Sunday, 21 September 2008

Battle of the Cockroach and other events

This week’s assorted happenings


Signed lease on our new apartment. We move in 3 Oct and I can’t wait to get in and settled. Whether or not you believe in these things (and I don’t really), I have many of the characteristics of a typical Cancerian – nesting instincts and a desire to have my home in order, plus a craving of routine and a fondness for habits – which means that the thought of being in one place for at least a year, with all my possessions around me (well, apart from the oodles of stuff that’s still in the UK!) and having the ability to form routines like finding regular running routes, a nice brunch café, a ‘local and things like that, makes me very happy!


Early morning second interview for job I’ve been offered. Things are done a bit differently here, so this was more of an informal chat (albeit with a set of structured questions), but it was with group of senior people so I guess it was mine to throw away! Thankfully it went well and was actually an enjoyable experience!

Out for a drink after work with one of my colleagues, a girl about my age with lots of things in common – was great to swap stories about working in the community sector/having mid-to-late twenties career crises/temping in the public sector! K joined us later and then he and I stayed in the pub for something to eat. I’m turning into even more of a lightweight than normal, although the early start may have been a factor, and had to leave my final drink and insisted we left at 9.30 - cue falling asleep on the couch by 10.30!


Found out I’ve definitely got the job! Still need to have discussion around specifics but they want me, I want them, it’s all good. Got message in the morning so had skip in my step for rest of the day!


Have been trying to get into a habit of getting up a bit earlier, so I can start to go running in the morning – as summer hits, it’s going to be the only feasible option I think. Plus I’m naturally lazy so after a long day at work it takes extra effort to do any form of exercise. Crap as Australian TV is, my capacity for watching mindless rubbish is quite high! So today, even though it was Saturday, I was up at 8am although not for exercise purposes – just trying to get my body used to the feeling of being up! I’d bought a few books on Friday so spent a couple of hours reading in bed. I bought three books from the Popular Penguins range, that’s also out in the UK (although interestingly, it’s a different set of books). If you haven’t seen them, I’d really recommend them – Penguin have chosen 50 books from their annals since they began publishing in the 1930s, a blend of fiction, non-fiction, ‘classics’ and more modern favourites. When I looked through the UK list, of those I’d read, I would agree that 90% of them were well worth it, which gave me confidence in the remainder. Here in Oz, they have the added advantage of only costing $10 (about £5), which is considerably less than the average paperback, which is about $25.

Anyway, after whiling away a few hours with “South”, Ernest Shackleton’s story of the Endurance expedition to the Antarctic, I walked into town in the midday heat (phew!) and after collecting my kit for Sunday’s 9K “Run the Bridge” race, caught a bus to Clovelly beach, where I bought some ‘hot chips’ (that’s normal chips to you and me), spread myself out on a towel in the shade and passed a very pleasant afternoon of more reading and relaxing to the sights and sounds of Sydney families playing in the sun. (An aside – I’ve noticed that people here look really old compared to their actual age – it must be the sun, so I am now scrupulously slapping on SPF30 whenever I’m in it for any length of time! It was interesting to watch people today – none of this European ‘avoid the sun between 11 and 3’ approach – they were all basking away for hour upon hour – scary).

Went to the gym once it got dark and then had a quiet Saturday night in, with the aim of being fully rested for my early race on Sunday. The only blot on an otherwise lovely day was a war of attrition with a rogue cockroach that I spotted in our bedroom around 8pm. Think it must have been disturbed when I switched the air conditioning on (the unit is outside and looks pretty dusty and like a good home for creepy crawlies). Anyway, it was crawling along the wall above our bed, so I tried to coax it back in the direction of the patio doors which I think it came through, but instead of taking the hint, it decided to belly flop onto the bed. Some comedic scenes ensued involving the cockroach scuttling under the covers, shrieks of horror from me, much poking, prodding and gentle lifting of bedsheets and eventually the damn thing disappearing under the bed.

At this point I decided to forget about it, assuming it would crawl back to whichever dark crevice it had come from, but oh no, half an hour later, I came back upstairs to find it on the wall above the bed again!! I took a different tactic this time, and decided to see what it wanted. I kept a stealthy eye on its progress (with the other eye on a George Clooney film on TV). All it did was crawl from one side of the wall to the other, stopped for about 10 minutes, then went back again. How dull! If it had just gone back outside once it was done, that would’ve been the end of it, but for some reason it just lurked around near the bottom of the bed. By this time I’d sourced some insect killer and as it was now within spraying distance, I’m sorry to say a brutal incident followed. Boy, those things take a while to die – I used a LOT of spray and it was still staggering around for a good few minutes (apologies to anyone who finds this kind of thing offensive!) Its sorry corpse is now in the bin outside our apartment and so far, none of its friends have come back to get their revenge. Phew.

I realise this isn’t the most exciting way to spend a Saturday evening but it kept me entertained! Typical that K is away this weekend - hobnobbing at some work-related shindig where he and various ‘big thinkers’ from both the UK and Oz are gathering to discuss how to sort out the problems of poverty and disadvantage and inequality – while sipping chilled wine by the side of the pool in a luxury resort – hmmm! K is a stand-in for someone else he works with and not sure if it will really be his scene, but we’ll see. Anyway, it meant I had to face the Battle of the Cockroach on my own (normally I’d just yell for him and it would all be over in 2 minutes as he would just pick it up and fling it away!) Perhaps he planted it to remind me of his usefulness!?


Up at 6.30am, straight into my running gear, a light breakfast and then a 10 minute train journey to Milson’s Point for the start of the 9K “Run the Bridge” race that I’ve been vaguely training for over the past few weeks. Milson’s Point is at the north end of the Harbour Bridge, and is very close to our new apartment, so it was good to see what kind of running loop I can do from there!

The race itself was pretty enjoyable, if somewhat badly organised (too congested at the start and throughout the course, runners not grouped according to speed, water stations pretty shambolic, finish not clearly marked in advance so difficult to do any kind of sprint at the end). But there was a good atmosphere, an impressive number and array of people running and some absolutely spectacular views, so these minor things can be forgiven!

The course took us over the Harbour Bridge and then down through the Botanic Gardens, before looping back to finish at the Opera House itself. It was hot – very hot – and hilly in places – but very satisfying to do. My time was a bit quicker than I was expecting – 46 minutes (minus a minute for a loo stop en route), which is close to 50 min pace for a 10K. I’m pleased as I didn’t think I had that in my legs and I actually feel like I could have gone a bit quicker – I couldn’t really get into my stride because there were so many runners and also lots of people walking the route. I can feel the running bug biting again, or perhaps it’s just my competitive streak!

So now I’m back home, having showered, lunched, snoozed, done some laundry and read a bit more. It’s a roaster of a day today and I’m quite happy to potter about in the shade for a bit, resting my weary legs! I had lunch outside on our balcony-thingy today, which was lovely. Our apartment backs onto the backs of lots of others, so it was nice to hear the vague sounds of other people’s lives floating around as I ate and drank.

Photos are of a) balcony and my lunch today b) K & Harbour Bridge, we’re going to be living just off to the right of the picture! and c) my new office building – no, I’m not going to work for HSBC, but I’ll be in that building on the 7th or 8th floor – good views!

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