew. When the group had thinned out a bit more we went down Brick Lane and stopped in the Exit bar for a cocktail nightcap, before dropping into what is a Brick Lane insitution - the 24hr Bagel shop for a fresh 'Salted Beef' (Mum/Jay - read 'Corned Beef'! yum!) bagel with mustard, and a cream cheese bagel to save for breakfast if I could stop myself from eating it on the way home.

It was a great night, and I will miss the job and the people very much. It isn't the same when you leave a job and go to another one in the same city - this time I won't be able to just catch up with these guys for lunch or a beer to see how things are, which is a bit sad.

But I certainly won't forget the year and a bit I spent working at a desk overlooking the Thames river, where I could see nearby Tower Bridge opening for the tall shipping, and each day walk into work around the outside of the always impressive walls of the Tower of London. It will be tough to beat that..

So if anyone in south-east Queensland is seeking a qualified town planner with 6 years experience for a senior role in project or development application management starting in December, then drop me a line over the next few weeks!

-shane